Cast Your Vote!

             I hope you have your voter registration card handy and have mapped out the location of your polling place.  Maybe you’re thinking, “Now wait just a minute, it can’t be that time again, it seems like only yesterday that we voted last!”  Exactly, the last election was just yesterday…so that means that at the speed of modern campaigns tomorrow must again be Decision Day America!  Okay, I’m exaggerating slightly but it does seem that the only enterprise that can get a jump ahead on actual start time quicker than a retailer setting up for Christmas is a politician running for President!  That being said, while we may have a few months yet before picking from one of the 500 or so candidates vying to be the political leader of the free world, we cast a vote everyday through the decisions that we make that either take us closer to or farther away from the Lord Jesus Christ.

            Cast Your Vote: Truth or Lie (Genesis 3:4-6)…So let us begin at the beginning.  God created all that is by simply saying “Let there be.”  Then, last of all, on day six of Creation the Lord makes the crown jewel of His work, that of mankind.  Only to the male and female did He declare that they were made in His own image and likeness; only to the human race did God breathe the breath of life into his lungs from His very own nostrils.  So much did the Father love man that He gave them authority over the rest of the created order, placing them in the beautiful Garden of Eden, and then affording them the privilege of walking with the Almighty in the glorious cool of the day!  However, as you well know, the story doesn’t continue on an upward path for long.  One day, the woman and then later the man fell to the destructive deceit of the devil: choosing to eat from the one forbidden tree rather than be filled with the bounty of fruit God allowed and provided; electing to believe Satan’s lie that the Lord was somehow holding out on them and that there would be no penalty for sin instead of trusting the truth that, as a loving heavenly Father, God knows what’s best for His children and, as the Righteous Judge of all, He will certainly not leave the guilty unpunished.  Adam and Eve cast a vote for Satan, the master politician whose lie promised more than he could deliver as if no one would have to pay for it, instead of for God, the ultimate truth teller for He is at once the standard, source, and substance of all that is good and true.  But don’t think we’re off the hook.  The same decision that the first couple had to make confronts each of us on a daily basis in every facet of life.  The choice, truth or lie.  Cast your vote wisely!

            Cast Your Vote: Life or Death (Deuteronomy 30:19)…Moses had been used by the Lord to inflict terrible plagues upon the Egyptians, to lead the Israelites on a sea splitting exodus from bondage, to deliver God’s law on stone tablets to God’s people, and to lead that stony hearted people through a wilderness on a journey that was simultaneously littered with the tragedy of man’s sin and filled with God’s merciful, miraculous provision.  In the pages of Deuteronomy, this man, the most humble who ever lived and the greatest prophet of the Old Testament, was nearing 120 years of age.  Though living a life of faithfulness and godliness and certainly promised the eternal reward thereof, Moses had sinned and disobeyed God by striking the rock instead of just speaking to it and received the consequence that he would not live to see the Israelites enter into the Promised Land of Canaan.  Moses knew what his earthly end would be and accepted it.  So what would this mighty man of God choose to do for his final acts as the great leader of the Lord’s people?  He spends an entire book of the Bible repeating the same message that he had been giving them for the past 40 years!  They didn’t need something new, but they did need to be reminded of the importance of that which they had already received!  Like a good lawyer, more like a prosecuting attorney, Moses concludes his remarks with a closing statement, calling heaven and earth as witnesses that he had given the people a choice between life and death, told them to choose life (in case they had any doubt as to which choice was best!), and yet bemoaning the awful truth that he knew they would choose death.  That was then (about 1,500 BC), and this is now (some 3,500 years later).  Yet the choice is still the same, life or death.  Cast your vote wisely!

            Cast Your Vote: Victory or Defeat (Joshua 24:15)…The daunting task of taking over leadership from Moses was divinely appointed to the great General Joshua.  He led God’s people into the Promised Land, the Lord parting the waters of the Jordan River as the Israelites passed over on dry ground.  This scene, similar to the crossing of the Red Sea under Moses, helped confirm the selection of Joshua as the new leader in the eyes of the people.  Perhaps Joshua’s most famous victory in the pages of Scripture occurred at the great walled fortress of Jericho.  The inhabitants of the city were fearful because the renown of God’s deliverance of His people from Egypt had spread far and wide.  That having been said, the Jerichoites (or perhaps Jerichoans) were confident they would be safe from any threat if they stayed inside the confines of their impenetrable wall.  You probably know the rest of the story.  God tells Joshua to have the people march around the city in silence for six days.  On the seventh day they marched seven times around and then at the trumpeting of the rams’ horns they shouted with a great shout and watched as the walls fell down flat by the power of God!  If Jericho was Joshua’s most famous battle, Joshua 24:15 is likely the most famous verse of Scripture associated with his name.  The passage finds Joshua near the end of his life and, following in the footsteps of Moses, he is exhorting the people one last time to follow after the LORD.  Joshua tells them to put away false gods, for it was these false gods that they had seen defeated time and again by the power of the one true and living God of Israel.  He cannot make the decision for them but in as strong a manner as possible Joshua tells them to “choose this day whom they will serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD!”  Serve the true God who brings victory, or serve the false gods who have been defeated.  The Israelites cast their vote throughout the pages of the Old Testament, mostly with tragic results.  We are faced with the same decision.  We will serve somebody.  Cast your vote wisely!

