Beloved, I love to cling to promises from God’s Word.
Jehovah has made so many promises to those who love Him. But the Bible is full of other promises — promises that are equally trustworthy. It’s frightening to think of a “promise of wrath,” but that’s exactly the message Ezekiel delivered to Jerusalem — the City of David he so loved:
“Because all of you have become dross (“something worthless or of low standard”)...I am going to gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. As they gather silver and bronze and iron and lead and tin into the furnace to blow fire on it in order to melt it, so I will gather you in My anger and in My wrath and I will lay you there and melt you” (Ezekiel 22:19,20).
God compares judgment on Jerusalem to the work of a blast furnace purifying silver. If you’ve ever seen one of these in action, you know they use extremely high temperatures to separate impurities from tainted silver so the dross will rise to the surface to be skimmed off. The end product left at the bottom of the vat is good, but the process is terrifying to watch — loud, hot, violent.
Before God melted Jerusalem in His furnace, He tells us He did something: “I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one” (Ezekiel 22:30).
Because God doesn’t change, He judges unconfessed and unrepented sin. But long before this happens and because He’s long-suffering, He searches for men and women to stand in the gap — to intercede for the land so He won’t destroy it. This puts an awesome amount of power, responsibility, privilege, and opportunity into the hands of prayer!
Daniel knew this. During the reign of Darius in Babylon, Daniel “gave [his] attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes” (Daniel 9:3). Daniel was bothered enough by Jeremiah’s prophecy of seventy years of “desolations” (9:2) of Jerusalem to do something about it.
Prayer is easier than fasting, but this man, probably in his eighties, took to both. He confessed the sins of his nation — the sins of kings, princes, and ordinary people. He beseeched the “awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments” (9:4). He asked God for mercy, and God showed mercy to His chosen people during the reign of the next king, Cyrus, in allowing them to return to the land to rebuild the temple. God also showed Daniel in the future there would be a finish for sin in God’s people and in God’s city!
Pretty impressive values, humility, and faith...don’t you think?
Similarly, when Jonah warned Nineveh of impending destruction, the king led his people to pray like Daniel — in sackcloth and ashes and with fasting. They beseeched the God of mercy. And God, because of their prayerful petitions and His mercy, did not bring the destruction He had threatened.
Paul tells us to pray for kings and those in authority so we will have peace. We need law and order in our society, but we more desperately need peace in our personal lives — revival of our marriages, our families, our churches, our companies, our educational institutions, our governments.
It has to start with us. Did you know the Church of Jesus Christ is called “a nation”? It’s true — read 1 Peter 2:9: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” We’re a nation within a nation, Beloved, a nation God calls to leaven the whole lump (Matthew 13:33). That’s our calling! It starts with us.
Now is the time...to seek God with fasting and prayer. Won’t you join Precept Ministries, the staff and me as we beseech the throne of grace for our nation? Let’s be that “stopgap” God searches for before He judges. Let’s become a nation whose God is the Lord!
Let’s pray with our whole hearts (like the citizens of Nineveh) that God will preserve and bless our country — change us and bring honor to Himself. Let’s confess our personal sins, the sins of our churches, and the sins of our nation. Let’s ask the God of mercy to revive our cities, our states, our leaders, our culture...so we will be a nation set on a hill, a beacon to other nations!
To learn more about Prayer visit Precept Ministries e-store.
Host, Precepts For Life
Co-CEO, Precept Ministries International