The Bible And Nation Building
“I am grieved that I have made Saul King, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” – 1 Samuel 15:11
Saul and David had much in common. They were both Hebrews. They were both chosen by God. They were both King at one time or the other. Both sinned against God time and again. But right there, the similarity ended. While one went on to become a ‘man after God’s own heart’, the other went on to die at the hands of Israel’s enemies. What could have accounted for such dissimilar outcomes in the lives of two people? The Bible teaches that it was more than their actions. The reason God deposed and killed Saul can be found in 1 Chronicles chapter 10;13 and 14.
So Saul died because of his unfaithfulness to the LORD: He did not obey the word of the LORD. He asked a medium to request information from a dead person. He didn’t request information from the LORD. So the LORD killed him and turned the kingship over to David, Jesse’s son.
Conversely, we find a theme running all through the life of David. He summarises it for us in Psalm 119: 11 “Your word have I hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”
Concerning nations, he also confesses in Psalm 33:12 “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage! “
These two examples lead us to a number of conclusions. First, that God has spoken to man and left a word, second that God expects man to obey His word, and third that there will be consequences, good or evil, for individuals and nations, if they obey or disobey his word. The outcomes and destinies of nations depends on their obedience or otherwise of the Word of God.
First, God has spoken, and continues to speak to man. So that man would not forget, from the earliest times, God made man to write down what He said. This word we find today in the Book of Life, otherwise known as the Bible. It is God’s conversation with man. In it we find a love story that began eons ago in a garden in Turkey. Through it we come to see God as He wishes to be known, not all at once, but progressively with each passing age. In the stories of the patriarchs, we learn of God’s love for man, a love He has never let go of. We learn of His desire to walk with man, to fellowship with His creation. Through the stories of the Kings, both good and bad we see the God of high moral principles, who would bless and encourage, but at the same time not hesitate to punish the wrongdoer. Through the prophets we see Him give messages of hope, preparing mankind for the coming of His son and the work of redemption that only He could have done. Eventually, in Revelation, we see Him reveal His final grand design, His plan to restore all things to Himself.
The Bible is a message of hope. Hope for the man in an increasingly hopeless world. It message is as relevant today as it has always been, and even more so, as the final curtains draw to a close and creation faces its final hours. The Bible is a plain, honest, straightforward, simple Book. It is easy to read and easy to understand. It needs no learned introduction, no expert scholarship to enable us to grasp its meaning. It was written for the people and it has not missed its mark. It is a people’s Book; therefore a classic. It is an exhaustive, work; therefore a standard. It readily discloses its secret to men of pure heart and simple faith, whether college-trained or unacquainted with the learning of the schools. The primary requisite of the Bible student is a sincere desire to know the will of God in order that he may do it. The Bible is a revelation of the will of God. Its primary appeal is to the will of man. It was written to be obeyed. Hence the primary qualification demanded in the reader is not scholarship but surrender, not expert knowledge but willingness to be led by the Spirit of God. Simple piety will feed on the inner spiritual kernel of Scripture. Pride of intellect will break its teeth upon its external literary shell.
The moral interest of the Bible touches the deeps of childhood, of maturity, and of old age. It kindles in childhood a passionate desire to live a worthier, a nobler, and a better life; it fires the enthusiasm of youth with the same strenuous purpose ; and it sustains the moral elevation of those whose sun is westering and soon to sink into the rest of eventide.
But the supreme interest of the Bible is the interest of the spirit-the interest of holiness, and the supernatural craving for a closer walk with God. In the rich and deep and tranquil satisfaction which it affords to the longing of the soul for perfect union with God, the Bible stands alone. It exhibits the perfect pattern of lowliness, the true type of self-sacrifice, the authentic model of godly fear. The life of the spirit is nourished, expanded, and perfected in feeding upon the Word. The soul is sustained in sorrow, the will is strengthened in conflict, the heart is purified from sin, the intellect is clarified and freed from doubt, the character is established in righteousness and truth, and the new nature is ‘imparted to the child of God through the deeper study of the Word of God.
Second, God expects man to obey His Word. In Deuteronomy chapter 28, we are treated to a series of conditions for obtaining and maintaining the favour and blessing of God. Curses and eventual destruction are the consequence of persistent disregard for God’s word. The message is very straightforward, just as the whole Bible is an open book. It requires no preliminary course of study initiating us into the method of its composition and the mystery of its meaning. The essential content of the Bible, the facts recorded, the truths taught, and the precepts enjoined are within the compass of the most ordinary reader. The principal qualification for the right understanding of the Bible is a pure heart, a simple faith, and an obedient will. We must be in sympathy with the Divine aim and purpose of the Book which is to make unholy, men holy, and to make holy men holier still. We must be prepared to accept as authentic the things which it records as facts. We must be prepared to believe as true the interpretation which it gives of the real significance and meaning of those facts. And we must be prepared to obey the precepts which it enjoins as arising necessarily out of those facts and those truths.
Third, there are consequences of obedience and disobedience to the word of God.
In Deuteronomy 28, God outlines the blessings that will follow adherence to His commandments, and the curses and punishment that will follow their disregard. From verse 1 to 3 we read;
Deu 28:1 Carefully obey the LORD your God, and faithfully follow all His commands that I’m giving you today. If you do, the LORD your God will place you high above all the other nations in the world.
Deu 28:2 These are all the blessings that will come to you and stay close to you because you obey the LORD your God:
Deu 28:3 You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.
This continues to verse 14, and emphasises that obedience to the Word of God will benefit an individual or nation in all aspects of life, from physical health, to prosperity to peace. From verse 15, we are assured that the converse of this is also true:
Deu 28:15 Obey the LORD your God, and faithfully follow all his commands and laws that I am giving you today. If you don’t, all these curses will come to you and stay close to you:
Deu 28:16 You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the country.
To be continued!
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