Just because we are people of God, doesn’t mean life is easy. We all have those moments where we just absolutely don’t know what we should do. A job decision, whom to marry, a wayward child, what school to send our kids to, how to get all the bills paid (again!), a home or car repair, how to keep going when someone close to us dies, how to give up a bad habit, a marriage falling apart, an unrealistic deadline, a health crisis…and then life is topped off with a coronavirus pandemic and a national racial crisis. And now (for those of us in the south and along the coastlines) it’s hurricane season.
People of God, we’re in a spiritual battle!
Life can certainly get overwhelming! We’ve all been there in one way or another. What do we do? Where do we go? We’re stressed out, anxious, fearful, and maybe depressed and hopeless because it feels as if there is no end in sight. Our nation is a wreck! As people of God, we need to recognize the spiritual battle at work in our world and know that our sovereign God is in control. We also need to be painfully honest and aware how the people of God have played a role in the state our nation is in. We need to admit that we have earned God’s judgement and seek Him with a repentant heart.
Because we live in a sinful, broken world, some of the things that happen are the result of our own choices. Other times we have no control over it. Sometimes what happens in our world is God judging us because we’ve turned our backs on Him and chosen to live according to how we want to live. If ever God has had cause to judge America, it’s now. A once God-centered nation has definitely turned its back on God. Let’s compare our world with how Israel was living at the time God judged them and what happened to them as a result of their continued sin. We’ll also give a call to action to the people of God.
Israel’s sin: Forsaking God
The biggest sin Israel had, was forsaking God and choosing to worship idols of gods the nations surrounding them worshiped. They didn’t want to be “set apart,” consecrated, and holy. They wanted to be like every one else. God had made a covenant with the nation of Israel that if they would worship only Him, then they would have his protection and blessings. But once they entered the Promised Land, they became complacent. When a king was on the throne that followed God, so did the nation. When a king sat on the throne that followed after idolatry, so did the nation. God had warned the people that if they forsook Him, He would bring judgement and that would include losing the Promised Land.
The people of God today have forsaken God
The people of God today, have also become complacent. We’ve dwelt in a land of safety and blessing and little by little Satan has chipped away at the Biblical foundation this country was founded on. Then we ask one another “Where is God?” Or we find ourselves defending if God is alive or dead. As people of God, we’ve looked the other way for too long. We acknowledge Him on Sundays as we sing His praises but refuse to stand up for Him when laws are being passed that turn this nation away from Him one law at a time.
The people of God’s sin: Child sacrificing
A regular part of their worship to one of these gods was child sacrificing. The Bible calls it “passing their babies through the fire.” Today, we’re appalled at the idea and you might even say, “How could they? We would never do that!” We might not toss our children in the fire and call it worship, but every day thousands of unborn children are murdered by the choice of their own mother. The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 139:13-14: “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Israel was guilty of murdering their children and so are we.
Maybe you’re against abortion and would never consider it. What are you doing about changing it? In a recent incident that caused the unnecessary death of George Floyd, three other officers who just stood by and watched and did nothing to stop the officer who was arresting Mr. Floyd are being charged with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Will God charge us for just standing by and doing nothing as every day babies are murdered through abortion?
The People of God’s sin: Idolatry
Let’s go back to Israel’s worshiping idols of false gods. While there may be some religious practices that worship carved images, we too can be guilty of having idols. What is it in your life that takes a higher priority than God in your life? Do you choose to buy that overpriced ticket to the NFL game instead of giving your tithe? What do your Sunday’s look like? Do you go fishing on Sunday instead of church? Do you spend your time working excessively or in a hobby and then give no time to reading your Bible and prayer? How important is God to you? Is He just your ticket into heaven – you’re fire insurance policy against going to hell?
In Isaiah 42:8, God says: “I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.” In Exodus 20:5, God instructs: “You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God.” And in Psalm 97:7, the Psalmist wrote, “All worshipers of images are put to shame, who make their boast in worthless idols.”
Consequences of the Sin of the People of God
Because Israel turned their back on God and chose other gods to worship, they lost possession of the Promised Land. God sent Assyria and Babylon who conquered them and sent them into exile, scattering the ones who survived the invasion. Even though, God in His love and mercy, sent prophet after prophet to warn the people to turn back to Him, they didn’t listen. Through generation after generation, God called his people back, but they refused. They were hardhearted, stubborn, stiff-necked, obstinate, and wanted their own way.
The State of America
America, God is calling us back to Him. Yet, we are hardhearted, stubborn, stiff-necked, obstinate, and want our own way. We have tossed out his commandments and redefined marriage. We have tossed prayer out of school and sent God to the sidelines. Churches are closing their doors for lack of people attending them. Some Christians are stingy with their tithes and refuse to use the gifts God has given them while churches struggle to keep their ministries going.