            Cast Your Vote: God’s Kingdom or The World’s Kingdom (Mark 10:17-23)…Many people came to see Jesus during His incarnational time here on Earth.  That’s understandable.  When you have a reputation for giving sight to the blind, restoring hearing to the deaf, bringing mobility to the lame, cleansing the leper, delivering the demon possessed, and even raising the dead, you tend to draw a crowd.  Now certainly not all of those coming were sincere or turned out to be Christ followers, but the people who came to see Jesus did number in the multiple thousands.  However, with all of the masses who ventured to see the Lord out of their physical or material needs, one of the standout encounters someone had with Jesus came from a man who was doing great financially and physically.  We don’t know his name but we refer to him as the rich young ruler.  He came to Jesus, bowed down before Him, and then asked the most important question, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  The Lord responds by telling the well-to-do man that he must keep the commandments, such as not murdering, not committing adultery, not stealing, not lying, and honoring his father and mother.  The rich young ruler replies that he has kept all of these commandments from his youth up.  Now, let me ask you to be honest.  Have you, or anyone that you’ve ever known, no matter how much you may respect them or have confidence in them (or yourself) ever kept all of those commandments from their youth up?  (If you think the answer to that last question is anything but an emphatic “NO!”, then please see Romans 3:10-11…immediately!)  Jesus, who while doing the merciful and miraculous, was also no stranger to being courageous and confrontational.  Still, though He certainly could have, Christ did not challenge the rich young ruler’s assertion that he had kept the commandments, but simply told him that he lacked one thing, and that was to sell all that he had, give it to the poor, and then to come and follow.  What happens next is one of the saddest scenes in all of human history, the rich young ruler, though saying no words, votes with his feet and leaves the presence of Jesus, choosing to walk away from God’s eternal Kingdom and righteousness in order to hold on to this world’s temporary kingdom and its riches.  This encounter took place 2,000 years ago.  Yet the same choice extends to the human race for as long as time shall endure.  God’s Kingdom or the World’s Kingdom.  Cast your vote wisely!

            Cast Your Vote: The Best or The Worst (Matthew 27:25-26)…Jesus went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil.  You would think that Someone who did so many great things for such a great many would have no enemies to speak of.  However, as those familiar with the gospels well know, Jesus did have enemies, terrible enemies.  The Christ who met the lame with unmerited compassion met the corrupt leadership with unyielding courage.  From the second chapter of John detailing the Lord’s turning of the tables on the religious elite who made a living making merchandise of the people of God, the writing was on the wall concerning the fate of Jesus.  Jewish denominations that were normally at continual and combative odds with each other as to who was right and who would rule, joined together in strange unanimity (and infamy!) in their view that this pesky Carpenter turned Rabbi from Nazareth must be done away with!  They looked for opportunities to rid themselves of Christ but found that His astuteness in answering their “gotcha” questions and His astounding popularity among the masses He healed thwarted their diabolical plans.  But they were nothing if not persistent.  Eventually they found one of Christ’s disciples who would betray Him.  They used Judas to find Him, Roman soldiers to arrest Him, false witnesses to make slanderous allegations against Him, and a moody and murderous mob to call for the crucifixion of the One that had less than a week before been hailed as King in the same city’s streets down which He would soon carry His cross!  But the Jewish religious leaders didn’t have the authority to condemn Jesus to death in their trumped up trial.  They had to bring Christ to Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor, in order to secure His execution.  Pilate had run-ins with these hypocritical religious leaders in the past and, through his wife’s dream and conversations with Jesus Himself, knew that their desire for Christ’s death was without warrant.  The Governor thought he could go around the villainous plan of the Jewish hierarchies by appealing directly to the people.  There was a tradition that the Roman official would release one prisoner at Passover; Pilate would offer the people a choice, should he release Jesus or Barabbas.  Could there be any doubt as to who would be picked? One known to bring life or one known to bring death, the Christ or a criminal, the Son of God or a godless son.  The choice seemed stark but the verdict surprising.  The people rejected Jesus and released Barabbas.  They voted for the worst over the best and Pilate followed their lead.  And so too has everyone who refuses to repent and believe in Christ as Savior.  There is no middle ground, it’s always a choice between Jesus, the best, and whatever else which is the worst.  Cast your vote wisely!