John MacArthur makes this salient observation is his book Called To Lead, about how Christians can benefit a society that has gone awry,
“The same principle runs continuously through the pages of Scripture. God’s people in the midst of an ungodly community actually protect that community from disaster. God told Abraham He would have spared the entire cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for the sake of ten righteous people in their midst (Genesis 18:32). Later in Genesis, Laban begged Jacob not to return to his own country: “Please stay, if I have found in your eyes,” he said, “for I have learned from experience that the Lord has blessed me for your sake: (30:27). The same principle is evident again in Joseph’s experience. Genesis 39:5 says of Potiphar, “The Lord blessed the Egyptians house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was on all that he in the house and in the field.” And even when Joseph was cast into prison, verse 23 says, “the keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper.” So even the prison master was blessed because of Joseph.”[i]
Often we can look at the society around us and ask ourselves, “How long will God let this injustice go unpunished?” Often the righteous in the Bible express thoughts just like this one. Lot is a good example, but so is Isaiah, Jeremiah and many of the other prophets. The people of Israel got to some pretty horrible states of wickedness, yet their country continued on, even in prosperity, for some centuries before God finally judged their society.
One of the reasons that God withholds his full judgement is because of his righteous people in the midst of a fallen society. It is because of us that blessing comes upon those, sometimes, who would often be set against God, or at least not for God. Because God is a patient and just God who wants people to have every chance to be saved and every chance to experience his blessing.
Peter tells us this very explicitly in 2 Peter 3:9, “9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” God does not delight in the death of the wicked, but wants people to have a chance to turn from their disastrous ways.
So, even though we can see our modern society falling apart and we can see how it does deserve to be judged in many ways. And even though we know this is the likely result if things continue the way they are. We can pause for a moment and remember: we are agents of blessings in this fallen world. People like Abraham, Joseph and Daniel were agents of blessing in very fallen cities and nations. And God wants to be an agent of blessing through us today, just like he was in the days of those men.
It is not wrong to ask God to bring judgement upon evil. Indeed, I wrote just yesterday about how God does curse nations today which break his laws and commands. But it is also good to remember that Jesus told us we are in this world to let our lights shine and to be agents of blessing and truth and good in this world. The greatest good we can do is point people to Jesus through the gospel. But there are many other ways we can bring good into this world via art, and creativity and building and resistance to evil, advocating for true and biblical justice and more.
God will decide to finally judge our society in his own time. Until he does that, it is our responsibility to extend his kingdom in this world in every way we can, which will bring blessings to the pagans around us. This is an incredible responsibility that we have, and we should not forget this vital truth. Too many Christians can get negative because of how things are today. And this is understandable. But God has done incredible things through his people in even worse circumstances than ours. Let’s not forget to be agents of blessing. Who knows what God will do?
[i] John MacArthur 2004, A Call to Lead, pp42-43.
Matthew Littlefield writes to think through some of the current issues facing society, the Church and whatever else comes to mind that might be interesting to process. Matt's focus is usually historical or scriptural, though he will address current issues from time to time as well. He is a co-author of The Ezekiel Declaration and the book, Defending Conscience, How Baptists reminded the Church to defy tyranny. He blogs most days at YoungGospelMinister.blogspot.com.
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