September 22, 2017 • Life for Leaders
Rise up, O God, judge the earth,
for all the nations are your inheritance.
Would you like to live in God’s country? I imagine you would. I would too.
But where exactly is God’s country? Plenty of people think they can answer that question, because they claim to live in God’s country. I’ve heard people in Montana, New Mexico, California, and Texas refer to the place they live as God’s country. Usually, what they mean is that the area where they live is filled with natural beauty, unspoiled by civilization. (How interesting that cities are not “God’s country,” even though the vision of new creation in the future features a city. See Revelation 21-22.)
Others somehow think of our own country as God’s special country. Many Americans freely apply Old Testament language for Israel to the United States, believing that this country is uniquely chosen and blessed by God. We are the city on a hill (see Matt 5:14). But citizens of other nations also can think of their countries as divinely favored.
The truth, according to Psalm 82, is that every country on earth is, in some sense, God’s country. Verse 8 reads, “Rise up, O God, judge the earth, for all the nations are your inheritance.” The Hebrew word translated here as “nations” is goyim, a word that often means “Gentiles.” It is used by Jewish people to identify non-Jews in particular. How striking to see that the Jewish author of Psalm 82 recognizes that all nations, all goyim, including but not limited to Israel, ultimately belong to God as his inheritance. For this reason, God has the right to judge the whole earth because it all belongs to him.
Recognizing that all nations belong to the Lord does not mean we have to denigrate our own country. We can still love our country or the place we live within it. And we can still think of it as God’s country because, indeed, it actually is. But we must remember that any other person in the whole world could rightly make this same claim. God is King of kings, the ultimate sovereign over all nations. He uses all peoples and countries for his purposes and glory. Thus, even as we esteem the places we live and feel patriotic toward our own country, we do not discount other places or nations. We acknowledge, with the psalmist, that all nations are God’s inheritance, that all countries belong to him.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
What difference might it make in your life if, indeed, all nations belong to God?
How might this impact the way you think about the place you live, your workplace, your country, and the broader world?
Gracious God, King of kings and Lord of lords, today I remember that you are God of all nations. All countries belong ultimately to you. All exist for your purposes. All are meant for your glory.
In that vein, I pray today for my own country. I offer thanks for all the ways this country reflects your goodness and justice. I pray for all the ways we fall short. Help us, dear Lord, to be a nation that honors you and reflects your justice.
In that vein, I pray for my leaders, for those who serve in national, state, county, and city government. May they seek you and your ways. May their decisions be guided by your wisdom. May they be passionate for your justice and truth.
All praise be to you, King of kings and Lord of lords. Amen.
Image Credit: Welcome to Hondo, TX sign by bukwheat, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: God’s Call to Justice
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.
Let me provide a slightly different take on “God’s country.” I believe that America is a nation that is uniquely chosen and blessed by God, not for her own benefit but to be “the city on the hill,” bringing light to the world, as our Founding Fathers have fervently believed. God blesses those He blesses so that that blessing can be shared to others, as He had expected Israel to do when He blessed Abraham saying he will be a blessing to the world.
America has great potential to be the microcosm of the world, where God has called so many people from so many different backgrounds. Indeed, if we can create unity here, there is nothing we can’t do. And where there are needs, we should be (and many times already are) the first ones to be generous, as in the case of Harvey, Irma, Maria and the earthquake in Mexico.