The Christian Scriptures are very instructive when it comes to matters concerning the identity of nations and the shared blood of the human race. The apostle Paul summarized Christian teaching aptly in his address to the Greeks in the midst of the Areopagus in Athens (Acts 17). The Greeks had many gods and an altar to the ‛unknown’ God just in case they had missed one. They realised, that despite their understanding of philosophy and religion, there were areas where their knowledge may not have reached and some divine being existed to whom worship was due. This personal God, whom they did not know, was the One that Paul had come to declare unto them.
“Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein.” (Isaiah 42:5)
“Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves.” (Psalm 100:3)
“All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:3)
Nothing exists that was not made by God apart from the eternal God Himself. No one can escape God, for He created everyone and everything. If we would know each other, we must begin not with ourselves, but with God. We must recognise that we all have our origin in Him.
“Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” (Hebrews 11:3)
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
Those who truly seek God in faith shall most certainly find Him, for He is far more willing to find us than we are even to begin to look for Him. In fact, He begins the search for us long before we think even of searching for Him. We begin with the conviction that God is there and that He reveals Himself to those who truly seek Him.
“For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:12-14)
Next we learn that God cannot be reduced to any part of that which He has made.
“God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.” (Acts 17:24-25)
God cannot be confined within the walls built by human hands. To quote the words of Chrysostom: “...did not God dwell in the temple at Jerusalem? Nay verily; but he worked therein.” There is a sharp dividing line between the nature of God’s existence and the things He has made. Certainly, it is not possible to construct anything that in any way resembles Him out of anything He Himself has created.
God is dependent on no one for anything, instead all things including life itself come from Him. This means that as human beings, we have this in common. This is essential when we are considering our relationships with other people, whoever they are and from whatever nation. We all receive our life and being from God. It is this that makes us human and no one is more human than anyone else. The apostle Paul again,
“And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.” (Acts 17:26)
All men of whatever race or nation share one blood. No race, no nation can claim to be in any way superior to all others for we share the same origin. We are all blood brothers, blood sisters. Ultimately, we are all related by blood to each other. How then can we deny other members of the same human family, we cannot. The elevation of one nation, one kind of person against another is clearly a sure sign of being out of touch with God and is a denial of Scripture teaching. Hearing this from Paul would have been a blow to his Greek audience who divided humanity into two kinds of men: Greeks and Barbarians.
Paul now proceeds to present God not just as Creator, but as the Preserver of the world and the Governor of men. Once created, mankind was not left to struggle on alone. All things follow on by His command and will. The distribution of the different races is by His power and appointment. Furthermore, the way in which history unfolds for each nation has been determined by God beforehand, including the boundaries within which they should live. Our common humanity must exact from us practical pity and sympathy for those in dire circumstances, those driven from their homes by war, famine or other evils. According to Scripture, these are our blood relatives under God who are suffering death and persecution.
We see that the Bible assumes the existence of nations. The world is not made up of a vast number of identical individuals, so that it does not matter who we are or where we come from. We each belong to a family, to a nation, distinguished by ancestry, heritage and differences of language. God Himself has ordained that we should so live in this way. This explanation is found in Genesis 10, where the descendents of Noah from his sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth are listed. The ‛no boundaries’ doctrine of Marxism outlined in the Communist Manifesto and implemented relentlessly by modern politicians of all shades of opinion is wrong and a contradiction of Christian teaching. It is a perverse ideology in the extreme and the cause of much of the misery and suffering in the world today and doomed to failure on a grand scale.
Beginning with creation, the whole of human history has been ordained by God towards a specific end. The purpose of man’s creation was that he should replenish the whole earth (cf. Genesis 1:28). The purpose of God’s guiding providence in history is that men might learn and seek the Lord.
“That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us.” (Acts 17:27)
Men have largely failed miserably in achieving this end. Yet there is no excuse for anyone, Greek or Barbarian, for God is close to every single individual. His mercy and goodness is evident wherever we look, yet we grope about as blind men.
