Our little systems have their day
They have their day and cease to be.
They are but broken lights of thee
And thou, oh Lord, art more than they.
(Tennyson, In Memorium)
In our generation, we have said, “Goodbye,” to dozens of nations. They have dropped into the dustbin of history.
This now common expression is more and more often used to refer to well-known nations of the past and present. They were once prosperous, influential, happy and apparently moving without serious problems through the untroubled course of their history. These nations are now gone. Many never sensed the turning of the hinge of fate which brought them down.
Mighty empires have been formed under the leadership of vaunted, self-assertive personalities. These empires and these personalities have now been swept away, leaving hardly a trace. Formerly proud emperors are now but statues, trunkless legs of stone standing in the desert, from which pedestal the lone and level sands stretch far away (Percy Shelley, Ozymandias).
Certainly, the minimal lesson in this is that nations live and nations die.
As a standard variant, some retain their names but are devastated by invasion or revolution so that they are the same nation of yesterday in name only. So it sadly now is with scores of countries in our time. Frequently nations, overwhelmed by new powers, become the scene of unspeakable carnage where vast areas are laid waste, turned into graveyards and crematoriums. It is apparent that no nation of our world is safe from these dreadful possibilities, as many from Korea to Kampuchea would testify. The death of a nation is a sad thing to behold.
We do well, therefore, to consider the question of the fate of a nation. Nations live and nations die. What really makes the difference? What can be known that will give us better authority than mere theory on this important matter of the fate of nations? Every person who lives in any nation in our time is wise to pay attention to such questions as if his life depends on it—because it does.
How It All Began
In order to understand what it is that produces national survival and viability, we must first face the question of the essence of a nation. What, after all, is a nation? To discover the answer, we must look back to the pages of earth’s most reliable history book. It is the Bible!
The Bible is really the only dependable source book available, given to man to explain the origin of things such as the universe, the earth, life, peoples, nations and humanity itself. No person, unfamiliar with the Bible, could spend time in a more valuable way than to examine the writing which tells us of these origins—the book of Genesis. In these opening pages of Scripture, we are told of the origin of all created things, especially man. Man, the Bible says, was made “in the image of God” (Gen. 1:26-27). Man and woman, male and female, were created by God (what an inspiring thing to know about ourselves!) and were placed in a beautiful garden called Eden.
Adam and Eve, the father and mother of us all, were created in perfection, albeit in innocence. They were given a commission to subdue the earth, to become its masters. They were beings of Divine destiny, made to fulfill a great purpose. They chose, however, to turn from that purpose. They took to designing their own lives, rejecting the path which God had clearly set out for them. They believed the Satanically inspired proposition that destiny was resident in themselves, not in the God who made them. This was the mistake which led to all others.
The result is well-known to us all. Sin entered the world! Beginning with Adam, the race of men became affected in each successive generation by the continued and progressive infection of sin. This awful malignancy all too quickly grew in the hearts of men (and women, we speak generically) to the place where the Lord Himself made an awesome decision:
Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them” (Gen. 6:5-7).
To the pure eyes of God, the sight of depraved humanity must have been an awful scene to behold. The Bible says,
The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth (Gen. 6:11-12).
Here, God in His infinite wisdom, made a decision. The earth, for the sake of future generations, must be cleansed. So a flood was sent upon the earth for the destruction of the corrupt majority of humanity. One man was the exception to that corruption! “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (Gen. 6:8). The result was that he and his family, because they were faithful to God and obeyed Him in the building of an ark, were spared the watery grave which came upon their vile, violent and unrepentant neighbors. After the flood, the day came when Noah and his family looked out upon the second dawn of human history. As God had previously commanded Adam and Eve, He now commissioned Noah’s family to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Gen. 9:1). Here God choose to restart history (a popular new age concept) with the generations of Noah.
Along with that regeneration of humankind, God instituted a plan to retard, to frustrate the rapid growth of sin. He made it much more difficult for evil to be so quickly propagated across the world. Until the flood, mankind had been a single human unity. The world was unitized until the day of Noah.
The New Plan
What then was instituted was division. God, Himself, divided the world into a whole set of new political entities which He called nations. Speaking of one segment of the family of Noah, the Bible says:
From these the coastland peoples of the Gentiles were separated into their lands, everyone according to his language, according to their families, into their nations (Gen. 10:5).
These were the sons of Ham, according to their families, according to their languages, in their lands and in their nations (Gen. 10:20).
The summation of the new plan to divide the peoples of the world is then found in Scripture:
These were the families of the sons of Noah, according to their generations, in their nations; and from these the nations were divided on the earth after the flood (Gen. 10:32).
So a new word is introduced into the language: nations. These new and remarkable units, the nations of the world, were then segmented one from another by Divine design. We see, then, that God is against uniting nations, against a politically united world, but individually ordained by God, these entities have now become “the authorities that exist” (Rom. 13:1) which bring ruling order to segments of mankind and divide the world into many diverse groups.
