A sermon by Pastor Bo Wagner
Text – Matthew 14:1-4
Matthew 14:1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus, 2 And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him. 3 For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife. 4 For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her.
Intro – the Bible is a spiritual book about spiritual things. And interestingly enough, even atheists and God-haters would agree with us on that. They do not believe any of the spiritual things in this spiritual book, but they do understand that it is a spiritual book about spiritual things.
But the Bible is also a practical book about practical things. Actually, it would be most accurate to say a spiritual book about spiritual things that are to be authoritative even in practical things. And that is where atheists, agnostics, God-haters, and even mushy, lukewarm Christians would recoil and begin to vehemently disagree with us. None of them believe, for even a second, that the spiritual truths in this book are to dictate every aspect of our practical lives. They believe that the spiritual and the practical are to be completely separate, with an impenetrable wall between them.
In fact, they believe that the spiritual should really be in a box with impenetrable walls and floor and ceiling that will never allow it to escape and touch the practical world in any way.
And nowhere is this more clearly seen than in the realm of politics. To the lost and leftist mind, the words “separation of church and state,” though found neither in the Bible nor in the Constitution, are as the very words of God written in stone by His finger.
Which makes texts like the one we just read most perplexing, when you think about it. Let’s read it again, with a few explanatory words added in.
Matthew 14:1 At that time Herod the tetrarch [a ruler, a politician] heard of the fame of Jesus, 2 And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist [a preacher]; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him. 3 For Herod [the politician] had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife. 4 For John [the preacher] said unto him [the politician], It is not lawful for thee to have her.
Are you getting that? John the Baptist, the local preacher, stormed into their version of the White House, stuck his finger into the face of their version of the President, and said, “You broke the law. You took your brother’s wife. You are not just immoral; you are a criminal.”
Apparently, John the Baptist did not realize that he wasn’t supposed to have a say in legal and political matters. It cost him his life, but he went to his grave unashamedly and unapologetically “meddling in politics.”
And in case you are wondering, he was by no means an aberration in Scripture, as I will show you shortly.
The 2022 midterm elections are upon us, just a bit over a week away. As is usually the case, I have had a decent bit to say here and there leading up to this. But as is also usually the case, I want to take this time and preach at least one full message on the subject. Any preacher that is afraid to deal with politics in the pulpit is either a wolf or a hireling; he is not a shepherd. I don’t care how pious of terms they couch their cowardice in; there is no excuse for any Bible-believing preacher anywhere to neglect dealing with politics, especially when it is this near upon us and this essential carrying this much weight.
So for just a few moments, I want to preach on the subject, Let’s Get Political.
I. The precedent of Scripture
One of the greatest victories that the devil has gained in the modern day is that he has sent a great deal of men into the ministry who have very smoothly undermined a scriptural view of the Christian’s participation in politics. These men will stand in their pulpits and post videos to their YouTube accounts and flood Twitter and other social media sites with what sounds like spiritual truth, telling Christians not to be involved in politics. They take people who have been very biblical and conservative and spiritual and sensible, people who have applied spiritual truth to political matters, and they convince them that they are supposed to be neutral and all of those things.
But that is not their ultimate end goal. Their ultimate goal is to then take it even a step further than that, convincing them even neutrality is not enough; they actually need to take the side of the enemy in order to try to win the enemy.
They take pro-life Christians and tell them to just be quiet on the subject. And then they move them from that quiet neutrality into supporting abortion under the idea that we will never win women to Christ if we do not let them kill their babies.
They take pro-science Christians and tell them to be quiet about transgenderism. And then they move them from quiet neutrality into supporting the mutilation of children under the idea that only by being winsome to whatever sick desires society has can we ever hope to see them come to Christ.
It is like this on every single issue. Every one. Silence is the first goal, and celebration is the end goal.
But when you go back to the president of Scripture, you will find that believers are expected to be actively involved in politics, and to always do so from God’s perspective, a perspective of holiness.
Here is Samuel the prophet confronting Saul, the king:
1 Samuel 13:13 And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever. 14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee.
Here is Samuel the prophet confronting Saul, the king, again:
1 Samuel 15:22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
Here is Gad the prophet confronting David, the king, over a very political matter, a census that David took that he should not have taken.
2 Samuel 24:10 And David’s heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the LORD, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly. 11 For when David was up in the morning, the word of the LORD came unto the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying, 12 Go and say unto David, Thus saith the LORD, I offer thee three things; choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee. 13 So Gad came to David, and told him, and said unto him, Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land? or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue thee? or that there be three days’ pestilence in thy land? now advise, and see what answer I shall return to him that sent me.
