God judge nations for people’s sins. But we often forget that God will also judge nations for the sinful decisions taken by their leaders of those nations. In this post we will explore the judgements of God on nations because of the sins of their leaders.
So Gad came to David and said to him, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Choose for yourself, either three years of famine, or three months to be defeated by your foes with the sword of your enemies overtaking you, or else for three days the sword of the LORD–the plague in the land, with the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the territory of Israel.’ Now consider what answer I should take back to Him who sent me.”1 Chr 21:11-12
When David committed a sin against God, He gave him three options for punishments for the nation of Israel. 2 Sam 24:13 gives 7 years of famine but it is most likely 3 years since the scribes of chronicles had much greater access to ancient documents than us.
- Famine (for 3 years)
- Fleeing before enemies (3 months)
- Plagues (3 days)
Then David spoke to the LORD when he saw the angel who was striking the people, and said, “Surely I have sinned, and I have done wickedly; but these sheep, what have they done? Let Your hand, I pray, be against me and against my father’s house.”2 Sam 24:17
If we live in a nation with leaders taking sinful decisions, God will judge the nation with famine, fleeing before enemies and plagues where all people including the innocent had to suffer because of it.
And it shall be, that the nation and kingdom which will not serve Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, and which will not put its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, that nation I will punish,’ says the LORD, ‘with the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, until I have consumed them by his hand.Jer 27:8
The same theme of judgment which has famine, sword and pestilence were mentioned to nations around Israel if they don’t serve the king of Babylon.
Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David inquired of the LORD. And the LORD answered, “It is because of Saul and his bloodthirsty house, because he killed the Gibeonites.”2 Sam 21:1
To give an overview of Gibeonites, these were the people with whom Joshua made a covenant that Israelites will not attack but they had to be woodcutters and water carriers for the congregation and for the altar of the LORD . This is explained in Joshua 9. Since Saul killed Gibeonites breaking this covenant, God’s anger was against Saul and his house but the punishment was for the whole house of Israel during a time when Saul and his house was long gone.
Because Manasseh king of Judah has done these abominations (he has acted more wickedly than all the Amorites who were before him, and has also made Judah sin with his idols), therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘Behold, I am bringing such calamity upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whoever hears of it, both his ears will tingle. And I will stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line of Samaria and the plummet of the house of Ahab; I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. So I will forsake the remnant of My inheritance and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become victims of plunder to all their enemies.2Kgs 21:11-14
Manasseh did evil in the sight of the LORD but the punishment is for all Jerusalem including his kingdom.
Nevertheless the LORD did not turn from the fierceness of His great wrath, with which His anger was aroused against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked Him.2 Kgs 23:26
Josiah, a righteous king who did good in the sight of the LORD. Yet, God did not turn His anger away because of what his grandfather Manasseh did. Just as we see in the case of famine, the punishment of sword and captivity can be executed upon a nation longer after the leader who caused it died.
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Rise early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh, and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD God of the Hebrews: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me, for at this time I will send all My plagues to your very heart, and on your servants and on your people, that you may know that there is none like Me in all the earth.Exod 9:13-14
The famous 10 plagues of Egypt during Exodus where all Egypt had to suffer is because of Pharoah’s decision not to obey the God of Israel.
And David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Please let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for His mercies are great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man.” So the LORD sent a plague upon Israel from the morning till the appointed time. From Dan to Beersheba seventy thousand men of the people died.2 Sam 24:14-15
As we saw earlier where God is giving choice of punishment to David, he chose the plague and God plagued the whole of Israel from Dan to Beersheba for the sin David did.
God punishes a nation with famine, sword and pestilence if the nations leader sin against Him. This does not always mean these punishment are only when a leader of a nation sins against God. As we saw, God can punish the nation long after the leader is dead.