Whether you are a citizen of the United States or another nation of the world, at times you may look at the choices of your fellow citizens and feel that the nation is wasting within and interpret events such as election results and natural disasters as the punishment of God on the wicked. It could be, for who can know the mind of God. But it may be that other purposes are being accomplished.
As I’ve written before, I do believe God rules in the kingdoms of men. However, I think that while one cannot rule out that a particular natural disaster may be God calling some to repentance, we also cannot rule out that it may just be the product of the natural laws that God put in place when He created this world. In a series on God and suffering, I addressed this (particularly in the second article)
A question from my young friend Dana about the trends towards wickedness in the United States prompted my thoughts on this subject. In particular, could God allow America (or any other country) to elect leaders who encourage ungodly practices?
Since we ultimately trust that God rules in the kingdoms of men one can interpret certain outcomes as punishment on a people, but those outcomes could also serve other functions.
- A preacher friend suggested that if the US falls, perhaps it will demonstrate the foolishness of building a government on humanistic wisdom. When a nation builds on a foundation that does not incorporate the principles of God’s word, it can be our Tower of Babel so to speak. Those who know me well understand that I love history and two periods in particular: ancient history and the establishment of America. It is easy to get me to watch a documentary on the American Revolution and I would be hard pressed to pass on an opportunity to visit a historical site from that period. Yet, for all the mentions of God and providence by the founding fathers, the revolution was also a product of Enlightenment humanism. And while I will not complain about the formation and principles of our government, when we seek to establish a nation whose citizenry embrace the works of the flesh more than the fruits of the Spirit and “put their trust in chariots and horses (Psalm 20:7),” we should not be surprised when it weakens from within. It may be the punishment of God but it can also be the consequences of wickedness that is part of God’s order (i.e., Proverbs 5:21-23).
- If our nation becomes more immoral (not determined by an election but the choices of each citizen), perhaps it will provide opportunities for the gospel since people are often seeking the light when they have journeyed far into the darkness and realize they are lost. Remember in Luke 7:36-50, it was the immoral woman who realized her wickedness that sought Jesus with a sorrowful heart and washed His feet with her tears. Simon was just as lost yet he didn’t realize his perilous condition because his wickedness was not so obvious in his own eyes. Perhaps a nation is allowed to wander into wickedness for the salvation of souls.
- Maybe another purpose accomplished is that Christians will realize that God’s purposes will not be achieved through worldly leaders and legislation but taking the gospel to their neighbors. There are many immoral practices that are legislated and approved by worldly governments. Though Christians do not have to participate in these ungodly behaviors and can speak out against them, they should not expect that governments will consistently legislate in ways that harmonize with God’s will. As mentioned before, even allowing citizens to participate in such behaviors may ultimately work out for the good when some realize that the behaviors do not provide peace or joy and seek God’s way.
Regardless of whether our nation wastes from within or repents in sackcloth and ashes, God’s people, citizens of that heavenly kingdom, can take courage that their kingdom shall stand forever.