Whether or not God is active among nations today is fundamentally a question of God’s providence. When a country is engaged in a geopolitical struggle or even a war, we often find religious leaders and/or institutions being very vocal about God’s position in it. In fact, we will often see two very different, opposite arguments made by people professing belief in the same God.

On the one side, some religious leaders will vehemently oppose the struggle. The opposition is often based on the “peace” and “love thy neighbor” portions of Scripture and refuses that God could be playing any part. “Jesus came to bring peace and end war,” they argue. On the other hand, religious-minded proponents of the national conflict will argue God’s providence is at work. “God is bringing this about!” they exclaim, usually quoting some portion of prophetic Scripture that they believe is being fulfilled in the event. Are either right?

How Scripture answers "Is God active among nations today?"

Any nation’s authority is granted from God1,2,6 and He will/can intervene3,4,5,7,9. In this way we can say God is active among nations today…but this leaves some popular notions without any biblical authority. For example, His authority is bestowed whether they are “good” or “bad”. Christians are commanded to submit to them regardless1,2,6, except of course when this conflicts with God’s command8. Also, we don’t and can’t know if or how God might be intervening7, since that was a role of God’s prophet4 to explain why it was happening…and they no longer exist. Finally, there is no passage or writer that ever engages in any commentary about governmental policy or system, such as socialism (as some argue).

Answer built on scripture-blocks below

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
Let every person [Christian] be subject to the governing authorities [Rome]. All authority is God’s, and any governing authority exists by Him. Therefore, resisting them is the same as resisting God. Those that resist will incur judgment [from God].

Paul is offering encouragement to the Christians in Rome. He has given some specific, practical instructions for daily life in the previous chapter and continues the same them in this chapter (vs 8). However, the first seven verses instruct on their attitude about the Roman government and that they are to submit to it and pay the taxes they owe (vss 6-7).

Scripture-block application to this question

God has instituted all governing bodies, and by extension of His ultimate authority, has granted them authority to which each governed person is to submit.

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.
Remind them [Christians in the church universal] to obey and be submissive to their authorities, ready for every good work. Don’t speak evil of anyone, avoid quarreling, being gentle and perfect courtesy to all.

Paul’s letter of encouragement to a young preacher Titus. Much like his letters to Timothy, Paul instructs Titus regarding the different churches “in every town” (1:5) to which he was ministering. Also, like Timothy, he encourages Titus to “let no one [in the church] disregard” him (2:15).

Scripture-block application to this question

Paul instructs Titus to remind Christians to submit to their governing authorities, specifically demonstrating their faith through good works to all mankind. [Implied here is the ultimate authority to which they submit – God.]

Understand, O dullest of the people! Fools, when will you be wise? He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see? He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke? He who teaches man knowledge— the Lord—knows the thoughts of man, that they are but a breath.
The stupid should understand and the fools get wisdom! God created the ear and can of course hear Himself. He formed the eye and can see! He chastises and corrects nations. He is the source of knowledge for man, knowing his thoughts and that his life is a breath.
A psalm about the character of God and His dominion and authority.
Scripture-block application to this question

The psalmist attests to God’s “disciplining” of nations.

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.

The word of God came to Jonah, son of Amittai, telling him to go to the great city of Nineveh and preach to them about their evil deeds that have risen up to heaven.

Jonah was likely a contemporary of the prophets Hosea and Amos, or coming slightly before them during the long reign of Jeroboam II of Israel (northern tribes). He is somewhat unique among the prophets, being called by God to prophesy to the gentile city of Nineveh.

Famously, Jonah attempts to flee his calling by God and gets swallowed by “a great fish” (1:17) which God had directed. He does go and preach and remarkably the city repents assuaging God’s judgment (3:10). Ironically, Nineveh is the eventual capital of Assyria who would take the nation of Israel into captivity.

Scripture-block application to this question

God is aware of Nineveh’s wickedness and tells Johan to go and preach to them.