What, then, is a nation? It is a political, economic and generic entity which claims a certain area of the world and is normally characterized by differences which are racial and linguistic. The initial array of nations on earth were, in fact, the families of Noah after their generations.
The world, the families of men, were divided into nations. While it was the Divine plan, it was soon resented by men. Somehow, the natural man, motivated by human weakness and the perversity of sin, constantly disposes himself to build a communal society. Man prefers to be disconnected from God, depending rather on multiples of his own kind (society), thereby imagining himself powerful because of his numbers. With this perverse disposition going strong, the human race engaged again in self-evaluation and decided it must make a name for itself. It instituted, therefore, a plan for uniting once again and proceeded to organize itself internationally in disobedience to the will of God. Conferring together, these foolish fathers of humanity stated as follows:
And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (Gen. 11:4).
“Let us make a name.” How often in history has this cry been repeated! (Our English word for it is denominate.) Men decided that it was, in fact, possible to build some strong human base, some earthly anchor to which they could hold, so as to brace themselves against the winds of the resented Divine plan. Because man is a sinner, the Divine plan was that he be scattered across the face of the earth. This would make it difficult for man, in his iniquity, to organize himself on an international political basis. Whenever man attempts to do this, his organization tends to become an anti-God thing. It becomes, in the process, a very antihuman, cruel thing, as well.
The world’s plan for a new society was soon frustrated, however, for who can withstand the will of God? Man, with his feeble schemes and little systems, is no match for the powerful will of God working in the lives of nations. So God said,
“Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city (Gen. 11:7-8).
The lesson then is clear. Individual nations in multiple numbers are the political units of the world which are ordained of God. Coercive combinations of nations, large international councils where kings and parliaments lend their authority to one another, these movements quickly tend to be satanic rather than Divine. It is the devil who would organize a communal world. He then sets it against God (as indeed, one day he will—cf. Rev. 13). It is God who divides sinful men from one another. He does this for a most important purpose, that of preventing man from foolishly trusting himself and forcing him to trust the God in whom, alone, is strength. Men and nations, however organized and interdependent, cannot succeed when they posture themselves in an attitude of rebellion against the will of the eternal God.
Having taught us that plural nations are the Divine design, the Bible, we would expect, must surely give us that basis on which the blessing of God comes upon a nation. It must, we would certainly assume, give us the opportunity to know the policies which make for national greatness and, conversely, the false principles which cause nations to fail. The fate of a nation; on what does it depend? Does the Bible tell us these things? Yes, it does!
We must not forget the first, the paramount principle that, according to the Bible, produces the fate of a nation. This quality, stated in the Word of God, says,
Righteousness exalts a nation,
But sin is a reproach to any people (Prov. 14:34).
There is a second quality which is closely tied to the fate of a nation, and that quality is intelligent, moral leadership.
The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me,
And His word was on my tongue.
The God of Israel said,
The Rock of Israel spoke to me:
“He who rules over men must be just,
Ruling in the fear of God.
And he shall be like the light of the morning when the sun rises,
A morning without clouds,
Like the tender grass springing out of the earth,
By clear shining after rain” (2 Sam. 23:2-4).
Jesus Christ spoke on a significant occasion to His diciples and their friends, addressing the issue of their influence in this world. His words are full of present application and prophetic import. He said,
You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven (Matt. 5:13-18).
A Promised Blessing
Now the LORD had said to Abram:
“Get out of your country,
From your family
And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you.
I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 12:1-3).
The Word of God clearly promises a blessing on those who bless Jerusalem and delivers the frightening threat of a curse upon those who lift a hand against her. Our generation should know by personal experience how true this is.
Dr. Dave Breese (1926-2002) was an internationally known speaker, teacher and author. He founded the ministry of Christian Destiny in 1963, and through it proclaimed the gospel on weekly radio and television programs and in numerous books and booklets. In 1987, he also became the president and Bible teacher on The King Is Coming telecast, a role that he filled until his death in 2002. Other organizations that Dr. Breese served during his distinguished ministry career included Youth For Christ, Awana, Back to the Bible, National Religious Broadcasters and National Association of Evangelicals. A frequent conference speaker and a master at explaining the relevance of Bible prophecy, he was also known for his wisdom and wit. It is a great honor to include him as part of the inaugural class of Revived Classics authors for Dispensational Publishing House.
This article originally appeared in the July 2007 issue of Destiny Newsletter.
Copyright © 2007 Christian Destiny, Inc. All rights reserved.
The article is reprinted here by permission of Christian Destiny.
For more information regarding Christian Destiny, go to www.ChristianDestiny.org.
Other material copyright © 2016 Dispensational Publishing House, Inc.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®.
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.