This Sanctuary Sunday Open Thread, with full respect to those who worship God on the Sabbath, is a place to reaffirm our worship of our Creator, our Father, our King Eternal.
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In the following article there are one or two statements (not from God’s Word) that I cannot see are supported by God’s Word . . . or, perhaps, I’m not wise enough to make a solid connection to God’s Word. Nevertheless, this article is a timely presentation for our times.
God Raises Up Kings or Nations
and Removes Them
Civilizations come and go, and governments rise and fall. Because our Creator loves people, He also blesses each nation with a span of time so it might prosper and do well, but this blessing ends when a nation becomes degenerate, rebellious, and unfit for self-rule. When God determines that extended mercy for a nation has no redeeming effect, He marginalizes or destroys that nation.
Many Christians understand that God destroyed the world in Noah’s day because it became evil, but this is only part of the picture! God drowned all but eight people in Noah’s day to free future generations from the evil conduct that belonged to their parents and grandparents. The Lord created the Earth and it belongs to Him. He loves future generations just as much as He loves the present generation. When it becomes evident to Him that future generations will be ruined by the behaviors passed down by parents and grandparents, He wipes out the present generation. He did this in Noah’s day. In more recent times, He did this with World Wars I and II. Surprisingly, a God of love imposed these wars during the first half of the 20th century so the world’s population would grow and flourish 75 more years before needing another world war. “But the Lord is the true God; He is the living God, the eternal King. When He is angry, the Earth trembles; the nations cannot endure His wrath.” (Jeremiah 10:10) ‘I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things.’ ” (Isaiah 45:7)
Many Christians will not accept the premise that a God of love destroys nations when they become decadent and degenerate. (Ezekiel 14:12-21) Notice what the Lord said to Ezekiel: “ ‘Son of man, if a country sins against me by being unfaithful and I stretch out my hand against it to cut off its food supply and send famine upon it and kill its men and their animals, even if these three men – Noah, Daniel and Job – were in it, they could save only themselves by their righteousness,’ declares the Sovereign Lord. . . . ‘Or if I bring a sword against that country and say, ‘Let the sword pass throughout the land,’ and I kill its men and their animals, as surely as I live,’ declares the Sovereign Lord, ‘even if these three men were in it, they could not save their own sons or daughters. They alone would be saved.’ ” (Ezekiel 14:13-18)
World War III is Coming!
Sooner than later, the “sword” is going to come again. World War III will occur. Tensions are mounting. Nations are preparing for war. Secret alliances are being made. Military spending has increased. And now, for the first time since World War II, Japan and South Korea are building missiles for protection. India is seeking to purchase submarines that can carry missiles. Iran is developing its military prowess as fast as possible. Israel is perfecting its use of drones. China, Russia, and the United States are in an arms race and North Korea is defying the world’s nations. Like it or not, World War III is coming; and when it does, millions of people will die.
Meanwhile at home, the United States is suffering from paralysis. The leaders are fighting each other. They are bogged down with complex domestic problems and cannot get anything done because they cannot agree on a solution. Partisanship has created a do-nothing legislature. The U.S. is facing large, complex problems so expensive that no one can offer a good solution. Many governments in the world are in a similar or worse situation.
According to the Bible, the longevity of a government is determined by its commitment to moral principles God has dictated. When a majority of people abide by these principles, God blesses that nation with prosperity and longevity. He sends the Holy Spirit to prompt honest hearted citizens to be good neighbors. The Holy Spirit helps people make good decisions because good decisions bring good results for individuals, families, and ultimately, the nation. To ensure continuity for oncoming generations, God also raises up good leaders and the result is a good government that prospers and endures. This is why King David wrote: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He chose for His inheritance. From Heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from His dwelling place He watches all who live on Earth– He who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do. No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse [a symbol of military might] is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.” (Psalm 33:12-19, insertion mine)
Governments are very complex organizations. In fact, they are so complicated that men cannot manage a government on their own. Of course, a man or woman can rise to the position of a king, queen, dictator, or president, but only with God’s approval. God sets kings up and takes them down according to His higher purposes. Sometimes God will raise up a king to serve as a destroyer of other nations only to destroy that king and his nation when they pass the point of no return. (Jeremiah 25:9-12) Because we cannot know or understand God’s higher purposes until He reveals them, we have to trust Him. We have to accept that He is carefully and thoughtfully managing the political processes on Earth to benefit the world. Daniel told king Nebuchadnezzar, “He [the Most High God] changes times and seasons; He sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with Him.” (Daniel 2:21,22, insertion mine)
God Does Not Guarantee a Nation Will Be Successful
History indicates that prosperity and longevity is not a guaranteed right for any nation. A nation will flourish or disappear depending on the behavior of its people and the wisdom of its leaders. God enables a nation to prosper for as long as the majority of its people are honorable, living right, and making wise choices. Think of the billions of decisions, the actions and consequences that occur every day within every nation. If a million immoral decisions are made each day, a million evil consequences will follow, because the law of “cause and effect” cannot be broken. Whatever we sow, we reap. (Galatians 6:7,8) This axiom is true for individuals and governments.
