Why are the Nations in an Uproar?
By Tim Moore
Why are the nations in an uproar, and the
peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of
the earth take their stand and the rulers take
counsel together against the Lord and against
His Anointed, saying, “Let us tear their fetters
apart and cast away their cords from us!”
In past editions of this magazine I highlighted the providence of God as demonstrated in the history of the nation of Israel. While other ancient peoples and nations have disappeared into the sands of time, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob remains faithful to the children of Israel — though they have not been faithful to Him. Honoring His promise to Abraham, God has indeed blessed his offspring and preserved them.
God has also clearly interacted with other nations and communities of people throughout history — pouring out blessings or meting out judgments. Recognition of that truth seems to be fading in our own society. For Westerners in general, and Americans in particular, a prideful sense of rugged individualism has crept into our worldview in ways we do not even realize. Instead of relying on God, we are trusting in our own abilities.
Christians rightfully place special emphasis on the responsibility and accountability of each individual. It clearly comports with Scripture’s call to personal faith and individual accountability. The adage that God has no grandchildren communicates the truth that no man or woman will gain admittance to heaven based on their parent’s faith in God. Every person must choose to trust Him individually.
Yet, Scripture also tells of the repercussions of sin lasting for generations and speaks to the judgment of God that will fall on entire nations and societies.
God’s Relationship with Nations
So, just what is God’s relationship with nations? And, how does He hold nations and communities accountable for their collective sin? We have several examples.
In Genesis, God condemned the gross wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah. When He fellowshipped with Abraham, He revealed His intention to weigh those evil cities and pour out judgment. Abraham appealed to God, urging Him to spare the cities if He could find just a handful who were righteous by comparison to the broader society.
God agreed to spare those immoral cities if He could find as few as ten righteous souls. We all know the rest of the story. God found only four people creditable as righteous — Lot, his wife and their two daughters. They were given provision to escape the destruction, but destruction did fall. We can speculate that those cities were filled with people of every age, and that by our way of thinking some of them were more “innocent” than others. But God’s discernment is perfect and His judgment is always right.
Elsewhere in Scripture, prophets recorded declarations of impending judgment. Time and again God poured out obliterating judgment on whole nations for their willful immorality and idol worship, for rejecting the messengers of God who called them to repent and turn to Him, and for their callous treatment of Israel.
Further Examples from Scripture
Isaiah prophesied concerning cities like Damascus, Samaria, and Tyre (Chapters 8 and 23) and kingdoms like Assyria, Babylon, Moab, Ethiopia, Egypt, Edom, and Arabia (Chapters 10- 31). His message concerning nations is clear:
Draw near, O nations, to hear; and listen, O
peoples! Let the earth and all it contains hear,
and the world and all that springs from it. For
the LORD’s indignation is against all the
nations… (Isaiah 34:1-2).
Jeremiah also prophesied against nations and cities, including Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Damascus, and Babylon (Chapters 47-51). He foretold that Babylon’s downfall would come as punishment for her treatment of Israel (Jeremiah 51:5-6). Ezekiel likewise pronounced judgment on Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia, Tyre, and Egypt (Chapters 25-30).
What was Ammon’s great sin that led to its destruction? God declared His anger with Ammon because the people of that nation had said, “‘Aha!’ against My sanctuary when it was profaned, and against the land of Israel when it was made desolate, and against the house of Judah when it went into exile” (Ezekiel 25:3). Clearly antagonism against Israel angers God.
Amos, Obadiah, and Micah also declared prophecies against Gentile nations. And Jonah’s famous calling was to preach to a singular despised enemy of Israel — Nineveh, the capital city of the Assyrian empire.
Scripture repeatedly shows that while God relates personally and intimately with individuals, He also weighs nations in the balance and passes judgment on collective assemblies of people. Compared to the greatness of Almighty God, even great nations are but a “drop from a bucket” or a “speck of dust on the scales” (Isaiah 40:15).
Some would argue that God’s national focus is on kings and rulers. Certainly the prophets often issued their proclamations to rulers and leaders. But, as Egypt clearly exemplified, entire nations suffer the consequences of a king or ruler’s defiance of God. National leaders represent the will and attitude of the people, whether for good or bad.
In Psalm 2, the nations are in an uproar because their kings and rulers are rebelling against the Lord and His Anointed One. That is why He laughs, scoffingly dismissing the rebellious ranting of the kings of the earth (2:4). In the fullness of time, those rebellious nations themselves will be given over to the Son as His inheritance (2:7-8).
Modern Applications Close to Home
Lest we be tempted to rest on the laurels of living in a nation with a Christian heritage, consider North Korea. This nation that is now given over to idolatrous dictator worship and is causing so much international angst, used to be a haven of Christian sentiment in the Far East. One hundred years ago, Pyongyang was so welcoming to Christian missionaries that it was called the “Jerusalem of the East.”
Ruth Bell Graham (Billy Graham’s wife) attended high school in Pyongyang during her parents’ tenure there as missionaries. What happened to North Korea? The nation’s leaders and its people collectively turned their back on Christianity, allowing it to become a world pariah.
How does this apply to us today? As Lamb & Lion has declared for years, the United States is turning its back on God, willfully embracing a secular worldview that rejects Jesus Christ specifically. That truth is doubly tragic because we know better.
