Tag Archives: nations

As Long as There is Breath

In the ancient lands what often took place was that the people would find a mountain, or if there were no mountains a hill, and they would use that as their capital city and the main place of worship.  They would build a temple to their greatest deity or deities as if to proclaim to all the other peoples around them or traveling through their cities that their god was watching over them.  Jerusalem was no different.  They had chosen Mt. Moriah, the mountain where Abraham had nearly sacrificed Isaac, also known as Mt. Zion to be their temple mountain and capital city (Jerusalem).

They had made a beautiful temple built at the instruction and care of Solomon.  It was one of the finest temples ever built in the ancient Near East.  It glittered in the sun. It shined in the night.  It could be seen for miles away.  It was a magnificent sight to see.  It is understandable why the elders of Jerusalem wept bitterly after coming back from Babylon and seeing the new temple that had been built.

If you have read Micah, you’ve probably noticed that he had proclaimed that the people of Judah were horrid people.  The government was corrupt, the prophets and priests were corrupt, and God was going to judge them.  They would lose everything.  They would be exiled and their lands would be destroyed.  The temple mountain would grow bushes and weeds because it would be torn down and abandoned.

But Micah, like God, loves the people too much to leave them in despair.  “It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it,” (Micah 4:1).

This is what we would call poetry parallelism: highest of the mountains = above the hills. Micah’s point here is simply that God’s mountain, Mt. Zion, His house, the temple will be greater than the others. God is establishing His greatness above the other gods.  The palace of God, the temple (both the same word in Hebrew) would be not only restored to its original greatness and popularity, but even greater than it has ever been.  The debate over who has the stronger, more powerful God will be over.  God will be the undisputed champion of the world!  Everyone will know it.  No one will doubt it. People will be coming from everywhere!

That’s what Micah tells us, “And many nations shall come, and say: ‘Come let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.’  For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem,” (Micah 4:2).

What’s that?  People all over the world, nations, which to the Jewish listener would mean Gentiles were coming to worship Yahweh, the God of the Jews.  In other words, God would not simply be the God the Jews but the God of the world.  His kingdom would be over everyone!  Not in some God created everything so He is the king of everything kind of ways, but people are coming from all over the world and worshiping God because they long to do so!

The word of the Lord is no longer confined to the people of Judah, but is spread all over the world.  It began in Jerusalem, but from there is spread like wild fire to the ends of the earth!  Does that sound familiar?  “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth,” (Acts 1:8).  By the time everything is said and done we will see what John saw:

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb! (Revelation 7:9-10).

What began 2,000 years ago will continue until Christ returns.  There is no limit it would seem to the people who come into this kingdom.  Nations, peoples, tribes, languages.  Think about those who are being persecuted in places like North Korea who have buried Christians alive, Afghanistan where people have put bounties on their own family member’s head because he/she became a Christian. People from those nations that seem like no one would ever believe (and every other nation) will come to know Jesus!  What we generally look at as a lost cause and a hopeless situation will turn around by the very gospel that we hold!  For the gospel is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes.  No one is outside the power of God’s gospel.  As long as there is breath there is hope.

Please leave me a comment; I’d love to read what you have to say. If you found this encouraging please feel free to share.

If You Can, Must You?

I recently saw “Black Panther” and I must admit that this is probably the best Marvel Movie in my humble opinion to date.  Many are praising this movie, and to be honest, I haven’t read one article or review by others.  These are just my thoughts that the movie brought to my mind.  I am not that deep of a guy, so I would say that this was the main question the movie was asking: If you can, must you?

The plot of the movie involves the Wakunda nation of Africa. They have a mountain of vibranium which allows the people to have advanced technologies, and the king to have the strength of a panther.  The question that continues to be asked is if the country has the obligation to help others less fortunate that they.

I am not going to spoil any more of the movie for the readers, but I want to think through the answer biblically, or at least present a biblical response.

This response flows out of Proverbs 3:27, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it,” (ESV) .  of course, this raises the question as to whom does our food belong.  Context dictates that those to whom it is due is to our neighbor.  The very next verse says, “Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it‘–when you have it with you,” (Prov. 3:28, ESV: emphasis mine).  The neighbor is to whom it (the good) is due.

The next question then is: who is my neighbor.  If you’re a believer, you know from where this answer comes. Jesus made it clear that everyone is our neighbor, or at very least, everyone in need is our neighbor.

The only question that is left is to ask if what is true for the individual is true for a nation.   This is a bit trickier, but I believe that the Bible, though not explicit, shows yes.  There is at least precident for saying it is true.

When Joshua was leading the Israelites into Canaan, the people as individuals(and as a whole) were instructed not to take anything. Scan however did take some items. An individual did the deed, but the nation was responsible  “But the people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things, for Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things. And the anger of the LORD burned against the people of Israel,” (Joshua 7:1, ESV).  One individual, one nation.

Another thought is that an individual must follow after Yahweh, but the nation’s are as well.  We see this in the Psalms, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage,” (33:12, ESV).  This verse comes on the heels of verses 10-11 that clearly juxtaposes nations who reject the LORD and those that do not.  Likewise, we as individuals are to receive Christ as Savior and Lord, but we are called to make disciples out of all nations.  (Cf. Matthew 28:19)

I am not so naive as to think that the answer (or at least the implementation of the answer) is so simple.  However, I still would argue for the necessity of a people doing what they are able to help those who are not: their neighbor.  These abilities must also take other factors into consideration.  A person should not be the surety of another, “Be not one of those who give pledges, who put up security for debts, (Prov. 22:26, ESV).  A nation should not go into debt for another nation.  However, should one sacrifice for the good of others?  Though we are not under Israelite law, we can learn and apply principles from it.  The landowners could not harvest from the edges of the field and could not pick up anything that was dropped in the field. It was left behind for the poor and hungry.  They had to sacrifice their abundance for those in need.  Should we not as well?  There are still more things that need to be factored in as well.  More than any of us I am sure could imagine.

Let’s say a nation was overtaken by famine and the people were starving. The British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs received the report, but ignored it.  The U.S. Secretary of State received the same report, and thus ignored it too. But North Korea’s minister received the report and sent aid to help fill the hungry people.  Which one of these is the neighborly nation?

I simply go back to Proverbs 3:27, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it,” (ESV) .