Dr. John Hartmann

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Judgment and Mercy: Calling the USA Back to the One Creator God

September 27th, 2010 · No Comments

Judgment and Mercy: Calling the USA Back to the One Creator God

What the Word of God has to say about our present situation in the USA.

Principles of God’s Government of Nations

We must hear again the revelation of God’s will for nations found in the writings of the Prophets, which expound the principle that “righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). This is not a flight into fantasy: our problems as a society are first and foremost moral and spiritual. The inspired Word reveals that God blesses and judges collective entities, nations and people groups, not arbitrarily, but in accordance with those standards of righteousness and justice by which He, the Moral Governor of the Universe, rules all things (Psalm 89:14; 103:19). He executes lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness in the earth, because He delights in these things (Jeremiah 9:23-24). Herein are the principles of divine governance: collective righteousness brings collective blessing; collective sin brings collective judgment.

If so, it may be that the economic and political chaos of our times are but symptoms of the nation’s real disease. Corruption has infiltrated every sector of our society, whether it be politics, business, education, media, entertainment, or even the church. The reason seems plain: we have forsaken the fear of God and cast His Law behind our back, so that lawlessness manifests itself in almost every important aspect of our lives. Worse yet, the compromised church, instead of offering a critique of culture based on clear distinctions in the Word of God (Jeremiah 15:19), has preached a sloppy grace that appeals to a people who want nothing required of them in terms of moral obligation. But here are the sobering words of Jesus: the way leading to life is narrow, and is primarily not about what we say but about what we do (Matthew 3:8-10; 5:17-20; 7:24-27; 25:41-46; Luke 8:19-22; James 1:22-27; 2:14-26; Acts 26:20; 2 Peter 1:3-11; 1 John 3:7). Behavior has consequences, and we do reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7). Upon us is the fulfillment of Paul’s forecast that men would be lovers of pleasure, money, and self, more than lovers of God (2 Timothy 3:1-5). The man of God who faithfully rebukes, reproves and exhorts from Scripture has become the exception (4:1-2), as many flock to teachers who pander to their desires and tell them what they want to hear (4:3-4). Jesus minced no words in saying that many would take the broad road that leads to destruction, and that few would find the narrow path that leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14), following this with a warning about false prophets and the many who on the day of judgment would hear His pronouncement “Depart from Me, workers of lawlessness; I never knew you” (7:15-23).
The Consequences of National Sin

Deuteronomy 28:15-68 reveals the consequences of national sin. One can hardly read this portion of Scripture without thinking that we are experiencing at some level what occurs when a nation turns to false gods and breaks God’s laws. And it may be that we have only begun to reap the consequences of our national sin (Hosea 8:7). The judgment of God, already in motion, will come in ever-increasing stages, as God vies for our attention without violating our free moral agency (Amos 4:6-13; Leviticus 26:14-33). Scripture reveals that God causes fruitful places to dry up because of the iniquity of it’s inhabitants, advising the wise to heed these things (Psalm 107:33-43). If our theology is such that judgment for national sin applies only to the theocracy of Israel we perhaps need to think again. The major writing prophets devote significant space to oracles of judgment against Gentile nations (Isaiah 13-23; Jeremiah 46-51; Ezekiel 25-32). Amos opens with judgment speeches against Gentile nations to be punished for war crimes and slave trade (Amos 1:3-2:3). Jonah’s announcement of the impending judgment of Nineveh demonstrates that God righteously judges nations, while all along executing His long-range redemptive purposes (Gen 12:1-3; Rev 5:9-10). If we wish to speak the Word relevant for our times we will need to reconsider what the prophets have to say about our present situation.

An Urgent Call to Pray and Proclaim Truth

The church, “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15), must shine the light of God’s truth into the darkness and expose the nation’s sins (Isaiah 58:1; Ephesians 5:11-14). Scripture reveals that God indicts and judges nations for idolatry (Jeremiah 2:4-13), sexual immorality (Leviticus 18), shedding innocent blood (Numbers 35:29:34; 2 Kings 24:3-4; Ezekiel 36:18), haughtiness and arrogance (Ezekiel 16:48-50), economic exploitation and oppression of the worker and the poor (Isaiah 3:13-15; 58:1-14; Malachi 3:5; James 5:1-6), war crimes (Amos 1:3-5, 13-15; 2:1-3), slave trade (1:6-10), governmental corruption (Isaiah 1:21-23; Micah 7:2-4), and unfaithful spiritual leadership (Jeremiah 5:30-31; Malachi 2:1-9). This prophetic task today belongs to the redeemed community anointed with the Spirit to be witnesses of Jesus’ death, resurrection, exaltation and return as Judge and King (Acts 1:8; 2:16-21; Revelation 19:10). The church must rebuke sin, proclaim the judgments of God, and call men to repentance and faith in light of the final judgment to which present judgments point as a warning.

