The Church and God’s Law (49)

The Blessed Nation

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance (Ps.33:12).

One of the hardest things to do today, is to convince Christians of our time to think beyond themselves, their families and their church. Why is this? Because we all tend to think individualistically. It’s a part of our heritage from an immature modern culture: it’s all about me.

But if we were to go back three thousand years into Israel’s history, it was a lot different. Israel’s knowledge of their covenant relationship with God (beginning with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), led them to certain conclusions about not only themselves as individuals, but their nation as a whole. They knew that their nation had received tremendous blessings as a result of God making covenant with Abraham.

Because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them. And He personally brought you from Egypt by His great power, driving out from before you nations greater and mightier than you, to bring you in and to give you their land for an inheritance, as it is today (Deut.4:37-38).

They also knew that God held them accountable for that covenant, and that their trespass and sin as a nation could have severe consequences. God’s promise of great blessing for their obedience was balanced by His warnings of the outcome for their disobedience: “…if you do not obey the Lord, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you” (Deut.28:15).

Think of the unbelieving ten spies that went into the land. The nation of Israel (about two and a half million people) was consigned to wander in the wilderness for forty years, because these spies brought back an evil, unbelieving report about the nation’s future prospects in the promised land (Numbers 13). God held the ten spies to have been actually representative of the whole nation, which they in fact were.

Think of Achan. One man’s sin of covetousness meant that about thirty six innocent men died in battle, the nation suffered a defeat against Jericho, and his whole family perished (Joshua 7).

Later in Israel’s history, God through the prophet Isaiah gave a commentary on what had happened to Israel in the past, and why: “who gave Jacob up for spoil, and Israel to plunderers? Was it not the Lord, against whom we have sinned, and in whose ways they were not willing to walk, and whose law they did not obey? So He poured out on him the heat of His anger and the fierceness of battle…” (Isa.42:24-25)

Now it is true that individuals are important to God, as are families and churches. But we can see from Psalm 33 that God’s blessing can come on a whole nation. Yes, nations are made up of individuals, families and churches, but God has promised certain things specifically for nations.

So we ought to be asking ourselves, “How could we see the blessing of God come on our nation?”

It will always begin with individual obedience; the repentance of people, and the willingness of multitudes to call upon the Name of Jesus Christ. It will involve families and churches, because these institutional units are God-ordained and are vital to God’s purpose.

But that isn’t all.

Consider the example of Jonah’s missionary trip to Nineveh (Jonah 3). His message went throughout the city of Nineveh till the king heard it. The king

Arose  from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes. He issued a proclamation and it said, ‘in Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish’ (Jonah 3:7-9).

The king of Nineveh seemed to know more about God and His plans with nations, than most of us today. His nation subsequently escaped judgment through his wise actions.

We can learn from this that ultimately, true national salvation will necessitate the involvement of national political leaders. Just as Jonah’s message was first heard and received among the people, the Word of God today must be first received by the people. But it must go beyond them. National salvation requires the willing participation of the political and legislative spheres.

How do we know this?

Because God requires that all of life is to be subject to Him. Psalm 2 warns kings, judges and rulers of the earth, to be subject to the Son of God, because “…His wrath may soon be kindled…” (Ps.2:12). Jesus Christ doesn’t want the nations of the world to be governed by rebellious men with anti-God, humanistic laws, because He is Lord of all things. That would inevitably lead to His judgment, and we are tasting that now economically in the nations of the world. To reject God’s laws is to reject God Himself.

God made the earth, and He made man in His own image. He established moral and physical laws, and these laws are comprehensible to man, for man is made in God’s image. These laws correspond both to the mind of man and the external environment, including man’s institutional environment. The principles of God’s law are found in His Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). The details are God’s case-law applications of the principles, and these are found primarily in the second through the fifth books of the Old Testament.[1]

The kings of Israel most certainly knew this. They knew of God’s choice of their nation, that they were under obligation to God, and that they had better obey God or face serious consequences.

When Hezekiah succeeded his evil father Ahaz, he knew trouble was brewing. He confessed that “the wrath of the Lord was against Judah and Jerusalem, and He has made them an object of terror, of horror, and of hissing, as you see with your own eyes” (II Chron.29:8).

Hezekiah’s solution? “It is in my heart to make a covenant with the Lord God of Israel, that His burning anger may turn away from us” (v.10).

When the tender-hearted king Josiah was made aware of how much his nation had departed from God, he tore his clothes, humbled his heart, enquired of the Lord, and made covenant with the Lord, because he knew wrath was coming on his nation.

The consequence? God promised to delay judgment on Israel till after he died (II Chron.34).

Now the vast majority of believers today would reject the idea of Biblical law becoming the normal practice for our society. But they should remember this: God created the earth and all that is in it, He sustains it (Heb.1:3), and Jesus Christ is the redeemer of the world. Criminals are violators of His world and His law code. God instructed Israel that “justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, that you may live and posses the land which the Lord your God is giving you” (Deut.17:20).

The Bible calls Jesus Christ “…the ruler of the kings of the earth…” (Rev.1:5). Would Jesus Christ want us to utilise anything else to govern society other than His law? After all, the Bible tells us that “…the government will rest upon His shoulders…” (Isa.9:6).


Is there hope for our nation today?

Of course.  The Bible promises that “many nations will join themselves to the Lord in that day and will become My people…” (Zech.2:11). God isn’t interested in us making bold professions of faith, unless those professions are matched by our consistent Christian behaviour.

Christians must pray and press over time for the total package of individual, social and national salvation, because that’s what God expects. The total package of our lives as individuals, our families, our churches and our nation, with His laws being understood, taught and observed throughout the nation. Anything else would be a compromise. We must go the whole hog: national submission to Jesus Christ as Lord, meaning national reformation.

Then, we may see the national blessing we have talked about, hoped and prayed for.

[1] Gary North, “Unconditional Surrender,” 2010, p.320-21.