More than 2,500 years ago, the prophet Daniel declared that God “removeth kings and setteth up kings” (Dan. 2:21), and throughout the Old Testament, we see the Lord orchestrating history according to His plans, either to bless His obedient people or to judge His disobedient people. So, there is human responsibility and there is divine activity, but it is clear that God has the ultimate word.
What does that imply for the 2016 presidential elections in America? What is God saying to our nation today?
I understand that America, which is a Democratic Republic, is not ancient Israel, which was first a theocracy and then a theocratic monarchy. God made a covenant with Israel at Mount Sinai, and the whole nation swore allegiance to Him. That cannot be compared with the founding of our nation. And the children of Israel did not get to vote for their king whereas we get to vote for our president.
Still, since God remains sovereign, doing what He sees fit on the earth, and since America was founded largely on biblical, Christian principles (and still remains majority Christian by profession), it is only fair to ask: What is God doing in these elections? Put another way, if an Old Testament prophet was writing the history of our nation, what insights would He give us in terms of a Hillary or Trump presidency?
On the one hand, we ourselves will choose our next president, going to the ballot box and voting and making up our own minds, for better or for worse. From that perspective, we chose Barack Obama and George W. Bush and Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.
On the other hand, the Lord is not a passive spectator in world events, especially when His people pray for His will to be done “on earth as it is in heaven,” in which case we might conclude that we elected the presidents God chose for us to elect. If so, why did He choose Obama or Bush or Clinton or Reagan or Nixon or Kennedy? To what purpose? With what message? Or does He simply give us what we deserve (or choose), for better or worse?
Many Americans are upset that we are left with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as our major party candidates, figures who each have extraordinarily high unfavorability ratings. Yet on the Democratic side, Hillary has been the expected candidate for some years now, so that is hardly a surprise.
But how do we explain the Trump candidacy? He defeated 16 other Republican candidates, including respected governors and senators, some of whom had massive funding behind their campaign. And his campaign was hardly flawless, leaving him open to all kinds of attack that should have brought him down, yet he still defeated a strong, tenacious field.
Is any of this God’s doing?
As much as there are natural explanations for the ascendancy of Trump — his nationalistic appeal; his outsider appeal; his reality TV star appeal; his appeal to our fear and anger — there could well be supernatural explanations as well. Has God raised up Donald Trump for a specific purpose in history?
Others have speculated on what a Trump presidency could mean, pointing either to the Persian king Cyrus, who was used to bless Israel, or the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar, who was used to curse Israel. Although I have written about this in the past, I believe the jury is still out on what the implications of a Trump presidency would be, although I would fervently pray for blessing rather than cursing should we elect President Trump.
But there’s another angle to consider, and that’s what concerns me most.
What if Donald Trump was raised up by God to defeat 16 Republican candidates, some (if not most) of which could have readily defeated Hillary Clinton? What if he was raised up, not to become president, but to pave the way for a Hillary presidency? And what would it mean if, after 8 years of President Obama, we would then have President H. R. Clinton?
To me the message would be clear: Despite President Obama’s radical policies, policies which have directly (and, for the most part, quite negatively) affected our families and our freedoms, the Church in America is still largely asleep, still largely oblivious to our nation’s steep moral and spiritual decline, still largely unaware of the perilous situation in which we find ourselves in the world today.
The bad news is that a Hillary presidency would mean divine judgment on a sleeping Church and a sinning nation.
The good news is that, with true repentance, that judgment could become a mercy, provided that we wake up.
The best news is that the elections are still three months off and we can wake up today, asking God to have mercy on our land, getting out of our self-satisfied complacency, and praying for the Lord to turn us in the right direction without the help of His smiting rod.
Obviously, I can only offer these thoughts as spiritual surmisings, also recognizing that the Lord has no political affiliation and that there is good and bad in each party. And whoever our next president is, that person will be my president and I will pray for him or her.
My hope, though, is that the thought of Trump being raised up to pave the way for Hillary, all for the purpose of divine judgment, would provoke us to a greater sense of prayerful urgency. It is certainly called for today.