NOTE FROM JON: When I wrote the article below in July, 2016, many friends and ministry leaders wrote to voice their solidarity with its message.
After we elected him, over the next five years we watched this man daily trash our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount and curse and alienate everyone who disagreed with him – about anything and everything. We watched – and we said nothing. Then we began to defend, and eventually we began to champion the very same qualities that we had all agreed were “evil” back in 2016.
It’s now 2022. The hundreds of prophecies and prayer rallies on his behalf have failed. This man is now out of office. Many of his former advisors and associates have come forward to warn us of this man’s dangerous character. Numerous evangelical leaders have gently and resolutely sought to bring us words of correction and repentance; oftentimes while being branded as divisive, socialist dupes, and even enemies of the gospel.
In 2 Samuel 12 the Lord sends the prophet Nathan to the wayward King David. The message that Nathan speaks pierces David’s heart and he turns to the Lord in deep repentance (See Psalm 51). Seeing his contrition the Lord announces that David and his kingdom will only be visited with 2 of the 3 original punishments.
If any fear of the Lord remains within us, we must deign to ask ourselves this question: “What does the Lord do with a people who not only refuse to repent of their infidelity, but turn the prophet Nathan away and no longer desire to hear the Lord’s evaluation of our ways?” JSB
WHERE ARE THE FRIENDS OF THE BRIDEGROOM?
ELECTION 2016: An Urgent Call to Radical Fidelity to Jesus by J.S. Boegl
In the heat of another election year, is the church’s fervor to further the greatness of our nation coming at the cost of our witness to the greatness of our God?
Neither the moral reasoning, the cultural climate, nor the church’s vibrancy look anything like it did 40 years ago. In 2016, much of America argues for the right to murder a baby outside of the womb, and has no thought of keeping abortion rare and safe. Courts throughout our land endorse a non-Biblical definition of marriage. This is not a potential. It is now the law of our democracy. Our cities bleed from unhealed wounds of racial hostility. As we speak, schools and businesses in every community in America are being tasked to infest our children with boundless sexual/identity confusion. A suicidal horde of devils has been unleashed against us, and we’re forbidden to identify the plague for what it is. Our neighbors, having dined on decades of religious humanism in universities, movies and the arts, see no distinction between the god of Islam and the eternal God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Jesus Christ. There is pandemic disagreement about the nature of good and evil. The Bible is seen as a manufactured collection of oppressive, fairy tales. The intelligencia trumpet open hostility toward those who believe the claims of Jesus Christ. At the same time, involvement in local church communities continues to wane at a critically low ebb. Our nation hasn’t seen wide-spread revival since the Jesus-people revolution in the 70’s. Within our own Bible-believing, evangelical ranks, less than 20% of our brothers and sisters affirm that Jesus Christ is the sole source of eternal redemption for all mankind.
I get it. Our nation isn’t headed for judgment. The storm is upon us. Indeed, as one friend observed: Regardless of whether Trump or Clinton win the election, in this hour, we believers have a lot of praying to do.
What was recorded of Israel at the end of the book of Judges, is woefully true in America, today:
In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (Judges 17:6) and, The word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation. (1 Samuel 3:1)
It was within this morass, when the people had neither a prophet nor a king, that God birthed a prophetic voice. And although Samuel led the nation to serve the Lord with devotion (1 Samuel 7:3) the people soon broke their vow to serve the Lord alone (1 Samuel 7:4). The ark was lost. The glory of the Lord departed. And in their dim condition, Israel began to cry out neither for God, nor revelation, but for a king.
From the pathos of this drama God weeps with the crestfallen Samuel: they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. (1 Samuel 8:7)
There are several troubling similarities between Samuel’s Israel and our modern-day nation. But it’s a dissimilarity that’s perhaps the most disturbing. In our day we have many prophets who, though they may weep, appear to be using their prophetic voice to clamor for a king. Some even threaten, If evangelicals don’t embrace Trump they are turning their back on God and will be responsible for our demise under Hillary.
