ADVERTISING
 
Monday, March 27   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 

 
ADVERTISING
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 

POLL
Faith at the workplace
Do you agree with the EU Court of Justice that religious and political symbols can be banned at the workplace?




SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



Jonathan Tame
 

Making the nation great again?

National greatness in God’s eyes is outward focused, and rather than being the object of God’s blessing, any material prosperity was to be seen as an outworking of their obedience to God’s ways.

JUBILEE CENTRE AUTHOR Jonathan Tame 11 NOVEMBER 2016 10:42 h GMT+1
trump, make america great again A Trump supporter. / Agencies

One of Donald Trump’s rallying cries in his election campaign was the commitment to ‘make America great again’.  It remains to be seen what that will constitute in terms of policy goals or outcomes, but since so many evangelicals voted for Trump, it’s worth reminding ourselves what national greatness might look like from a biblical perspective.



Let’s start with the early nation of Israel. Abraham was called by God to leave the city of Ur (in modern-day Iraq) and go to another land, where God would make him into a great nation. Not much is said initially about the nature of this greatness, but in chapter 18, God explains it further: ‘Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.’ (Gen 18:18-19)



Christopher Wright emphasises that Israel’s greatness (the fulfilment of God’s promise) would come about through their ethical distinctiveness – not their wealth, political power or military strength.  This was the essence of their national mission: to be a model to the surrounding nations of living according to God’s ways, which were right and just.  The content of this ethical code was subsequently fleshed out in the Mosaic Law.  In God, Justice and Society, Jonathan Burnside emphasises that right relationships were the common denominator of the Law, and that ‘Israel’s vocation is to show the nations what a relationally well-ordered society looks like.’ (p.347)



So national greatness in God’s eyes is outward focused, and rather than being the object of God’s blessing, any material prosperity was to be seen as an outworking of their obedience to God’s ways.  Stewarding that prosperity entails an openness to share; isolationist policies are incompatible with this ideal.



There are occasional vignettes in the Old Testament where we see this demonstrated.  The book of Ruth is a lovely example – the story of how the Law enabled a destitute, foreign widow to be integrated into Israelite society to such an extent that she became the great-grandmother of King David.



When the Queen of Sheba came to visit his son King Solomon, she praised him not only for his splendour and wealth, but also for the wisdom of his governing, the happiness of his people, the justice and righteousness of his rule and his devotion to God (1 Kings 10:1-9). Interestingly, there was a significant element of trade in the visit too, as gold, spices, jewels and more were exchanged.



 



‘Ruth Gleaning’, James Tissot 1896.



More often though, Israel is rebuked for not living up to God’s ways – demonstrating the opposite of greatness.  Idolatry was usually the first failure – not only the crude bowing down to images of false gods, but also the more subtle worship of created things rather than their Creator, which is the spiritual root beneath consumerism today.



Then there were a range of economic sins: distorting the market by using corrupt weights and measures (Amos 8:5); disregarding welfare obligations towards orphans and widows (Zech 7:9-10); and exploiting low paid or immigrant workers (Deut 24:14).  God’s measures the greatness of an economic system not in terms of what it can deliver to the smartest people, but whether it provides the basic needs of everyone in society.



The justice system was also distorted, as the rich could bribe their way out of trouble and the poor were denied justice (Amos 5:12).  When cost of obtaining legal representation today is prohibitive for the poor, it’s no surprise that only people on low incomes end up on death row.



In what may come as a surprise to many today, God commanded Israel to set an example of ethical warfare: among other laws, there was to be no conscription, diplomatic routes to peace were to be pursued first, and a scorched earth policy was forbidden (Deut 20).  When Israel’s neighbours violated these principles, the prophets Isaiah and Amos chastised them for their military excesses.  As the world’s largest military power, the US has the responsibility of setting the example when it comes to the rules of warfare today.



Greatness in God’s eyes is associated with humility; the Israelites were warned in advance never to lose sight of the fact that God’s unmerited grace was the source of their blessing, nor to assume proudly that their own power and ingenuity made them wealthy (Deut 8:10-14). In fact the truly great probably never use that adjective about themselves; likewise caution should be exercised when applying it to one’s own nation.



All these threads and more make up the tapestry of qualities that constituted Israel’s greatness as a nation, and which can inspire other nations today.  Crucially, they were all meant to work in an integrated way to shape and govern God’s ideal for society in a fallen world.  Consequently, there is no biblical basis for elevating just one or two ethical positions to the exclusion of all others, which can give rise to the kind of polarising animosity and single-issue voting which has divided so many in America’s culture wars.  It’s only Jesus who has the authority to say what the greatest law is – and according to him it’s to love God wholeheartedly and to love others (including our enemies) as ourselves.



Talk is cheap; delivering it is much harder.  Our prayer is for God to equip the churches in America to do their part to help make their country great again – not by rallying around a flawed party agenda, but by serving and witnessing together locally in the pursuit of God’s kingdom and righteousness – the kind which exalts a nation (Prov 14:34).



