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The god of country

There is nothing wrong with loving your country. Nothing! To be thankful for the freedoms that we are gifted with in this country is a healthy and Christian thing to do.

                That being said, I was shocked when I stumble upon White’s description of Israel and its leaders before the birth of Christ in a manger. She claims “the Israelites fixed their hopes in worldly greatness” (the Desire of Ages, pg. 28). How exactly did they do that? “They rendered outward service to God as the means of attaining to national greatness. They did not become the light of the world, but shut themselves away from the world in order to escape temptation to idolatry” (the Desire of Ages, pg. 29).

                Alright, let’s try to make sense of this:

  1. White tells us that Israel’s dreams and hopes were not really focused on God and his Kingdom, but on Israel and its’ kingdom, with some kind of militarized Messiah/son of David sitting on the throne.
  2. It gets worse. Not only do they prioritize an earthly kingdom over a Godly one, but they are also convinced that God does too. They worship Him with the hopes that He will reward their ambition and dreams of past greatness by restoring Israel to its former glory. In other words, God becomes in Israelite at the service of Israel’s earthly desires. Great, right?
  3. Not only does Israel have a more than questionable motivation to worship God, but its worship is also only “outward”. Interestingly, this problem is one that Isaiah and Moses himself have to deal with, as Israel had the habit of keeping pretenses with God but taking their hearts far away from their Maker. The appearance of religion is what Israel often ends up going for, while God seeks to see fruits sprouting out of their hearts. And if you check the words of any of the prophets dealing with this in the Old Testament, God does not like a worship that does not go past the surface. Not one bit!
  4. The Covenant relationship that God established with Israel was missionary in intent. That means that they main reason God began this special relationship with a rather mediocre group of people was to, through mutual love and collaboration, be messengers of the goodness and love of God and the wisdom of his will for every human being. They were to be salt and light, eager to mingle with the surrounding nations in order to grow the Covenant relationship until it would cover the earth. But instead, what do they do? They hide themselves away, with the excuse of avoiding paganism. Sadly, this avoidance doesn’t come from a place of love or desire to be faithful to God, but from a place of paganism toward self, their nationalistic and egotistic desire, and a hoarding of the love and blessings of God.

Why was I so shocked while reading this? Well, because I fear history repeats itself. As an Adventist, I am told to see past the surface and try to get to the deeper levels of reality. You are too! That’s what Apocalipsis (“unveiling or revealing”) is. And what I see in my own heart, and in the heart of my blood and Church family, is a whole lot of Israel going on. The worship of country and the worship of self takes most of our daily worship time. While the name of God is in everyone’s mouths, it seems rather absent from our hearts. At least from mine.

What’s the point? “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6).