"Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD . . ."(Psalm 33:12a ESV)
Is there an impending judgment on nations who refuse to walk in obedience to God's law? Does Deuteronomy 28 apply to nations today or did the blessings and curses only apply to Ancient Israel? What about modern Israel (the country), does the blessing and cursing of Deuteronomy 28 still apply? Yes, yes, & yes. Why so? Because man is under covenant with God. Man cannot escape from God's ethical boundaries. Man can run but he can't hide.
"And if you faithfully obey the voice of the LORD your God, being careful to do all His commandments that I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings will come upon you . . .But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD your God or be careful to do all His commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you." (Deut. 28:1-2a, 15 ESV)
If you say that the blessings and curses didn't apply to other nations during the time of the older covenant, why then did God judge those nations? God judged the nations because of their wickedness and refusal to obey His commandments. The law of God existed from the beginning of creation. We know this to be true because God was in covenant with man right from the beginning. Man is either keeping covenant or he is breaking covenant. God did not create man outside of covenant. Man that is not keeping covenant is breaking it. Christians who teach that the secular realm does not have to obey the Scriptures in how laws are made to govern society are misleading people. These Christians contend that man's kingdom has natural law that is to govern society. So-called "natural law" is actually God's law, it's God's general revelation that he instilled in man. The nations of old not only had this "natural law" but God's statutes were handed down beginning with Adam to Noah to Abraham to Moses. These statutes existed in some form, to what extent we don't know for sure, but we do know that Adam's sin required a sacrifice for covering. The Bible doesn't go into detail on this but God had laws in place. Other passages present the idea of God's law existing before given in full at Mt. Sinai such as: Noah "was a herald of righteousness." (2 Peter 2:5 ESV) And Abraham "obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” (Genesis 26:5 ESV) We also see "Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High." (Genesis 14:18 ESV). There's numerous passages like these that allude to the fact that God's law was known to the world before the "official" giving of the law in Exodus 20. Leviticus 18:24-30 is clear that God drove out the nations because of their lawlessness so Israel could take the land. The "secular" nations were cursed for their ethical rebellion to God.
When God created the world, he put man in covenant. The creation covenant binds all men of all time. All men are tied to Adam, who is our federal head. Rebellious man cannot escape this fact. Man is under the judgment of God. Romans 1 makes this clear. Man has an ethical, moral obligation to keep God's commandments because he is under the creation covenant, which is binding for every human being that is ever born. Fallen man is unable to free himself from God's judgment and therefore enters the need of the second Adam, Jesus, who renews the creation covenant. Christ is the new creation and those in Him become a new creature. God's law doesn't go away, but it is upheld by Jesus. Jesus mediates righteousness to the Father on behalf of His people. Jesus takes the place of the sacrificial system, and in no way did Jesus abolish God's standard of righteousness for man. Man is in covenant with God by the very act of the creation covenant. Many can only be in right standing with God through the new Creation covenant that is in Jesus Christ. Christ is the new federal head that replaced the first Adam. Man outside of the new creation covenant is still under the original creation covenant's moral obligations and will be judged according to his failure to keep the law. This is precisely why the old man needs Christ to become a new man and enter into the new creation covenant of life.
Unregenerate man is bound by the original creation covenant to live in the light of God's law. He won't do so because he hates the light and won't come to the light. He needs to be transformed from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. This is no excuse for unregenerate, secular societies to not uphold God's law. "Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!"(Psalm 33:8 ESV) God requires it of them and He holds them morally responsible. "Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him." (Psalm 2:10-12 ESV)
Nations will be blessed if the keep God's Law-word. And nations will be cursed if they do not keep God's law-word. The blessing/cursing principle stands: "Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. (Galatians 6:7 ESV). This applies to the individual as we'll as to people groups under federal/representative heads.
1. All men are placed under God's ethical boundaries by the original creation covenant.
2. Nations are required to govern according to God's law.
3. Nations will be blessed for obedience and cursed for disobedience to God's law.
4. The new creation covenant in Christ is man's only hope for a right standing with God.
5. As man is renewed/regenerated in the image of Christ he will be able to govern rightly using God's law to establish justice and equity.
