In Proverbs 14:34 we have a timeless mark of the true measure of the greatness of a nation. There we read that, ‘Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.’
We know in our own day that some nations are large and others are small. We know that some are economically and militarily mighty, while others are poor and often overlooked. Some nations meet at the great summits of world power such as the G20, while others are not invited. But we see at once from the text of scripture quoted above, that it is righteousness that is the true measure of the greatness of a nation.
We cannot think of righteousness, without reference to God and His moral law. The Lord reveals Himself in the Bible as supremely righteous. In Deuteronomy 32:4 Moses describes God as follows, ‘…his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.’ The theologian W G T Shedd observes, ‘He is righteous by nature and of necessity.’
As far as we are concerned, God’s moral law, summarily comprehended in The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20), is a revelation of the righteous standard God requires. Nations, through their appointed rulers, are to seek to establish righteous laws in their lands, taking as their guide these solemn commandments of God. They ought to encourage good and punish ill.
Alas, we find in many nations it is not so, but rather, sin is their great shame. ‘Sin is a reproach to any people.’ To any people – be that nation never so great according to many other standards!
So, when we hear the newly elected president of the United States proclaim that he wants to Make America Great Again, we should remember the biblical measure.
‘Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.’
G B Macdonald