Does God Still Work With Nations?

An article from SVM Winter 2018

By Norm Edwards

Editor

What is God doing here on this earth? Most of the Old Testament is the story of how He worked with ancient Israel. Is the New Testament more of the same? Or is it the story of individual salvation for the entire world? And if the world is being saved one person at a time, are nations now irrelevant? Does it matter what nation a Christian lives in? How should a Christian relate to his or her nation?

New Testament Offers Unprecedented Opportunity for Personal Salvation

The Old Testament contains numerous stories of ancient Israel following God at times, and then departing to suffer famines and destruction at the hands of their enemies. They would often repent and recover for a while, only to decline as a nation again. Even as Jesus walked the earth and carried out his ministry, the Romans were trying to maintain control of their conquered lands and the Jews were hoping to gain their freedom. The Jewish crowds welcomed Jesus as their king as He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, crying “Hosanna to the Son of David” (Matthew 21:7-11).

A few days later, when it seemed clear that He was not gaining the political upper hand, they yelled “Crucify Him, Crucify Him” (Luke 23:21). So is the way of people and politics.

On that first Pentecost after Jesus rose from the dead, thousands of people came to the realization that they were personally responsible for the death of Christ and they personally needed to repent and be baptized:

Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them (Acts2:36-41).

Peter taught that salvation was an individual matter – it is up to the individual to come to Christ. It was individual “souls,” not nations, who were added to the believers here. Jesus opened the way for salvation outside Israel when He explained His Messiahship to the Samaritans and they believed in Him (John 4). Peter and Cornelius received complementary revelations showing the Holy Spirit would come upon nations other than Israel and that all men can be saved in the same manner (Acts 10 & 11). Numerous other scriptures teach that everyone can have access to God and His salvation. Consider these four examples:

Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith (Romans 3:29-30).

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, Who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:17-19).

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works (Titus 2:11- 14).

 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world  (1 John 2:2, NIV).

Yet God Continues to Support Nations

 The Old Testament commanded the forming of judicial governments in cities, tribes and nationally (Deuteronomy 16:18-20; 17:8-12). Our local, state and federal courts roughly correspond to this model. God faulted ancient Israel for asking for a king (1 Samuel 8), but He had anticipated that and told them how to do it (Deuteronomy 17:20).

Indeed, the United States of America started out with its Articles of Confederation, which left nearly all the power with state and local governments. But soon, we adopted a constitution with a much more powerful president, and have gradually allowed increasing central control of our federal government. God further promised them that if the king and his people were righteous, things would go well for them (1 Samuel 12). The Old Testament laws of national governance were intended as a model for all nations to use:

“Surely I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as the LORD my God commanded me that you should act according to them in the land which you go to possess. Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the LORD our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him? And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this law which I set before you this day? (Deuteronomy 4:5-8).

Unfortunately, most of the people and leaders of ancient Israel did not follow God’s statutes and judgments and the world never saw that shining example that God intended. This is also the biggest problem with our nation: neither the people as a whole, nor the leaders, are biblically righteous. In spite of the problems in the first century (or in the twenty-first century), Jesus recognized that human governments were still carrying out their functions, however imperfectly.

Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them (Matthew 23:1-3, NAU).

The translation “have seated themselves” is accurate here. The priests and Levites were originally commissioned to do this teaching, but they had abandoned it. Christ told the people to listen to those who had assumed the role. Jesus even recognized the authority of Pilate when He was about to be crucified.

Then Pilate said to Him, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?” Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin” (John 19:10-11).

This acknowledgment of Biblical authority for civil government— even though corrupt—continues in the Scripture. The apostle Paul acknowledged the judgment authority of the Jewish high priest, applying Exodus 22:28 to correct himself for accidentally calling him a bad name.

Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! For you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?” And those who stood by said, “Do you revile God’s high priest?” Then Paul said, “I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people’“(Acts 23:3-5).

Paul also acknowledged Roman authority to judge:

Then Paul, after the governor had nodded to him to speak, answered: “Inasmuch as I know that you have been for many years a judge of this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself” (Acts 24:10).

