God’s Call to His People to Guard a Nation
By Dave KubalWhat does the future hold for the United States of America? Last year was full of political turmoil, civil unrest, and continued moral decline. Now the national elections are history, the country has a new president, both the House and Senate show new faces, and believers are poised for new possibilities. Many Christians are taking stock and perhaps evaluating where intercessory prayer will fit into the Church’s strategy in 2017. How are we to watch and pray?
God Holds Nations AccountableIsrael’s history during Isaiah’s prophetic ministry offers us biblical lessons for our own day. The spiritual climate of Judah (the nation of Israel’s Southern Kingdom) during Isaiah’s early life was good. Kings Uzziah and Jotham both led Judah to follow God. As a nation, Judah remained true to Yahweh for a period, but everything changed with King Ahaz. Ahaz committed terrible atrocities before the Lord. He defiled the temple, placed altars on street corners, and lived in open rebellion toward God. Ultimately Judah was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar and spent 70 years in Babylonian captivity. Isaiah’s ministry took place in the midst of moral, spiritual, and cultural decline. In his early ministry (Isa. 1), the nation is accused accurately and justly, based upon the laws of God. Then Judah’s idolatry is described with judicial precision (Isa. 2–5), stating the case in a manner that can only lead to one verdict: “Guilty.” Isaiah was faithful to warn Judah and prophesy God’s message even though God told him his ministry would not be outwardly successful (Isa. 6:8–12). Isaiah was called to speak the truth; the people were accountable for their rejection of the message. What could be a more timely and relevant scene than this for today’s intercessors? After a brief interlude, Isaiah’s prophetic judgments continue in chapters 10–34, this time not against God’s people but against surrounding nations. This is particularly important for Christians in America to understand. I have found few American Christians who have a clear sense of our collective standing before God. Many define their identity as, “my personal relationship with Christ,” or “I go to a good church.” This is as far as it goes. Understanding that we have both an individual standing before God and a collective standing before God is vital to keeping a proper, honest, and God-sanctioned loyalty to both connections, giving each what is due. Returning to the examples in Isaiah’s day, the principle of all nations’ accountability before God is clear. God says, “I will take vengeance in anger and wrath on the nations that have not obeyed me” (Micah 5:15, emphasis added). God is justified in doing this because He is God. Romans 1 declares that all mankind has a sense of the Creator’s existence and His standards. He will punish nations. It does not matter if they are ruled by dictators, kings, parliaments, or Congress. We must be aware and accept that God holds nations accountable for their collective actions. He will bless or hold a nation accountable based upon His laws. He is justified in doing this relying on the principle of general revelation we read about in Romans, that all of us have a sense of our Creator’s desires. (See Romans 1:18–23.) God will punish the nations and the world for its evil. Isaiah prophesies against godless nations that surround him, including Assyria, Babylon, Moab, and Egypt. These are nations that bear the guilt of their collective decisions. Isaiah records the following judgments:
- Assyria: “I will punish the king of Assyria for the willful pride of his heart and the haughty look in his eyes” (10:12).
- Babylon: “See, the day of the Lord is coming—a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger—to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it” (13:9).
- Moab: “We have heard of Moab’s pride—how great is her arrogance!” (16:6).
- Egypt: “The Egyptians will lose heart, and I will bring their plans to nothing; they will consult the idols and the spirits of the dead, the mediums and the spiritists” (19:3).
- All: “The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt” (24:5–6).