Judicial Abandonment: When God Abandons a Nation
As things look more and more hopeless in America, with a likely presidential race featuring two pagan egomaniacs who mostly care about only themselves, it really does seem like America is a goner. It seems like God has finally lifted his hand of grace over this once great nation, and is allowing it to descend into the pit all by itself.
Those with a watchman on the wall type calling, or a prophetic sort of ministry can only grieve and mourn as they see what is unfolding all around them. It is so painful to behold, and our broken hearts only in small measure reflect the broken heart of God over all this.
We read in various places in the Bible where God abandons a people – even his own people. Think of the departure of the glory of the Lord from the temple and Jerusalem, as we find in Ezekiel 9-11. In Romans 1 we read about how God gives people over to sinful desires, shameful lust, and a depraved mind, while in 2 Thessalonians 2 we read about God sending a people strong delusion so that they will believe a lie.
I certainly believe that if Americans in November elect either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders as President, America is finished. They will simply complete the job begun by Obama. But each passing day I am coming to strongly believe that the same will be true if Donald Trump wins.
The more I learn about the guy, and the more we learn from what he says and does each passing day makes me utterly horrified at a Trump presidency. I am beginning to believe it will not be better than a Democrat presidency, and may in fact end up being worse.
So all three prospects make me wonder if God is not saying ‘adios’ to America. It sure seems that way. When righteous leaders are rejected by the masses, and completely reprobate narcissists and demagogues are preferred instead, then it may well be curtains for a country.
Nearly 500 years ago John Calvin spoke about how “a wicked king is the Lord’s wrath upon the earth,” citing passages such as Job 34:30; Hosea 13:11; Isaiah 3:4; 10:5; and Deuteronomy 28:29. There certainly is something to that, and to see Obama or one of these three as part of divine judgment on the US would not be hard for me to believe. I speak to Calvin’s view here.
It is sad but true: When a nation forgets God, God returns the favour. And what is true of nations is true of individuals as well. As R. C. Sproul says concerning Romans 1:
Three times in this section we read about human beings being given up by God. They are given up to their vile passions, the lust of the flesh, and their reprobate minds. When God judges people according to the standard of his righteousness, he is declaring that he will not strive with mankind forever. We hear all the time about God’s infinite grace and mercy. I cringe when I hear it. God’s mercy is infinite insofar as it is mercy bestowed upon us by a Being who is infinite, but when the term infinite is used to describe his mercy rather than his person, I have problems with it because the Bible makes very clear that there is a limit to God’s mercy. There is a limit to his grace, and he is determined not to pour out his mercy on impenitent people forever. There is a time, as the Old Testament repeatedly reports, particularly in the book of the prophet Jeremiah, that God stops being gracious with people, and he gives them over to their sin.
The worst thing that can happen to sinners is to be allowed to go on sinning without any divine restraints. At the end of the New Testament, in the book of Revelation when the description of the last judgment is set forth, God says, ‘He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still’ (Rev. 22:11). God gives people over to what they want. He abandons them to their sinful impulses and removes his restraints, saying in essence, ‘If you want to sin, go ahead and sin.’ This is what theologians call ‘judicial abandonment.’ God, in dispensing his just judgment, abandons the impenitent sinner forever.
And it seems this is just what we see happening on a much larger scale – in America. God seems to be giving people there just what they want – and they are paying the price for it. Plenty of other Christian leaders have been saying such things. Indeed, back in the 1970s and 80s prophetic voices like Francis Schaeffer warned about this very issue.
Plenty of others could be mentioned here. But let me finish with just one. Almost a decade ago American pastor John MacArthur gave a sermon entitled “A Nation Abandoned by God”. He mentioned the story of the decline of Sampson, then he went on to say this:
I can’t imagine anything worse than being abandoned by God. To the sons of Israel earlier in the book of Judges in chapter 10, God said this, “You have forsaken me, you have served other gods, therefore I will deliver you no more. Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen. Let them deliver you in the time of your distress.”
This was God saying to Israel, “I’m done with you, abandoned by God.”
