The Interceders Encourager No. 63 - How Praying men and Women can turn the Tide
(With acknowledgments to Quinton Everest, Ralph Carmicheal and D.M. Panton)
The God who made Britain, Great Britain, the one and only true God, is today being opposed, neglected, ignored and abused right across the land. Because of our leaders treating Him in this way, our nation's confusion has increased; evil has intensified; problems are multiplied; purity and Biblical idealism are derided, and honesty and justice are rejected.
What Ralph Carmichael has written about America can be applied to Britain. "This nation is in open rebellion against the Lord and His ways. Not only is our society marked by the love of money, of self, of pleasure, and other sins such as immorality, impurity, anger, pride and disobedience, we are guilty of the innocent blood of millions of unborn babies through legalized abortion and also guilty of violating the sacred institution of marriage by legalizing same gender marriage unions."
While all sin is terrible and of great consequence, these latter two sins are especially disconcerting as both are in direct violation of the very essence of God's character and of His creative order. In regard to abortion, children are His gift (Psa. 127:3), woven together in the mother's womb by His hand (Psa. 139:13-16). He is a God of life, and His call to mankind is to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:28). As a God of justice who cares deeply for the vulnerable and innocent, the shedding of the blood of the unborn is a sin most grievous to Him.
In regard to the sin of homosexuality and same gender marriage, at the very heart of God's creative order is the truth that "God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (Gen. 1:27). He then clearly established marriage as between one man and one woman (Gen. 2:18-25). These are vital truths echoed by Jesus Himself (Mark 10:6-9). Because these truths are so foundational to God's design and purposes, whenever mankind deviates from them, the consequences are profound. In fact, according to the teaching of the Apostle Paul, the prevalence of homosexuality is a terrible indicator that a culture is openly rejecting the Lord and is under His wrath, (Rom. 1:18-32).
Every nation that defies the Lord, should be humbled by the truth that the Lord makes nations great and He destroys them (Job 12:23). He does not allow a nation to go on indefinitely in sin. Even His own chosen people suffered the consequences of their rebellion and were taken into captivity.
God's heart, of course, is not to bring destruction. Consider the encouraging story of Jonah in which God worked to bring the wicked city of Nineveh to repentance in order that the people might escape His imminent judgment. In fact, it is the nature of the Lord to give warnings before judgment so that people may repent, and judgment be averted.
In keeping with this, the Lord has in recent years given this country any number of warnings, including natural disasters, acts of terror, financial woes, cultural breakdown, political dysfunction and the loss of prominence. Along with this, are prophetic warnings calling the nation to repentance, and many letters sent to our present and previous Prime Ministers, to which there has been no response.
Lessons from Amos
"The message of the Prophet Amos is one that our nation would do well to take to heart," wrote Ralph Carmicheal. "The message begins with a series of proclamations of judgment on various nations and cities because of their transgressions. The prophet then focuses on the punishment awaiting Israel, whose sin is even greater because of the privileges she had enjoyed as God's chosen nation.
The Lord had sent remedial judgments to bring her to repentance (Amos 4:6-11), but she would not return to Him. He then gives this solemn word:"Prepare to meet your God, O Israel" (4:12).
Even with the declaration of certain judgment, Amos yet calls the people to repentance."Seek the Lord that you may live, lest He break forth like a fire…" (5:6). "Hate evil, love good, and establish justice in the gate! Perhaps the Lord God of hosts may be gracious to the remnant of Joseph" (5:15). At the same time, Amos has strong words for those who are complacent:"Woe to those who are at ease in Zion…Those who recline on beds of ivory and sprawl on their couches," those who "anoint themselves with the finest of oils, yet are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph" (6:1-6).
Judgment Delayed through Intercession
When the Lord showed Amos one picture and then another of devastating judgment approaching the land, Amos interceded both times and the Lord relented (7:1-6). But the third picture was irrevocable:"Behold I am about to put a plumb line in the midst of My people Israel. I will spare them no longer" (7:7-9). In other words, the people had fallen so far from God's standard, that no further reprieve would be granted. And, indeed, terrible judgment did come and the nation was taken into captivity." We reject God's warnings at our peril.
