During these past elections, the book of Daniel was continually on my mind. I am more convinced than ever that this book is intensely practical to our day, and one of the most relevant things we can read regarding our current politcal climate.
To start with, no matter who you voted for, we all need to pray for our president-elect. Not only is this a biblical command (1Tim 1:1-2), the book of Daniel tells us clearly that God has set him in place (Daniel 2:21). There is absolutely no way that the sovereignty of God was foiled by the democratic process. The electoral college didn’t pull a fast one on the Lord of glory and slip the “wrong” guy into place. God raises up kings and removes kings. Period. His leadership is perfect.
However, just because God has set him in place doesn’t mean that we kick back and relax, assuming everything is now going to be coming up roses. When a people are casting off the Lord’s Kingship, He gives them the kind of ruler they want (and hence, deserve). This is part of the reason I am positive that democracy doesn’t pose a challenge to God’s sovereignty. Israel wanted a king just like all the other nations, and God gave them Saul. At the end of the age, the world will want a ruler who can promise peace and prosperity without any semblance of godliness, and God will give them the Antichrist. As a whole, our nation wants a president who cares more about the economy than the unborn, and God gave us one. Just because God raises up a king. it does not necessarily follow that that king is God’s chosen instrument to make everything better. After all, God raised up Nebuchadnezzar, too (and you can see how happy that did not make the prophet Habakkuk in Hab 1:12-2:1).
But just because things aren’t good doesn’t mean they are hopeless. The God who raises kings up also holds the heart of those kings in His hand, and can turn them (Prov 21:1). In the book of Daniel, we see that Nebuchadnezzar was a blatantly wicked man. He sacked Jerusalem, took the holy articles from the temple of God, was violent and idolatrous, and became responsible for the falling away of who knows how many Jewish youth in Daniel’s exile. He was arrogant, power hungry and short tempered. Yet He was divinely turned by the sovereign “interference” of God. The right encounters in the right timing took a hellbound, prideful king and turned him into a believer of Yahweh. When Daniel interpreted the king’s dream in chapter 2, he was awed, calling Daniel’s God a great God. When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego walked out of the furnace in chapter 3, he was terrified and forbade anyone to speak ill of the Hebrews’ God. And when the Lord gave him a time out in the pasture for seven “times”, he came back a completely transformed, converted man, acknowledging Yahweh as the One who really rules on this earth.
When I heard the news of the election, I immediately began thinking of these encounters which God gave Nebuchadnezzar. I began praying that God would release those kind of encounters to Barack Obama. I have no idea what condition that man’s soul is in, and it’s not my place to figure it out. All I know is that if God could turn Nebuchadnezzar, He can certainly speak to our president-elect. If He can completely humble a Babylonian despot, surely He can speak to a president about justice for the unborn. I believe He wants to. I fully believe it’s possible. But I also believe that this is not where we leave it.
As I was praying, I was struck with this realization: Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was only half of the picture. In both Daniel 2 and 4, the dream left Nebuchadnezzar confused and fearful, but unmoved. It took a prophet, a man of God who knew the heart of the Lord, to interpret and make sense out of what the Lord was saying. And I felt it as clear as I’ve probably felt anything; if we want Barack Obama to have Nebuchadnezzar-type encounters, we need a prophetic church willing to be a Daniel.
Here’s the catch: Daniels do not emerge in a day. Daniels do not get raised up through “bolt from the blue” impartations. Daniels do not wake up one day with the ability to interpret dreams, suddenly having a mature history in God. Daniels are forged in the lifestyle of fasting and prayer, determining to live separately and undefiled from the luxuries of this present evil age. If we want to hear what Daniel heard and see what he saw, we have to be willing to live like he lived. We’re going to have to disentangle from a lot of superfluous stuff and really give ourselves to knowing our God. We don’t get to hide under a rock until this all blows over. If we want to see an impact for righteousness made, we have to be committed to full obedience and “extreme” (read: actually living the Bible) holiness.
We won’t get anywhere by wishing that everyone else would rend their hearts. We have to rend ours. We have to be willing to take the place of the intercessor, which means crying out for God to have mercy on humanity, but also pleading with humanity to hear God. We must be a clear voice, which means we must be given fully to hearing God. That includes restructuring every day life to make room for it, intentionally talking to the Lord a lot (i.e. Daniel’s custom of praying three times a day). That includes giving up normal comforts of life if it means safeguarding our heart from slipping into the stupor that comes with the spirit of this age (i.e. Daniel’s request to eat only vegetables). That includes being in the ostracized minority of people who are tenacious about their faith (i.e. Daniel and his three friends are the only Jewish youth whom we can be sure kept their faith through their indoctrination). Then, and only then, are we going to have something to say to the king whose sleep is disrupted by decrees from the Holy God of heaven.
This is a serious time we live in, people. Let’s do this.