In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, in fulfillment of the Lord’s message spoken through Jeremiah, the Lord motivated King Cyrus of Persia to issue a proclamation throughout his kingdom and also to put it in writing.
In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill what He had already spoken to His prophet Jeremiah, God motivated (“stirred up”) the King to issue a proclamation in writing to send throughout his kingdom.

The children of Israel have been in Babylonian captivity for seventy years.  Cyrus and the conquering Persian empire follow a policy of allowing conquered peoples to return to their homeland and worship their own gods.  In this case, Cyrus is enacting this policy with the Jews and returning them to Jerusalem. This fulfilled God’s plan and what had been prophesied some years before.

Scripture-block application to this question

God stirs up Cyrus, King of Persia, to do something that would fulfill a prophecy spoken through Jeremiah the prophet.

!! scripture-block context extra important here !!

Persia (Cyrus) has just conquered Babylon who had taken the southern nation of Judah captive some seventy years prior. The proclamation issued by Cyrus allows them to return to their land.

John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
John addressing the seven churches in Asia: Grace and peace from Him who is and was and is to come, and from the seven spirits before His thorn, and from Jesus the true witness, firstborn of the dead and ruler of kings on earth.  To Him who loves and freed us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father.  To Him be glory and dominion forever. Amen.
The book of Revelation is what John saw and was told to write down (1:1-2). Using “in the Spirit” as a structural marker, the book can be sectioned into four visions in particular:

  • Vision One (1:9-3:22) – Jesus speaking to the seven churches
  • Vision Two (4:1-16:21) – Seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls of wrath; “one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls” introduces the last two (and therefore possibly connected):
    • Vision Three (17:1-21:8) – Babylon the Harlot
    • Vision Four (21:9-22:5) – Jerusalem the Bride
Scripture-block application to this question

Jesus is currently “the ruler of kings on earth” and has ultimate authority1,2.

When I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done on earth, how neither day nor night do one’s eyes see sleep, then I saw all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. However much man may toil in seeking, he will not find it out. Even though a wise man claims to know, he cannot find it out.
When I [Solomon] set out to understand the activities of man’s pursuit on earth and how it is never completed, compared with all that God has done, man will not comprehend it. No matter how much he seeks or how wise he is, he might think he understands but he does not.
Throughout the book, the writer is documenting the vanity of life “under the sun.” It is a thesis from the wisest to ever live and probably the single-best authority (from a human perspective) given his God-ordained wisdom and wealth to examine human life. His conclusion in the end is simply to honor God (12:1) and obey/fear His word (12:13).
Scripture-block application to this question

Solomon understood that God was in control of all “the business that is done on earth.”

And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”
[The apostles] were brought before the [Jewish] council, where they were interrogated by the Hight Priest and reminded that they had been told not to teach about Jesus and accusing them of being blamed for His blood. But Peter and the rest replied that they must obey God rather than men.

In the early days of the Christian movement and God’s establishment of His “new covenant,” the apostles are carrying the message of the gospel across Jerusalem and Judea and it has landed them in prison (vs 18), but God released them (vs 19).

Scripture-block application to this question

The apostles are told the Jewish authorities to stop preaching the gospel message, but they prioritize obeying God over obeying men (e.g. government authority).

But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.
God is in His holy temple; all the earth is subject to Him.

The book records a conversation between Habakkuk and God.  The prophet first questions why God is tolerating the sin of Judah (1:2-4). After God responds (1:5-11) that He’s raising up the Chaldeans (e.g. Babylonians), Habakkuk questions how/why a more sinful nation would judge a less sinful nation (1:12-2:1).

The Babylonians began their dominance around 605BC and began carrying Judah away in captivity around 586BC. God exacted judgment on Babylon around 539BC.

Scripture-block application to this question

The idea that “all the earth” must “keep silence” before God means that He is in control and “all the earth” is subject to Him.

!! scripture-block context extra important here !!

In the context of Habakkuk, “all the earth” here would mean nations or kingdoms in particular.

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