Posted by: edsohn | November 5, 2008

go out before us and fight our battles

But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” 1 Sam 8:19-20

This evening, we recognized that Barack Obama will be our next president.  I have been an openly unabashed Obama fan, even in the face of the fact that I’ve been a moderate conservative for most of my lifetime.  I have liked him since the early days of the primary.  I’ve volunteered for him, financially supported the campaign, and on this beautiful Georgia morning, I cast my vote for him.

But 1 Samuel 8:20 paints an important picture where the people of Israel have rejected their Lord in favor of a human monarch.  This is where the people move from an admittedly struggling relationship of being the people of eternal Y’hovah and Y’hovah being their God.  They want to identify with a human leader that other nations can see and be impressed with.  This ends up not working out well at all.

Tonight, I admired Barack Obama’s continual emphasis on people getting together and accomplishing the work that they hope for.   Like Israel, we too have longed deeply for a king to go before us and fight our battles for us.  And like the Israelites, that might actually work for a while, maybe even a generation.  But I wonder if the hearts of Christians have gone to a place where, in the macro sense, we have turned to a person who seems impressive for hope, rather than the all-powerful but invisible LORD who desires to be our God.

This is not to rain on the Obama parade.  I’m a huge, huge fan.  I think he’s a politician like none other in my lifetime, and I think we’re on the verge of seeing an American people totally inspired by its leader.  We should always try to exercise our political voice in voting, and while John McCain showed the quality of his solid character by a more-than-gracious concession speech, I do believe America has done the right thing, making a historic and wise choice.

Nevertheless, I believe that God’s desire has always been to give us identity in Him (you will be MY people), not just dependence that sits on our hands.  He is not simply a Messiah that came and died for humanity’s freedom.  He wants us to IDENTIFY with Him.

Christians MUST get on board with this idea.  An Obama presidency will invariably be flawed, simply because he’s human!  As I noted above, I respect him more because I think he recognizes this.  Our hope will be crushed if we put it in the ability and character of one person, no matter how tremendous.  People always talk about what Obama “represents” as an icon, and yes, his election does convey an identity of the American people to the entire world.  But we must not let our identity rest in Barack’s hands, no matter how capable.

So for those Christians that voted against Obama, please take hope!  I truly believe that if you give him a chance, you will find that you have compromised nothing in the fight to cease abortions, to protect our families from terrorism, to promote strong moral values and worship freely.

And for Christians everywhere, let us not take our identity as citizens of a nation governed in its highest office by an intelligent, compassionate Barack Obama.  As much as we might support him, let us take less pride in identifying as the “people of Obama”, and with much greater courage self-identify primarily as the people of the cross, the people of grace and mercy… the people of Jesus.

So rather than feeling fantastic that we’ve found a king to fight our battles, let’s go fight our own battles, not just as people of a great nation and a great president, but as humble people of a powerful and eternal God.



  1. Amen, Ed! I think this would be a great time to re-read the Claiborne/Haw book “Jesus for President” and possibly Yoder’s “Politics of Jesus”.

    While it is absolutely essential that America have an effective leader (and we clearly do now), it is critical that we NOT put “country first”, but rather God’s Kingdom first. God Bless The World!

  2. AGREED!

  3. God, Country, Family…

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