God judges nations
As we begin, one of the first things we must remember is that the Lord is not only a judge of individuals but a judge of nations. Just as a single individual reaps what they have sown, an entire nation faces the consequences of it’s collective actions.
34 Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.
For the nation and kingdom that will not serve you shall perish; those nations shall be utterly laid waste.
In this arrangment, the Lord is still just and fair, ensuring that any righteous people within a sin-infected group can be delivered from the punishment that faces the whole population. It is possible that the collective sin of a nation can lead to national consequences while still preserving a remnant who uphold righteousness.
2 Peter 2:7-9
7And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: 8(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) 9The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:
Nations are indicative of the breadth of God’s grace and creative ability. When joined together, the diversities in people are intended to illustrate the power of the unity of diversity. (1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4). The point is that no single, physical race or nationality is superior to the other, but when there differences come together, a group of many colors is formed to express the extent of God’s grace.
Nations are given divine purpose, not divine exclusivity.
The Error of Religious Nationalism.
Significant problems arise when one nation or race of people considers themselves greater or more deserving than others. To put it mildly, God doesn’t like it. Extreme nationalism is idolatry and should never be considered an automatic imputation of righteousness. The two are not married to each other though some would have you to believe otherwise. In fact, there is great scriptural evidence to suggest that nationalistic religion—or religious nationalism—is sinful.
On the day of Pentecost a multitude of nations were present, revealing that the Gospel once seemingly exclusive to the Jews was always intended for all the nations of the earth.
1And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. 6Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. 7And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? 8And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? 9Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, 10Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, 11Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.
In spite of this obvious truth, the nationalist brand of Christianity is highly prevalent today, particularly in America, and it is a sign that revelation about God’s purpose within nations is absent.
A Blessing and a Curse: God judges Israel’s Nationalism.
Of course, there is a great biblical example of the judgement that befalls religious nationalism. In the early days of the Hebrews, a situation of great prophetic significance developed that became an allegory of Israel’s fate.
*Genesis 34 (NASB)
34 Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to [a]visit the daughters of the land. 2 When Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her, he took her and lay with her [b]by force. 3 [c]He was deeply attracted to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the girl and [d]spoke tenderly to her. 4 So Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, “Get me this young girl for a wife.” 5 Now Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter; but his sons were with his livestock in the field, so Jacob kept silent until they came in. 6 Then Hamor the father of Shechem went out to Jacob to speak with him. 7 Now the sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard it; and the men were grieved, and they were very angry because he had done a [e]disgraceful thing in Israel [f]by lying with Jacob’s daughter, for such a thing ought not to be done.
8 But Hamor spoke with them, saying, “The soul of my son Shechem longs for your daughter; please give her to him [g]in marriage. 9 Intermarry with us; give your daughters to us and take our daughters for yourselves. 10 Thus you shall [h]live with us, and the land shall be open before you; [i]live and trade in it and acquire property in it.” 11 Shechem also said to her father and to her brothers, “If I find favor in your sight, then I will give whatever you say to me. 12 Ask me ever so much bridal payment and gift, and I will give according as you say to me; but give me the girl [j]in marriage.”
13 But Jacob’s sons answered Shechem and his father Hamor with deceit, because he had defiled Dinah their sister. 14 They said to them, “We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised, for that would be a disgrace to us. 15 Only on this condition will we consent to you: if you will become like us, in that every male of you be circumcised, 16 then we will give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters for ourselves, and we will [k]live with you and become one people. 17 But if you will not listen to us to be circumcised, then we will take our daughter and go.”
18 Now their words seemed [l]reasonable to Hamor and Shechem, Hamor’s son. 19 The young man did not delay to do the thing, because he was delighted with Jacob’s daughter. Now he was more respected than all the household of his father. 20 So Hamor and his son Shechem came to the gate of their city and spoke to the men of their city, saying, 21 “These men are [m]friendly with us; therefore let them [n]live in the land and trade in it, for behold, the land is [o]large enough for them. Let us take their daughters [p]in marriage, and give our daughters to them. 22 Only on this condition will the men consent to us to [q]live with us, to become one people: that every male among us be circumcised as they are circumcised. 23 Will not their livestock and their property and all their animals be ours? Only let us consent to them, and they will [r]live with us.” 24 All who went out of the gate of his city listened to Hamor and to his son Shechem, and every male was circumcised, all who went out of the gate of his city.
