Like many across the world I'm glued to my screen right now watching as the chaos unfolds in Washington DC. Of course, all the details are still hazy: protestors, the Capitol being breached, gunshots, lawmakers crouching behind bullet proof chairs and sheltering in place, dueling presidents asking for peaceful withdraw, and lots and lots of pandemonium. Honestly, some of these scenes look more like a Hollywood movie than real life.
But it is real life and it's a reality that we have created for ourselves. How? By the American insistence that politics can solve the problems that face a nation. There is an inherent impulse in the human heart to want something to rally around, something to trust in, something to depend on – even something to throw wholehearted commitment and service behind. And politicians, regardless of platforms and parties, have been all too content to sell themselves as the solution and answer to the demands of the human heart. "Vote for me" they cry, "and I will give you what you want." They promise to represent, to unite, to fix, and to heal. And their spell is cast and we become willingly bewitched. Like the citizens of Tyre and Sidon hearing the oration of Herod the public cries: "The voice of a god, and not of a man!" (Acts 12:22).
Well America, cast an eye upon the evening news, websites, or social media and behold your gods – and watch them fall and fail. They cannot live up to the promises. They cannot fulfill the hope. They cannot give what they offer. So, this is what happens. This is what happens when we trust in chariots and horses (Psalm 20:7). This is what happens when we make the flesh our strength (Jeremiah 17:5). This is what happens when we say "Give me politicians!" (see Hosea 13:10). This is what happens when we make politics our hope (Isaiah 20:5). This is what happens when we trust in man (Psalm 118:8). America, this is what it's like when gods fail.
Politicians and politics promise a lot. But even with their earthly strength, economic power, and military might they cannot deliver and they cannot save. How can the hand of the king turn the hand of God's anger when the heart of the king is in the hand of God (Proverbs 21:1)? So, let the politics and politicians fail. Let the elections go as they will. Let candidates lose. Let the gods stumble and fall so that our hearts – by any means necessary – are pried from the soul killing sin of vain confidence in men: "Thus says the LORD: 'Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD" (Jeremiah 17:5).
There is a better way. With those gods "is an arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God, to help us" (2 Chronicles 32:8). Learn to sing with the Psalmist: "We trust in the name of the LORD our God" (Psalm 20:7). Learn to confess with the Prophet: "Assyria shall not save us; we will not ride on horses" (Hosea 14:3). And admonish all earthly powers: "Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him" (Psalm 2:10-12).