To my many friends heralding the conservative candidate, I respectfully ask: “Could it be that God has allowed Trump to ascend, not for the purpose of saving the nation, but for the purpose of sanctifying the Church?” I watch brothers and sisters being swirled by these ephemeral exhortations, and I ask: “Where is the unchangeable Word of the Lord? Where are those whose pure love for the King and His way see the thunderclouds overhead, refuse to bend the knee to either candidate, and instead call both candidates, the parties and the nation to bend the knee before the (Joel 2:1 & 11) coming day of the Lord?”
Fast-forward 1300 years. Once again, the people of God are spiritually barren and compromised; crippled under the thumb of sin and injustice. The Word of the Lord is again rare. Only this time the Jews have a king. And he was everything Samuel warned the people a king would be to them (1 Samuel 8:7-22). And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you. (1 Samuel 8:18) Herod Antipas was a carnal, corrupt, murderous tycoon.
Within this context, God empowered a voice; a voice that had been weened in the desert; detached from the political partisanship and religious factionalism of his day. The voice of John the Baptist rang out as a clarion plumb line by which all government, economic, genders, secular and religious persons were measured. His was a voice that wasn’t hostage to social likes and dislikes. It forthrightly broadcast God’s terms to a nation at risk.
John said, “I am the voice of one shouting in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord,’ (John 1:23)
Over the past several months, as the two candidates: corporeal reflections of the heart of both democrats and republicans have emerged, a three-fold cry has emerged in my own heart: “Father, where is the spirit of John the Baptist among Your people? Our nation needs resounding voices that have been forged in the fires of personal intimacy, not political expediency. Spare us from our own (1 Samuel 8:18) hour, Father! Raise up friends of the Bridegroom who will witness with integrity to Your heart!”
Our nation is in need of a three-fold prayer for bold friends of the Bridegroom in this hour:
1. Father, Raise up true forerunners who will stand with Kingdom integrity!
John disturbed a lot of nests. He asserted that every hill, valley and crooked path was at risk before the burning flame of His holiness.
His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. (Matthew 3:12)
Because The day of the Lord makes no distinction between the church and state; the politically correct, or the boorish; the self-righteous, or the carnal; the religious, or the godless, John was prophetically dangerous to the aspirations of politicians, priests and paupers.
This election cycle our nation needs a resolute voice to come forth; one that will look at a humanistic candidate and declare with authority: “You’re a deceptive and calculating spirit. You are not fit to govern your own soul, much less the soul of a nation.” – and then not lose the integrity of their message because they also refuse to shrink back from saying to the conservative candidate: “You’re an unapologetic hedonist with an unrepentant lust for power and a murderous tongue. We will not bow to your definition, nor your promise to make America great. Even now, our nation is overshadowed by the judgment of God. It does not lie within your power to do what you’ve promised. It’s you, O man, who need to find shelter in the greatness of the Lord.”
Where are the courageous, burning ones, in whom the world has no root, who will stand amidst the campaign confusion and deliver the unmixed message of the Lord?
2. Father, Raise up voices who will proclaim the eternal nature of greatness with radical clarity!
John was radically prioritized to the wonderful greatness of Jesus. He knew the destiny of everything that did not bow to the ascendancy of Christ, and he put no stock in it. It was this revelation that caused him to yield in worship: He must increase, and I must decrease. (John 3:30)
John also knew that any potential path to human greatness must come through the same decrease of humility, servanthood, and a cross. This was the brilliant way that Jesus put forth in the Sermon on the Mount. “Blessed are the poor in spirit; the meek; the pure in heart…” (Matthew 5-7)
If indeed this is the way to greatness (Matthew 5:19), and these are the Kingdom qualities that we long to see bless (Matthew 5:3) our land, how then can we also embrace & endorse a man (for the most influential position in our culture) whose whole life is entirely antithetical to them?
