I’m reading through James Jordan’s excellent Judges: A Practical and Theological Commentary, though I prefer its original title: Judges: God’s War Against Humanism.
“Jacob’s wrestling with God had a particular meaning. God was not angry with Jacob, for Jacob had been ‘perfect’ from his youth, and indeed had been regenerate in the womb (Gen. 25:22, 27 — ‘peaceful’ is literally ‘perfect’ as in Gen. 17:1 and Job 1:1.). When he was attacked, Jacob could not know who it was who fought with him. Was it Laban? Was it Esau? These had been God’s and Jacob’s enemies, with whom he had wrestled in faith for many years. Then it turned out that it was God who was wrestling with Jacob. The meaning was this: All these years, it was God Who had raised up these enemies. They had not been raised up to punish Jacob for sins, but to train him for maturity. Like a father getting down on the floor to wrestle with his son, so the Lord had wrestled with Jacob for years, in order to train him for maturity. The theme of God maturing a man through stages of conflict is also at the heart of the history of Gideon. It was a sign to Israel that God had not forsaken them, but was training them unto maturity.” (Judges, 144).
It is instructive to compare this to our own situation. We are accustomed to say, “We get the rulers we deserve,” and to interpret dark times as God’s judgment. There is truth in these notions. Yet there is more to be said. Recall God's words to Elijah during the dark days of Ahab and Jezebel:
“Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.” (I Kings 19:18).
Those seven thousand were surely worthy of better rulers than Ahab and Jezebel. They were the faithful of God, in no way deserving of the national judgment that fell on Israel during the days of these wicked rulers.
What then of the millions of Christians who have not bowed the knee to the gods of abortion rights, feminism, LGBTQ, multiculturalism, Cultural Marxism, and Social Justice? Do we deserve the national judgment that has befallen us?
By no means.
Now, for many Christians, perhaps especially Evangelicals, I need to add that I am quite aware that we are all sinners, ultimately undeserving of God’s mercy to us, either personally or nationally.
Yet the Bible does speak in terms of covenants—personal, familial, and national—and the terms of those covenants make it plain that both faithlessness and faithfulness are real possibilities. All are sinners, all are deserving of God’s wrath apart from Christ; but in terms of God’s covenantal requirements for individuals, families, and nations, some are faithless, and some are faithful.
Christians who have not bowed the knee to the anti-Christian zeitgeist—in its various manifestations—have, in that respect at least, been faithful to God’s covenant.
For Christians of America, various European nations, or, defining things a bit closer to home, for those of American nations like that of my own native Dixie—for those who have kept faith and not bowed the knee, we must remember two things.
First, God is punishing our nations. The faithfulness of the seven thousand in Israel (which could have represented only a tiny percentage of Israel’s population at the time) did not change the fact of the faithlessness of the overwhelming numbers of their countrymen. Elijah did not deserve the hard times in which he lived; but he still lived in them.
Second, God is not punishing His faithful people. The hardships we endure are unpleasant, and we may be tempted to bitterness. Consider, for example, that the Baby Boomers, undoubtedly the most wicked and selfish and destructive generation in American history, got to grow up in what is certainly one of the most prosperous, peaceful, and socially cohesive eras of American history—the 1950s and 1960s, an era many of us look back on wistfully. The Boomers got that; then they went out and pulled up the roots of centuries of Christian labor in this land; and gave to us the chaos and tyranny and wickedness and insanity and hatred and social disruption of 2019 America.
Ponder that for a while if you really want to sink down deep into some industrial-grade bitterness.
But we must also remember: God had his Seven Thousand among the Boomers, too. My parents were way better than the Satanic Flower Children of the late 60s. Maybe yours were too. They didn’t deserve LBJ and MLK and Vietnam and Altamont.
So God is not punishing us with the evils of our day. He is punishing our enemies with their own devices, and we are feeling the shockwaves of that judgment.
Yet we may be encouraged to consider that our Lord has other reasons for these stunning upheavals.
First, He is cleansing the Temple, as it were. The Revolution is devouring its own children. “Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad;” and the madness of our adversaries is growing and becoming evident even to the simplest among us. The insane project of the Globalist Left cannot sustain itself on these terms forever, and the crazier it gets in the meantime, the more ruinous and permanent will be its fall in the end.
Second, as Jordan said of Jacob, He is “not angry with [us, but is]…train[ing us] for maturity…It [is] a sign to [America, the West, the South] that God [has] not forsaken [us], but [is] training [us] unto maturity.”
Let us then make the most of this time of training: let us accept the hardship of our age and grow in godly wisdom and maturity thereby. Let us be ready to take the reins of influence and authority when our enemies have spent themselves and their children in their mad pursuit of evil and pleasure and are no more.