Jonathan Tame is Director of the Jubilee Centre (Cambridge).



This article first appeared on the Jubilee Centre website and was republished with permission.


 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - - Making the nation great again?
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Israel, the UN resolution and the long conflict Israel, the UN resolution and the long conflict

Shira Sorko-Ram, pastor and journalist in Israel, shares her views and a historical and biblical context on the latest events.

 
Lindsay Brown: Islam and the Gospel in Europe Lindsay Brown: Islam and the Gospel in Europe

Is the arrival of thousands of Muslims to Europe a threat to Christianity? What is the growth of evangelical churches in Eastern and Southern Europe? An interview with theologian and Lausanne Movement representative Lindsay Brown.

 
Giovanni Traettino: “Pope Francis is my brother in Christ” Giovanni Traettino: “Pope Francis is my brother in Christ”

Evangelical Focus asked the well-known Pentecostal pastor about his “open” approach to Roman Catholicism. Traettino defended his position about ecumenism during the Italian Evangelical Alliance 2016 assembly (8-9 April, Rome).

 
Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues

The World Evangelical Alliance Secretary General participated in the Italian Evangelical Alliance assembly (Rome, 8-9 April). In this interview with Evangelical Focus, Bp Tendero talks about the need to listen to local churches and to face challenges like the refugee crisis and climate change. 

 
Thomas Bucher: Vision of the EEA Thomas Bucher: Vision of the EEA

Influence in society, evangelical identity and projects in Europe. An interview with Thomas Bucher, secretary general of the European Evangelical Alliance.

 
Evi Rodemann: Youth and mission Evi Rodemann: Youth and mission

“We want to see the youth not just being equipped, but also being multipliers”, Evi Rodemann director of Mission-Net. The European Congress took place in Germany from December 28 to January 2.

 
Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum

Pritchard explains the vision of ELF, comments on the 2015 event in Poland and reflects on what it means to have an "evangelical identity".

 
Pablo Martinez comments on Evangelical Focus’ launch Pablo Martinez comments on Evangelical Focus’ launch

Author and international speaker Dr Pablo Martínez discusses the main challenges in Europe nowadays and hopes Evangelical Focus will be a useful tool to help build bridges between churches and society.

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
‘Reconciliation’ in the Basque Country ‘Reconciliation’ in the Basque Country

Bilbao hosted the Spanish Evangelical Alliance's annual meeting (assembly). Politicians, professors and evangelical representatives shared views on social reconciliation. The theme was also analysed from a theological perspective and in workshops. 

 
WPF17: A look at the world’s current issues WPF17: A look at the world’s current issues

A selection of pictures of World Press Photo 2017.

 
‘Progress of Europe, deeply connected to Bible’ ‘Progress of Europe, deeply connected to Bible’

Indian author Vishal Mangalwadi spoke about how the biblical worldview shaped the West. 300 professionals attended annual GBG meeting on faith and work in Cullera (Spain). Photos: J.P. Serrano, S. Vera.

 
Impressions of Lausanne's #ylg2016 Impressions of Lausanne's #ylg2016

Around 1,000 young Christian leaders from 150 countries are participating in the 2016 Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering, to reflect on global mission.

 
“Spain, we pray for you” “Spain, we pray for you”

Hundreds of evangelical Christians from many denominations marched in Madrid (Spain) to pray for their city, the authorities and asking God to bring hope to its society. Many gathered in other cities on June, 11.

 
VIDEO Video
 
How does erotic love feature in the Bible? How does erotic love feature in the Bible?

Richard Winter, Psychotherapist and Professor Emeritus of Covenant Theological Seminary, answers the question.

 
Proverbs 31 Proverbs 31

A powerful video recites Proverbs 31:10-31, from the Bible. Produced by World Relief. 

 
‘You are a… Christian?’ ‘You are a… Christian?’

A clip by Tracey Ullman's Show (BBC, in the UK) gives a humorous approach to how Christians are perceived in the labour market.

 
What historical obstacles do European missionaries need to overcome? What historical obstacles do European missionaries need to overcome?

Teaching Director of Youth for Christ in Sri Lanka Ajith Fernando answers the question.

 
You-To live-How? You-To live-How?

The Roldan Camacho are a Spanish couple with deafness. They tell us how the whole family experiences everyday life through sign language. A video report by Gabriela Pérez.

 
“Who can help me? I want to become a Christian” “Who can help me? I want to become a Christian”

Nikos Stefanidis of ‘Helping Hands’ in Athens (Greece) shares the story of an Afghan lady who decided to follow Jesus.

 
Philip Yancey interview Philip Yancey interview

An 8-minute interview with Philip Yancey on the role of Christians in a secularised society. Recorded in Madrid, September 2016.

 
An interview with Prof. John Lennox An interview with Prof. John Lennox

New atheism, the definition of "faith", Christianity in Europe, the role of the Bible in mission, and the need to listen more. An exclusive interview recorded at "Forum Apologética" (Tarragona, Spain) in May 2016.

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.