1. God is sovereign. He presides over all things.
2. Nothing that has happened, is happening, or will happen is outside of His sovereign will.
If you disagree with those statements stop here, and let's discuss that. If we start this off in different places then as we press on things will get just messy. So, God has the reigns. Forward march.
Nebuchadnezzar is probably the most famous heathen in the Bible. There is more said about him in these pages than about any other monarch. He's a pretty infamous dude. A bad dude. His whole family is really. So the other day as I was reading through Jeremiah, I was a little perplexed to find that here, and again here, God refers to Nebuchadnezzar as "My Servant".
What's up with that? Neb, the crazy cat who killed the wise men who couldn't interpret his dreams, and barbecued anyone who refused to worship his golden image, God is calling that guy "My Servant"? Go a little further and it gets even weirder:
"And say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will send and take Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and I will set his throne above these stones that I have hidden, and he will spread his royal canopy over them. He shall come and strike the land of Egypt, giving over to the pestilence those who are doomed to the pestilence, to captivity those who are doomed to captivity, and to the sword those who are doomed to the sword. I shall kindle a fire in the temples of the gods of Egypt, and he shall burn them and carry them away captive. And he shall clean the land of Egypt as a shepherd cleans his cloak of vermin, and he shall go away from there in peace. He shall break the obelisks of Heliopolis, which is in the land of Egypt, and the temples of the gods of Egypt he shall burn with fire.’”
(Jeremiah 43:10-13 ESV)
This is a pagan, heathen idolater. Yet here's the same word that is used to describe David, and Jesus. Servant. A servant that God raised, and God used to accomplish His will. Step back a few chapters to Jeremiah 27 and take a look at this:
"In the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD. Thus the LORD said to me: “Make yourself straps and yoke-bars, and put them on your neck. Send word to the king of Edom, the king of Moab, the king of the sons of Ammon, the king of Tyre, and the king of Sidon by the hand of the envoys who have come to Jerusalem to Zedekiah king of Judah. Give them this charge for their masters: ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: This is what you shall say to your masters: “It is I who by my great power and my outstretched arm have made the earth, with the men and animals that are on the earth, and I give it to whomever it seems right to me. Now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, my servant, and I have given him also the beasts of the field to serve him. All the nations shall serve him and his son and his grandson, until the time of his own land comes. Then many nations and great kings shall make him their slave."
(Jeremiah 27:1-7 ESV)
Interesting. Can you imagine how Jeremiah must have felt delivering that news? He's walking around with his head bowed and this heavy yoke on his neck, and he's telling people that they need to go into captivity, under Neb, who, by the way, God seems awfully fond of. Then what happens? Hananiah, a false prophet, comes on the scene and contradicts Jeremiah. Breaks the yoke on Jeremiah's neck. And dismisses the Word of God. Let's just say things didn't work out too well for that there false prophet.
Now, we are deep into the political season right now in America, and I'm about ready to shut myself up in my house and avoid all forms of media until this election is over. I'm tired of the political Christianese that fills the air in times like this. I'm tired of people forwarding me email invitations to pray that America will turn back to God, and vote Republican. I'm tired of people urging me to vote for the lesser evil. I'm tired of being threatened with "If you don't vote you can't complain." I'm tired of the laundry lists of implications people attach to a vote. I'm tired of a man being the image of God's blessing, and on the flip side, of God's wrath.
Let me say this loud and clear: We have no more control over America than Jeremiah had over Israel.
God is as much on His throne in the political realm as he is in any other. America is not immune to His Sovereignty.
Which means, I don't fear four more years with President Obama, or eight years with Mitt Romney. If God wants to knock America on her butt, no man is going to stop him. If God wants to pick American back up off her butt, no man is going to get in His way. If God, want to put a godly man in the White House, no amount of votes will stop Him.
Friends, I don't give a rip who you vote for. Let me say that again: I do not care who you vote for. I will not roll my eyes at your Obama bumper sticker, and I will not attack your Pro-Romney Facebook status.
I do, however, care about the process you go through in making that decision. Are you seeking God? You might say, "Of course, I know who God would want me to vote for, the pro-lifer. The pro-marriager. The pro-Hair Club for Men . . .er. I mean, surely God wouldn't lead Christians to vote for someone who is on the other side of those issues. Would he?
Let's look back at our good buddy Nebuchadnezzar. Obviously, he was God's sovereign choice for the throne of Babylon. Undeniably he did some pretty wicked things with this power. Without a second thought he had Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego tossed into a furnace because they wouldn't worship his golden idol. Talk about a temper tantrum, he even had his minions crank up the heat to the extra crispy setting. But, then something went wrong. The boys didn't burn up. Neb looked into the furnace and saw not three, but four men in there. The fourth he described as looking like a son of the gods. Oh, snap.
So what does Neb do? He calls Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to come out of the furnace, referring to them as "servants of the Most High God". Continuing his flare for the dramatic, he declares that anyone who speaks against this God will be torn limb to limb, and their house will be laid in ruins. Seriously, can we say Anger Management?
Then comes the clincher. Nebuchadnezzar—King of Babylon, murderer, tyrant, idolater, and all around wacko—praises God.
"How great are his signs,
how mighty his wonders!
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and his dominion endures from generation to generation."
(Daniel 4:3 ESV)
Of course the story continues, he goes nuts, turns into a bird man, and loses everything. God humbles him (in a way that only God can) and again Nebby turns to God, praises him as the Most High God, and has his kingdom and his wits restored. Such a sweet little story really.
So, you're wondering now how all of this ties together, right? I just want you to ask yourself this: Would you have followed Jeremiah, or Hananiah (the false prophet)? Let's modernize the tale a little and say it's set in present day America. You have a prophet of God (a real one that doesn't have a television show or a Superman cape) he's telling you that Nebuchadnezzar is God's pick for Head of State. Do you listen, and trust that our finite minds cannot comprehend the great big infinite plan of God? Or, do you write the prophet off as a total nut job and pour everything you've got into campaigning for the other guy?
Perhaps that's a silly way to put it. So let me just say this. I absolutely, whole heartedly, believe that God is sovereign. I don't think that's an excuse for us to be lazy or apathetic. By any means. But I do think it means that we don't have to be motivated by fear. Can we survive another four years of the Obama Administration? I don't know. Maybe not. But it's all part of the Master's plan. Maybe we're not supposed to. Or perhaps, God has a special plan for Mr. Obama (or Mr. Romney). Perhaps he'll use this position, or the loss of the position, as a means to reach these men's hearts. As we speak God could be working through them in the same way he did Nebuchadnezzar. In the same way he did Saul (Paul). In the same way he did Cyrus.
Examine your heart. If you're not open to the thought of "God's servant, Barack Obama", then you probably wouldn't have been opened to "God's servant, Paul" either. In which case, God is not big enough in your eyes. Friends, no one is out side of His reach.
No man is bigger than God's Grace.
No country is bigger than God's Sovereignty.
No vote is bigger than God's Will.
Do you believe that? I do.
Thank you, Lord, for saving a wacko like me. For reaching down into my wreck of a life, and pouring your grace over me. All glory, all honor, all praise, goes to You.