God Meets A Nation On Its Knees In Repentance
By Sarah Foulkes Moore
“At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; if that nation… turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them” (Jer. 18:7-8).
God’s judgments are upon the nations! And God alone knows to what degree the churches of America, England and Europe are directly responsible for the spiritual collapse of these nations and for their judgment.
Nor do we in America even dimly begin to comprehend what we ourselves as individuals and churches may yet have to endure in God’s judgments upon this land. It has been said that no nation has suffered more war, famine or pestilence than it deserved to suffer to square its account with God.
The so-called Christian nations must humble themselves under the mighty hand of God (1 Pet. 5:5-11). The Lord is waiting for His people in these lands to heed His warnings and to act on His commands, “IF My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face… then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chr. 7:14).
Without this humiliation and repentance, how can God bless our so-called Christian nations? We reek with vice and are corrupted with wickedness.
“My house,” said the Lord, “shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves” (Matt. 21:13). “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together... and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate” (Matt. 23:37-38).
Today everyone knows that the destruction which overtook Jerusalem had its origin in apostasy. Even while Jerusalem was being ravaged by Rome, she did not once choose to humble herself and look for deliverance from Jehovah.
In the horrors that laid desolate the city, God could not intervene because they did not seek His mercy nor plead for His help. Farrar, in writing of the siege of Jerusalem, says, “Never was a narrative more full of horrors, frenzies, unspeakable degradations and overwhelming miseries…what had been the Temple of Jerusalem…was a heap of ghastly ruin…slaked in pools of gore.”
Josephus, the Jewish historian, attributes this horrifying holocaust to the wickedness of the people in Jerusalem, and not to the vandals of Rome who so unmercifully besieged it.
“I cannot but think,” he wrote, “that it was because God had doomed this city to destruction as a polluted city, and was resolved to purge His sanctuary by fire… Never did a city suffer more miseries, nor did an age breed a generation more fruitful in wickedness than this since the beginning of the world.”
Can the cities of our nation say they are not polluted? Is this nation ripening, too, for judgment? Christian, remember judgment begins at the house of God! (1 Pet. 4:17). “IF MY PEOPLE…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” (2 Chr. 7:14). The most tragic thing in a world filled with tragedy – is the fact that an unrepentant church is the one thing that is standing between a world in need and God who is able to deliver.
The pages of sacred history are replete with examples of even wicked rulers who in time of national calamity abased themselves and won God’s respite. “Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before Me? Because he humbleth himself before Me, I will not bring the evil in his days” (1 Kgs. 21:29).
In offering prayer for our nation, it is imperative that we acquaint ourselves first with the principles upon which God covenants to answer prayer. God’s inspired model for a day of national humiliation and prayer is found in Second Chronicles 20:13, 18:
“And all Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children…And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all…the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the Lord, worshipping the Lord.”
The enemies of Judah were numerous and fierce. Judah’s resources were meager and pitiful. Yet because Jehoshaphat and the people humbled themselves and turned to God for aid, He became their Ally and routed their foes, giving Judah an overwhelming victory.
Christians in America will do well to ponder the prayer of Second Chronicles 20:6-12. It is God’s inspired ideal for us today in combating the perils that threaten our land.
The God of England
It is a record of history that the Lord has unfailingly responded to Israel or any other nation on their knees. When the Spanish Armada threatened England’s destruction, Queen Elizabeth and her subjects prayed, “We do instantly beseech Thee of Thy gracious goodness to be merciful to the Church militant here on earth, at this time compassed about with most strong and subtle adversaries.
“Oh! Let Thine enemies know that Thou hast received England which they most of all for Thy Gospel’s sake do malign, into Thy protection. Set a wall of fire about it, O Lord, and evermore mightily defend it. Let it be a comfort to the oppressed and a defense to Thy Church and people persecuted abroad…Thou, O Lord, art our help and our shield.”
This appeal to God for help and mercy was most miraculously answered for suddenly a great hurricane swept through the English Channel, demolishing the formidable Spanish Armada and saving the Empire. In the Crimean War and again in the Indian Mutiny, England was seemingly overwhelmed but in each case the tide of the battle was turned – following a day of national humiliation and prayer.
When Everything Else Fails, Prayer Avails!
A day of prayer and humiliation proves the most effective weapon any nation can employ against its foes. In the crisis of World War I, on July 17, 1918, Prime Minister Lloyd George announced in the House of Commons a day of national prayer. On the 18th day of July, 1918, Count Hertling, ex-Chancellor of Germany, declared, “The most optimistic German became convinced that all was lost.”
Twice during World War II, England observed a day of supplication and intercession. The first day of fasting and prayer was followed by the “Miracle of Dunkirk.” And the second day of prayer on September 8, 1940, which was co-jointly observed by England and America, witnessed the sending of a great gale which rendered impossible the expertly planned German invasion.
The God of America
Likewise in American history, God has in the hours of her gravest peril – as in the war of the Revolution, the war in 1812 with England, and later the Civil War – met the national crisis each time by garrisoning the nation with the re-enforcements of a mighty spiritual awakening.
Most notable among these was the revival of 1859. The dangers facing America were grave. Civil war in all its fury was about to break over the Union. The nation was suffering from a fearful panic. Banks were breaking. Business houses were closing daily.
About this time Jeremiah Lamphier called a few businessmen to prayer in Janes Hall, Fulton Street, New York City. Soon thousands were meeting daily to seek the face of God. The only thing generally known about Jeremiah Lamphier is that he called this prayer meeting.
The first day he knelt alone in prayer. The second day several others joined him. Soon the prayer rooms overflowed. Others were opened in New York, Baltimore, and Boston. Churches were open day and night. All New England throbbed with the life of prayer and to all appearance took on the semblance of a great prayer meeting.
Barns, stores, theaters and every available space was used to gather people in prayer. Never, comments one historian, in the history of a nation torn with strife and threatened with bankruptcy, was peace and prosperity so quickly restored.
Once more Christians in America must unite with the importunity of the widow and cry to God, “Avenge us of our adversary!” (Luke 18). What is imperative is not that some great spiritual leader stand out in the limelight but that as in 1859 – God-fearing people everywhere unite in prayer! The greatest thing now anyone can do to help is to pray! No time can be lost in our invoking God’s mercy, because of our national sins and pleading with Him for a return to the God of our fathers.
Every spiritual awakening that has swept the world with its power has its genesis in a small prayer meeting. Church annals reveal the fact that the sparks generating the fires of Great Revivals have been fanned into flame by the fervent prayers of small praying minorities.
“From the day of Pentecost,” writes Dr. Pierson, “there has not been one great spiritual awakening in any land which has not begun in the union of prayer, though only two or three.”
Quickly, prayer closets and public prayer rooms must be reopened. Prayer groups must be formed. Let companies of intercessors and assemblies of churches, ministers and members, by the help of God, gather in prayer. This is an urgent appeal for simultaneous prayer mobilization sounded forth to Christians everywhere:
“Shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him…I tell you that He will avenge them speedily” (Luke 18:7-8).