Founded on Christian principles, our nation once aspired to be a specifically Christian beacon to the world. Our founders pointed to the truth of Christianity when laying the foundations for our republic. Our great universities were established to pursue truth as revealed by God and explicitly purposed to equip ministers and missionaries for the gospel of Jesus Christ. The “city on a hill” reference our politicians still cite today comes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5.
Unlike those nations who cannot claim a Christian heritage or an unprecedented outpouring of the blessings of God, ours once would have been credited with righteousness. That is not to say that our nation has ever been perfect. Given the shortcomings we have manifested throughout our own history, America has never been truly righteous. But, like Noah and Abraham and countless other individuals in Scripture, our nation was credited with righteousness because it collectively believed in God. It purposed to follow His laws and uphold His precepts.
Just consider this: Every one of our 50 states, including those who joined the union well into the 20th Century, have written within the preamble to their Constitutions a clear statement of faith in God. They recognized that Almighty God is the source of all our blessings and they expressed gratitude to Him. Can you imagine a state including words like that in a constitution written in 2018?
How far we have fallen! Ruth Bell Graham is credited with saying, “If the Lord does not judge San Francisco, He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.” That should break our hearts. It should also convict us to avoid the false claim that America is still a Christian nation. We were certainly founded on Christian principles and blessed beyond measure. But today? As America tolerates sin and promotes ungodliness, it must certainly be an affront to God for anyone to call ours a Christian nation.
Other nations are also abandoning godly precepts in their rush toward paganism. Even so-called Christian countries, like England, have embraced same-sex marriage and abortion — declaring this abominable behavior to be wholesome and good. In fact, most of Western Europe has abandoned any pretense of Christian faith.
Attitude Toward Israel Still Matters
As we’ve already seen, one manifestation of a nation’s determination to abide by the will of God is its willingness to bless Israel. Ammon and Moab learned that merely sneering at Israel’s punishment by God’s own hand earned His wrathful ire. With nations around the world aligning against Israel today, we can be assured that the cup of God’s wrath is filling once again.
Our own nation remains Israel’s strongest friend and ally, but our leaders have proven fickle at best — consistently insisting that Israel divide its Promised Land with its sworn enemies. That is one reason it is so important that Lamb & Lion offers regular pilgrimage opportunities. When our groups of committed Christians travel to Israel, we testify to God’s continuing love for that land and its people, and we demonstrate that we stand with Israel and bear witness to Jesus — the Messiah of Gentile and Jew alike.
Your Calling in the Season of the Lord’s Return
So, what are we to do as followers of Jesus Christ? First, recognize where your primary allegiance lies. It is not as an American, or a member of a given political party or even as a member of a certain denomination. It is with Jesus Christ. (As a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives, I have personally and futilely appealed to numerous of my fellow legislators over the past 10 years to adhere to their professed Christian faith and support pro-life efforts. I have been repeatedly told, “Well, I’m a Democrat first.”)
Our citizenship is not with this world. Do not imagine that God’s throne is draped with the flag of any nation.
Second, understand that God expects you to be a conduit of His blessing wherever you are. If you find yourself in the deepest dungeon like Paul and Silas, bless the jailor and your fellow prisoners by praising God and testifying about Him. If you are thrown in jail after wrongly being accused (like Joseph), realize that God is not done with you, but may yet use you to bless an entire nation. Even if you are in captivity in a foreign land, serve there for the welfare of that people (Jeremiah’s counsel to the Jewish captives in Babylon).
Finally, realize that your very presence may be the reason God is withholding His judgment. When God gave Noah a calling and a work, He held off the rain of judgment until Noah’s work was finished. Until the Lord comes, there is a chance that those you are witnessing to may repent and come to believing faith in Jesus Christ.
Like Noah, we must be “preachers of righteousness,” even as we know that the end is coming soon. Ours is not to gloat or take pleasure in the impending doom of millions around us. As eager as I am for the Rapture and Jesus’ return in glory, I am convicted by Amos 5:18-20 on behalf of so many who do not know Him as Savior and Lord:
Alas, you who are longing for the day of the
LORD, for what purpose will the day of the
LORD be to you? It will be darkness and not
light; as when a man flees from a lion and a
bear meets him, or goes home, leans his hand
against a wall and a snake bites him. Will not
the day of the LORD be darkness instead of
light, even gloom with no brightness in it?
While I know the Rapture will be glorious for those who are among the Bride of Christ, for those who are left behind, the earth will become a living hell of unimaginable darkness. And later, at the Second Coming many will be condemned before the judgment seat of Christ.
That is why Paul lamented over the fact that his fellow Jews did not know the Lord:
I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my
heart, for I could wish that I myself were
accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of
my brethren, my kinsmen according to the
flesh. (Romans 9:2-3)
Does your motivation to share the gospel run that deep? Do you feel great sorrow and unceasing grief when you consider the desperate condition of our nation and the lost individuals in it?
The Hope of the Nations
There is only one solution to the sinful, rebellious condition of both nations and individuals. There is only one way to escape the judgment that awaits all who reject Jesus Christ:
Now therefore, O kings, show discernment;
take warning O judges of the earth. Worship
the LORD with reverence and rejoice with
trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not
become angry, and you perish in the way, for
His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed
are all who take refuge in Him. (Psalm 2:10-12)