The Messianic Impulse
by Hal Lindsey
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. — Luke 2:11
Human beings are always searching for a messiah. They have an inner sense that someone’s coming, someone who will change everything. They’re looking for a person who will transcend politics, entertainment, or whatever made him or her famous, and become the thing that fills the void deep in every human soul.
In politics, the tendency crosses party lines. Eight years ago, some Democrats saw Barrack Obama in a messianic light. In the “American Prospect,” Ezra Klein wrote, “He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair. The other great leaders I’ve heard guide us towards a better politics, but Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves, to the place where America exists as a glittering ideal, and where we, its honored inhabitants, seem capable of achieving it, and thus of sharing in its meaning and transcendence.”
That was Obama the candidate. No one talks about Obama the President in quite the same terms. While the future President did not say such things about himself, he didn’t discourage those ideas either. By definition, a candidate is trying to get votes. To do that, he or she needs to be seen as special.
After winning the 2008 Iowa Caucuses, candidate Obama called his victory a “defining moment in history.” He listed a number of huge changes that would occur during his presidency, then said, “This was the moment. Years from now, you'll look back and you'll say that this was the moment, this was the place where America remembered what it means to hope.”
That’s quite a prophecy to give about oneself. In fact, the whole speech sounded like a man who had just arrived to save the day, and maybe save the whole world.
Many Republicans look back on Ronald Reagan in almost messianic terms. If one Republican wants to convince another Republican on a certain issue, he’s likely to quote the Gipper. Reagan was indeed a great man, but, as he would have told you, he was no messiah.
It’s natural to believe, or at least hope, that your candidate will bring about great and beautiful changes. But Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders, and the rest are, in the end, just people. Whoever is elected will fail in many endeavors. He or she will do smart things and dim-witted things. That’s just human.
Who should you vote for? My advice is to pray, study, pray again, vote . . . then pray some more. It’s fine to be optimistic, but put your hope in God. Pray that He will use whoever wins the election to His own purposes and honor.
The messianic impulse is powerful, and can be dangerous. It led to some of humanity’s greatest disasters. In the last century, Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, and Mao were all seen in messianic terms. Scores of millions died, and billions more fell into servitude as a result.
They were not the first would-be messiahs, nor the last. Today, Putin is intentionally building around himself a cult of personality much like some of his old Soviet predecessors.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS and facilitator of all its horrors, came to power hinting that he is “the Mahdi” — the long promised Islamic messiah, and Mohammed’s successor. An Al Jazeera editorial said, “Baghdadi is another self-proclaimed ‘Mahdi.’”
When people are afraid, they’re more vulnerable to the messianic impulse. In the future, Antichrist will use it to gain the whole earth, and bring about disasters we can hardly bring ourselves to imagine.
And yet, the desire for a messiah is a gift from God, hardwired into us all. He placed it deep in our souls because there is a real Messiah, Jesus, that He wants us to seek and find. You can know Him right now. You will never understand all that He does, but you can trust Him completely.
He is why we celebrate Christmas, why we go to church, why we pray, and how we can know God. Even though He’s already been to earth, the impulse to look for Him remains valid because He promised to come again. In John 14:3, He said it plainly. “I will come again, and receive you to Myself.”
In the meantime, He’s worthy of all your trust. He will give you peace. In Matthew 11:28-30, He said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light.”