Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 8 November 2016

As has just been said:  “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”  Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.  Hebrews 3, verses 15-19.

Today is Election Day.   Today we, as Americans, will elect either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton as president.   We’re voting for the president, for members of Congress, state legislators and governors, local officials, judges and a host of ballot or state constitutional issues.   If you’ve followed politics this year, you may agree:   this election has divided the United States unlike any other in our lifetimes.  Thankfully, it’ll be over today (or soon after if it’s contested) and then the real work of governing and reconciliation will begin.

As we begin that work, perhaps a question, paraphrased from Hebrews, is appropriate:  are our hearts so hard that we cannot enter rest?   Have we become so divided that we can’t come back together and live in peace?   Or at least live in peace disagreeing?  The United States is culturally, economically, politically, ethnically, even racially more divided than at any time since 1860.   That year, the division led to civil war.   Are we that far gone?

I’m reminded of Matthew 19:26.   Jesus has been talking with a rich young man who wanted to puff himself up by chest-bumping the Son of Man.   Instead, Jesus reaches into the man’s heart and levels with him.   “Give up the world and follow me.”   When the young man walks away disillusioned, Jesus remarks, “With man this is impossible but with God all things are possible.”

With God as our first focus, all things are possible.   By going first to God in prayer, we can avoid hardening our hearts as we did in our rebellion, in entrenching these divisions.  God held the ancient Israelites accountable for their rebellion against Him.  They wandered in the desert in sight of the Promised Land until those who believed in the rebellion instead of God were dead and buried.   Redemption was possible but so was chastisement.

Centuries before that, God confounded the language of men when men became too arrogant and rebellions at Babel.  It was the first major human endeavor after Noah’s family left the ark.   Rather than building a city in humility and thanksgiving, mankind build a skyscraper to ‘make a name for ourselves.’   Translation:   “(blank) you, God.   We don’t need you anymore.”   Division followed.   God gob-smacked people with dozens of new languages, confusing their ability to communicate and live together (and finish that audacious tower).  What seemed like chastisement was, in reality, a step towards the people’s redemption.   With God all things are possible.

We, as a people, aren’t much different and we shouldn’t expect any different treatment.  This isn’t some consolation if your candidate loses; this isn’t some pablum to reassure you that things will be ok if you have a bitter pill to swallow.   This is hard, aggressive truth.   ALL things are possible with God.  All through the history of the Bible people sought God, glorified Him, fell away from Him, and felt His wrath until they sought Him again.   All through the history of America we have sought God, glorified him, fallen away from Him, and felt His wrath until we have sought Him again.   All through our history, as we have built and succeeded, we’ve walked away from God.   If you don’t see how we, as a people, have walked away from God for decades now, and now we’re suffering accordingly, then you need to open your eyes.   It’s all good times until the good times run out and then we’re left with the bad ones.

And, at the end of those times, we sought God again.  The First and Second Great Awakenings (of the 1600s and 1800s, respectively) were evidence of this cycle.   Some think our nation is on the edge of a third Great Awakening while others think we’re at the start of the end times.   I think nobody knows.  But I also think – and deeply believe – that days like this contentious Election Day are good days to hold onto our original conviction, our faith in Jesus.  It’s a good day to remember that quote from Matthew 19.   It’s a good day to do our civic duty, then remember that, no matter the outcome, with God all things are possible.

For more reading:   Genesis 11, Psalm 95, Numbers 14:2, Numbers 14:29, Psalm 106:26, 1 Corinthians 10:5, Deuteronomy 1:34-25, Psalm 78:22, John 3:36, Matthew 19:26.

Lord God, I believe that You are over all things, that with You all things are possible.   Bless our divided nation, bless our new leaders, and thank You for the privilege of living here.

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