Smiling at Politics

Power over nations is exercised by governemnts.  In the west, we have been able to elect our goverments for 200 years or so.  Democratic principles are still spreading, as we have seen in the Near East and North Africa.  Christians need to be involved in political life – by living in the world under a governement we are all living in a political relationship with the state.  To say that we are not involved in politics is a denial of reality.  A choice not to vote, not to pay taxes, and not to speak about the governement is a political stance on political issues.

In biblical times the most enduring form of governemnt was monarchy.  The Bible gives us lots of advice about how to behave in political situations.  Ecclesiastes 8 recommends a cheery disposition and compromise when dealing with a despotic monarch.  It recognises that, although a governemnt figure may see themselves as all-powerful, they will live and die and probably be forgotten.  We answer primarily to God and so we become engaged in politics as much as we are called to do.  Ecclesiastes 8, though, has particular advice for those who might find themselves in Washington or a national seat of power.  The advise is to play the game.  I do not think that the line is crossed into immorality or deceitfulness.  It is more in line with Paul’s advice, “As much as it is up to you live at peace with everyone” (Rom 12).  Do not look to flatter or enrage powerful people.  Look to do God’s work and take political opportunities as they arise.  Remember, every four years the political landscape in Washington shifts. God does not get re-elected.  God endures and he will do his work through you in his own time.

Ecclesiastes 8:1-18

1 Who is like the wise?
   Who knows the explanation of things?
A person’s wisdom brightens their face
   and changes its hard appearance.

 2 Obey the king’s command, I say, because you took an oath before God. 3 Do not be in a hurry to leave the king’s presence. Do not stand up for a bad cause, for he will do whatever he pleases. 4Since a king’s word is supreme, who can say to him, “What are you doing?”

 5 Whoever obeys his command will come to no harm,
   and the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure.
6 For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter,
   though a person may be weighed down by misery.

 7 Since no one knows the future,
   who can tell someone else what is to come?
8 As no one has power over the wind to contain it,
   so[a] no one has power over the time of their death.
As no one is discharged in time of war,
   so wickedness will not release those who practice it.

 9 All this I saw, as I applied my mind to everything done under the sun. There is a time when a man lords it over others to his own[b] hurt. 10 Then too, I saw the wicked buried—those who used to come and go from the holy place and receive praise[c]in the city where they did this. This too is meaningless.

 11 When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, people’s hearts are filled with schemes to do wrong. 12 Although a wicked person who commits a hundred crimes may live a long time, I know that it will go better with those who fear God, who are reverent before him. 13Yet because the wicked do not fear God, it will not go well with them, and their days will not lengthen like a shadow.

 14 There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: the righteous who get what the wicked deserve, and the wicked who get what the righteous deserve. This too, I say, is meaningless. 15So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.

 16 When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to observe the labor that is done on earth—people getting no sleep day or night— 17 then I saw all that God has done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all their efforts to search it out, no one can discover its meaning. Even if the wise claim they know, they cannot really comprehend it.

Questions

  1. What practical advice does Qoholet give to those who must deal with a monarch in politics?
  2. What corruption in politics does the author observe?
  3. What does the author commend in light of a corrupt political system?
  4. On a scale of 1-10 how corrupt would you say your political system is?
  5. Describe how a Christian might work in the White House or Downing Street and be true to their faith.
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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17 Responses to Smiling at Politics

  1. Kristin Goffinet says:

    1) He advises us to obey the king and submit to him.
    2) He realizes that there are times when the wicked do not get the punishment that they deserve, and the righteous recieve punishment that they do not deserve.
    3) Ultimately, he commends those who fear the Lord.
    4) In Illinois, I would rate our political system at about an 8 for curruption due to all of our dishonest governors, but in the US I would probably give them a 6 for corruption. Although it is bad, compared to other countries, like Tanzania or Kenya where I have family, its much better.
    5) I think like in any other job, a Christian in this setting must be constatnly checking their decisions with the word of God and not allow themselves to be easily swayed by others. Also, checking thier motives would be very necessary as well.

  2. spiritandtruth1128 says:

    1. What practical advice does Qoholet give to those who must deal with a monarch in politics? Pretty much not to go against the king.
    2. What corruption in politics does the author observe? That they will not always face negative results because of it, we all have good and bad times in our lives that may or may not reflect our life choices. In that same way, the author says sometime good things happen to bad people and bad things to good people.
    3. What does the author commend in light of a corrupt political system? He says that those who do not agree with the corrupt system should not be too quick to act because there is a given time for everything.
    4. On a scale of 1-10 how corrupt would you say your political system is? I don’t really know much about politics in Chicago, but seeing how bad Rod Blagojevich’s case was, I would say maybe a 7. I know a lot of things happen that we don’t know about and sadly I don’t think there can be a political system on this Earth that isn’t corrupt.
    5. Describe how a Christian might work in the White House or Downing Street and be true to their faith. I think they would just have to be honest about their beliefs, they shouldn’t have to put their integrity aside because they really should care for the well being of all. Most of all they should probably try to influence others around them to do good as well.

