Expect the unexpected

October 28, 2016

in Some Things to Think About

nebuchadnezzarI read this the other day in Chrisma News. A man called “the gold standard of evangelical believers in Texas” said this to the author of the blog, Dr Lance Wallnau. “I wrestled with the moral conflict of voting for either candidate, Hillary or Trump. I want to tell you I was not sure what I would do until I heard you speak about Cyrus and Trump. As I heard what you said, I had peace.” Wallnau goes on to explain that Trump is God’s Plan to destroy the evil establishment that Hillary represents.

I’m not going to directly argue with Dr Wallnau but I would like to ask him one question. Why did he choose to compare Trump with Cyrus? Why not Nebuchadnezzar? Cyrus freed the Israelites from Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the temple and put the Israelites into slavery. Cyrus and Nebuchadnezzar were the most powerful men of their time. Neither was what a Christian would say was a man of good character. God took what each did and used it for his own purposes. He used Nebuchadnezzar to chastise a sinful Israel and bring it back to the Covenant. He used Cyrus to free Israel and rebuild the temple. How can Dr Wallnau confidently predict what’s going to happen now? Does he claim to be a prophet? I think not.

How does God’s Plan work?

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians gives us the outline of God’s Plan at the highest level. “He made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment — to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.” [Eph 1:9-10] The details are not and cannot be known, except through the Holy Spirit, as Jesus said: “. . .he will tell you what is yet to come.” [John 16:13b] And Jesus also warned us to beware, that many will claim special knowledge in his name. So, the first thing about God’s Plan is only genuine prophets can speak the truth about God’s purposes and the future.

Second, God works mysteriously. God’s wisdom is far above man’s. We only see “darkly, as in a mirror.” As the Portuguese say, “God writes straight with crooked lines.” It is just as easy to believe that a sinner will inadvertently serve God’s purposes, as it is to believe that God will let a good man’s effort fail, yet rescue them. Jesus, by all human measures was a failure, being crucified as a criminal, with his flock scattered. Cyrus and Nebuchadnezzar were bloodthirsty kings whose ravages were used by God in the plan of salvation. Who are we to say “Vote for Trump (or Hillary)” claiming it is God’s Plan? We do the best we can and God molds and transforms our small efforts into his inexorable transformation of evil into good.

So, does it make a difference who we vote for, in God’s Plan?

I like the Green motto, “Think globally; act locally.” In this election, what we must do is think of all the factors involved and, according to our best judgement and prayerful reflection, vote for the person we think best fits the current situation. The world is far more complex than either candidate can confidently manage. Neither candidate has a direct line to God, to be able to discern let alone fulfill his will. The best either candidate can do is follow the basics of what Jesus taught in making decisions. It’s not at all obvious what Jesus thinks about healthcare or immigration or even terrorism. While it seems simple to understand what Jesus thinks about abortion, no one can look into the heart of a woman to understand her awful choice, and how secular laws ought to deal with that choice.

It does make a difference who we vote for. But our choice must be made after reflection and prayer about the strengths and weaknesses of all the candidates — not because a pastor or anyone else tells us which candidate is fulfilling God’s Plan.

 

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