Is There Any Hope?
So back to the original question: Is there any hope for this country? It is clear that the only hope is in wide scale repentance and returning to the Lord. While we do still believe that there will be an end-time outpouring of the Spirit, that does not necessarily guarantee that Britain will be part of it. The Lord has been incredibly patient with this nation, but without repentance, full judgment may suddenly be upon us.
Of course, judgment begins with the household of God (1 Pet. 4:17), and He calls His people to lead the way in turning back to Him (2 Chr. 7:14)." But given the lukewarm state of most of the churches in this land, it is up to those who have the mark on their foreheads, those who cry and sigh over all the abominations that are done in this land, to lead the way in humility, prayer, repentance and fervent intercession, that God will have mercy and send the awakening that is so desperately needed.
Our forefathers had a strong faith in God, which, even in the midst of hardship, danger, and strenuous toil brought them calmness of soul, peace of mind, and hope for the future, and enabled God to prosper this land. The way was far from easy, but it was their trust in God and their fear of Him that helped to make Britain a great country. But now, "it is impossible for the Scriptural observer to watch God's church today without deepening alarm and even heartbreaking sorrow. Consider the appalling abandonment of belief in the Word of God; the shallowness and worldliness that is so prevalent in almost every church, the disregard of sin and backsliding, the terrible lack of concern for the vast majority of the people of this land going along the broad way to destruction; and, above all, our own failure to respond to it all with our faces in the dust." (D.M. Panton) How we need to try and understand Jeremiah when he said:"Oh that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!" (Jer. 9:1).
Yet out of such black disaster arises one of the most exquisite privileges of the Christian believer; to be an interceder between God and man. Nearly all the great prayers of the Bible are intercessions: Abraham for Sodom; Moses for Israel; Solomon for the Temple; Daniel for the captives; our Lord and Paul for the Church.
Let us look carefully at one of the most wonderful examples of this; that of Moses and Aaron. Moses is the mediator, the type of Christ (Heb. 3:1-2). Aaron is the priest; and we are all priests (1 Pet. 2:9, Rev. 1:6 etc.). The incense is prayer (Psa. 141:2, Rev. 5:8). As priests, we should be clean from the laver of the blood of Christ, with command over the incense, equipped for interceding before God.
In this story, the action opens with God; as the glory appears in the cloud (Num. 16:42). Instinctively the people turn their faces to the cloud, and God responds with a vision of devouring fire.
"This is the purging terror needed by the modern church," wrote D.M. Panton. "We have forgotten the sword in the mouth of Christ. We have forgotten that even on Jesus, the fear of the Lord rested, (Isa. 11:2). The awful certainty is that sooner or later, God is bound to deal with His people. The blessed certainty is that God is in the Holy of Holies, waiting for intercessions."And the Lord said to Moses, 'Get away from being among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment,' and they [Moses and Aaron] fell on their faces" (Num. 16:44-45).
Notice the concern of Moses. As the mediator, Moses directs the priest to rush in with the incense."Moses said to Aaron, Take a censer. Put fire in it from the altar, put on incense, and carry it quickly to the congregation, and make atonement for them: for wrath gone has gone out from the Lord; the plague has begun'" (Num. 16:46).
Intercession Reaches the Judgment Seat
Now observe the magnificent results:"Aaron stood between the dead and the living, and the plague was stopped" (v. 48). The people were no worthier, but the prayer was accepted. Two men saved two million. God's judgments are actually held back and stopped by the intercessions of His priests.
Prayer can remove sin, as well as revoke the plague."Let them pray over him...and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven,"(Jas. 5:15). It is an amazing fact that intercession can reach even to the Judgment Seat."
