In a little over two months we will inaugurate a newly-elected President of the United States of America. If you are reading this before November 6, you do not yet know who it will be—but you do know that he will begin serving his term of office on January 21, 2013.
It is just the opposite with the true ruler of the free world, the King of Kings. We know exactly who He is; we just don't know exactly when He is coming.
Which event do we regard as more important?
I'm not saying the election is unimportant. Of course we're meant to care about who our president will be. Still, our perspective is supposed to be a little different. We need a king much more than we need a president.
These days we don't often pay attention to the activities of kings unless they happen to be getting married at Westminster Abbey. Yet the hope for a king goes to the very heart of a deeply-felt human need. Our current elections make that need all the more pointed.
We long for authentic leadership; for people who can and will keep their promises to us. You don't have to look far to find deep disillusionment regarding our political leaders. Human leaders are flawed by definition, causing human shortcomings to permeate our systems of government. When elections come around, they seem to bring a sense of renewed hope, but too often the hope is based on hype and leads to disappointment.
But there is one Leader whose platform is always good and just and who will indeed keep all His promises. He will never disappoint us and His leadership will never fail us. This is the King who is coming.
Even when Israel had a relatively good earthly king, there was a sense that we should be waiting for something and someone much more. King David wrote, "Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory" (Psalm 24:10).
The King Messiah is none other than "LORD!" In the Hebrew that is the covenant name of God Himself. Ultimately, the human hunger for authentic leadership is nothing less than the desire to draw near and follow the Leader who made us and everything else. But we've been settling for less for so long that we don't always know how to hope for something, someone, more.
The coming of King Messiah has been at the heart of Jewish expectation from time immemorial. Even in the darkest hours of our wanderings, in the face of bewildering and horrific persecution, the hope for our King Messiah has sustained us. In the story of "Fiddler on the Roof," the Jews of Anatevka are being forced to flee their village in the face of a tsarist pogrom. Someone asks the rabbi, "For so long we have been waiting for the Messiah. Wouldn't this be a good time for him to come?" The rabbi answers, "My son, we will just have to wait for him somewhere else."
Unfortunately, over the years that expectation has given way to a state of cynicism and disbelief. The sad fact is that most Jews today are not really looking for King Messiah. Some may still believe in the coming of a Messianic age, an era of peace and prosperity. Others have staked their hope on the existence and continued security of the state of Israel. But all this falls short of the true King Messiah, who could never be threatened by Ahmadinejad or any other earthly power.
The government of Israel is as flawed as any other human government. Many Israelis are disillusioned by the seeming inability of each successive administration to meet the challenges that affect everyday life. This provides our Jews for Jesus evangelists a wonderful opportunity to point to the one Leader who will never disappoint and who will one day come to Jerusalem to resolve all the problems that dog both Arabs and Jews throughout the land. The only hope for peace is found in the One who was born in the Middle East 2,000 years ago. He is Y'shua ha-Mashiach, Jesus the Messiah. He is the King of Glory.
Similarly, we are obligated to vote for and to hope and pray for wise leaders for our country. Yet all our human leaders will fall short and disappoint us to some degree. It is only the benevolent dictatorship of the King of Israel that will eventually solve the problems of our own corrupt systems and corroding societies.
Election seasons present a great opportunity to point to the only One who is able to lead us with complete righteousness. He is the King of Glory and He is coming soon. But like so many of my Jewish people, many followers of the Lord today have grown weary of waiting for Him to come, and frankly I'm not sure that the weariness in waiting does not also reflect a lack of wanting to witness His coming.
Recently the Associated Press took a poll on Christian beliefs and the return of Christ. A surprising 66% of Americans polled said they believe that Jesus will return to the earth at some point in the future, but only 12% expect Him to come in their lifetime. The blessed hope for King Messiah has begun to wane in the imagination and the expectation of His people. Perhaps our imaginations are overcrowded with too many other hopes.
A large fishing vessel was pulling into port after several weeks at sea. The men on the boat were gazing eagerly toward the dock where a group of their loved ones were waiting. The first mate looked through his binoculars and called out, "Sam, I see your wife Gilda; Ben, there is your wife Sue and your kids"...and so on. One fisherman was anxious because his wife wasn't named among those waiting to meet their husbands. He left the dock and walked to his home where he could see the front porch light twinkling in the distance. As he opened the door his wife ran to him exclaiming, "Honey, I've been waiting for you." The fisherman replied, "Yes, but the other men's wives were watching for them."
It is not enough for us to "leave the front porch light on" for our coming King. It is not enough just to believe that eventually He will come. We need to watch for Him expectantly, hopefully longing for our Lord and telling others of His soon return. He could come at any time.
Toward the end of his life the apostle Paul wrote, "there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing" (2 Timothy 4:8, emphasis added). Do we love His appearing today? If so, then that soon-coming event will loom much larger in our hopes and expectations than any presidential election. That hope does not disappoint.