Frankly, John had seen the future. The increase of the Lord’s government of the Lord wasn’t open for compromise. He invested the entirety of his life in the Lord’s definition of greatness increasing in the land – without having to cut deals with Herods and the religious establishment who were only interested in using John for their own aspirations of greatness. (Matthew 3:7 & Matthew 14:5)
In light of John’s example I must ask: Should we make excuses for a hedonistic Trump in order to gain the potential of a more secure, and moral political atmosphere, what then do we give our secure, morally constrained, hedonistic neighbors?
As one political pundit observed: “Evangelical Christians who are enthusiastically supporting Donald Trump are signaling… that their past moral proclamations were all for show and that (temporal) power is the name of the game.” Without prioritizing these eternal, prophetic values, we put both the claims of conservatism as well as the credibility of our witness at risk.
3. Father, Raise up friends of the Bridegroom who will witness unto Jesus with fidelity!
Above everything else, John maintained his fidelity to Jesus in all aspects of his life – even at the cost of his own life.
This election, our culture needs something more costly than our vote. It’s time for friends of the Bridegroom to transcend the polarizing status-quo of conservative vs. liberal debate. As apologist Ravi Zacharias observed days ago: “If we abide in God’s truth… we must dispense with our verbal arsenal that speaks only in terms of right and left. We have forgotten there is an up and a down. May God help us!”
In order to do this, we need to be men and women who are immersed in the discerning perspective of Ephesians 5:15 “Therefore then let us walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise; redeeming the time, for the days are evil.”
The word redeeming in this admonition is the greek word: agorazo – which means: to rescue from loss. Any comprehensive reading of our culture suggests that we are losing the war for our nation’s soul. Someone needs the circumspection and the courage to say so; not for the purpose of condemnation, but for the purpose of agorazo. Our country needs to be rescued from loss. They need Jesus Christ; bold and straight-forward. Unambiguous. They need the kind of “repent – from your sins” (Acts 3:19) “Believe in the Lord, Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31) rescue proclamation that cuts to the heart and lays bare the distinction: “The one who believes in the Son has eternal life. The one who rejects the Son will not see life, but God’s wrath remains on him.” (John 3:36)
This year, our sin-entrenched nation desperately needs the Church to do something much more than to vote. It needs the Church to witness. If we, the bearers of the only redemption this nation has, are willing to compromise the integrity of that message, we put at risk something even more precious than our republic’s freedoms. If we jettison our witness while championing a champion of unrighteousness, our nation will have no reason to not believe the Church’s ultimate faith is in a political salvo and not in a personal Savior.
Here’s the radical part. At this point, our witness to the sufficiency of His power will be all the more compelling if it comes at the cost of our own political power; the power of our vote. You read correctly. What if every time we encountered a political discussion in the next four months our conversation sounded something like this:
Who am I voting for this year? I’m actually NOT voting this year. Frankly, regardless of whoever’s elected, our whole nation is under the shaking of judgment. Every state, community and person needs to find shelter in the loving reign of the Lord, Jesus Christ.
Someone tell me that 95 million evangelicals engaged in this faithful witness wouldn’t be more vivifying to the church and our nation than merely casting a vote for the lesser of two evils!?
The truth is, we have a message that has all the power to sufficiently transcend the current national dialogue. It’s the message that burns in His heart, and has limitless capacity to call both parties, right, left, center, gay, straight, atheist, catholic, evangelical and pagan to accountability before God. Who knows that God has not orchestrated this bewildering election to show forth His triumphant ability?
The great question that looms before us is whether we will stand united with the zealous heart of our Bridegroom and announce His beauty; His authority, and His mercy to our dying nation, or whether we’ll tepidly capitulate to the status-quo of another campaign and allow our cowed voice to become all the more irrelevant to our humanistic and hedonistic culture.
God help us, indeed!
JSB • July 6, 2016