Saturday, June 14, 2008

Sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly

What we need in the nation and the world is a genuine revival. Revival comes when God's people repent of their sins and pray for Him to change hearts.

America is a nation under God's judgment and there is no cure for God's judgment but repentance. We know this from the Bible, particularly from the Old Testament, which is given to teach us among other things how God deals with nations. Sometimes He will relent, sometimes He won't, it depends on how far gone the nation is in its rejection of Him and defiance of His law. We can hope that America is not yet that far gone. Even perhaps Europe.

Judgment is surely underway against America and the only thing that might stave it off is repentance. It is the churches that need to repent since we can no longer expect a President to call the nation to fasting and prayer. The most familiar verse calling God's people to this task is 2 Chronicles 7:14:

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

For all its familiarity and occasional practice in the churches, there is reason to suspect that it has never really been obeyed. The occasional prayer doesn't meet the condition. This is calling for a corporate action of some magnitude. "My people" means not just a few of the more zealous getting together to truly obey the requirement, although if even that much happened it would be wonderful. But think of the power we have as Christians that we are not exercising. It is staggering to think of what we COULD do all together if churches all across America set about to obey 2 Chron 7:14.

What does it mean to humble ourselves? Does anybody obey that part of the requirement? The Israelites put on sackcloth and ashes and spent at least a day in fasting. If even a tenth of the people in a tenth of the true churches in America together fasted and prayed for one day a week for the nation, I think we'd see God move. I think we might have revival. If a day a week were set aside for people to gather at the church for this purpose, God would hear. Even at home or at work if Christians deprived themselves of every kind of comfort and luxury and special food or food at all for that day, praying at meal times at least, God would hear. Those who can't fast totally can restrict their food to a minimum and avoid every kind of especially liked food. Those who are able can pray on their knees or prostrate on the floor.

Oh if only the churches of America would agree to seek His face and pray as a corporate body for the nation, confessing the sins of the nation, and especially the sins of the churches.

It's God's people who are to humble ourselves. It's we who are to turn from our wicked ways.

We can make a long list of those sins and spread them before the Lord with pleading for forgiveness.

Joel 2:12 is another passage that calls God's people to repentance, fasting and prayer:

12 Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: 13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. 14 Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God? 15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: 16 Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. 17 Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?

18 Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people. 19 Yea, the LORD will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil,
and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen . . .