It’s that time for us all once again. No, not Thanksgiving, no not Christmas, but rather the most wonderful time that only comes around once every four years! Tuesday is election day! Specifically, presidential election day!
Now, I know that most of you will be up all night with the eager anticipation to go out and cast your vote. You won’t catch a wink of sleep with the sense of empowerment and privilege that fills your heart having the honor to select one of the most powerful leaders in our world for the next four years.
In fact, some of you may have already cast your vote via an absentee ballot, claiming to be unable to make it to the polls Tuesday just like a child peeking at their Christmas presents early.
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
At this time, we have an incredible opportunity and, I believe, responsibility to greatly influence our nation and this world through a simple act of voting. Voting is a way in which we can be salt and light. This simple act of selecting our leaders has a profound impact on each and every one of us. Voting is not something from which we separate our faith, rather, our faith is the guide which we use to vote. Even as Paul wrote:
1 Corinthians 10:31
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
When we vote, we do not do so unadvisedly, but rather, we vote in a way which we can best give glory to God. Nothing in our lives is separated in the eyes of God, certainly not church and state! Being a disciple of Jesus is not a part of who we are, it is not a part of our lives, it is who we are and it is our life. This means that whatever we do, wherever we go, we should be doing it all for the glory of God.
We choose for ourselves leaders that will best uphold the principles and values found in the Kingdom of God as revealed through His word. Though few men and women in the pages of scripture had the privilege of casting votes for their civil leaders, the Bible is far from quiet about what we should look for in those who would carry the responsibility of leading us.
Jason already spoke a few weeks ago about the Biblical mandate that we all have to honor and pray for all those in authority. That mandate was given to a people living under extremely oppressive civil leadership that openly and deliberately was set against Christians, even publicly murdering them for entertainment’s sake. How much more of a responsibility do we hold to honor those in authority who fight to defend our freedom to worship God and to live out our faith publicly? We were also reminded of the incredible ways in which Daniel was blessed and how God was able to work through him because of his choice to serve the evil King Nebuchadnezzar.
As we receive our smartcards and step up to our console to vote, what is it that God’s word tells us that we should look for in the leaders which we select? What should we be thinking of and considering when casting our ballots?
Although the nation of Israel was always intended to be a theocracy, that is, God, Himself was their leader, there was still a need for people to lead them. Eventually, Israel rejected this idea and wanted to have a king as their leader like all of the other nations, which didn’t go so well for them, but that’s another sermon for another time…
Even though they were a theocracy, they became a democracy when it came to choosing their leaders. In Deuteronomy, Israel was just about to enter into their promised land. A transfer of national authority and leadership was about to take place from Moses to Joshua, much like the presidential authority and leadership is transferred in January following the presidential election. Moses reminded all of Israel of God’s laws for them.
The very first thing which Moses chooses to do is to remind them of the initial need and reason why they chose to elect leadership at the various levels of their civil life and also what to look for in those individuals.
9 At that time I said to you, “You are too heavy a burden for me to carry alone. 10 The Lord your God has increased your numbers so that today you are as numerous as the stars in the sky. 11 May the Lord, the God of your ancestors, increase you a thousand times and bless you as he has promised! 12 But how can I bear your problems and your burdens and your disputes all by myself? 13 Choose some wise, understanding and respected men from each of your tribes, and I will set them over you.”
14 You answered me, “What you propose to do is good.”
15 So I took the leading men of your tribes, wise and respected men, and appointed them to have authority over you—as commanders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens and as tribal officials. 16 And I charged your judges at that time, “Hear the disputes between your people and judge fairly, whether the case is between two Israelites or between an Israelite and a foreigner residing among you. 17 Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike. Do not be afraid of anyone, for judgment belongs to God. Bring me any case too hard for you, and I will hear it.” 18 And at that time I told you everything you were to do.
So also, we should vote for leaders over ourselves who possess these traits.
First of all, civil government was established by God in order to maintain peace amongst its citizens. God gave Israel the law and chose people to teach and enforce it. This law ensured the peace and prosperity of Israel’s citizens and the foreigners living among them. The reason why the various levels of government were formed are so that those leaders might serve its citizens well. Government, from God’s perspective, was truly established by the people and for the people.
Moses bore the problems, burdens, and disputes of the people. When the nation grew too large, he followed the wisdom of his father-in-law Jethro, whom was led by God, and established civil leaders at various levels of government.
17 Moses’ father-in-law said, “What you are doing is not good. 18 You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. 19 Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. 20 Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. 21 But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22 Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. 23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”
We should seek to elect individuals who keep this perspective toward government. Those who are running for self-serving purposes or who wish to control the people have no place in authority or leadership. We should elect true servants who hate dishonest gain and are trustworthy. We should not elect those who want to increase the size of the government for the government’s own sake, but rather those who establish only the degree of government necessary to maintain law and order amongst its citizens.
In my opinion, we currently have too much government, too many regulations, and we’re beginning to lose our nation’s vision of a government by the people and for the people. In fact, the first article written in the Bill of Rights was to literally regulate the size of the government via a limitation on the number of representatives similar to the wisdom given to Moses by Jethro. This ensured adequate and proper representation of all of the people, but kept the size of the government to a minimum.
Next, Moses gives three traits in verse 13 that the Israelites were to look for in these individuals to be placed in authority. The first was wisdom. For time’s sake, we’re only going to scratch the surface of wisdom today. A quick look at King Solomon’s leadership will reveal the tremendous impact that choosing wise leaders makes on a nation. Through wisdom, God can richly bless and prosper the people of a nation! He can trust that nation to be a world leader and with great resources if its leaders walk in the wisdom of the Lord.
Wisdom is essentially to possess knowledge and rightly apply it. The leaders we elect in authority should possess knowledge regarding their position and the decisions they will be faced with in that position. They should also know how to practically apply that knowledge to best lead us.
Wisdom, of course, begins with the fear of the Lord. He alone is the true embodiment of wisdom and He has promised to freely give it to anyone who asks for it without finding fault. A leader who will first seek after God and to follow His guidance above all others will be certain to walk in true wisdom.
The next trait Moses gave was understanding, which is also appropriately translated as discerning in some translations of the Bible. One can only imagine the high level of understanding and discernment that it would require in any level of governmental leadership. Even seemingly simple decisions that these leaders make have a huge ripple effect after their impact.
It is necessary for us to elect leaders who can understand and relate to the many aspects of the lives of those they will be in authority over so that they can made these decisions well. It is easy to make a decision sitting in the desk of a government office hundreds of miles away from those which will be impacted by those decisions. We must elect leaders who are understanding enough to be able to grasp and discern the full ramifications of the decisions they will make. They must be leaders who are truly for the people because they understand the people which they represent.
The last trait that Moses specifically gave was respect. The original Hebrew word is the word yada. This trait is not an adjective, but rather, a verb. This is a loaded word of action. Some translations appropriately translate this word as known, well-respected, knowledgeable, experienced, practical, and capable. The word literally means to ascertain by seeing and takes on a variety of senses in its usage that all go back to this same root concept.
We need to elect leaders who have first-hand experience at the task at hand. You wouldn’t take a high school student who has only ever washed dishes as a job and give them the responsibility of CEO of Walmart. Moses was saying to pick someone well known and respected by the people that they would represent; someone capable and experienced to be able to practically handle the role of authority with excellence.
Politicians are experts at speaking empty words that sound so inspiring, making promises that go unfulfilled, and spinning everything in their favor. Instead of listening to their many cunning words and speech after speech, we should look at their lives and what they have actually accomplished themselves. For those who have been in politics prior to their nomination, look at their voting record and not at what they promise. Actions should speak much, much louder than words when it comes to who we elect into authority.
Transparency and honesty are absolute musts for anyone in governmental leadership and for those pursuing such positions. Those that they will represent must be able to look into their lives and see the fruits of the decisions that they have made and how they have handled themselves, especially how they have responded to failure.
Even if not being elected into a position of judge, all of those in authority will be making judgment calls. We must elect those into office that create, uphold, and enforce law justly and not show favoritism. This is where corruption in politics begin, when those in authority are lead away from justice and righteousness for personal gain.
We have the privilege of living in a nation that was established valuing all people equally as its base foundation. When we decided to part ways with Great Britain and begin a new nation, the Declaration of Independence stated: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
This foundation of our nation must be upheld by those we elect into office that God, our Creator, has given us certain rights that absolutely must be assured to all of our citizens. Laws and judgments must be made and enforced impartially to all.
We must also elect individuals who are able to discern that the rights and benefits that our nation has to offer are limited to those who enter our country by legal means and who follow the established path to immigration.
The last trait that we’ll look at this morning required is that they are fearless. Of course, by this, I mean that they fear no man. Fearing God is a requirement for sure! Especially in the days in which we are living, we must elect those into office who are able to identify our enemies and fearlessly protect and defend our nation from them.
We also need to elect those who are willing to stand with God and His principles regardless of what people say otherwise. They need to be ones like Joshua who will choose to be bold and courageous in their pursuit of God and His plans and purposes for their realm of authority; even if they are standing and leading alone. He was so bold as to tell the nation that he was leading:
14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
This Tuesday, when you stand there ready to cast your ballot, remember these six traits that God has given us for those who we select for positions of leadership and authority.
Get informed, pray, and vote!