The life that counts must toil and fight,
Must hate the wrong and love the right:
Must stand for truth, by day, by night-
This is the life that counts. – Anonymous
There are two phrases repetitively used in regard to the kings of the nation Israel as found in the Biblical records. It is black and white when dealing with their morality and character. “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord” or “He did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord”. The narrative included the king’s acts and political decisions as they lined up with his obedience to the law of God. What the king did affected the nation and the people followed his lead. Good kings encouraged moral behavior in the people and evil kings lead the people in the ways of the heathen nations surrounding them.
I was reading a section in II Chronicles 24:17-20 this morning, causing me to reflect on the kings of Israel and the “kings” of America.
After the death of Jehoiada, the officials of Judah came and paid homage to the king and he listened to them. They abandoned the temple of the Lord, the God of their fathers, and worshiped Asherrah poles and idols. Because of their guilt, God’s anger came upon Judah and Jerusalem. Although the Lord sent prophets to the people to bring them back to him, and though they testified against them, they would not listen. Then the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest. He stood before the people and said, “This is what God says: ‘Why do you disobey the Lord’s commands? You will not prosper. Because you have forsaken the Lord, he has forsaken you.'”.
I realize that this was specifically written about this kingdom and this specific king, yet does not history repeat itself and shouldn’t we learn what we can from the mistakes of those who lived before?
I wonder what the God of Israel would say about the “kings” of America? How would He label each man that has “ruled” from the Oval Office? Should George Washington be the archetype for all successive Presidents as King David was for the kings of Israel? And if so, how should we rate the leaders of the past 200 years? Is is too offensive today, too intolerant, to say that a leader does “right” or “evil” in the eyes of the Lord? Or perhaps, we will just remove the eyes of the Lord all together and pretend He doesn’t exist.
Atticus Finch, the lawyer in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird lived in a small town in the segregated South during the 1930’s. He takes on a case to represents an innocent black man against two deceitful white men. Finch knew he would face hate and prejudice from the community as well as the jury, but he was compelled to speak and act on this man’s behalf because it was the moral thing to do. He spoke the truth boldly in the face of opposition.
“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. – spoken by Atticus Finch, by Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
In our Nation’s history, many have been like Finch and have spoken the truth in the face of opposition. As I write this post, I think about the courageous prophets mentioned in the Bible who spoke out against immorality and called the kings of Israel to repentance. I ponder whether my pen is mighty enough to effect change in my country and if my courage will waver should the “king and his officials” come against my freedom of conscience and speech.
The direction that America is heading is far more complicated than just liberal and conservative politics. Political thought stems from a deeper understanding of right and wrong, truth and evil. Proverbs 27:19 says, “As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.” One’s political thought reflects what is in one’s heart. If the basis of our Nation’s political thought has been guided by hearts that are far from the Truth of the Bible, and I submit that it is, then our Nation is in no better shape than Judah and Jerusalem was in the Scripture. “You will not prosper. Because you have forsaken the Lord, he has forsaken you.” II Chronicles 24:20
My fellow bloggers, why do you blog? Is is to make a name for yourself in the vast community of type and thought? Is it to push to elect a different man or woman? Or is there a passion to spark a fire of real repentance and change in America? It begins with us, the individuals, to be willing to be what we require our leaders to be and to hold them accountable to a standard that has been placed so low, that anyone can slither their way into political office if they have enough money and power behind them. Is this the America we want, or do we demand an America that requires its leaders to lead wearing the same honest shoes that George Washington wore? Our first President, the archetype to what a President should be said, “I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.” His honesty however wasn’t based on a human standard, for one person’s white lie is another man’s vice; but his standard was the Bible. We as individuals should live by that standard of honesty and in doing so, require our leaders, from the PTA to the President of the United States to live and lead by such a virtue.