“…Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain (Psalms 127: 1 NASB).”
When God lifts His hand of protection, there is not a military, fire-rescue service, border patrol, or law enforcement agency on any level that can insure the domestic tranquility, or the safety of a nation.
Ineffective military campaigns, inadequate administration of justice, corruption, evil leadership, civil unrest, violence, crime, injustice, discrimination, economic depression, and natural disasters are among the many consequences that a nation under divine discipline can expect to experience.
Many such things, in varying degrees, have always been a part of the human experience, but when such things become a common experience coupled with ever increasing frequency and intensity, it is a clear indication that it is divine discipline in action.
It is often through Man (e.g., Daniel 7/Matt. 24: 6/Luke 21: 24), but not ultimately by Man, that all the nations of the world are established, sustained, expanded, diminished or removed from among the community of nations throughout the course of human history.
“And He made from one, every nation of mankind to live on the surface of the earth, (He) having determined their appointed times (to rise, decline, or fall), and (He set) the *boundaries of their habitation (Acts 17: 26 NASB italics mine).”
These *boundaries not only include the geographic borders, but also the extent of the impact any given nation has on global affairs.
In most cases, long before any nation is diminished or removed from among the Community of nations, it’s leadership and people (as a whole) have intentionally or unwittingly taken the broad road (Matt. 7: 13) that leads to destruction.
I say unwittingly, as humans after having been deceived, often does what they do believing that what they do will improve their situation (Gen. 3: 5, 6).
Usually, but not always (Exodus 7-12/Acts 5), personal and national moral decline takes place slowly over an extended period of time, and so does the corresponding levels of discipline (Lev. 46: 14-29/Heb. 12: 6).
When more and more sin and evil becomes socially accepted (Isa. 5: 20) and/or endorsed by the government the flood gates of evil swing wide open placing the the general population in harms way.
Governments, at times, will go as far as to endorse and promote evil through legislation, policy, and practice.
Just as in the case of individuals, nations are in a constant mode of change, heading in one (spiritual advancement) direction or another (moral decline).
Some of us are born into a nation at a time when it is spiritually inclining (becoming more godly). Some of us are born into a nation when it is in moral decline (becoming more ungodly). Depending on which direction one’s nation is going at any given time, the general population will experience either the blessings or the consequences that each scenario generates.
No society that Man establishes will ever be perfect, but if one lives long enough, one will be able to say that he/she can remember when his/her nation was either more godly, or less godly than it once was.
Most Bible teachers will concur there are 5 cycles or stages of divine discipline (Lev. 26: 14-39), with the consequences of each one being more severe than the preceding one(s).
Although these precepts were given to the ancient people of Israel, the principle still stands today and is applicable to all the nations here in the Church Age.
A nation that honors the principles of divine establishment is blessed (Psalms 67: 4) by God.
To the extent that God allows, the nation that promotes the devil’s agenda can be prospered by the devil (Luke 4: 6), but its days are numbered (Dan. 5: 26).
For the government, the principles of divine establishment require that the government (regardless of form) conducts itself in the way that God desires. As for the people (Romans 13: 1), the principles of divine establishment require that they honor all forms of authority.
When the principles of divine establishment are ignored, abused, or rejected, by the government and/or the people, the nation as a whole suffers the consequences.
All governments of the nations and empires on the Earth are a part of the divine establishment that God has put in place (Romans 13).
Each one has a part to play in the unfolding plan of God that was written in the Divine Decree BEFORE the first Man (Adam), let alone nation, was created. A general outline of this plan (concerning the nations) is found in such Books as Daniel (Chapter 7).
Regardless of what their motivation or independent objectives may have been at the time, God has, and continues to use the actions of all kinds of empires and nations to ultimately accomplish His plan for the human race (Daniel 7).
As in the case of virtually everything that God has established for His glory, the devil has an alternate plan in place to deceive the nations of world (Rev. 12: 9). Once deceived, he manipulates them with the objective of having them serve the interests of his kingdom (Luke 4: 6), while believing they are serving themselves or the God/god they honor.
Let's take a brief look and see how both God and the forces of evil has used the nations of the world to promote their separate agendas.
