Voters Get Ready

April 9 is coming soon in the Holy Land. Ballot slips have been printed, election workers have been trained, and forty-three political parties have submitted their candidate lists.

Across Israel, voters are deciding which party, and which party leader, to support now that the Twentieth Knesset has dissolved. The world is watching, including Christians in America, knowing that the outcome of this election, and the resulting coalition that will form the Twenty-First Knesset, will determine the path of the Startup Nation in the years to come.

As a voter, do you expect the next prime minister to work on specific policies? Most citizens have a list of priorities and use that list to guide their selection in the ballot box.  If you will be voting on April 9, what are your expectations?

Do you expect the leaders of the next ruling coalition to lower the ever-increasing cost of living?  Do you expect them to provide affordable housing for young families? Do you expect them to encourage industries to offer jobs that truly pay a living wage? Do you expect them to encourage cooperation among the various sectors of society?  Do you expect Israel’s security services to locate, arrest and prosecute terrorists in order to keep innocent people safe?

Israelis have a long and varied list of expectations for their governmental leaders. Parties who can effectively argue that they will succeed at meeting the variety of voters’ expectations will receive the most votes and, as a result, the most Knesset mandates.

But, before the citizens of Israel vote and express their lofty, and often justified, expectations of leaders, let’s ask another question. What does the Lord expect of all Israelis, be they elected officials or average citizens?

In Micah 6:8, we read,

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

As potential voters, those focused on the election and those not so much, consider what they want from the next ruling coalition, let’s examine what the Lord says is good.  As would-be politicians explain their would-be agendas to would-be voters, let’s ponder what the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob says is good.

Jewish prophet Micah lived 2,700 years ago in the Judean village of Moresheth, southwest of Jerusalem, near the ancient Philistine city of Gath.  The Lord’s spokesperson gave three assignments in chapter 6 of his book. Micah taught that these three ingredients, when added together, can create a society where God is honored and people are respected.

What would the prophet remind the 6,339,279 eligible voters of various faith traditions as they head to the polls next week? What would  Micah use as his criteria for choosing the next prime minister?

Let’s discuss these three assignments and notice that for people who love God and love God’s Word, they are REQUIRED, not optional.

Do justice

With Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announcing on February 28 his intended indictments of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in three separate investigations, and the possibility of more investigations in the submarine affair, the issue of justice has understandably become front and center in the April 9 election. While no one knows the final outcome of this legal mess, we are certain of a few things. Israelis can rightfully expect their leaders to “do justice” in office, to make decisions honestly, to respect the dignity of the office and to demonstrate integrity in financial matters. Israelis of all political persuasions can also remember the courtroom maxim of “innocent until proven guilty.”

Micah would say to the current prime minister and the next prime minister and their constituents that doing justice is required of those who understand that God is the Creator of all mankind and every person is equally valuable in His eyes and equally accountable to Him.

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Love kindness

Kindness has been defined as “compassion in action.” Simply greeting another person with a genuine “shalom” is the most basic act of kindness, hoping that the other person experiences the peace of God in their hearts and in their homes.  How can all people, elected to parliament or not, find ways each day to show kindness? How can a nation’s leaders model acts and words of kindness, done because they are good in God’s eyes not because they are politically beneficial?

Walk humbly with your God

This instruction from the Bible may be the most difficult one to obey in an election season, especially among those seeking political office. Humility is often mocked as the quality which leads to electoral defeat, but God promises favor for the humble throughout His Word. We can especially see the call to humility for Israel’s future leaders when reading the words of King Solomon, one of Israel’s greatest former leaders.

“When pride comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom.”  Proverbs 11:2

“The fear of the Lord is the instruction for wisdom, and before honor comes humility.”  Proverbs 15:33

“Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, but humility goes before honor.”  Proverbs 18:12

How about one more verse encouraging humility, one that could change the nature of campaign advertising forever?

“Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.”  Proverbs 27:2

While the issues facing Israel and the future members of the Twenty-First Knesset are complex and numerous, voters need a starting place in their deliberations. According to Micah, these three spiritual commandments could be, are required to be, the guiding principles used by Israelis when they choose a specific ballot slip on April 9 in one of the 10,720 polling stations nationwide.

In Israel’s most recent national elections (2015), voter turnout was 72.36%, the highest since 1999 and greater than the previous four elections.  We can hope that citizens will vote in even greater numbers next week. We can hope they will go to the polls feeling informed about the various parties and their promised priorities. We can also hope that voters in the Land of the Bible will remember Micah’s biblical instructions as they make their choices.