by C. Harmon
Our nation is hurting. Like an American flag badly frayed and torn by the wind, the threads of morality, integrity, and dependence upon God that built this nation have been ripped to shreds. We Americans, including many of us who claim to be born-again Christians, have become complacent, compromised with sin, and self-focused.
We could create a convincing list of things amiss and contemptible in the US today. For example, what was once considered intolerable is now pushed on the public as condoned and acceptable; judges are allowed to overturn the declared will of the people; and many of our government leaders and agencies over-reach their given authority.
What can God-fearing Americans do to restore this nation? Let’s consider the actions of one of the Jewish kings and some common people who turned many back to God.
Second Chronicles chapters 29, 30, and 31 relate the positive influence of a young king who didn’t follow the example of his father. King Ahaz of Judah refused to trust and seek guidance from God; instead, he worshiped false gods and influenced all of the people to do the same. In contrast, when his son, Hezekiah, became king at the age of 25, he immediately began purifying the Temple, getting rid of idols, and urging the people to return to God and bring their tithes to God’s house.
With the Temple cleansed, King Hezekiah then invited all Israelites to come to the Temple at Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. His invitation was to all of Judah and even further — to those remaining in the northern kingdom of Israel who had not been carried away by Assyria. Most of the remnant to the north scorned King Hezekiah’s invitation and continued to reject God. But the people in the land of Judah, the southern kingdom, chose to obey the Lord and travel to Jerusalem for the Passover festival.
Unfortunately, not all the priests and Levites in Judah made that same commitment. It was the common people who set to work in Jerusalem removing all the pagan and incense altars, throwing them away. And because there were not enough re-dedicated priests and Levites to do their job, the common people also slaughtered the Passover lamb. This shamed and humbled many of the priests and Levites to the point of repenting, purifying themselves before the Lord, and taking their places at the Temple as prescribed by the Law of Moses. With King Hezekiah, the people joyously celebrated the Festival. Second Chronicles 30:26 says, “There was great joy in the city, for Jerusalem had not seen a celebration like this one since the days of Solomon, King David’s son,” 255 years earlier.
Following the celebration, King Hezekiah required the people of Jerusalem to bring a portion of their goods to the priests and Levites, so they could devote themselves fully to the work prescribed to them by the Lord. The people responded immediately and generously, bringing the first of their crops, new wine, olive oil, honey, cattle, sheep, and goats — a tithe of all they produced. And the people continued faithfully to bring their tithes to the Temple. The high priest reported to King Hezekiah that all the priests and Levites had plenty to eat, with some to spare. The King thanked the Lord and his people.
What can we apply from this exemplary story of God’s people to our nation today?
To begin, we can note that God was true to His word, blessing the nation who returned to Him and punishing the one that continued to rebel against Him (Deuteronomy 8:19, 20). It is not too late for the United States to return to God, the One who made it a great nation. We can follow the example of the great prophet Daniel by humbling ourselves on behalf of our nation, admitting that “. . . we have sinned and done wrong. We have rebelled against you and scorned your commands and regulations” (Daniel 9:5). Let’s ask God to show us any sin in our personal life, then confess and turn from it.
In John 14:15 Jesus said, “If you love me, obey my commandments.” Two of Jesus’ commandments include: “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me” (John 15:4); “But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too” (Mark 11:25). Are we guilty of disobeying either of these or other commands? As we repent of our sin, let’s pray that people throughout this land will confess and turn from their sin, as well.
We can pray for God’s mercy, claiming His promise in 2 Chronicles 7:14: “Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land”. Franklin Graham, President and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, is touring the country, stopping at every state capitol during 2016. At these gatherings, he is imploring citizens to confess their sins as a nation and passionately, urgently intercede in prayer for God’s mercy and spiritual renewal. Thousands are attending each capitol rally; scores of people are catching the vision and the need for unified prayer. Read about these rallies and find the tour schedule online at decisionamericatour.com.
Revivals have started through such prayers. For example, the 1857 Fulton Street revival in New York began with noontime prayer meetings that spread across the nation. Currently, small groups are gathering throughout Chicago to pray for their city. “PRAY Chicago” recognizes the need for God to heal a broken society. As we pray for our nation, let us watch to see what God is doing, expecting the Holy Spirit to move in people’s hearts.
We can serve as a piece of the solution. Mr. Graham is urging us to become part of the needed change: vote for those who support Biblical principles; stand up for our religious liberties by getting involved in local matters and perhaps running for a political office; attend regular prayer meetings or start one. People may mock us when we promote spiritual renewal. But God calls us as Christians to live out our faith with boldness. Like Hezekiah and the people of Judah, let’s stand strong in our faith and serve as positive examples and witnesses of the abundant, joyful life available through Jesus Christ.
In addition, we need to help support our local church and Christian organizations through our faithful tithes and offerings, as well as our volunteer time. All pastors’ funding should come from their church so they can dedicate themselves fully to their ministry.
It’s easy to complain about our government and to decry the moral decay of the country. But if we really care about the future of this nation, we will pray for it regularly and earnestly; we will publicly stand up for Biblical principles. Let’s not be part of the problem but part of the positive change. Pray. Now.