“For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.” (Acts 17:28)
In our very existence, whether physical, or the exercise of other faculties: our self-consciousness and our intellectual and spiritual activity. In all these things we are dependent upon God. God is the giver of our life and our all, this is motive enough that we ought to seek to know Him. We are in a real sense of divine parentage, the offspring of God, created in His image (cf. Genesis 1:27). To deny God, to deny He created us in His own image is to deny ourselves and denigrates our human dignity. It is this that makes us more than brute beasts. God is nearer than we think, for without Him we cannot live. Many think to live without God, but they do not, “for in him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28).We were each and everyone created by God and we continue to be kept by Him. This must dominate our minds when thinking about our life on earth. We are like God in every way it is possible for human beings to be like Him without being God. Our common humanity is taught in the Old as well as in the New Testament and provides a basis for dealing righteously one with another, “Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us?” (Malachi 2:10)
If we look at the account of creation, we find:
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:26-28)
We the blood relatives of all men, but also we all are made in God’s image. The words are repeated in order to emphasise the fact: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him.” We ought then to see something of God in all our fellow men. Marred to varying degrees by sin it may be, despite this there remains in us all something that tells us about what God is like. Our common humanity plus, way and above this, the reality of being created in God’s image should determine how we treat our fellow men. What we do to them directly reflects our attitude towards God Himself. This is why murder is such a very serious matter in Scripture. It is to strike out against the God-likeness in man. “Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man” (Genesis 9:6). The murder of a fellow human being, because of being made in God’s image is an act directed against God Himself and calls for the ultimate sanction of the death penalty. Where killing is treated lightly, not only is humanity despised, but also God Himself.
We are also told of the purpose of man being on the earth. This has not been rescinded anywhere in the Bible, so still stands. We note first that man is not some higher form of animal life; the teaching found in Genesis is that man is God’s special creation. “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” Our task on this earth to rule the created world as God’s stewards or agents, getting the best out of it, not to be consumed merely to fulfil our own desires or serve our own ends, but under God’s instruction to manage it for His glory. The first task given is to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.” Adam and Eve were told to reproduce their own kind, have children, and spread out throughout the earth.
Despite what many clever unbelievers would have us think, mankind has sprung from one original pair, created and placed in a perfect environment. Not only are we all blood relatives, but this also sets the marriage of one man to one woman and the children they bear as the basis of all human society. Marriage one man to one woman, their children, their families, groups of families, peoples and nations, this is how human society has been designed to operate and how it will do so to the end of time, despite its enemies and detractors.
“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24)
Jesus alludes to this passage in His teaching on marriage and divorce. Speaking to the Pharisees, He says,
“...Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Matthew 19:4-6)
The traditional view of marriage cannot be defended in any other way than this – no original couple of man and wife, no marriage, no family, no nations.
Whilst it is true God calls upon us as individuals to believe in Him, we must be mindful that He deals with and speaks to nations. The mandate given to the disciples to preach Christ was that they address all nations.
“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
If ‛nations’ are of no significance here, why then the emphasis on all nations. The human race is seen by God as existing within nations, even as we exist within families. Whilst the Lord Jesus came initially to the house of Israel, the preaching of the Gospel is now to be extended to all nations and all families within those nations.
“These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 10:5-6)
This arrangement into nations has been made as the most suitable by which God deals with men and through which we may search for God and find Him.
God does not follow a ‛no border’ policy. He set us in families and in nations. He deals with one nation in one way and another in another way, severally as He will and what He wills can never be seen as unjust. The reluctant prophet Jonah was sent to the city of Nineveh. It was the city that was to be overthrown. Through the preaching of Jonah,
“...the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.” (Jonah 3:5)
So it was that all the people believed the word of Jonah, addressed as a people, as a city, they repented each and every one and the city was saved. God deals with cities, He deals with nations and they ought to listen to His voice.
There are nations that down through the centuries have enjoyed the bountiful mercies and the grace of God. They have been sent preachers who brought to them the message of God’s grace in Christ, time and time again.
“For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” (Luke 12:48)
To those nations, such as the British, to whom so much has been given in the past by God, but have now chosen to rebel so wholeheartedly against Him, how much more will the wrath of God be kindled against them rather than against those who received much less?
