As the United States draws closer to the 2016 presidential election, there is a frenzy developing on social media, talk radio shows, and news media. Frustration, fear, anger, and desperation are the common theme of the day. Each of the candidates left standing are polarizing forces. People argue over them, hate them, love them, and are vocal in their support or vehement in their rejection of them. The situation is so volatile that there have been riots, physical assaults, verbal assaults, vandalism, and protests. The common theme is “If _____ gets elected, our country is doomed. Only _____ can save our country.”
I understand the feeling. There are times when I look at the decline of our nation and mourn. There are candidates that I believe would harm our country if elected. There are candidates that I think could help our country. Like many, I am passionate about my political beliefs. Like many, I’ve wondered which candidate, if any, can actually do something to help our country.
Debt, sexual orientation, gender roles, increasing divorce rate, businesses leaving the country, jobs being outsourced, economic decline, real estate market stagnation, terrorism, increasing violence, increasing racial tensions, loss of confidence in leadership of the nation, immigration reform, challenges in the education system, and an increasingly offensive and litigious society are all symptoms of a much larger problem. And, it’s a problem from which none of the candidates can save us.
The question that many ask is, “Who can save our country?” It’s a question I’ve seen online, heard on the radio, and seen debated on news channels. It’s even a question I’ve heard in the church.
Israel was in a similar situation. They were located in an ideal location and were a fertile land. In its prime, it was a wealthy nation. In the days of the prophets, they had lost some of their power and influence. Corrupt leadership had led to a split in the nation. The nations surrounding them had lost respect for Israel. They were identified as a nation who followed Yahweh and yet, for the most part, ignored his guidance and teaching. Those who taught God’s Word were ridiculed. They experienced violence, tension, corruption, sexual depravity, and idolatry.
When the leaders of Israel and Judah found themselves in trouble, their first reaction was similar to our own. Israel looked everywhere expect to God for salvation. For example, when Damascus and Ephraim were aligning against Judah, Ahaz started looking for help. Isaiah was sent to assure him that they would not succeed in their attack against Judah if Ahaz would place his faith in God. Instead, Ahaz chose to turn to Assyria for help. 2 Chronicles 28 tells the story. In it, we learn that because Ahaz turned away from the Lord and turned to Assyria, Judah came under the thumb of Assyria.
Hosea speaks about the faithlessness of Israel. Over and over, Israel pursued the things that it should not. It created idols, chased after the other nations and their ideals, sought other gods, and were sexually immoral. In fact, in Hosea, God gives the example of his marriage to Israel as one of marriage to a prostitute who continually returns to her practice.
Revelation reveals that this rebellious and self-seeking attitude continues today and into the future. In fact, Revelation 9 shows that even when the horror of the sixth trumpet is blown, people still refused to surrender to Christ. Revelation 9:20-21 says, “And the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; and they did not repent of their murders, nor of their sorceries , their sexual immorality nor of their thefts.”
When Israel and Judah’s leaders looked at the problems of their day, they examined the symptoms without looking at the root of their problems. That is why God sent the prophets. In the same way today, we want our elected representatives to address the symptoms of a much deeper problem. It is a problem that only one person can fix and that is Jesus Christ.
The problem facing the United States isn’t one that a politician can fix. It is a problem of apostasy. Just as the Israelites abandoned their faith in God and chased after false gods and all that those gods allowed, so too has our nation chased after false gods and false ideas. Our nation has abandoned God. And, as long as we walk away from him, the symptoms of that apostasy will continue to mount.
What is the answer? In Hosea 14, God says, “Return, Israel, to the Lord your God. Your sins have been your downfall! Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to him: “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips. Assyria cannot save us; we will not mount warhorses. We will never again say ‘Our gods’ to what our own hands have made, for in you the fatherless find compassion.” I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them. I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like a lily. Like a cedar of Lebanon he will send down his roots; his young shoots will grow. His splendor will be like an olive tree, his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon. People will dwell again in his shade; they will flourish like the grain, they will blossom like the vine— Israel’s fame will be like the wine of Lebanon. Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols? I will answer him and care for him.I am like a flourishing juniper; your fruitfulness comes from me.” Who is wise? Let them realize these things. Who is discerning? Let them understand. The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.
The answer for us today is the same as it was for Israel and Judah in the past. If we truly want to address the source of the problems facing our nation, then we must first return as a nation to Jesus. It requires a surrender in the hearts of the men and women of our nation as well as the leadership of our country. Our voices must be heard, not in a hateful cry against non-believers who don’t live like believers, but rather in a call to faith, a sharing of Christ, and a reaching to those who are lost. While politicians may address some of the symptoms, only Jesus can save our nation from the true problem behind the symptoms of a society going bad.
We should be well versed in what is happening politically. We should vote, we should take part in the process of selecting and electing representatives and in communicating with those representatives how they should represent us. But, most of all, we should be actively praying, sharing, reaching, and teaching the truth of the gospel. It is only in a turning of our hearts back to Christ that our nation can be saved.