So Paul said, “I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you very well know” (Acts 25:10).

Paul spends an entire chapter explaining that civil government is for the purpose of punishing evil and encouraging good. He leaves no doubt that they are working for God in this capacity, however imperfectly.

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same for he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil (Romans 13:1-4).

So does that mean that whoever happens to hold a government office can do whatever they want and God will approve it? Absolutely not! God promises judgments will be made on leaders and upon their nations. Indeed, many Bible verses are about judgment of present and future nations. This is not simply about getting back to the principles of our nation’s “founding fathers.” Some things were better in the past and some things were worse. It is a mistake to think the past was always better (Eccl. 7:10).

Old Testament Prophecies of Nations to Continue

The Old Testament has a number of prophecies about specific nations that have been fulfilled, and many that have clearly not been fulfilled. Many of these will be fulfilled at the return of Christ. They show that these nations will exist throughout history as recognizable groups of people. Here are a few:

“As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations” (Genesis 17:4-5).

Other verses show that Ishmael, Esau, Jacob’s twelve sons and probably Abraham’s five sons by Keturah (Genesis 25:4) were all to become nations. Abraham did not receive those promises, but died, and is waiting for the resurrection, when the rest of the believers will be raised with him (Hebrews 11:8, 13, 39-40). What will God show Abraham at the resurrection? Will He tell Abraham that his descendants once constituted many nations, but they are now all dead or assimilated? Or will He show Abraham his nations that endured throughout history?

Both Jews and Muslims believe that the Arabs are descendants of Ishmael. Other Middle Eastern peoples are descended from Esau, though there is some debate about who is who. A resurrected Abraham will be in a key position to make peace in the Middle East, considering these nations and Israel are all his children!

Isaiah explains how Egypt will have to repent of its past, and then serve God, alongside Assyria and Israel, in the future. (This certainly has not happened yet!)

In that day five cities in the land of Egypt will speak the language of Canaan and swear by the LORD of hosts; one will be called the City of Destruction. In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the LORD at its border. And it will be for a sign and for a witness to the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt, for they will cry to the LORD because of the oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Mighty One, and He will deliver them. Then the LORD will be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the LORD in that day, and will make sacrifice and offering; yes, they will make a vow to the LORD and perform it. And the LORD will strike Egypt, He will strike and heal it; they will return to the LORD, and He will be entreated by them and heal them. In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian will come into Egypt and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians will serve with the Assyrians. In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria—blessing in the midst of the land, whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance” (Isaiah 19:18-25).

Even more nations are mentioned in this prophecy about Christ returning for a second re-gathering of Israel:

And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, Who shall stand as a banner to the people, for the Gentiles shall seek Him, and His resting place shall be glorious. It shall come to pass in that day that the LORD shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people who are left, from Assyria and Egypt, from Pathros and Cush, from Elam and Shinar, from Hamath and the islands of the sea. He will set up a banner for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. Also the envy of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off; Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not harass Ephraim. But they shall fly down upon the shoulder of the Philistines toward the west; together they shall plunder the people of the East; they shall lay their hand on Edom and Moab, and the people of Ammon shall obey them. The LORD will utterly destroy the tongue of the Sea of Egypt; with His mighty wind He will shake His fist over the River, and strike it in the seven streams, and make men cross over dry-shod. There will be a highway for the remnant of His people who will be left from Assyria, as it was for Israel in the day that he came up from the land of Egypt (Isaiah 11:10-16).

Nations are still important to God. He has made promises to them and He cannot lie (Titus 1:2). Yes, the New Covenant is based upon better promises (Hebrews 8:6), but that does not mean lesser promises are broken.

New Testament also Prophecies Nations to Continue

 Most verses that mention “nations” (Greek ethnos) in the New Testament simply refer to “countries” or “ethnic groups” in general”—not any specific nations. If we had only those verses, we might conclude that it is describing the way people group themselves and that God has nothing to do with the grouping. But other verses clearly mention national governments and how God works with them in unique ways.

