The Rationale for Evaluating Political Leaders
Jeroboam II was the 13th ruler of the northern kingdom of Israel. He reigned for some forty-one years (793-753 B.C.) — during those days when both Jonah and Amos were doing their prophetic work. His reign was one of the most prosperous in the 250-year history of northern Israel. He successfully conducted wars against Syria, and he re-captured territory that Israel had not possessed since the days of David.
During this era, Israel was very stable economically. Trade routes developed and wealth poured into the nation. The upper classes especially prospered, with certain families growing very wealthy in the acquisition of both land and money.
In view of his remarkable success as a political leader, one would think that Jeroboam’s considerable abilities would have been heralded enthusiastically in the Old Testament record. But such was not the case. As able as the ruler was in regal affairs, the Bible largely ignores his administration. The writer of 2nd Kings records Jeroboam’s entire regime — forty-one long years — in just seven verses (2 Kings 14:23-29). And this is his brief epitaph — “he did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah.”
This account, as well as numerous others of similar import, clearly reveal the fact that the Lord does not evaluate political administrations in the same way that men do. Of a politician who has built roads, increased revenues, expanded boundaries, and created better living conditions, most would say — “He was a great leader!” However, it is not riches that make a great nation, it is righteousness (Proverbs 14:34). It is not fortune, but faith. It is not smooth highways, but spiritual homes!
It is interesting to reflect upon how Americans generally evaluate national leaders today. It is superficial in the extreme. We want to know this. Can he lower taxes? Not, can he reduce moral corruption? Will he generate jobs? — rather than whether he will attempt to initiate a regeneration of the nation’s ethical policies. Can we expect a higher standard of economic living? — irrespective a lower, sleazier level of laws that accommodate debauched lives.
What each citizen needs to be asking about potential leaders are inquiries of this substance. Does he acknowledge God as the sovereign over the nation? Does he seek to help the innocent and down-trodden find a fair level of justice? Does he value the sacredness of human life; of humanity as being in the “image” of the Creator? (Genesis 9:6). Does he act on principle, or is his approach the way of political pragmatism? Will he labor for the stability of the human family (the divine arrangement), or will he cater to special interest groups who craft their own values from the perversity of their self-indulgent lifestyles?
Any individual who is swayed more by economic stability than moral stability, has revealed a library of information relative to the content of his own character. Such folks are oblivious to the truth that prosperity is the result of goodness, not evil.
About the Author
Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.