The book of Amos begins (chapters 1-2) somewhat deceptively in that it addresses the sins of the nations surrounding Israel. From all the bad things Amos writes about them, the northern kingdom of Israel, Amos’ hearers and readers, could not help but believe that they were God’s favored nation. Just look at all the bad things he had to say about the other nations – even Judah!
I think it is interesting that God condemns these nations. After all, they are not His nations. They have no covenant with Him. With the exception of Judah, He has offered them no blessings. On what basis then does He condemn them? It is purely on the basis that God is sovereign over all.
Note the reasons for His condemnation. Notice that condemnation does not come against these nations for their idolatry (not mentioned until He addresses Judah). Instead, it is a matter of ethical behavior for which God holds everyone accountable – believer and non-believer alike. The other nations are condemned because they ruined the land of others, enslaved their conquered, broke treaties, exhibited hatred, and were cruel.
Less often now, but folks still talk about a “Christian” nation. I know what they mean, but I shy from that title because there is no such thing. A nation is only “Christian” if it imbibes the behavior of Christ, but even if it did, you could not call the nation “Christian” and there would be no reward to that nation, as a nation. The reward would belong to the Kingdom of God within that nation – the Church.
And yet, a nation does not get to ignore the ethics of God just because it chooses not to recognize Him. God holds every nation accountable for its behavior, even in its defense of its citizens.