The People of God need to obey the 2nd greatest Commandment
We have reversed Christ’s second greatest commandment from “Love your neighbor as yourself” to “Love yourself and who cares about your neighbor.” We’ve allowed the color of one’s skin to judge who they are. We teach our children to sing: “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.” But then make racial slurs and put people down and we do it even within the walls of our churches.
Just because one’s culture is different than our own, we see them as inferior. But the fact is every single person is a unique and glorious creation of God – and He loves every single one of us. Jesus died for every single one of us. We have to stop looking skin deep. We need to look at people through the eyes of Jesus and love others just as He loves us. My friend, it doesn’t matter what the skin color – there are good and bad in every race.
The People of God need to obey the Greatest Commandment
The greatest commandment, which Christ said was, “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Do we love God like that? If we did, then loving our neighbor as our self would be easy. If we loved God like that, the world would see the light of Christ as He shined in us and through us. Jesus said that we are both salt and light to the world – but I think we’ve lost our saltiness and our lights are very dim because we are not plugged into the power source who is the Light of the World.
The Truth: The People of God do not love God with all our heart, soul mind and strength
The truth is we do not love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. But what if we did? What if we kept our eyes on God? What if we stop now and turn our hearts and eyes back towards God? And what if God’s people came together to fast and pray, to seek God’s face, to repent of being content within our church walls instead of following the great commission? Could we be guilty of being more concerned with evangelizing the world than with evangelizing our own communities and neighborhoods? Are we not guilty of complacency? If God’s people, who are burdened for our nation, came together to fast and pray, could the Holy Spirit sweep across our nation and bring a revival that turned our nation back to God?
Jehoshaphat, King of Judah
Israel split into two countries and Judah became it’s own nation. Throughout Judah’s history in the Bible, we find that here and there a king would sit on the throne and they would lead the nation back to God. Jehoshaphat was one of those kings. In 2 Chronicles 20, it opens up with a national crisis:
It happened after this that the people of Moab with the people of Ammon, and others with them besides the Ammonites, came to battle against Jehoshaphat. Then some came and told Jehoshaphat, saying, “A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, from Syria; and they are in Hazazon Tamar” (which is En Gedi). And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.2 Chronicles 20:1-4, NKJV
We might think there is nothing we can do about the state of our country and our world. But right here in 2 Chronicles 20, we find what we can do. Fast and pray. Seek the Lord. As Jehoshaphat led the nation of Judah in prayer, listen to his plea to God and then we will look at six acknowledgments Jehoshaphat makes in his prayer and how we can apply them to our situation today:
Jehoshaphat’s Prayer for God’s intervention
O Lord God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You? Are You not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever? And they dwell in it, and have built You a sanctuary in it for Your name, saying, ‘If disaster comes upon us—sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine—we will stand before this temple and in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple), and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.’2 Chronicles 20:6-12, NKJV
And now, here are the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir—whom You would not let Israel invade when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them and did not destroy them— here they are, rewarding us by coming to throw us out of Your possession which You have given us to inherit. O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”
What to do About the State of America
What can we do about the state of America? We can have a different focus. I’m reminded of when Peter walked on water. As soon as he took his eyes off Jesus, he began to focus on the waves crashing all around him and he became scared and started sinking. Peter, though, was smarter than many of us. He immediately cried out, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:20) and Jesus was instantly there, reached out His hand and caught Peter.
Today, Satan would like nothing more than for God’s people to cower in fear and hide within the walls of their homes. He wants our focus on the waves around us. He wants us to sink into the depths of hopelessness. And he wants us to stay complacent and silent. When we take our eye of Jesus, Satan gets exactly what he wants. We can keep our eyes peeled to the news and fret and worry. Or we can take action by seeking God’s face and cry out to Him. Jehoshaphat took action. He “set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.”
The People of God today need to follow Jehoshaphat’s Six Acknowledgments:
Here are six acknowledgments from Jehoshaphat’s prayer that we can follow as we fast, pray, and seek God’s face:
1. Jehoshaphat acknowledged God was God.
Jehoshaphat acknowledged God. He said, “O Lord God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven?” He basically is saying – God, are you who you say you are? Are you God or not? In doing so, he acknowledged that he believes God is God in heaven. His question wasn’t that he didn’t believe – but that he’s challenging God to live up to who He says He is.
We need to acknowledge that God is who He says He is – He is God and we are not. In doing so, we call Him to act on our behalf with all of his power.
2. Jehoshaphat acknowledged God’s Power
Jehoshaphat acknowledged God’s power: “and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You? If Judah went out to fight this battle on their own, they would have lost. Their only hope was for God to do something miraculously to save them. Remember from the text that Jehoshaphat is scared. When we are scared, the best place to go is to God. He alone has the power to rescue and save.
We have no power on our own to change our nation. We can’t change not one single person. Only the Holy Spirit can bring conviction of sin and turn a person’s heart toward God or back to God. So we need to acknowledge God’s power and stop trying to do things in our own power. The battle we face is a spiritual one. Certainly God works through the lives of those who trust in Him, but the point is, we can do nothing on our own. But we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.
