God made a covenant with Israel through Moses that promised blessings on obedience and curses on disobedience (Deut 28). The covenant provided spiritual protection and cleansing of sin through the tabernacle sacrifices. The curse produced agricultural failure and military defeat. The ultimate curse was exile from the land.

The Old Testament prophets challenged the children of Israel to keep the covenant and warned that the curse of the covenant would come upon them if they continued to reject God and lived like the surrounding the nations.

The other nations never signed up to the Mosaic covenant, so the curses and blessing it specifies do not apply to them. The Old Testament prophets never challenged the nations to comply with the covenant and never warned of the curses that it specifies.

The only covenant that God made with all the nations was the Adamic covenant that promised that the people of the world would be safe if they trusted in him, but warned that they would be enslaved by the spiritual powers of evil if they rejected him. The nations of the world continuously rejected God, so they are under the authority of the spiritual powers of evil. These powers have authority to harm these disobedient nations and to attack and destroy them if they choose.

The other covenant that applies to all the nations is the Rainbow Covenant made with Noah that gives God authority to destroy any nation that becomes so powerful and so evil that it begins to seriously harm his earth, putting its survival in jeopardy. In this situation, God can judge and destroy the political leaders of these nations to prevent them from continuing to harm the earth.

When the Old Testament prophets prophesied against a nation (other than Israel), they challenged them on the basis of these two covenants. Reading through prophecies against nations recorded by the Old Testament prophets reveals four basic messages.

  1. Describes how God will use nations against each other to accomplish his purposes — stirring up nation against nation, or stirring up people within a nation against its rulers.

  2. Describes how he will use the nations to bring judgment against his people: Israel and the church.

  3. Describes what the spiritual powers of evil want to do, because, or when, they hold power over the nation.

  4. Describes how God will destroy a nation because its rulers have raised themselves up as gods, or because they have begun to do too much harm on the earth (This was Jeremiah's message to Babylon — Jer 50,51).

After the Cross

Since the coming of Jesus, the situation is as follows.

Israel mostly rejected the new covenant, so is still under the covenant with Moses. If they fail to keep that covenant, they can expect to experience troubles. Prophets to Israel should be warning about this danger.

The growth of the church changes the situation for the nations of the world. God has promised to bless and protect the people who have chosen to follow Jesus. If there is a large number of people following Jesus in a nation, the blessing of God will flow a long way out to the rest of the nation. The believers will push back against the spiritual powers of evil in prayer. Blessings will flow to those who engage with them in various ways. The poor and infirm will be cared for. The vulnerable will be protected from harm. Those who submit to a Christian employer, share his/her blessings. The wisdom that God gives to his people will be copied by the people of the world. Everyone in the nation benefits when more people choose to follow Jesus.

The real problem occurs in a nation when there is a substantial drop in the number of Christians living within it; everyone suffers. The prayers of the saints will have restrained the spiritual powers of evil. When their number declines, the authority and influence of their prayers will decline too, so the spiritual powers of evil get greater freedom to operate.

People who have lived in a country with many Christians get a false sense of security. They benefit spiritually from the prayers of the saints and the blessings that flow towards them, even if they do not acknowledge Jesus themselves. When the influence of the Holy Spirit in a nation declines, the decline in the state of the nation is not proportional. The amplification of the power and authority of the spiritual powers of evil means that evil gets worse out of proportion to the influence of the gospel in the nation.

This is the situation in New Zealand. The number of Christians and the influence of the Holy Spirit has declined significantly. Here are results from the last population census.

This is a disturbing picture. The Christian influence in New Zealand has declined significantly, but Christians and non-Christians both assume that things can go on mostly as normal. Christians tend to assume that revival is just around the corner. Unbelievers assume the residual blessing from the faithful past will continue, even if they do not acknowledge its source.

The reality is that the influence of the spiritual powers of evil in New Zealand has increased much faster and further than the blue line in the picture would indicate. They are now rampant in our nation. We should expect to see the impact of their greater activity, if there is not an increase in allegiance to Jesus.

The role of a prophet in a secular nation with a declining gospel influence is to warn the nation of the harm that the spiritual powers of evil are planning to do. This is the fourth task in the list in the previous post.

God may sometimes allow Warning Events to wake the people of the nation up. At every stage, the prophets should be warning what the spiritual powers of evil want to do in the nation. The believers will often not have the spiritual authority to prevent it from happening, because unbelievers have given the spiritual powers of evil much greater authority in the nation. I describe this situation in Prophetic Events. If the influence of the gospel declines massively, the control of the spiritual powers of evil will become huge.

If the nation where this is happening is powerful, they might use it to do great evil in the world. When this happens, God might have to bring a Protective Judgment against the nation to restrain it from evil. This is what happened to the Babylonian empire. See Protective Judgments for more on how this works. Warning of the collapse of a powerful empire is role number 4 in the previous post.

The influence of the gospel in the United States is declining so God will need prophets in the United States to undertake this role.

Message

During a season of rapid spiritual decline, the role of prophets is to describe to their nation the consequences of giving greater authority to the spiritual powers of evil. The scope and direction of their message will vary according to the situation.