Proverbs chapter 1 records a similar sentiment. “Because I called and you refused, I stretched out My hands and no one paid attention. You neglected all my counsel, you did not want my reproof, I will even laugh at your calamity. I will mock when your dread comes, when your dread comes like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind. When distress and anguish come on you, then they will call on Me but I will not answer. They will seek Me diligently, they will not find Me because they hated knowledge, did not choose the fear of the Lord, they would not accept My counsel, they spurned all My reproof, so they will eat of the fruit of their own way and be satisfied with their own devices.” Again being abandoned by God, turned over to the inevitable consequences of sinful choices.
A haunting line is found tucked away in the little prophecy of Hosea chapter 4 and verse 17, and it refers to Israel by the name Ephraim and it says this, “Ephraim is joined to idols,” so says God. The next line, “Leave him alone.” Sounds out of character for God, doesn’t it? “Ephraim is joined to idols, bring him back,” might sound a little more like God. “Let him alone?”
People and nations, even the covenant nation Israel can come to a point where they are abandoned by God. Jesus reiterated this in Matthew 15 when He confronted the Pharisees and then described them to the disciples. He said this, “They’re blind leaders of the blind. Let them alone.” When God lets you go, it’s serious. When Jesus pronounces over you abandonment, it’s serious.
Now I’m going to say something, you’re going to have to hold onto your seat a little bit. I’m convinced beyond doubt that in this same sense, God has abandoned America. I know that’s a strong thing to say and I’m going to show you why I believe you can see that clearly in Scripture.
Open your Bibles to Romans 1…Romans 1. Don’t be surprised, by the way, by that statement because while you’re turning there, Acts 14:16 says this, this is from the Apostle Paul, “In the generations gone by,” that’s past history, “God permitted all the nations to go their own way.” This is not the first nation God has abandoned, nor if Jesus tarries is it the last, or is it now the only. This is the cycle of history and it is this very cycle of history that Paul describes in Romans chapter 1. Here in Romans chapter 1, beginning in verse 18 running to the end of the chapter, you have the most clear presentation of God abandoning a nation, what that looks like, what happens and why He does it. This is the most graphic and the most detailed and the most comprehensive discussion of what it means for a people, a society to be abandoned by God. And it perfectly describes the moral chaos in our own nation today.
It starts with very familiar words. Verse 18, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven.” Now let me stop you there for just a moment. We’re talking about the wrath of God and I need to just let you know that in the Scripture and in reality there are five different manifestations of God’s wrath. Okay? And you will recognize them. There is eternal wrath. That is that wrath which God unleashes on the unbelieving dead in hell…eternal wrath, suffering forever eternal punishment. That’s eternal wrath.
There is also in the Bible eschatological wrath, that is the unfolding of divine wrath at the end of the age described in detail, for example, in Revelation 6 through 19, the pouring out of God’s wrath in the breaking of seven seals, the blowing of seven trumpets, and the dumping of seven bowls of wrath…eschatological wrath, that wrath is yet to come as is eternal wrath for all society, yet right now there are many experiencing eternal wrath, all the unbelieving who have left this world are experiencing.
The third kind of wrath is what I guess you could call calamitous wrath. That is that wrath of God which produces calamity in the world and the most notable illustration of that is the Flood which drowned the entire world, only eight people were saved. Massive wrath on the part of God against sinful man.
Fourthly, there is consequential wrath, that’s sowing and reaping wrath. That’s the natural end of patterns and choices of sin. Whatever a man sows, he…what?…he reaps…that’s consequential wrath.
But there’s one other kind of wrath that is usually overlooked. We all understand eternal wrath, eschatological wrath, calamitous wrath, we all understand the calamity of the Flood or God destroying Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum, etc., etc. Throughout history these calamities continue to even happen and they all fit in the category of God’s judgment of sin.
But there’s this other category of the wrath of abandonment, it is a form of God’s wrath in which He lets go of a society and lets it catapult full speed without restraint in the direction of its own sinful desires and devices and choices. That’s the wrath being described here. This is the cyclical reality of this wrath that has defined human history and will always until Jesus comes. As Paul said, in all the generations gone by, God permitted the nations to go their own way.
You can hear his entire sermon with the link below. Let me finish by saying I am not a prophet nor the son of a prophet. I am not inspired in anything I say – only perspired. But I would not doubt for a moment that America in 2016 is a perfect candidate for judicial abandonment. We can and should pray for America. She needs the mercy of God big time. But it is certainly possible that the day of mercy is now over for this once great nation.
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