Even though we have demonstrated how salvation is now for the entire world, the nation of Israel is clearly treated differently from the time of Jesus ministry till long after His second coming:

These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:5).

 And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.” But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.” But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:22-24).

Jesus did nearly all of His teaching in Israel and His message was to Israel. When people of other nations sought out Jesus, He answered their sincere requests—as the woman above who received a healing. There were only a few other specific cases of non-Israelite miracles. Jesus took the message of the Gospel first to Israel, and then had His disciples take it to other nations:

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8).

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek (Romans 1:16).

This unique position of Israel does not end in the first century. The descendants of twelve tribes of Israel will continue to exist when Christ returns and the twelve apostles will judge them in the coming millennium:

So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matthew 19:28).

Even the gates of the New Jerusalem will have the names of the twelve tribes of Israel written on them:

And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel (Revelation 21:10-12).

Here, the combination of “nations” and “kings” makes it obvious that there are civil governments with kings ruling over these nations. There are more nations than just Israel, but also many other nations that will have come to God.

The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it (Revelation 21:23-24).

On the other side, Jesus Christ mentions evil things that nations have done and will do—from His day all the way to the end of the Millennium:

Therefore, indeed, I send you [the Jewish nation] prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you; you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ (Matthew 23:4-39).For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains (Matthew 24:7-16).

Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea (Revelation 20:7-8).

Judgment of Nations

On several occasions, Jesus mentions that various judgments will fall on specific peoples. He starts with the people of his own country, who did not honor him because they knew him and his family.

Then He went out from there and came to His own country, and His disciples followed Him. And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, “Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” And they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.” Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief. Then He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching (Mark 6:1-6).

Jesus also mentions a future judgment in which people from various cities and nations will fare better or worse, depending upon what they did in this life. He goes on to explain that peoples from certain jurisdictions will judge each other based upon what they knew and what they did with that information. Admittedly, these verses are not often taught, because they do not fit into many Christians’ theologies. Nevertheless, it should be the goal of every Christian to read all the words of Jesus and pray for understanding of them. Judgment is not simple!

Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. And when you go into a household, greet it. If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Assuredly, I say to you, it will it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Day of Judgment than for that city! (Matthew 10:11-16).

Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the Day of Judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the Day of Judgment than for you (Matthew 11:21-24).

The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here (Matthew 12:41-42).

We can learn even more from the words of Jesus in the book of Revelation. He gives us the exact judgment that will be pronounced upon the end time Babylon. It is not eternal torture in “hell”. It is not simply a matter of them accepting Jesus and escaping all judgment. Even so, I would encourage them to ask for mercy from His judgment, because sometimes God changes His mind and sometimes He does not (1 Chronicles 21:1-19; 2 Samuel 12:14-20). Babylon is told that she will receive twice as much trouble as she caused God’s people. This is not infinite, but it is a big judgment!

And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird! For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.” And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. Render to her just as she rendered to you, and repay her double according to her works; in the cup which she has mixed, mix double for her” (Revelation 18:2- 6).

So as a practical matter, if you ever find yourself a victim of an end-time evil Babylonian government, you might remind whatever Babylonian agent that is about to do you evil that he or she will receive twice as much misery in God’s judgment as they give you. Sharing God’s judgment might protect you!

What Are Christians’ Responsibilities to Their Nations Today?

 Some Christians may believe that if they are under the law of God or under the grace of Christ, that civil laws do not apply to them. But in practice, nearly all of those Christians obey traffic laws, pay taxes, and avoid breaking other laws that would result in fines or imprisonment. The New Testament lets us know that civil governments are still in place and tells us how we should react to them. Here are five biblical principles we can put to work in our lives:

