DOES IT MATTER HOW WE VOTE?
Sermon preached in Rye Lane Chapel, Sunday evening, 22nd May, 1955.
"Therefore thus will I do unto thee, 0 Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, 0 Israel." Amos 4:12.
On Thursday next the electors of Britain are asked to record their votes and by their collective decision this country will have its government. Politicians are apt to think themselves much more important than they are. Election addresses are a boost of political purity on the part of those who sign them while hinting at dark things in the policies and motives of their opponents. Does it matter how we vote? I hope to give a precise answer to that question so that at least every born-again Christian here will see the issues plainly from the Word of God.
Therefore let me first impress upon you that the Christian is required to decide everything in the context of redemption and the eternal purpose of God. Every day has an eternal meaning and all our actions, thoughts and words have an eternal significance. All of us are apt to forget that. The recording of your vote is not a political act but a moral and spiritual act. You are to record your vote in the light of what you know of God and His purposes, and in the realisation that the one thing that matters is that in everything you advance these interests and purposes of God.
Now this will at once distinguish the Christian from the non-Christian voter. As I read the manifestos and listen to the speeches the impression I gain is that the various parties are seeking to induce me to vote for them for what they are prepared to do for me. The appeal to the voters is entirely to self-interest. The great moral and spiritual issues of the hour are completely ignored. Our religious leaders call us to pray for the election; but quite frankly it is difficult to know just what kind of prayer to offer.
Certainly I could not pray for the election as if God were a miniature Deity far away and the real big people were all these people who in many cases have no thought for God. Self dominates England at this moment. Rich and poor are concerned with nothing but themselves and all the varied interests are engaged in a terrific tug of war which will being us eventually to ruin. If we could all join together, IF we could cooperate for the general good, if we could endeavour to serve each other we could transform this country.
I use this as an illustration: some miners at a Welsh anthracite colliery have been dissatisfied with their conditions and going slow. The management gave notice to close the pit and this action seemed to bring home the serious situation to everybody. To the credit of management and men they got together and made an agreement to deal honourably with hardships and also to secure maximum output. In the days when there was contention the output was 9 to 15 tons a day. Now the output is between 80 and 90 tons a day! Why cannot this be done? The politicians ought to have an answer to that question, after all it is the politicians who are doing their utmost to appeal to vested interests whether it be the capitalist or works staff, and to stir up a selfish spirit whereby every one of us is being urged to vote for the man we think will serve our interests best irrespective of these larger issues of the nation.
Now the prophet Amos is of all the writers in Scripture, in my view, pre-eminently the man with the message for us. You may not read him. You may pass him by because you think he is not very interesting but nobody should vote next Thursday without first reading carefully his prophecy. He had the courage of his convictions and wherever he went in the northern kingdom he declared what he believed to be the will of God. Of course as a prophet he was not recognised as a religious leader. You must always bear in mind that most of these prophets, like of course Our Lord himself, were never recognised as religious leaders. In the days of Amos if the king wanted to have religious advice he would never have dreamed of consulting Amos. You should read chapter 7 verses 10 to 17. Amaziah the priest, the chief dignatory religious in Israel told the king Jeroboam about Amos, and complained that Amos was not a patriot because he was prophesying judgement on his own country. This great religious priest told Amos to clear off to Judah and do his preaching there but get away from Samaria. Then you must read the answer of Amos in verses 14 and 15. Amos had a soul on fire for God. And now let us see how apt is the message of Amos for this hour. This cowkeeper prophet was a man deeply taught of God. He saw the politics of his time through God's eyes. And first:
THE INTERNATIONAL SITUATION:
World politics are of course a matter of terrible concern and anxiety. Tremendous forces are gathering. The powers of the East are preparing to meet the powers of the West. Russia with her satellites from Peking to Berlin are mustering their strength. Hideous weapons are being devised in the East and the West and we cannot be at all sure that in every respect, or even in any respect, that we are ahead in our preparations.
