I love movies. And there are certain movies that come on USA, TBS, or TNT all the time that I just can’t refuse – any of the “Jack Ryan” Harrison Ford movies (Clear and Present Danger, Patriot Games, etc.), The Bourne movies, and Talladega Nights to name a few. I also like chick flicks (there, I said it) – Sweet Home Alabama might be the best one ever made, in my humble opinion. The movie The American President also comes on quite frequently, and it’s one that I have a hard time passing up.
In The American President, Michael Douglass plays President Andrew Shepherd and Michael J. Fox is one of his senior staff members Lewis Rothschild. There is a scene in the movie where Rothschild (Fox) confronts Shepherd (Douglass), who is up for re-election, because his opponent has been the only one campaigning and has been talking about Shepherd to the media and nation, causing Shepherd’s approval rating (and chances for re-election) to fall. Here’s part of their dialogue:
Lewis Rothschild: You have a deeper love of this country than any man I've ever known. And I want to know what it says to you that in the past seven weeks, 59% of Americans have begun to question your patriotism.
President Andrew Shepherd: Look, if the people want to listen to-...
Lewis Rothschild: They don't have a choice! Bob Rumson is the only one doing the talking! People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They're so thirsty for it they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand.
President Andrew Shepherd: Lewis, we've had presidents who were beloved, who couldn't find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don't drink the sand because they're thirsty. They drink the sand because they don't know the difference.
It’s interesting to see both Rothschild and Shepherd’s diagnosis of the problem: Rothschild says they’ll “drink the sand” because that’s the only place to which they’re led, and Shepherd says they’ll “drink the sand” because they don’t know any better. Rothschild says it’s a leadership problem. Shepherd says it’s a wisdom problem.
The book of Judges says both are the problem. In Deuteronomy 17, Moses foretold the people of Israel that when they get into the land of Canaan which they were promised, that they will desire a king to be over them “like all the nations that are around me.” What Moses tells them immediately after is that they can set a king over themselves, but the one whom the LORD chooses (Dt. 17:14-15). Throughout the book of Judges, one fact stands out – there is a leadership problem with the Judges, and the people don’t have the wisdom to see what the problem is, only that a problem exists. The problem with the leadership of the judges, is that they’re human which means they’re sinful – in Judges the leaders whom God uses to deliver the Israelites are deceptive and dishonest (Ehud), paralyzingly fearful (Barak), lack conviction and have very weak faith (Gideon), don’t know the word of God (Jephthah), and are narcissistic, prideful, and a sex addict (Samson). Each of the judges is fundamentally flawed, and God uses each one of them mightily. But after each one dies there is failure and a longing for someone to rule over them, there is a longing for a king, a longing for the King.
What we see in Judges is that all of creation functions best under the rule of the right and righteous King, the One who came not to be served, but to serve – King Jesus.
Join us this spring semester as we look at the book of Judges in our series “Longing for the King”. In this book we will see the utter brokenness of humanity, of ourselves, and our need for the King who came to die, and who will come again to rule and reign among his people.
We meet Wednesday nights at 8:30 in the IT building, room 1005. As always, all are welcome, so bring your friends.
RUF is a rest stop for tired Christians, and a safe place for skeptics.