Like the presence of a vegan at a BBQ cook-off, the title of this blog might seem absurd. After all, we're barraged daily with scandals and accusations that seem to demonstrate how unqualified both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are to be the next president of the United States. So what are you thinking, Merkey?
Well, I've been thinking about a very hard question: What kind of president should God1 provide for a nation that's killed over 58 million of its own (unborn) children for money, that makes jokes about His radiant Savior, that enslaves and traffics girls for sex, that profanes His holy Sabbath, that kicks His name around like a soccer ball, that presumes on His mercy, that covets like crazy, that prostitutes itself with a brothel full of idols2, that legalizes a person's "right" to pay someone to kill them (i.e., physician-assisted suicide), that laughs at His grace, that rapes and pillages His creation, that gossips constantly, that screams over everything from skin color to driving maneuvers, that spends over 11 billion dollars on pornography every year,3 that mocks His justice, and so on?
So what kind of president should God provide for us — for the U.S.?
Well, considering our individual and national guilt, and given God's holiness and justice, it seems that what we really deserve is a president like Tiglath-Pileser III, Shalmaneser V, Sargon II, or Sennacherib of Assyria. These were the "presidents" (kings, actually) that God hand-picked to destroy, imprison, flay, impale, dismember, and/or carry away His very own people (the Northern Kingdom of Israel, to be precise) starting around 740 B.C. for committing sins just like those we commit all day long, day after day.4 If these are the leaders that God appointed for His beloved covenant people in light of their rebellion against Him, why hasn't He appointed similar leaders for a nation of rebels like us, with whom He has no covenant relationship?
As revolting as it may be to me – as revolting as a vegan's disgust over finding bacon in his kale salad – I've got to deal with the fact that what we really deserve as a nation is God's judgment. Yes, even the kind of judgment God ordered for Israel through several Assyrian kings. In this light, despite all Hillary's and Donald's real and supposed flaws, anything better than an "Assyrian Presidency" seems like an overwhelming outpouring of God's grace to us as a nation.
So, where do we go from here? Along with absorbing the tough thoughts above, I'd suggest using the ideas below as a basis for discussion with our friends, families, churches, small groups, and other communities. They are presented as a progression of possible responses to the thoughts I've presented above.
1 By "God" I mean the God of the Bible who is "holy." Holiness means that this God is "morally pure and perfect; separated, or 'set apart,' from all other beings by His essential attributes, and especially by His moral perfection (Leviticus 11:45, 20:7; Isaiah 6:2–3; Ezekiel 22:26; Mark 1:24; John 14:26, 17:11; Hebrews 13:12)." This God is also just, which means that He's "morally correct. God is the Originator of pure moral standards for good and evil, the Evaluator of all beings by those standards, and the Distributor of rewards and punishments according to one's adherence to those standards. (Deuteronomy 32:4; Job 8:3–6, 34:12; Psalms 7:6, 33:5, 45:6–7, 89:14, 103:6; Isaiah 5:16; Matthew 12:18; Luke 18:7–8a; 2 Thessalonians 1:6)." My thought process as a Christian, and thus the ideas in this blog, pivot upon this understanding of God. Of course, if we throw this God to the curb, the whole blog falls apart. Although we'd be living a very dangerous lie, we'd possibly be blissfully carefree for a while in our smug self-righteousness, just as Israel was before the Assyrian kings arrived with their armies. [Source of attribute definitions: Gush: Refreshment for Thirsty Christians by Douglas W. Merkey (that's me), pages 256–257.]
2 What are idols? Broadly speaking, an idol is any object of our devotion/worship that's not the true and living God. We can worship anything, but to worship anything but God or to worship anything above God is called idolatry. To identify our idols, all we need to do is think of whatever we pursue other than God for a sense of power, prosperity, pleasure, popularity, or prestige.
3 http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/seven-things-more-expensive-than-the-2014-midterm-elections/article/2555534, October 12, 2016
4 Read all about this in the Old Testament book of 2 Kings 15–18. Also, here's a pretty interesting website that describes the military tactics of the ancient Assyrians. Here's another.
5 God sent numerous prophets to Israel before He brought the Assyrians to discipline them. The gospel of Jesus Christ is God's crystal-clear declaration that invites sinners like us to confess, repent, and trust Him for the free gift of eternal life (see John 3:16 and Romans 1–8).
6 Sin is not, as Churchianity and others believe nowadays, simply a "mistake" or "brokenness." Sin is rebellion against God. It's breaking God's law (see Exodus 20 for a reminder of the 10-point summary of God's law). We can sin on purpose or out of ignorance. We can sin with much "aggravation" (e.g., actually killing a person) or with mild "aggravation" (e.g., hating a person in our hearts). See Matthew 5:21-48 for Jesus' clear word on these ideas. Sin deserves God's justice and condemnation (see Romans 1-3). We commit sins in our hearts (wrong beliefs and attitudes) and with our hands (wrong deeds) and with our mouths (wrong words). To confess our sins is to examine our lives along these lines and to tell God what He already knows about us (He already know all our sin far better than we do).
7 John Newton, "Amazing Grace," originally published in 1779. Newton was an English poet and Anglican clergyman.