The contenders have taken their places. It seems to be a contest between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on one side of the Pacific and between Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten on the other side. Not everyone is content with the choices on either continent. It seems that people are even willing to not vote, or to vote informal or even to vote for the other party out of spite because they don’t like their own particular party leader.
I wish I knew the answer. But I did have some thoughts. God has sometimes used the most unlikely people to accomplish His purposes on earth. He is interested. He is more interested than we are. He can do more about the situation than we can. It’s worth getting onside with Him to see how we can make a difference.
Cyrus and the Jews
There was a time when the Israelites languished in exile in Babylon far away from their home in Jerusalem and Judah. It seemed they would never return to their homeland. But God had a purpose to bring them home. It involved a man who was the most unlikely to be used to achieve such a purpose. It was Cyrus the king of Persia. Isaiah predicted what would happen through this servant of Yahweh. Isaiah records that Yahweh called Cyrus “my shepherd” and that he would make possible the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple, “He is my shepherd, and he shall fulfil all my purpose’; saying of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be built,’ and of the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid.'” Isa 44:28.
Yahweh also called Cyrus, His anointed. In the Brenton translation of the Greek Septuagint, Isa 45:1 “Thus saith the Lord God to my anointed Cyrus, whose right hand I have held, that nations might be obedient before him; and I will break through the strength of kings; I will open doors before him, and cities shall not be closed. 2 I will go before thee, and will level mountains: I will break to pieces brazen doors, and burst iron bars.” Here the words for “my anointed” are (χριστῷ μου or Christo mou) the same word used for Christ as the anointed one. God had “anointed” Cyrus for a special task in bringing His people back to their land. That is further indicated in verse 13 where Yahweh says, Isa 45:13 “I have stirred him up in righteousness, and I will make all his ways level; he shall build my city and set my exiles free, not for price or reward,” says the LORD of hosts.” In other words He would work in Cyrus to motivate him to work for the good of His people.
Saul of Tarsus the Persecutor became Paul the Preacher
When we are first introduced to Saul of Tarsus we find a nasty piece of work indeed. He is seen as “holding the coats” of those who stoned the saintly Stephen to death. Then the chilling words in Acts 8:1 “And Saul approved of his execution. “ The church was scattered but Paul did not give up. More chilling words in Acts 8:3 “But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.”
Would time lessen his anger against the believers? Apparently not! We come to chapter 9 and Luke records of Saul, “But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.” Not a very likely candidate to be a servant of the Lord.
But God has His purposes and sometimes He achieves them, as we have said above, through the most unlikely people. We read what happened as he travelled on the road to Damascus to arrest believers. Act 9:3 “Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. 4 And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5 And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6 But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”
He knew then that Jesus was alive and that He was what He had claimed to be. He realised he had been blind spiritually but now had been blinded physically. He was brought into Damascus “where for three days he was without sight and neither ate nor drank.” 9:9. He may have wondered what would happen to him having persecuted the church of God. But God had a purpose for Saul. He used a disciple named Ananias to go to Saul and lay his hands upon him so that he might regain his sight. Ananias could not believe that he was to do that for the persecutor Saul. But he did so when the Lord assured him that He had a purpose for Saul, Act 9:15 “But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” Saul was healed and within a few days was proclaiming Jesus in the synagogues and proclaiming that He was the Son of God. By the grace of God the great persecutor of the church was to become the great preacher of the church. God knows what He is doing as He accomplishes His purposes.
God can make a difference!
How then can we pray so that He can make a difference in the elections in the USA and in Australia. Some people think the candidates on present indications could never be used by God if they were elected. However as we have seen above, God sees things differently to us. His vision is much broader and deeper. He knows what He wants to accomplish in the mightily blessed land of America. He knows what He wants to do in Australia the “Great Southland of the Holy Spirit.” We don’t know whether He wants to bless us abundantly so that we return to Him in adoration in praise and with grateful hearts. On the other hand we don’t know whether He is fed up with our sins and will use the elections to chastise us. Only He knows.
We may have in our minds what we would like Him to do. For most of us, we would like to have elected the people who love Him and who are open to be led by His Spirit to bring God’s blessings to our nations. That may not seem possible at the moment. However in the recent series I did on the Lord’s Prayer we saw it as a prayer that can change the world. It seems to me that we need to take that prayer seriously particularly in praying the section, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” It is asking Him to establish His kingdom on earth so that His will may be done on this earth.
Be part of God’s solution, not part of the problem
In praying this prayer we are submitting ourselves to be involved in His kingdom purposes. As we continue to pray the prayer it may be that God will show us what things we can do to make a difference in our local situations. We need to be led and empowered by God’s Holy Spirit to be the people of God He wants us to be and to do the things He wants us to do. In the words of Philippians 2 we are to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling, for God is at work in us both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” 2:13-14. He gives us the willingness and the ability to do things that please Him. For example I believe that God is prompting me to write this article so that at least one other person in the USA or Australia who reads this may want to become part of God’s solution and not remain part of the problem through “opting out”.
We also need to pray for the candidates. We need to pray that God’s kingdom will come and that His will be done in their lives knowing that He did amazing things through Cyrus the Persian King and through Saul the persecutor. Or He may do it through changing the circumstances which are under His control. He may do it through other most unlikely people who are not even on the horizon as yet. He knows what He wants to do and through whom. Our praying this part of the Lord’s Prayer is our invitation to Him to do what He wants to do in our own hearts, in our cities, in our own nations as well as in the wider world.
We can make a difference as we pray regularly, “Lord may Your kingdom come and Your will be done in my life and in the lives of all these people whom I now bring before you.” (But don’t add, “Though I can’t see how You could ever possibly use Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton or Malcolm Turnbull or Bill Shorten.” )
Blog No.183. Jim Holbeck. Posted Monday 9th May 2016
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