In the next chapter, Aaron, his sons and family of the tribe of Levi are given the task of perpetually interceding before the Lord, so that His wrath does not come again upon the children of Israel, (Num. 18:1-5). And this incredible privilege of interceding between God and the people is given to us in perpetuity, unless we fail Him, (1 Sam. 3:30)
Hearts for Intercession
"It was the spirit of intercession which produced, in a closely linked incident, one of the most wonderful occurrences in the history of the world. So awful had been the defection of His people, that God said to Moses,"How long will this people reject me?....I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and I will make of you [Moses] a nation greater and mightier than them," (Num. 14:12). Never before or since has such an offer been made.
Now Moses revealed his greatness in this supreme crisis in his life. He was silent on the offer that God made. His one cry is:"Pardon, I pray You, the iniquity of this people" (v. 19). Oh, that the very sins of the church, and the anger of God, may now awake such God-like intercession and such Gethsemane like pleadings.
The door of intercession still stands open. God's heart is just one great sob over a lost world. Our hearts are to be one great sob over an errant church. (D.M. Panton) "O Lord, to us belongs confusion of face...because we have sinned against You. To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgiveness ...O my God, incline Your ear, and hear...for we do not present our supplications before You on the ground of our righteousness, but on the ground of Your great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, give heed and act. Do not delay, because …Your people are called by Your name, " (Dan. 9:8-9, 18-19).
One of the most important things that made Britain strong and one of the most blessed places on the face of the earth to live, was and is, praying men and women. Unless we see another generation of praying men and women coming on the scene, and very soon, we are doomed to destruction. "Many
nations have gone down because of immorality and pleasure-seeking. Many nations have been destroyed because God was forgotten, ignored and disobeyed." (Quinton Everest)
We need God, and we must have God, if our problems are to be solved. We need a general humbling and crying to God. From the least to the greatest, we need to repent! The great need of the hour is for Samuels, Daniels, and Pauls who have an unquestioning, undaunted faith in God and who will fast and pray until God breaks through, until sin is -uncovered and uprooted, and until people are converted, purified, and radically altered by the Holy Spirit.
A National Crisis
Look at the conditions in the days of Samuel. He lived in one of the most desperate hours of Israel's history. The nation was poisoned with idolatry and immorality. Yet just a few could be found who still had a faith in the one true God, and at Shiloh, the forms of Israel's religious practices were maintained. But their faith in God had become weak. Israel's hereditary enemies, the Philistines, had beaten them in battle. Hophni and Phinehas, the evil offspring of a great line of priests, had perished in the struggle. The ark, the sacred symbol of God's presence, had been captured by their enemies, and the whole land was under their yoke. The national glory was gone; and true faith in God was at a very low ebb. The need was desperate! The things in which men had trusted had now failed.
An Effectual Solution
It was during this time of Israel's pitiful plight that God provided the solution. It was one man and a national prayer meeting! (1 Sam. 7:2-17).
Samuel was a man of devotion and prayer. He was faithful in his prayer, and when the nation was at its lowest, he called all the people together and told them that if they turned back to God with all their hearts, put away their foreign gods, and decided to follow only the Lord, that He, the one true God, would deliver them from the hands of their enemies.
The people held Samuel in such high esteem that they did what he said; put away their foreign gods and turned to the Lord. Then Samuel told them to come together at Mizpah, and he would pray for them. So the whole nation gathered as one man, and fasted before the Lord. They then confessed to God, saying, "we have sinned before the Lord.".
What a wonderful sight that must have been, with a nation upon its knees, brought there by the praying of one earnest man. James says,"The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects," (Jas. 5:16). The people of Israel needed a strong man, and at this time of need, they looked to one who was able to really pray. Never belittle the power of one person's prayer. The prayers of one person, Samuel, here brought the whole nation to its knees.
