By Dutch Sheets
It has been a week since the presidential elections in America. Many have asked me for a response. I felt it wise to wait a few days in order to think, process and prayerfully consider my opinions. And though it is probably impossible to filter out all of my own thoughts, theologies and paradigms in order to hear only the Lord’s, I have made a great effort to do so.
The waiting has also allowed me to read and process numerous responses from other spiritual leaders, which has been beneficial. As you can imagine, there are several views among these leaders as to why Barack Obama won the election. I have decided to use theirs to frame mine. This is a longer than average response, but I believe many people would prefer clear, thoughtful responses at this crucial time:
1) Some are saying this election is simply a sign of the end-times, that we are marching toward Armageddon, and nothing can be done to stop it. In their thinking, it has all been pre-planned by God.
Without arguing eschatology, I’ll simply state this isn’t my view, and that my theology allows considerably more time to accomplish much before the Lord returns.
2) Another position I’ve heard often is that God is sovereign, so we shouldn’t worry about the results. These individuals’ definition of God’s sovereignty means that He is in control of everything, therefore they contend that nothing happens on earth which He doesn’t cause or directly allow. To them, the results of this election must be God’s will and His purposes will definitely be accomplished. Their bottom line response then, is, “Don’t worry about it. In fact, rejoice.”
Those who espouse this doctrine can often be heard making statements along the lines of, “Put your faith in God, not a leader or political party. Regardless of who wins—He is still on the throne and knows what He is doing. Trust Him.” This thinking comforts many, which is usually the context of the statements. Unfortunately, this theology also removes from us any responsibility for the outcome.
I struggle with this explanation, just as I do the first one. I don’t believe the fact that God is sovereign equates Him to being responsible for everything that occurs on earth. I contend that most, if not all, of what occurs on earth is the result of choices we humans make. Common sense alone dictates that many things will take place on earth today that are not God’s will, nor did he “allow” them for some unknown reason (i.e., murder, rape, immorality, idolatry, etc.). The solace we take from blaming bad things on God’s sovereignty is not only bad theology; it often breeds irresponsibility.
I can accept any encouragement to keep my faith in God, rather than a person or political party and I do, in fact, make every attempt to do this. This doesn’t change the fact, however, that it does matter greatly who is the President or leader of a nation. In fact, scripture makes very clear that entire nations were sometimes judged with great devastation (and others were blessed!) because of the actions of their leader!
3) The third explanation I’ve heard is that many of us simply have a wrong perspective about America and the election, a paradigm rooted in pride, nationalism and a desire for American exceptionalism. They contend that God is simply restructuring the nations, moving the chess pieces in order to accomplish His purposes, and America’s economic, spiritual and moral demise is all a part of this.
They further imply that those of us who endeavor to make a spiritual demand on what we perceive as America’s covenantal roots and promises—asking God to reconnect us to them—are guilty of looking back, not forward. Our appeals for the Lord to pour out His Spirit today, just as He has in our history, are chided as living in the past, not the future. Those of us who cry out for, prophesy concerning and believe that a Third Great Awakening is near are mocked as yearning for the past.
Let me say very clearly, I do believe an awakening has already begun, an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that will impact the world more than any in history. I believe this will include America, as well, impacting it on the scale of our First and Second Great Awakenings. I also believe America can be reformed, restoring us to our God-ordained purpose, though this will take years to accomplish. I believe these two goals—awakening and reformation—define my calling.
In light of the above criticisms, however, I have taken an honest and deep look into my heart and mind to see if my passion for an awakening in America is rooted in pride or nationalism. Is it, as the article stated, to keep America number one in wealth and power? I can honestly say that I never remember having such a thought. I weep, not over the potential loss of wealth, power or status, but over souls and the possible forfeiture of God’s purposes. I weep over 55 million aborted destinies, and the hideous potential of another 50 million. And I can truly say the intercessors and leaders I know well have the same motivations. I’ve never heard even one of them nostalgically lament the loss of America’s status. They are, in fact, some of the most unselfish people I know.
My response to those who would have us simply “move on” and “accept” the murder of babies and the loss of a generation to Hell—which is exactly what will happen if we don’t receive a Third Great Awakening—is short and decisive: never!
4) The fourth explanation offered is that America is being judged, and that Barack Obama and his policies are part of the judgment. The reasons given for the judgment are the inevitable result of God’s laws of sowing and reaping, and His determination to “wake us up” as a nation. Many of these individuals believe the results were inevitable—no amount of hard work or prayer could have turned the tide.
