God and the Nations

Text: John 19:10-11


I.         How involved in God in the activities of the nations?

            A.        We know that God doesn’t change and from the teachings in the prophets of the Old Testament we find that God was heavily involved in the governments of various nations.

            B.        If it was true then, we can expect it to be true today. We may not have God telling us His perspective, but a lack of information doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

II.        Assyria

            A.        Assyria was a very ancient nation, surviving for nearly 3,000 years.

                        1.         But under Tiglath-Pileser, Assyria began a period of rapid expanse to become a world empire. Tiglath-Pileser invaded Syria and Palestine to extend his borders.

                        2.         Under Shalmaneser (727 - 722 BC) and Sargon (722-705 BC), northern Israel (Samaria) was overthrown and taken into captivity.

                        3.         Judah was threatened while King Hezekiah reigned, but God intervened. This was recorded for us by Isaiah.

            B.        God used Assyria

                        1.         Assyria was just an instrument of destruction in God’s hands - Isaiah 10:5-6

                        2.         Yet Assyria did not recognize that this was happening - Isaiah 10:7

                        3.         Even though God was using Assyria for His ends, Assyria wasn’t guiltless - Isaiah 10:12-14

                                    a.         Notice how many “I”s appear in verses 13 and 14

                                    b.         Assyria took no notice of God. The king was operating as he thought fit.

                                    c.         But God knew - Isaiah 10:15-16

                        4.         Thus God told Judah to be patient - Isaiah 10:24

            C.        It wasn’t long before God rescued Judah - II Kings 19:34-37

            D.        A century later, Zephaniah predicted the ultimate end of Nineveh, capital of Assyria - Zephaniah 2:12-15

            E.        Nahum described its fall - Nahum 1:14

            F.        For two and a half millenniums Nineveh has been buried in the wastelands, only recently found by archeologists.

III.       Babylon

            A.        God used the Babylonians to overthrown the Assyrians.

                        1.         Naboplasser of the Chaldeans (626-604 BC) began the assault

                        2.         His son Nebuchadnezzar (604-526 BC) completed the task in his first year of his reign.

            B.        Before the rise of Nebuchadnezzar, Habakkuk came to God with a problem: there was widespread evil in Judah - Habakkuk 1:3-4

                        1.         God’s answer was that He planned to use the Chaldeans to punish Judah - Habakkuk 1:5-6

                        2.         At the time God declared it, people would not have guess that such a thing could happen.

            C.        But if God raises up a nation to punish the wicked, can that nation be guilty? - Habakkuk 1:11

            D.        This puzzled Habakkuk. Why would the righteous God use a wicked nation to punish God’s people? - Habakkuk 1:12-17

            E.        But God makes clear in five pronouncements of woe that the Babylonians would be punished - Habakkuk 2:6-8, 9, 12-13, 15-17, 18-19

                        1.         It is the Chaldeans who would face these woes, but God is telling this to a prophet in Judah.

                        2.         But notice that the woes are in general terms, people with these characteristics will face the wrath of God.

                        3.         There is no arguing with God - Habakkuk 2:20

            F.        The Chaldeans came and in 587-586 BC Judah was carried off into captivity

                        1.         Among those captive was Daniel, who rose to prominence in the Babylonian empire

                        2.         The stories were encouraging to the people

                        3.         But we must not overlook that a major theme of Daniel was that God rules over the nations.

                                    a.         When Nebuchadnezzar had his dream that none of his magicians could say or interpret, Daniel declared - Daniel 2:11

                                    b.         When Nebuchadnezzar had another dream - Daniel 4:17

                                    c.         Years later, when Nabonidas was king and his son Belshazzar was ruling in Babylon, Daniel was called to interpret some writings on a wall and he reminded Belshazzar of those events - Daniel 5:21

            G.        When Babylon had served God’s purpose, it too was overthrown - Jeremiah 51:11

                        1.         Nearly two hundred years in advance, God declared through Isaiah - Isaiah 45:1

                        2.         Yet he too was a tool who did not know he was being used - Isaiah 45:5

                        3.         It was told long in advance so that people would know who was in control - Isaiah 45:6-8

IV.      The Romans

            A.        Clearly God raised up the Assyrians, the Babylonians, and the Medes for a purpose

                        1.         Even though they did not know they were being used.

                        2.         Though used, they committed crimes and were guilty of those crimes

                        3.         God is in control - Isaiah 46:11

                                    a.         God uses the righteous, but He will also make use of the vilest man if that serves His purpose.

            B.        When Jesus stood before Pilate

                        1.         Pilate thought he was in charge - John 19:10

                        2.         Jesus said it was otherwise - John 19:11

                        3.         Jesus was handed over to Pilate by Caiphas. Both Caiphas and Pilate were abusing their power, but Caiphas had the greater responsibility.

                        4.         No power, including Pilate’s existed without God’s approval - Romans 13:1

            C.        Jesus holds all authority - Matthew 28:18

                        1.         He is the ruler of the kings of the earth - Revelation 1:5

                        2.         Lord of lords and King of kings - Revelation 17:14; 19:16

            D.        In describing the destruction of Jerusalem, imagery is borrowed from the prophets to emphasize that Jesus is in control of the nations

                        1.         Seen by all - Matthew 24:27-28

                        2.         Power - Matthew 24:29-31

                        3.         As spoken of the Egyptians - Isaiah 19:1-2

                        4.         Or against Babylon - Isaiah 13:11; Jeremiah 4:19-23; Ezekiel 32:7-8

                        5.         Just as God used the nations to punish Israel in the past, Jesus was bringing in the Romans to destroy Jerusalem.

V.        Such continues today

            A.        God opposes the wicked - Romans 1:18; Ephesians 5:6; Colossians 3:5-6

            B.        The governments were created by God - Colossians 1:16

                        1.         If God made them, then they are under His control, to be used as instruments on His wrath, to accomplish His purpose.

            C.        Even in a crumbling, decaying world, such knowledge should give us encouragement.

                        1.         Christ’s rule is absolute.

[Based on “God and the Nations Today” by Homer Hailey, 1952]