Some leading Evangelicals believe and teach that America is now experiencing God’s judgment. As a public servant who is sacrificing so much in your attempt to turn our nation around, it would stand to reason—if those Evangelical leaders are correct—you are wasting your time. Are you laboring against a foregone conclusion? I think not. But let me qualify that position: I do not believe America is experiencing the forsaking wrath of God, but yes, America is experiencing the consequential wrath of God.
In this study, I will explain what I mean by these italicized theological terms with which you should have a working familiarity.
Before examining pertinent passages in answer to the question Is God Judging America Today? it is important to first understand God’s attribute of judgment and the biblical forms wherein it manifests itself. The question can then be asked as to which forms of judgment apply to America.
II. UNDERSTANDING GOD’S JUDGMENT
Scripture is replete with the proclamation that God is characterized by holiness (Psalm 93:5), righteousness (Psalm 7:17), and perfection (Psalm 19:7) to list His specifically related attributes to the topic of this study. It follows that any violation of those qualities demands adjudication in a way similar to the summons of a human courtroom. The satisfaction of God’s violated justice is said to be His judgment or a manifestation of His wrath (cf. Deuteronomy 9:7). Predicated by the Fall, God is angry with the wicked every day, states Psalm 7:11b (KJV). Ephesians 5:6b states, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
However, God’s judgment is balanced—often placated—by His attribute of mercy. States Romans 9:15, (an Old Testament [OT] quote in this regard), “I [God] will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” Here’s the point: in a chronological sense, when God’s eternal justice is no longer eclipsed by His eternal mercy—that is to say, His attribute of mercy is expended—His judgment or wrath is necessarily manifest.
Since God is just and sin must and will be paid for, wrath—the righteousness of God revealed against sin—is an inevitable consequence.
Keep in mind that the study of God’s attributes, the understanding of His forms of judgment, and the application of judgment to a nation or nations are complex theological issues that, to obtain a better understanding, require greater space and text, so I will be required to abbreviate much of what could be said.
God’s judgment can be summarily categorized into five areas:
III. THE FIVE FORMS OF GOD’S JUDGMENT
The five forms of God’s judgment repeatedly mentioned in the Bible are as follows:
In this study we will examine the last two forms of God’s wrath to answer the posed question, “Is God Judging America Today?” My goal is to carefully evaluate each of these two specific forms of God’s wrath in terms of a more thorough biblical understanding. In contrast to the need for an increased biblical understanding of the above two is cataclysmic wrath; it is not in need of biblical analysis to ascertain whether it is readily apparent in the world today.1
IV. THE FIVE IDENTIFIERS OF NO. 4: FORSAKING WRATH
This fourth wrath is also referred to by theologians as “the wrath of abandonment.” In Romans 1:18–32, notice the following five identifying characteristics that surface when God pulls back and allows a person or a group of people to exercise the unrestrained fallen nature of man.
A vivid portrayal of forsaking wrath, of God’s giving someone over, is furnished in Hosea 4:17, Ephraim is joined to idols; let him alone. Ephraim was the largest tribe of the ten northern tribes of Israel. You would think the prophet Hosea, in speaking for God, would have called them to repentance. He did not. Herein God was forsaking—which He does when sinners are determined to pursue what [is] right in [their] own eyes ( Judges 17:6). Another OT illustration is Psalm 81:11–12, wherein God speaks through the Psalmist:
“But My people did not listen to My voice, and Israel did not obey Me. So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart, to walk in their own devices.”
A third illustration (now from the New Testament [NT]) in addition to Romans chapter 12, which follows, takes place when God the Father placed the sins of the world on the shoulders of His Son, so as to be a substitute for sinners. In remaining separated from sin, God the Father, in essence, abandoned His Son on the cross. Jesus replied accordingly, “Why have You forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34b; cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21).
Given those three similar subject illustrations, Romans 1:18 begins, “For the wrath of God is revealed.…” This verse depicts the main subject of the passage that follows. Notice more specifically the thrice-repeated phrase through the end of the chapter: God gave them over (vv. 24, 26, 28). The phrase provides the skeletal structure for the outline that follows, serving to identify, evidence, and illustrate when forsaking wrath—the wrath of abandonment—is present. What follows then are biblical descriptors that serve to help us recognize when this kind of wrath is present.
A. A SUPPRESSING IN SELF (vv. 18–22)
This first identifying characteristic that the Apostle Paul lists is not preceded by the phrase God gave them over but is nonetheless part of the profile.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools.
