First Larne Presbyterian Church

First Larne Presbyterian Church

A Saviour from Stateside?



It dominated every front page and conversation last week. It had people glued to their phones, constantly refreshing feeds to find out any updates. It sidelined all other news, such that a vote in Parliament about a national lockdown barely got mentioned.

But why, in a country over 3,500 miles away from where the action was unfolding, did Britons seem to care so much about the US presidential election?

Joe Biden won’t be our president, and though a post-Brexit trade deal will be important, his victory probably won’t dramatically change our lives. We don’t normally take an interest in elections in foreign countries, even when we have a ‘special relationship’ with them, so why the exception now?

Perhaps an answer lies in an unlikely place: the book of Judges. Here, we find a nation who is oppressed, fearful, facing uncertainty. In desperation, Israel cries out for a leader who can deliver them.

Fast forward to 2020, and our world feels in a similar place. We’re under oppressive restrictions, fearful of the future, and facing an uncertain journey back to normality. Who, we may wonder, will deliver us? The hope for a political saviour can loom large.

But judges fail. Israel’s corruption continued. ‘The time when the judges ruled’ (Ruth 1:1) served as a byword for moral and spiritual decline.

No human leader, Trump and Biden included, can save us, and we shouldn’t expect them to. That would amount to political idolatry, to looking for a saviour in the wrong place. Whichever side of the Atlantic we’re on, and no matter how good our leaders are, this winter will probably be tough, division will likely course through our cultural veins, and COVID will continue to dominate our lives and newsfeeds.

About a millennium after the time of the judges, Israel once again found themselves oppressed by foreign forces and crying out for a charismatic political leader. Yet the saviour didn’t come in the form of some general or revolutionary, but as a baby. In Bethlehem’s dark streets shone an everlasting light.

That baby grew up to be the only man ever to walk the earth who could sustain the weight of our hopes and fears – even in 2020 – and never leave us disappointed. There is light in our darkness. Though we misplace our trust and misdirect our cries, the truth remains 2000 years later: we all need a king like Jesus.


Matt Jolley

Centre for Culture & Discipleship | Research & Development, LICC