I certainly believe America is and will continue to reap judgment. And I believe the fruit from the reelection of Barack Obama will be our most severe judgment to date. Let us not forget that the political party Americans just voted back into power boldly favors abortion, homosexuality, homosexual marriage, and that they voted God and the support of Israel out of their platform. And, I might add, boo-ed when God was put back in the platform after the potential fallout was realized. God is not mocked, however, and will have the last word.
Our economy will suffer greatly. The financial devastation and quality-of-care deterioration associated with socialized medicine will be staggering; more liberal, pro-abortion, Constitution disregarding, anti-God Supreme Court justices will be appointed (meaning more babies will die, marriage will be dishonored and immorality will be defended); Islam will be emboldened; our military will be weakened; and devastations from natural disasters will continue and perhaps increase. This is the short list.
The fact that Obama is a judgment, his policies will increase judgments, and this will be used by God to turn America is clear to me. What is not so clear is whether or not the outcome was controlled by God as a part of His judgment, or if He was giving us another choice and we rejected it. I cannot agree that because America had gone too far, God mandated the outcome. I believe He was still offering America an opportunity for grace. We chose judgment, not God.
There were too many strategies, dreams and assignments given by the Holy Spirit for me to believe God was not offering us a different outcome. But we must always remember these things are just that—offers—not guarantees. God makes these offers, and then He watches and measures our response. This brings me to the final explanation I’ve heard.
5) The fifth and final explanation is there simply wasn’t enough desperation, prayer, repentance and humility on the part of the church in America. Others disagree, contending that millions prayed concerning this election, and there was enough. One leader boldly proclaimed he was positive there had been enough effort; therefore God caused Obama to be elected for other reasons.
Of course, only God really knows for sure if this is true; the rest of us are merely offering educated opinions. Personally, I’m not so certain there was enough effort by the church. I don’t believe God was looking for quick, easy, one or two sentence prayers offered up during our quiet times or normal church services. I’m afraid most believers in the United States are still looking for convenient, inexpensive answers to our plight. There are none. God was looking for sacrifice, passion and desperation.
To illustrate my point, how many congregations in America do you think turned even one of their services into prayer meetings? I can guarantee you not one in ten thousand did so. How many of them conducted even one church-wide prayer meeting? I would be surprised if the total time most churches gave to public prayer for the elections over the month leading up to it equaled even fifteen minutes. How many pastors prayed a total of an hour concerning the election? I’m confident I have international students who prayed more for this election than the average American pastor. I would exhort those who are “certain” there was “enough prayer” to be somewhat cautious.
There are times when God, in His perfect balance of mercy and justice, can save through the prayers of a small remnant. However, I believe He is asking more from us at this time in our history. Until the desperation and commitment of more believers is commensurate with our condition, I don’t believe He can heal us. Obviously, in order for this to happen, we will have to change the watered down, make-it-quick-and-easy version of American Christianity we created to grow our churches.
Finally, I want to address the question, “Were the efforts and prayers of those who did offer them simply wasted?” The answer is a resounding NO!
I woke up Wednesday, the morning after the elections, thinking of Wilberforce, the great English statesman who spearheaded the effort to remove slavery from the British Empire. It took him 40 years, but he and his co-laborers won the battle. They did so incrementally. God gave the same one-word encouragement—“Wilberforce”—to two other friends of mine on the same morning. Just as He did for Wilberforce and his fellow reformers, God is storing up every prayer we prayed, and every act of obedience we performed. Nothing was wasted.
It would also be appropriate to think that our prayers and worship accomplished nothing at the present time and will only be used later. The Holy Spirit spoke to another friend of mine the morning after the election saying, “Your prayers and worship did prevail…though not in the way you wanted. Because of them, however, I will now deal with this man who has mocked Me and My laws.”
Two more friends of mine had dreams in which Barack Obama was named Belshazzar (see Daniel chapter 5). This was the ruler in Babylon who saw a hand writing on the wall of his palace—as he and his friends were mocking God. The ominous message written by the hand of God was, “You have been weighed on the scales and found deficient.” The writing went on to say Belshazzar’s reign would end.
I don’t know what form the judgment of the Lord will take, but I am quite confident that God has put up with all of the mocking He intends to from Barack Obama, and that Daniel 5 is now his passage. I say this without malice or ill will, but nonetheless, confidently.
I encourage those of you who prayed and worshipped over this election—your prayers were not in vain. Just as surely as slavery became illegal in Great Britain—the day Wilberforce died!—we will prevail in our efforts to see America awakened. “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary,” (Galations 6:9).
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