The nation of Israel fulfilled its role during the Old Testament dispensation, and has a part yet to be played in the fulfillment of end time prophecy and in the millenial kingdom to come (Matt. 19: 28). As prophesied (Luke 21: 24), Israel was removed from among the community of nations during the “times of the Gentiles,” and was restored to its independent sovereignty status in the later 1940’s to take its place in the fulfillment of end time prophecies.
It was through the nation of Israel that the sacrificial humanity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ came into this world, yet it was the leadership within the Sanhedrin that conspired against Him, falsely convicted Him of blasphemy, and handed Him over to the Romans for execution.
There were times when the devil used the Roman Empire to persecute the Christian Community, and there were times when God used the expansion of the Roman Empire (e.g. the establishment of the Romans colony in Philippi) )to contribute to the spreading of the Gospel.
The nation of Egypt was used by God to fulfill prophecy (Gen. 15: 13) as it enslaved the ancient people of God for 400 years. The nation of Egypt was later used by God to provide a safe haven for Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus at a time when their natural lives were jeopardy (Matt. 2: 13).
The official (constitutional) position of the USA is to offer religious freedom of choice to all religious groups, and not to make any one given religion the official religion of the USA.
In practice, however, Christianity clearly influenced the earliest leadership of the country, and the God of the Bible was clearly acknowledged.
In the times in which we are living, the USA (as a nation) is becoming more and more ungodly. Biblical scholars have different opinions as to which stage of the five stages of national discipline that the USA is presently experiencing, but do not dispute the fact that the USA is clearly in a state moral decline. One thing that all the great nations and empires have in common is the false belief that they are invincible and that better days (for it) are coming.
There is light at the end of tunnel, as Scripture (Gen. 18: 24-32) teach that a nation (as a whole) can keep the final and most severe form of divine discipline (its removal from among the community of nations) from taking place as a result of the godly minority that are living in the land.
As long as God has a divine purpose for any nation (Acts 17: 26), it will endure, even though it will be subjected to the first four stages of national discipline.
When divine discipline takes place on the national level, the general consequences will be experienced by both the godly and the ungodly within the land (Matt. 5: 45).
Divine discipline is a wake-up call to both the godly and the ungodly. The ungodly are called to repentance, whereas the godly are called to action. If one is not a part of the solution, he/she is a part of the problem.
It is the many organizations based within the USA that financially support and actively play a major role (some say over 90%) in what I believe to be the last surge of global evangelism (Matt. 24: 14) to take place before the Rapture (1Thess 4: 16: 17) of the Church. This, I believe, was the divine objective that God had in mind when the USA became a nation and eventually was elevated to its position of influence on global affairs.
I also believe that the USA’s alliance with Israel is keeping the lid on things in the Middle East until the time for more end time events to take place.
Time will tell.
The point is that people and nations have their agenda, but will serve their divine purpose(s) rather they are aware of it or it.
Throughout the course of human history, nations and/or their impact will come and go, rise, fall, and/or rise again, according to the sovereignty of God.
Sometimes the evil taking place within any given nation is clear, whereas the specific reason(s) that God caused the removal of others is not known to us.
The human race was created to fulfill the plan of God; not the other way around.
Wars and rumors of war has been, and will continue (Matt. 24: 6 ) to be a part of the human environment until the Prince of Peace returns and establishes His Kingdom here on planet Earth for 1,000 years (Rev. 20: 6).
The type of peace announced by the angel at the First Advent (Luke 2: 14), and the type of peace of the blessed peacemakers” of (Matt. 5: 9) promote, refers to individual peace between God and the collective body of `born again believers. It is the born again believers that are the ones, "...with whom He is pleased (Luke 2: 14 NASB), and who will experience the this type of peace. Note that being at peace with God and promoting this type of peace will set one at enmity with the devil's world (James 4: 4).
This type of peace that was announced by the angel at the First Advent does NOT mean that the objective of the Fist Advent was to establish interpersonal or international peace. In fact, (Matt. 10: 34) teach that just the opposite is true!
“Do not think that I came to bring (international/interpersonal) peace to the world; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword (Matt 10: 34 NASB italics mine).”
To the extent that circumstance allow, born again believers are commanded to live in interpersonal/international peace with those with whom we share this planet and interact.
“IF POSSSIBLE, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men (Romans 12: 18 NASB).”
