The iconic United States Capitol building contains a large mural painting of its first president, George Washington, at the centre of the dome known as the Apotheosis of Washington. The painting depicts Washington exalted above in the heavens adorned in purple robes (to symbolize royalty) with roman goddess of Victory (Victoria) to his left and the goddess of Liberty to his right.
The mural also has 13 maidens surrounding Washington holding a banner written in Latin “E Pluribus Unum,” meaning “out of many, one.” E Pluribus Unum was the original motto of the United States of America since 1776 before adopting “In God, We Trust in 1956. Apotheosis -the elevation of a person to the rank of a god. Whereas the Apotheosis of Washington is symbolic, some forms of Hawaiian Shinto religion worship Washington as a God by being enshrined as a Kami (a Japanese word for god).
Here in Africa, Haile Selassie stands as the prime example of apotheosis. Selassie was looked upon as a god incarnate by Rastafarians whose incorrectly use Jeremiah 8:21 to prove that God is black. King James Bible translation of Jeremiah 8:21 contains the words ‘I am Black.’ Rastafarians believe Marcus Garvey’s prophecy “Look to Africa where a black king shall be; hence, he shall be the Redeemer” is fulfilled in the life of Haile Selassie. The annals of history contain numerous instances where men have been exalted as gods, and in these modern times, the trend goes on.
The gods of America
The United States of America has in the recent weeks experienced a heightened political activity ahead of the November 3rd elections involving President Donald J. Trump and the former Vice President Joe Biden. I’ve been following closely how things have been unfolding in their campaign trails, and it saddened me to see a country with a motto ‘In God We Trust’ putting all their hope and trust in these two individuals. Republicans and Democrats believe that if an opponent is elected, the country’s future is bleak, while a win for their candidates will result in prosperity in all fronts.
The gods of Africa
Whatever is happening in the west is also happening in Kenya. In fact, here is worse. Our general elections are scheduled to take place in the year 2022, but the political temperatures in the country are higher than in the USA. Kenya claims to have 80% of the entire population following Jesus Christ but the view and treat politicians as gods.
P.L.O Lumumba, one of Kenya’s most celebrated orator and prolific thinker said this about our leaders, “Your typical African President is a demigod…and because they are demigods…and the reason why they become demigods is that we ourselves treat our presidents as if they were gods.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
Politicians all over the world are treated like gods. You’ve seen them campaigning uttering words like “I’m the only one who can fix all your problems and give you a bright future.” Most of them may not say it outrightly, but their goal in all their political rhetoric is to make the voters view them as their only hope.
Hope in God
Rather than looking for security and good things from mere mortals, we must emulate David who cries out to God in Psalm 62:5,8 and declares, “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him… Trust in him at all times, O people…” Our fate is in the hands of our sovereign Lord. Since I grasped what is written in Acts 17:26, my perspective on the Sovereignty of God in our daily lives changed.
The Acts 17:26 reads, “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live” (NIV 1984). Placing frail human beings in place of God and thinking that they are the ones that define our hope and future is wrong and unbiblical. It does not matter who is the president because all authority is granted by God (Romans 13:1).
Whether President Trump gets reelected or Biden wins, the purposes and will of God upon the United States will not change since we know that the plans of God cannot be thwarted (Job 42:2). In Kenya too, whoever became president in 2020 will not deter God from doing what he wants in this country. If we heed to this call, we will stop putting all our trust on politicians but God alone. God warns us in Jeremiah 17:5, “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the LORD.”
Some believers who know that their hope rests on God alone have opted to neglect politics altogether (https://kuzaapp.com/blog/2020/9/23/should-it-concern-me). But Christians must engage in politics to help better our society. Jeremiah advises exiles in Babylon, “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” Jeremiah 29:7. Politics indeed does determine our welfare as God allows, and it will be ignorant of us to look the other way when it comes to politics.
Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase in a letter dated November 20, 1861, wrote to instruct the then United States Mint Director to include “In God We Trust” in the new currency:
“Dear Sir: No nation can be strong except in the strength of God, or safe except in His defense. The trust of our people in God should be declared on our national coins.” His words are echoing Psalm 127:1, “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labour in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.”
Therefore, I urge you to put all your hope in God alone and not in politicians because if God is not with them, your vote and labour campaigning for them are in vain. ‘In God, We Trust’ should not only be the United States motto but for every individual who professes Christ.