Monday, June 21, 2010

Barack Obama and the Ancient Prophets

When the ancient Hebrew prophet Daniel was a young man, Nebuchadnezzar led the Babylonian army into the Levant and conquered Israel. After ravaging the countryside, the Babylonians gathered up the brightest and best of Israel's young men and took them back to Babylon. No doubt, Daniel would have rather stayed in Jerusalem. He would have rather had a Jewish king over him, and he would have preferred to have known Nebuchadnezzar only from a distance. But God had other things in mind.

In Babylon, rather than being forced into slavery, Daniel was placed under the care of Ashpenaz, Nebuchadnezzar's chief court official - his chief of staff. Daniel was fed the best food, offered the best living quarters, and afforded the best instruction available in the Kingdom of Babylon. After a while, Nebuchadnezzar experienced a series of troubling dreams and when he sought an interpretation from his court magicians he found them unable to answer his questions. As events unfolded, Daniel was able to interpret the dreams. In interpreting one of those dreams, Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar, ". . . the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes." (Dan. 4:25)

That was a message for the king - he served at the pleasure of Another - and it was also a message for Daniel. God rules the kingdoms of man and He orders them for His own purposes.

Rather than fight against God's purposes, Daniel did his best to discern what God was doing and then joined God in that work. As a result, Daniel lived a long and successful life. He never returned to Jerusalem, but through him, God turned the heart of Nebuchadnezzar to Himself, which led to the Hebrews' eventual return to the Levant. And much later, a remnant of those who learned about God from Daniel came from Babylon to Jerusalem as the Maggi when Jesus was born.

Daniel didn't spend his days wandering the streets of Babylon searching for every opportunity to discredit the king. He didn't spend his time plotting to replace Nebuchadnezzar, and he didn't slink off to the corner and sulk. Instead, he yielded to God's purposes in placing him under the authority of Nebuchadnezzar, discerned every opportunity to join God in furthering those purposes, and submitted to God's choice of leadership.

Many of you spent the 2008 election cycle praying that someone other than Barack Obama would be elected president. Some of you worked diligently in an attempt to see that he did not win the office. But in the end, he won. If you believe God is at work in the world, if you believe that He still rules the kingdoms of man and sets over them whom He wills, then it is time to submit to His purposes, discern what God is working to accomplish through President Obama, and join Him in His work.