All nations were formed by God. They are evaluated by God. They are judged by God.
Acts 17:26: 'God hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.'
1. Righteousness. The land of the Canaanites was not to be occupied until the cup of the iniquity of the Amorites was full (Genesis 15:16). The sin of Sodom and Gomorrah had reached its fullness, yet God agreed to spare them if even 10 righteous people could be found there (Genesis 18:20,32).
Romans 2:14-15 indicates that God wrote the law of righteousness in each person's heart. We call it a conscience.
2. The second item was their seeking the Lord (Acts 17:27). The abundance of evidence in the creation of God's handiwork leave men without excuse (Romans 1:20). This is His continual witness (Acts 14:17).
The choice of the ancient nations was that of not liking to retain God in their knowledge (Romans 1:21-28). Paul remarked that by his time, 'there is none that seeketh after God' (Romans 3:11). They had chosen to worship idols (Psalms 96:5).
3. The third is their treatment of His chosen nation of Israel. This was His promise to Abraham - 'I will make a great nation of thee...and I will bless them that bless thee and curse him that curseth thee.' (Genesis 12:2,3.) This was the nation prepared to receive the Christ child. This in spite of its recurring failures. There has always been a remnant true to God and His Word. Israel will survive forever.
God has allowed wicked nations (such as Babylon and Assyria) to chastise Israel. They were in turn destroyed for their wicked treatment of Israel.
4. The new nation – 'God has raised up a holy nation, a peculiar people...now the people of God' (I Peter 2:9,10). They are citizens of heaven, Christ their king, now serving as Christ's ambassadors, trying to convince others to be reconciled to God (II Corinthians 5:20). This is a message of eternal salvation (Matthew 28:19). God is evaluating the nations according to their response to this Gospel. On the disciples' first missionary journey, Jesus described the fate of the cities that did not welcome them as 'It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city' (Matthew 10:14-15). Any nations that persecute Christians will be judged severely (see Acts 13:51).
5. This criteria is historically the oldest: given to Adam and Eve, to subdue, have dominion over. Man has stewardship over God's creation, to understand its elements and processes, use and conserve its resources for the good of man and within the will of the Creator.
This mandate was renewed and expanded after the judgment of the great flood. Not until after the dispersion at Babel with the imposition of different languages were no nations. Apparently there were 70 original nations. Thereafter, this developed into about 200 organized nations with as many as 7,000 nations and ethnic groups. History records the rise and fall of many nations through the ages. We assume that this has taken place according to the appointed times and boundaries ordained by God's providence.
Whatever nations that exist when Christ returns will be gathered – 'Before Him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another' (Matthew 25:32). One group 'shall go into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into eternal life' (Matthew 25:46).
Traditionally the United States has been largely supportive of Israel and Christianity. It has also sent out the largest number of missionaries in modern times. Our moral standards were relatively high, although this is now in decline.
The Ongoing Dominion Mandate, confirmed and expanded to Noah (Genesis 9:6-7). Part of this is the continuation of the monogamous marriage institution as the necessary basis of continuing the human population. People are essential to carry on the stewardship of the earth's resources. The factor of divorce, abortion, and the many forces that destroy families, polygamy, etc. show man's continual failure. Subduing the earth to be more fertile and fruitful has only limited success. Also, diseases have only partly been subdued or cured.
Economics and business have historically mingled with and been motivated by greed. Education has been subverted to the idols of evolution and humanism. Man is the only answer to his problems and the only solution available. What nation today would or could be described as seeking God and His will? What nation seeks guidance in our Savior Jesus Christ?
Human governments following the Great Flood. Genesis 9:6 – 'Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed.' No longer a series of family revenge killings which continued the violence. This would lead to rules to control human activities that could lead to murder such as robbery, assault, slander, rape, etc. Law and punishment. Capital punishment was and is the ultimate form of enforcement and punishment. One of the great failings of modern governments has been the rejection of capital punishment, no matter how heinous the crimes committed and proven.
Over the centuries, history has recorded every type of human government, whether kind or cruel, fair or unjust, honoring God or not.
Christians are called upon to be good citizens of the nations we dwell in. Titus 3:11 – 'to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work.' Peter said in I Peter 2:13-14, 'Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether it be to the king, as supreme, or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and the praise of them that do well.' In Matthew 22:21, Jesus said 'Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Ceasar's, and unto God the things that are God's.' There is a point where God's service demands precedence – especially if man's law forbids God's commandment to preach the Gospel of Christ (Acts 5:29).
24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
25 neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
26 and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
27 that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
28 for in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said,
For we are also his offspring.
This article was written by my father T.O.D. Johnston, who was licensed to preach the Gospel by Paran Baptist Church in Lake City, SC, on May 26, 1979. He has been a student of Scripture since 1972. Be sure to visit the author's full list of Bible Study Lessons by book for all of his free lessons.