God Judging Nations
Does God intervene today to bless or judge a nation?
Or does God’s judgement wait until the end of the age?
EF5 tornadoes pack destructive winds approaching 300 mph! Few would deny that severe weather is a world problem, alongside earthquakes, tsunamis, floods and drought. The Bible says that the creation groans and people suffer as a result of the Fall of Man (Rom 8.20-23) and the secularist labels them ‘natural disasters’. Add to this terrorism, fiscal instability, Middle East turmoil etc. and many see all these things as End Time Signs.
But whilst the world nears the Second Coming of Christ and His judgement of nations, some also ask:
“Does God intervene in the affairs of nations today? Are some of these events judgements from God? And if so, why?”
There are essentially two distinct viewpoints: The Age of Grace View and The Intervening God View. Some maintain that God’s judgement is deferred until the end of the age, whilst others see God intervening in this present age (often resulting in severe national events).
The Age of Grace View
Since the time of Christ the world has been in an ‘age of grace’ or ‘church age’. During this time God’s kingdom is being built as people turn to Christ:
The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospelMark 1:15
… behold, now is the day of salvation2 Corinthians 6:2
… God desires all men to be saved …1 Timothy 2:4
Whilst this is very true, some Christians maintain that, because we are in a time of grace, God no longer acts in the world as judge of unbelievers; this period is not the time for God judging nations. Neither people groups, or governments or complete nations are judged. They hold that this is not the day of God’s judgement and this only happens at the end of the age when Christ returns. They might quote Christ’s judgement of unbelievers when He returns:
All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them one from another …Matthew 25:32
But does this picture of love and grace extended to the individual preclude God intervening in national affairs today? Why does this inhibit God from blessing or judging a people group, government or nation right now? If it does, then why ask God’s blessing upon a government or community, or on a gospel outreach or crop planting? To expect blessing but not judgement is inconsistent.
Even today there are unseen spiritual laws that govern man’s actions, either good or bad. God is not mocked: if we sow the wind we reap the whirlwind (Gal 6.7) and that applies to individuals, groups and governments. For example, history shows that tyrants invariably suffer for their actions during their lifetime, and the Bible maintains that sexually active homosexuals can expect God’s judgement during their lifetime (Rom 1.27).
The Intervening God View
Continuing the above discussion, it seems that the ‘age of grace’ does not preclude the possibility of God’s intervention in the world. God is patient whilst people are drawn into His kingdom (2 Pet 3.9), but surely the following is still true:
For when the earth experiences Your judgements the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness. Though the wicked is shown favour (i.e. God’s grace in NT times), he does not learn righteousnessIsaiah 26:9-10
Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any peopleProverbs 14:34
The implication here is that man learns righteousness not through God’s favour (grace) but through God’s intervention, and when he does learn righteousness he is blessed. Why does the age of grace now nullify the fact that a nation or community or individual can be blessed by God through righteous living i.e. by keeping His word? This promise of mercy is underscored by the prophet Jeremiah:
At one moment I might speak concerning a nation … to uproot, to pull down, or to destroy it; if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on itJeremiah 18:7-8
Or at another moment I might speak concerning a nation … to build up or plant it; if it does evil in My sight by not obeying My voice (God’s word), then I will think better of the good with which I had promised to bless itJeremiah 18:9-10
Here, the Hebrew word translated ‘nation’ means a Gentile nation. Note also that the time of God’s intervention does not seem limited to OT times; it is simply ‘at one moment’ – a time determined by God Himself. We conclude that God’s blessing or judgement can occur at any time during this age. For example, in recent years God has intervened and blessed communities and nations that responded to Him, as amongst the Canadian Eskimos (Inuit) and in Uganda.
It is not the aim of this article to point a finger. It merely presents some interesting observations and asks the question ‘Are some world events simply what we expect in a fallen world, or is God using them and speaking through them?’ Decide for yourself. Clearly, the inevitable suffering is a deeply sensitive issue.
