The Trump era was not a new Babylon, and the Biden era will be no new Jerusalem. (And vice versa.)
Nearly 600 years before the birth of Christ, the city of Jerusalem was besieged, conquered, and razed by the Babylonian empire. The victorious invaders captured the king, destroyed the temple, and took thousands of Israelites into exile in Babylon.
Christians have long looked to stories and prophecies from the Exile era for guidance in how to live as “foreigners and exiles” (1 Pet. 2:11) whose “citizenship is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20). There’s the wisdom of Daniel, the shrewdness of Esther and Mordecai, the righteousness of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The exile framework for examining our lives and conforming them more to Christ can be especially useful in times of political and social upheaval, and this year is certainly one of those times.
The presidential election results bring exile to mind for many American Christians. For those on the political right, the victory of President-elect Joe Biden may seem like the start of a season of hardship. Author and legal scholar F. LaGard Smith made this link explicit in a recent contribution to The Christian Post, warning that our country is “headed to Babylon” because of how a Democratic administration will facilitate an ongoing “national moral rebellion” that will curtail religious liberty. For those on the political left or center, meanwhile, the defeat of President Donald Trump may seem a kind of release and restoration, an opportunity to return to older, better patterns of life, as the Israelites did when they were finally able to rebuild Jerusalem.
I too am troubled by the drift of public opinion on religious liberty, and I too am glad Trump will leave public office—that is, I understand why both perceptions make …