By P.J. Casebolt
“The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Ps. 9:17). And we need to be concerned not only with the final destiny of such nations, but also with their present condition and standing in God’s sight.
“But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly” (Gen. 13:13). When Abraham could not find even ten righteous souls among those wicked Sodomites, “the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven” (Gen. 19:24). Some 1900 years later, Peter said that the condemnation of these wicked cities was “an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly” (2 Pet. 2:6).
If a nation will repent in time, and turn to God, it is possible for that nation to be spared. God told Jonah, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me” (Jon. 1:2). At first, the prophet shirked his duty and tried to “flee . . . from the presence of the Lord,” but after three days and nights in a fish’s belly, Jonah decided to do God’s will. Drastic measures are sometimes required to get some preachers to do their duty. When Nineveh finally got the message, its citizens, including the king, repented in sackcloth, “turned from their evil way,” and God turned his wrath away from Nineveh. But another king did not lead his nation to repentance, and that nation of Babylon was overthrown, even by an inferior nation (Dan. 2:39; 5:25-31).
We need to be concerned about our nation, whose citizens “from the greatest of them even to the least of them,” engage promiscuously in wickedness, but refuse to repent. What can God-fearing people do in such cases?
Though Lot was a righteous man, all he could do was to be “vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked” (2 Pet. 2:7, 8). Lot had “pitched his tent toward Sodom,” and though he prospered materially with his livestock (the economy was in good shape), he learned that Sodom was not a prosperous environment for family values. Sodom had passed the point of repentance and forgiveness.
If there is any hope left for our nation, it is not to be found among the ungodly, but rather among the godly. “I
exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peace able life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Tim. 2:1, 2).
Most people, including the ungodly, desire to “lead a quiet and peaceable life.” But in order to enjoy such a life, our moral values must be based upon “godliness and honesty.” When people continue to engage in such ungodly
acts as sodomy and other forms of fornication, dishonesty, lying, stealing, “murders, drunken ness, revellings, and such like” (Gal. 5:19-21), they are destroying the very foundation of “a quiet and peaceable life” for themselves and for others.
And if other citizens find pleasure and com fort in such things (“everybody does it”), then they become par-
takers of such evil deeds (Rom. 1:32; Eph. 5:11). But if a nation forgets God, does God lose all control
over that nation? It is true that when nations or individuals forgot God, that “God also gave them up” (Rom. 1:21-28). But that doesn’t mean that God no longer controlled the destinies of such nations or individuals.
Nebuchadnezzar, the heathen Babylonian king, learned “that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whom soever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men” (Dan. 4: 17, 25). God even used this heathen nation to punish his own people for their idolatry, used the Medes and Persians to punish Babylon, then used the Persian king Cyrus to help God’s people rebuild the temple at Jerusalem. Some 600 years later, in A.D. 70, God used the Roman nation to destroy Jerusalem.
When the Roman governor Pilate told Jesus that he had power to either crucify or release him, Jesus answered, “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above . . .” (John 19:10, 11). When the citizens of Tyre and Sidon played politics with the Roman king Herod (their prosperity was “nourished by the king’s country”), Herod made a speech and the people flattered him by saying, “It is the voice of a god, and not of a man” (Acts 12:20-23). Herod had just “killed James the brother of John with the sword,” and put Peter in prison (vv. 1-4). When Herod “gave not God the glory,” the Lord’s angel smote the king, “he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.”
“But the word of God grew and multiplied” (v. 24). We know that many of God’s people “were gathered together praying” (v. 12), and among other things they could have been praying that they may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” It certainly is a propitious time for all saints to be offering up such a prayer that the word of God may grow and multiply, and lest some of us end up vexed and fleeing like Lot, be imprisoned like Peter, or killed like James.