We received in our mailboxes this week our mail-in primary ballot. That is still a bit strange. In NY voting by mail was not really a thing. Everyone trudged to the polls on a Tuesday if they wanted to vote. But that brought to mind one of the petitions that is consistently in the Prayers of the Church. The picture above is the generic form from the Bidding Prayer. The Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 2 bids us to pray for a variety of people. That is the scriptural format of the bidding prayer or the prayers of the church. And one of his bids is “for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way (1 Tim. 2:2).” In our Sunday morning prayers this generic form takes on different specific forms at different times. There are many parts of that generic prayer that can get emphasized. But there is a specific path of meditation I want to follow here.
The prayer is for a quiet and peaceable life. Such a life depends upon those in authority. We might ask why that is. Why doesn’t God just do it? The primary answer in all things in the temporal kingdom is that God works through means. He has revealed his law. And he has ordained those whose job it is to carry it out. As the prayer above puts it, “You have ordained for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do well all the powers that exist.” The first use of the law, the civil use or the curb, is to punish evildoers and to praise the good (Romans 13:3-4). The establishment of good order is so that we are able to live quiet and peaceable lives. And our consistent prayer is that this would be granted to us.
But there are times it is not granted. The worst of those times are when “I will make boys their princes, and infants shall rule over them. (Isaiah 3:4).” The longer passage – Isa 3:1-4 (5-8 ff) – is worth pondering. How is this done? The LORD takes away the support and supply of the following in order: mighty man and soldier, judge and prophet, diviner and elder, captain of 50 and man of rank, skillful magician and expert in charms. That list I believe has an intentional order.
The mighty man and soldier are those who can both establish and keep order. They have both natural ability and official office. The judge and the prophet are those who can keep order already established and who can point in the way to keep it. They also have a learned ability and an office. The next step down is the diviner and elder. These are those with natural ability, but no office. They are the judge and prophet in the wild. Following those are their opposites, those who have an office, but probably lack ability – the captain of 50 and man of rank. In our world they have the credentials, but lack true aptitude. And last on the list are the Wizards of Oz. Those who can fake it for a while. They have neither office nor aptitude, but by some dark art can keep the machine working for a bit. Or at least give the appearance of order.
How do you get Children? The supply and support for these are removed. What does it mean to be ruled by children? It means those who lack the ability to create and maintain order. They praise the evildoer and punish the one who does good. They refuse to maintain proper curbs. They tear down fences without wisdom as to why they were there. They point people away from God and toward themselves.
The prayer is that “those who make, administer and judge our laws, bear it according to the Word.” That the curbs are put up in proper places. That within them we might lead quiet and peaceable lives in godliness and honesty. God ultimately controls the supply, but we are the support. When you get that ballot I hope these are thoughts and prayers before checking your support.