The Philistines heard of this great gathering of Israel and thought that these subjects might be planning some kind of an offensive; so they came up against Israel with a show of power. The Israelites saw this and they were afraid. They cried out to Samuel and said,"Don't stop crying out to the Lord our God for us, that He will save us out of the hand of the Philistines" (1 Sam. 7:8).
This shows us that Samuel was praying for them with loud cries when the Philistines appeared. It also shows the trust of the Israelites in him and his prayers, for when they saw their enemies approaching, and were terror stricken, they did not run away, but turned to Samuel and placed all their hope in the prayers of one man. When Samuel sacrificed to the Lord, and cried out to God again for Israel, he was heard and the Lord answered him. His prayers were mightier than the armies of the Philistines. The Lord thundered with a loud thunder upon the Philistines, and so confused them that they were defeated by Israel. The enemy was subdued, and did not come any more into Israel's territory. The cities of Israel they had stolen were returned to Israel. Peace was established between the two countries; Samuel's reputation was made even greater, and he travelled all over the land of Israel, judging the country.
"Some people might think that the prayer that Samuel offered on that occasion must have been a extraordinary prayer. But we need to remember that it was not only the praying he did at that time, but all the praying and the godly living that had preceded it that brought such results. There was a perfect understanding between Samuel and his God which had been produced by years of fellowship and walking together. Samuel knew God, and better still, God knew him. When the person who prays and the God who must answer are well known to each other, then anything is possible".
We have seen judgment delayed through the intercession of Amos. We have seen judgment averted through the intercession of Moses. We have seen deliverance and victory obtained through the intercesssion of Samuel. We have also seen that the way into the inner sanctuary, to receive answers to our prayers, is the way of holy living and constant communion. "God is searching for men and women whose hearts are contrite and pure, who tremble at His word, yet whose faith is strong and resolute; those who will pray when the days are dark, when there is not a single break in the clouds, when the devil seems to be triumphing, and the hosts of God appear to be defeated. The one who prays honestly, earnestly, continuously, and sacrificially is the one who will turn the tide!" (Quinton Everest)
Determine to be that one, that you are going to meet the challenge, that you are not going to allow this land to go down to defeat. Be really honest with God and confess your sins and failures, praying humbly, fervently and consistently, and crying out to the Lord, as Samuel did.
If we truly do this, we would soon see the desired results. God is waiting for a people who will accept His remedy, and when this is accepted, He will act.
Dear Heavenly Father
We come to You today to plead for our nation, which surely deserves only Your wrath and judgment. We name the sins of godlessness; swearing and blasphemy, the lack of disciplining of children, rebellion, greed, materialism, sexual immorality; homosexuality; abortion, moral depravity on the television and the internet, alcohol and drug abuse; lawlessness; divorce; gambling; debt; crime; nominal Christianity; false religions, occult activity and satanic worship. We come to You today to plead for our nation, which surely deserves only Your wrath and judgment. We name the sins of godlessness; swearing and blasphemy, the lack of disciplining of children, rebellion, greed, materialism, sexual immorality; homosexuality; abortion, moral depravity on the television and the internet, alcohol and drug abuse; lawlessness; divorce; gambling; debt; crime; nominal Christianity; false religions, occult activity and satanic worship.
We ask You to turn away your judgment and extend your mercy to it. Forgive their sins because of Christ's blood, for "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:2). The people of our nation are blinded by the devil's schemes (2 Cor. 4:4) and cannot come to You themselves. But we, as priests of God, intercede for them.
We ask You to convict this nation of all its sin and bring it to repentance. If you must judge, we ask that You begin with the church (Heb. 10:30). Discipline us through Your Word and Your Spirit! Cleanse and revive us so that our nation can see what the Church should be like; holy, joyful and dedicated to You; "a praise in the earth.".
We claim Your mercy on behalf of our nation according to Your Word,"I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remembers your sins no more"(Is. 43:25). The greatest glory for Your Son would be for You to pour out Your Spirit on this land, causing this nation to acknowledge You as the one true God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In His name we pray, for Your glory, Amen.