The first evidence of the presence of God’s forsaking wrath is that people suppress (katecho), meaning “to hold back,” that which they know is the truth. I am always amazed when people say, “I don’t believe in God” or “I don’t believe in the Bible.” In a personal, loving refrain I am thinking, Aren’t they lying per this passage? It is not that the unregenerate don’t know there is a God and His Word—it is that they suppress these truths (cf. Romans 2:15). There is a big difference! In the OT, David declared, The fool has said [lied] in his heart, “There is no God” (Psalm 14:1b). The simple reason for this suppression is summarized by Jesus in the NT: “men loved the darkness rather than the Light…” ( John 3:19b).
Further down in this section (v. 21) of the Romans 1 passage, suppressors became futile in their speculations (dialogismo). Speculations is perhaps better translated into the English understanding of “argumentation or reasoning.”3 The Greek sentence structure here carries the idea of the vanity that results from godless reasoning. Accordingly, professing to be wise they became fools (moraino. Figuring out the meaning of moraino is not difficult given its English transliteration: moron). In summary, forsaking wrath is evidenced when a person or people suppress the truth, which means their subsequent engagement ends in futile dialogue and reasoning. Such communications are moronic or roughly equivalent to an intellectual level of a 7- to a 12-year-old.4 A current illustration of moraino would be members who admit they have never viewed the videos that exposed the atrocities of Planned Parenthood but then exclaim in another interview that all the videos were fabricated. Such is futile logic. Herein illustrated is the suppression of truth within an individual.
The next recognizable characteristic of God’s forsaking wrath is:
B. A SWAPPING FOR ENVIRONMENTALISM (vv. 23–25)
And exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
Man is created in the image of God, whereas the remainder of the created order is not (Genesis 1:26). Therefore, mankind is separate, special, and superior as it relates to all God has made. It explicitly follows from Genesis 1:26 that mankind is not equal or subservient to all that God has created; conversely, man has preeminence over creation and the environment. Properly understood, God has appointed man to be His steward over the earth.
Clearly indicative of God’s forsaking wrath is the instance where the abandoned serve the creature rather than the Creator. See my previous studies on the religion of environmentalism at capmin.org/biblestudies that detail this aberration. Notice the next indicator:
C. A SENSATION TOWARD HOMOSEXUALITY (vv. 26–27)
For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
Indicative of forsaking wrath is a proclivity toward lesbianism and homosexuality.
D. A SECURING OF DEPRAVITY (vv. 28–31)
And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful.
In this next portion of the passage, Scripture indicates the direct result— that which is secured—is a depraved mind. When restraint is absent, this is what God gives people over to. Notice what this passage teaches: the things that are not proper stem from and are a result of depraved minds (adokimos), which means, “not standing the test.” Adokimos was a term referring to metals that did not stand the test due to impurities. Under close examination, these metals lacked internal fortitude or integrity. Since these metals were rejected, adokimos came to mean “that which is worthless and useless.”
It’s not as if depraved minds do not know what’s right to do. Later, in chapter two of Romans, the Holy Spirit reiterates the principles of this lesson’s first point: they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them (2:15). Men and women inherently know what is right or wrong. A good understanding of the flow of this passage and what depravity means is summarized by this thought: the mind that finds God worthless becomes worthless itself.
That worthless mind is debauched, deceived, and deserving only of God’s wrath. Lastly, in regard to evidences of God’s abandonment in the life of a person, is this:
E. A SANCTIONING IN OTHERS (v. 32)
And although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
Here is the last of the five characteristics. When God is pulling back His restraint, those who practice the aforementioned degradation approve of others who do likewise, i.e., but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
These five characteristics provide the mature-in-Christ Christian public servant with enormous insights and discernment in order to wisely identify the presence of forsaking wrath in those around him.
V. IDENTIFYING WRATH NO. 5: CONSEQUENTIAL WRATH
Consequential wrath is best understood through the parallel idea we commonly refer to as sowing and reaping. Galatians 6:7 states, Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. To illustrate in one of many possible ways, if a person or a nation sows debt, it will reap in due time the results of financial crisis. Whenever an individual or corporate group of individuals violate the inviolate precepts of God’s Word, he, she, they or the institution will suffer the respective consequences. Most assuredly, America is facing this form of God’s judgment.
Let us backtrack now and answer the question whether America is experiencing the forsaking wrath of God. Unlike the ease of answering the question of the existence of consequential wrath, ascertaining the possible existence of forsaking wrath requires a much more complex biblical analysis.