Never-the-less, there are times to go to war (Eccl. 3: 8).
False interpretations and application of Scripture have left many sincere, but misguided believers with the idea that participating in warfare is essentially a sin.
God cannot be God and command someone else to engage is any activity that could rightly be classified as sin.
Scripture (e.g. Deut. 7: 2) document that God has in fact directed men to take the lives of others in acts of warfare. God has directed Men, under specific circumstances, to take the lives of others that have been convicted of a capital offense (Deut 17: 6).
God also provides for the protection of a life-taker until it can be determined if the death of another was the result of an act of murder, self-defense, or accidental (Deut. 19). Only when the death was the result of murder can it be labeled sin and addressed as sin.
The correct interpretation and application of Exodus 20: 13 is that one must not murder ; not that one should never take the lives of others.
Unless attacked or in a position of immanent attack, warfare should never be the first option, but the ominous reality of Eccl.3: 8 and Matt.24: 6 will continue to manifest itself as world history unfolds.
Until the global peace is established and maintained during the millennial kingdom, war and rumors of war will continue to be a part of the human experience here on planet Earth.
Note that even AFTER the world experiences the international peace during the millennial Kingdom of God here on Earth, the devil will be released from his incarceration and be permitted to organize one more final attempt to overthrow the HQ (and global government) of the Lord. This evil coalition will be destroyed by divine intervention (Rev. 20: 9).
It is only then that the devil and his forces will be tossed into what the Bible calls the lake of fire for all of Eternity never to be released again Rev. 20: 10).
Sometimes a nation is attacked (or goes to war) in order to promote or defend its political agenda.
Man-made religious beliefs and agendas have been one of the primary causes (or “justifications”) for war.
Even when war is called for, the sad reality of war is that the end result of one conflict is what inevitably sets the stage for the next. One’s ally in one war is one’s mortal enemy in the next, and visa versa.
Failure to achieve its military objectives is only one of the many means through which God disciplines a nation. When God lifts His hand of protection, the national can be subjected to natural and environmental disasters, financial disasters, agricultural disasters, political disasters, lack of effective administration of justice, wide spread crime and violence, destruction of the family unit, loss of domestic and foreign security.
The principle of divine discipline on a national level is documented in the Old Testament Book of Leviticus. When God disciplines an individual, a family, a society, or a nation, He does so with the motivation of calling for repentance (change of mind) concerning its present course of action.
Except for the removal of a nation, divine discipline can fail to acheive its intended purpose because in order for it to succeed, it takes the willful choice of the people involved.
Man, being inherently hostile (Romans 8: 7) towards God and/or the things of God, is likely to try all kinds of human effort to resolve his problems. It is often not until he is brought to the end of his rope that he is willing to listen to the voice of God .
When the present level of divine discipline fails to achieve its objective, the next (more intense) level is introduced.
From the divine perspective, it is not the form of government that is at issue, as each one has the potential for producing great good or evil.
Democracy is essentially flawed because when it comes to spiritual and/or moral issues, the majority is usually wrong (Matt. 7: 13). Failing to perceive the the spiritual issues behind what is taking place is a recipe for certain disaster.
Many of the theocracies in both Biblical and secular history have failed to produce the type of enduring nation or global domination of the world that their religious and/or their political agendas projected. Unity of religion and political forces usually results in tyranny. People "are fine" with that, so long as it is their idea of religion or politics that are being produced.
The majority of the Jews were expecting the anticipated Messiah to overthrow the Roman Empire and liberate Israel at the First Advent. It was when it became apparent that this was not what God had in mind that many of the Jews turned against the Lord Jesus Christ.
The “Christian” Crusades were all the use of military force to eliminate competing forces who also believed it was their destiny to dominate Jerusalem and eventually the rule the world. The misguided Crusaders were mislead to believe that they were doing the work of God for which they were would receive absolution from sin and eternal glory for their participation.
In a theocracy, the human ruler is seen as the representative, physical manifestation, and/or spokesperson of the God/god of its people. It is theocracies that behind the "holy wars" that have taken place, are taking place, and will take place throughout human history.
It will be a theocracy in place during the coming millennial (Rev. 20: 6) kingdom here on Earth that will be established following the return of Christ. The difference will be is that it will be the Lord Jesus Christ and His followers who, “… will reign with Him for a thousand years (Rev. 20 6 NABS).”
