Over 2500 years ago, the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, was full of pride. However, God humbled him in Daniel 4. Nebuchadnezzar found out for himself that God has everlasting dominion in heaven and on earth and that no one can restrain God's hand (4:34ff). God ruled in Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom.
The psalmist praised God in Psalm 113:4 for a similar reason - "The LORD is high above all nations, His glory above the heavens." God has all authority and power--above individuals and even above nations. Jesus, when He was before Pilate, declared - "You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above..." (John 19:11). Those who have earthly power and authority have only received it because God allowed them to receive it! As Paul said - "Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God" (Rom. 13:1).
Just a brief look at these passages should convince us that God does indeed rule in and over the nations. Because of this truth, we should not be surprised that God has rules He expects nations to follow. That's right, He has rules for nations just like He has rules for individuals. We will be considering seven of these rules this week.
RULE #1: NATIONS MUST BE RIGHTEOUS.
Proverbs 14:34 reads - "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people." Any nation that is exalted by God will have a portion of the population doing that which is right in God's eyes; but, when a nation gives itself over to sin, it will bring dishonor to that nation.
Listen to what Moses told the Israelites on this subject in Deuteronomy 4:5,6 - "Surely I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should act according to them in the land which you go to possess. Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statues and say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.'" Moses told the nation of Israel how to be great. He told them to carefully observe the laws God had given them. Basically, he told them to be righteous. In so doing, they would be a wise people and a great nation.
As Deuteronomy 4 continues, notice the questions that Moses begins asking the people. I believe these same questions should be asked of our nation today. "For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the LORD our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him?" (4:7). The nation of Israel was special in its close relationship to God. America, when it was founded, recognized that there was a God and that as a people we should respect and fear Him. In the past, our nation has constantly called upon God for aid and protection.
Now, look at verse 8 - "And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this law which I set before you this day?" God had given Israel a wonderful law system through Moses. It was far superior to anything conceived by any other nation at that time. The laws and principles upon which America was founded--our forefathers' concept of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness--are based upon Biblical principles. Those principles, with God's help, have made it possible for the United States to become such a great nation. Our principles and blessings from God have made us the envy of almost all other nations of the world.
But, look at what Moses said in Deuteronomy 4:9 - "Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren." What was the downfall of Israel? They didn't diligently keep the righteous laws that God had given them, and they failed to teach their children about God's ways! Guess what? Is this not what is happening in much of America today? Many have forgotten the righteous things our forefathers taught us. We have failed to teach godly principles to our youth. As a nation, we have failed to remember Psalm 33:12 - "Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD..."
Friends, God's first rule for nations is that they be righteous! Are you contributing toward the righteousness of your nation via your actions, attitude, and influence?