We warn others because we reserve hope that a change of mindset and behavior can stave-off judgment. As such, our warning is not a decree of fated disaster. Instead, our warning is a call to action that emphasizes the consequences of inaction. But how do we do this?
How we warn others must be tailored to both our audience and our own personality. Nonetheless, there is a key Bible passage that ought to serve as the lynchpin in any approach: “If I [God] announce that a certain nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down, and destroyed, but then that nation renounces its evil ways, I will not destroy it as I had planned. And if I announce that I will plant and build up a certain nation or kingdom, but then that nation turns to evil and refuses to obey me, I will not bless it as I said I would” (Jer. 18:7–10).
This is God’s standard for evaluating nations and for determining their future. Far from being fated to a particular destiny, we the people are given an opportunity to determine our nation’s course. Throughout the Bible, this statement of God’s is never revoked or amended. God has always weighed nations according to their faithfulness to Him, and He continues to weigh nations by this standard today.
God does not desire to judge nations; He desires to bless nations, and His hope is that we will respond to the difficulty of judgment by drawing near to Him in repentance. God’s Word assures us, “Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world” (James 4:8). This principle holds true not only for individuals, but also for nations. God tells Solomon, “At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land” (2 Chron. 7:13–14).
Our warnings should reflect both the severity of God’s judgment against sinful behavior and God’s heart for restoration. Likewise, our warnings should hold out the hope that, if enough citizens internalize 2 Chronicles 7:13–14, God will relent, just as He did toward Nineveh: “When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it” (Jonah 3:10). God responded to Nineveh’s humble repentance by extending mercy for nearly 150 years.
Given the stakes, we are compelled to warn others. However we do this, our warning should not be with a spirit of fear, judgmentalism, or cynicism, but with a spirit that balances our grief concerning national waywardness with hope. This is the heart of a forerunner.
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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. Biblegateway.com.