Next Tuesday our nation will elect its next president along with many senators, congressmen, governors, city council people, judges, sheriffs, clerks, and dog catchers. Out of curiosity, not wanting to put anyone on the spot, who here today is a bit anxious about next Tuesday?
For months we have watched the campaigns, the debates, and the Facebook arguments. We’ve been anxious. We’ve been worried. At times we’ve been angry. Some of us a genuinely afraid for our children and grandchildren. Today I want to talk about the election in light of the Kingdom of God and I offer three words of hope.
God’s Got This!
Today I am reminded of a familiar story from the book of Daniel- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
We might be worried and anxious today about the direction of our society, but our situation is miniscule compared to the plight of the Jews who were carried off to Babylon during the great exile.
In 586 BC the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar and his army laid siege to Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple of the Jews. This was the same temple that was built by King Solomon. During the process of their domination of Israel the nation of Babylon took the Jews captive. Among those who were taken away from their homes were Daniel, and three Jewish boys named Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. These four were chosen to serve in the king’s court and to be educated in the customs of the Babylonians. They were given plenty of food, good living conditions, education, and comfort. But make no mistake- they were slaves, slaves torn from their homes, separated from their families and their heritage, even their very names, and required to do things they would not have otherwise done. Where the Temple represented the presence of Almighty God to them, now it lay in fire and ruins. It would have been easy for them to just give up on their faith. Remarkably, these faithful men understood that their presence in Babylon was the result of the fulfillment of God’s promises to His people.
I love the verse, Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope”.
Such an encouraging verse. Do you know what the context of this verse is? Jeremiah has just told the people of Judah that they are going to go into exile for 70 years. You are about to enter a very long season of hardship, judgment, and oppression. But- God’s Got This!
Though they were able to make adjustments to their diet so that they could eat kosher, they had very little control over their lot. They had to take what was given to them.
I want to focus on 3 verses in the middle of this story. At the end of verse 15 King Nebuchadnezzar asks a rhetorical question. ‘Who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?’ Who is this God?
God is NOT a genie in a bottle. God does not grant wishes. These three Jewish boys are in this situation because they were required to bow down in worship to a golden statue god, and they just wouldn’t do it. When the punishment is laid before them- certain death- the question comes, who is the god who will deliver you?.
This is the same question the disciples had on the sea of Galilee. They are told by the Lord to cross the sea, walking in the will of their Lord they set out and are immediately confronted by a devastating storm. Water is coming into the boat, they are facing certain death and the Lord is resting in the stern seemingly unconcerned about their circumstances. When they finally rouse him he commands peace to the storm and they ask themselves… who is this?
Friends, this is Emmanuel. This is the God who is with us in the storm. This is the God who is with us in the exile. This is the God who is with us in the fire, in the job loss, in the cancer, in the sickness, in the injury, in the grieving, in the depression, in the addiction. God is with us in the waiting, and in the disappointment. God is with us when we rise to the top, and when we sink to the bottom. We shouldn’t expect a god who fixes our problems, but we have a God who walks with us through the fires and the floods and the devastation.
God is with us, and God’s Got This.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego recognized this as they proclaimed to Nebuchadnezzar in verse 16 and 17
O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.
How could they be so confident? They had a history and a heritage of God’s deliverance that they believed and counted on. This is why the Israelites so often recount the story of the Red Sea deliverance.
We need to tell our stories of God’s deliverance and provision.
We need to recount our stories of God’s faithfulness to our children and to our families for several reasons: so we will remember, so our kid’s will know, so we will give glory to God.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego tell the king, God is able to deliver us because we know He has done it in the past. But look at what they say next in v. 18…
But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
Even if we perish… God’s Got This.
We know the end of this story. God joins them in the fire, they are delivered, and the pagan king of Babylon gives glory and praise to the one true God of all gods and makes a decree in Babylon that no one make speak against this God! How’s that for a public policy?
Think about the things you’re worried about, the things you’re anxious about. We have many folks dealing with sickness, loss, depression. Some of us are legitimately worried about this election on Tuesday.
As the people of God, chosen and dearly loved, listen to this encouragement from Paul to the church in Corinth,
16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
We must constantly remind ourselves to look beyond the things that are seen. When we see our health, or the health of our loved ones crumbling, when we see Christians being tortured simply for confessing their faith in Christ, when we see war refugees fleeing nations by the millions, when we see our own beloved nation torn apart by politics, hatred, postulating media; when we see these things we must look beyond them to the unseen sovereign Lord Jesus Christ who continues to walk with us through these.
And remind ourselves- God’s Got This!