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“Then all the elders of Israel…came to Samuel at Ramah and said to him, ‘Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.’ But the thing displeased Samuel…And Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.’” ~ 1 Samuel 8:4-8
“And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day. But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, ‘No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.’” ~ 1 Samuel 8:18-20
Welcome to the conclusion for the HOPE4Politics series.
What a journey this has been! Let me tell you, it has been difficult to write all six entries, and it perhaps was even difficult to read, but I never like to go into something half-hearted. I’m an all or nothing kind of person.
And yet I humbly confess that these entries only scratch the surface on what the Scriptures have to say regarding civics and society.
The above quoted passage is a HUGE insight to both the history of Israel and the current hardships we face today.
For Israel, this was a dramatic shift from an approximate 350 year leadership under the judges (fifteen total, including the likes of Deborah, Gideon, Samson, and Samuel) to a monarchy under Saul.
The period under the judges was a morally dark period for Israel. It could be summed up by the following:
“In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (also Jdgs. 21:25)
Here is the background for this perverted political period:
“Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them…Yet they did not listen to their judges, for they whored after other gods…Whenever the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies…But whenever the judge died, they turned back and were more corrupt than their fathers…So…the Lord…said, “Because this people have transgressed my covenant that I commanded their fathers and have not obeyed my voice, I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations that Joshua left when he died, in order to test Israel…” ~ Judges 2:16-23
Whores?! God’s people?! Shocking. Plus, I thought the term was only a noun!
Moving along, we come to 1 Samuel 8 and see the same sinfulness. Samuel had brought national repentance during his twelve year reign, however, he was aging and so his sons took over. Unfortunately, these sons brought back the typical corruption, and the nation had enough! (see 1 Sam. 8:1-3)
And what happens next is what speaks volumes to every generation in every continent…
In their time of moral desperation Israel looked to the other nations, not the Lord, for guidance. Their focus was horizontal and their solution therefore was suicidal.
Let me be clear — the elders were correct. Samuel’s sons, Joel and Abijah, had to go! But in the process of observing and fixing their national degradation, they rejected the only source that could save!
“If you are determined in going a certain direction, God will step aside and second your motion.” ~ Ravi Zacharias
Ever been here? You see a problem, but instead of walking God’s prescribed path you crave culture’s customs.
Perhaps one of the clearest areas I have been guilty of is adopting my culture’s customs is in the arena of politics. If you have been following along in this series, or just the HOPE4Hipsters blog in general, you have witnessed me confess many regrets where I allowed my national identity “trump” my eternal identity.
As I stated early on, the Bible is not a political theory book. And that’s okay; it was never intended to be one. This, however, in no way suggests that the Bible does not provide profound prescription for how humanity, especially the Church, should operate within the realm of politics.
I hope this series has shown, or reminded, us of how much the Bible really says on this topic. We’re not left in the dark! God has spoken!
But with revelation comes responsibility…
As a follower of Christ, I am now accountable in how I operate as a citizen within my nation, and this absolutely includes how I influence the operation of others.
We enjoy many freedoms and opportunities within a democratic nation and simply observing problems is only the first of many steps.
As Israel illustrated, it’s very easy and even natural to see the problems but to forget the solution. And as last November proved, knowing God does not make the solution-seeking process simple.
And so for me, whether it’s politics or just life in general, I’m learning to filter everything I say or do through the greatest command: To love God and others.
I’m also learning to walk by faith more, which forces me to walk a path of humility as I learn to acknowledge the uncomfortable but often associated mysteries that accompany it. God is over it all, and as we’ve explored, this is both comforting and perhaps a little disturbing.
Keep the HOPE, hipsters!