Why did God overthrow governments in the Old Testament? Was it because of idolatry? Bloodshed? Oppression of the poor? Sexual sins and perversion? These sins stand out as reasons for the downfall of nations. But one evil was underneath these sins, and it often goes unnoticed as the cause of the demise of civilizations.
As the prophets of God warned of the doom of empires, they cited this sin as a reason for the outpouring of God’s wrath:
Babylon: “I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty…” (Isa. 13:11).
Moab: “We have heard of Moab’s pride — her overweening pride and conceit….” (Isa. 16:6).
Tyre: ”Your heart became proud….so I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings” (Ezek. 28:17).
Judah: “In the same way I will ruin the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem” (Jer. 13:9).
Israel: “Israel’s arrogance testifies against them; the Israelites, even Ephraim, stumble in their sin; Judah also stumbles with them” (Hos. 5:5).
Ponder these verses in light of our national situation. We have seen the worst blow to our economy since the Great Depression. We have watched as unemployment soared and savings accounts dwindled. We have for the first time in many years seen empty shelves in grocery stores. But where is humility before God? Where is repentance and confession of sin? We are dangerously close to the spiritual condition of Israel after God had depleted their natural resources numerous times: “’I gave you empty stomachs in every city and lack of bread in every town, yet you have not returned to me, declares the Lord’” (Amos 4:6). Maybe we need empty stomachs from God. Would that bring our attitude down?
Our politicians are full of pride because few things will inflate a person’s ego like power. They boast of things they have done and things they will never actually do. Nikita Khrushchev said, “Politicians are the same everywhere — they promise to build bridges where there is no water” and other hackneyed expressions, but unless we stop being so independent and start admitting our utter dependence on GOD we will continue to feel the heavy hand of GOD upon our country. But even when politicians are successful we must not give them too much credit and they shouldn’t brag like they did it by themselves. Their lives and ours are in the hand of GOD (Ecc. 9:1; Acts 17:25).
Only by His gracious will do we even breathe, much less accomplish things we are eager to do (James 4:13-17). Nebuchadnezzar, a ruler who boasted that he had built the most wealthy and powerful nation on earth, learned the hard way that God is able to bring down arrogant looks in a moment (Dan. 4:37). What will it take for our public officials to realize this?
No man can truly succeed who is not humble. He may get his way. He may get attention. He may appear to have everything under his control. But eventually the house he built will come crashing down. The same is true with a country. We can have a strong military, a robust economy, and efficient education, but if we fail to acknowledge GOD we will fall. We can keep saying, “We’ll get through this,” “We’re in this together,” “Let’s put America back on the map again” and other hackneyed expressions, but unless we stop being so independent and start admitting our utter dependence on GOD we will continue to feel the heavy hand of GOD upon our country.
Kerry Duke West End church of Christ, Livingston, TN