March 28, 2020

Hey, I’ve got an idea…

Since we are all home, with our thoughts, and watching the “drama” of this Coronavirus Pandemic/market meltdown drag on, what if we did this…

What if we did, today, what our spiritual forefathers did back in the Bible, when there was a national crisis that had global implications?

What they did, was not to pray for God to remove the situation, but for God to remove their sin.

Have you ever noticed that?

Sometimes, in fact, they even went so far as to act as national intercessors in order to pray for both themselves as well as their brethren/nation.

Did you ever notice that?

Here’s an example from Nehemiah’s record, the day he heard his country was in serve turmoil and destruction…

When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. I said, “I beseech You, O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You now, day and night, on behalf of the sons of Israel Your servants, confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have sinned against You; I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses.” Nehemiah 1:4-7

I think this is very astute. Nehemiah knew that the way to God’s heart was through honesty, humility, contrition. Note the Psalmists words in this regard.: The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. Psalms 51:

And that’s important, in fact it’s imperative. God moves to help us when we humbly, contritely bow and request, not when we just request.

Nehemiah knew something about that intense desperation for the help of God and he was willing to take responsibility for igniting the events that would lead to reconstruction, and the ignition was prayer.

Daniel had a similar passion, that we moderns may have lost consciousness on, the lost art of “heard prayer”. Daniel knew the secret to “heard prayer” and went straight to the task of utilizing it when he noticed the 70 years of despair that his nation, God’s people, had suffered – and that it could be changed, if he prayed. Listen to his words in chapter 9.

the desolations of Jerusalem,…. So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed and said, “Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances. Moreover, we have not listened to Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings, our princes, our fathers and all the people of the land.Righteousness belongs to You, O Lord, but to us open shame, as it is this day—to the men of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those who are nearby and those who are far away in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of their unfaithful deeds which they have committed against You. Daniel 9:2-8

Habakkuk is another one and his circumstances and prayer are particularly fitting for our times. Note this short prayer from his prophetical masterpiece; chapter 3…

A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth.Lord, I have heard the report about You and I fear. O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years, In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy.God comes … the Holy One … His splendor covers the heavens, And the earth is full of His praise.His radiance is like the sunlight; He has rays flashing from His hand, And there is the hiding of His power.Before Him goes pestilence, And plague comes after Him. Habakkuk 3:1-5

Here is one final account to underscore our need for sincere, repentant prayer. These are the words of King David, when a pestilence was ravaging his land…

10 Now David’s heart troubled him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O Lord, please take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.” 11 When David arose in the morning, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying, 12 “Go and speak to David, ‘Thus the Lord says, “I am offering you three things; choose for yourself one of them, which I will do to you.”’” 13 So Gad came to David and told him, and said to him, “Shall seven years of famine come to you in your land? Or will you flee three months before your foes while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days’ pestilence in your land? Now consider and see what answer I shall return to Him who sent me.” 14 Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let us now fall into the hand of the Lord for His mercies are great, but do not let me fall into the hand of man.”15 So the Lord sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning until the appointed time, and seventy thousand men of the people from Dan to Beersheba died. 16 When the angel stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord relented from the calamity and said to the angel who destroyed the people, “It is enough! Now relax your hand!” 2 Samuel 24:10-16

I could go on, there’s a Bible full of these types of prayers, but I choose these 4 to point out one thing. We need sincere, repentant prayer when times are severe. And whether we caused it or not isn’t the issue, the issue is whether we see it as part of the hand of God and whether we want to avert further destruction though the holy exercise of repentant prayer or… do we just want some relief so our lives can get back to normal. Relief or revival, which is it, men?

As you can see, these men weren’t interested in the normal, they were interested in the Supernatural and believed God was working in each circumstance for His eternal purposes, and doing so in such a way that severe pain was an attendant aspect. But the pain had a divine purpose; redemption!

As a result each of these prayer-men saw more than his personal problems in the circumstances, they each saw that there was a threat to their people and nation. Therefore it was a time for unique prayer; “heard prayer”.

Just look at the life of Jesus. There were many times of prayer for him, and then there was a notable time for agonizing, “great drops of blood” prayer. Repentance and redemption were at the heart of His “heard prayer”. God said “NO” to his request for “relief” and yes to Redemption!

Gentlemen, in my assessment, this is one of those times. It’s the pivotal moment of our generation. This country has enjoyed the richest, easiest season of any previous nation. And now it’s changed. What are we to do about it?

The destructive circumstances we are experiencing; the Coronavirus “pestilence” + market meltdown demands a drastic measure – we need to go straight to the *throne room of God; and confess our sins and the sins of God’s people; as the holy men of old, did.

John tells us, that” if we confess our sins, He (God) is faithful and righteous to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. Let’s take him up on it!

Confession is the first step to forgiveness, forgiveness leads to cleansing, cleansing to peace with God. Peace is the outcome of Redemption. Fortunately, Redemption is available to all, still, for anybody willing to repent and surrender to Jesus at the foot of His cross.

Personally, I’d rather have Jesus through repentance that leads to spiritual revival, than my old lifestyle before the “pestilence” of COVID-19.

* Throne is NOT a synonym for a place of comfort, throughout the bible it is said to be a place of judgment – this is why we must enter conscientiously, contritely, humbly, repentantly and have a legitimate petition to lay before the king! 1 Kings 7:7; Ps 122:5; Matthew 24:31; Revelation 20:4 &11.