Although it’s almost 3 weeks since the Presidential election, the outcome is still being contested. Regardless of who ultimately is certified as the winner, how should followers of Yeshua (Jesus) respond to the outcome?
Whoever is certified as the winner of the Presidential election, there will be some Yeshua followers who will be disappointed. You may find it hard to believe, but there are fellow Messiah followers who didn’t vote as you did and wanted the other guy to win. Regardless of who wins an election, the Bible directs us in our response to whoever ultimately sits in the Oval Office. Here are four principles to guide us.
First, we have to trust that God Himself is sovereign over the election, even when the candidate I chose, loses. In a democracy as we have in the United States, we presume that “we the people” determine who becomes president. And while that is true in a sense, God remains sovereign over the election. This principle is found in Proverbs 16:33: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.” A modern paraphrase would be, “Mark your ballot and cast your vote but the election outcome is from the Lord.”
Therefore, whoever takes the Presidential oath of office on January 20, he will be sworn in because of God’s decision. In a passage about the pagan and prideful King Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel 4:17 says, “the Most High is ruler over the kingdom of men, he gives it to anyone He wants and sets over it the lowliest of men.” This verse reminds us that God is in charge of the presidency and He is the one who places people in office.
Second, we need to be respectful of the office of President regardless of who fills it. The Apostle Peter gave advice to persecuted believers and told them to “Honor the Emperor” (1 Pet 2:17). Let’s be real. Some of you feel you could never show honor to an office holder who disrespected the sanctity of marriage and spoke abominably of women. Others say they could never respect someone who is opposed to the sanctity of life. Just remember, Peter gave this exhortation when Nero was the Roman Emperor. If Peter could call for respect for the office of Roman emperor when one of the most notorious and wicked men held that position, then it seems like believers need to show respect for the office of President, no matter which candidate becomes President.
Third, we need to commit to pray for the President and all our political leaders whether we like them or not. Paul’s first letter to Timothy was also written during Nero’s reign and he said this: “I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Tim 2:1-2).
My first pastorate began in July of 1983, near the end of the first Reagan administration. During the pastoral prayer every week, I resolutely prayed for President Reagan in obedience to 1 Tim 2:1-2. And every week, some of the Democrats in the congregation grumbled and chided me. At the same time, the Republicans in the congregation thought I was unusually wise for such a young pastor. Flash forward ten years. I was still a pastor when Bill Clinton entered the Oval Office. And much to the chagrin of my Republican congregants, I prayed for President Clinton every week. The Democrats in our congregation thought I had finally smartened up after being such a foolish youth. The point is, we don’t pray based on the party affiliation of the President. We need to pray for anyone who holds that office.
Why should we pray for whoever is President? There are two reasons to pray for those in office. First, they need it . . . desperately. We can’t even imagine what passes the President’s desk daily, the tough decisions that he needs to make, the wisdom that he will need to lead our nation. If there’s ever someone that needed prayer, it’s the President of the United States. Second, we need it. Paul’s reminder is that a successful presidency will enable us to lead a “tranquil and quiet life.” After a year like 2020, boy do we ever need a tranquil and quiet life.
Finally, we need to remember whom we ultimately serve. It’s not the President or a political party. We live to serve our master and King, the Lord Yeshua. Remembering that He’s on His throne, seated next to His Father, and planning His return to sit on the throne of David in Jerusalem, to rule Israel and the world, should comfort us. Trusting Him will make it possible to honor and pray for anyone in the White House in Washington. That’s because we recognize our true leader, the King of all the earth.