Sep28WedSeptember 28, 2016
Our daily Scripture reading takes us to Exodus 20 (the giving of the Decalogue) during the same week of the first presidential debate of 2016 – an event which has caused no small amount of conversation. In God’s law, He commanded His people to have no other gods, to neither form or worship false idols, to honor the Lord’s name, to honor the Sabbath day, to honor parents, and to avoid murder, adultery, stealing, lying and coveting.
The Lord gave this law for three reasons:
1) to demonstrate His holy character,
2) to display His holy standard for human living
3) and to instruct Israel how to live differently from the surrounding pagan culture.
The Decalogue served as the ‘moral backbone’ for the nation of Israel. Yet there were unable to keep it fully, even while God was physically in their midst. Their first act of rebellion (which would be continued throughout the time of the judges) was the build an idol and worship it (Exodus 32). They would eventually come to believe that God’s law was insufficient and sought to do whatever was right “in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25). Ultimately, they would ask for a human king who would lead God’s people further away from God’s holy standard (1 Kings 11:6-7).
This historical account of the Hebrew nation, teaches us a valuable lesson. God’s moral law cannot be kept by democracy (the will of the people), nor by a monarchy (the authority of a human king). It can only be kept by those upon whom the Holy Spirit dwells by faith in Jesus Christ. But even then…disciples of Jesus still often choose to disobey His commands.
We live at a time in the nation’s history when Christians clearly perceive morality evaporating from the culture. One common reaction is to panic. The second common reaction is to try to legislate morality (especially the Decalogue) back into our country. But this puts a Christian into a real dilemma.
Can morality be legislated without the presence of the Holy Spirit in the heart of each person? The answer from the Old Testament is “no.”
Yet we often ignore this and expect politicians (Christian or secular) to legislate morality even while they’ve swore an oath to advocate religious freedom promised in the US Constitution. How can one be for religious freedom and at the same time expect a whole nation to honor the Law of God?
This is the Christian dilemma of our day and how God-fearing Christians end up at various ends of the political spectrum. (This is critical to understand if you end up talking about politics with your spiritual friends...or at the family dinner table.)
In the midst of this real dilemma, there is something important for Christians to do. We can pray. We can pray for politicians, lobbyist, and advisors, to see the truth of Jesus Christ and ask for His promised Holy Spirit. But we ought not stop there. We need to pray for our neighbors, co-workers, friends, family, and even our own church attenders, with the same lamenting prayer that Moses offered, “Would that the Lord would put his Spirit on all of the people!” (Numbers 11:29b).
Hope for our county does not rest on a person, or a policy, or a political party. It rests upon the urgent need for the Holy Spirit of God to turn many hearts back to him. Come and heal this land.