God Judging Nations: New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina
August 2005 saw one of the strongest storms to impact the US over the last 100 years. Katrina reached wind speeds of 170 mph and generated 5 inches of rainfall across a large area of SE Florida. In New Orleans the storm surge breached many levees and at least 80% of the city was flooded (some parts being under 20 feet of water). The economy suffered, particularly shipbuilding, the space program and banking. Some facts about New Orleans before Katrina are worth noting:
- It had half the abortion clinics of Louisiana
- Its aim was to be in the ‘Top Ten Gay Destinations Travel List’
- Its mayors welcomed Mardi Gras, Southern Decadence and ‘Girls Gone Wild’ – all sexually explicit (sex acts were performed in full view of the police)
- The annual Southern Decadence was due to start the day after the levee broke
God hates evil and that includes homosexual acts. When the storm hit, the City Council President said ‘Maybe God’s going to cleanse us’. Did he know that the girl name Katrina means ‘purity, chaste, holy’? Did God send Katrina as a purifying experience?
God Judging Nations: Blessing or Cursing Israel
There is perhaps one action that is likely to invoke God’s anger more than any other. In relation to the nation Israel, the nation chosen by God to be a witness of Himself, God warns:
I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curseGenesis 12:3
He has sent Me against the nations which plunder you, for he who touches you, touches the apple (pupil) of (the Lord’s) eyeZechariah 2:8
This is severe warning indeed, especially to national leaders. Has such judgement happened in recent history, or is it happening even now?
God Judging Nations: The Nazi Holocaust
This must be looked at from two perspectives. First, after many warnings, God finally gave up His rebellious chosen people (Israel) when they rejected Christ as Saviour:
And all the people said, ‘His blood shall be on us and on our children’Matthew 27:25
This opened up the way for persecution. As predicted by Jesus (Lk 19.44), the Jewish state came to an end in 70 AD and the Romans drove the Jews from their homeland. So began the post-advent dispersion (diaspora) amongst the nations. By the early 20th century Jews were living in every country of Europe and some 9 million Jews lived in the countries that would be occupied by Germany during World War II. Nazi persecution commenced in the 1930’s and culminated in death camps like Treblinka and Auschwitz. So at the very start of the age of grace, it seems God judged His own people according to His warning in Deut 4.27.
The other perspective of the holocaust concerns Nazi Germany itself. The Allied powers eventually brought utter destruction to the country. Estimates of combined military and civilian German war dead range from 5.5 to 6.9 million. Many of these were ordinary Germans who did not support the Nazis. Nevertheless, they suffered as a result of wicked leaders:
When a wicked man rules, people groanProverbs 29:2
Did Hitler’s Nazi Germany bring God’s curse of Genesis 12:3 down upon itself because of its treatment of the Jews?
God Judging Nations: Israel’s Six-Day War
Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fightNasser, 27 May 1967
Arab armies were mobilised, and by June 1967 some 250,000 Arab troops, 2,000 tanks and 700 aircraft ringed Israel, forcing Israel into pre-emptive action against Egyptian airfields. In the subsequent ‘Six-Day War’, the armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon (and later Iraq) attacked. Israel defeated them despite huge Arab superiority in armour, aircraft and troops. After the war Israel held the Sinai, the Golan Heights, Gaza, the West Bank and all of Jerusalem. Some 1 million Arabs and all parts of Palestine were now under Israeli rule. The area controlled by Israel after this war (defined by the cease-fire line) was the same area allotted to Israel for Jewish settlement under the 1922 Palestine Mandate!
When nations wage war on Israel, God promises to come to her aid:
I will be a wall of fire around her (Zech 2:5)
I will contend with the one who contends with you (Isa 49:25)
No weapon that is formed against you will prosper (Isa 54:17)
Was this just another war, or did God judge the Arab nations for their aggression?
God Judging Nations: Japan’s 2011 Tsunami
On March 11, 2011 Japan was hit with a magnitude 9.0 earthquake which triggered a 15-meter high tsunami. This was the largest earthquake in Japan’s history and the world’s fourth largest earthquake since 1900. The death toll passed 18,000. Aid can still be given at Help Japan. It also resulted in the <a href=”https://www.britannica.com/event/Fukushima-accident”>Fukushima nuclear disaster</a> and the second worst nuclear accident in the history of nuclear power generation! Contaminated water was released into the Pacific Ocean, <a href=”https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-54566978″>link</a>.
Most see this as yet another of the world’s major natural disasters. Such a large earthquake was possibly due to the large size of the fault rupture as well as the speed at which the Pacific Plate is continuously thrusting beneath Japan [U.S. Geological Survey]. But there might be other factors.