We should with relentless importunity ask God for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:5-13; 18:1-8; 1 Thessalonians 5:17), Who convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:7-11). Revivals of the past were marked by such a work of the Spirit convicting sinners unto repentance and faith in a crucified and risen Jesus Who saves us from wrath (Luke 3:7; 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10). Paul’s “gospel of the grace of God” called for repentance toward God and faith in Christ (Acts 20:21-24), and involved discussion of righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come that effected “trembling” in the hearer (Acts 24:22-25). This gospel delivers from the penalty and power of sin, and brings one into the experience of God’s transforming grace. A gospel in which salvation is confirmed by the gift of the indwelling Spirit, which inevitably results in fruit that corresponds with true repentance (Romans 8:9-14).

Hope for God’s Mercy

The governing principles that determine whether a nation will be blessed or come under judgment for disobedience are ever at work, whether recognized or not. Some, knowing these principles, see our situation as hopeless, that the nation must experience God’s judgment in ever-increasing measures. While judgment will increase, if we do not repent, Scripture teaches that God’s judgments can have a redemptive end, training us to value righteousness once again (Isaiah 26:9-10). We must examine Scripture to see if there is a reason for hope and why.

In the parable of Jeremiah 18:1-12 God is the Potter, and the nations the clay that He fashions on the wheel. While He can do with the clay as it pleases Him, His work is not arbitrary, but directly related to whether a nation turns from evil and does righteousness, or, conversely, turns from righteousness and does evil. These principles of divine government come into play, without exception, in God’s dealings with nations. When a nation marked for judgment turns from wickedness, God says “I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it” (18:7-8). This inviolable truth informs Joel’s prophetic call for national repentance (Joel 2:12-17), and was historically manifest in God’s dealings with Nineveh (Jonah 3:10). But the reverse is true as well. When a nation marked for blessing turns from the one Creator God and practices wickedness, He says “I will think better of the good with which I had promised to bless it” (Jeremiah 18:9-10). God does not govern nations capriciously, but blesses those that pursue righteousness and brings calamity on those who impenitently practice evil. Justice and righteousness remain the foundation of His throne and the standard by which He governs His creation.

In accordance with these principles God warned Jerusalem: “I am fashioning calamity against you and devising a plan against you” (Jeremiah 18:11a). He would withdraw His favor and without pity allow them to reap the fruit of their sin, showing them His back and not His face (18:17). No intercession for mercy would be heard as long as they did not amend their ways. Having long endured their recalcitrance, the season of forbearance was now over. The only hope was that God would show mercy if they would repent in quick and decisive fashion.

Hence the call for true reformation: “Oh turn back, each of you from his evil way, and reform your ways and your deeds” (18:11b). But morally bankrupt Judah, though very “religious”, was riddled with falsehood and hypocrisy. They would worship false gods, steal, murder, commit adultery and swear falsely in the Lord’s name and then come to the Temple to worship, thinking this would protect them from calamity (see Jeremiah 7:1-15; cf. Hosea 4:1-6), despite the warning of 2 Chronicles 7:19-22. The false prophets proclaimed that God would bless and protect them as they walked in the stubbornness of their hearts (Jeremiah 23:9-32; cf. Deuteronomy 29:14-28). Thus, the Lord’s call through Jeremiah was like that later given through John the Baptist: bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance (Matthew 3:8-10). Amend your ways, and I will relent concerning the calamity I had purposed to bring against you. The response was appalling: “It’s hopeless! For we are going to follow our own plans, each of us will follow the stubbornness of his evil heart” (Jeremiah 18:12). God offers mercy if they will amend their ways; they tragically say, “no, it is hopeless”. The consequences of not turning were severe: exile, desolation, shame, removal of Divine favor.

Vote Wisely, Proclaim Fearlessly, Pray Incessantly

As we enter an uncertain national future we should vote wisely and elect candidates who will fight for constitutional governance, the overthrow of unjust statutes (Isaiah 5:20-24; 10:1), and purgation of bribery (Isaiah 1:21-23), with reprisals for all offenders, since the bribe “blinds the eye, and perverts justice” (Exodus 23:8; Deuteronomy 16:18-20; Proverbs 17:23; Isaiah 5:22-23). That said, God’s main concern lies in reforming the church purchased with Jesus’ Blood, to give Him, as the reward of His sufferings, a people destined to reign with Him as a kingdom of priests on the earth (Revelation 1:6; 5:9-10; cf. Exodus 19:4-6). What must emerge is “a people for God’s own possession” who will proclaim the excellencies of Him Who called them out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9), holding forth the Word of Life in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom they shine as lights in the world (Philippians 2:14-16). The true church must, at this critical hour, return to and seek the Lord with our whole heart, in hope that He will turn us from our iniquities and again show mercy (2 Chronicles 7:13-14; 16:9; Psalm 85; Joel 2:12-17; Revelation 2-3). As the prophet said, “Who knows” (Joel 2:14)?

Tags: Teachings

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