Note: Bill Cloud is the author of the new book "Esau Rising: Ancient Adversaries and the War for America's Soul."
Why does it seem that what God offers His people is most often met with disinterest if not outright disgust? Throughout history we typically prefer the option perceived to be more attractive over His offering. In the beginning, man chose the deadly Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil rather than the Tree of Life. In the wilderness, Israel preferred quail over the manna God served them six days a week. Because they wanted to be like other nations, Israel cried out for a king to rule over them. In every case when God's people refused what God offered them, the results were disastrous.
I point to these examples, because I'm convinced that this recurring malady has struck again, demonstrated this time by our political preferences. Throughout this election cycle, many evangelicals and people of faith have chosen what is, in my estimation, pleasing to the eye and soothing to the ear instead of a chance for the legitimate restoration of constitutional and biblical principles. That this choice seems to have been sealed by the decision made in Indiana – the state that claims to be the "Crossroads of America" – seems quite appropriate, maybe even prophetic. For decades America has been standing at the proverbial crossroads and has consistently turned down the wrong path. The intensity of this election cycle indicates that many others believe this as well. But I fear this latest decision has the ring of finality to it. Not only will it lead us further from our founding principles and, more importantly, godly principles, but it reflects the will of many who claim to be the people of God.
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Realizing that I am exposing myself to rebuke, ridicule and possibly worse, I believe that Sen. Ted Cruz was the better choice, dare I say, the godly choice. Cruz was by far the best pro-Bible, pro-Constitution candidate we've seen in a long time. In fact, he was the first person I have voted for since 1984; in subsequent years I found myself voting against many candidates. It's not that I believe Cruz was perfect or that he could have saved the nation – no man can. I believe that supporting what he stood for might have represented a desire to return to principles – biblical principles. That is what is needed if the nation is to be saved. I believe choosing Cruz would have been indicative of a movement on our part to return to what made America great in the first place.
Obviously, many other Americans, including many believers, vehemently disagree with my view. As Cruz said, "The voters chose another path." Those Americans are convinced that Donald Trump will decimate our enemies, secure profitable deals and make the nation great again. Some are convinced that God raised him up for this time and that he is "God's man." To those who hold this view, I would say that though he may indeed be God's man, so was Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon (Jeremiah 27:6). He served God by being a rod of correction for God's wayward people.
It seems that lately we've had a host of leaders who would fall under the category of "God's man." I was hopeful that, instead of settling for "God's man," perhaps we had been given the opportunity to have a "man of God" leading this nation. No believer should place his or her complete confidence in any candidate, party or political philosophy – as a believer my confidence is in God, His Word and His promises. Still, as we see throughout history, God performs His will through people; whether they be "God's man" or a "man of God" depends upon the spiritual disposition of His people.
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When the First Continental Congress convened in September 1774, one of the first actions taken by the delegates was to humble themselves in prayer and petition Heaven for mercy, favor, and guidance. Humility and a belief that God is the One who raises up nations and brings down empires is at the heart of what this nation was founded upon. But now it seems we have been seduced into thinking that we are capable of saving ourselves; WE can make the country great again. That notion is the byproduct of a nation gone astray. We have become so blind as to think that doing what is right in our own eyes will render success.
Though the nation's ultimate choice for president is still pending, I am disheartened that a substantial number in the body of Messiah have opted for revenge and the promises of an arrogant deal-maker. I've listened to the justifications for their choice as well as the many baseless accusations against Cruz, but I would remind them that a deal-maker with no fixed morality can also be a deal-breaker. I would love nothing more than to be wrong about this. I would be thrilled if as president Trump would lead the nation honorably and in the fear of God, but this would have to assume that: 1) he actually gets elected, and 2) Jesus was wrong when He said, "You shall know them by their fruits." To date the fruit presented by Trump includes arrogance, boasting, greed, baseless accusation and a zeal for retaliation against those who dare to stand in his way – not exactly indicative of a God-fearer. Sadly, it is exactly these attributes that many conservatives and evangelicals find attractive, even refreshing.
What I say now is with resolve and trepidation: I am convinced the political choice that many conservatives and evangelicals have made is akin to ancient Israel's demand for a king. And so it was that a man who stood head and shoulders above everyone else – albeit plagued with pride and insecurity – ruled over them. Furthermore, I believe this choice is synonymous with refusing manna from heaven because our desire for meat is so great. On the surface, craving meat doesn't seem all that unreasonable until you consider that Israel left Egypt with all of their livestock in tow; in other words, they had a source of meat. So what were they really demanding? Simply put, they wanted to satisfy their appetite with something other than what God was offering. Likewise, I'm afraid that we have chosen what is right and appealing in our own eyes.
We have been swept away with words so cleverly crafted as to appeal to our rawest emotions, frustrations and anger. We wanted flesh when God offered otherwise. But as we so often see throughout Scripture, God will give His people what they want. When Israel demanded flesh, they received it until it was coming out of their nostrils and was loathsome to them. More often than not God gives His people what they desire in order to teach them that what they wanted was not what they needed. Unfortunately, America has a track record of choosing what we want. Eight years ago we wanted change, and we got it. So when it comes to our current political choices, what are we telling Him we want this time?
I fully expect to hear the cries of "sore loser," "sour grapes" and "aiding and abetting the left"; so be it. I would respond that if our choice for the most powerful office in the land and leader of the free world comes down to "She who shall not be mentioned" and a man who is vulgar, boastful, accusative, greedy and thinks Planned Parenthood is a great organization, then, as Americans, we all lose. Our choice amounts to trying to determine which side of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil to eat from. Either way, the result is not good. That's really sad seeing that so many of us agree our country is in peril. The disconnect seems to be about how to fix it: do we build a wall and make better deals, or do we return to the fundamental principles that built this nation?
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In biblical terms our situation is this: The people have turned away from God, and the land needs to be healed. Some are convinced that if we elect the right candidate, party, etc., somehow we can heal ourselves. The Scripture begs to differ. It says, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14). God is telling us that there is only one remedy; if we truly wish to fix the problem, we must recognize that we're the problem. We must cease from doing what is right in our own eyes and turn from our wicked ways.
Though I definitely have a political preference in this election, ultimately I'm not for any man or any party. I am for the Kingdom of Heaven and God's purposes – at large and for this nation and its people. I am for the Constitution, because I believe it was founded upon biblical principle. Consequently, I believe this land is in desperate need of healing and that our only hope is in the Cross! So with that thought in mind I must say I lament the fact that the only candidate whose name means "God heals" (Rafael) has been eliminated from the race. I am truly disappointed that the candidate who is a time-tested conservative, a man of faith and whose surname means "the cross" (Cruz) has been defeated. Even so, I will put my trust in God, for my hope is in Him and not man. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the point of all of this – He alone is our source of salvation and redemption. We must turn to Him in humility and repentance. Let us all seek His face and pray for our leaders (whoever they may be) that He may indeed hear from heaven, forgive our sin and heal our land.