Sunday, August 26, 2018

New Covenant Prophecy (7) Words to a Nation

Although nations are not bound by God’s covenant with Israel, they are accountable to the covenant established with humans at creation. When God had finished creating humans, he explained the way that world works. He promised that if people obeyed him and followed his wisdom, they would receive blessing (the tree of life). He warned that if they rejected him, they would lose that blessing. God would not inflict a curse on them. The spiritual powers of evil would attack them and it would seem like they are cursed.

God has created a world with judgment built in and inevitable, because it is intrinsic to the way that the world works.

  • Those who obey God do not just get the benefit of their goodness and wisdom. It is amplified by the blessing of the Holy Spirit. This is grace.
  • Anyone who rejects God does not just experience the consequences of their lack of wisdom, the effect is amplified by the attack of the spiritual powers of evil taking advantage of their lack of spiritual protection.
So when a city or nation turns away from God, the consequences can be nasty. The new covenant does not change that.

When the Old Testament prophets spoke to the surrounding nations, they did not call them to account for their failure to comply with the covenant that God made with Israel. Rather, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel warned the nations of what would happen to them because they had rejected God ways (see Isaiah 13-21). They had given up his protection, so they were vulnerable to the spiritual powers of evil. These powers might build them up for a while, but they would eventually destroy them, because that is what they love violence and destruction.

Most of the judgments announced by the OT prophets were not initiated by God, but were the work of the spiritual powers of evil. The warnings of the Old Testament prophets were not God’s plan. They describe what will occur when cities and nations reject God and lose his protection.

Prophets to the nations should still be warning the nations about what will happen if they continue on their current path. They should not be saying that God will destroy them. They should be saying that they have opened themselves to the spiritual powers of evil and the consequences will not be good.

The word “judgment” is used to describe what happens, but could just as easily be described as “consequences” or "feedback loop". The word judgment is appropriate as it the consequence of the moral decisions made by the people and leaders of the city or nation, particularly those in authority. Their decisions are tested by the spiritual powers of evil and found wanting.

God does not initiate the consequence directly, but he created a world in which it would be possible for the spiritual powers of evil to gain a foothold. He does not shirk from that responsibility. That is why the scriptures often describe these events as God’s judgment.

No comments: