Does God Bless Nations?

My friend and fellow Patheos blogger David French had some good words for July 4th — or July 5th, for that matter:

Give thanks. Give thanks for God’s unmerited grace. Give thanks for the sacrifice and character of generations before you. Give thanks for the gift of a nation so prosperous that even our poor citizens have more and live better than billions of the truly poor around the globe. A friend who has labored for years to confront the AIDS epidemic in Africa is fond of reminding me that an American birth is like beginning life with a winning lottery ticket. After my own time abroad, I’ve learned how right he is.

Reflect about your responsibility. To whom much is given, much is expected. What are we doing with the gifts we’ve been given? Americans have done great things – liberating hundreds of millions from the darkest of tyrannies, creating and fostering a system of individual liberty that has empowered human flourishing, and giving more of our wealth to the world’s poor and distressed than any other nation.

Yet our sins are still grievous. We permit doctors to kill unborn children on their mother’s whim. We are more generous than most but still too often held hostage to our own greed. And we’re sacrificing our virtues for our appetites as the sexual revolution consumes our families and destroys our cultural foundations.

Reflection should lead to resolve. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” That’s the biblical blueprint for reform – simple to repeat but ever more difficult for our worldly church to execute. Even the first step, humility, is too much for most of us.

Do we still believe that God will “heal our land” if the people of God repent and turn to righteousness?  Or was that promise only for the Hebrews?

Here’s what I believe.  We cannot look at every nation that was destroyed and conclude that the people of God within that nation failed to live righteously.  Nor can we look at every nation that flourishes and conclude that the people of God were humble and repentant.  For nations as for individuals, the rain falls on the righteous and the wicked alike.

However, when the people of God live as the people of God, they have a leavening effect upon the culture.  They sow the seeds of the true, the good and the beautiful into the land.  The truths they uphold and the values they extol improve the culture, restraining our lower impulses and animating our higher aspirations.

I am exceedingly grateful for the nation in which I live, and I am — not unaware of its faults and mistakes — also proud of its heritage.  Like Mr French, however, I worry over the diseases of selfishness and greed, callousness and materialism that have infected our nation.  If the church can be the church it’s meant to be, if the followers of Jesus can truly be followers of Jesus and live out his teachings and his heart, then I believe the land would be blessed.  Not because God would be compelled to intervene in supernatural ways, but because God works through those who serve him to redeem all things.  Cultures that are set upon what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable, excellent and praiseworthy, will be blessed as a matter of course.

About Timothy Dalrymple

Timothy Dalrymple was raised in non-denominational evangelical congregations in California. The son and grandson of ministers, as a young boy he spent far too many hours each night staring at the ceiling and pondering the afterlife.
 
In all his work he seeks a better understanding of why people do, and do not, come to faith, and researches and teaches in religion and science, faith and reason, theology and philosophy, the origins of atheism, Christology, and the religious transformations of suffering

  • http://middletree.blogspot.com James Williams

    Psalm 33:12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD

  • http://astuteblogger.blogspot.com/ reliapundit

    Genesis 12:3
    New International Version (NIV)
    3 I will bless those who bless you,
    and whoever curses you I will curse;
    and all peoples on earth
    will be blessed through you. ”[a]

    All Europe needs to do is treat Israel better and the EURO will rebound.

    And by throwing out the antizionist now in the White House we can instantly improve our economy.

    • neil

      reliapundit,

      looking at genesis 12 biblically, the antecedent of “you” is abraham… nothing in this text, or any other, assumes a nation’s well-being is tied modern day israel.

      looking at it anecdotally, some of the wealthiest nations in the world (using your stardard of being blessed) ae those most hostile to israel.

      • http://jshakart.co.uk John Shakespeare

        I don’t think he was being serious.

  • http://patheos.com david gibbs

    Mr. French needs to speak a little more fully on this matter of national blessings . Does God work in the lives of nations today as he did with biblical Israel? I am not talking about the so-call “spill over benefits” which occurs when the Chuch has a “leavening efect” on the surrounding culture.

    Mr. French states: “However, when the people of God live as the people of God, they have a leavening effect upon the culture. They sow the seeds of the true, the good and the beautiful into the land. The truths they uphold and the values they extol improve the culture, restraining our lower impulses and animating our higher aspirations.”
    Is that so? What are we therefor to make of China, Japan, India ( all “non-christian nations”)?
    I any case does the surrounding culture also have a positive spillover effect on the church as well?

  • DougH

    I believe that God does both bless and curse nations, because he both blesses and curses the people in those nations and those accumulated blessings and cursings will have a cumulative, synergistic effect. Is the Zeitgeist of a nation generally a righteous one? That nation will be blessed. Is it generally an unrighteous one? It will be cursed. Will there be unrighteous people benefiting from the spillover in the first and righteous people having to struggle and suffer because of the second? Of course, God is not going to shield us from all harm any more than he did for Job, and good times can be an even harder test of our moral character than the bad ones. But we are all part of the society we live in, not isolated individuals unconnected to and so not impacted by those around us.

  • http://jshakart.co.uk John Shakespeare

    Actually, God didn’t simply ‘not shield Job from all harm’. He positively invited Satan to attack him. Job has a lot to tell us about the relationship between our righteousness and God’s blessing/cursing.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X