What follows are six reasons why I personally do not believe America as a national entity, is presently subject to the forsaking wrath of God.
VI. SIX BIBLICAL REASONS WHY AMERICA IS NOT EXPERIENCING GOD’S FORSAKING WRATH
A. ROMANS CHAPTER ONE DOES NOT ADDRESS NATIONS
As previously seen, Paul warns of God’s judgment (Romans 1:18–32), and he declares that those who persist in sin will be given over to its tyranny and that God will forsake and remove restraining grace if they fail to repent. But notice that no mention of nations is made in the passage. Some leading Evangelicals have suggested that this chapter refers to nations and the judgment they will receive in this age. Such, however, must be read into the passage.
Romans 1 addresses the topic of divine abandonment but says nothing about God’s forsaking nations. Paul warned only of the ensuing judgment that individual unbelievers (“they, themselves” are plural pronouns) would incur during their life on earth. Twenty-one plural pronouns are used in these verses, and all of them refer to individuals. Romans 1:18 specifically says that God’s wrath is being directed against men; it does not say national entities. Paul speaks of the futile minds and foolish hearts of men in verse 21, descriptions only applicable, contextually, to individuals. Chapter 2 continues by addressing individuals as well (2:5, 6, 9).
Summarily, it is evident that God does judge unbelievers via the form of forsaking wrath during the Church Age. However, Romans 1 should not be entreated to suggest God judges wayward nations via this form of wrath. This passage provides no biblical support to warrant that position.
B. GOD’S PRIORITY IS TO JUDGE THE CHURCH, NOT THE STATE
Peter declares in 1 Peter 4:17 that during the Church Age, God’s judgment is primarily purposed for the maturation of believers.
For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
God’s present manifestation of judgment will begin with us first or before it is dealt to those who do not obey the gospel. Begin (archastai) could be translated as “commence.” It is chronological in nature though also implying a sense of importance and priority.5 Thus, Peter is teaching that in this time or age, God’s judgment will focus upon the household of God, i.e., His Church.6 God’s intentions are to purify His called-out ones and present them to His Son before He judges individuals (cf. Revelation 20:11–15: i.e., the Great White Throne Judgment) in a future time after the Church Age. Again, no mention is made of God’s intention to judge nations. The insight of 1 Peter 4:17 and many other passages indicates God has eternal plans for His Church; the longevity, destiny, and importance of the State wanes in comparison.
No passages state that nations are being judged by God during this period of time in which we live. God has judged nations in the past (the old covenant) and will do so again in the future (during the future tribulation period spoken of in the book of Revelation).
C. THE SANCTIFICATION OF HIS CHURCH IS HIS FOCUS
Closely related to the previous point, God is preparing the Church to be the bride of Christ for all eternity. The State, however, has little to do with God’s eternal kingdom and will be done away with in the future (cf. Acts 17:26). Importantly, God designed nations and their governments to be instruments of His restraining grace in a fallen world (cf. Genesis 11:6; 1 Peter 2:14). When Christ returns and reigns, the time will have come when they will no longer be necessary. Properly understood and borne from Scripture is the understanding that the Church is eternal and the State is temporal. Consider 2 Corinthians 11:2 and notice the emphasis:
For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.
Paul desired to see the Corinthian believers grow unto maturity, using the similitude of a marriage to illustrate. He longed to see them become a pure bride presentable to Christ. The same desire for the Church can be seen in Ephesians 5:27; here it is a reference to God’s desire for His Church.
That He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.
Colossians 1:28b provides insight on Paul’s reason for teaching and is fitting with the aforementioned passages: So that we may present every man complete in Christ. Further, Ephesians 1:4 explains God’s big vision for choosing believers: so they would be holy and blameless before Him.
These passages emphasize God’s big purpose: the sanctification of His Church. Again, the reason is to purify a bride for Christ. The book of Revelation foreshadows the day when this purification will be complete. In Revelation 19:7, a multitude of voices erupt with praise:
“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.”
These select passages (a few of many) unfold the splendor and majesty of God’s overarching focus and purpose during the Church Age. Notice the following contrast:
In the New Testament era, the institution of the State is not associated with God’s forsaking wrath.
Acts 17:26 is one of the few NT passages on the subject. It states that God made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation.
