Minister's Blog

Elections: what kind of leader are we hoping for?

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

 Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.

Isaiah chapter 9 verses 6-7

A 2700 year old prophesy from some tiny kingdom on the fringes of the Middle East would seem the most irrelevant piece of information that you could relate to a British election in 2019. And yet. These verses from the book of Isaiah that usually crop up during Christmas services, still resonate strongly. Who does not long for a leader who is truly just, wise, peace bringing and able to accomplish what they set out to do? A leader under whose reign the people flourish and enjoy peace. The word for peace is ‘Sjalom’ in Hebrew, but it is a concept that means more than just ‘no war’. It is well-being for all; everyone safe and sound, having enough to live well, in a place they can call their own.

In the time of the prophet Isaiah the kings of Judah and Israel were meant to be such leaders for their people. They were to uphold justice and ‘righteousness’ – we might say fairness – in the land. Make sure that the most vulnerable in their society, the foreigners, and the poor were not exploited by the rich and strong. The kings also acted as judges and had to be fair and impartial so that everyone had access to justice.

However, on account of the assessments by the many prophets in the Bible, all the kings failed in fulfilling their God given job description, some more spectacularly so than others!

So the longing for a truly good, wise, just, peace bringing leader still remained unfulfilled. We can relate to these longings even today as we try to work out what to do with our ballot papers.

For the Jewish people, these longings would crystallise in the hope of a coming Messiah, a God given leader who would be all these things. Christians believe that Jesus was the one sent from God, who is this truly good leader whose reign brings peace and justice and life for all. His reign is still growing where people recognise him as their leader and follow his teaching.

Where does this leave our actual elections and decisions? The Bible is quite clear that all human leaders will disappoint and fail or fall short in one way or another. We’re not to turn away in cynicism or indifference though. We can use the values that Jesus taught and exhibited as a compass by which to make our own political decisions. We can pray for all our politicians that they may receive wisdom and seek the common good. And last but not least, we can ourselves in our own spheres of influence work towards the peace – Sjalom – well-being of all.

And all the while in the church during advent and beyond we will continue to pray for the Prince of Peace to come. You are welcome to join us any time!


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