6. The nations will stream to Christ and uphold his law (Micah 4:1-8) and this happens in time and on earth before the final enemy death is defeated when Christ returns.
"But Moses said to the LORD, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man's mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses . . . (Exodus 4:10, 11, 14a ESV)
If God was angry with Moses because of his resistance to take action, what do you think that means for Christians who are on this side of the cross, who have the full revelation of the Scriptures? Not only this but all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus (Matthew 28:18), and He tells us to take action and make the nations disciples.
What would you do if an abortion clinic opened across the street from your church or Christian school? If your community were bombarded with a wave of prostitution and pornographic flyers, which institution should step up to the plate and lead a campaign against it? Not too long ago, the church would have risen to the occasion and taken charge. It would have been an instantaneous reaction by the church. Yet overwhelmingly, the church today would respond as one apathetic Pastor in a conservative California church, who said, "We can't get involved in social action projects" . The church shouldn't do anything officially because we'll lose focus of the mission of the church. And what is the mission of the church? Preach the gospel and make disciples, but we can't get involved in any social action, because God's people may forget their purpose.
Since the end of the civil war, the church has been forgetting their purpose and losing their mission. There is a misconception of what is included in the "mission of the church." Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet." And that's exactly what's happening today. The church, God's people, because of their impenitent hearts, are trampled under foot by a secular, Christ-less society. Every area of life belongs to Christ, and the church should feel shame and regret for not occupying the ground that was won for them in previous generations.
How is it that Christians have been losing ground since the civil war? Think about this for a moment, in the 12th and 13th centuries it was the church who came up with the idea of the university. The university is "one of the greatest engines of social advancement and cultural enrichment ever conceived" . And we go back to the future only to find backwoods Bible colleges where students end up having to go to a "secular" university to learn so-called "neutral" subjects from a evolutionary worldview. Subjects like Keynesian economics, Freudian psychology, and evolutionary anthropology. And the sad part is there are professing Christian professors at the Christ-less universities who teach the evolutionary ideas to their students. On the upside, there are some Christian colleges out there who are trying to reverse this trend . Teaching from a Christ centered perspective and ridding evolutionary concepts.
The advent of the reformation challenged a whole culture. God's providential hand (side note: no such thing as the invisible hand that Adam Smith talked about. It's actually God's providential guiding hand) brought about the printing press and with it Martin Luther challenged the foundation of Western Civilization. Meanwhile, Calvin was rebuilding Geneva. Locals in his time were desperate and wanted a city governed by the principles of God's Word. And Knox was up in the north freeing Scotland with the Gospel through pen and sword. Literature by these reformation giants still survives even in secular classrooms because it changed the world. Christian literature set the standard of excellence, nothing has surpassed the King James Bible in this regards. What book in our modern world has come close to reaching this kind of impact? None.
Back in 1974, Gary North sent a manuscript to a Christian publishing firm in Great Britain. The manuscript challenged secular presuppositions dealing with mathematics, philosophy, political science, psychology, sociology, economics, and education. This manuscript contained essays in all these fields of study by writers with advanced degrees, most having a Ph.D. North got his letter of rejection that explained how the publisher is generally wary about publishing in these types of fields because they do not have any one on staff that is competent in those fields of study. The publisher went on to state that "we see the first concern to address ourselves to the prevailing piety in worship, prayer, and preaching . . ." .
Why is challenging secular culture so scary for Christians? Secular culture has no foundation to stand on. "Has there ever been a culture less sure of its own beliefs, less confident of its own powers, more confused concerning its own destiny?" . Relativism pervades this culture and they have no answers. The media, universities, and governments are grasping at straws and lead people to think nothing more than defeat by putting hope in fallen man. And when a positive, encouraging piece of literature is picked up by the media, secularists are called upon to give their interpretation and wisdom regarding it. Media should be calling on Christian scholars not secularists. Where are all the Christian scholars? Where have they gone? What are they doing? My guess is most are prevailing their piety in worship, prayer, and preaching." When the media wants to get a Christian answer, they'll appeal to a neo-orthodox liberal who discredits the authority of God's law and the Gospel.
