CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Stand Back and Get the Big Picture

Nov 7, 2020

As to the US elections, we desperately need God’s perspective on what is happening:

Politics is important. But the biblical Christian knows that God is more important. He knows a number of related truths as well: God is sovereign; God is in control; God knows the end from the beginning; and God sees the big picture.

Christians however do not have the big picture. Sure, we have lots of vital perspective on all sorts of things because God has revealed himself to us. We have 66 books in the one Bible to tell us heaps about what is happening, including in the political arena.

But we do not have specific and detailed revelation on everything, be it the pros and cons of human cloning, the best use of the internet, or which political candidate is God’s preferred option. Yes, we have plenty of biblical principles with which to assess and weigh up these and a million other matters. But we do not always have exact and certain guidance on all things.

We could use that right now with the current stalemate in the US elections. Wouldn’t we all like to know EXACTLY what God has on his mind concerning this, including who will end up getting into the White House? Obviously the outcome of the election is hugely important, and we all will be impacted by it in one way or another.

As such, I of course have already written numerous pieces on it. My latest was actually posted just hours ago: at 3am. Like this piece, it looks at both political and spiritual aspects of this election: billmuehlenberg.com/2020/11/07/more-reflections-on-the-2020-elections/

Here I want to continue those themes, spurred along by what I just read in my daily reading. Romans 9-11 is a very key passage of Scripture, as well as one that is the subject of much discussion and debate. As such, I better again say at the outset that those whose theological toes are so easily stepped on should look away now.

I do tire of those who keep coming here on a passionate mission to “correct” me every time I dare to offer a differing theological take on things. That especially bothers me when it derails the discussion at hand, and misses the bigger points I am trying to make. End of warning!

But Romans 11 is certainly an incredible chapter, looking at the fate of the Jews and God’s sovereign purposes. It seems we can get some parallel lessons here with what is now happening in America. Just as many Christians today are asking God what is going on with Trump in particular and America in general, and whether he might be rejecting them, so too many Jews back then were asking God what was happening to Israel.

Thus Paul spends 36 theologically rich verses in this chapter explaining what is happening. No, God has not fully and finally rejected Israel, but for the time being, he is doing an amazing work among the Gentiles. I cannot offer lengthy commentary here, but a few things can be highlighted.

Romans 9-11 is one of those texts that certain believers will get upset about, because they deal with the ‘E’ and ‘P’ words – election and predestination. Again, those biblical realities will not here be argued for, nor debated. I simply accept the biblical text for what it says, as I continue to seek further clarity and understanding.

Verse 25 says this: “Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” And the ‘E’ word crops up in various places, including v. 28: “As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers.”

As if those two texts were not enough, we get others, such as v. 7: “What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened.” And in v. 8 Paul quotes from Deuteronomy 29:4 and Isaiah 29:10:

“God gave them a spirit of stupor,
    eyes that would not see
    and ears that would not hear,
down to this very day.”

These and other verses make it clear that God is sovereign, that he does choose whom he wants, and he does have a plan and purpose he is working to. And it is not just a matter of Israel’s unbelief, but also – however we understand it – that God did the hardening.

The point is not to go into the hardcore theological issues that arise here, but to stay with the flow of Paul’s thought, the outcome of which is that Israel still has a place in God’s plans, and he is not done with them yet. That is why he can say in v. 33: “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!”

Things may have looked pretty dark for Israel 2000 years ago, but God was still in control and he was still working out his objectives. So too here with Trump. If you are a conservative as well as a Christian, you are likely quite bummed out right now, and quite worried with what is happening. It seems like Trump’s victory is eluding him.

How much of this is due to deep and systemic fraud and corruption remains to be seen. It is hoped that the courts will get to the bottom of it all. But with or without widespread fraud, it may well be the case that Biden gets in. If so, it is not as if God has to move to Plan B. He has always only been on Plan A.