3. Jehoshaphat acknowledged God’s Sovereignty
Judah’s king prayed: “and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations?” Jehoshaphat understood that nations rise and fall at the will of God. God could save them from this threat or God could wipe them out and destroy them.
America, God in sovereignty rules over every nation – including America. He either blesses us or judges us. Right now, God is judging. He’s calling us to repent. We need to acknowledge God’s sovereignty. We need to acknowledge that, should God choose to, He could wipe America off the globe today. At the same time God could send His Holy Spirit to sweep across our nation and bring a spiritual revival like we’ve never seen before. I’m praying for revival.
4. Jehoshaphat acknowledged their problem
Jehoshaphat acknowledged their problem: “And now, here are the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir—whom You would not let Israel invade when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them and did not destroy them— here they are, rewarding us by coming to throw us out of Your possession which You have given us to inherit. O our God, will You not judge them?” Three countries join forces to gang up on Judah with the intent of overtaking them and taking over their land. If you notice, God would not allow Israel’s ancestors invade these nation as they came out of Egypt and now here they were knocking on the front door like the big bad wolf. They definitely had a problem!
Our problem today is not racism or same sex marriage. Those are a result of our problem. Our problem is a sin problem that is tearing our nation apart at the seams. We need to acknowledge the problem and call it by its name without sugar-coating it. We need to be direct and honest before our omniscient (all-knowing) God.
5. Jehoshaphat acknowledged their helplessness
Jehoshaphat acknowledged their own helplessness in their situation: “we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do.” The small nation of Judah did not have the power or might to defeat the size of the army coming against them.
We do not have the power or might to defeat our enemy either. Who is our enemy? Satan…and he comes at us with all his army of demons. To some degree, Christians are as much guilty of the state of this world and our nation as those who passed laws and led this nation away from God. We have not taken a stand for Christ in the political world. We’ve sat idly by, complacent within the pretty walls of our churches, and shook our heads and quietly said, “Well, bless their hearts. Let’s pray for them.” And now, we feel helpless to change anything.
Our Biggest Weapon is Prayer
All of Judah felt helpless too – but they were not. They used their biggest weapon without even knowing it – they prayed. We need to pray too. Not just say we’re going to pray, but never get around to it. Not just say some words so we can check prayer off our to-do list for the day. We need humble, heartbroken, repentant prayer from the people of God. Riots and marches make a statement, but they don’t change anything. Often they make the problem bigger.
Prayer changes the course of nations. Prayer moves heaven into action. But, as we pray, we need to acknowledge the part we played in the state of our nation by not standing up and speaking out for Christ. We need to repent and ask the Holy Spirit to empower us to speak boldly. If the people of God came together with the power of the Holy Spirit, God can work through us to bring the change that we so desperately need.
6. Jehoshaphat acknowledged their source of help
Jehoshaphat acknowledged their source of help: “we will stand before this temple and in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple), and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.” At the end of his prayer, he also said: “our eyes are upon You.” As the leader and king of Judah, he called his nation to fast and pray. He brought them to the house of God and with the entire nation in assembly, he led his people to pray and ask God to help them.
What would happen in our nation if God’s people all across America united on the same date and stood before God and in His presence and cried out to Him? Then, what if, we stand together with our eyes upon God to see Him work miraculously and intervene in the direction this nation is going? When Abraham barters with God to save Sodom and Gomorrah from destruction we find that for just 10 righteous people God would not destroy the cities. Are there 10 righteous people in America who will stand up for God by falling on their knees? Will 10 righteous people fast and pray?
A Call to Action for the People of God
We are calling on God’s people across America and throughout the world. We must stand before our Holy God acknowledging who He is. Acknowledging His power and sovereignty. We need to bring our sin problem to Him, surrender it, repent of it, and ask His forgiveness. We also need to acknowledge our helplessness against our enemy and that God is our only source of help. And we need to beseech God to revive our hearts, renew a steadfast spirit within us, and to redeem our nation. Will you join us?
Fasting and Prayer for America
On Friday, July 3rd, we are asking that Christians throughout America will spend the day fasting and in private prayer of repentance and asking God to send a revival to our land. Ask the Holy Spirit to renew the hearts of God’s people and burden them for the state of our nation and the need we have to repent and turn our hearts back to Him. Pray that God would redeem our nation and we would once again be known as One Nation Under God.
Then on Sunday, July 5, we are asking churches around the country to gather their congregations together outside the front of their churches and spend time in corporate prayer for the Holy Spirit to move in our nation and within the body of Christ. If you are a pastor reading this, will you lead your church to fast and pray just as King Jehoshaphat led his people? We also ask that you help us call the nation to prayer and fasting by sharing this on your various social media sites.
Let the people of God arise and cry out to Him to revive, renew, and redeem our nation and our world!
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