25 Now it came about on the third day, when they were in pain, that two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each took his sword and came upon the city unawares, and killed every male. 26 They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah from Shechem’s house, and went forth. 27 Jacob’s sons came upon the slain and looted the city, because they had defiled their sister. 28 They took their flocks and their herds and their donkeys, and that which was in the city and that which was in the field; 29 and they captured and looted all their wealth and all their little ones and their wives, even all that was in the houses. 30 Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me odious among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites; and [s]my men being few in number, they will gather together against me and [t]attack me and I will be destroyed, I and my household.” 31 But they said, “Should he [u]treat our sister as a harlot?”*
The story of Dinah’s defilement is a microsm of the greater way Israel failed in its reconciliatory purpose, and they were ultimately cursed because of it. On Jacob’s deathbed, he spoke these prophetic words which came true on the sons as individuals and their group of descendants:
“Simeon and Levi are brothers; Their swords are implements of violence. 6 “Let my soul not enter into their council; Let not my glory be united with their assembly; Because in their anger they slew [e]men, And in their self-will they lamed [f]oxen. 7 “Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; And their wrath, for it is cruel. I will [g]disperse them in Jacob, And scatter them in Israel.
In fulfilment of the prophetic words of Jacob, the tribe of Levi would eventually receive no land inheritance, but would be scattered among all the nations throughout the promised land. The irony of Jacob’s curse was that it also positioned the Levites to receive the greatest blessing (and there is a revelation in that very statement). This prophecy was ultimately fulfilled as the Levitical priests, as descendants of Aaron, were made to serve every other tribe. If they simply obeyed, their honorable service would have been rewarded with the blessing of every other tribe’s offering. But instead, they began to covet the offering and manipulate the people who they were supposed to serve in order to hoard the possessions. The failure of the tribe of Levi to righteously serve their brother nations was and is a prophetic reflection of how Israel failed, as a nation, to serve salvation to the rest of the Gentile world.
Though Israel had failed, Jesus succeeded to eventually bring that reconciliation to the entire world. He did so by laying down His life for us.
14For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
Therefore to be “Christlike” or to be a “Christian” is to be a servants of reconciliation, especially across physical differences to the point that we are willing to lay down our personal agendas for the sake of creating unity in Jesus! This cannot happen with national pride is in the way.
The concept of servitude has been severely distorted. In much the same way that Levi perverted their instructions to serve in the temple, modern-day religious leaders are doing the same. When they should be accepting the time, money and resources that people give as an edifying sacrifice unto God and the church, they are manipuliting the system of servitude to build their personal empires. The call to serve is the honor of true servants, but those with selfish agendas grow weary in their responsibility. This causes that which should be a blessing to become a curse unto them.
Servitude is a blessing that looks like a curse to the prideful.
Spiritually speaking, those who understand the what it means to Jesus understand that they have a mandate to present the benefits of Christ’s covenant to the rest of the world. They also understand that there are great rewards for those who faithfully do so.
However, for the prideful and covetous, servitude is ultimately regarded as a burden that robs the servant from the pleasures that everyone else enjoys and the time and liberty to pursue selfish desires. The word of God calls these types of leaders, hirelings.
45Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? 46Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 47Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. 48But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; 49And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; 50The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, 51And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Today, far too many people in positions of power are abusing their positions to manipulate the treasures out of those they are supposed to serve. Whether they are crooked police officers or corrupt religious leaders, a failure to understand servitude eventually develops individuals who are resentful towards those who need their service.
America’s Religious Nationalism
Interestingly, America founded itself on the exact same things that Israel (especially the tribe of Levi) was judged for—nationalism infused with religion. Grade school teaches us the story of Thanksgiving when Pilgrims and Indians celebrated a peaceful union in a feast that represents the heart of America’s culture. Contrary to the pleasant and popular and belief that Thanksgiving adequately encapsulates America’s origin story lies the savage truth the United States committed great sin in the name of Chrisitanity. Native Americans were murdered and stolen from while Africans were enslaved under the self-proclaimed, religious entitlement of early eurpoean settlers.
Early Americans stole land from a people and stole a people from their land.
Early Americans stole land from a people and stole a people from their land all in the name of religion. Here are a couple of stories of early American’s (or Europeans) who massacred the indigenous people of the land in because of their covetousness.
The Trail of Tears (from History.com) One of the most bitterly debated issues on the floor of Congress was the Indian Removal Bill of 1830, pushed hard by then-President Andrew Jackson. Despite being assailed by many legislators as immoral, the bill finally passed in the Senate by nine votes, 29 to 17, and by an even smaller margin in the House. In Jackson’s thinking, more than three dozen eastern tribes stood in the way of what he saw as the settlers’ divinely ordained rights to clear the wilderness, build homes and grow cotton and other crops. In his annual address to Congress in 1833, Jackson denounced Indians, stating, “They have neither the intelligence, the industry, the moral habits, nor the desire of improvement which are essential to any favorable change in their condition. Established in the midst of another and a superior race…they must necessarily yield to the force of circumstances and ere [before] long disappear.”
From 1830 to 1840, the U.S. army removed 60,000 Indians—Choctaw, Creek, Cherokee and others—from the East in exchange for new territory west of the Mississippi. Thousands died along the way of what became known as the “Trail of Tears.” And as whites pushed ever westward, the Indian-designated territory continued to shrink.