Other nations appear to have been largely passed over in Gospel terms or they have even suffered greatly under the hand of God. What shall we assume? Is one nation therefore more deserving than another? Not really. Jesus Himself taught this:
“There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1-5)
The sense here is not that because they were more wicked dreadful things came upon them. Rather it is of the mercies of God that we do not suffer the same frightful things. If they do not happen to us, it is that we seeing these things happen to others are led to repentance so that we do not perish in the same way. God has blessed our land in the past and appears for the present to stay His hand of judgement, but who can predict for how long this will continue? Woe is us, should we not see His mercy as a reason to turn to Him. We deserve retribution no less than any other people or nation. In fact we deserve it the more because God has blessed us in the past.
Genesis 5:3 tells us that our first parents had children in their own likeness and after their own image. Sadly, this was after the pair had deliberately disobeyed God and fallen into sin. Indeed, the whole human race would now be born in their likeness, as sinners, and now subject to death as God had previously warned the pair.
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” (Romans 5:12)
Things went from bad to worse. Sure enough, they multiplied but so too did their wicked and sinful ways.
“And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” (Genesis 6:5-8)
So it was that God flooded the whole world. Many had the opportunity to join Noah in his ark, but thought his shipbuilding project a crazy idea. One can understand their reaction to an extent for there had been no rain on the earth up until that point. They refused to repent of their wicked ways, they refused to believe there was a way of escape and so perished in the flood. Noah believed God so that he and his family survived.
“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” (Hebrews 11:7)
The task to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it” now fell to the offspring of Noah. It seems that this is exactly what his three sons, Ham, Shem, and Japheth did. We have an account in Genesis 10 of exactly how the three sons and their sons, spread out and lived in families and ultimately nations.
“By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations. ...These are the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, and in their nations. ...These are the sons of Shem, after their families, after their tongues, in their lands, after their nations.” (Genesis 10:5,20,31)
However, initially there was a problem, not everyone was very keen to spread out. The sons of Ham had built cities. One son, Nimrod, had established the kingdom of Babel. At the time everyone spoke the same language so that communication on all levels was easy. It is interesting, but there is an amount of archaeological and other evidence substantiating the biblical account.
“And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” (Genesis 11:4)
The idea was to band together rather than dispersing, establishing a regime that was rebellious towards God and what He expected of them. Their social order was to be built apart from God, one of their own ordering. They built a tower or zigurat, which is a stepped pyramid. Constructed in this way it can reach a considerable height. At the top would be a place for astronomical and astrological research, but also where rulers of the highest degree would meet. Remnants of such towers exist still. This Babylonian symbol has been copied in freemasonry. A similar tower but topped by the all-seeing eye symbol also appears on the reverse of the Great Seal of the United States designed in 1782 during the Revolutionary War of 1775 to 1783. The masonic connections were recognised at the time and resisted by many. Few had seen or knew of the seal until it was printed on the one dollar note in 1935. Significantly, it bears the heading novus ordo seclorum, or ‛new order of the ages’. The seemingly contradictory phrase ‛In God We Trust’ was only added later in 1957 after a campaign by a business man from Arkansas, Matthew Rothert. On the front of the seal written on a scroll held in an eagle’s beak are the words e pluribus unum, ‛one out of many’. The immediate meaning of the unification of the many states into one nation is clear, but many also interpret it to mean an ultimate goal of the unification of all nations into a one world state.
Something similar would have been behind the building of the original tower of Babel. The top was to reach to heaven (v.4). This was understood as creating a centre of power to replace God. They saw themselves as ruling the world in the place of God. They wanted to ‛make us a name’, establish their authority, defining for themselves what they declare themselves to be. Instead of being defined as made in the image of God and dependent upon Him, they followed the aspiration of being as gods (Genesis 3:5). They defined themselves by themselves and all things else as well. A similar striving was initiated by the Greek philosopher Protagoras with his maxim ‛man is the measure of all things’, to be taken up later as the motto of the Renaissance. The fear these men possessed was that they be “scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth”. Divided they would have no power. All efforts to bring men into a one-world humanistic order in the place of a godly one presupposes a common civil government. We face this today.