Depending on who is on the throne, monarchy has proven to bring both blessings and/or disaster to the nation they rule over. Some of the most enduring periods of domestic peace and national prosperity have come while the nation involved was under the "exclusive rule" of a monarch (1CHhon. 22: 9). On the other hand, negative decisions by monarchs have brought disasters.
Although in theory the power of the monarch is absolute and exclusive, from 300 AD forward, Papal influence was a powerful force behind the “ruling” monarchies in much of the ancient world. For some, this was still an issue during the presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy, here in the USA. Furthermore, seated monarchs had to be sensitive to the wants and desires of his subjects if revolts were to be avoided. In the world of politics, one side's commandos are the other sides terrorists. Rather or not the leader of the revolts would go down in history as a hero of the new order, or as a traitor to the existing order, would be determined by the outcome of the revolt.
Dictatorships have a long history of tyranny and oppression, giving credence to the old saying that absolute power corrupts, and corrupts absolutely. Some of the most evil nations have functioned under the exclusive rule of a dictator.
The different outcomes involving the same form of government are the result of the extent that the ruler functions under the principles of divine establishment. The leader and the nation that functions under the principles of God are blessed by God. The leader and the nation that does not are subject to divine discipline.
To the extent that God allows, the leader and the nation that functions under the influence of diabolical forces can be prospered by the devil (Luke 4: 6), but their days are numbered. As we have seen, God has used and continues to use all kinds of leaders and all kinds of nations to ultimately fulfill His will (Acts 17: 26).
No matter how crazy this world seems to get, God is still in charge.
History shows that nations go through periods of moral ascendancy and moral decline, reaping the crop (results) that their seeds (decisions) have sown (Galatians 6: 7).
To some degree, if one is born into a nation during a period of moral ascendancy, he will share in some of the blessings that the godly ones bring to the land.
At the same time, when a nation is in moral decline, the godly ones will share in some of the consequences that a nation under divine discipline will receive.
Keep in mind that John 3: 6 teach that although it was one's biological parents that reproduced what became physical body, it was God who created your soul and chose to place it (you) in it. God was fully aware of all the social and political issues that would be a part of the plan He had mind when He placed you in the body of His choosing. Our biological parents may or may not have had "a" baby in mind when what would become our bodies was conceived, but God knew of every detail, advantages, and challenges that that body would bring to the soul that He placed in it. What we do know is that the body we were placed in was the one that we would need to fulfill His plans.
* * *
Being the recipient of relatively undeserved adversity, loss, or suffering can be a hard pill to swallow, but one must keep in mind that whatever loss or adversity that God sends or allows to take place is just as much a part of God’s plan for us as are all the days of blessings (Job. 2: 10).
We are not only called to believe and be blessed, but to suffer for His sake (Phil. 1: 29).
No one needs to be reminded of the command found in Phil. 2: 14 when they are being prospered. It during periods of loss and suffering that our faith is put to the test. These tests are not for God to find out how well we are doing, as He already knows that. The test us for us to see how well we are doing!
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing (Phil. 2: 14 NASB).”
Nothing (good or bad, humanly speaking) can happen to anyone, anywhere, without God’s knowledge and consent. From divine viewpoint, there is no such thing as a totally bad event in the life of an advancing disciple, as God causes all things that take place to work out for the good for those who love the Lord (Roman 8: 28). All things include the pain of persecution, suffering, loss, and death.
As much as we would like to blame other people and other things for all the things that go wrong, the truth is that most of suffering and loss we endure is the inevitable consequences of our own negative decisions, or the negative decisions of those whose lives impact our own.
We have little (if any) control over what others may do that impacts us, but we can have full control over how we choose to respond.
Some may say that it just isn't natural to do all that the Bible (God) requires all the time. They are essentially correct, but the post salvation spiritual life is not about what comes natural to us, but what we can accomplish with the supernatural power (John 15: 5) of God. One of the reasons that God allows us to fall flat on our faces when we try to accomplish divine good with human power is to drive this point home.
"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for (but) apart from Me you can do n-o-t-h-i-n-g (in the spiritual realm ). (John 5: 5 NASB italics mine)."
