Wednesday, October 19, 2016
The Anointed Sinners, Moses and David
Moses and David were without question two of Israel’s most prominent theocratic leaders. There was no debate or vote for these men. They were selected and anointed by God. What might we possibly learn from two these sinners whom God selected and anointed? Might those lessons inform or expose our own political thought processes concerning the selection of our national leaders in America?
No one is perfect
There. The proverbial cat. It is out of the bag. The pithy header statement is the blithe default disclaimer of some individuals for themselves as well as for others. It is intended, both for their own flaws and the flaws and failures of others. The latter part of this holds especially true and is limited to one’s preferred not-perfect candidate, not the other candidate. The statement implies a sinlessness, or in worldly terms, being flaw-free. The truth is that neither the statement nor its implication is found among believers in Christ nor those who are of the world. Nevertheless it, like so much about politics, sounds good.
talkin’ ‘bout our presidential candidates
When we talk about our preferred presidential candidate or when we hear talk about Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump we like to hear only the best about and talk only the best about him or her. Sometimes talk of one’s candidate can be very limited because there is just so much about which it is best not to speak. Of course, there are few missed opportunities to spew out vile and to rail against and revel in the mire of trash talk about the other candidate. Then again, there are so many instances of people whose obstinate disregard for facts is reflected in the smile or smirk on their face when they declare: I’m still voting for him. I’m still voting for her. They add, no one and nothing will change my mind.
More than the question of our preferred candidate’s own righteousness is our own understanding of righteousness, lack of understanding of righteousness and the misunderstanding of our own styled, self-righteousness. There is so much talk about choosing the lesser of two evils and the presumption that, not unlike climate-change folks, we can shape and control the future beyond the candidates’ themselves or ourselves. This delusion is especially true as concerns the speculation of the next president’s selection of Supreme Court nominees who can potentially impact the legal and moral course of America for the next thirty years. This, too, as though we had foreknowledge as to the number of years of life of men and women in the court or that we have been entrusted with legislating future righteousness.
It seems Christians can easily succumb to this delusional line of thinking. The problem with this line of thinking is that it does not reflect an understanding or learning from the lessons of God concerning when He selected and anointed Moses and David. American and Christian voters like to draw a comparative morality line on which they can stand, or prop up, their candidate. For instance, he or she might have been or done something particularly (bad) in the past, but they are better today. The flip side of the argument is that he or she never did something particularly (bad) and it is that which makes him or her the right and better candidate for the job.
the choices of God
God is an embarrassment for some believers. They squirm when faced with having to discuss the choices God made about the sinners whom he selected to lead Israel. God called Moses; a murderer, to lead Israel. God called David; a man after God’s own heart, to lead Israel. (Then in the New Testament there was Saul of Tarsus; a persecutor and murderer of Christians. Later, Saul would become known as the apostle Paul. He was the chosen instrument of God to proclaim his grace and righteousness through Jesus to the Gentiles. Cringe.) Anyone who looks knowingly at these two men and acknowledges their past and thinks that Moses and David continued on that same track is seriously mistaken. Was God surprised? Was God wrong about these two men? No.
Although both men stumbled badly the lessons of their lives are for our learning, but even when we fail or refuse to grapple for an understanding for ourselves it is that God thinks neither like us nor acts like us to select and anoint his leaders. Moses stumbled when, even as he accused Israel of being rebels, God was quick to charge Moses with his own rebellion against God. Moses subsequently lost the privilege of leading Israel into the promised land. David was quick in his unwitting condemnation of himself through the words of the prophet Nathan when he exposed David’s adultery and murder to him. Lesson: Although Moses, on the counsel of Jethro, his father-in-law, appointed men to assist him in judging Israel they were neither a guarantee to prevent Israel’s fall into immorality nor were they responsible Israel’s immorality and idolatry and eventual captivity by Babylon. Lesson: David came to experience unrest under his own roof even treason by his own son, Absalom as the result of his sin.
Today, there is not a Clinton or Trump supporter whose own sense of righteousness, political correctness or own self-righteousness would allow them to ally themselves with a candidate like Moses or David. They would not ascribe righteousness to someone like Moses with murder in his background or a candidate like David who started out so well only to get caught up in adultery and murder. David sinned, not only in his adultery with Bathsheba, but he conspired in the murder of Uzziah, the husband of Bathsheba. Yet, this is the false comparative morality in which Americans and Christians engage.
I am bad. I’ve done a lot of bad stuff, but I’ve never done anything that bad.
Thank goodness that I am good.
Why? Because, like Israel who rejected God as her king because she wanted to be like her neighbor nations, so too Christians want to engage in politics like their neighbors in the world. There is no appeal or need for heavenly wisdom as James admonishes for the selection and anointing of our nation’s leader. Instead earthy wisdom is readily seized and flailed as a club, not for building up the fallen or encouraging the downhearted, but to beat the fallen. The reality is that as we sin against a candidate in the name of our own comparative morality, we sin against the righteousness of God and a whole nation. This David did not do when he himself was pursued and hunted by king Saul in order to kill David whom, like Saul, God had anointed.
Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.
Does the prospect of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump ascending to the office of president consume you? It may be that you have never learned or that you forgot how God himself chose those whom he selected and anointed to lead Israel. It may be that you mistakenly thought that getting the right man or woman in that office is more important than you doing the will of God and honoring God (the sin of Moses at Meribah) at all times and not merely talking a form of Godspeak at election time.
You, as one anointed of God, seek the wisdom from above to discern for yourself and to teach and encourage those who neither know God nor can they discern the times. Peace in Jesus.