We find ourselves embroiled in that time of year where everyone is talking about politics and America. And that brings up the question that is being asked more and more frequently: “Does God care about America?” And perhaps more to the point: “Should we as Christians?” Now, if you are over 35 years old, perhaps that question strikes you as odd if not downright bizarre. Chances are if you are a millennial, it’s a question you’ve heard your peers discuss and perhaps have even wondered yourself. I know I have. Let me explain.
In recent years, there has been a healthy emphasis on the supremacy of God’s kingdom over all others, even America. Theologians and Christian leaders have made the needed distinction that God’s plan doesn’t rise or fall on America. As we see in the book of Daniel, God’s purposes march on through time, unabated and undeterred by the rising and toppling of the kingdoms of the earth. The answer for America, we are rightly reminded, is Jesus. Our hope is in our Creator and His coming kingdom, not anything on earth. We are citizens of heaven and are strangers and pilgrims on this earth. But while all of this is true, and while some of it may have been forgotten with certain well-meaning, mistaken Christians in a tidal wave of overzealous patriotism, we are still left with our opening questions, “Does God care about America?” “Should we as Christians?”
As always, we must ask the question “What does God’s Word say?” Does God share either a lack of concern for America, or are there hints that our nation might matter to Him? While the word “America” does not show up in Scripture, we do find God’s attitudes for the “nations.” What does the Bible teach us about God’s view of nations? Not just Israel, but the nations surrounding her?
1. The Old Testament teaches that God deals with nations as nations.
“Righteousness exalts a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” Proverbs 14:34
This verse deals with nations, not just Israel. Often people will make the important distinction between Israel and the church and point out that America is not Israel. I completely agree. But that does not mean that the God of the Old Testament was unconcerned with other nations. The above verse teaches that nations that do right will be exalted, and nations that choose sin will be reproached.
Don’t believe me? Read Amos 1-2, Isaiah 13-21, or Jeremiah 46-48. Did you realize that two books of your Bible are addressed to foreign nations (Obadiah to Edom and Nahum to Assyria), not Israel? Have you ever thought about the fact that the book of Jonah, probably the most familiar minor prophet, was sent to the Assyrian city of Nineveh, Israel’s enemy? God deals with individuals as individuals, but he also addresses nations as nations. To say that America is not Israel is absolutely correct. To say that God could care less about nations is wrong. In fact, that leads us to the second point. . .
2. Nations will exist in the millennium.
This one might be a bit surprising, but read Zechariah 14:16-19
“Then everyone who survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths. 17 And if any of the families of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, there will be no rain on them. 18 And if the family of Egypt does not go up and present themselves, then on them there shall be no rain; there shall be the plague with which the Lord afflicts the nations that do not go up to keep the Feast of Booths. 19 This shall be the punishment to Egypt and the punishment to all the nations that do not go up to keep the Feast of Booths.”
In the millennium, God is not going to wipe out all national distinctions. Rather, He will expect all nations to come up to Jerusalem to worship. As if to make His point incredibly clear that these are actual, literal nations being discussed and not just language for “Gentiles,” He gives a specific example: Egypt. If Egypt doesn’t come up, Egypt will pay the price, as will every other nation.
God deals with nations as nations, and that will still be the case in the millennium. He will still be concerned with their righteousness, and will deal with them accordingly, just as he is doing today.If God will continue to deal with entire nations in the millennium, wouldn’t it make sense to be concerned about their righteousness then as well as now? Wouldn’t it make sense that the choices they make matter, and should be a concern to us? We should be concerned with the choices America makes, as well as the choices Canada makes, and Luxembourg, and India, and Ethiopia, and every other nation.
So we’ve answered our first question, God does care about nations as a whole and not just individuals. That by itself should mean that we as Christians should reflect concern for our Lord. But in addition to that, Christians should care about America because…
3. Christians have a duty to their nation.
“Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” Matthew 22:21
As Christians, Jesus expects us to fulfill our duty as citizens. For the Jews of the time, that basically meant paying taxes and showing honor to the emperor. As citizens of America, I would argue that includes more. Our government has set up a nation that is run by the people. As citizens, then, we have a duty to fulfill to our country that includes voicing our opinion and seeking to direct our nation as best we can. We should vote our conscience and when appropriate make our voices heard in the public forum. As has been brought up repeatedly, and rightly so, Paul instructs Timothy to pray for his governmental leaders so that we can live a quiet, and peaceable life in which the gospel can thrive (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
Science teaches us that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. In theology, we often find that for every overemphasis there is an equal and opposite overreaction. One of the trends among many today is to act as if America and what happens to her doesn’t matter. Many of these are young adults who have grown up bothered by what they view as an unhealthy blending of God and country. While this clearly goes beyond what Scripture teaches, we need to be careful not to overcorrect. God cares about nations. He deals with nations as nations, in our Old Testament and in the coming millennium. And we have every right, and I would go so far as to say the obligation, to care about our nation, too. America isn’t our only hope; Jesus Christ is. But America matters to God, and she should matter to you.
Much of this material was originally blogged for Fanning the Flame (http://www.fanningflames.org/blog/counter-culture-its-okay-to-be-bothered-by-the-supreme-court-ben-hicks)
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