What God Requires of a Nation by John T. Polk, II

     When God had a chosen people living in their Promised Land under Moses’ Law, He called Israel to turn back to their basic morals with this appeal: “Thus says the LORD: [1] ‘Execute judgment and righteousness, and [2] deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor. [3] Do no wrong and [4] do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow, [5] nor shed innocent blood in this place’” (Jeremiah 22:3).

     All five principles were centered in God’s wisdom which He instilled throughout Moses’ Law.  God no longer has those people entitled to that land, and under that law.

    Paul has written: “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God” (Romans 2:28-29; also Romans 9:6-33; Colossians 2:14-16).

     However, every society would benefit by infusing these five principles throughout their laws and lives.

Execute Judgment and Righteousness

     Executing judgment and righteousness rules out tyranny and dictatorship, for “judgment and righteousness” require firm, objective rules for everyone in and out of government.

     Constitutional laws objectify law and order more than the whims of minorities and individuals.

Deliver the Plundered Out of the Hand of the Oppressor

     Whatever the “oppression,” whether slavery, excessive taxation, overburdened work, or socialized medicine; “the plundered” are the people that have had their weakness unfairly taken advantage of.

Do No Wrong

     A self-evident, God-given morality is reflected in the system of law. Please read, “But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust” (1 Timothy 1:8-11).

     Every “civilized society” has been made “civil” by moral law which has been defined by God!

Do No Violence to the Stranger, the Fatherless, or the Widow

     “Violence” should not be permitted against “the stranger, fatherless, or widow.” These are all people who do not have the protection of a complete home: the stranger is absent from home, the fatherless (orphan) is without both parents, the widow must fend for herself.

     A “stranger” is NOT an illegal alien, but one who accepts the regulations of the land in which he dwells, as clarified by Exodus 12:48-49: “And when a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it. One law shall be for the native-born and for the stranger who dwells among you” (Exodus 12:48-49).

     Hospitality toward strangers should come from shared experiences: “Also you shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 23:9).

     Jesus condemned scribes and Pharisees who would “devour widows’ houses” (Matthew 23:14), analogous to the inheritance and capital gains taxes which keep widows from receiving all of their husbands’ insurance provision for them!

Nor Shed Innocent Blood in this Place

     King David spent a faithful soldier’s life in battle to conceal his own gross immorality, and then lied about it to conceal that murder (2 Samuel 11:1-27; 12:1-14). Politicians who deliberately send soldiers into undefined, unregulated, or continual wars just to conceal their own misuse of power must hear the prophet Nathan say, “You are the man!”

     Manasseh, King of Judah, “shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another, besides his sin by which he made Judah sin, in doing evil in the sight of the LORD” (2 Kings 21:16).

     Like a Supreme Court, Manasseh made it “legal,” but not morally right, to shed “innocent blood,” something God hates (Proverbs 6:16-19) and never forgave (2 Kings 24:1-4).

     Killing the innocent in a land kills the innocence of that land!  Even Jesus’ betrayer, Judas Iscariot, admitted, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood” (Matthew 27:4).  All right-thinking people will protest the killing of innocent men, women, children, and, certainly, babies in their land!

God’s Remedy for Sin in the Land

     God’s remedy for wickedness in the land was outlined in Isaiah: “When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow. ‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ Says the LORD, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, You shall be devoured by the sword’; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken” (Isaiah 1:15-20).

What Others Have Said

     Others, in other lands and times, have also seen the need to correct their own countries.  Frenchman, Frederic Bastiat, whose writings influenced the French Revolution, wrote: “When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law.”

     American, Martin Luther King, Jr., called attention to unjust, prejudicial laws by writing: “One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws.  Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.  I would agree with St. Augustine that ‘an unjust law is no law at all.’  Now, what is the difference between the two?  How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust?  A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God.  An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.  To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: ‘An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.’…We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was ‘legal’ and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was ‘illegal.’  It was ‘illegal’ to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country’s antireligious laws.”

     Since “there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God” (Romans 13:1), no country can be properly governed by leaders who are not humble before God!

     It is up to Christians in every country to help the Word of God be a positive influence in their land.