  3. HeeJin,Choi says:

    1.What practical advice does Qoholet give to those who must deal with a monarch in politics?
    -Obey the King’s command and do not stand up for a bad cause then no harm will come upon you.
    2.What corruption in politics does the author observe?
    – The sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out and the wicked commits a hundred crimes and still lives a long time.
    3.What does the author commend in light of a corrupt political system?
    – It will go better with God-fearing men, who are reverent before God although those who become prosper despite their wrong-doing.
    4.On a scale of 1-10 how corrupt would you say your political system is?
    – I will be approximately on 7. I strive to have honesty and justice.
    5.Describe how a Christian might work in the White House or Downing Street and be true to their faith.

  4. Melisa Guiles says:

    1. He instructs them to obey the King.
    2. He observes that there are times when the righteous receive what the wicked deserve and the wicked receive what the righteous deserve. He also observes that there are times when a criminal sentence is not decided in a timely manner.
    3. He commends them to enjoy the life that God has given them.
    4. I would say a six.
    5. I think it would be very hard to have this kind of job and be a Christian. They would have to be strong enough in their faith that they wouldn’t back down on their beliefs when they are pressured by others around. I think that they would definitely need to show themselves to be above reproach. They would need to be in constant communion with the Lord and to uphold their beliefs no matter the cost.

  5. Sandra Tindle says:

    1. Qoholet tells people to obey the commands of kings.
    2. The author observes the corruption of good things happening to bad people and bad things happening to good people.
    3. The author commends enjoying the good things in life.
    4. I would say our political system is about a 5.
    5. A Christian might work in the White House and be true to their faith by being honest, moral, and depending on God,

  6. Kristen Patush says:

    1.What practical advice does Qoholet give to those who must deal with a monarch in politics?

    Listen and obey the king. There is a time for everything- and everyone- including the king that is on the throne.

    2.What corruption in politics does the author observe?

    Justice is not always served or carried out correctly. The wicked prosper, while the righteous are punished for no reason. ]

    3.What does the author commend in light of a corrupt political system?

    The person who fears God will do well.

    4.On a scale of 1-10 how corrupt would you say your political system is?

    I praise God we live in such a blessed nation, I think Americans forget too often just how rare our democratic, free system of goverment is…though every system has its flaws- so for that, I would say it is a 6.

    5.Describe how a Christian might work in the White House or Downing Street and be true to their faith.

    SATURATE the White House in prayer. Fear God, above all, and honor Him first. Respect authority, and test everthing in God’s Word.

  7. Moon [ED 2203;Mon 6:00pm class] says:

    1.What practical advice does Qoholet give to those who must deal with a
    monarch in politics?
    verse 2 says “Obey the king’s command, I say, because you took an oath before God”
    2.What corruption in politics does the author observe?
    crimes which is not quickly carried out(v.11),and verse 14 says “the righteous who get what the wicked deserve, and the wicked who get what the righteous deserve”
    3.What does the author commend in light of a corrupt political system?
    the author commend to fear God and enjoy the life
    4.On a scale of 1-10 how corrupt would you say your political system is?
    I would say 6
    5.Describe how a Christian might work in the White House or Downing Street and be true to their faith.
    if a Christian have worked in the White House or in any high positions in politics, the person should work toward justice as reflecting the light of Jesus.

  8. Sokloon Dy (Lizzy) says:

    1. obey the king’s command
    2. the righteous who get what the wicked deserve, and the wicked who get what the righteous deserve.
    3. he commends the enjoyment of life.
    4. Cambodia has been ranked as one of the MOST CORRUPT countries. so, id say 9. please keep Cambodia in your prayers. the rich are getting richer, while the poor are getting poorer.
    5. by putting God first and avoiding things and people that are contrary to the Bible. they can also be a living testimony for God.