  1. Obey civil government laws that correspond with the scriptures. Romans 13 leaves no doubt that Christians should obey civil governments that are upholding good and prosecuting crimes. When a man asked Jesus to make his brother divide his inheritance with him, Jesus declined to usurp the existing government (Luke 12:13-14). The Old Testament told them to have judges and officers appointed to hear such cases (Deuteronomy 16:18-20), and Jesus was not one of them. The law did not permit a person to try one judge after another until he found one who agreed with him.
  2. Obey civil laws that are not derived from the Bible provided they are not clearly evil. Jesus clearly explained that it was not right to place a “temple tax” on Jesus and his apostles (Mathew 17:24-27). But He paid it anyway, avoiding offending the government and getting “in trouble” over an issue that was not important enough to solve. Jesus sought God for a miraculous way out of the situation: He caused the needed money to appear in the mouth of a fish rather than working for the money or using offerings to his ministry. There are other examples of this in the New Testament. A major example is the use of the Name of God: YHVH (pronounced Yahovah, Yahuwah, Yahweh, Jehovah, etc.). The Old Testament contains many commands to praise His Name, but the Jewish leaders did not say it lest they accidentally blaspheme His name. So we do not have a record of Jesus or the apostles saying or writing this Name.
  3. Obey God rather than men. Many times the Jewish leaders faulted Jesus for healing on the Sabbath, which was against their law, but not against the Scripture. The Pharisees and Scribes taught that people could dedicate their possessions to the temple and not have to use them to help their parents, but Jesus said their legal tradition was undoing the commandments of God (Mark 9:7- 13). Peter said he would preach the Gospel, even though the government officials commanded him not to do so (Acts 5:28-29). When governments make sins “legal”, Christians must be very careful not to go along—not “follow the crowd in doing wrong” (Exodus 23:2, NIV).
  4. Pray for those in civil governments

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

We do not expect to bring about the kingdom of God through prayers for secular nations. But we do want peace so that we and our families can do God’s work without great suffering for ourselves, our families and those we reach with the Gospel.

  1. Make civil governments better as we are able. Many Christians would object to participating in civil governments, saying, “These are organizations of men, not of God.” That is true, but most of our jobs, schools,   and even church governments are “organizations of men, not of God”. We do not participate in any of these things because we think we can make a “utopia” on earth without Jesus Christ’s return. We participate in government because it is part of loving our neighbor as ourselves.

When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan (Proverbs 2:2).

Daniel and his three friends were part of a corrupt Babylonian government, but they ruled well, looking to God for deliverance from jealous, corrupt politicians. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were government officials that believed in Jesus and gave His body the burial it deserved (John 19:38-39). Joseph had the wonderful distinction of being a man courageous enough to vote against the execution of Jesus (Luke 23:50-52). Would you want to do that if you had the chance?

John the Baptist taught tax collectors not to cheat people and soldiers to be content with their wages (Luke 3:12-14). They were often paid very little because the government expected them to earn more money through corruption. James taught the leaders of “the twelve tribes scattered abroad” (James 1:1) not to engage in wars and other national sins:

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war, yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you doubleminded (James 4:1-8).

The Bible teaches Christians to settle civil cases between themselves in the church, rather than go to civil courts (1 Corinthians 6). However, few churches or believers ever do this— or even provide for any means to do it. Yet Paul says believers should be able to do it:

Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? (1 Corinthians 6:2-3).

“Governments” (KJV) or “administrations” (most other translations) is actually listed as a spiritual gift (1 Corinthians 12:28).

Conclusion

The purpose of life is to learn to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-39). By letting Him live in us, we can live forever (Colossians 1:27). We need to do this as individuals, in our families, in our jobs, in our communities and in our nations. These are all ways in which people relate to God and their fellow man. All of these things must be brought in subjection to Christ.

God clearly gives certain responsibilities to certain nations, and promises to judge them for what they do. The Christian is not somehow exempt from any responsibility toward his or her nation. But nor is the Christian responsible for bringing about the Kingdom of God through political means. A Christian may be able to be a good example and make some things better for some people sometimes. But like Nicodemus, we will often find ourselves voting in favor of Christ when most of the rest of the world is going the wrong way. It is enough to stand clearly in opposition to the obvious sins of our nation:

 “For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her [Babylon’s] fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.” And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues” (Revelation 18:3-4).

 

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