May I ask if there is room for a distinction of the Judgment of individuals and the judgement of nations – where nations are a corporate entity which will have to answer in defence to their response to their corporate destiny? – If true who will be responsible to answer for the corporate (National) Judgement – Those in power?.
Something else I have been pondering from time to time. When is a nation cursed to such an extent that it will be advisable for individuals to separate themselves from the national identity – if such a thing would be possible. – I always thought that the issue of a nation’s stance towards Israel might be the watershed issue on the issue of “the curse on a nation from God directly”, not that there are not many national curses, but I had a thought in the back of my mind that as soon as our nation goes against Israel it might be a good idea to find a another nation to live in?
Please bear with me, my questions might be very basic and not well informed. Your thoughts?
Kind regards, Hans
In scripture, particularly the OT, we see definite nations dealt with as nations. Many are described as having a distinct corporate personality. Scholars note the prominence in scripture of what is called, “corporate solidarity.” We see this also in the NT in the particular judgements threatened on some of the seven churches of Asia, which are each regarded as discrete corporate entities with their own unique personalities, gifting, strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies. Nations like churches have particular angels associated with them. There is a mystery of corporate solidarity that is intimated throughout scripture.
The book of the Revelation also speaks of the ‘glory’ of nations (Rev 21:24), suggesting that nations have a distinct character all their own, as do churches. This seems to suggest that the glories of their distinguishing attributes and excellencies are brought into the eternal city, as now regenerate and delivered of their former dominance by the principalities and powers that pervert true nationhood. That passage says, “the nations that are saved.” Does this mean that some whole nations are lost? Perhaps, but I think it is talking about the saved individuals that are out from those nations. Israel will be a completely saved nation because it will be purged of all that is not saved.
In considering judgment on nations and particular localities, we should remember the pattern we observe in scripture. However righteous and set apart, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel were required to taste the bitterness of exile along with the rest of the apostate nation. Therefore, though the end of an individual may be quite different in the ‘long run’, he or she may well be required to suffer in the judgements that descend on a nation whose iniquity has come to full. That is the pattern we see in Israel’s exile, and I can’t see where it would be too different in a world where the church is called to be a ‘diaspora’ people, scattered throughout the earth as a witness people. Why, even the church’s sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s table are suitably quite portable. We are a pilgrim people, in every place, and often on the move.
The church is called to be a light in a dark world. What part of the world does not lie in wickedness? Where does one go to hide their loved ones from the judgment that hovers over a cursed land? If we flee from certain levels of societal debauchery that seems to especially concentrated in some cities or nations more than others, we might well be fleeing to a worse place where God has marked a perhaps more hidden but just as hateful kind of pride.
Of course, there are examples of special revelation of the Spirit, such as Joseph’s dream, or Agabus’ warning of imminent famine in a specific region. There is the specific and prophetically knowable time to flee Judea in Mt 24:16 etc. We are indeed to ‘follow the cloud’ in our sojourn in this world. But except in such special instances of divine revelation and leading, it has usually been the experience of the remnant people of God to endure some measure of the suffering that judgment has brought on their nation or locality. There was no special immunity for even the most righteous in Israel, though sometimes miracles would happen, that was always the exception and not the rule according to Heb 11.
So unless specially directed, the church is not at liberty to flee off to the “safe spots” of the earth, even if it knows of such. It is usually our lot to abide in our localities in order to extend ourselves as ‘the servant of the Lord’ to our surroundings. I heard that Oswald Chambers died after giving up his bed to another during an epidemic. Dare we presume to assess the mind of the Lord whose way is perfect with each of His children (Ps 138:8; Ro 8:28).
Until we die or the Lord returns, we are to be Christians, just Christians, reflecting the Light that is in us to the dark world around us. As Paul said, “whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” This world is not our home; here we have no continual dwelling place. We are the people of the tent.
But it does matter greatly what nations do with Israel. Particularly when Israel in its awkward circumstance becomes even more of a scandal in the proud and condemning eyes of the nations, Israel will be a divinely ordained test of the heart. It is already a sign that judgment has progressed to a very advanced stage when a nation turns against ‘the Jew in the midst.’ As for this world, and all the nations in it, there’s not much any believer can do that’s more important than to continually pray, “thy kingdom come,” all the while knowing that the kingdom comes in clouds of suffering and judgment.
The old adage must have known something about the nature of apocalyptic when it said, “it’s always the darkest just before the dawn.” Many a time, when our dear Jewish counterparts were in terrific circumstances, they would think that Messiah must be near. Thus the famous phrase, “the footsteps of the Messiah.” If only more of them had known the Light of Israel who would have brightened even the worst circumstance by a liberating power that does not depend on the outward circumstance for its effectual working. Even when not outwardly vindicated, Christ’s salvation is a secret sealed in the believer’s heart that cannot be shaken, because it is not the believer but God that sustains it. Such faith, ‘the faith of God’s elect,’ is a gift of sovereign grace and mercy. It is a transcendent kind of knowing. John said, “He has given us an understanding.” It is hidden place that the believer knows with the Lord. “The righteous run in and are safe.” His Spirit is faithful to quicken us afresh in crisis, most especially and precisely when all other strength is gone. So the believer ‘should be’ one that knows that come what may, however great the darkness, “joy comes in the morning.”
“Come quickly Lord Jesus!”
But even before His final return at the end of the tribulation, we may take heart that He is free in His sovereignty to come in so many wonderful ways to those who look for Him in even the little things, since in joy or sorrow, in little or much, in life or in death, Jesus is Lord of all.
Further input on this important subject welcomed. Reggie