Sunday, October 23, 2016

Shutruk Nahunte; a King Forgotten

Like greedy dogs, they are never satisfied.
They are ignorant shepherds,
    all following their own path
    and intent on personal gain. 
Isaiah 56:11(NLT)
Today’s message will not lead to a political rally for any candidate.  I do not believe that is the job or purview of the pulpit.  And it’s not a matter of tax exemption status or separation of church and state; it is a matter of principle.  We respect one another’s right to believe differently, even if they are strong beliefs and differences.
This is not a bully pulpit, and while we cannot endorse one candidate over another as a church, we must speak to the issues which affect lives of people every day.  This is consistent with how Scripture tells us to be Christian citizens:
Fear God, and respect the king.  1 Peter 2:17b(NLT)
To respect the king in the case of a Republic like the United States of America, means to be law-abiding citizens, subject to the rule of law, and to participate (in an orderly fashion) in the governing process of our culture.  That typically works out to keeping your hands off what doesn’t belong to you, keeping it under 70 on the Interstate, and no smoking the wacky weed!
For the follower of Jesus Christ it means so much more.  Peter said we are to respect everyone!  Those who claim to be Christian have no business belittling others or supporting the root of bitterness that divides families, churches and even whole nations; ours is a ministry of reconciliation!
Enter the 2016 political season and all of its rancor, mud-slinging, vitriol and, at times, all-out-slander.  One candidate calls the other crooked, lying and jailbait; the response is womanizing flim-flam artist with a basket-full of deplorables following him.
Now, it is nowhere near my intention to pick apart these and the sixteen gazillion other accusations, cuts and put-downs slung across the aisle in the primaries, and currently in the run-up to general election.  I think we’re all sick of that!
I want to point out just two things this morning, and then call us to prayer for our country.
a.     None of us have ever seen the likes of this presidential campaign.  Perhaps because of the incredibly huge gap between the opposing major parties on social issues it was bound to happen that the most lightning-rod like candidates would come to the surface and slug it out in the basest of ways, with the foulest language.

And I believe that what we have done in allowing this kind of obscenity to fuel personal anger, is that we have sowed seeds of contempt to the wind, and are about to reap the harvest of contempt in our national whirlwind come November 8th.

God help us, we are about to get what we have demanded.  And like the Israelites in the wilderness who complained that they didn’t have the kind of meat they wanted, God answered their whining:

And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.  Psalm 106:15(KJV)

God gave them meat to fill their bellies, but, to boot, they developed a rancorous, rebellious arrogance on their insides.  The whole nation became a stench in God’s nostrils, rather than a blessing to lift up His name!

I am in no way a prophet, but it doesn’t take much intelligence to read Scripture and look at the culture in which we live, and conclude that we are ripe for the judgment of Almighty God.

b.    Secondly I want to share with you what Scripture really says about the kind of leadership we ought to be seeking out:
It has been said by more than a few that we are in the process of electing a president, not a pastor.  I get that, and understand.  However, what I want to present to you is the example of some Old and New Testament leaders who were not only religious, but had great secular responsibilities of leadership.  These people were governors in the land.
And what I would like for us to do is notice one common thread that runs through the makeup of each of these leaders:

Israel (Jacob)

Jacob was the child of Godly parents, who became a business man and built a great fortune on the backs of the little people with lies, cheating and manipulation.  God brought him to his knees and he changed:
I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands.


God spoke to a convicted murderer in exile and asked him to go back to Egypt to spring Israel from captivity under Egypt’s pharaoh:
But Moses protested to God, “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?” Exodus 3:11(NLT)


God asked Gideon to lead the nation in battle:
“But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!” Judges 6:15(NLT)

King saul

God wanted Saul of Kish to be Israel’s first king:
Saul replied, “But I’m only from the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest tribe in Israel, and my family is the least important of all the families of that tribe! Why are you talking like this to me?” 1 Samuel 9:21(NLT)

King David

God chose the shepherd boy, David to take over after Saul had messed up:
“Who am I, and what is my family in Israel that I should be the king’s son-in-law?” David exclaimed. “My father’s family is nothing!”                         1 Samuel 18:18(NLT)


The man who would be the wisest, richest king ever:
“Now, O Lord my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around.                 1 Kings 3:7(NLT)


God needed a prophet and called Isaiah:
Then I [Isaiah] said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips….”                                   Isaiah 6:5(NLT)


God needed another prophet when the people wouldn’t listen to the ones He had sent:
“O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!”  Jeremiah 1:6(NLT)


God wanted a man He could count on to stand up and speak up to the powers that be.  When Jesus performed a miracle of a net full of fish, Peter saw the holiness of God right before him:
When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man.”  Luke 5:8(NLT)

So – what is the common thread?

It was humility, which God used to bring His own holy kingdom on earth.
And it is humility that we must pray for…for ourselves and our leaders.
In the movie The Emperor’s Club[ii], Kevin Kline plays Mr. Hundert, a classics professor at an elite prep school.  Mr. Hundert has a very high standard for himself in ethical behavior, and wishes his students to understand and be shaped by such integrity.  He views everything through this integrity filter which screens not only what is done, but how and why the actions are acceptable or not. 
There is a plaque[iii] over the entry way to his classroom which he has a student read for the class at the beginning of each term; it commemorates an ancient emperor’s conquests and kingdom. 
It reads:
I am Shutruk-Nahunte, King of Anshand and Susa, Sovereign of the Land of Elam.  By the command of Inshushinak, I destroyed Sippar, took the stele of Niran-Sin, and brought it back to Elan, where I erected it as an offering to my god, Inshushinak.  1158 BC.
Shutruk-Nahunte was virtually forgotten in history because he made no contribution to mankind – all he did was conquer other nations, take their treasure for himself, and reign as a dictator. 
History remembers leaders with strong integrity of character, and those who make moral contribution to the way we live. 
And they do are remembered for leading with humility like the one who said:
But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.                        Matthew 23:11(NLT)
Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew 18:4(NLT)
So here’s what I want us to do to respond to the Word of God this morning:
1.     Let’s keep in mind that Biblical ideals for leaders, both secular and religious have always included genuine humility.
2.     Let’s remember the nominees of the major political parties have shown little of a humble-before-God nature.
3.     Let’s come to the altar and ask God for His will to be done.

4.     As you leave today, take a copy of Wesley’s advice for Methodists on how to vote and keep your heart pure.  Meditate on it, and invite God to inform your heart of anything standing in the way of a Christian vote.
1 Hand-PenIn the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Amen


[i] Title image:  See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
[ii] ©Universal Studios, 2002
[iii] Ibid.

[i] Title image:  See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
[ii] ©Universal Studios, 2002
[iii] Ibid.

No comments:

Post a Comment