May 14, 2018
“What was God thinking?!” – Grace, in the 2000 romantic comedy ‘Return to Me.”
It was a delightful movie, distributed in 2000, about a young woman who received a heart transplant. A year later she meets a man, falls in love and learns that his first wife died in an automobile accident. Then she learns that she has her heart and she realizes that her fiancé does not know it! Totally over-loaded at this point, she turns to her friend and says, “What was God thinking?” It’s a good movie; you might like it.
I have shocked more than a few friends including unbelievers and nominal Christians and evangelicals when I have said “I am certain that God wanted Donald Trump to be elected President.” Usually, they give me that look as if to say “If that is true, what was God thinking? How could you, an evangelical believe that God could approve that vulgar man with the embarrassing moral record should be the President of the United States? And don’t you shudder at the way you look compromised by supporting such a man? The enemies of the Gospel find it hypocritical and attack the church because of your support!” (I humbly suggest that this last argument is particularly facile. After forty years of ministry, I can assure any who worry about our “witness” that unbelievers were mocking and attacking the church long before some of us supported Mr. Trump. Way before he showed up, they hated our views on gay marriage, abortion and other things. To say that they respect us less because of Trump is to say their respect went from one to zero on a scale of a hundred.)
I continue to find this puzzling. I appreciate the fact that we’d all like a President who was a cross between Jesus and George Washington. But these are men with feet of clay. Some who are offended at my statement need to read history. Briefly…. because this is not primarily a political argument…but briefly: Jefferson decried slavery while he had children with his slave lover named Sally. TR and his former friend Taft kept America amused in the early twentieth century with their brutal invectives against each other. FDR had his adulterous lover in the White House. Harry Truman openly called is opponents “SOB’s” and Eisenhower apparently took a lover while fighting the war. JFK had a fraternity house filled with naked secretaries in the White House pool. LBJ was called a vulgar and lecherous man. Nixon was a major league deceiver. Clinton ran a bordello in the Oval Office. And Mr. Obama lied about “keeping your health care plan.” Perfect Presidents are beyond rare.
Ok. We understand that MR. Trump has a checkered record. Again, I grow weary of non-evangelicals and even some evangelicals criticizing my willingness to “tolerate” Mr. Trump for the sake of “policy positions” as if the moral high ground is only held by those who dismiss policies for the “real” moral virtues. They overlook this reality: policy positions conceived and carried out are moral actions. It is a moral action to fight against crushing the skulls of unborn children. It is a moral action to correct the economy, so unemployment is down, and citizens of color are enjoying greater economic opportunities. It is a moral issue to correct an oppressive tax code. It is morally correct to begin to show respect for our military and our police. So, yes. I pray for our President and I roll my eyes at times. But here is another great moral issue: Jerusalem. I told a friend in the summer of 2016 that Mr. Trump would be elected flaws and all. Why? Because God was focused on two things: abortion and Israel. My prophecy was that God would appoint someone to turn the Supreme Court around for the unborn. (And yes, that matters because states will tighten abortion laws and the big court is needed to affirm their actions.) And God would appoint someone who would defend Israel.
One respondent was stunned. He said, “God would approve of such a man as President?” Sure. He might. God often uses imperfect, even vain and foolish people to serve him. We need only consider Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon in the sixth century BC. He got so puffed up and vain (narcissistic?) that God sent him out to live like a wild beast for seven years. Yet, God restored him and called him his “servant” (Jere. 27.6). So, yes, God uses very unusual people to do his will at times.
Now…as to Jesus and Jerusalem. Today, May 14, 2018, the American Embassy has opened in Jerusalem. It has been seventy years since President Truman recognized Israel as a nation. Finally, their capital is in their own prized city. A string of Presidents had promised to move the American Embassy but never did so. President Trump has done this. Does it matter? I think so.
It cannot be overstated that Jerusalem is critical to the plan of God. From the earliest days, the God of Israel called his own people to that city. It is spoken of hundreds of times in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, we find these words from Jesus himself:
Luke 13:33-34 (NIV) “ In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day–for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!”
Jesus considered Jerusalem the visible capital of God’s earthly reign. And Jesus lamented over Jerusalem saying:
34 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”
Bethany was only a couple of miles from Jerusalem…literally a village suburb. When Jesus called his disciples to himself for his departure, it was on the border of the great city. But just before this, Jesus told his disciples the following:
Acts 1:4-11 (NIV) “On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.”
Then they met with Jesus and watched him ascend. Notice carefully what the two angels said to them in verse 11:
5 “For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” 6 So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. 10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
I could be wrong. But after forty years of study on this topic, I have come to believe that the Lord Jesus Christ will return visibly and reign upon the Earth probably from Jerusalem. That many in that region, Jews and Muslims and unbelieving Gentiles will be saved. And that literal Israel will join in with spiritual Israel…the Jews and Gentiles who belong to Christ.
What was God thinking in ordaining an unlikely electoral path thru dozens of counties across the Midwest on election day 2016? What was God thinking in bringing about the unexpected election of a brash non-politician with little regard for the status quo in world events? One who would actually move to protect children in the womb? I believe he was thinking of his own will. And I praise him as I pray for this unlikely servant in the White House. I pray for Jerusalem and I pray for millions to be saved and I pray for more Supreme Court Justices who will support the various states as they try to protect the unborn. And I keep this in mind:
1 Corinthians 1:27 (NIV) “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”
Blessings! Pastor Alberta