Those conversant with the Scriptures are surely aware of the fact that God expects individuals to strive for personal righteousness.
What is not so well-known, however, is the fact that Jehovah demands a certain level of righteousness for nations as well.
“Righteousness exalts a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34).
“The wicked shall be turned back into Sheol. Even all the nations that forget God” (Psa. 9:17).
In view of this, it is apparent that each citizen should endeavor to contribute to the righteous climate of his nation.
The following truths are taught in the Bible:
- The destiny of Earth’s nations is ultimately in the hands of the Lord.
- He expects nations to conform to certain moral criteria.
- When the moral fabric of a people deteriorates to a certain point, God can and will bring that power to its knees.
One of the great biblical truths regarding the Creator is that of his omnipotence. Job declared (concerning the Lord):
“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be restrained” (Job 42:2).
This includes, of course, the control of national powers.
A fundamental truth set forth in the book of Daniel is that of Jehovah’s international sovereignty. The prophet affirmed that
“the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomsoever he will, and sets up over it the lowest of men” (Dan. 4:17).
Again, the Lord “removes kings, and sets up kings” (Dan. 2:21). God is said to be “ruler over the nations” (Psa. 22:28).
The Almighty can even exalt a pagan power to punish his own people when they rebel against him. To the ancient kingdom of Judah it was declared:
“Behold ye among the nations, and look, and wonder marvelously; for I am working a work in your days, which ye will not believe thought it be told you. For lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, that march through the breadth of the earth, to possess dwelling-places that are not theirs” (Hab. 1:5-6).
Even in the Christian age, the inspired Paul would announce that God determines the nations’ “appointed seasons” (i.e., the duration of their existence) and the “bounds of their habitation” (the extent of their conquests) (cf. Acts 17:26).
The book of Revelation plainly teaches that Jesus Christ is “the ruler of the kings of the earth” (Rev. 1:5). He is “King of kings, and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:16).
To those who respect the testimony of the Scriptures, the issue is clear—God has not lost control of the affairs of this earth!
Contrary to the view of many people, national security is not determined by sophisticated spy systems, a stockpile of nuclear weapons, or political activism.
Ancient Babylon was known as “the glory of the kingdoms.” Behind her gigantic walls (according to Herodotus, three hundred feet high and seventy-five feet thick), this pagan mistress felt absolutely secure. But God Almighty destroyed her. Read Isaiah’s thrilling prophecy of Babylon’s impending doom in the thirteenth chapter of his book.
The ancient Edomites (descendants of Esau) became the perpetual enemies of Israel. When the Babylonians invaded the holy land and took Judah captive, Edom stood on the side, as it were, and cheered, shouting, “Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof” (Psa. 137:7).
All the while, the Edomites, perched in their fortress city of Petra (with granite cliffs fifteen to twenty miles wide and some two thousand feet high), exclaimed: “Who shall bring me down to the ground?” (Obad. 3).
God informed them, through the prophet Obadiah, that he would! These haughty people were finally expelled from their homeland some time between 550 and 400 B.C. by the Nabataeans.
The fact of the matter is simply this: when the wickedness of a people drops to a certain level on the Lord’s moral “barometer,” he will terminate their prosperity. Note the following examples.
When Abraham was ushered into the land of Canaan, he was informed that several generations must pass before his seed could actually possess the land.
Why was such the case? Because “the iniquity of the Amorite” was not “yet full” (Gen. 15:16). The comments of M. Jacobus on this point are excellent.
The longsuffering of God towards the wicked makes Him even postpone the deliverance of His people, showing that in His dealings with us He has also to regard others, and He will order all things well. Abraham was now living among the Amorites, and they were the most extensive occupants of the territory. Here we are taught: (1) God foreknows the moral character of men. (2) In His providence He administers the affairs of nations on the principles of moral rectitude. (3) Nations are spared until their iniquity is full. (4) They are then cut off in retributive justice (1864, 272).
The implication is that when the Amorites reached a determined level of depravity, they would lose their “deed” to Canaan.
Similarly, Israel lost her right to the Promised Land centuries later, due to her own wickedness (cf. Josh. 23:15, 16). Modern millennialists ignore this truth.
Sodom and Gomorrah
When the Lord surveyed ancient Sodom and Gomorrah, he announced: “[T]heir sin is very grievous” (Gen. 18:20). Hence, he purposed to destroy these wicked cities.
He promised Abraham, however, that if but ten righteous souls could be found, mercy would be extended. As every Bible student knows, those communities were judged by Heaven for a lack of six godly people!
There was obviously a certain depth of corruption that Jehovah would no longer allow to continue. He will not strive with rebellious humanity indefinitely (cf. Gen. 6:3).
Jehovah instructed Jonah: “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me” (Jon. 1:2).
The people of Nineveh were warned that they would be destroyed in forty days. This message of judgment struck a note of terror in their hearts;
accordingly, they repented, and the Lord lifted the impending disaster.
The revival was relatively short-lived however, and that nation eventually drifted again into degradation. The prophet Nahum was raised up to proclaim “the full end” of the Assyrian capital (cf. Nah. 1:8).
The history of the Hebrew nation represents a checkered pattern of intermittent fidelity and apostasy—the latter gradually gaining the upper hand.
This spirit of lawlessness would see its culmination with the crucifixion of Jesus and the subsequent Jewish persecution of the church of Christ. The Lord thus challenged the Jews of his day to “fill ye up then the measure of your fathers” (Mt. 23:32).
Subsequently, he indicated that upon “this generation” a judgment would descend from God which would spell disaster for the Jewish nation (cf. Mt. 23:35ff; 24:1-34).
In view of these biblical examples, we pose this penetrating question: If God does not change as to his righteous character (cf. Mal. 3:6), and if he punished the nations of antiquity as they reached a certain point of degeneration, is it not reasonable to assume that he will act similarly in the twentieth century?
Can we, in this respect, learn from the things that were written aforetime (Rom. 15:4)?
What of America’s Future?
Perhaps it would be wise to reflect upon the future of our own nation. Have we, over the past two centuries, become a better country or are we rapidly deteriorating?
Generally, the founding fathers of this nation had a high regard for the Bible and acknowledged the value of religion as a stabilizing national influence. Daniel Webster once said:
“If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible our country will go on prospering, but if we and our posterity neglect its instruction and authority, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury us and our glory in profound obscurity.”
How tragic it is that the citizenry of America is, to a great extent, renouncing this philosophy with reckless abandon. Note some of the indications of our rotting society.
Each year, we murder more than a million of our children in the abortion chambers across the nation.
A national magazine polled one hundred thousand American women and discovered that some ninety percent of those not married were acknowledged fornicators. Of those married, two-thirds confessed to either having committed adultery or desiring such!
The sin of sodomy is rapidly reaching a respectable status in the eyes of the general public. And those who oppose homosexuality are considered freaks of the religious right.
Drug abuse and alcoholism are major problems—from the elderly to elementary school age. Suicide is at epidemic proportions.
America has utterly lost her moral and ethical direction!
What Can We Do?
How can we contribute to the preservation of our beloved America?
First, we can commit ourselves to to a personal program of godly living. Even the church has slipped dreadfully within the past few decades.
Second, we can bind our homes together with the bands of the Word of God. The home is the backbone of the nation, and strong Christian families can be a saving national influence.
Third, we can teach against the evils that plague our modern culture, and we can enlist others in the battle for truth.
I am absolutely convinced that the fate of this nation will be determined by the influence of Christianity.