While we may not have any idea what is going on and how this might all turn out for the good, God does. He is still at work, still achieving his desired outcomes. Whether that means Trump is or is not President for the next four years does not alter the fact that God is not losing any sleep over all this – and neither should we.

A new piece by Michael Brown offers similar thoughts. He uses the imagery of a chess game, and God moving the pieces around the board as he so chooses. He concludes with these words:

I personally hope that the seemingly impossible happens, that Trump is proven to be the rightfully reelected president, and that the prophecies about him prove true. But what if a Biden-Harris presidency was needed to reveal the dangerous radicality of the left, leading to greater spiritual desperation in the Church, leading to a spiritual awakening in the society? What if the worst-case scenario for tens of millions of conservative voters resulted in the transforming of even more millions of hearts in the years ahead?…

I encourage you to put your faith in God to work out His best purposes in the midst of chaos and crisis. Hysteria and frenzy are not fruits of the Spirit. Faith and peace are. And so, while I am deeply concerned about the state of our nation and know that many lives are at stake, I have a great sense of anticipation as well. The ultimate Grandmaster has a plan. stream.org/god-the-elections-and-4-d-chess/

Concluding thoughts

The point with all this is to remind ourselves of some basic truths. If we only look at the very latest in vote counting in the US, we can easily get depressed and discouraged. Indeed, I just said this to another person: “Up until a few hours ago I was spending every waking moment closely watching the numbers. But I have stopped doing that now, for two main reasons: one, it was getting too depressing, and two, it was taking my focus and trust away from God. So to regain some much need balance, I am not looking much at the counting at the moment.”

So we need to step back and try to get the bigger picture. Everything happening in the US right now is NOT catching God by surprise. It is NOT worrying him. It is NOT the end of his purposes and plans – whether for America or the whole world.

Yes, and as always, we dare not let these biblical truths turn us into fatalists where we just resign from life and do nothing. The truth that God is in control is NOT meant to be a signal to us that we stop working, stop praying, and stop doing all we can to see righteousness established in our social and political spheres.

So please, no cop outs here and no pulling back from our role and responsibility to be salt and light. We must keep engaging, while we also keep trusting that God is in charge, and that he is indeed seeing things heading the way he wants them to.

We all see through a glass darkly, and we have quite limited understanding of what God is up to in American politics – and elsewhere. But we do have plenty of understanding – based on what God has already told us – that God can be fully counted on to achieve his purposes and that we can fully trust him in all things – even in US election outcomes.

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21 Responses to Stand Back and Get the Big Picture

  • Well done Bill! Watching the latest results “trickle through”, it is so easy for we as Christians to think that “God’s chosen one” is likely to be denied the presidency. However, Bill, as you’ve quite rightly highlighted, God has his own agenda, and none of us humans have a clear handle on this. I’m again reminded of Joshua’s meeting with the man with the drawn sword (Joshua 5:13-15). Joshua was left in no doubt that God was working out HIS OWN plans for Jericho. I agree, as you concluded in your article, “we all see through a glass darkly”. Thank you again Bill for shifting the focus back onto God and His Plans and His Purposes as they unfold through this election and beyond!

  • Truth and Trump will trump, and the swamp of electoral fraud (including long-standing in many districts) is another swamp that will be drained.

    Pray for the Lord’s protection and for peace in the U.S.A.

  • Thanks Kelvin and Suzanna.

  • while I do appreciate a lot of the things Dr.Brown say he is very much an optimist not a realist as such his view is a bit skewed. (the faith has had way too many optimists the past 50+ years seeing revival around every corner yet we never reach it) If christians haven’t woken up to the radicality of the left by now they won’t because of Biden or Harris. (christians in Germany saw boxcars of Jews going by and it didn’t wake them up. Sometime people become so conditioned to evil it can take it’s mask off without consequence. In many churches satan can walk in the FRONT door and sit in the pews (even in front of the pulpit!). If satan’s presence in your church isn’t a wake up call losing an election won’t be. For the 4 years the dems have had the mask off and yet we are close to a Biden presidency. I think the church will just SING LOUDER. historically ignorance seems to be considered a blessing by the church. Thanks to secular education we are about as “blessed” as we can be.)

