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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: God Has Spoken to Us

Don Stewart :: How Has God's Dealings with the Nations of the World Demonstrated His Existence?

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How Has God’s Dealings with the Nations of the World Demonstrated His Existence?

God Has Spoken to Us – Question 10

The Bible says that God is behind the rise and fall of nations. It is He who guides the course of the nations and their history. His working with the nations of the world demonstrates that He does exist and that He is in control of their history. The Bible gives the following testimony:

1. Nations Rise Up Because of God’s Desires

God is the one who sets up nations. Moses emphasized this to the children of Israel when he wrote the following:

“When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God.” (Deuteronomy 32:8 ESV)

The New Living Translation translates the verse in this manner:

“When the Most High assigned lands to the nations, when he divided up the human race, he established the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of angelic beings.” (Deuteronomy 32:8 NLT)

We learn that God alone is the one who controls the destiny of the nations. Humans fool themselves into thinking that they are in control. In the end, God is the one who is in total control.

2. The Lord Sets the Boundaries of the Nations

God also sets the various boundaries of the kingdoms of the world. The apostle Paul said the following to a crowd in Athens:

“...and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation...” (Acts 17:26 NASB)

The New Living Translation puts it this way:

“From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand which should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.” (Acts 17:26 NLT)

The limits of any rule are set by the Lord. He raises up rulers and He removes them.

3. He Is the Judge of the Nations

God is the One who ultimately judges the nations. The psalmist wrote about this aspect of God’s character. He said,

“I say to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,’ and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horn; do not lift up your horn on high, or speak with haughty neck.’” For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up, but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another. (Psalm 75:4-7 ESV)

The New Living Translation translates it this way:

“I warned the proud, ‘Stop your boasting!’ I told the wicked, ‘Don’t raise your fists! Don’t lift your fists in defiance at the heavens or speak with rebellious arrogance.’” For no one on earth—from east or west, or even from the wilderness—can raise another person up. It is God alone who judges; he decides who will rise and who will fall. (Psalm 75:4-7 NLT)

This powerful statement makes it clear that the Lord alone is the one who determines destinies. He is the righteous judge.

There are a number of statements in the Book of Daniel about the control of the Lord over the nations. They are as follows:

“He [God] changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.” (Daniel 2:21 NIV)

We find that God raises up rulers as well as removing them. Daniel also wrote,

“For this has been decreed by the messengers; it is commanded by the holy ones. The purpose of this decree is that the whole world may understand that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses—even to the lowliest of humans.” (Daniel 4:17 NLT)

Daniel told the pagan king Nebuchadnezzar that the God of Israel is Lord over all. The prophet made this clear to Nebuchadnezzar when pronouncing judgment upon him. He said,

“You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.” (Daniel 4:32 NIV)

The prophet Daniel stressed the fact that God will give the kingdom to whomever He wills. He can withdraw kings as well as raise them up. They rule at His pleasure.

4. God’s Control Is over Everything: He Is Lord over All

All authority is ultimately under the control of God. Paul wrote to the Romans,

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. (Romans 13:1 NIV)

Today’s New International Version says,

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. (Romans 13:1 TNIV)

God is the one who establishes all authority. The Bible is clear on the matter: God alone controls the destinies of peoples and nations.

5. The Bible Gives Illustrations of God’s Involvement with the Nations in Human History

The Bible gives illustrations where God has been involved in human history. The following nations are said to have been under God’s control:

Egypt

The Bible says that God’s dealings can be seen in His workings with the nation of Egypt. Paul wrote the following to the church at Rome:

For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” (Romans 9:17 TNIV)

God showed His mighty power to the Egyptians by means of the plagues that came upon them. The great Egyptian army was later drowned in the Red Sea. All of this testified to the power and the authority of the God of Israel.

Babylon

Babylon, the nation that God used to judge Israel, would find themselves judged by God. This would happen through the Medo-Persian Empire—in particular by King Cyrus. God said the following of King Cyrus:

Thus says the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped, to subdue nations before him and to loose the belts of kings, to open doors before him that gates may not be closed: “I will go before you and level the exalted places, I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron, I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name. For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me. I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me...” (Isaiah 45:1-5 ESV)

The Medo-Persian Empire was God’s instrument to overthrow Babylon. The following chapters, Daniel 1-5, Jeremiah 50-51, and Isaiah 47-48, testify to this.

Medo-Persia

The Medo-Persian Empire, which followed the Babylonian, was also a target of God’s judgment (Isaiah 44:24-45:1-7; Daniel 2, 7). He is the One who allowed their empire to rise, and He is the One who caused it to fall. Their destiny was completely in His hand.

Greece

After the rise and fall of the Babylonian Empire, and the Medo-Persian Empire, Greece came on the scene. Greece also rose and fell according to God’s time frame. We find this chronicled for us in the Book of Daniel (Daniel 8:1-25; 11:1-35). Again, He was the one in control of their destiny.

Rome

The Roman Empire, according to Scripture, would rise up after these three previous world empires (Daniel 7:7, 23; 9:24-27). This happened exactly as the Bible predicted because the Lord, as always, was in total control. Once again, the destiny of an empire was in the hands of the Lord.

Israel

The greatest testimony of God’s work in history is found in the nation Israel. Their existence and survival is an example of the faithfulness of God. God chose one man, Abraham, and called him out from among the unbelieving nations to found a nation that would be a witness to the one, true, God.

The Bible records that God made the following promises to Abraham:

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go out from your country, your relatives, and your father’s household to the land that I will show you. Then I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will make your name great, so that you will exemplify divine blessing. I will bless those who bless you, but the one who treats you lightly I must curse, and all the families of the earth will pronounce blessings on one another using your name.” (Genesis 12:1-3 NET)

The history of the nation Israel contains one example after another of the providential hand of God. The fact that they have survived to this day is a continuous testimony to God’s power and control over the events of history.

Humanly speaking, there is no reason that they should still exist —but they do exist because of the promises that God has made. He has kept them from being destroyed. They are a living testimony to His existence. History has clearly demonstrated this.

Information From God’s Dealing With The Nations Is Not Enough: More Information Is Still Necessary To Know Who God Is

It is obvious that there is a divine plan behind the workings of the nations of the world. Yet history itself is inadequate to tell us who this God is, and what He wants from us. We cannot gain any personal knowledge about God by observing how He has dealt in history. More information about Him is needed.

Summary – Question 10
How Has God’s Dealings with the Nations of the World Demonstrated His Existence?

History tells us that an all-powerful God has been working behind the scenes. The rise and fall of nations is at His desire. It is ultimately He who decides their fate.

We discover this in the history of Egypt, Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, Rome, and especially Israel. The histories of these nations testify to the existence of God, and His control over all events.

Yet history cannot tell us any specifics about His character, or how individuals can come to know Him. Something else is needed.

How Has God's Existence Become Known through Unwritten Tradition? ← Prior Section
Does General Revelation Prove That the God of the Bible Exists? Next Section →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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