I don’t have much time – sorry, I know you want another one of my 3000-word essays, don’t you?
If someone posits that God is judging America today he is generally scorned. I’ve actually heard people say that God doesn’t judge nations, only individuals. That’s a hard argument to make biblically. Isaiah and Ezekiel, as well as other prophets, devote large sections to that precise thing – the judgment of God on nations. Yes, eternal judgment is an individual thing, but temporal judgment seems to be poured out on rulers, on nations, on corporate entities.
I guess everyone turns into a dispensationalist when the subject of national judgment comes up and suddenly says, “Well, that was just in the Old Testament.” I don’t think so. Of course, this has to do with eschatology, but the future judgment of nations is real as well.
I understand why the reaction is so strong. It is against the “America is God’s chosen people” civil religion that has been so prevalent in the church during my lifetime. So much of what I’ve heard has been more about “saving America” than about the Missio Dei. I understand and I agree. We’ve bought into the revisionist history of the David Barton-types, and it has created an aberrant view of America as God’s “last, best hope” for the world and created a toxic mixture of Americanism, revivalism, culturalism, and nativism.
But that doesn’t change the fact that God judges nations. He does. Repeatedly. Why would God not judge America if he judged Moab, Edom, Babylon, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hittites, and of course, Israel and Judah?
So, what does God’s judgment look like?
Again, I don’t have time for a tome. There’s the Sodom and Gomorrah thing, of course, where fire and brimstone rain from heaven. I’m still hoping a couple of SEC schools and a baseball and football team in Massachusetts experience that, but so far, nothing.
Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 spell out the covenant blessings and curses God would pour out on Israel. No, we aren’t Israel and “if my people who are called by my name” doesn’t refer to America. But what those passages do is give us a hint at what God’s judgment on a nation might look like. In other passages, like Habakkuk and Judges 2, we gain other hints. Let me just mention what I see – you can pick it apart and call me crazy.
1. Natural disasters – we are a farming church. Many of my families make their income from Iowa corn (best in the world) and soybeans. The last three years have been disastrous and this year looks worse. My associate is in Houston right now with Disaster Relief doing mud-out because of the floods. I am not an expert and I will not opine on global warming, climate change, and such things, but it sure does seem like nature is going crazy, leading to economic disaster.
2. Leaders who debase – this is a vicious cycle. Bad leaders debase a people. A debased people deserve and often get leaders who lead them into further debasement. Unless God works a miracle, we will have either Trump or Hillary as our leader. We will be getting what we deserve – liars, adulterers, debauched, debased, amoral leadership. I’m not sure which is the chicken and which is the egg, but the fact that WE CHOSE these two is certainly a sign of our own depravity and the fact that one will be president is interesting at least.
3. Economic debacle – it is described in Haggai as “putting money in a purse with holes in it.” Economic deprivation, disaster, and debacle is often a sign of God’s judgment.
4. Defeat by enemies – this is a dangerous one, because only Israel was promised victory over its foes for obedience, not America. But our inability to come up with a sensible solution to any problem, our floundering efforts to fight our enemies is significant. James Wood observed that we are fighting a worldwide battle against terror, and our president is mostly concerned about getting men the right to use women’s bathrooms. That’s an exaggeration, certainly, but it is significant. We can’t seem to solve anything.
5. Losing our kids – this is again a judgment God put on Israel, that they would lose their children to the enemy as a sign of God’s disfavor.
There are all kinds of eschatology, ecclesiological, and theological issues that come to play here. I understand that.
But as I look at America, I can’t help but wonder is God is judging this nation.
Think about this. At this crucial time, at the very worst possible time, Antonin Scalia died. (C’mon conspiracy theorists – it wasn’t a murder.) If a Supreme needed to go, I could have nominated several others. Scalia was the probably the most important figure in the American conservative movement. Boom. Gone. Is that not at least a wild coincidence?
- Natural disasters.
- Terrorism we cannot seem to deal with.
- A paralyzed and ineffective government.
- Leadership like we have.
Is it wrong to wonder if God is pouring out some judgment on this nation and the nations of the world?
What do we do?
Well, the very best thing we can do is the work of the church. Proclaim Christ crucified and risen. Reach out in his name. Pray for God to work in power. Yes, all of that. I’m not sure the answer is more politics, but more church. More Jesus. More gospel. More grace.
But at this point, I’m not sure.
I’m just wondering why we ridicule anyone who sees the hand of God’s judgment in all this.
(NOTE: It is ALWAYS dangerous to point the finger. “God is judging us because of the gays.” “God is judging us because of this or that.” God judges nations, it seems, when they reach a certain tipping point of sin. I dont’ understand it all, because I’m not God. One thing I notice when we point the finger, it’s always at someone else. God is judging us because of THEM!)