Pastor’s Column: On 80 Year Old Political Leaders

Pastor Hedman.

One of the most striking facts of the upcoming presidential election is the age of the two candidates. The combined age of Trump (77) and Biden (81) sets a record for the oldest combined age of any two candidates, a record previously held by Trump and Biden in 2020. An ABC News/Ipsos poll in early February found 59% of Americans think the two nominees are too old to serve another term.

Is 80 simply too old to competently hold a leadership position over an entire nation? Perhaps. I certainly have concerns about the age and competence of many of our political leaders. But, as I’ve been preaching through the Book of Exodus, I am struck by the age of the leader of Israel, Moses. Moses was 40, the prime of his life, when he attempted to begin his public leadership campaign by killing an Egyptian slave-driver. Yet, his leadership is rejected, he becomes an outlaw, and he spends the next 40 years as a simple father and shepherd in a desert land called Midian. It wasn’t until then that God called Moses in the burning bush to return to Egypt and lead Israel into the promised land.

That’s right, if you did the math, Moses was 80 when he finally began his public political and prophetic career leading the nation of Israel. I find that parallel to our current situation very interesting. Clearly, biblically, God has no explicit age limitations to his vision of executive leadership. Yet, Moses is quite the specimen of physical health for an 80 year old. He has been in the desert for 40 years as a shepherd tending livestock. He is leading Israel over 300+ miles on foot. He climbs Mt. Sinai, a 1,000 ft. climb and 7,500 ft. above sea level, to talk with God seven times in a year. At the very least, I think we have to imagine Moses as that buff, tan, strong-man type 80 year old with shining white teeth. Despite what they would have us believe, I’m not sure this type of fitness could be expected from Washington’s octogenarians.

But there’s something else about Moses. Not only does he perform all of those physical feats at 80, but then continues to lead Israel through the desert for the next 40 years. He dies at 120 years old, still apparently ready to head into the Promised Land, but punished by God for a sin along the way. It’s like God had to cut him off! I don’t care how fit you are, clearly, Moses has some kind of supernatural help going on.

I theorize that all of Moses’ time on Mt. Sinai and in the Tabernacle speaking with God face to face has rubbed a little eternity off onto him. In fact, we have a clue that this is exactly what is happening when Moses returns from speaking to God and his face is shining like the sun. It’s not shining like he just stepped out of a spray tan booth or rubbed some olive oil on his face, he is actually, physically glowing with the glory of God. And this freaks people out! They demand that he put a scarf around his face while he talks to them. Heaven is, apparently, contagious and can be off-putting.

So I can’t say what exactly this means for our elderly politicians. I wish more of them were like Moses. I wish their longevity was due to their time with God and not medicine and pride. I wish Jesus would come back so we can have a King who is eternal, whose glory shines like the sun, who makes all things new, and will strike down these wicked nations with a Rod of Iron. Until then, maybe a spray tan will have to do. If they must be 80, make them like Moses!