Here is a pretty shocking example. This is where Jehoida, the priest, hid the rightful heir to the throne, baby Joash, for six years when his grandmother, Athaliah, destroyed all of the rest of the royal family and took the throne. After six years, he set up a coup, had the usurping queen assassinated, and put the rightful king on the throne:
2 Kings 11:12 And he brought forth the king’s son, and put the crown upon him, and gave him the testimony; and they made him king, and anointed him; and they clapped their hands, and said, God save the king. 13 And when Athaliah heard the noise of the guard and of the people, she came to the people into the temple of the LORD. 14 And when she looked, behold, the king stood by a pillar, as the manner was, and the princes and the trumpeters by the king, and all the people of the land rejoiced, and blew with trumpets: and Athaliah rent her clothes, and cried, Treason, Treason. 15 But Jehoiada the priest commanded the captains of the hundreds, the officers of the host, and said unto them, Have her forth without the ranges: and him that followeth her kill with the sword. For the priest had said, Let her not be slain in the house of the LORD. 16 And they laid hands on her; and she went by the way by the which the horses came into the king’s house: and there was she slain.
I am certainly not recommending anything like that in our day, but it is pretty interesting that this priest got that serious about politics. And he changed the entire course of the nation for good when he did. He reminds me much of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, only successful.
We literally do not even have time to turn to all the passages like this. Both Elijah and Elisha spent their entire ministry constantly being political and very vocal about it.
Jeremiah was one of the most political preachers who ever lived, and he had nearly a 63-year ministry.
Daniel was not just a political preacher; he was a preacher in politics! He was the second-in-command of the Persian Empire under Darius.
Isaiah was political. Ezekiel was political. All of the minor prophets were heavily political in their messaging.
“But wait!” Says the mushy, weak-kneed, modern “Christian.” “All of that is the Old Testament. Everything changed with Jesus!”
And now you know why I started with the New Testament example, John the Baptist. John the Baptist was contemporary with Jesus. John, the man who went nose to nose with Herod, was actually even related to Jesus.
Furthermore, Jesus Himself did not hesitate to get political when necessary:
Luke 13:31 The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee. 32 And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.
When Jesus called Herod a fox, you need to understand that a fox was regarded as vermin to them. This would have been the same thing as someone today calling a politician a weasel. This was literally an insult.
From Jesus. To a politician.
That is pretty political, wouldn’t you say?
Furthermore, the next thing this world is going to see of Jesus is going to be a thousand years of politics:
Revelation 19:15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
Revelation 20:1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
This is the Millennial reign of Christ being spoken of. One thousand years of Christ ruling the world with a rod of iron.
Here is another thing that Jesus reminded us of:
Matthew 22:21 They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.
This was Christ pointing out that we are to be diligent citizens of two worlds, the spiritual world and the physical world, and we are to fulfill our responsibilities in each. A Christian who does not engage with politics under the guise of spirituality is actually only 50% spiritual at best.
Here is one more thing you should know before we move on. The very last book in the Bible was written by John the beloved apostle. He wrote it from the Isle of Patmos, where he was in exile. He had been put there to die. And the reason he had been put there to die is because he meddled in politics. He went nose to nose with Emperor Domitian and put him in his place. Domitian dared to name himself Censor Pepetuos, meaning “the one who gets to determine what is right and wrong.” In other words, he was just exactly like our government today.
And John did not simply smile winsomely; he actually confronted the ruler of the world, and did so with Scripture.
Why should we get political? Because of the precedent of Scripture…
II. The putrid state of society
look at a couple of things that God told Isaiah, and had Isaiah write, nearly 2800 years ago:
Isaiah 58:1 Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.
Isaiah 59:14 And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.
Those are pretty bleak assessments. When God is telling his prophet to shout the sins of the people out loud as loud as he can, and when the prophet’s evaluation is that truth is fallen in the street, and equity, meaning “things that are straight and true,” cannot enter, you know things have gone bad.
And yet our day far eclipses that day. I would go as far as to say that our day eclipses even Sodom and Gomorrah and wickedness. At least Sodom and Gomorrah did not mutilate their own little children in the name of transgenderism.
Do you understand what has been happening while many of God’s people have been quietly worshiping in the four walls of the church somewhere and making very sure to keep it at that?
A group called the Pride Liberation Project is online seeking out kids who believe that their parents are not “affirming of their choices” and are offering to arrange to have them secretly picked up and taken to “safe places.” They are literally offering to help children run away. You would think that arrests would already have been made – and you would be wrong. (https://www.dailywire.com/news/virginia-democrat-bill-would-criminally-prosecute-parents-who-don’t-affirm-their-kids-as-transgender)
A Virginia Democrat lawmaker says she will introduce legislation to have parents criminally prosecuted if they do not “affirm” their child as transgender. (Ibid)
More than 70 pregnancy resource centers and pro-life churches have been firebombed or severely damaged just in the last few months. You would think that the FBI would have made some arrests by now – and you would be wrong. They have, though, managed to send 25 heavily armed agents to the homes of peaceful pro-life protesters and dragged them away in front of their screaming, traumatized children. (https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2022/september/fbi-raids-home-of-pro-life-christian-with-guns-drawn-as-family-watches-in-horror)
The federal government, which is so far in debt that they have hired 87,000 new IRS agents to shake you down, is spending money on drag shows. Not just here, they are even “spreading the drag cash” to places like Ecuador. (https://www.foxnews.com/politics/state-dept-defends-20k-grant-drag-shows-ecuador)
America spent decades unlearning racism, and now the entire left-wing political and academic establishment has breathed new life into it. Racism against blacks has now moved on to whites and browns and even Asians. It is not a bit of a stretch to say that as long as race hucksters can make a good living at “fighting racism,” they will always produce racism to supposedly fight against.
And it has reached the most ironic of levels. Just in the past year, four of my very favorite people in life, Larry Elder, who is very black, Candace Owens, who is very black, Clarence Thomas, who is very black, Tim Scott, who is very black, have all publically been called white supremacists – by liberal leftists who are so white, they fart chalk dust.
It’s absolutely insane.
What it really is, is putrid.
America has become a baby-killing, child-mutilating, pedophile-promoting, perversion-loving, racism-producing den of iniquity. The message from America’s pulpits has been love, sweet love, while the devil and every demon of hell have run roughshod across our land with no one to stand in the way.
If you stand in the subway in New York City, there’s a very good chance you’re going to be pushed in front of an oncoming train. If you go to downtown Chicago, there’s a very good chance you aren’t coming out alive.
Thanks to illegal immigration and an open border, Fentanyl is pouring across our southern border and is now the leading cause of death among U.S. adults. And yet, in order to gain easy votes and stay in perpetual power, the entire Democratic Party is more than willing to let that happen and look the other way while it does, and a tiny handful of worthless Republicans have been more than willing to help them do it. (https://www.wicker.senate.gov/2022/10/time-to-tackle-the-fentanyl-crisis-head-on)
Marxism and socialism and even outright communism now all have vocal advocates among the American left. A hundred million people died because of those savage beliefs just in the twentieth century alone. People across the world have fled those things to try to get here. And now the very things they fled are being advocated for and produced here.
We all grew up in freedom, and our children and grandchildren are going to grow up in slavery if the tide does not turn. We have offended a holy God by our wickedness as a people. We have snubbed our noses at the blessings of liberty He has given us. We have laid down our love of liberty and demanded instead to be given security. We look at government like a sugar daddy and expect it to meet all of our needs, not caring that it robs from our neighbors to do so.
We play at church. The church in America spent years singing “living by faith,” and then, as soon as a virus popped up, started living by fear.
We are more faithful to ball games and favorite sitcoms than we are to the house of God.
America is well nigh to being a stench in the nostrils of God. And yet every grain of salt we have is spread in the walls of the church, every bit of light we give is just a Sunday morning light, we have let this land race toward the chasm of Sodom and Gomorrah with drunken Washington in the driver’s seat while we sit back in piety and say, “let’s not get political.”
No, let’s get political.
Why should we get political? Because of the precedent of Scripture, because of the putrid state of society…
III. The poor excuses not to
Anytime a Christian or citizen neglects to do something they ought to do, there is always going to be an excuse or set of excuses. People, by their sinful nature, are drawn toward excuses for wrongdoing.
Let me show you one of the funniest examples of that ever.
Exodus 32:21 And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them? 22 And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief. 23 For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us: for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. 24 And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.
To put it bluntly, that is an excuse that even a four-year-old ought to be embarrassed to make. “I just chucked that gold in the fire, and shazam! This golden calf popped out! It’s a miracle!”
No, it’s an excuse. It’s a lie, but it’s an excuse. And it’s a poor excuse. And most of the excuses people use today to not vote and to not run for office and to not speak up about political matters are poor excuses.
Some of you may very well have made these excuses from time to time. If you have, please understand my heart. I’m not picking on you; I’m not trying to hurt you; I’m trying to teach you.
The excuse I hear more than any other these days is, “Well, the fix is already in; it really doesn’t matter whether we vote or not.”
I understand the frustration in the hearts of those who say things like that because there doubtless is a lot of fraud, and sometimes it does work. But to believe that this is always the case or even that it is most often the case is an illogical thing.
