Reflections on Elections

Here are a few things to keep in mind about yesterday’s election—and elections in general. 

First, the outcome of any given election is not the absolute disaster that many people might be tempted to think it is.  God remains sovereign over all the affairs of men, even of powerful political figures.

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord;
he turns it wherever he will.
Proverbs 21:1

God can prevent whatever evil or folly politicians intend to do.

He frustrates the devices of the crafty,
so that their hands achieve no success.
Job 5:12

Even that evil and folly which he permits them to achieve, he can turn to the good (Gen. 50:20).

Second, the outcome isn’t the unrivalled blessing that others might imagine it to be.  Politicians are notoriously pitiful saviors.  The best of them often leave behind a trail of broken promises, dashed hopes, unfulfilled expectations, and betrayed trusts.  To build one’s hopes on getting the “right” people in office is like building a castle on a foundation of sand.  

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in princes.
Psalm 118:9

Third, it is God who gave us the results of the election.

Not from the east or from the west
and not from the wilderness comes lifting up,
but it is God who executes judgment,
putting down one and lifting up another
Psalm 75:6-7

The Scriptures are emphatic on this point.

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever
to whom belong wisdom and might.
He changes times and seasons;
he removes kings and sets up kings.
Daniel 2:20

Some will mistakenly conclude from this that whoever is elected must have had God’s approval.  After all, why else would God elevate them?  But this isn’t necessarily so.  God blesses a good people with good and wise rulers; and he curses a disobedient people with foolish and wicked rulers.  God not only raised David up to be a blessing to his people (Acts 13:22), but he also raised up Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar to chasten and afflict them (see Ex. 9:16 and Jer. 25:8-9).

Another erroneous conclusion one might draw from the fact that it is God who raises up one and removes another, is that our participation in the process is unnecessary.  Not so.  God uses means to accomplish his purposes, and the means he normally uses—especially with our form of government—is human action. 

Fourth, the Lord requires governing officials to bow in submission before him and to serve his Son.  

Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way.
Psalm 2:10-12

Jesus Christ is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, the ruler of the kings of the earth (Rev. 19:16; 1:5).  All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him (Matt. 28:18).  Any measure of authority which any human being has, he has on loan from him—and must answer to him.

Fifth, any return of our nation’s government to its biblical foundations will be the result of a moral and spiritual revival, not the cause of it.  In other words, the kingdom of God is not advanced by the exercise of raw political power.  This is not to say that politics is unimportant or that the Christian faith is not concerned with good government or that Christians should not be involved in the process.  On the contrary, government has to do with the administration of justice, which is something every Christian ought to be concerned about (Deut. 16:18-20; Amos 15:5; Hab. 1:4).  My point is simply that the kingdom of God normally advances from the bottom up, not from the top down.  In a republic such as ours, godly rulers are a reflection of a godly people.

Finally, though there have been varying degrees to which different administrations and congresses have conformed to the reign of Jesus Christ, the Scriptures teach us to look forward to a time when all nations will bow before him (Ps. 22:27-28; Dan. 7:13-14; Phil. 2:9-11).


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