    I have believed a long time the church needs real judgment to wake her up so deep is her slumber. If trump is not reelected through cheating perhaps that is the last drop in the cup of wrath for America. He will use peoples evil deeds for his own plans BUT still holds them accountable for their deeds.

    We know America would have to be out of the global picture to allow the beast system to rise too much of America would resist, not to mention her military could prevent any conquering, but a broken and battered America would offer him no resistance. the kings of the west will fall.

    If we see Biden win, it will come down to the electoral college vote as states pic electors and could theoretically pic trump supporting electors to “steal back” the vote, then I will pray for judgment night and day. I wouldn’t want to see my beloved country fall into socialism. Better to have God bring us to the brink of destruction, broken and battered (maybe even nuked) and relying on him alone, then to see the ‘last best hope of earth’ fall into the deep dark pit of socialistic evil. Better to scrap together a living of the land with God’s help than slowly die over years in a gulag going to bed each night hoping to die so the nightmare will end. I don’t want to see the Bolsheviking or Nazification of my beloved homeland. Fiery judgment of God I can take no matter how sever but the the devilish tortures of men who refuse to acknowledge God I would beg that America be spared that. Better to be in the hands of an Angry God than a Gleeful Devil!

  • Thanks Paul. But having read 21 of his books, I think he is far more realistic than you may be giving him credit for. And all the things you discuss he of course has often written about and spoken about. All three of us would agree that judgment is near and repentance is needed – big time. And all Christians should long and pray for revival. There is nothing at all amiss in that – it is the need of the hour.

  • Well said Bill.
    I think we need more Bonhoeffers in the church today , rather than sheeple asleep in the pews.

  • I haven’t been able to get many of his books but read a lot his articles. I guess part of our biggest difference is I see severe judgment coming FIRST then revival and from the articles it APPEARS he sees a revival coming without judgement. I have some differences with him otherwise he is a charismatic and while I believe the gifts of the spirit are for today I also believe that in a majority of cases it is being faked (a number of times for profit) as many of these are easy to fake especially tongues (especially since there is suppose to be interpreters when tongues are publicly spoken but you don’t hear of them and the interpreter and speaker shouldn’t be the same person)(we also differ on tongues themselves I say they are shown to be real languages not some unknown heavenly language as ‘tongues of angels’ is only mentioned once and you can’t build doctrine from ONE verse)(plus not sure how often a prophet can be wrong ad still be a prophet as a number of prophets keep being wrong and people keep following them) I also don’t agree with the christianizing of the devils music genres.(even the musicians who have become saved now they were making the devils music. like little Richard! [it is the holy spirits job to draw people in not popular music].

    I think the best thing to pray for is God to get americas judgment done PDQ and then give whatever is left a revival. we can think of the judgment as a trial by fire not all will survive mind you but it will bring great opportunities to those left alive. “the fiery trial though which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the last generation”.

  • Thanks again Paul. Not to belabour this, but you may want to read his stuff. He is no easy believism guy, no cheap grace guy, and not even a pretrib rapture guy. So he does believe the whole of the biblical record here.

    And I think the best thing to pray for is not that God gets America’s judgment done, but that his will be done, whether that is revival, judgment, a combination, or something else. We are best placed not to tell God what to do! But thanks for your thoughts.

  • Thank you Bill,
    Clearly and accurately stated, we do not know the big picture. What we DO know is that our FATHER loves each of us more than can be described…our FATHER will always be with us…and while at times HE has us go through the ‘fire’, rather than around it, HE is on the throne and has the ‘big picture’. That is optimistic and realistic!
    Respectfully,
    Ron Adams

  • Do not despair.

    I think there is a very encouraging sign in the midst of defeat. I think we are starting to see tentative signs of victory in another dimension.

