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God Judges Nations – All Nations

February 14, 2013

Monday, February 20, 2012God Judges Nations – All Nations
Numerous times when I have tried to raise the issue of God’s revealed will for the behavior of nations, it has been pointed out to me that the United States is not Israel and that the Laws that God established for that unique nation do not apply to the U.S.. Actually, I am in complete agreement that that assertion. The Old Testament nation of Israel existed in a peculiar relationship with God. Interestingly, it has been suggested more often by apologists for U.S. supremacy that the U.S. shares a similar relationship with God. This was claimed with Manifest Destiny and at other times when it proved to be politically expedient. But, I don’t believe it and I have never advocated that position.
However, a substantial exploration of Scripture will make it quite clear that God judges all nations and not only that one nation that He revealed Himself to in a special way. Consider Ezekiel 16: 49-50, “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, abundant food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty, and did abominable things before me; therefore I removed them, when I saw it.” Sodom was definitely NOT Israel. Yet, God says that he destroyed them for their sin. Interestingly it is their sexual sin that most today associate with the judgment on Sodom, and that may be alluded to in these verses, but only after their neglect of the poor and their pride. So would it not be fair to assume that if God so judged Sodom, He has seen fit to inform us of the basis for that judgment, He might also judge nations today on that same basis? Additionally consider, God sent Jonah to Nineveh to warn them of coming judgment, He sent Obadiah to Edom, and Amos spends the first two chapters of his book warning nations around Israel of God impending judgments. Amos 3:2 does indicate that there is a higher standard of expectation for Israel than other nations because of their additional knowledge. But those who violate basic codes of civility that should be clear to all can expect divine retribution.
If God will judge nations, then what should be the role of His People the Church in our world and political structure today? I believe that our role is to be salt and light in a tasteless and dark world. I don’t believe that we need to, or even should, demand that specific aspects of Old Testament Law be implemented as national policy. But, we should present reasoned arguments for policies that reflect values consistent with those taught in Scripture. If God is the creator of the physical universe in which we exist, He is also the creator of all human relationships and the guidance that He provides on functioning as a society is not intended to force conformity against our best interests but to allow us to function optimally. But, the problem is that too often those who claim to represent a “Christian” perspective on political issues do so arrogantly and frequently incorrectly. What are Biblical values and how do we get to know them?
We must get to know the Book and seek to understand the Truths that it contains. I will offer only a couple of specific examples. It is absolutely clear that God is concerned with the value of Justice. I know few people today who would say that they are opposed to justice. But, how do we determine what is just? For far too many in the U.S. today justice is defined intuitively. They just have a sense of what seems fair to them. And, no one had better challenge their sense of what is just. Example: I saw Newt on TV just this week again raising a mantra of the “right”, that we must abolish the “death tax” more correctly called the inheritance tax. The argument is that this tax is unjust because according to their sense of justice a person should be free to pass what they, or their parents or grandparents, have earned on to their children. It doesn’t conform to their sense of “justice”. But, according to God’s revealed Law to Israel, The Year of Jubilee was established to assure that neither wealth nor poverty were hereditary. This is a demonstration of God’s sense of justice and it is not the same as that of the “right” in the U.S. Here again, I am not suggesting that what we need to do is to establish the Year of Jubilee as national economic policy. What I am saying is that what we may think is justice may not be what God thinks is justice at all.
What about the value advocated by many “Christians” in the U.S. today of patriotism. Patriotism is categorically NOT a Biblical value. We are told to be submissive to the government where we live. I believe that we should be responsible and active citizens. But, we are not told to “love” our country. And, in fact “love” of country can frequently lead to behavior that clearly violates what are clearly Biblical values. When we place more value on the life of a person who is from our own country than one from another country, we fail to appreciate that God so loved the world. When we exploit the resources of poor nations so that we can support extravagant lifestyles, we violate our role as stewards. When we advocate foreign policy base on our own economic or strategic interests, instead of the interests of the nations impacted by it we fail to act in love.
As I have written before, there is and will be plenty of room to discuss and disagree on some of the applications of trying to exert Godly influence in our world. But, there can only be real, meaningful and constructive debate if it is based on knowledge and appreciation for the fact that God has spoken to these issues.
