I started looking up Scriptures and familiar passages where “nations” reside. First stop, Habakkuk 1:5 “Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days – You would not believe if you were told.” (NASB) In context, God was addressing the prophet Habakkuk regarding His plan to use the Chaldeans, a “fierce and impetuous people” to bring judgment on Judah for its rebellious ways.
And I’m going to make a confession…that is usually the exact passage that comes to my mind when I survey the current political climate and upheaval in this country and the rest of the world. It’s a verse that embodies my belief that God is definitely doing something, and, from our limited vantage point, we can’t always determine what the final result will look like.
But that’s where the clear parallel ends, for me: I don’t necessarily conclude that the only – or even primary – purpose of God “doing something” in this age and on this earth is simply to usher in “end times” or “tribulation” or to nail down sign-posts relating only to upcoming destruction and calamity and judgment.
The last time He did any nailing, Jesus reconciled the world to Himself. But let’s go back to nations.
I can hear the “what?” from here. Please…hang on to your computer and keep reading. This is not going to expand into a wide-sweeping, eschatological statement. However…
…I am strongly proposing that it reflects an error in thinking to believe that an interpretation of God’s active engagement in “doing something” on the earth, right now – in our generation – should be limited by the lens that reflects only impending-judgment or a start-of-a-great-tribulation viewpoint.
Why? To start, recall Abraham and God’s discussion about Sodom and Gomorrah: “Abraham came near and said, ‘Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city…” (Gen. 18:23, NASB) As the conversation between Abraham and the Lord progresses, God agrees that He will not destroy the city of Sodom “on account of ten” righteous people (Gen. 18:32) within the gates.
Secondly, Jeremiah 18 reveals a God who watches, and waits: “In the same way that this potter works his clay, I work on you…at any moment I may decide to pull up a people or a country by the roots and get rid of them. But if they repent of their wicked lives, I will think twice and start over with them. At another time I might decide to plant a people or country, but if they don’t cooperate and won’t listen to me, I will think again and give up on the plans I had for them.” (Jer. 18:5-10, The Message)
A third example: “Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time…so Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the Lord…and he cried out and said, ‘yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown’…then the people of Nineveh believed in God…” Then the king of Nineveh stated, “…let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands….who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish. When God saw their deeds…then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared…” (Jonah 3:1,3,4,5,8-10) Ironically, Jonah does not bow down and thank God for His goodness, loving kindness, and mercy. In fact, “he became angry.” And Jonah then states that the reason he fled from God’s assignment for him, originally, was because he “knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness, the One who relents concerning calamity.” (Jon. 4:1-2, NASB)
So…if not judgment or calamity…what sorts of motivations and activity might be a priority on God’s Heart as we discern His involvement in the affairs of earth, the affairs of nations?
Psalm 46:10 makes the proclamation: “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (NASB, italics added)
Push the pause button for just a minute:
Psalm 8:3-9: “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; what is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than God, and You crown him with glory and majesty! You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet…O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!”
Release the button, let’s move forward: “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God…who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God…” (John 1:10-13, NASB)
This is how The Message describes it: “He came to his own people, but they didn’t want him. But whoever did want him, who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves. These are the God-begotten, not blood-begotten, not flesh-begotten, not sex-begotten.” (John 1:11-13)
He made to be their true selves. Our nations are filled with people needing to recognize “their true selves.”
2 Peter 3:7 points out that “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9, NASB)
Repentance. Moving from the blood-begotten, flesh-begotten, sex-begotten…into the