Churchill once quoted someone who observed that democracy is the worst form of government . . . except for any other.
A glance at Numbers 14 gives us a case in point.
The Israelites were slogging through the desert heat, and word on the sand dunes was that they would be better off if all that exodus unpleasantness had been a mirage. The Israelites would still have homes instead of squatting in ratty tents. They would be well watered and fed. So why not patch things up with their enslavers and return to the fleshpots of Egypt?
So they decided on their own grassroots candidate (v. 4) and had a parlez-vous with the acting prime minister:
“Not so hot . . . um, I can’t believe I just said that! Oi, you could fry an egg on my forehead. And then there’s your constant kvetching: no water, everybody’s got B.O., impossible to get all the sand out of the manna . . .”
“Funny thing you should mention kvetching, Moses. We just chose this dynamite tour leader to help us make a 180 back to Egypt. Better we’re slaves there than put up with all this yammering here, right, Moses?”
“Moses, we voted.”
“Heaven wouldn’t like it.”
“Moses, we have a clear majority here. We’re informing you that the people have spoken. This train’s headed back to Goryland.”
“I forbid it.”
“What? A schlemiel like you should overrule all of us? Who gives you the right?”
“That’s just one more vote alongside of yours. That’s two against all of us. What are we, chopped liver?”
Dictatorships don't cut it. Even democracies can't.
Scripture records how this experiment in democracy ends. Despite their kvetching the Israelites do obey Moses and head for the Promised Land.
Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria—this past year demonstrated so graphically that dictatorships don’t cut it. They are too weak to maintain their coercive grip on power because cruel intimidation cannot capture people’s hearts. Sooner or later dictators get swallowed up in the torrent of blood they themselves release.
Greece, Italy, Spain, North America—this past year demonstrated so graphically that even democracies can’t cut it either. They are too weak to rescue their economies, let alone to enact true justice or peace. The will of the people is too divided, too fickle, too easily deflected. And the quest for the common good always gets derailed by self-interest.
So where to turn? To a true monarchy. To a King who rules not by majority assent but by the divine right of (eternal) inheritance. To a King who loves God so much he willingly sheds all his innate glory to become a slave to the Father’s goodwill (Philip. 2:6-11). To a King who loves us so dearly he served us all the way to hell and back.
This Christmas, regardless of our political slant, let’s celebrate together that holy inauguration in Bethlehem of the ancient regime. Let’s join shepherds in witnessing to the Wonder. Let’s join the magi in offering gifts fit for King Jesus: gold, labor, love, and lives.
And let’s resolve to be noble ambassadors of that eternal kingdom throughout the New Year.
So, does Jesus have your vote?