Bridging the Gap

Those of you who have followed this blog for any length of time know that I rarely comment on world events or political matters.  To be honest, some of these events disturb me to the point where I don't want to discuss them.  However, there are situations taking place right now that cannot be ignored, specifically the persecution of Christians around the world.  Reading the newspaper has become like reading Foxe's Book of Martyrs.  It's frightening.  It's sickening.  And it's sobering.  We are living in the end times--there is no doubt about it.

I fear, however, that we are not doing all we can to intercede on behalf of the thousands who are suffering for their faith.  We know the Bible says that in the end times, perilous times will come, so as far as we're concerned, things are simply working out the way God said they would.  Well, yes, but does that mean we are to idly stand by as our brothers and sisters in Christ are being slaughtered?  Absolutely not!

I know many have made a point to pray daily for these persecuted souls, for our nations and government and the world as a whole.  But I wonder how many of you, like me, have merely been praying for grace and/or deliverance instead of praying a prayer of repentance for our nations/governments as the Bible teaches.  To be honest, it never crossed my mind until the Lord started dealing with me about it.

"You need to pray for forgiveness for your nation.  You need to repent from your wicked ways," He whispered.

"But it's not me, Lord," I complained.  "I'm doing my best to serve you.  I don't agree with what my nation is doing.  I am against abortion, gay marriage and throwing you out of our schools, courthouses and other places of business.  It's not my fault.  Why I should repent?  Why should I ask forgiveness?  What good will that do when the nation, as a whole, isn't sorry for their sins?"

The Lord answered by opening my eyes to the many examples in the Bible where one man stood in the gap between God and his nation.  Daniel did in Daniel 9.  Ezra did in Ezra 9.  Job did in the first chapter of the book of Job.  Moses did in Exodus 32 and several other passages.  Nehemiah repented for the nation in the first chapter of Nehemiah.  And the list goes on.  These men were not guilty of the crimes for which they were repenting, but they pleaded for forgiveness on behalf of their nation.  They put aside all pride and selfishness and bowed their faces before God, begging Him to spare their nation and to forgive them of their many sins.  After all, God had made a promise:

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, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them. - Jeremiah 18:7-10

We may not be able to change things in Washington (or your capital city, for those of you who live outside America).  We have no control over the minds, thoughts and deeds of those in power.  However, we have direct access to the One who does.  Instead of focusing on what we can't do, how about we focus our efforts on what we can?  We can intercede for our nation.  We can pray that prayer of repentance, just like these faithful men in the Bible.  And if enough of us pray and repent, perhaps God will spare our lands.

And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. - Ezekiel 22:30

Oh, may that not be the case in this day and hour!  May God find us faithful and willing to set aside our pride and own selfish desires to stand in the gap for our country, government and world system.  Yes, we need deliverance, but I fear repentance must come first.  Perhaps it's the single most important ingredient we've been missing.  Forgiveness comes before healing.  Will you help me pray for both?

 Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way: Only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you. - I Samuel 12:23-24