God responds and sees that “nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do” (v.6). Speaking one language, they set about creating their own new world order to play at god over their fellow men: total power, total government, total control of every area and sphere of life and thought. God’s answer was to confound their speech so that now they could not understand one another. The place of language, thought and speech as a tool in totalitarian rule is a significant one. We all understand the implications of thought control through ‛political correctness’ the only defence of which is that there are certain words and phrases one cannot use, thoughts one cannot express freely, debate that is forbidden. Now these rebellious people could not communicate with each other and so were scattered or smashed(v.7). Those that were of similar speech would have gathered together and moved away. The building of the city came to a halt (v.8). The name given to the place was Babel, meaning confusion (v.9).
Language binds together those who speak the same language, but it also divides from those who speak another. Those speaking different languages develop a different culture and a different way of thinking because of their closeness to one another. Even those speaking the same language, develop a different variation of it and a completely different culture when separated by any distance. Different dialects develop in different geographical areas of the same country and strangers are immediately identified. Without learning the language spoken in a given country, it is nigh impossible to have anything approaching a real understanding of a nation. Learning a foreign language in any depth is laborious and takes many years and native fluency is rarely acquired without living among native speakers. On the day of Pentecost the Bible tells us that the apostles were all filled with the Holy Ghost “...and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). This was a one-off event. It had not happened before nor has it happened since. It was a reversal, just for an instant, of the confusion of Babel. It was prophetic, pointing to a time yet to come when the confusion of tongues or languages and the hindrance of communication and understanding between nations that this causes will be finally lifted.
“And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?” (Acts 2:5-8)
We meet the Babel-Babylon dream throughout Scripture. It always represents an order of life that is anti-God. Since Bible days, many have tried to recreate Babylon and will continue to do so to the end. The book of Revelation shows us that God will one day finally destroy this evil substitute for the Kingdom of God for ever.
“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” (Revelation 14: 6-8; see also 17:5; 18:1-3)
From heaven comes the everlasting Gospel to every nation, from Babylon the very opposite, wickedness and the wrath of God. The exhortation to those who would follow God is to separate ourselves from this evil system lest we too finally perish with her.“Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (18:4).
O the time prior to the flood, we read,
“And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. ...The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.” (Genesis 6:5 & 11)
Not long after the flood and the whole cycle begins again and reaches a climax at Babel. God chose Noah, who “found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (Genesis 6:8), saved him and his family to begin with man again. After Babel, God again sought out an individual, not that the world would once more be destroyed, but this time to be a blessing to the whole families of the earth. The man’s name was Abraham. God sealed His intentions, as He had done with Noah, with a covenant.
“Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3)
God desired a nation for Himself, a nation that would follow Him and be a blessing to every other nation. At first there was just Abraham, his children, their families and their children. They were not yet a nation as such.
There was a famine and Abraham’s descendents were preserved by God in Egypt. So to, incidentally, were the Egyptians, who also benefitted from the wisdom given to Joseph by God. Heathen nations will always be blessed or cursed by the way in which they treat God’s people (Genesis 12:3, see above). Joseph had been sent ahead, albeit through the wicked deeds of his brothers, that they all should not perish. Joseph himself understood the reality of the situation and made this clear to his brothers.
“And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.” (Genesis 45:7)
“But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” (Genesis 50:20)
Once in Egypt the families multiplied and eventually became a nation in their own right, Israel. This is what God had intended. God reassured Jacob about moving to Egypt, “...fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation”(Genesis 46:3). As long as they were just a small group of families the situation was manageable, but even then initially they lived very much on their own in the land of Goshen (Genesis 47: 6). Their way of life was different, their occupation was different. Shepherds were an abomination to the Egyptians (Genesis 46:34). The potential for conflict was there from the outset.
As they grew and multiplied the people became something of a burden and an offence to Egypt. This was bound to happen where one nation exists within another and where origin, culture and faith is of a different order to that of the host nation. The Egyptians feared lest the Israelites should become more powerful and overcome them. Again, this fear is always likely to occur where one nation grows within another.
“Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph. And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we.”(Exodus 1:8-9)
The solution can only ever be that as a whole the immigrant nation should move out and become established elsewhere, if conflict is to be avoided. As so often in such circumstances throughout history, the stronger nation makes economic use of the weaker one, treating them badly and even enslaving them so that they are then unable to take over the country. Throughout European, African and American history, such examples can be found right down to the present day. After Joseph’s death everything took a turn very much for the worse.
