By Roy Burner (Minister of the Gospel)
Righteousness exalts a nation: but sin is a reproach (or disgrace) to any people (Proverbs 14:34). This Biblical verse identifies the effects of sin and holiness; with national righteousness and national sin being the reflection of any nation, of exaltation versus reproach.
A Bible commentary noted: Justice reigning in a nation, a righteous administration of the government, impartial equity, public countenance given to religion, the general practice of virtuous men; these honor a nation, elevate the people's minds, and qualify a nation for the favor of God. This clearly identifies the elements that will bring God's grace and blessings upon a nation.
Scripture reveals: In every nation he that fears him, and works righteousness, is accepted with him (Acts 10:35). A Bible commentary noted: A godly fear; springing from the love of God, is a grace implanted in the soul and regeneration of man, which includes true religion both external and internal, without which it is impossible to please God.
He who has the fear of the Lord, love toward Him, and faith in Christ, does works of righteousness; such a one is acceptable or well pleasing to God. This statement falls into the category of the topic of this message: Righteousness exalts a nation.
If there is righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in character. If there is beauty in character, there will be harmony in the home. If there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation. If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world (Chinese proverb).
This is suggestive of a domino effect that springs from a right relationship with an initial righteousness of the heart; which eventually filters in the righteousness that exalts a nation. It is a compelling ideal that needs to take root in many nations that have allowed such to slip away rather than being embraced.
Scripture identifies the contrast between the wicked and the righteous: The wicked works a deceitful work: but to him that sows righteousness shall be a sure reward. As righteousness tends to life; so is he that pursues evil pursues his own death (Proverbs 11:18-19).
The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord: but he loves him that follows after righteousness (Proverbs 15:9). The wrath of man works not (or does not produce) the righteousness of God (James 1:20). That you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness (Ephesians 4:24).
Righteousness exalts a nation has become sorely missing, in many once godly nations, with sin and ungodliness becoming more of a norm! Is God's judgment sweeping forth because of a lack of obedience to His Word?
Scripture reveals: The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold (or suppress) the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). A Bible commentary noted: Wrath is not the revelation of a future judgment of God, or the Great Tribulation period, but is a present revelation that parallels the present revelation of God's righteousness.
We are witnessing an erosion of the once godly nature of man; thus unleashing the wrath of God. Righteousness exalts a nation dies out when the sinfulness of man is allowed to dominate any nation without reproof. Judgment will come not only at one's final destiny; but also in the NOW, if sin is allowed to continue to be cultivated in its destructive mode. Scripture reveals: And as it is appointed to men once to die, but after this the judgment (Hebrews 9:27).
Quotes concerning right and wrong: Distinction between virtuous and vicious actions has been engraved by the Lord in the heart of every man (John Calvin). My concern is not whether God is on our side; my great concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right. With malice towards none; with charity (or love) for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right (Abraham Lincoln).
Scripture reveals: The thoughts of the righteous man are right: but the counsels of the wicked are deceit (Proverbs 12:5). He that speaks truth shows forth (or declares) righteousness: but a false witness deceit (Proverbs 12:17).
Righteousness exalts a nation is not so proclaimed when its youth are indoctrinated in ways that would demean much a title! Scripture reveals: Flee youthful lusts; but follow (or pursue) righteousness, faith, charity (or love), peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart (2 Timothy 2:22). A Bible commentary noted: Youthful lusts are deep-seated desires that are particularly perilous to those who are youthful and inexperienced.
Education of the youth has been drastically reduced in regards to God's Word; in part due to the instructive nature of ungodliness that has been supplanted rather than God's Word. The evidence of such is now being realized in a younger generation; that no longer bears the traits of righteousness exalts a nation, not receiving the godly instructions of the past.
Scripture reveals: Shall horses run upon the rock? Will one plow there with oxen (obvious answer is such is not possible). For you have turned judgment into gall, and the fruit of righteousness into hemlock (Amos 6:12). Hemlock refers to a plant that poison is derived from. Poison infects or pollutes the body until injury, illness, or death results.
Many once godly nations have swayed from the fact that righteousness exalts a nation and are attempting to walk in their own strength; without the benefit of the righteousness of God being interwoven into their national creed, thus turning the fruit of righteousness into hemlock; as in the prophet Amos day, which prompted God's judgment being unleashed.
A Sunday school commentary noted: Lot had convictions of a righteous man but he was too weak spiritually to break from his ungodly surroundings. He selfishly chose to live in Sodom, and resisted leaving, even when the doom of the city was at hand.
Scripture reveals: God delivered just Lot, vexed (or oppressed) with the filthy conversation (or conduct) of the wicked: For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed (or tormented) his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds (2 Peter 2:7-8).
And while he lingered (in the midst of coming destruction), the men (or angels) laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him forth, and set him without (or outside) the city (Genesis 19:16).
They were told to escape for their lives; to look not back at the scene of destruction that was unfolding. Scripture reveals: Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven (Genesis 19:24) but Lot's wife looked back and become a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:26).
What so captivated Lot that he lingered? What was so important; of what was being left behind, that would prompt his wife to look back; with instant judgment taking place? What has so captivated once godly nations that they have ignored the act that righteousness exalts a nation; and have allowed unrighteousness to seep in as a cancerous growth?
Why has many churches in the Western world allowed secularism to seep aside the Unadulterated Word of God that once prevailed and was adhered too? Why has righteousness exalts a nation been cast aside for the ungodliness of man who flaunts their ungodly lifestyles with no shame or remorse, rather encouraging others to embrace such? Is this why God's blessings, so prevalent before, have been turned into devastation as the norm of the day?
In a prophecy given many years ago were these words: After I have visited My people, the way shall become more and more narrow, and fewer shall walk therein. But be not deceived, the ways of righteousness are My ways. For though Satan becomes as a angel of light hearken not to him; for those who perform miracles and speak not righteousness are not of Me.
Where are the great ministries of the past? Why has many churches in the Western world become no more than social gatherings; with attendance falling away from traditional churches that preached the truths of God's Word without fail? Why are terms such as sanctification, righteousness, and holiness no longer the message of the hour? Why has the church, once the pillar of every community, now become a skeleton form in many once godly nations?
The apostle Paul told Timothy, a young evangelist, that the time will come when they (the church) will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned into fables (or that which is fictitious) (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
A Bible commentary noted: Preaching is the God-ordained means to prevent defection from the truth. Teachers who appeal to itching ears tell people what they want to hear, not what they need to hear.
Righteousness exalts a nation is a dominating truth to those which will adhere to its message. Those who chose to ignore that truth, to live out their own ideology or doctrinal belief, will suffer the effects of their decision. God's Word is not to be tampered with to suit one's own fancy or design.
The apostle Paul stated: As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel to you than that you have received, let him be accursed? For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ (Galatians 1:9-10).
There is a pathway towards restoration of the fact that righteousness exalts a nation when there is a Nineveh type repentance. Scripture reveals: The people of Nineveh believed God (of the prophet Jonah's warning of coming destruction), and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth (a sign of repentance), from the greatest of them even to the least of them (Jonah 3:5), in saying:
Who can tell if God will turn and repent (or relent), and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?
And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented (or relented) of the evil, that he had said he would do to them; and he did it not (Jonah 3:9-10). The door of repentance is open to all who has a willingly heart to receive it; whether a individual or nation!
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