Bob's thoughts on God's judgment of nations were especially thought provoking: "Don't misunderstand; I believe that if a country (or an individual) follows God's principles, it can only benefit them. But God is not in the business of moral reform. He's in the business of creating new creatures in Christ Jesus
Sin surely causes death, and God warns about that. Jonah warned Nineveh that in 40 days their sins would cause Him to destroy them. The Canaanites' sins had reached the point of destruction during the time of Moses. And Sodom and Gomorrah had clearly reached the saturation point (though for reasons other than what we've often been taught).
But what sense would it make for God to prompt a culture to moral reform without the message of eternal life? It seems clear (at least to me) that his warnings were given so that people would remain alive to hear about His grace.
However, we can't warn of impending doom because we're not God. We have no idea, for example, where the United States stands on God's spectrum of sin (though we hear about it all the time)."
Of course Canadian Atheist's comment on Bob's comment was as would be expected: "Sounds extremely superstitious to me."
Bob's parenthetical remark that "... though we hear about it all the time" is so true. Preachers, especially those on the right and those who fancy themselves as experts on biblical prophecy are often heard ranting on this topic. Every natural disaster is interpreted as a sign of God's wrath, usually in regard to sexual sins, especially homosexuality.
Of course, those on the secular left often have similar sounding messages, only without God being mentioned. Global warming, the gun culture, racism are often invoked as signs of the downfall of America.
But does God hold nations accountable? Does He hold the United States of America accountable? Will God judge America? If so, by what criteria will our nation be judged? I do not believe these are simply "superstitious" questions. I do not believe they are only on the minds of preachers on the far ends of the spectrum. Questions like these were on the minds of some of America's great leaders and thinkers.
"Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just" -- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia (1784).
"Fondly do we hope -- fervently do we pray -- that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said 'the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether.'" -- Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address (1865).
Both were pondering the horrible sin of human slavery. It is doubtful, of course, that Jefferson's Deistic thinking led him to imagine an apocalyptic judgment on America. And Lincoln's enigmatic faith seemed to lead him to believe that the Civil War itself could be God's judgment.
The prophets of the Old Testament pronounced judgments on the nations around them, often seeing those judgments worked out by other nations. Even God's covenant nation of Israel was not exempt; in fact, judgment seems more pronounced against that nation.
The New Testament does not seem as concerned with the nations as with the human race as a whole and with individual human beings. However, there are a few passages that do stand out, most having to do with the end of this age.
One that I have written on before is Matthew 25:31-46 (SHEEP OR GOATS). Jesus is speaking of His return in glory to reign on earth. The nations are to be gathered before Him and are to go either into His Kingdom or into eternal fire. The criteria are not given as their sexual conduct or their violence; they are judged solely on their treatment of those whom Jesus terms "the least of these" -- the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the unclothed, the prisoner.
Is the good old USA going to be there? Which way will they (we?) be sent?
So Bob, I agree with your comments. I'll not attempt to ascertain "where the U.S. stands on God's spectrum of sin." But I do believe that God holds this nation accountable.
My task, however, as a follower of Christ is primarily to follow Him, to hold myself accountable and not be preoccupied with America's destiny, but the destiny of the people of America that I am in contact with.
See also: THE TWO KINGDOMS.
See also: THE TWO KINGDOMS.