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13.11.2020

A Saviour from Stateside?

It dominated every front page and conversation last week. It had people glued to their phones, constantly refreshing feeds to find out any updates. It sidelined all other news, such that a vote in Parliament about a national lockdown barely got mentioned.

But why, in a country over 3,500 miles away from where the action was unfolding, did Britons seem to care so much about the US presidential election?

Joe Biden won’t be our president, and though a post-Brexit trade deal will be important, his victory probably won’t dramatically change our lives. We don’t normally take an interest in elections in foreign countries, even when we have a ‘special relationship’ with them, so why the exception now?

Perhaps an answer lies in an unlikely place: the book of Judges. Here, we find a nation who is oppressed, fearful, facing uncertainty. In desperation, Israel cries out for a leader who can deliver them.

Fast forward to 2020, and our world feels in a similar place. We’re under oppressive restrictions, fearful of the future, and facing an uncertain journey back to normality. Who, we may wonder, will deliver us? The hope for a political saviour can loom large.

But judges fail. Israel’s corruption continued. ‘The time when the judges ruled’ (Ruth 1:1) served as a byword for moral and spiritual decline.

No human leader, Trump and Biden included, can save us, and we shouldn’t expect them to. That would amount to political idolatry, to looking for a saviour in the wrong place. Whichever side of the Atlantic we’re on, and no matter how good our leaders are, this winter will probably be tough, division will likely course through our cultural veins, and COVID will continue to dominate our lives and newsfeeds.

About a millennium after the time of the judges, Israel once again found themselves oppressed by foreign forces and crying out for a charismatic political leader. Yet the saviour didn’t come in the form of some general or revolutionary, but as a baby. In Bethlehem’s dark streets shone an everlasting light.

That baby grew up to be the only man ever to walk the earth who could sustain the weight of our hopes and fears – even in 2020 – and never leave us disappointed. There is light in our darkness. Though we misplace our trust and misdirect our cries, the truth remains 2000 years later: we all need a king like Jesus.

Matt Jolley
Centre for Culture & Discipleship | Research & Development, LICC

Comments

  1. Great piece. Well done. And thank you.

    By Philip Mills - 13th November 2020
  2. Agree that salvation is from God and that politics provides temporary, partial solutions to the world’s problems. However who is the US president affects much that is of Christian (and God’s) concern- not least mitigating climate change which threatens so much God has made. We should pray about this with the rest of what God lays on our hearts.

    By Chris Rogers - 13th November 2020
    • Hi Chris, thanks for this great reminder – the classic saying goes that an idol is created where something that’s ‘good’ becomes elevated to ‘god’-like status. Politics, whilst not of ultimate value, does have a massive potential to bring good to the world, and so praying for elections (and praying for the leaders once they’re elected, along with national and local governments), is of such importance.

      By Matt Jolley - 13th November 2020
  3. Thanks for this encouraging and timely reminder of where our hope comes from. Only looking to the LORD brings peace in a troubled world.

    By Richard - 14th November 2020
  4. I have thought about this article a great deal. As an American, living in England, I think you have written this article for the wrong context. The talk of political idolatry in the US election may apply in some instances in the US. However I do not think that applies in the UK in this instance. Most of my UK friends celebrated the end of Trump politics in the hopes that America will start to do better under a new leader. They weren’t celebrating Biden. Instead of Judges, maybe for the UK context, we could think of Chronicles and Kings? “This king did right in God’s eyes and the people prospered….This king did evil in God’s eyes and the people suffered…” Let’s pray whoever our leaders are, in whatever country, that they do right in God’s eyes, so that everyone around the world can experience justice, have shelter and eat plenty of good food. Peace.

    By Angela Rigby - 15th November 2020
    • Hi Angela – thanks for this, and I certainly see where you’re coming from. John Piper (someone who would not support Biden, or Democrat policies) wrote a thoughtful reflection (https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/policies-persons-and-paths-to-ruin) on the importance of good character within our leaders, though of course there are a number of things that influence the way someone votes. And I think we can all join in praying for our leaders, on both a national and a global stage.

      By Matt Jolley - 16th November 2020
  5. First time I have commented here. Great article. Much appreciated. Ted

    By Edward Bell - 20th November 2020
  6. Thank you. Very timely.

    By Jeremy Davis - 22nd November 2020

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