With the second national political convention in progress, everyone knows it’s election season in the United States (though I often wonder if “election season” ever truly ends). It is likely that either the Democratic nominee or the Republican nominee will win, though the Libertarian nominee could win, too (hey, it’s 2020). Once again we’re being told that this is the most important election of our lifetime. Presidents can only be president for four or eight years (it is possible for a president to be in office ten years, though, if he or she finishes two years of another president’s term). What we often miss is perspective.
In 2 Kings 15 we read a whirlwind of “administration” changes in both Israel and Judah. The singular nation David and Solomon reigned over had split into two. The chapter begins with these words:
In the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Azariah the son of Amaziah, king of Judah, began to reign. He was sixteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jecoliah of Jerusalem.2 Kings 15:1–2 ESV
Fifty-two years is a long time, yet we read just a few verses later:
And Azariah slept with his fathers, and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David, and Jotham his son reigned in his place.2 Kings 15:7 ESV
While Azariah reigned a good, long time, the whirlwind is just beginning. When Azariah was in his 38th year as king of Judah, Zechariah the son of Jeroboam became king of Israel (2 Kings 15:8). He reigned six months. Then in the 39th year of Azariah (also known as Uzziah), Shallum became king and reigned one month (2 Kings 15:13). Menahem became king and lasted a full ten years (2 Kings 15:17), yet we soon read,
And Menahem slept with his fathers, and Pekahiah his son reigned in his place.2 Kings 15:22 ESV
Pekahiah would reign for two years before being overthrown by Pekah. Pekah reigned twenty years, but saw Tiglath-pileser (king of Assyria) conquer many of his cities and take many of his people into exile in Assyria (2 Kings 15:29). Meanwhile Jotham became king of Judah and reigned sixteen years. Then he, too, died.
I cannot imagine the political turmoil and upheaval that was constant in those days. While Jotham reigned sixteen years—twice as long as all but one US president—it is not as though it was sixteen years of peace and prosperity.
In those days the LORD began to send Rezin the king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah against Judah.2 Kings 15:37 ESV
Nearly constant war and constant upheaval and constant intrigue and constant international tension. Imagine if they had cable news and social media back then!
What is remarkable to me about this is what Matthew writes in the first chapter of his Gospel. It’s a genealogy, so most of us barely skim it when it comes up in our Bible reading plan. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah…snooze. Don’t hit that snooze button just yet, though. Matthew says David was the father of Solomon and then, generations later, Joram the father of Uzziah (also called Azariah), and then fast-forward several more generations to a time after the time of kings in Judah. We come to Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Mathan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ (Matthew 1:15–16).
Through long centuries of political upheaval and wars and international drama and tension, God was sustaining the family line of David, for he had promised David a son who would reign forever and ever. Even though there was a break in the kingdom of David, there was not a break in the line of David. Through all the upheaval, the kings who reigned briefly or for long periods of time, there was a family line that remained unbroken. Then, as Paul wrote to the Galatians,
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.Galatians 4:4–5 ESV
God’s sovereign rule over human history is on full display in the history of the kings of Israel and Judah. If God can sort out and guide and direct history toward his purposes over many centuries, surely he can guide and direct our own lives—even life in 2020! This means that whether Joe Biden wins the election or Donald Trump wins re-election or Jo Jorgensen somehow wins (hey, it is 2020!), God is still sovereign and is still guiding human history toward his intended purposes.
Come what may, whether we know who the next president is in November or sometime much later than that, whether the candidate we vote for wins or loses, whether the results of the election causes our nation to fall apart at the seams or somehow stick together and prosper, whatever happens, Jesus is still King of kings and Lord of lords—and, you might say, President of presidents. The point is there is still only one kingdom that will last forever and ever, and there is only one King who can sit on that eternal throne. His name is Jesus. He was born to a young virgin named Mary. He was tried, beaten, killed on a Roman cross. And then, on the third day, he walked out of his tomb forever victorious over sin and death, and is coming again to reign on the earth forever and ever. Dear Christian, this is our hope. This is our joy. This is our deepest longing.
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.Philippians 3:20–21 ESV
In a world of constant change, the only thing that does not is our confession: Jesus is Lord.