Destroying a Righteous Nation: Genesis 20:4

“Abimelek had not come near to her, and he said, “Lord, will you kill a nation that is also righteous?’”

(Genesis 20:4)

 

Abimelek is making an interesting statement as well as having a deep theological insight. The recognition that he makes is that if God brings judgment against him as king over the people, then the people also will suffer. In the previous verse, God’s judgment is to say, “you are dead…” Most of the standard English translations floating around seem to translate this statement as “you are a dead man…” They infer from the context that individual judgment is given for an individual crime. Yet, God says, “you are dead” and Abimelek’s response is to understand that accusation as a sign of God’s judgment against his nation.

The principle at work is what is called the principle of Federal Headship. He who has authority over the nation both brings blessings and cursings upon the nation. When the head acts faithfully, the nation is blessed; when the head acts sinfully, the nation is cursed and suffers. Hence, when David disobeys God and conducts a census, 70,000 people of the land suffer and die from the pestilence that God sends in judgment (2 Samuel 24:10-17).

In an ultimate sense, this principle is demonstrated in Adam and in Christ. Adam sinned and as a result the whole of the human race has suffered the effects of the fall (as well as creation itself). Yet, through the one man, Christ, redemption is brought to all that are under his federal headship. All mankind are physically descended from Adam, thus we have all inherited his sin. Those whom God has elected from the beginning of time, who will come to Christ in faith, are those who, in faith, are put under the federal headship of Christ and thus given life.

There is typically a part of us that wants to say that this principle is not fair, and in a sense, that is right. This principle is not fair in the most basic sense of the term. What would be perfectly fair is that we would be judged according to our actions and condemned to eternal damnation—each and every one of us. Yet, God in his mercy chose to be unfair to some so that grace may be demonstrated. Thus, to those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, salvation is offered not because of us or because of our name, but because of our Great Federal Head, Jesus Christ.

All hail the power of Jesus’ name!

Let angels prostrate fall;

bring forth the royal diadem,

and crown him Lord of all.

Bring forth the royal diadem,

and crown him Lord of all.

-Edward Perronet


 

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