What is clear is that weapons are actually in existence at this moment whereby millions of people could be blasted into eternity within the next 24 hours. We may well ask ourselves what is wrong with the world? Are some politicians unscrupulous? Well look into this book of Amos and see what he has to say. His point of view is that nations rise and fall by moral and spiritual considerations, that when they fall into sin and idolatry God never forgets and without hesitation visits them with judgement. See how Amos works it out in Chapters 1 and 2. He has his usual phrase;" For three transgressions and for four;" which is the Hebrew way of saying: "For more transgressions than I can count." He commences with Damascus, then on to Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon and Moab. It is just as if God was picking out Moscow, Berlin, Vienna, Paris, Brussels, Madrid and Washington and telling each country of the moral wrong and wickedness God could see in that country and declaring without any question whatsoever of the judgement of God falling upon them.
Of course Israel was delighted to know that these nations were going to get what they thoroughly deserved as we might be. But then Amos comes to the southern kingdom of Judah and finally to Israel. No man sees the hour in which we live with any clarity unless he has the message of Amos ringing in his ears. God is not unmindful and the wickedness of nations will never be condoned. God is mindful of the international situation. The stone will fall on the image and crush it to powder, the bowls of wrath will be poured out from heaven upon the governments and people who have no regard for Him. At this moment as surely as there is a stock pile of lethal weapons for the damage of mankind so also is the judgement of God written in the records of heaven. Wherefore any person who sees the international situation without seeing God in absolute authority and sway and bringing impending judgement because of national wickedness sees nothing clearly.
THE NATIONAL SITUATION
Now Amos deals with Israel. Listen to what he says in chapter 3. "You only have I known of all the families of the earth." That was a blessed privilege. The sort of privilege we feel we have for God has been very good to this nation. But because we have thus been known Amos adds in God's name; "Therefore will I punish you for all your iniquities." Do you realise that because we have had the Bible and liberty such as few nations have enjoyed, do you realise that God is about to call us to account for them? As you see the Argentine struggling to escape the clutches of Rome do you realise how wonderfully blessed of God we are to have been free from Roman Catholicism for 300 years.
But you must see what Amos saw in Israel. There was adultery and sodomy. Read chapter 4 addressed most impolitely to the Kindred of Bashan; the wealthy ladies who make demands upon their husbands for luxury and so force their husbands to make money without regard as to what is right and honest.
Then there is their religion. They have erected false altars to their gods, they have ignored the revelation of God, they have turned their backs upon the Commandments of Moses. The whole nation is corrupt in idolatry, in selfishness, in oppression, in indifference to the needs of one's brother. The cry of the needy is reaching to the ear of God.
It surely must be apparent that in our own country where the great corporations are paying large dividends, where shortages of a commodity raises its price, where men strike without regard to the interests of their fellows, where it seems that everybody is animated by one strong motive of self, it surely must be obvious that something is radically wrong! The answer is that man is wrong with his fellow because man is wrong with God!
AN APOCALYPTIC SITUATION
Hence Amos declares ;"Prepare to meet thy God." And he is right. I take not the slightest notice of the promises of the politicians. Not one of them has the power to direct the future. That future is determined by moral and spiritual considerations and those issues are entirely and absolutely in the hands of God. The devil is hard at work but he cannot withstand God. The issue of the human race is God. Every line of prophetic scripture is being endorsed by the movements of the times. Wars and rumours of wars are all heralding the approaching judgement of God. Therefore in God's name Amos speaks. In the verses immediately preceding the text, God enumerates his warnings. The people have not seen them so they thought they were due to natural causes. So do we.
Have you learned nothing about the judgements of God from two
world wars? Do you interpret all these present conditions without God? You will
make a great mistake if you do. God has plainly declared in His Word that we
are moving towards a climax. How near to it we may be we do not know. But it
is certain. The world has rejected Jesus. Man nailed Him to the Cross. God turned
that terrible tragedy to our blessing in making His soul an offering for our
sin. What you need to vote for first of all is not that the Tories or the Liberals
or the Socialists are wrong but to say; "In God's sight I am wrong."
That is where we enter into blessing. From that position where we truly repent
of our sin and place our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ we may move to newness
of life wherein our whole life will be changed and our desire will be the will
Then our hope will be turned away from man in his sin to that Man in heaven who knew no sin, who died for our sin and who is coming again to judge the world in righteousness. Therefore we may say with Amos prepare to meet thy God. And the issue of the day is am I ready to meet Him? The issue is not my vote on Thursday as to whether I should vote for this or that but am I ready to meet the Lord at His Coming?