How does God judge the nations?

By Barbara Reynolds

God's purposes and plans for individuals and nations sometimes remains a mystery to us. His thoughts and ways are higher than ours and beyond our understanding. Genesis 12:1-3 tells us that God chose Israel to be His special nation and consequently, those nations that opposed or abused Israel came under special judgment. For example, Damascus is singled out for punishment because they literally "threshed" and crushed the prisoners they took from Israel with iron threshing machines. Their final judgment from God was fire on their city (Amos 1:3-5).

We see a similar judgment pronounced on Ammon because they ripped open the abdomens of pregnant women of Israel to offer these babies to their god Molech. Fire judged their city and their king went into exile (Amos 1:13-15). God also judged Judah and Israel for disobedience as He promised in Deuteronomy 28 when He pronounced blessings and curses. Many nations came against the unified nation of Israel and then the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah. First, the northern nation of Israel went into captivity in Assyria and later the southern kingdom of Judah marched into captivity in Babylon. Ultimately, God scattered the people of Israel among the nations of the world (Deuteronomy 28:64).

In 70 AD, the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple so completely that stones were ripped apart to obtain the molten gold from the Temple. Jews were forbidden from entering the city of Jerusalem. The cross of Jesus Christ changed everything! The nation of Israel was a theocracy, that is, a nation under the direct leadership of God. He gave them the Law to follow and punished disobedience. God protected the nation of Israel with special care. Even when He used other nations to discipline Israel, God only allowed them to go to a prescribed level of vengeance. He severely punished Assyria for going too far. This change becomes evident when we clearly see the ungodly high priest Caiaphas used by God when he said, "But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, 'You know nothing at all, nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.'" (John 11:49-50). The passage continues with the message "Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad" in verses 51-52.

Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law of God perfectly and became the final sacrifice for sin for everyone who put their faith in Him as we read in John 3:16-17, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him." Jesus Christ, the one and only Son of God and God Himself, bore our sins so that we would not have to be judged and die. However, God will once again punish nations as He did in the days of the Old Testament. Isaiah 13:9-13 speaks of the Day of the Lord which is known in the New Testament as the Tribulation period:
Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, cruel, with fury and burning anger, to make the land a desolation; And He will exterminate its sinners from it. For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not flash forth their light; the sun will be dark when it rises and the moon will not shed its light. Thus I will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud and abase the haughtiness of the ruthless. I will make mortal man scarcer than pure gold and mankind than the gold of Ophir. Therefore I will make the heavens tremble, and the earth will be shaken from its place at the fury of the LORD of hosts in the day of His burning anger.
Those who have placed their trust in Jesus Christ for salvation will not be present for this Tribulation. First Thessalonians 4:15-17 promises us that if we are still alive at the first coming of the Lord, which is also known as the Rapture, we will be caught up to be with Him. First Thessalonians 5:1-3 describes the coming Day of the Lord which follows the Rapture. During the Tribulation God will again judge the nations and the rebellious people left on earth. Some will come to faith in Jesus Christ and some of those will be martyred for Him. At the end of this terrible period, Jesus Christ will return to earth and establish His Messianic kingdom for 1,000 years. One thing we see as we view earth's history and future from a bird's eye view is that God deals uniquely with humanity at various times. Currently, He has established His Church, His bride, to communicate His love and grace and salvation to the world. Throughout history we experience His love and compassion for His creation. However, God is also truth and justice and we are required to be reconciled to Him.

The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary; Allen C. Myers, Revision Editor; William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; Grand Rapids, MI; 1987.
Ridolfi, Brian; What the Bible Says About…; Electronic edition; Quickverse; 2006.

Image Credit: kummod; untitled; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  | End-Times  | God-Father  | Jesus-Christ  | Sin-Evil

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Republished 5-23-16