    Bill, if you don’t mind, I’ve written about it on my blog at: https://inspiriting.com/in-trump-defeat-signs-of-tide-turning-in-culture-war/

  • The Bible speaks very highly of King Josiah: “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left” (2 Chr 34:2). Yet he met an untimely death in battle because he disobeyed God’s word spoken by the Egyptian king: “He would not listen to what Necho had said at God’s command … Archers shot King Josiah” (2 Chr 35:22-23)

    At the start of this year, Donald Trump was doing well. On 20th January, three years after his inauguration, his approval rating was only 1% below Obama’s at the same time. The economy was booming. And there were prophecies from Kim Clement and others pointing to his second term in office.

    And yet those prophecies seem to have failed. Why? Maybe due to the pandemic? Or maybe, like King Josiah, he disobeyed God’s command?

    Bill Koenig is an American journalist who has documented the often immediate effects of American plans to divide the land of Israel. Two notable instances are the “perfect storm” in 1991 and 9/11 – both of which coincided with a President Bush pressuring Israel to give up land.

    On 28th January, Donald Trump unvieled his “Peace to Prosperity” plan, which involved giving half of Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”) to the Palestinian Arabs. Bill Keonig documents the subsequent fallout here:

    https://watch.org/eye-to-eye/life-america-and-after-trump-%E2%80%9Cpeace-prosperity%E2%80%9D-plan-was-delivered-january-28-2020%C2%A0

    As Michael Brown often says, America needs to turn back to God in repentance. But they also need to stop touching the apple of God’s eye.

    “After the Glorious One has sent me against the nations that have plundered you — for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye” (Zech 2:8)
    “I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves” (Zech 12:3)
    “There I will put them on trial for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel, because they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land” (Joel 3:2)

  • Any nation that promotes sexual immorality through SS’M’ and/or abortion or adultery etc., is defiled. God was absolutely clear.

    Lev 18:20 And you shall not lie carnally with your neighbor’s wife, to defile yourself with her.
    Lev 18:21 And you shall not let any of your seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shall you profane the name of your God. I am Jehovah.
    Lev 18:22 You shall not lie with mankind as with womankind. It is abomination (to God).
    Lev 18:23 And you shall not lie with any animal to defile yourself with it. And a woman shall not stand before an animal to lie down to it. It is a perversion.
    Lev 18:24 Do not defile yourselves in any of these things. For in all these the nations are defiled, which I cast out before you.
    (MKJV)

    Whoever wins in the U.S. that nation has still been defiled. God does not change His mind about what is and what is not sin. The good thing about Trump (who was the only GOP presidential nominee to support SS’M’) is that the U.S. was defiled in a way that did not do very much damage to people other than have them be ashamed of their President. In fact even though people put Trump in for evil God used him for good, which to me was a miracle in itself. We also have the situation now where the GOP seems to have control of the senate (which seems weird to me compared to the presidential vote) but that, at least should allow a grace period for people to wake up.

    In Australia we are fortunate to have a Christian leader who is not a recent convert but who is from a church where there is very limited teaching and who did not have the fortitude nor support to step in when the SS’M’ plebiscite was run with only one side of the argument allowed to be presented. Again this nation was defiled by that action alone but I believe this is only the beginning of the inevitable results of our iniquity.

    God is God and does not change. Even in the New Testament the sins of idolatry and sexual sins were the ones reinforced by the Apostles for the gentiles to respect, not because the other commandments are not important but because people tend to naturally know that things like murder and theft are wrong. People do, however, need to be taught why idolatry and sexual sins are wrong and that is not what is happening. in fact people are constantly presented with the reverse of this, even by the publicly funded media and even when we have a Christian Prime Minister.

  • @Terence Kam

    Thanks for the good read, I believe the US ‘retreat’ is more God’s ‘revive and refresh’ than it is the socialists ‘rest and recreation’ as it is almost a certain fact the Republicans could rule for a generation or two as African Americans are forming groups and leaving the Democrats.
    Also as we saw in Florida Latinos are leaving the Democrats due to the socialist disobedience, destruction, destitution and death that they fled from to go to the US. And now they are seeing it on the US streets, advocated for by Democrats and socialists.