For example, when Dictator Mao Zedong implemented “The Great Leap Forward” program in 1958, he did not anticipate that his efforts to transform China from an agricultural economy into a communist society would cause mass starvation within five years. We now know that His decision resulted in the death of some eighteen to fifty-five million people! A God of love allowed Mao to make such a decision even though God foreknew the outcome and He allowed Mao to rule over China for twenty five years as dictator. This is because Mao’s choices fit within God’s plans for the future of China and the world. This is a hard concept to accept because we cannot see the end from the beginning as God does. In fact, a time is coming when God will allow the devil himself to rule over the whole world! (Revelation 13:11-18)
Jesus understood the curse of sin. He knew that evil things happen to innocent people, and He made it clear that those who cause others harm will be repaid: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.” (Luke 17:1,2) “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)
Because adults have free will and a sinful nature a nation always has the possibility of rebellion and chaos. This is why law enforcement is necessary. To help offset man’s propensity for rebellion, and to help nations grow and improve, God has given adults the ability to recognize and appreciate a need for law and order. He has also given us a “natural desire” to live in peace with one another and in harmony with the laws of the country. Paul was aware of this phenomenon when he wrote Romans 13. As you read his remarks, keep in mind that Paul was a prisoner in Rome when he wrote this: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.” (Romans 13:1-6, italics mine)
When a nation advocates and exalts evil, a patient God removes His blessings from that nation in small steps, hoping that repentance and correction will occur. If there is no change in behavior, problems soon begin to sprout like dandelions after a spring rain. The nation’s economy flounders. Poverty increases. Sexual misconduct ruins relationships, and families and children are abused by predators. Political problems escalate until finally, war engulfs that weakened nation. One of the tell-tale signs of a nation’s imminent downfall is the arrival of poor managers. When people are put in positions of power that are self-seeking and immoral, we know the end is near because they only make matters worse. When lies and suspicion replace truth and trust, government is doomed. God is no respecter of persons. He will destroy nations that He once blessed when they become unfit for His purposes because He owns and rules over the Earth.
God Permits Rebellion Against a Cruel Government
The Bible teaches that man’s first and highest duty is to obey God. (This is why church/state governments are so dangerous.) When man’s laws run contrary to God’s laws, civil disobedience is warranted. When Jewish leaders forbade the disciples from speaking about a resurrected Jesus, “Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than men!’ ” (Acts 5:29) Jesus highlighted the concept of “God first” when He repeated the first and greatest commandment. He said we must love God with all of our heart, mind and soul and the second commandment is that we must love our neighbors as ourselves. (Matthew 22:37-39) Given the order presented in these two commandments, Paul’s counsel in Romans 13 could be considered a third commandment, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.”
When a government becomes cruel and oppressive, tyranny occurs and under such circumstances, God permits revolt, civil disobedience, and war. In fact, the United States came to be a nation through acts of civil disobedience and the revolutionary war. Then, about seventy-five years later, a civil war broke out between the north and the south and 620,000 people perished. In spite of all the blood that was shed in both wars, consider the results. A great nation arose, greater than England by far! A nation having fifty united states where no man is permitted to own another as a slave.
Many people have argued through the centuries (using Paul’s comments in Romans 13:1-6 and a concept called “the divine right of kings”) that revolting against government leaders is forbidden by Scripture. But Paul included an important qualifier in his remarks. Paul said, “For he is God’s servant to do you good.” When a government violates God’s laws and when leaders become dishonest, cruel, and oppressive to maintain their power, they are doing no good. God warns all government rulers that they will have to give an account for their actions. (Psalm 2:10-12)
Citizens of the U.S. are blessed to live in a country that has the finest constitution ever created, but the nation is falling apart because people have abandoned the moral principles which God requires to receive His blessings. Corruption is replacing confidence and there is no shortage of liars and predators in politics. Forty million of 360 million U.S. citizens need assistance to buy food and the median price of a home is beyond the reach of three-fourths of the population. The number of people in poverty is swelling because the middle class is disappearing. Wages are stagnant and student loans are proving to be ruinous for millions of young people. More than ever, fellow Americans do not like or trust each other; and more and more, we carry guns because we are increasingly afraid of each other. America has fallen so fast!
God Has a Solution to National Degeneracy
There is no human solution to the world’s problems, but there is a divine solution for both. The downfall of all nations is near! During the Great Tribulation a stern-faced king will arise; he will take control and utterly ruin everything on Earth – a fitting end for a world that insists on evil behavior.
How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the Lord?
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.
The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself.
Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
. . . for the kingdom of God is . . . righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.
For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.
Behold, I am coming soon.