“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” – Proverbs 14:34
I love this country. It is my home – always has been. Americans know personal freedom to a level that is rare in the history of human affairs; and that is wonderful. Americans know prosperity to a level that is rare in the history of human affairs; broad-based prosperity, and that too is wonderful.
Even amidst these blessings, we see that America is in some difficult times – and perhaps headed for even more difficult times. We have a crushing national debt, high unemployment, and severe structural problems facing our “social safety nets” (retiring boomers represent a serious strain on the system).
I enjoy debating these issues, both their causes and solutions. Debating policy issues is certainly beneficial to the country, we grow and learn and progress together as our ideas are “refined by fire.” No matter what your policy preferences though, let us remember that the Bible points to a different means for the rise and fall of nations.
In Daniel 4:17 we see that the Lord is sovereign over the affairs of nations: “The sentence is by decree of the watchers, the decision by the word of the holy ones, to the end that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.” In the earlier verses a heavenly decree had been made against Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. He was to lose his mind and become a wild man for “seven periods of time” (years) before returning to power. All this to the end that men would know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men.
The trip of the children of Israel from bondage in Egypt to inheriting the promised land is also fraught with themes of God’s sovereignty and the rise and fall of nations. We recall the episode with Moses holding his hands up during the battle with the Amalekites. The Israelis prevailed not because of military might, but because of unseen, supernatural forces. We also see a slightly different theme.
The Lord told the Israelis on more than one occasion that the current inhabitants were being “spewed out” by the land because of their wickedness. See Leviticus 18:24-30 or Deuteronomy 18:12, for example. The Lord goes on to warn them that they should not commit the wickedness of the former inhabitants, lest the land spew them out too. This speaks volumes. There is a measure of judgment in the rise and fall of nations. It is apparently not a “policy” judgment, per se, but a judgment based on the behaviors of the people.
This, of course, is not the only reference to such a thing. Several books back we see the Lord’s judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah. Why? “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave” (Gen 18:20). When Abraham undertook to rescue Sodom and Gomorroah, he made pleas for the righteous ones living in their midst – “will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” The Lord agreed, had He found ten righteous people he would not have destroyed the city; ten. Even though He did not find ten, He also did not destroy the cities until He had given the righteous passage out. (The same was true in the days of Noah.)
So then, what is the rescue plan for America? The rescue plan is you.
Is the rescue plan your vote, your political involvement, your hard work? Well, those things are important, but they are not the rescue plan. Can you solve the economic woes? Can you stabilize the banking system? Can you salvage the housing bubble? Can you make the retiring boomers, who may have lost it all in a rough stock market, whole again?
While you’re pondering those, let’s try something different – can you love your neighbor?
Can you walk in love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? (Gal 5:22) Can you feed the Lord when He is hungry, give Him a drink when He thirsts, welcome Him when He is a stranger, clothe Him when He is naked, visit Him when He is sick or in prison? (Matt 25:35-36)
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” – Micah 6:8
We’ve written on a number of occasions that the little things you do in your day can make a very big difference to those around you – a difference you may not ever fully understand this side of eternity. The Lord has made it clear through His word that those little things also matter a great deal to Him, “And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward” – Matt 10:42.
So carry on America. Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God. You may just save a nation.