I have been drawn to search for The Pattern of God’s Judgment. Is God consistent? Is God predictable in His judgment? These questions are in the forefront of my mind as I see America disintegrate at “break neck” speed.
In today’s study I was particularly interested in Deut 8:20. That verse points to the consistency of God’s judgment across all nations.
“Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so you shall perish; because you would not listen to the voice of the Lord your God.
This raises a number of questions in my mind.
- How did God make the nations before them perish?
- What hand did He have in their demise?
- What insights would be gained by tracing their rise and fall?
The following homily is taken from The Pulpit Commentary by R. M. Edgar. The bulk of the passage in Deuteronomy relates to remembering God, but notice Edgar’s third point below where he labels God forgotten as the prelude of national decay.
- Could it be said that all nations need something bigger than themselves to believe in to sustain themselves?
I pray that once again in my country it would be the one true God.
God Forgotten Amid Second Causes
7 “For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; 8 a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; 9 a land where you will eat food without scarcity, in which you will not lack anything; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. 10 “When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you.
11 “Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today; 12 otherwise, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them, 13 and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 15 “He led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water; He brought water for you out of the rock of flint. 16 “In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end. 17 “Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’ 18 “But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. 19 “It shall come about if you ever forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you today that you will surely perish. 20 “Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so you shall perish; because you would not listen to the voice of the Lord your God.
The support of the wilderness was manifestly miraculous. They could not doubt their dependence there upon God. They might murmur even amid daily miracle, but they could not doubt it. It would be different in Canaan, and it is in view of this Moses warns them. There they would get sustenance in ordinary ways; and they might say that their own power, and not God’s blessing, made them wealthy.
I. There is a very great tendency to forget God amid the order of nature.
It is supposed God has nothing to do, because we get our supplies through steady “second causes.” But God claims recognition when he blesses us through ordinary channels as well as when he blesses us through extraordinary. The natural order is either due to God or arranged itself. We have not credulity sufficient for the latter hypothesis, and must accept the former.
II. When God asks us to be fellow-workers with Him, it is not to be engrossed with our work and to ignore His.
In the wilderness God fed them out of his own hand, so to speak. But in Canaan he directed them to work for their daily bread. They were raised from being “spoon-fed” to be “fellow-workers.” The temptation in Canaan was to think that their own hand and power had produced the wealth. It is the same still. From being fellow-workers with God, men, by mere forgetfulness, pass into the delusion of being sole workers. Life is workable, they think, without God. Atheism is the principle underlying such a life.
III. This unholy independence of spirit is the sure prelude of national decay.
It is not national “self-reliance” which serves a state, but national reliance upon God in the use of the means He has appointed. Nations that think they can get on alone are left at length to do so, and God-deserted they perish. The Canaanites were illustrating this in their own case. They should be a warning to Israel. Living without God in the world, depending on themselves, they were about to be removed violently from their ancestral scats. It was so afterwards with Israel. They were as a nation effaced from the land where they had been placed in probation. The captivity of the ten tribes was terrible, and so was that of Judah and Benjamin. It is this which nations must still guard against.
God will not be ignored. If nations attempt it, they only efface themselves. Dying dynasties and scattered nations proclaim the existence and retribution of God.
IV. How needful, then, to recognize God’s hand in all things!
The procession of nature – all that is beautiful in second causes, has come from him. The “First Cause” may surely be allowed to work through “second causes” without forfeiting His right to recognition and thanksgiving. Our times are largely atheistic, because our little knowledge of second causes affords such fussy occupation to us, that we have not taste or time to see the First Cause behind all and using all for His glory. – R.M. Edgar
Figure 1: www.preceptaustin.org