Are we being punished?

When I woke up this morning, the situation was pretty much the same as when I went to bed. We still don’t know who will be president next year and Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania are too close to call, as is control of the Senate.

The strong repudiation of Trumpism that many of us hoped for did not materialize last night. At this point, what I considered to be the optimal outcome, firing Trump and maintaining a Republican Senate to check the Democrats, is still a possibility, however.

What is not a possibility is that Donald Trump will ride off into the sunset. No matter what the ultimate outcome of the election is, Trumpism will continue to infect the Republican Party for the foreseeable future. If Trump wins, many Christians will take it as a sign that the president is sent by God and will become even more strongly wedded to the man who many very nearly worship already.

The people who think Trump is sent by God might be right, but perhaps not in the way that they think. Back in 2016, I speculated that the mere choice between two candidates as deeply flawed and unfit for the presidency as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump might be a sign of God’s anger with America. A pick-your-poison sort of divine judgment.

Four years later, I still think that is a possibility. I discussed the matter with a couple of people before the election, including The First co-writer, Steve Berman, and mentioned that a very narrow election ending in a Trump victory could well signal God’s displeasure with us as a nation.

If I was a deity and I wanted to give America over to chaos, it seems that the best way to do that would be to have an election that shows the country is very evenly divided. Throw in a few states that are too close to call. Mix in lawsuits from both parties. Stir in recounts. Add a president that doesn’t want to wait until all the votes are counted, a president who doesn’t want all the votes to be counted. Let the situation bake for several days. Then garnish with protests that will spread the Coronavirus and possibly -probably – escalate into violence. A Supreme Court ruling that decides the election after the controversial confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett is the cherry on top.

Ladies and gentlemen, that’s where we are today.

And if the country is facing divine judgment then the Democratic Party is as well. If President Trump wins re-election, it will mark two elections in a row where Democrats have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in surprise losses that defied the polls. Ironically, it might be the issue of abortion that made the difference.

Although most Democrats are not of the “shout-your-abortion” wing of the party, the Democratic Party does have a pro-choice litmus test for its candidates. If Democrats did not place such a high premium on support for legal abortion, they would have much more success in the Bible belt and Midwest. Just ask John Bel Edwards, a rare pro-life Democrat in his second term as governor of Louisiana.

In the South and Midwest, abortion is a roadblock to supporting Democrats for many voters. If Democrats would run candidates that more closely align with red states on the life issue, many states and districts might swing the other way. Heartbreaking losses like 2016 and possibly 2020 might well be the wages of support for what many Americans consider to be murder.

Nevertheless, evidence that Donald Trump was the wrong person to bring the country together came late last night when Donald Trump claimed victory with votes from several states still uncounted and the outcome of the election still in doubt (and remains in doubt today).

The president’s comments were designed to stir division and anger among his base. Trump claimed that his opponents were trying to “disenfranchise” his supporters and vowed, “We won’t stand for it.” In reality, the president is trying to disenfranchise the voters whose absentee ballots have not yet been counted.

President Trump has spent months laying the groundwork for claims of voter fraud and an illegitimate election. These baseless claims could incite violence on the part of the president’s supporters. As Steve Berman wrote this morning, “None of this is a surprise.”

In the Bible, bad kings often shaped the national character. The historical books of the Bible that detail the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah often relate that bad kings, who did “evil in the eyes of the Lord,” would often lead their nation into trouble. For example, 2 Kings 21:9 says, “Manasseh led them astray so that they did more evil than the nations the Lord had destroyed before the Israelites.”

The Bible warns us that “Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33). John Calvin similarly wrote, “They who rule unjustly and incompetently have been raised up by him to punish the wickedness of the people” and “a wicked king is the Lord’s wrath upon the earth.”

David Leach at Strident Conservative wrote recently, “God has used Donald Trump over the past four years to give America an opportunity to turn from evil by exposing the moral failures of the false prophets and teachers. Trump was used to shake the church from her slumber, her reliance on government, and her abandonment of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Looking at the past four years, it is entirely possible that Donald Trump is a Biblically bad “king” who is leading America into corruption rather than the messianic figure that many Christians assume him to be. Maybe Donald Trump represents God’s wrath against America in which God has given America “over to a depraved mind so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice” (Romans 1:28-29).

The possibility that Trump represents divine judgment should not be discarded by Trump’s Christian supporters. Biblical eschatology does not have an obvious place for America in the end-times. If the end of days is truly drawing near, then, rather than making America great again, the next few presidents are more likely to make America irrelevant again. Trump’s isolationism and growing internal strife could be the path to ending America’s role as a superpower, setting the stage for end-time prophecies to be fulfilled.

If we really are experiencing God’s judgment, don’t expect things to get better. We have experienced numerous “shakings” over the past few decades, from the September 11 attacks to the Great Recession. These “shakings” have increased in frequency and severity in 2020. If I’m right, re-electing Donald Trump won’t end the “shakings.” It will increase them.

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