Shane Claiborne’s clever book title says it all.
But Jesus tried that. He was President, King, and Head of State of Israel from the time of the Exodus until the Babylonian captivity. And in spite of His power and perfection, His presidential experiment failed. Sadly, Israel and Judah so totally rebelled against Him that He ultimately gave them over to their idols. Israel came under the tyranny of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and then Rome, never fully recovering from tyranny of one kind or another. How ironic; earthly Israel, refusing to be governed by the most compassionate and fair of Kings, found itself in bondage to despots. The rubble of Jerusalem became the crash-and-burn site of the grand theocracy experiment.
Think about it: If God’s presidency failed at saving a nation, whose could succeed?
Since then, no nation has ever been invested by God with theocratic power. He has cleaved church from state. He has declared that we should obey civil magistrates in civil matters, but yield our inmost souls to God alone (Matthew 22:21). Civil powers may govern behavior, but not the conscience. Not until Jesus comes back with his ten thousand times ten thousand cabinet of angels, not until He appears as President of Presidents, will God again establish theocracy.
Theocracy will succeed the second time around. Why, when the same King rules? Ah, but the new variable will be those ruled. They embody the law. They love the Lawgiver. They need no external pressure or imposing force. “Your people shall be willing in the day of Your power,” Psalm 110:3. The people of the second theocracy will be willing. They will, of their own volition and initiative, and from overflowing love, live righteously.
This is how I boil down the message of the theocracy: If God can’t change the world from the outside, no one can. The only hope for this world is renewal of the heart.
This Tuesday, over 100 million U.S. voters will pour into booths, most of them believing that the right president will restore this tattered nation. He will. But only when He first restores us.
Jesus for president.