When Christian scholarship is contemplated, what do you think of? Do you think of seminaries? But they only focus on biblical languages, church history, theology, evangelism, counselling, visitation, church budgets, etc. "Apart from the Wycliffe translation program, there is hardly a single explicitly Christian endeavor that has impressed the secular world with its competence" . Christians for the most part tend to be second or third rate when it comes to excellence. Why? As North contends, its because of the stubbornness of God's people and their refusal to learn the whole counsel of God, that every area of life belongs to Jesus.
If a book like R.J. Rushdoony's Institutes of Biblical Law had been written 200 hundred years ago a culture would have flowered and we wouldn't be in the mess we are today. A void has been created and left to secularists who are standing in the gap, whom Christians should have filled. God's people today think that they can retreat from culture because "Jesus is coming back soon" and as a result they are socially impotent and therefore socially irresponsible--just like the previous generation and the one before.
Society with its rampant lawlessness, corruption, pornography, murders, abortion, witchcraft, and the like are a product of nihilism and relativism that has eroded the fabric of our nation. And Christians are to blame. The good news is that the gospel can reverse this, and it is being reversed. Society can be restructured according to God's ethical standards. Nothing else will work. Secularism has dug its own pit and is about to be buried. God calls His people to leave the stench of Egypt behind. Don't be like Moses who at first was reluctant and cried, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man's mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” (Exodus 4:10, 11, ESV) Moses ended up having to do what God told him in the first place. Likewise, God has told us. We Christians have the the full testimony of Scripture for our guidance and the Spirit as our helper. "We are more than conquerors through him who loved us." (Romans 8:37, ESV) We have no excuse.
 "Backward, Christian Soliders? Gary North, p.1
 ibid. p. 2
 ibid. p. 3
 ibid p. 5
 ibid p. 6
Christians today need a new way of thinking about the world around them. They need an optimistic, more positive way of thinking in regards to engaging the culture.
This new way of thinking is about victory in the life of a regenerate believer, over his or her indwelling sin, and it doesn't just stop with individual sanctification but flows outward into every area of life. Victory not only includes individual sanctification, but it also means societal sanctification. We won't ever be perfectly victorious over sin or its effects, at least not until you die or until the resurrection takes place. This does not mean however that God allows us to stay in our sin. No, God progressively sanctifies his people and reverses the effects of sin in a believer's life and this sanctification flows out and affects society. Society should mirror individual sanctification. Victory is progressive over sin's effects in society. This is what Deuteronomy 8 and 28:1-14 teaches.
I'm not talking about perfectionism or sinless perfection, but the progression of victory over sin and its effects for the individual and society. After the 1870's this optimistic view about society digressed into a pessimistic view of the world. Social sanctification was rejected and replaced with "a vision of defeat, in time and on earth . . . and churches went into hiding, culturally speaking" .
For those who may not have a clear definition of personal or individual sanctification, this simply means that someone who is born-again, progressively conforms their life to biblical standards for ethics. Another way of putting it is being conformed to the image of Christ, that is to say the perfect humanity of Christ. We don't conform to God's divine nature because men do not evolve into God as the Mormons teach. We conform to God's standards as manifested in Christ. Sanctification is a progressive process of God separating yourself from sin (as defined by God's law), not perfectly, but increasingly, in time and on earth.
Social sanctification mirrors personal sanctification. When Christians structure their lives in accordance with what the Bible requires, the world around them begins to reflect that change. It's really a simple concept. Jesus said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” . The effects of the Gospel flow from Christian living. The gospel has a leavening effect like yeast in dough. The gospel lived out through God's people progressively sanctifies society--setting society apart for God's glory just as God does for the individual and just as He did for Israel in the Old Covenant.
Until the knowledge of the LORD covers the earth as the waters cover the seas,
 "Backward, Christian Soldiers?" Gary North
 (Matthew 28:19-20 ESV)