A Biblical Plumbline for National Leadership 

As a nation, we in America are standing on the precipice of what may be one of the most important national elections in our history. Like many of you who read this, I have been less than thrilled by the political stances of the two main candidates, let alone the obvious character flaws that are presented in the media, regardless of how accurately those representations reflect the truth. The option seems to be to vote for the candidate who will have the least negative impact on the American culture, depending on how one sees the issues of the day.

As I muse on these things, I am drawn to the Biblical standard for leadership that is presented in the ancient prophecy of Isaiah, where in Chapter 11, verses 1-9, he articulates the character of the ultimate Leader, and the impact that his leadership will have on the lives of the people and culture under his leadership. As I share these things, I’m well aware that the ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy will come when Jesus Christ returns and establishes His Kingdom on the earth. However, I believe we can still call our national leaders to this standard, as this is government as God designed it and intends for it to be expressed.

Isaiah 11:2 tells us that this Leader will be filled with the full dynamic presence of the Holy Spirit – wisdom and understanding, counsel and might, knowledge and the fear of the Lord. We may think that it is unrealistic to call our political leaders to such a reality, but we as citizens of God’s Kingdom must never back off the standards that God sets. Only a man filled with the Spirit of God will ever be able to govern in such a way that peace and blessing will come to all the citizens.

Verses 3-4 give us insight as to the standards of judgment exercised by this anointed Leader. His policies and judgments are aligned with righteousness and equity, especially for the poor and the weak! He is not concerned with political expediency or political correctness. In other words, he is focused on bringing all things into alignment with God’s design, understanding that being conformed to God’s design is the only way to real freedom, fulfillment and joy.

These verses also let us know that the speech of this Leader is filled with power for the establishment of goodness and right – the wicked and their ways will be removed from power and ultimately destroyed! 

While destruction of the wicked seems extreme to our contemporary minds, we are assured in the following verse that this Leader will be clothed in righteousness and faithfulness, so his power will be compassionate and gracious even when dealing with wickedness in the culture.

In verses 6-9, Isaiah tells us that the fruit of this Leader’s influence will be peace and quietness at every level of society, because the whole earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord. The fruit of this kind of leadership will be peace among those who have formerly been enemies. Certainly this is a desperate hope for a nation such as ours in this time!

Again, I realize that this will be fulfilled completely only when Jesus returns, but this passage serves as a standard, a measuring stick by which we as believers can assess the presence and influence of God upon our present leaders as we wait for the Kingdom that is surely coming.