A Standard for the Nations
Amos had a tough role to play. God commanded him to go warn his nation that judgment was coming because it refused to live by His standard. God had put a plumb line to His people Israel, and He could spare them no longer (Am.7:8).
Though Amos’ message was one that nobody wanted to hear, it proved to be true. About 30 years after delivering his warning, Israel was destroyed. There were consequences of rejecting God’s standard after all – and the consequences were dire.
This aspect of Israel’s history raises an important question. Does God have a standard that applies to nations today?
There are secularists and Christians alike that would say the answer is, “no.” The secularist would say we must govern ourselves by the standard of reason. The Christian, in this case, would say that there are natural laws that may apply to all men, but no common standard that can be applied to all nations.
In each case, however, some critical truths are being overlooked. Let’s consider them.
First, when God made Adam, he was a representative of all men. He was made in God’s image, and was to live in keeping with God’s character. This is true of every human being that has come after him. All men everywhere are accountable to live by God’s standard because they are children of Adam.
Second, when Adam fell into sin, he set the whole human race on a course whereby it is inclined to suppress the truth in unrighteousness. As result, human reason and natural revelation alone are insufficient guides for humanity. The clear standard of God’s Word is needed.
Third, though Adam’s fall put humanity in a state of rebellion against God, all remain accountable to live by His standard. An example of this is that God judged Sodom and Gomorrah even though they were not part of His covenant people. The same can be said for Nineveh, who repented when warned of judgment to come if disobedience to God’s standard continued.
Fourth, Jesus Christ is the heir of all nations. The day will come when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord and King over all. In the meantime, the nations – by His grace – are to learn to observe all that He commands.
Fifth, the Bible gives the civil authority a very distinct role as a minister of justice, charging him to uphold certain standards God has revealed in His Word.
The issue at hand is not a small one. If God has given us a standard, we must recover what it is. When we learn we have violated His standard, we must return to Him with repentant hearts.
The most compelling argument that this is so is found in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Through Christ’s resurrection, God is bringing about a new creation – right in the middle of the old one. The world has a hard time coping with this, because it prefers to limit Christian beliefs to that which is private and inconsequential.
But Jesus will not have it so. By His resurrection He declares Himself to be Lord over all. So to His standard we should return, and in so doing enjoy the blessings of the new creation.