This passage does not mention forsaking wrath. Nations and governments are temporal entities serving God’s eternal purposes, under His sovereign eye and as He deems fit. Often in history, God’s purpose for nations has been to judge and thereby mature the Church via the conduit of persecution. Thus, we learn, if by no other method than the sheer weight of passages in the NT, that nations are peripheral and the Church is central during the present age.
D. EXHAUSTIVE NT WORD STUDIES DO NOT SUPPORT GOD’S JUDGING NATIONS TODAY
Again, God judged nations under the old covenant and will do so again at His Second Coming, but there is no NT indication that He judges nations presently during the Church Age.7 Furthermore, OT references to future national judgments refer still to the future, not this age, in part because the Church was a mystery in the OT (cf. Ephesians 3:5, 6). This means future judgments mentioned in the OT could not have applied to the present Church Age. Illustratively, the OT prophesies of Joel 3:2 along with Zechariah 12:1–9 are prophecies about national judgments that will take place during Armageddon in the future (cf. Revelation 16:16, 19:11– 12, 15). Revelation 19:15 says that after the Second Coming, Jesus will strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron.… Consider the following exhaustive lexical support from the New Testament:
1. The Greek word for judge
Judge (krino) or a derivative is used 182 times in the New Testament. In no instance do these words refer to judging nations in the Church Age.8
2. The Greek word for nations
Nations (ethnos) is never used in the New Testament in the context of judgment. With 168 occurrences, this background is particularly interesting and insightful.
3. The Greek word for repentance
Repentance (metanoia) is never used to speak of nations. In other words, no nation during the Church Age is ever called to repent—whereas individuals are.9
E. THE NEW TESTAMENT DOES NOT THREATEN JUDGMENT AS A CONSEQUENCE FOR NATIONAL SINS
If God judges nations during the Church Age, why did the NT writers fail to mention it? Specifically and illustratively, would it not have been appropriate for Christ to caution Pilate or Paul to warn Caesar of impending national judgment? If neither Christ nor Paul warned these political leaders, it is odd that nothing of the sort has been recorded by the Holy Spirit Who inspired the writers of Scripture.
Furthermore, Paul used very little if any ink on the end of his quill to discuss the morality of the Roman Empire. If God judges nations today, surely Paul would have implored the Empire to reverse directions if indeed divine judgment was around the corner. His accounts during his imprisonment in Caesar’s household (cf. Philippians) are void of “Caesarian moralisms” but rich in terms of evangelization (cf. 4:22). Even when writing to Philemon (in the book by that name), a slave owner, Paul never said anything regarding the evils of national slavery; he provides no hints that it would provoke the judgment of God upon Rome. Would not a warning have been in order? The NT is devoid of threatening political leaders with the hammer of God’s national judgment by Christ or the apostles. They did not model a ministry of national damnation nor suggest such for other believers after them.
Poignantly, John the Baptist rebuked the person of Herod, not the nation of Rome (cf. Mark 6:17–18). This insight should prove sobering, informative, and instructive for Christian public servants.
F. REVELATION CHAPTERS TWO AND THREE RELATE TO THE CHURCH AND NOT THE STATE10
The book of Revelation demonstrates God’s concern for the Church. Seven churches are mentioned in chapters two and three. To those lacking God’s approval, Christ threatened to remove their lampstand unless they repented. Once again, the focus is on purifying the Church.
Interestingly enough, these chapters are void of mentioning the sins of any particular city or state. If God is set on judging nations during the Church Age, we would expect warnings to repent, like God’s warning to Sodom and Gomorrah. No warning is given to the cities of the seven churches.
This additional evidence serves to reveal that God is more concerned about preparing a spotless eternal bride than He is with judging temporal nations.
America is not like Sodom and Gomorrah in the sense that not any faithful were to be found (cf. Genesis 18:22– 33). In fact, to the contrary, America today is populated by tens of millions of faithful followers of Christ!
Many are those who have glibly postured, “If God does not judge America, then He owes Sodom and Gomorrah an apology!” But such thinking fails to consider what went on between Abraham and God in Genesis 18:22– 33 before He judged Sodom and Gomorrah! To the contrary, I believe the following is a more biblically accurate summary:
Abraham, if he were to plead with God for America, would have a much stronger case than he did pleading with God for Sodom and Gomorrah.
In fact, by and large, today’s America is not characterized by people who are unfaithful to God’s precepts. Conversely, only a small minority of individuals are grossly disobedient to God—individuals to whom the five indicators of Romans 1 apply. Unfortunately, for the vast majority of faithful individuals in America, too many of the unfaithful have been allowed by the faithful to gain high positions of influence in our culture: in our government, our educational system, our media, and our entertainment industry. This condition is tragic, unfortunate, and costly.
