"God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, 'Breed and multiply and fill the earth.' " Genesis9,1
"Such were the clans  of Noah's descendants, listed by descent and nation. From them, other nations branched out on earth after the flood." Genesis10,32
"From the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him: lo the people [israel] shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations." Numbers23,9
"Heavens rejoice with him, let all the children of God pay him homage! Nations rejoice with his people, let God's envoys [Israel] tell of his power." Deuteronomy 32,43
"That day, the root of Jesse [the messiah Yeshua], standing as a signal for the peoples, will be sought out by the nations and its home will be glorious." Isaiah11,10
"Go, therefore, [Apostles as envoys of the messiah] make disciples of all nations..." Matthew28,19
"those who will have washed their robes clean, so that they will have the right to feed on the tree of life and can come through the gates of the city." [final messianic kingdom city of Zion open to all who have faith] Revelation22,14
"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'See the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples.' " [that is, the people of the millenial kingdom will come into it as nations] NRSV Revelation21,3
Humanity has always been tempted to think there's some better way to govern the world God gave us other than nation by nation. How about something that transcends piddly nationalism, something more "noble" and "progressive" and "grand" even "universal?"
But watch out- we have seen transnational empires old and new, and 20th century totalitarianism, and of late "might makes right" militarism. All these have been pursued transnationally for ideals that are supposedly better than the virtues of mere nationalism, but often prove less beneficial than mere nationalism itself. This type of transnationalism has led to all manner of loss of sovereignty, and human suffering that knows no borders.
This is why Jesus reminded us Christians not to try and set up a kingdom in his name by ourselves because he knew Christians, as empire, would do just as badly as any: "render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar and unto God that which belongs to him."
Now the nation state system may have its faults and limitations, but it serves to remember that it is itself a blessing from God. In fact, Genesis10 lays out the seventy people groups that descended from Noah's three sons. Short of the kingdom of God instituted by Jesus from israel this is the system that God gave us to work with. He isn't asking us to improve on the way he set it up in Genesis 10 and the rest of his word.
Nations by definition are people groups that share a collective identity, and perhaps a destiny. In our own day the nation of Israel, the only exceptional and exemplary nation in God's bible construct, is fighting to preserve itself from those who don't agree that it has the right to exist. This right is not just backed up by the IDF, and perhaps Israel's allies. Yet the faithful truly believe it is also backed up by Jesus Himself, just judge of all nations who will establish fair judgment for the whole world from his chosen nation:
"Faithfully he presents fair judgment; he will not grow faint, he will not be crushed [run from Israel] until he has established fair judgment on the earth, and the coasts and islands are waiting for his instruction." [the nations of the world]. Isaiah42,3c
In other words, the only leader and nation that transcends the nation state system given by God is Jesus and Israel. He will rule Israel and the nations in His millenial reign:
"and his work was also for the gentiles so that they should give glory to God for his faithful love; as scripture says: 'for this I shall praise you among the nations and sing praise to your name.' And in another place it says: 'Nations rejoice, with his people' [Israel] and in another place again: 'Praise the Lord, all nations, extol him all people.' And in Isaiah, it says 'the root of Jesse will appear, he who rises up to rule the nations, and in him [alone!] will the nations put their hope.' " Romans15,9-12
Why Does This Matter These Days?
In the era of Afghanistan and Iraq and desperate for peace in the Mideast it's as if the good old USA is not content with being one nation among many with our own individual set of collective values and destiny. We chose to export our values as if we ourselves enjoyed limitless power and resources. But this risks us becoming like the neighborhood parents who sort of ignore their own kids while trying to parent eveybody else's.
We're learning in the present the difficult lesson of the limits to the power of any one nation.
But, the interesting part about the revelation that God gave us the nation state system is that it reminds us of what we perhaps already know to be true. First, the only lasting and fully just kingdom is the one God will institute after his final judgment after the millenial.
Secondly, while we all recognize that each nation is part of the family of nations, and therefore worthy of some degree of help and aid from the rest, each nation must also bear some degree of its own responsibility for the protection and just and humane treatment of its own citizens.
If this isn't the case, and the good old USA, or some other country, or some transnational political organization, is seen as guarantor of all justice and world governance too, then humanity risks usurping the role of the living God of Israel and stumbling again into some sort freedom robbing evil empire.
Perhaps, God gave the world seventy nations so not one of them would have the power to overwhelm the rest.
So, the bible teaches that the nation-state is the best form of world governance we have and it will even continue into Jesus' millennial reign (Revelation21,3).
(Background source: "Nationalism" Oxford Dictionary Of The Jewish Religion, 1997)
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Tobin Hitt is the founder of the Zion Pentecost Mission. He is open to gospel partnership with all, and identifies with Paul's description of our mission as ambassadors for our king, Jesus, urging all to reconcile with God (2Cor.20-21). He resides in Cheshire, Connecticut.read more...