For no other reason than God’s meticulous providence, I have found myself reading through the minor prophets during this election cycle. In the Book of the Twelve, we find that God’s judgment was a result of Israel’s breaking their end of the Mosaic covenant. God disciplined his people, not out of a fit of anger, but based on the curses of Deuteronomy 28. Make no mistake, they were still his people, but they were being disciplined based on a covenant relationship they had with Yahweh.
Secondly, the minor prophets show us that God’s declaration (warning) of judgment is a merciful thing. In some sense, God doesn’t have to warn of judgment, he could just unleash his wrath and he would be justified to do so. However, he warns his people through human mouthpieces so that Israel might turn back to him and live in a right covenant relationship with the Creator of the universe. While the minor prophets offer much more than just these two observations, I want to reflect for a moment on these two “kindnesses” of God.
I want to consider the idea of God’s kindness in this context of judgment because of Romans 2:4. Paul states, “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” I’m going to work backwards logically for a moment and hopefully draw a sound conclusion. It seems that God’s goal in issuing kindness is that people would repent. Indeed, it is the kindness of God that is meant (intended) to bring sinners to repentance. There is a sense in which God’s goodness and forbearance and kindness brings sinners to repentance because they see the immense beauty and majesty of Jesus and desire to run to his glory. On the other hand, is it not a “kindness” of God to warn of judgment in order to bring about repentance? Is it not a “kindness” of God to discipline his children so that we learn to obey the voice of our heavenly Father? And now, we are back to the message of the minor prophets. God’s declaration of judgment to Israel and Judah was a kind and merciful thing, and the goal of that declaration was for Israel to return to Yahweh in repentance. Therefore, warnings of divine judgment are evidence of God’s kindness, and are meant (intended) to bring us to repentance.
In addition to God’s warnings of judgments, God’s discipline is another “kindness” meant to bring us to repentance. Hebrews 12:7-11 reminds us that God disciplines us as sons (and daughters), and that although it hurts for a time, it is for our good (Heb 12:10). God’s discipline is evidence of a loving Father who desires that “we may share in his holiness” (Heb 12:10) and “yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Heb 12:11). The goal then of discipline is repentance that leads to sanctification. This is another “kindness” of God manifested through corrective discipline.
So, what does all of this have to do with the 2016 election? First off, it is difficult to say that this election cycle is God’s judgment, so I want to be careful and clear that we cannot tell the future outcome of this election. That being said, it appears that some things could go very wrong for our nation as a result of the 2016 election regardless of which party you find yourself supporting. In a naturalistic worldview, it may seem like a series of unfortunate events, but for those of us who profess Christ as King, we are obligated (delighted) to make him the author of the history in which we presently live. Therefore, any negative outcomes of this election will be a result of his meticulous providence and will be meant to lead us to repentance. In the same way that the prophets declared judgment, we too can see the writing on the wall of the potential outcomes of this election. Just as God disciplined Israel, we too may feel the discomfort of a loving rod of correction as a result of this election cycle. In either case, these are kindnesses of God that are meant to lead us to repentance. In the midst of failing religious liberty and the haunt of nuclear war, we do no service to God’s kingdom to complain about our leadership. Rather, we ought to run to God, begging for mercy and restoration. We ought to run to God confessing our sins and repenting in figurative sackcloth and ashes. Is it possible that the intended, providential design of the 2016 election is to bring God’s people back to repentance? Is it possible that the 2016 election is meant to separate the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the chaff? Is it possible that the 2016 election is meant to warn of the future cosmic judgment of God so that some may be snatched out of the fire (Jude 23)? Is it possible that the 2016 election is the kindness of God that is meant to lead us to repentance?
Of course, we don’t know the future, and we therefore can’t say for sure what the sociological/anthropological/theological fallout will be of this election. However, we can know for sure that God’s kindness is meant to lead us to repentance. We can also rejoice with a joy that is inexpressible and full of glory when we are grieved by trials of various kinds (1 Pet 1:6, 8; cf. Jas 1:2) so that the tested genuineness of our faith may result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Pet 1:7). Christian, IF this election season and the subsequent fallout is meant to lead us to repentance, then let us not miss this kindness of God and find ourselves hauled off to Babylon. Let us run to Jesus, the King of kings, and trust his sovereign hand.