DIVINE SOVEREIGNTY VS. HUMAN RESPONSIBILITY - Week of October 23rd
By Judy NicholsOctober 23, 2016
DIVINE SOVEREIGNTY VS. HUMAN RESPONSIBILITY
ă€€With the election looming, I struggle as I consider what God may have in store for our country’s future. Since there is no reference to America in Scripture, and if we are as close to the very last days as it appears, the question arises as to whether it is worthwhile to vote. If America is destined to decline into oblivion or for any other reason be a non-entity in the events surrounding the return of Christ, why should we bother to be engaged in the political arena? Can we resist God’s will? Can His hand of judgment against a nation as evil as ours be stayed?
I am not a deep enough thinker to render definitive answers to these questions. But I do see both divine sovereignty and human responsibility in the pages of Scripture.
At the Last Supper, Jesus told the disciples that one of them would betray Him. Then He said, "The Son of Man will go just as it is written about Him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born" (Matt. 26:24). The Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8), yet clearly Judas bears responsibility for his participation in the plot against our Lord.
On the day of Pentecost Peter reaffirmed both God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility when he said of Jesus, "This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross" (Acts 2:23).
The most helpful passage in this regard is from the book of Esther, where the view is from before- rather than after-the-fact. A plot has been hatched to eradicate the Jews from the entire Persian empire. Esther, the queen, is a Jewess. Her uncle who raised her informs her of the plot and urges her to approach the king and beg for mercy for her people. The penalty for approaching the king without being summoned is death, so Esther is understandably reluctant. Her Uncle’s response has much to teach us.
"Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" (Esther 5:13-14). His first warning reminds Esther that she has a stake in the outcome. Just because she is queen does not mean she will be exempt from the decree. Secondly, he expresses faith that God will deliver His people, whether Esther cooperates or not. And thirdly, he admonishes her that her position in the royal household uniquely enables her to intervene.
Can we apply these lessons to ourselves? Certainly, we also have a stake in the outcome. This is our nation, for better or for worse. And while we, by God’s grace, do endure difficult times, we can and should do all in our power to reverse the moral decline we find ourselves in. Otherwise, we, too, may be subject to God’s judgment. God will have His way relative to His people the Jews (for the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable – Rom. 11:29) whether the United States supports them or not. And finally, as believers we are "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God" (1 Pet.2:9), and as such we are uniquely positioned to intervene.
And intervene we must! Is it worthwhile to vote and be involved in the political arena? Absolutely! But we must also go before the King as importunately as Esther went before her king, and beg for mercy. The verse has been repeated so often as to be well-worn, but it bears repeating again. "If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land" (2 Chron. 7:14).
The people of Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah, and God relented concerning the judgment He had planned. I’ve no doubt He would do the same for us if we also repent. Why should we let our nation continue to decay and decline? Pray. Pray for the election. Pray for repentant hearts for God’s people. Pray that righteousness will once again characterize the United States of America, because, "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people" (Prov. 14:34).
God is absolutely in charge; He will have His way. But we also have a responsibility to make godly choices, to do the things that promote righteousness and truth in our culture. Will we cooperate with Him or by our inaction will we contribute to our own demise?
© J.H.Nichols 2012