Those individuals who are rebuked by God’s forsaking wrath are largely responsible for God’s consequential wrath on our nation.
Beloved, that condition needs to change—and it is something we can change with God’s help! What is a great encouragement to me, ministering here in our nation’s capital, is witnessing the groundswell of faithful individuals who have been voted into office. If my calculations are correct, and I believe they are, more believers are in Congress and the executive branch now than at any other time in modern American history! And they are beginning to reach a tipping point!
I think great days lie ahead for our country as more and more Evangelicals rise in their influence—you godly public servants who are working so hard to deliver us from the consequential wrath we are undergoing as a nation, due in large part to the misdirection of those who are rebuked by God’s forsaking wrath. Proverbs 29:2 is an apt summary:
When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when a wicked man rules, people groan.
This study is by no means an exhaustive biblical argument on this subject. To believe that God is judging America via consequential wrath is reasonable, but for the aforesaid reasons, a biblical basis does not exist to conclude that any nation today, including America, is experiencing forsaking wrath. Still the five identifiers of Romans 1 seem to describe our present culture and some of the individuals therein.
This conclusion should greatly encourage those who serve and lead in America. There is hope! It’s not as if in your attempts to rebuild America you are going against the will of God—in the sense that you are hanging in, and He isn’t.
Beloved, the ball is still in our court; let us not lose heart in doing well! States 2 Corinthians 4:16, Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. May we work industriously at our own spiritual maturation, convert the lost who presently hold office, and continue to elect new, mature believers to sow godly policies that will manifest God’s consequential blessing for all for years to come!
1. If God is sovereign over the affairs of mankind today, which the Scriptures state He is, and a cataclysmic event occurs somewhere in or over all the earth at any time in biblical history, we could and should attribute that cataclysmic event to the wrath of God in some form and to some degree. Accordingly, the coronavirus could be a form of God’s cataclysmic wrath. But having said that, I don’t think we should label the coronavirus as a form of God’s cataclysmic wrath, such as the form of wrath He manifests in the OT with the Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, or the “unparting” of the Red Sea, because that form of God’s wrath is void of a human curative, and I think we’ll soon see a human cure for the coronavirus.
2. I am not discounting the measurability of historical patterning of a nation’s catastrophes as an indicator of wrath; simply that such is outside the scope of this Bible study.
3. Bibleworks 5.0.
4. Merriam-Webster, in defining what a moron is, states that one has the mental equivalency of a 7- to12-year-old.
5. Lothar Coenen, Erick Beyreuther, and Hans Bietenhard, eds., The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. 1, trans. and ed. by Colin Brown (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1975), 165.
6. Literally, in the Greek, “of the house of God” is a common synonym used throughout the New Testament for the Church (cf. Galatians 6:10; Ephesians 2:19; 1 Timothy 3:15; Hebrews 3:6).
7. Some will disagree at this point, arguing that if the Church today is the Israel of yesterday, then what God said and did through Israel in the OT is applicable and transferable to the Church today. I do not believe, however, that the Church today is the same biblical entity as Israel in the OT. I find this position extremely difficult to hold, not only exegetically but pragmatically. I cannot imagine trying to defend all of what was true of Israel (including the fact that it was a theocracy; the stoning of homosexuals, etc.) in the capital of America today. This view also opens the door to Dominion Theology/Theonomy in terms of a Postmillennial eschatology: i.e., I don’t think believers are called to make America into a Christianized theocracy.
8. Stephen’s statement in Acts 7:7 regarding the judgment of nations is a quotation from the Old Testament. He was reciting Israel’s history. In several instances Jesus speaks of judging cities like Chorazin or Bethsaida (cf. Matthew 11:21–24; Luke 10:13–14). The main subject, however, in each passage is illustrating the Great White Throne Judgment. Each foreshadows the future Great White Throne Judgment (cf. Revelation 20:11–15), which is explicitly directed toward individuals not nations. This judgment will take place after the Church Age.
9. When Jesus called the disciples to proclaim repentance to the nations in Luke 24:47, it is clear from the parallel passage and context of Matthew 28:18–20 that nations refer to all the individuals within a nation.
10. Note the analogy of Scripture here: Revelation chapter two and three are illustrative of 1 Peter 4:17.