The Day Before All Hell Breaks Loose…Or Maybe Not?
Tomorrow is the 2016 election day for the United States of America, and it is expected that either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be voted in as the next President. As a Canadian who has been able to watch this whole saga unfold from a relatively close distance without actually being in the middle of it, I would have to say this is easily the most interesting political situation I have witnessed in my relatively short life. Despite all the hoopla going down these last several months, I have been virtually silent on the whole issue other than the occasional conversation with people I know in real life. Not that I expect anyone to really give 2 cents about what I think, I nevertheless offer up a few observations for your consideration.
1. Which candidate should a Christian vote for?
Despite what you may think, there is only one right answer to this question. The only right answer is that there is no right answer to this question.
God has given us through his Word guiding principles for how we should make decisions on matters that are not directly addressed in Scripture. This is one such case. There is no direct call in the Bible for how Christians should vote in a democratic society, probably because the authors of the Bible knew of no such society. So we are left to take biblical principles and apply them to our decisions.
There are lots of viewpoints. One is to abstain from voting altogether. Another is to vote for who you think is the lesser of two evils. Another is to vote for whomever is going to reduce the likelihood of abortions. Another is to consider that a Presidential candidate must have Christian character, and thus vote for neither of them but a write-in who meets that criteria. And the list goes on.
The truth is that all of these views are biblically acceptable. It boils down to a matter of conscience. The Spirit of God will lead each individual Christian to vote as he chooses. God will also guide the hearts of unbelievers, even though they won’t be aware of it. And ultimately the candidate that gains office will be the one whom God has raised up at this point in time.
2. God is behind all of this.
Believe it or not, God is in control of this whole mess.
“He removes kings, and sets up kings.” (Daniel 2:21)
If you think that sounds controversial, consider that neither Clinton or Trump are anywhere near the level of crazy that other kings were whom God raised up in biblical times. Vicious tyrants like Nebuchadnezzar, Xerxes, Herod, Alexander the Great, and so on, all came to power under the rulership of God. Their wickedness, for which they are responsible, was part of a larger plan that God used in the unfolding events of history. The exact same thing is at play before our eyes. Though it really is mind-blowing that the two best people America could produce for Presidency somehow ended up being these two individuals, it is not so surprising knowing that God has allowed these kinds of things to happen in the past to serve his purposes.
3. Is this a sign of the end times?
Maybe. There are some good reasons to believe that we are moving towards the last days as the Bible lays them out. But I wouldn’t be too quick to assume that. The return of Christ has delayed for over 2,000 years, and at many points over the centuries Christians have thought themselves to be living in the last days. While it wouldn’t surprise me that a turn of events like this could be an essential link in the chain that leads to the eventual rise of the anti-Christ, we simply don’t know for sure if that will be the case. Who knows? Could America, and the rest of the world, not see from this a revival in Christianity that goes global, before later seeing another collapse bringing the end? And another cycle after that? And then another? I don’t believe that Bible is definitive either way.
4. As Christians, we are called to pray for and submit to governing authorities.
God is shockingly clear that believers are called to obey the government:
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.  Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. (Romans 13:1-2)
Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme,  or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.  For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. (1 Peter 2:13-15)
The only exception is on matters that directly contradict the commands of God. The apostles, for example, disobeyed authority when they were told to stop preaching the gospel:
But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)
Similarly, the three young Hebrews refused to participate in government-forced pagan worship:
“…be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:18)
Christians are also commanded to pray for those who are in authority:
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,  for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.  This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior… (1 Timothy 2:1-3)
Put together, the biblical portrait is that Christians ought to obey the government, pray for those in positions of leadership, and thus lead peaceful and quiet lives. Once a candidate takes over office, we will see how seriously American Christians take these words.
5. Don’t forget your true citizenship.
For all who are Christians, “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). Earth is not our home. We are strangers and aliens and exiles on the earth (Ephesians 2:19, Hebrews 11:13), and that means that we don’t really belong here. Because we are united to Christ, we are not of this world. Heaven is our home, and we are mere passerbys sojourning on earth for a brief time.
Perhaps the most disappointing thing for me to see as this election has unfolded is that so many Christians in America seem to put their hope in the government, rather than God. They believe that electing the right official will be the answer to their de-Christianized nation. They assume that the President can put into place Christian values and thereby stop the country from going to hell in a handbasket.
But hear me on this: what will make America great, or any other nation of this world, is not anything the government can do, but only what the Church of Christ can do. It does not ultimately matter who is in power, because all human powers are subject to the power that lives in us, the power of God. Our world will not be saved by legislating morality. It will be saved through hearts that are transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
So while it matters who the next President is, it does not matter more than—or even remotely close to—whether or not Christians in America and around the world are bearing witness with their lives to the beauty and glory of God, calling upon him in fervent prayer, and focusing on the evangelization of our neighbours, family, and friends in everyday life.
Fellow believer, don’t be fooled. The President isn’t the greatest power in America. You are, because the Spirit of God is in you!
So, yes, consider how to vote. Pray it through. Weigh the options and decide carefully. But don’t spend nearly the energy, time, or effort on that as you do serving in your local church, loving your neighbour, praying for people, living for Christ, and sharing the good news. Don’t allow yourself to get off track. All hell already has broken loose; it happened in the Garden of Eden.
The Church is here to bring the light, so whether the world around you seems to be getting darker or not, keep on shining!