Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people. Prov. 14:34
Not too long ago, my two children were travelling alone to a neighboring country for a holiday. Now, that was something like a one-time experience for them, so they were very excited. When they arrived at our side of the border ready to cross over, they were calmly and immediately processed through. When they reached the other country’s border station, just a few feet away, they encountered a totally different experience. The immigration officer there demanded a mandatory inoculation certificate, which was supposed to have been given to them on our country’s side of the border.
My daughter told the officer that she and her brother had forgotten all about it and she asked him to let them go back and take the inoculation.
To which the officer replied that they could not go back because they had now crossed the border. They were now on a one-way ticket, he told them, and there was no turning back. In other words, they were now this immigration officer’s prisoners.
The only way he could help them, he told them, was for them to give him a certain amount of money.
My children love watching detective stories and by now they knew exactly where this was headed. They realised they were trapped. My daughter immediately took out the money and gave it to the officer, and they were let through.
When my daughter later told me this story, I was angry at first. But then the Lord opened my eyes to see the bigger picture and what I ended up with was deep sadness.
I know a thing or two about the country my children were visiting. One of the things that I know is that this country is deeply corrupt. Now, we all know that corruption is everywhere but, by every account, this country has taken corruption to “the next level”. That’s a fact.
The other thing that is open news is that this country is rife with deep internal problems, including racial divisions. Every few years internal wars flare up and people get killed, displaced, etc. Moreover, there are all kinds of problems both in government and within civil society itself. Crime – murders, robberies, etc. – is a byword in this country.
I had never connected the two – until I heard my children’s saga. That was when the Lord opened my eyes to see why a nation that thrives on corruption is going to have all the problems this country has.
In the Old Testament, the Book of Isaiah talks about righteousness probably more than any other book. One of the things we read there is:
“In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee.” (Is. 54:14)
That’s basically saying the same thing as our key scripture in Proverbs 14:34. You can pray all you want, you can be the most “Christian” nation on the entire planet; but if you are not walking in righteousness, you will not be established. Just in case you are wondering what the Bible means by “established”, it simply means that the things the Bible talks of here will not be within your borders:
“thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee.”
Sometimes we wonder why there are wars and turmoils in certain countries and not in others. Unless it is a clear case of persecution for their Christian faith, the reason, in most cases, is clear: there is no righteousness in these countries. People are corrupt, or they are immoral, or they are anti-God in a variety of ways. That is what we are witnessing in the West also: a rejection of God and an increasingly brazen embracing of immorality. The outcome of these things for a nation is calamity, a broken and hurting society and terror on every side.
Jeremiah 4:2 also says:
“The LORD liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory.”
Notice that both in Proverbs and in Jeremiah, the Bible speaks about a nation. It is not enough for a nation to call itself a Christian nation. We must work righteousness, and this, for a nation, applies firstly to its government. The first thing, therefore, that believers in every nation should do is to pray for that nation; not that there be no drought or famine or any other calamity; rather, chiefly, that the leaders and the people of that nation might exercise righteousness. That is exactly what the Bible says in 1 Timothy chapter 2 verses 1-4:
“1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”
Notice, “… first of all”.
Prayers and supplications are to be made for all men, but especially for kings and for all that are in authority (like that immigration officer) – for what purpose?
“… that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.”
Godliness and honesty within government are the pillars of an established nation.
Let us pray.
“Lord, You reign in righteousness. You love righteousness and you show yourself the protector and defender of all who are righteous. We pray for our nation, Lord, that its people may love righteousness, right from our leaders down to the man in the lowest dungeon so that we in this nation may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. We pray this in Jesus’ Name. Amen.”
[Below: A local community meeting in Singida]