“And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour: And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in morter, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour.” (Exodus 1:13-14)
How to get out of Egypt, this was the problem. Pharaoh was unwilling to let them go, perhaps they had now become an economic benefit doing work the Egyptians themselves did not relish and at a cost that was minimal, but they were still a grief to the Egyptians.
“Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel.” (Exodus 1:11-12)
Migrants are invariably an irritation to the indigenous people. This has been true in recent history and remains the case. They will be treated badly, but are suffered because of the economic advantages, often forced to do the work no one else wants to do.
Eventually, Pharaoh was forced to let the people go and led by Moses trudged off into the wilderness. When they got their freedom, they found things were not quite as they had envisaged. Continually moaning, they began to long for the life they had left.
“And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (Exodus 16:2-3)
Once settled in the land, the nation of Israel became a kingdom under God. First, there was Saul, then David, then Solomon. Although there were problems all along, with Saul, and there was David and his adultery and murder. There were external enemies always, but it was at the time of Solomon that things began to go seriously wrong within Israel herself. Israel during the reign of Solomon was something of a golden age. His wisdom is legendary and the prosperity in Israel at the time and the sheer magnificence of Solomon’s commercial operation were dazzling. However, living as an oriental prince of the time, his first concern was to strengthen the glory of his reign and fill the royal coffers. It would hardly have occurred to him to seek the prosperity of the people first. He exercised a monopoly over the extensive commerce, but Israelites themselves saw little benefit from his undertakings. The expense involved in the buildings he erected and the splendour of his court will have consumed considerable amounts of money. Israel was in reality still a comparatively small state, yet Solomon acted like the potentate of a much larger empire. To finance everything taxes were high and grew to be onerous towards the end of his reign. His father David found the tribute from conquered kings more than adequate to finance the moderate expenses of government. Initially, Solomon was able to sustain his lifestyle relying on the treasures left by David. As these resources dwindled, so taxes increased. This is a fairly common phenomenon down to the present day. As Solomon himself said,
“...and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10)
A previous government will accumulate wealth, present a balanced budget, whilst the next will dissipate all the assets on profligate enterprises. This is when taxes begin to rise, or today as gold is no longer the basis of the currency, the government will resort to printing worthless paper money (quantitative easing) devaluing all our resources, lowering interest rates to next to nothing encouraging ever-increasing borrowing thus robbing the frugal and thrifty. Solomon’s profligate lifestyle, his heavy taxation did nothing for his own popularity. Eventually, deep discontent and resentment, restrained during his reign, broke through in the next splitting the kingdom into two.
Solomon was a wise man, but also a fool. Dr John Kitto author of Daily Bible Illustrations, remarked with respect to Solomon, “Look around. We see men who are foolish without being wise; but we see not one who is wise without being also foolish.”As if his financial extravagances were not sufficiently harmful to the nation, his gathering together of an eastern style harem was ruinous. What is of particular interest are the unforeseen consequences of his behaviour. There were strict guidelines in the Law for kings.
“Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.” (Deuteronomy 17:17)
Solomon appears to have failed miserably in both instances, the key words being ‛unto himself’. Solomon lived less under the Word of God than after the style of an oriental potentate of the day. The number of horses, chariots, palaces, servants and wives were an index of a man’s importance and authority. The large harem would have been less a matter of sensual indulgence and more of ostentation. Few among the ordinary people would have had the luxury of more than one wife. Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines, a thousand in all. He would not have wanted to be seen as less than the rulers around him.
Many of the wives would have been women of high rank, princesses. They were taken to ensure good relations between Solomon and their fathers, many of whom would have been under his rule and paying tribute and having a daughter in his harem would have been a kind of surety. In his old age, Solomon’s heart was turned away from God by his many wives, from the simplicity of his faith and worship of God. He had filled his household with women from the idolatrous nations around Israel and was besotted. Like Samson before him he was shorn of his strength and glory. He tolerated their corruptions and idolatrous religions. What began as tolerance soon developed into participation. Soon around the Temple of God in Jerusalem stood the shrines and altars of Chemosh, the cruel god Moloch and the sacrifice of live children, of Ashtaroth and other gods of his wives. The heart of every godly person in Israel must have grieved at the sight. Here was a son of David, a man favoured by God, degrading himself and the whole nation of Israel in the abominable worship of the idols of Moab, Ammon, and of Zidon all “in the very presence of that ‛holy and beautiful house’, which in younger days he had reared to the glory of the Lord” (Kitto). The increasing resentment against the king, especially in the north of the kingdom, brought about the division of the kingdom and finally the exiling of the nation where else but in the land of Babylon. So, the circle is complete.
