2020 Election: Biblical Prophecy or Not?
The Sins of Jeroboam
It is universally accepted that Jeroboam, the first leader of the northern kingdom of Israel, was a bad guy, but why? What did Jeroboam do that was really that wrong? According to 1 Kings 14:9, Jeroboam “[…] sinned more than all who came before [him]. [He] went and angered [God] by making other gods, formed out of metal; [he has] completely disregarded [God].”
Interestingly enough, the objects of worship that Jeroboam created were the same as Aaron had created some time before. Aaron, the first High Priest, was worried that the people were getting too impatient to wait on Moses, who had been on the mountain alone for quite some time. So, Aaron created a tangible way to worship the God who brought the Israelite out of Egypt. He wasn’t trying to replace God, but instead he created a substitute to help the people, and the people suffered because of their refusal to follow the prescribed path.
In that same fashion, according to 1 Kings 12, Jeroboam attempted to bypass the prescribed form of worship that would had taken his people from the north back into the south to worship in Jerusalem. He consulted with his political partners, and they decided that the best way for the people to worship would be to stay within their own borders. Basically, Jeroboam changed the rules for political purposes.
All throughout the history of the Northern Kingdom, king after king began to change to allow in political, social, and even economic beliefs about how things work in the world. They continued in this mixing of the socio-economic climate in which they lived with the worship of the one true God, effectively creating a new god. How do you make sure that you crops grow? How do you make sure that your children survive? You do what you have to do, and in the case of the Northern Kingdom, this meant mixing in what seemed to had worked before—Ba’alism.
The Sins of the Germans, British, and Everyone Else
It is no surprise that different cultures across different ages have different beliefs and different practices. In fact, we have come to expect this plurality to exist across time and space. When cultures collide, though, what we find is a sense of cultural translation—as if one culture says of the other, “Hey, I’ve never thought of trying it that way before.” Thus, each culture, even if enemies, sees in the other some aspect of intrigue, something that the one culture could correct or finds more pleasing or simply easier. These corrections come in the form of ideology, beliefs, simple agricultural practices, whatever the one finds interesting about the other.
So, as Christianity spread throughout the world, different beliefs and practices began to emerge. This isn’t to say that everything is bad—the invention of Sunday School is a great example of what is called hybridization or a positive adaptation of cultural advantages. Some other positive changes came in the form of having the Bible in one’s own language, paintings of Christian tradition to which the average person can relate, or even the creation of cartoons to tell Bible stories. Not all changes are bad.
Unfortunately, there are also bad changes. These negative changes are a blending together of paganism (outside religions) with pure Christianity (biblical Christianity)
are what we call syncretism. This syncretism is what we see occurring within the biblical record concerning Aaron and Jeroboam. Again, these weren’t instances of a true leaving of biblical beliefs in favor of another belief but rather an acceptance of some of other beliefs and adding them to the worship of the one true God.
While many have rejected the urge to pollute Christianity, many others have allowed at a minimum a tiny bit of socio-economic beliefs that contradict biblical Christianity. Perhaps the best possible example of mixing socio-economic beliefs with Christianity came from Nazi Germany, but it may surprise you to learn that the same thing occurred in Britain, France, and all over Europe. On the heels of a desired socialism within the working class, people in different nations were ensured that biological differences between themselves and outsiders were evidence of biological bonds of geographically different cultures. Thus, economic problems were blamed on other races/cultures in order to grow the nationalistic point of view and anthropological viewpoints began to center around ethnic groups and their societies, often related to loyalties to a king which established cultural unity.
What came from this was a push for a nationalistic point of view, one that made all other nationalities the bad guys. The British hated the Germans. The Germans hated the French. The French hated the Italians. Everybody hated the Russians. So, even before Nazi Germany, Christianity taught that the Jewish people and gypsies and anyone else needed to be expelled or destroyed to keep the purity of the church. Unfortunately, the same was taught in Great Britain except the people groups were different. The French, Polish, and anyone else involved held the same beliefs—everyone else was the problem. Christianity was syncretized with the socio-economic beliefs of whatever nation or sub-culture in which it existed.
The Sins of Americans
Even before the World Wars, American Christians began to fight within their own cultures as to what socio-economic climate was the biblical one. In the early days of Methodism—the first American denomination of Christianity—¬Rev. James O’Kelly fought hard against his denominational superiors based solely on political beliefs. In 1792, he withdrew from the Methodist Episcopal Church which held to a rather monarchical political system in favor of a much more American democratic system, taking with him thousands of believers. O’Kelly fought against the rather political church system that was based on the old British monarchical, Anglican system in favor of the rather political system based on the American democratic system. So, which one was wrong? The one based on one political system or the one based on another political system?
Needless to say, Americans have a long history of mixing political or socio-economic beliefs with their religious beliefs, and it is not limited to the past. In recent years, politicians on both sides of the aisle have been referred to in messianic terms. Not too long ago, someone uploaded a video of an elderly couple at church a hymn except that they changed the words to reference Sarah Palin, the then Vice Presidential candidate. Concerning the most recent election, Barack Obama, the previous President of the United States and a messianic figure himself, said to the American people that they cannot sit back and wait for a savior, implying that they need to vote Joe Biden into office as their savior. Even the current, at least for a few more weeks, President Trump claimed to be “the chosen one.” In such a volatile religious context, is it no wonder that many assume that the end of the world is at hand?
American Christianity is NOT Biblical Christianity
Just as Jeroboam accepted the socio-economic beliefs of the day, so present Americans seem to be accepting their own socio-economic climate as the biblical norm. If we look for the symptoms, then we will see the disease. The modern church in America is so involved with the political arena that the beliefs about the church are at a partisan stand-still. Which leader is the Messiah? Hopefully, Bible-believing Christians will realize that no political leader is a messiah. No, Trump is definitely not a messiah. No, Biden is definitely not a messiah. No political leader is a messiah. There is only one Messiah, and when God determines to return and save us all from this political arena, it will be Christ and no other who will save us. It may be a second from now or a thousand years in the future. Whatever the case, I will trust in him.