"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)
Oh, the world is getting worse and worse. The sky is falling. The world is going to hell in a hand basket. There's no reason to polish the brass on a sinking ship! I'm sure you've heard all this before. Some of you may even believe that there's no hope for this world. But before you shove off and continue thinking that way. I have a question for you to seriously consider.
Is Jesus coming soon?
Why do you think so and what scripture verses are you reading that makes you think the rapture could happen at any moment?
A few more questions to ponder:
Will the great commission fail? Will the nations be discipled? How powerful is the gospel? Is sin stronger than grace? Is there any rock to heavy for God to lift? Atheists love that last one.
Let's hear from the Master for a second from Matthew chapter 28: 18-20:
"And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'”
If the rapture happened tomorrow the GREAT COMMISSION would be a GREAT FAILURE. I believe Jesus is pretty serious that the nations will be discipled and trained in righteousness. If your eschatology doesn't make room for the full inclusion of the world to be turned to righteousness then you need a new eschatology.
What of Isaiah 9:11? "They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." On earth as it is in heaven. The LORD's prayer realized. The gospel and it's affections filling the earth through the preaching of the gospel, baptizing and making disciples. If you hold to a view that the church loses in history, you don't hold to a SOVEREIGN LORD who reigns over the earth. It's that simple. Scripture is on the side of victory and optimism, not pessimism and "come get me outta here" type talk.
Remember what Jesus prayed in John chapter 17: 15-18? He said . . . "I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world."
So, Jesus isn't planning to rescue the church out of the world, that would be against the very thing He came to do! Read that verse again. He gave His Holy Spirit to empower the church to attack the very gates of hell. Jesus sends His people into the world, not to withdraw from it in bomb shelters waiting to escape it via the rapture. I've had enough of this "come get me outta here" preaching. Jesus sends the church to transform the world. Turning men from darkness to light. From the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of righteousness.
When will Jesus come back? That's the wrong question. You should be asking, "when will the nations be discipled?" If you say the nations will be discipled only when Jesus comes back, you're nullifying the Spirit of God and the power of the gospel to accomplish all that Jehovah has set forth to fulfill. Jesus is on His throne NOW! Read acts chapter 2.
Jesus' influence and power will only increase throughout the world! Don't take my word for it, believe the Scriptures as Isaiah 9:7 declares:
"Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this."
Who will do this? "The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this."
Until the nations are discipled,
Ezekiel 36:25-27 “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”
This past weekend my wife and I met up with some dear saints of God to proclaim the gospel of Jesus to a couple thousand people attending the Richmond Christmas parade and the Hollydazzel festival in Newport News, VA. We publicly proclaimed the good news of Christ as the reconciler of God and sinners, taking the time to explain sin, righteousness, and the judgment to come. Some of these people within earshot of the gospel may have never heard a clear gospel presentation before this weekend. What a privilege it is to herald the message of eternal life!
Many who heard the truth will be future leaders in their communities. Some are leaders now. Some are business owners. Many are employees. Many are students. Many are husbands and wives who are responsible to lead their families. I mention this because sin is a reproach to any community as God explains to us in Proverbs. If change for the better is to happen, then we must get to the root of the problem--the heart. The Christmas message is about God redeeming sinners, reconciling his creation. “Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn king, peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.” This gospel is about restoring the lost relationship between God and creation through the only mediator, Jesus the Anointed One. Regeneration is the renewal of mankinds’ hearts through the blood of the cross, which is the hope of the nations. As a result, war will one day cease; weapon development will shift to holistic agricultural production; disease, sickness, sin, and death, will eventually be eradicated. This is the gospel promise. Jesus stated in Revelation 21:5, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
Ezekiel goes on in chapter 36 proclaiming… “Thus says the Lord God: On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places shall be rebuilt. And the land that was desolate shall be tilled, instead of being the desolation that it was in the sight of all who passed by. And they will say, ‘This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden, and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.’ Then the nations that are left all around you shall know that I am the LORD; I have rebuilt the ruined places and replanted that which was desolate. I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it.”
The gospel is not simply about escaping the wrath to come. But don’t misunderstand me, Jesus certainly delivers from the wrath to come. This earth is not going to hell in a handbasket, like many who would have you to believe, but this world is being transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s hear what God’s word has to say about it:
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.” Isaiah 9:6-7
“He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD.” Isaiah 2:4-5
“The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and lion fattened together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like an ox. The nursing child shall play over the hold of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples--of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.” Isaiah 11:6-10
“No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the young man shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a hundred years old accursed. They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall build and another shall not inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain or bear children for calamity, for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the LORD, and their descendants with them. Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain.” Isaiah 65:20-25
These passages of scripture are snapshots of the future history on earth. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 5:17-21 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” You might recall in Isaiah 65:17-18 the text reads “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. Be be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness.” This passage speaks of regeneration and the results it has on earth. Just as the 1 Corinthians passage mentions, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.” There is a new way of doing life since the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The old covenant has passed away and the new has come. We are to live in light of the glorious gospel of Christ, and its fruits are evident as Galatians 5:22-25 reveal: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”
The gospel has implications more than simply just saving a soul from hell. The gospel is about regenerating and making all things new through the blood of the cross. King Jesus is in the reconciling business--reconciling the world to himself--in time and on earth. The advance of the gospel and its significance is world changing--for the better. And I’m thankful that Jesus has chosen me to be a part of it; to be a part of His-story in what He is accomplishing on earth as it is in heaven. Thy will be done LORD, thy will be done! Amen.