Britain is a land that has been abundantly blessed and preserved by God, through wars, kept from famine and want. We have more than we can consume and grow fat on excess. We have lived on the riches, material and spiritual, gathered in the past. How quickly have these been squandered, scorned and wasted. Continuing in this direction will see our nation on its knees, but sadly in want and not in prayer. We have, as the prodigal, wasted our substance on riotous living, leading empty, senseless and purposeless lives, enjoying pleasures but for a season. As in Israel, in past days, God has sent His prophets, preachers of the good news of the Christian Gospel. Some of them were persecuted and killed, others in more recent times ridiculed and ignored. Those whose hearts and consciences are not yet seared will be cut, pray God to repentance, but more likely to hatred and anger. As before the flood God reminds us, “My spirit shall not always strive with man” (Genesis 6:3). Continual rebellion, arrogance before God in flouting His Law, His will, can have only one catastrophic and disastrous end.
“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.” (Amos 8:11-12)
Having refused to listen time and time again, resisted the pleas of God’s servants, access to the Christian Gospel will become increasingly diminished until it becomes scarce, as it was in Israel. Then when oppression has reached its height, when those things for which we have sold our souls are taken from us, cry as we will there will come no answer from heaven.
Our hearts have been turned by material superfluity and our minds occupied by a spirit of madness. Our rulers and politicians are intoxicated by thoughts of their own cleverness, stupefied by blind self-admiration, arrogant in unending self-worship. Solomon’s ruin was spiritual as it was material. The two held hands. In pride and vanity he multiplied riches, but also acquired foreign wives. In itself this would not have been so bad, but with them came their heathen religions. Tolerance gave way to participation and Israel became steeped in idolatry. Those previously Christian nations who today have accepted the inevitability of immigration, refugees perhaps fleeing wars, more often than not wars for which we have ourselves been responsible are making a fatal error of judgement.
Compassion for those whose lives have been torn apart is one thing, but allowing them then to enter our territory, into our nation, and set up their altars to false gods, gods that are no gods, in temples and mosques is beyond what Scripture allows. Such behaviour in Israel drew down the judgment of God upon them and it will do no less to us. Our leaders, our politicians have exposed us to appalling tragedy. We have turned from serving the true and living God to the worship of idols, no one waits for Christ to return, no one believes God raised Him from the dead, no one is expecting the wrath of God to come from which they will not be delivered (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10). These places of idolatrous worship must be torn down in a spirit of repentance towards God, only in this way can the coming storm be avoided. Should this not be done, then as in Israel, God will surely do it for us. Seventy years Israel languished in Babylon. Never again to this very day has Israel ever returned to paganism. What come upon Britain in God’s judgement, or upon other western nations, to cleanse us from the tolerance, the participation even by association, in idolatrous worship. Our God tolerates no rivals. He calls upon us to act. Should we not do so, He most surely will. There will come upon us a fearful judgement as upon Israel, so that were it told to us we would not believe it. God used other nations to bring Israel to her senses.
“Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvellously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you. For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwellingplaces that are not theirs. They are terrible and dreadful: their judgment and their dignity shall proceed of themselves.” (Habakkuk 1:5-7)
Judgement for the present is a sign of God’s mercy to restore to us a right mind, but there is a judgement which allows for no repentance. The prophet Habakkuk cried out to God for Israel, “O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save! Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention.” (v.2-3)
Habakkuk saw precisely why this calamity had come upon Israel. “Art thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O LORD, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction” (v.12).
What will become of those who call for national repentance? They can only expect the same treatment as all others who have stood up to proclaim the truth. Godless men crucified Christ, they will do the same to us given the opportunity.
“Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers” (Acts 7:52). Yet we must encourage ourselves with the words of our Lord,
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12)
These days the blood of martyrs calls forth no outrage from our politicians, governments, or rulers, but as that of righteous Abel it cries out to God from the ground (Genesis 4:10). God will avenge these killings. We just ask, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” (Revelation 6:10)
Despite the efforts of governments and politicians around the world to inaugurate a one-nation, global society, they must ultimately fail. Nations and kingdoms will persist to the end of time. There will be a day of reckoning. The central point at issue will be the way in which the Lord Jesus Christ was received or rejected. What is to become of all the kingdoms of this world? In his temptation in the wilderness, the devil seems to offer Him a short cut to domination of the world offering Him the ‛kingdoms of the world’(Matthew 4:8). The prophet Daniel, exiled never to return to his homeland, was given a vision of the nations at the end of time. What he tells us is revealing. Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon dreamt of a great statue representative of all the kingdoms of this world (Daniel 2). Its head was of fine gold, its breast and arms of silver, its belly and thighs were brass, legs of iron and feet a mixture of iron and clay. Each kingdom less precious, but also each harder but more brittle and vulnerable and standing on a very unstable foundation, a mixture of iron and clay. Then comes a stone that smote the statue and brought it down, a stone not cut from the mountain by human hands. These kingdoms therefore will be broken by God, by His Son. “The stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth” (v.35), signifying that one day the Kingdom of God and not those of this world shall dominate the earth. What is taught in Daniel is also reiterated in the last book of the Bible, Revelation.
“And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever” (Daniel 2:44).
“The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).
The Bible teaches that Christ will return to earth for a second time. He will return in the same way as He left it.
“Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)
We believe the Lord Jesus came the first time and have no reason to doubt that He will return. At His return of Christ, God will still be dealing with nations. All those living on earth at the moment of His return shall stand before Him. Many, including the whole of the Jewish nation (cf. Zechariah 12:10; John 19:37; Romans 11:25-29) shall recognise the Lord Jesus for who He is and believe. We must adhere precisely to the words before us here. They shall be judged according to their attitude and works towards Christ Himself as demonstrated towards those whom He calls ‛the least of these my brethren’ (v.40) which deeds will be judged as having been done to the Saviour Himself. We must strictly maintain the teaching of the Bible that salvation comes not by works, but alone by faith in Christ’s person and work, in His death and resurrection. Without that faith no one can be saved.
Allah saves no one, because there is only One who is God and it is not Allah. God says,
“I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me” (Isaiah 45:5).
Mohammed saves no one, because there is no other Saviour than Jesus Christ.
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” (1 Timothy 2:5-6)
It is what we think of Christ that is here so crucial.
“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.” (Matthew 25:31-33)
Because all nations are gathered and it is to ‛all nations’ that the Gospel was to be preached (Matthew 28:19), so it is that all men now, regardless of their race or nationality, are to be judged. At this judgement, the righteous in all nations are separated out from the unrighteous just as a shepherd would go through his flocks separating sheep from goats. The preaching of the Gospel is to nations so that many believing the message are called out to become God’s people, God’s own nation.
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar [particular] people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”(1 Peter 2:9-10)
With the preaching of the apostles and right down to our own day, the expression people of God now goes far beyond just the Jewish nation – which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God.
“Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name” (Acts 15:14).
Everyone has a family, at the very least a mother and father. Everyone belongs to a nation of some kind. So that also Christians, we are not Christians on our own, but are united in Christ to everyone else who believes, like a family of brothers and sisters, like a race, like a nation.
As individuals it is for us to make certain that we are indeed part of the Kingdom of God. Because someone from overseas is given a piece of paper, a passport, this does not make him and Englishman. There is only one way to be English and that is to be born English. The Duke of Wellington is reputed to have said, although much doubt surrounds it: “Because a man is born in a stable that does not make him a horse.” The only way that we can be a Christian, the only way that we can be part of God’s people, His kingdom, is to be born into it. Jesus made this clear to Nicodemus in John’s Gospel, chapter 3.
“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (vv.3-5)
What Jesus is talking about here is not a natural human birth, but a spiritual one. A human birth brings human life, a spiritual birth brings spiritual life. We share the life of our human nation and family, we must share the life of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. How can we be born into the kingdom of God? It centres in the Lord Jesus and His death and resurrection.
“... whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (vv.15-17)