    The New Green Deal

    The Democrats aren’t delivering income for real disparity, they are presenting a narrative about wealth disparity, a utopia if things ‘change’. Trump gave real blacks real jobs, blacks changed. Providence is when you forgo the student debt of two parents when one of them stays at home, the republicans will push that instead of ‘free’ education, and the democrat right have to agree.

    There you also have the youngish Senator Cruz of the Republicans, who would have then noted the popular vote increasing for Trump, meaning that no one is leaving the Democrats out of being Bible bashed but out of fear of everything else; disease, death and government taxes, intrusion and martial laws. The popular vote isn’t seeing government as the answer they like we are just being presented that, along with everything else the media see fit.
    With that ‘transition’ to the right taking place Biden and Harris can’t then deliver their ideals in 4yrs with Obama not delivering his within 8yrs, and even more people will then leave. The Democrat right and the republican senate will remain in control until 2024.
    Either Trump or Cruz will then run.

    Thanks Terence and thanks again Bill.

  • @Mike

    I also notice something interesting in this election. Although the popular vote goes to Biden, the Democrats actually lost seats in the House of Rep. And it looks like the Republicans will retain control of the Senate.

    The only way to explain this is that must be a significant number of voters who although voted for Biden, also voted for the Republicans in the House of Rep and Senate.

    So, there is a possibility that in 2022, the Democrats may even lose their majority in the House of Rep in the mid-term election. Should that happen, Biden will become a lame-duck President. So, that will mean a lot of their Leftist agenda and move to pack the Court will fail.

    So, maybe there are a lot of smart voters who wants to get rid of Trump first before getting rid of the Democrats? Come to think of it, this seems like a smart move. I know there are Christians who although will never vote Democrats, cannot vote for Trump too because of his character. So, by voting this way, they can get rid of Trump while blunting the ability of the Democrats to advance their agenda.

    My interpretation is that the cultural tide is turning. Perhaps if the Republican can get a better conservative candidate, they have a good chance of a major comeback and teach the Democrats a BIG LESSON in 2024.

  • well mike the senate may NOT be locked up it is currently 48-48 with 4 seats to be decided 1 of the 4 could with the same chicanery we saw on the trump ballots go to dem. 1 with the same chicanery go under 50% causing a run off. 1 is headed to a run off. with the right chicanery all 3 could go dem. on one it is nearly 2 to 1 republican so it would probably be a difficult steal. IF those 3 close/run off ones go dem they have the senate.

  • Yes Paul and if the Senate falls to the Dems America really is toast.

  • problem we have terance is the never trump republicans will never accept any conservative as conservatives are a threat to the cushy establishment ways and any true conservative will face the same vitriol that trump faced. we waited too long to take back our country. God help us with what comes next it will NOT be pleasant.

  • Thank you for writing this. I haven’t given up hope in the election but I know you’re correct. The Covid shut down resulted in my son’s heart being opened to God and he’s currently participating in a 9 month discipleship program and away from the current madness. Losing this election may well result in the same for others, but im still constantly praying Trump prevails.

  • Another view on the election loss and the failed prophecies – many Christians idolized Trump:

    https://messiahsmandate.org/what-i-felt-god-told-me-about-the-election-in-september/

    It includes this quote:

    “One of the most alarming differences between our evangelical family’s attitude toward Trump in 2016 and 2020 is that in 2016 we viewed him as an ‘evil’ with benefits. In 2020, this man has become our chief arbiter of truth; the one who determines our evangelical family’s narrative for any given national issue or problem.”

  • Thanks Denis. While some Trump supporters MAY idolize him, and so on, I have countless friends who do support Trump, and none of them believe he is the messiah, seek to worship him, or see him as the arbiter of all truth. So there may be too much overstatement there, or too many straw men being set up.

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