However, a substantial exploration of Scripture will make it quite clear that God judges all nations and not only that one nation that He revealed Himself to in a special way. Consider Ezekiel 16: 49-50, “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, abundant food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty, and did abominable things before me; therefore I removed them, when I saw it.” Sodom was definitely NOT Israel. Yet, God says that he destroyed them for their sin. Interestingly it is their sexual sin that most today associate with the judgment on Sodom, and that may be alluded to in these verses, but only after their neglect of the poor and their pride. So would it not be fair to assume that if God so judged Sodom, He has seen fit to inform us of the basis for that judgment, He might also judge nations today on that same basis? Additionally consider, God sent Jonah to Nineveh to warn them of coming judgment, He sent Obadiah to Edom, and Amos spends the first two chapters of his book warning nations around Israel of God impending judgments. Amos 3:2 does indicate that there is a higher standard of expectation for Israel than other nations because of their additional knowledge. But those who violate basic codes of civility that should be clear to all can expect divine retribution.
If God will judge nations, then what should be the role of His People the Church in our world and political structure today? I believe that our role is to be salt and light in a tasteless and dark world. I don’t believe that we need to, or even should, demand that specific aspects of Old Testament Law be implemented as national policy. But, we should present reasoned arguments for policies that reflect values consistent with those taught in Scripture. If God is the creator of the physical universe in which we exist, He is also the creator of all human relationships and the guidance that He provides on functioning as a society is not intended to force conformity against our best interests but to allow us to function optimally. But, the problem is that too often those who claim to represent a “Christian” perspective on political issues do so arrogantly and frequently incorrectly. What are Biblical values and how do we get to know them?
We must get to know the Book and seek to understand the Truths that it contains. I will offer only a couple of specific examples. It is absolutely clear that God is concerned with the value of Justice. I know few people today who would say that they are opposed to justice. But, how do we determine what is just? For far too many in the U.S. today justice is defined intuitively. They just have a sense of what seems fair to them. And, no one had better challenge their sense of what is just. Example: I saw Newt on TV just this week again raising a mantra of the “right”, that we must abolish the “death tax” more correctly called the inheritance tax. The argument is that this tax is unjust because according to their sense of justice a person should be free to pass what they, or their parents or grandparents, have earned on to their children. It doesn’t conform to their sense of “justice”. But, according to God’s revealed Law to Israel, The Year of Jubilee was established to assure that neither wealth nor poverty were hereditary. This is a demonstration of God’s sense of justice and it is not the same as that of the “right” in the U.S. Here again, I am not suggesting that what we need to do is to establish the Year of Jubilee as national economic policy. What I am saying is that what we may think is justice may not be what God thinks is justice at all.
What about the value advocated by many “Christians” in the U.S. today of patriotism. Patriotism is categorically NOT a Biblical value. We are told to be submissive to the government where we live. I believe that we should be responsible and active citizens. But, we are not told to “love” our country. And, in fact “love” of country can frequently lead to behavior that clearly violates what are clearly Biblical values. When we place more value on the life of a person who is from our own country than one from another country, we fail to appreciate that God so loved the world. When we exploit the resources of poor nations so that we can support extravagant lifestyles, we violate our role as stewards. When we advocate foreign policy base on our own economic or strategic interests, instead of the interests of the nations impacted by it we fail to act in love.
As I have written before, there is and will be plenty of room to discuss and disagree on some of the applications of trying to exert Godly influence in our world. But, there can only be real, meaningful and constructive debate if it is based on knowledge and appreciation for the fact that God has spoken to these issues.
Numerous times when I have tried to raise the issue of God’s revealed will for the behavior of nations, it has been pointed out to me that the United States is not Israel and that the Laws that God established for that unique nation do not apply to the U.S.. Actually, I am in complete agreement that that assertion. The Old Testament nation of Israel existed in a peculiar relationship with God. Interestingly, it has been suggested more often by apologists for U.S. supremacy that the U.S. shares a similar relationship with God. This was claimed with Manifest Destiny and at other times when it proved to be politically expedient. But, I don’t believe it and I have never advocated that position.

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