The inevitable adversity that will (2Timothy 3: 12) come our way for executing the post salvation spiritual life is a part of the plan that God has mind for the advancing disciple and ambassador, as this is what it means to pick up the cross and follow the Lord (). Enduring the undeserved loss and suffering associated with national divine discipline is a part of the plan. Enduring the deserved loss and suffering associated with divine discipline for the sin(s) we commit, is a part of the plan of God. Whatever is a part of God's plan has a divine purpose behind it.
Be it in response to our own decisions or the decisions of others, discipline is a part of God’s plan.
When our pain and suffering can rightly be placed in the undeserved category, then it is for His sake that we must endure it.
No one endures more undeserved suffering than the Lord Jesus Christ when He took upon His suffering humanity the sin debt of the whole world while nailed to a cross. Each one of us contributed to the weight of sin that was placed on Him while He suffered on the cross.
Our faith is not validated (in the eyes of the world) during times of prosperity, but in times of suffering.
Furthermore, e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g (including loss and death) works out for the best for those who love (put) God (first). – Romans 8:28.
It is often the corporate or personal suffering associated with divine discipline that will bring a wandering person, family, or nation to repentance.
Repentance (change of mind) should not be confused with reformation. One can repent (change his/her viewpoint from human to divine), acknowledge (confess) his/her sin (1John 1: 9), but then fail to follow through with reformation (John 8: 11). When one fails to follow through, he/she inevitably returns to his/her proverbial vomit (2Pet. 2: 22), and fails to move forward along the path to spiritual maturity.
Suffering personal divine discipline is the result of sin that one has chosen to engage in, and in such cases, is merely reaping the crop from the seeds he/she has sown.
Sharing in some of the consequences of national discipline (natural disaster, economic recession or depression, uncontrolled crime and violence, etc.) is a part of being an ambassador. This type of undeserved suffering is the result, not of personal sin, but suffering from association while living in a nation that is under divine discipline.
In order to accomplish a divine objective through divine discipline, God has and will take extraordinary measures against an individual (Acts 5), a family (Exodus 34: 7), erroneous “worshipers” (1Cor. 11: 29, 30), a nation (Exodus 32: 34), and the world at large (Gen. 7: 4).
It has been my observation that for the most part, God simply allows the inevitable consequences of the negative choices that an individual or a nation has made to run its full course.
There is no pain harder to bear than the pain we have brought on ourselves.
Usually, divine discipline comes in stages, with each level being more severe than the previous ones, until it reaches the final stage when results in the physical death of the individual or the removal of the nation from among the community of nations.
Regardless of any given nation's religious or spiritual orientation, it is God who determines the timing of rise, the fall, and the extent (if any) of its geographic boundaries and global influence (Acts 17: 26).
The world, a nation, a group, a family, or an individual can only go so far before God steps in imposes divine discipline (Gen. 6: 3).
As each level is imposed, the protective hand of God is lifted further and further away, until it is completely lifted away and the individual suffers physical death and or the nation is removed.
Godly people and ungodly people depart this world every day. Sometimes the death was expected, sometimes it was not. In neither case does it take God by surprise.
Sometimes the godly and the ungodly ones are sharing the same overt experience or disaster, but are headed for very different spiritual destinations.
God knows the exact number of days that any one of us is going to experience on this earth BEFORE we take our first breath.
God knows the means of departure that each one of us will experience when our individually appointed time of departure arrives. One the one hand, it may have NOTHING to do with either personal or nation discipline being imposed, but on the other hand it very well could be.
No one lives any longer or dies any sooner that what the direct, permissive, or over-ruling will of God directs or allows. The advancing disciple will not want to leave this world until he/she has completed all the work that God had in mind for him/her to do. On the other hand, once that work has been completed, he/she will have no desire to spend another second here in the devil's world when he/she could ne home in Heaven.
When it comes to blessing or disciplining a nation, God’s sun (blessings) and the God’s rain (adversity) fall upon the godly and ungodly at the same time.
In closing, keep in mind that when God lifts His hand of protection, it does not impact the eternal security of the saved soul.
Our physical lives, our bodies, our possessions can all be surrendered and/or taken from us in a heartbeat through a variety of means and circumstances, but the saved soul of a born again believer is safe in the hands of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.