Does God judge nations? Does God use heathen nations as instruments of His judgment and justice? Does He then, in turn, judge these same pagan nations based on the way they implemented His judgment?
Does the one who disciplines the nations not punish? He is the one who imparts knowledge to human beings! (Psalms 94:10 NET)
God used the pagan nation of Babylon to judge the disobedient nation of Israel:
"Therefore, the LORD who rules over all says, 'You have not listened to what I said. So I, the LORD, affirm that I will send for all the peoples of the north and my servant, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants and all the nations that surround it. I will utterly destroy this land, its inhabitants, and all the nations that surround it and make them everlasting ruins. I will make them objects of horror and hissing scorn. I will put an end to the sounds of joy and gladness, to the glad celebration of brides and grooms in these lands. I will put an end to the sound of people grinding meal. I will put an end to lamps shining in their houses. This whole area will become a desolate wasteland. These nations will be subject to the king of Babylon for seventy years.' (Jeremiah 25:8-11 NET)
However, that did not mean the Babylonians got a pass. After God finishes using them to judge Israel, He then judges them:
"'But when the seventy years are over, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation for their sins. I will make the land of Babylon an everlasting ruin. I, the LORD, affirm it! I will bring on that land everything that I said I would. I will bring on it everything that is written in this book. I will bring on it everything that Jeremiah has prophesied against all the nations. For many nations and great kings will make slaves of the king of Babylon and his nation too. I will repay them for all they have done!'" So the LORD, the God of Israel, spoke to me in a vision. "Take this cup from my hand. It is filled with the wine of my wrath. Take it and make the nations to whom I send you drink it. (Jeremiah 25:12-15 NET)
God used the pagan nation of Assyria to judge the disobedient nation of Israel:
Assyria, the club I use to vent my anger, is as good as dead, a cudgel with which I angrily punish. I sent him against a godless nation, I ordered him to attack the people with whom I was angry, to take plunder and to carry away loot, to trample them down like dirt in the streets. But he does not agree with this, his mind does not reason this way, for his goal is to destroy, and to eliminate many nations. Indeed, he says: "Are not my officials all kings? (Isaiah 10:5-8 NET)
However, that does not mean the Assyrians got a pass. After God finishes using them to judge Israel, He then judges them:
But when the sovereign master finishes judging Mount Zion and Jerusalem, then I will punish the king of Assyria for what he has proudly planned and for the arrogant attitude he displays. For he says: "By my strong hand I have accomplished this, by my strategy that I devised. I invaded the territory of nations, and looted their storehouses. Like a mighty conqueror, I brought down rulers. (Isaiah 10:12-13 NET)
Furthermore, consider the Prophet Amos who directed his rebuke against the privileged people of Israel, a people who had no love for their neighbor, who took advantage of others, and who only looked out for their own concerns. Amos holds God’s people accountable for their ill-treatment of others as he repeatedly points out the failure of the people to fully embrace God’s idea of justice (Micah 6:8). For example, they were selling off needy people for goods, taking advantage of the helpless, oppressing the poor, and the men were using women immorally (Amos 2:6-8. Amos 3:10. Amos 4:1. Amos 5:11,12). The nation of Israel intoxicated by their economic success and intent on strengthening their financial position had lost the concept of caring for one another. Not unlike our nation today (Matthew 24:12).
God's judgment upon His people:
Judah - This is what the LORD says: "Because Judah has committed three covenant transgressions– make that four!– I will not revoke my decree of judgment. They rejected the LORD's law; they did not obey his commands. Their false gods, to which their fathers were loyal, led them astray. So I will set Judah on fire, and it will consume Jerusalem's fortresses." (Amos 2:4,5 NET)
Israel - This is what the LORD says: "Because Israel has committed three covenant transgressions– make that four!– I will not revoke my decree of judgment. They sold the innocent for silver, the needy for a pair of sandals. They trample on the dirt-covered heads of the poor; they push the destitute away. A man and his father go to the same girl; in this way they show disrespect for my moral purity. They stretch out on clothing seized as collateral; they do so right beside every altar! They drink wine bought with the fines they have levied; they do so right in the temple of their God! (Amos 2:6-8 NET).
