A Call To Humility, Prayer And Repentance
By Rich Carmicheal
“Oh give ear, Shepherd of Israel, Thou who dost lead Joseph like a flock; Thou who art enthroned above the cherubim, shine forth! Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh, stir up Thy power, and come to save us! O God, restore us, and cause Thy face to shine upon us, and we will be saved. O Lord God of hosts, how long wilt Thou be angry with the prayer of Thy people? Thou hast fed them with the bread of tears, and Thou hast made them to drink tears in large measure. Thou dost make us an object of contention to our neighbors; and our enemies laugh among themselves. O God of hosts, restore us, and cause Thy face to shine upon us, and we will be saved.
“…Then we shall not turn back from Thee; revive us, and we will call upon Thy name. O Lord God of hosts, restore us; cause Thy face to shine upon us, and we will be saved” (Psa. 80:1-7, 18-19).
In a sermon based on Psalm 80, Richard Owen Roberts points out that God’s judgments are righteous and that “Scripture shows us that the judgments of God fall into two general categories – remedial and final. God is in no hurry to kill and destroy. He is full of lovingkindness and incredible mercy. He would much prefer to send a kind, gracious, remedial judgment that leads to repentance instead of a judgment that leads directly to hell. He graciously sends remedial judgments to help us to catch up to be where we are supposed to be instead of what we have become because of sin in our lives.”
Brother Roberts goes on to say, “When God is grieved with His wayward and His indifferent people, He loves them enough to send remedial judgment. He withdraws His manifest presence and gives them tears to eat and tears to drink in large measure.” Now this could lead to despair, but it should actually lead to hope, as Roberts continues: “Now friends, there is an immense consequence in what I just said. We are not living in the final judgment. If we were we would not be here. We are living, both individually and as a nation, under the remedial judgment of God. Therefore, there is incredible hope. Now obviously things are bad and growing worse very rapidly. But God can turn us again and can cause His face to shine and we can truly be saved. It is not too late!”
So on one hand, there is much cause for grief. Because of how the U.S. is turning away from the Lord and His ways, and because many of His people are turning away from Him, He is sending remedial judgments upon us. We are seeing before our very eyes grievous breakdown in the nation and in the church, as well as in families and individual lives. The Lord is allowing us to reap the consequences of corporate and individual sin.
But His purpose in doing so is not to destroy us, but to help us come to our senses. In His kindness, forbearance and patience, He is leading us to repentance (Rom. 2:4). His remedial judgment is an indication of His love for us and His desire that we turn fully toward Him. So there is also much cause for hope! No matter how terrible the spiritual and moral breakdown may be, the Lord can revive and restore us! If He causes His face to shine upon us, we will be saved!
A key part for you and me in all of this is for us to acknowledge the mess we are in and to call out to Him for His intervention. “O God of hosts, restore us, and cause Thy face to shine upon us, and we will be saved” (v. 7). He calls us, as His people, to lead the way. Notice, for example, in the following passage the remedial judgments and the corresponding call to God’s people:
“If I [the Lord] shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chr. 7:13-14). As Tony Evans shares in the lead article of this issue, the solutions to our nation’s problems will be found first and foremost not in the White House, but “in God’s house, because He is ultimately in charge and His people have priority access to Him. As Christians, we hold the destiny of our great land in our hands and in our hearts.”
So brothers and sisters, let us be the first in humbling ourselves, in praying, in seeking God’s face and in turning away from wicked ways. This is not the time for us to cower down or give up, but the time to lead others to the Almighty God who is able to restore and revive! He is waiting for us to respond. He is calling us to respond. And because of how gracious, faithful and powerful He is, He will hear, and forgive and heal. So let us forsake sin, forsake worldliness, forsake self, and turn fully toward the Lord! “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep: let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you” (Jas. 4:8-10).
Because of the spiritual and cultural breakdown all around us, there is more individual suffering as well. In light of this, it is very likely that you are facing some personal hardship in your own life or in the life of someone(s) dear to you. If so, you may find special encouragement in the following passage which describes how we can confidently hope in the Lord to bring us out of even the lowest pit when we call out to Him:
“And my soul has been rejected from peace; I have forgotten happiness. So I say, ‘My strength has perished, and so has my hope from the Lord.’
“Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness. Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me. This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I have hope in Him.’ The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the Lord.
“…I called on Thy name, O Lord, out of the lowest pit. Thou hast heard my voice, ‘Do not hide Thine ear from my prayer for relief, from my cry for help.’ Thou didst draw near when I called on Thee…” (Lam. 3:17-26; 55-57).
So no matter how difficult the situation, there is always hope in the Lord! He is an all-powerful, ever-present God who has unlimited resources to save, heal, deliver, restore, renew, revive, forgive, guide, comfort, encourage, strengthen, provide, open doors, grant wisdom, and the list goes on and on. Nothing is too hard for Him! (Jer. 32:17). Cast all your cares upon Him, because He cares for you! (1 Pet. 5:7).