Think about it. If voting never actually decided any races, if there was some secretive cabal deciding things ahead of time, why would people on both sides of the aisle be spending literally billions of dollars every single election cycle trying to convince people to vote for them? If I knew that I was going to be elected without even having to try, I wouldn’t spend a dime.
Secondly, if voting never actually decides any races, if there is some secretive cabal deciding things ahead of time, why do things so often go in a way that no evil secretive cabal would ever want them to go? Why are good, constitutional, conservative people so often elected to office? Why are there so often huge numbers of wicked people swept out of office in a single election? If there is some secretive, all-powerful cabal in charge, they aren’t doing a very good job.
If I were the devil or even one of the many political denizens working for him, I would love to be able to convince people that voting and that getting involved doesn’t matter. That way, I wouldn’t even have to spend any money or expend any effort trying to get my side to win.
Another excuse I hear is, “Well, both sides are really all alike. They are just two wings on the same bird.”
That is a really clever analogy. And it is also patently ridiculous.
The side that believes babies should be allowed to be killed up to and even a month after they have already been born is not the same as the side that believes babies have a right to live.
The side that begs our enemies to give us oil is not the same as the side that believes that we ought to be energy-independent.
The side that believes people ought to be allowed to come to our land illegally, by the millions every year, is not the same as the side that believes we ought to control our own borders.
The side that believes the police ought to be defunded is not the same as the side that believes the police ought to be defended.
The side that believes that parents who dare to speak up at school board meetings are domestic terrorists is not the same as the side that believes that parents have a right to know everything that’s going on in their children’s lives and education.
The side that believes that they can tell you that you are confined to your home because of a virus while they go out partying is not the same as the side that believes everyone has an equal right to be free and move about.
The side that kept you from your parents’ and grandparents’ funeral and kept your kids from their own graduations is not the same as the side that was screaming about the damage that was being done through the stupid, unscientific lockdown.
The two sides are not the same, not at all. I’m not going to tell you to vote for; I think you probably have enough sense to figure that out on your own. I am going to tell you that it doesn’t matter who you vote for because the two sides are very, very different.
Why should we get political? Because of the precedent of Scripture, because of the putrid state of society, because of the poor excuses not to…
IV. The power of getting involved
Let me show you some verses that deal with some pretty small numbers.
Ezekiel 22:30 And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.
God told Ezekiel that he was looking for a man, one, one man. He was willing to spare the land if He could find just one man who would stand in the gap. Sadly, He did not find that one man.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Solomon spoke of a person being attacked, and losing, and then suddenly, the tide turning by the addition of just one or two people on the right side.
In Judges chapter 7, Israel was facing an enemy of at least 135,000 men, possibly many more. They won that battle – with 300 men.
When people put their efforts together, God blesses it, and great things often happen. And that is one of the things that makes it so horrible when a Christian does not vote. In pretty much every election that goes wrong, there were enough Christians who stayed home and did not vote that it would have gone right if they did. I have run the numbers on this in election after election after election. If all Christians always got out and voted and did so with any semblance of biblical sanity, this would be a radically different and radically better country with a radically different and radically better government at every level.
You sitting home and not voting doesn’t just affect you; it affects me. It affects her and him and him and her and them. If you love your neighbor, vote. If you love your church vote. If you love your parents vote. If you love your children, vote. If you love your grandmother and your grandfather, vote.
You say, “Pastor, we need to be more spiritual. We really just need to pray.”
I’m not opposed to praying in the least. We should pray. All the time. Especially about political matters.
But why would God care enough to answer a prayer that you don’t care enough to vote about? If it doesn’t matter much to you, why should it matter to Him? If you are more diligent to scroll Facebook were Instagram than you are to vote, why would God ever bother to answer your prayer about any political matter?
2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
Do you understand that? We believers are going to stand before the judgment seat of Christ and answer for what we have done since we were saved. On everything. Including the political realm. We are going to answer for whether or not we voted and for how we voted.
Can you imagine standing before God and having to answer for handing a putrid, wicked world down to your children and grandchildren to live in because you were too unconcerned to even vote?
Conc. You say, “Preacher, it sounds like you are putting too much importance on all of this. It almost sounds like idolatry.”
No, it sounds like I really care, because I really do. And I care about it because I believe God cares about it. He has given us the most amazing gift here in this land, a gift for thousands of years humanity almost never had. We get to choose our own leaders; we get to choose the conditions under which we will live.
We have a land where for hundreds of years, we have been able to freely share the gospel with our own people and with the entire world without even having to fear being imprisoned or killed because of it.
And we are never more than one election cycle away from seeing that precious gift taken away from us forever.
So, let’s get political.