Today’s reading: JOHN 18:28-40; JOHN 19:1-16
The first Tuesday in November is election day in the United States. Yesterday, November 2nd was what is called a mid-term election. That means that all House Representatives are up for election and 1/3 of the Senate. The president is in the middle of his term, it will be two more years until Obama has to run again.
If you have seen any news about the results of yesterday’s election you will find out that the Republican party did very well yesterday. It was not a big surprise, when there is a bad economy during a mid-term election the ruling party usually takes a big hit and losses many seats. It happened to Ronald Reagan in 1982, Bill Clinton in 1994 and George Bush in 2006 (though his loss of seats was more likely due to the poor news out of Iraq). So, historically, it made sense for there to be some sort of shift back towards the Republicans.
One news story reported that there had not been such a strong change in over 70 years. So I am sure there will be quite a few Republicans and Tea Party activists that will be celebrating today. They may go as far as to predict that Obama will not get reelected in 2012.
In my chronological reading today I am in the part of the Gospels that we now call Good Friday. Jesus is being moved around to various political leaders as the Jewish Priests try to get Jesus judged guilty of crimes against Caesar and ultimately convicted to death by crucifixion. During our reading Jesus is before Pilate and we see these accusations, questions and answers…
John 19: 6 – 11 (NIV)
6 When they saw him, the leading priests and Temple guards began shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
“Take him yourselves and crucify him,” Pilate said. “I find him not guilty.”
7 The Jewish leaders replied, “By our law he ought to die because he called himself the Son of God.”
8 When Pilate heard this, he was more frightened than ever. 9 He took Jesus back into the headquarters[a] again and asked him, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave no answer. 10 “Why don’t you talk to me?” Pilate demanded. “Don’t you realize that I have the power to release you or crucify you?”
11 Then Jesus said, “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above. So the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.”
When I read that Jesus told Pilate that he has “no power over me at all unless it were given to your from above.” It immediately reminded me of the Bible study that I am doing on Tuesday night with other men from our church. We have been studying the book of Daniel.
Daniel speaks to Kings
In Chapter 4 of Daniel we read the story of Nebuchadnezzar and the dream he had that Daniel was able to recite and interpret. The dream involved a large tree that is cut down and the stump is bound in iron. Daniel interprets the dream and tells the king the following…
Daniel 4:24 – 28 (NIV)
24 “This is the interpretation, Your Majesty, and this is the decree the Most High has issued against my lord the king: 25 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes. 26 The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules. 27 Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.”
The key to avoiding this to happen, Daniel makes it clear what has to be done, in verse 25 it says…” Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.”
Then last night in our study we looked at Daniel Chapter 5. Here is where we get the idiomatic phrase “The writing is on the wall” Once again a king is very proud of himself and has not realized that it was God who ultimately put him in power. Daniel again has to speak to the king with a hard message…
Daniel 5:20 – 23 (NIV)
20 But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory. 21 He was driven away from people and given the mind of an animal; he lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like the ox; and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and sets over them anyone he wishes.
22 “But you, Belshazzar, his son have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this. 23 Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. You had the goblets from his temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines drank wine from them. You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand. But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways.
There were two clear messages, God is sovereign over all kingdoms (and elected officials) and he set over them anyone he wishes. In addition Daniel tells the king that God hold in his hand our lives and all our ways.
So, while many people may have thought that they somehow chose the newly elected and shifted the power in Washington, ultimately it was God who was in control. God allowed those people to be elected. Daniel teaches us this. Jesus also told us this even as those same leaders were about to have him crucified. There is an interesting thought, God put the people in power who were eventually going to have Jesus, His Son, crucified.
It is as though God knew everything and was in control the whole time. Well, of course he is, that is why he is called God.