Manifest Destiny (from History.com) Manifest Destiny, a phrase coined in 1845, is the idea that the United States is destined—by God, its advocates believed—to expand its dominion and spread democracy and capitalism across the entire North American continent. The philosophy drove 19th-century U.S. territorial expansion and was used to justify the forced removal of Native Americans and other groups from their homes. The rapid expansion of the United States intensified the issue of slavery as new states were added to the Union, leading to the outbreak of the Civil War.
Here’s the uncomfortable truth: White settlers founded the United States of America on land that wasn’t theirs and built it, primarily, on by forced labor of slaves. Ultimately, the constitution would be written by a room full of white men who largely saw themselves superior by divine election. Interestingly, our most cherished historical documents contain the mentions of God everywhere, but barely (if any) mention of Jesus. Evoking the name of God was more about reminding people why they were entitled rather than who they served, and it showed in their actions. To this day, that mentality remains in the roots and DNA of America.
Even with all of this, God still planned to use the very existence of biblical knowledge in the country that would become the USA. America, granted mercy in spite of its history, has been privileged with a knowledge of the gospel and an opportunity to spread it, but the collective nation is has continued and increasingly opted for the pursuit of wealth even at the expense of life. On both domestic and foreign soil, ungodly sacrifices are made in favor of selfish agendas. Whether it is the abortion of babies for the opportunity to chase wealth or the manipulation of nations and wars to control international commerce, the iniquity sown by America must be reaped.
America, a Nation Reaping and Weeping
Today religion, nationalism and religious nationalism is significantly damaging our country. It is becoming more evidential that America could be reaping what it has be sowing for centuries.
Religious nationalists are usually proponents Dominionism who operate from the prideful perspective that God and country are mutually inclusive. This is simply a modern take on the old mantra of “Manifest Destiny”—the 19th-century doctrine & belief that the expansion of the US throughout the American continents was inevitable and divinely justified. To those with money, power, possessions and some shell of religious background, they believe civil unrest is goes against the very purpose of God, and assume that enemies of the state are automatically enemies of God.
In the eyes of many, the American flag is just as righteous a symbol as the cross itself, and anyone who believes otherwise is devilish. New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees is recently drew criticism over his allegiance to the American Flag, because his allegiance to his country is equal to or greater than his allegiance to His God. We can only pray that He is able to soon see that they are not coequal.
In the end, an idol is an idol and God is not a respecter of persons. Israel was privileged with knowledge of God’s plan and failed to deliver it to the rest of the world. They saw themselves as the sole beneficiaries of God’s blessings were punished for it. If Israel was punished as a nation for what they did, why should America be immune from judgement?
Furthermore and on a deeper note, what is envoked by the phrase, “Make America Great Again”? On the surface, it is a rallying cry of conservative to return America to its former greatness. But, when could a nation with such a history of hatred ever really consider itself great from a spiritual perspective. Did God ever say this? Could The phrase and mantra be a spiritual rallying cry to conjure up the savagery of America’s past? After all, the only thing that has happened since the phrase was popularized is an increase of division, internally and externally, both domestically and abroad. One thing is clear, the chaos and confusion is destroying the comfort or religious nationalism.
Chaos for Comfort
Somewhere along the path from bondage into freedom, Satan sets a dangerous snare:
Satan’s suggestion is that we use liberty to insulate ourselves rather than liberate others.
In other words, before presenting the freedom and blessings received from God to others, first, put the best back for yourselves. Even worse, just like the sons of Jacob on that fateful day in Shechem, stay away from all interactions with outsiders and insulate yourselves in the cubby hole of religion where you won’t encounter the evil surrounding us. For this disobedient mentality that refuses to “go ye” and be real servants, Jesus has an answer. For those who would rather build in one place than serve in all places, God has a solution. For those who seek comfort, chaos comes.
And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. 2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
The current catastrophes of the world, and especially in America are destroying the false and idolatrous temples of the wicked. Rioting, looting and vandalism are a wake-up call that God will have no other God’s before Him, and He cannot dwell in temples made of man’s hands. In Matthew 24, the disciples saw the temple as their place of refuge and the sign of their nation’s superiority. It was their safe space and cubby hole of religious insulation, and Jesus proclaimed that it would be completely destroyed.
We, the church and all other elect people of God were never intended to crawl into a bubble of our own self-righteousness and hoard the blessings of God. No person, people, church group race or nation can claim exclusive rights to the blessings of God, nor can they point to any physical accomplishment as a sign they they are better than others. When this happens, God makes sure to destroy the idols people have placed our trust their trust in. As the greatest sign of Israel’s religious entitlement, their temple was destroyed. How much destruction must occur to America’s idols before its realizes that God is calling for repentance?
Interesting read about the savage history of America https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-shocking-savagery-of-americas-early-history-22739301/?all