God's judgment upon nations that He used to judge Israel that went beyond what God had intended:
Syria - This is what the LORD says: "Because Damascus has committed three crimes– make that four!– I will not revoke my decree of judgment. They ripped through Gilead like threshing sledges with iron teeth. So I will set Hazael's house on fire; fire will consume Ben Hadad's fortresses. I will break the bar on the gate of Damascus. I will remove the ruler from Wicked Valley, the one who holds the royal scepter from Beth Eden. The people of Aram will be deported to Kir." The LORD has spoken! (Amos 1:3-5 NET)
The Philistines - This is what the LORD says: "Because Gaza has committed three crimes– make that four!– I will not revoke my decree of judgment. They deported a whole community and sold them to Edom. So I will set Gaza's city wall on fire; fire will consume her fortresses. I will remove the ruler from Ashdod, the one who holds the royal scepter from Ashkelon. I will strike Ekron with my hand; the rest of the Philistines will also die." The sovereign LORD has spoken! (Amos 1:6-8 NET)
Tyrus - This is what the LORD says: "Because Tyre has committed three crimes– make that four!– I will not revoke my decree of judgment. They sold a whole community to Edom; they failed to observe a treaty of brotherhood. So I will set fire to Tyre's city wall; fire will consume her fortresses." (Amos 1:9-10 NET)
Edom - This is what the LORD says: "Because Edom has committed three crimes– make that four!– I will not revoke my decree of judgment. He chased his brother with a sword; he wiped out his allies. In his anger he tore them apart without stopping to rest; in his fury he relentlessly attacked them. So I will set Teman on fire; fire will consume Bozrah's fortresses." (Amos 1:11-12 NET)
Ammon - This is what the LORD says: "Because the Ammonites have committed three crimes– make that four!– I will not revoke my decree of judgment. They ripped open Gilead's pregnant women so they could expand their territory. So I will set fire to Rabbah's city wall; fire will consume her fortresses. War cries will be heard on the day of battle; a strong gale will blow on the day of the windstorm. Ammon's king will be deported; he and his officials will be carried off together." The LORD has spoken! (Amos 1:13-2:1 NET)
Moab - This is what the LORD says: "Because Moab has committed three crimes– make that four!– I will not revoke my decree of judgment. They burned the bones of Edom's king into lime. So I will set Moab on fire, and it will consume Kerioth's fortresses. Moab will perish in the heat of battle amid war cries and the blaring of the ram's horn. I will remove Moab's leader; I will kill all Moab's officials with him." The LORD has spoken! (Amos 2:1-3 NET)
Why is this relevant to us today? God has used our great nation to judge other nations that have come against the nation of Israel in the past (Psalms 122:6). However, we appear to be rapidly withdrawing our support for the nation of Israel and in effect siding with nations that are determined to raze the nation of Israel from the face of the earth! Surely, judgment will come upon our nation as we mistreat the nation of Israel even as in the examples given above from the Old Covenant (Genesis 12:3). That is, just because we were used by God to enforce His judgment on the earth in the past does not mean we will receive a pass when we fail to protect His nation of Israel in the future. This judgment could be coming soon... (1 Peter 4:16-19) and most certainly will come when Jesus returns in the future (Matthew 25:31-46).
The word of the LORD came to me: "Son of man, suppose a country sins against me by being unfaithful, and I stretch out my hand against it, cut off its bread supply, cause famine to come on it, and kill both people and animals. Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would save only their own lives by their righteousness, declares the sovereign LORD. "Suppose I were to send wild animals through the land and kill its children, leaving it desolate, without travelers due to the wild animals. Even if these three men were in it, as surely as I live, declares the sovereign LORD, they could not save their own sons or daughters; they would save only their own lives, and the land would become desolate. "Or suppose I were to bring a sword against that land and say, 'Let a sword pass through the land,' and I were to kill both people and animals. Even if these three men were in it, as surely as I live, declares the sovereign LORD, they could not save their own sons or daughters– they would save only their own lives. "Or suppose I were to send a plague into that land, and pour out my rage on it with bloodshed, killing both people and animals. Even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as surely as I live, declares the sovereign LORD, they could not save their own son or daughter; they would save only their own lives by their righteousness. "For this is what the sovereign LORD says: How much worse will it be when I send my four terrible judgments– sword, famine, wild animals, and plague– to Jerusalem to kill both people and animals! Yet some survivors will be left in it, sons and daughters who will be brought out. They will come out to you, and when you see their behavior and their deeds, you will be consoled about the catastrophe I have brought on Jerusalem– for everything I brought on it. They will console you when you see their behavior and their deeds, because you will know that it was not without reason that I have done everything which I have done in it, declares the sovereign LORD." (Ezekiel. 14:12-15:1 NET)