The global BDS campaign (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) aims to create economic and political pressure on Israel wrt to land occupation and Palestinian rights. In 2010, after a strong BDS campaign in Japan to boycott Israel, the Japanese retailer MUJI announced that it was cancelling its plan to open a store in Israel. Of course, boycott action is not unique to Japan and even western churches support such a boycott. But this was not new in Japan. As far back as 1994 it was noted that ‘Japan was the only major economic power to strictly comply with the Arab boycott of Israel’ (Reingold and Lansing, Business Ethics Quarterly, 1994). And to underscore Japan’s boycott, no Japanese government minister visited Israel until 1998. It is claimed that boycott actions by Japan (and other countries) have hindered Israel’s economy.
In November 2009 the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement “deploring” Israel’s construction in the West Bank. This reiterated a call by Japan “to freeze settlement activities”.
Did God judge Japan for her long-term opposition to Israel (as in Gen 12.3)?
In 1917 A.J. Balfour (Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, British Foreign Office) stated:
His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.
Betrayal: In 1922 the League of Nations gave Britain the Mandate to see this homeland implemented. But almost immediately Britain cut away 77% of the original mandated area for the Jews to create what later became known as Jordan. The East Bank was therefore given to Britain’s Arab allies! In 1923 Britain traded the Golan Heights (again originally part of the Mandate) to France in exchange for the oil-rich lands of Mosul in Iraq. Then, in 1939 a British White Paper limited Jewish immigration to Palestine to only 75,000 immigrants over a five year period. This policy repudiated the Balfour Declaration and Britain’s Mandate just at the time of greatest need for a sanctuary for Jewish refugees. Finally, in 1948 Britain turned over her Mandate responsibility to the UN and withdrew from Palestine.
Some commentators see Britain’s actions over Israel (land trading and immigration restriction) as reprehensible. Given a unique opportunity to help Israel, Britain failed! It is interesting to observe what has happened to Britain since WW II. Consider:
- In 1950, British output per head was 30% ahead of the 6 founder members of the EEC, but within 50 years it had been overtaken by many European countries
- The British Navy dominated the world’s oceans until WW II. Today the British Navy is a shadow of its former self
- Between 1945 and 1965, the number of people under British rule outside the UK fell from 700 million to 5 million
- In 1993 there were more than 1,000 BSE cases per week involving more than 50% of the dairy herds in the UK
- In 1999 Britain had a higher proportion of children in poverty than any other western European nation
- Today Britain has one of the highest divorce rates in the world
- Since WW II, Britain has continuously devolved power to Brussels. There are some 650 new EU laws each year using Statutory Instruments to bypass the UK Parliament
Is God judging Britain because of her treatment of Israel? Many believe Britain’s decline since the end of WW2 to be a good example of God judging nations.
America for Judgement?
There has been strong Congressional support for Israel for many years. Congressional resolutions unanimously passed an endorsement of the 1917 Balfour Declaration, and the U.S. was the first nation to grant de facto recognition to the new Jewish State in 1948. Some reasons for this special relationship can be traced to America’s Jewish roots. So we find that, in contrast to Japan, the U.S. has anti-boycott laws to prevent or discourage U.S. companies from boycotting trade with Israeli companies. And the U.S.-Israeli alliance has provided Israel with diplomatic, economic, and military support of more than $115 billion since 1949.
But the U.S. still lays out a moral and philosophical case for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem, and in this it is supported by the Arab League, the EU and Russia. According to the Bible this is a dangerous stance: God does not look on favourably at those who divide up His land:
I will gather all the nations … I will enter into judgement with them there … they have divided up My landJoel 3:2
As pointed out above, God judges those nations who do evil in His sight (Jer 18.9,10). So how a nation treats Israel is one issue; how a nation rejects biblical morality is another.
By 2003 all sodomy laws in the U.S. had been repealed, overturned or invalidated – in defiance of God’s word on homosexuality. This was achieved through state leaders (courts) or by the Supreme Court. The next step away from God is same-sex marriage. Currently, under the Federal Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal government respects only those marriages between a man and a woman. But the nation’s leaders are now sympathetic, and President Obama now endorses gay marriage. So, like ancient Israel, America is being led into defiance of God’s word by her leaders:
The leaders of this people cause them to err, and those who are led by them are destroyedIsaiah 9:16
Will America’s stance on Israel’s land and her defiance of God’s moral law lead to God’s judgment and her destruction?