Where Is God’s Country?
Rise up, O God, and judge the earth,
for all the nations belong to you.
Where is God’s country? Plenty of people can answer that question, because they think they live in God’s country. I’ve heard people in Montana, New Mexico, California, and Texas refer to the place they live as God’s country. Usually, what they mean is that the area where they live is filled with natural beauty, unspoiled by civilization.
We can also think of our own country as somehow God’s country. Many Americans freely apply Old Testament language for Israel to the United States, believing that this country is uniquely chosen and blessed by God. But citizens of other nations naturally think of their countries as divinely favored.
The truth, according to Psalm 82, is that all countries are God’s countries. Every last one. Verse 8 reads, “Rise up, O God, and judge the earth, for all the nations belong to you.” The Hebrew word translated here as “nations” is goyim , a word that often means “Gentiles.” It is used by Jewish people to identify non-Jews in particular. How striking to see that the Jewish author of Psalm 82 recognizes that all nations, all goyim , including but not limited to Israel, ultimately belong to God. For this reason, God has the right to judge the whole earth.
Recognizing that all nations belong to the Lord does not mean we value our own homeland any less. We can still love our country or the place we live. And we can still think of it as God’s country because, indeed, it is. But we must remember that any other person in the whole world could rightly make this same claim. God is King of kings, the ultimate sovereign over all nations. He uses all peoples and countries for his purposes and glory. Thus, even as we esteem the places we live and feel patriotic toward our own country, we do not discount other places or nations. We acknowledge, with the psalmist, that “all nations belong to God.”
PRAYER: King of kings and Lord of lords, today I remember that you are God of all nations. All belong ultimately to you. All exist for your purposes. All are meant for your glory.
In that vein, I pray today for my country. I offer thanks for all the ways this country reflects your goodness and justice. I pray for all the ways we fall short. Help us, dear Lord, to be a nation that honors you.
It that vein, I pray for my leaders, for those who serve in national, state, county, and city government. May they seek you and your ways. May their decisions be guided by your wisdom. May they be passionate for your justice and truth.
All praise be to you, King of kings and Lord of lords. Amen.
Here’s how . . . .
This devotional comes from The High Calling: Everyday Conversations about Work, Life, and God (www.thehighcalling.org). You can read my Daily Reflections there, or sign up to have them sent to your email inbox each day. This website contains lots of encouragement for people who are trying to live out their faith in the workplace. The High Calling is associated with Laity Lodge, where I work.