  9. Kerri Klingsmith says:

    1. What practical advice does Qoholet give to those who must deal with a monarch in politics?
    Listen and obey them.
    2. What corruption in politics does the author observe?
    Justice does not always come through in politics. The innocent are convicted while the guilty go free.
    3. What does the author commend in light of a corrupt political system?
    To fear God and enjoy life.
    4. On a scale of 1-10 how corrupt would you say your political system is?
    6
    5. Describe how a Christian might work in the White House or Downing Street and be true to their faith.
    They would need to be absolutely immersed in prayer. They will need to decide what things they are going to fight for. They need to be constantly checking their motives and their actions with whether or not they are pleasing to God.

  10. Amy Kringle says:

    1. He says that we should obey and submit to the king.
    2. He said that the righteous get what the wicked deserve and the wicked get what the righteous deserve.
    3. Even if we get unjust punishment, it is still better to fear God and revere him.
    4. 6.
    5. I think it would mean taking a biblical stance on political issues and doing what is honoring to God while realizing that we must live in submission to the government.

  11. Jessica Gentry says:

    1.) Qoholet gives the practical advice of obeying the king’s commands.
    2.) The author observes the corruption of politics through the unjust outcome of the wicked who get what the righteous deserve, and the righteous who get what the wicked deserve. He also notices that punishment when not brought about quickly sparks more crime.
    3.) In light of a corrupt political system the author claims that it will go well for those who fear the Lord, he also says that he commends the enjoyment of life.
    4.) On a scale of 1 to 10, I would say that our political system is a 7 as far as corruption goes, just becuase too often our we get distraced about the purpose of government and people become power hungry over hungry for righteousness.
    5.) A Christian might work in the White house and be true to their faith by realizing day in and day out that their job is not about them, it is ultimately about bringing God the glory. Though this is necessary it would not be easy, so that person of faith would need a lot of prayer, and support, and most of all a lot of time spent seeking the will of God. With that said the person would also need to realize that their decisions would not always be the most popular and they would need to be ok that, and yet still seek the opinions of others, as after all it is a democracy.

  12. Grace Yoo says:

    1. Obey the king’s command and do not stand up for a bad cause because he will do whatever he wants.

    2. Sometimes the righteous will get what the wicked deserve and the wicked will get what the righteous deserve.

    3. The author commends to fear God and the enjoyment of life.

    4. On a scale of 1-10, I would say that the corruption of our political system is about a 6 or a 7.

    5. A Christian working in the White House can be true to their faith by depending on God as they work. They should try to go for the decisions that are not focused on the people but rather God.

  13. Cassie Clark says:

    1. Obey him, because he is the authority.
    2. The king does whatever he wants, regardless of the rightness of his actions.
    3. Fearing the Lord; He is over all rulers.
    4. A 9? It is full of sinful people like me, but mostly those who do not fear the Lord.
    5. The writer seems to imply that one can work with the government. However, he or she must not stand for bad causes. It is a great place to be because of all the opportunities that will arise to make an impact for the Lord; however, it will also brings many dilemmas.

  14. aaron wright says:

    1. obey him!
    2.sometimes the wicked seem to get away with evil
    3. those who fear God
    4. 8, very corrupt
    5. He would support laws that would back up the Bible, and vote and argue against laws that were unbiblical.

  15. 1. Obey the one in authority.
    2. the good people receive bad things, and the bad people receive good things.
    3. those who fear the Lord.
    4. ummm…. probably a 7.
    5. by putting God first in all that they say and do– and it would carry into their jobs, even if it was in the White House.

  16. Kendalle says:

    1. What practical advice does Qoholet give to those who must deal with a monarch in politics?
    1a. Listen and obey
    2. What corruption in politics does the author observe?
    2b. Bad things happen to “good” people and good things happen to wicked people
    3. What does the author commend in light of a corrupt political system?
    3c. Fear the LORD above all things
    4. On a scale of 1-10 how corrupt would you say your political system is?
    10, Living in Chicago, we are know for having the worst politics. In my life all the governors in the state of Illinois has gone to jail or committed some crime. On both Parties
    5. Describe how a Christian might work in the White House or Downing Street and be true to their faith.
    I don’t think obeying God and his word is constitutional. So it is impossible to do both.

  17. [ED2203-01] HyeJin Lee says:

    What practical advice does Qoholet give to those who must deal with a monarch in politics?
    – Qoholet says that we need to follow the king.

    What corruption in politics does the author observe?
    – the author observes that all the punishments which the wicked deserve goes to the righteous.

    What does the author commend in light of a corrupt political system?
    – Enjoy your life because there is no solution.
    On a scale of 1-10 how corrupt would you say your political system is?
    – 8. I can see a lot of corruption in this society.
    Describe how a Christian might work in the White House or Downing Street and be true to their faith.
    – those people who work in those place need to do their best according to God’s will and to live by God’s word.

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