Prayer Targets: Rev. R.O. Roberts The Solemn Assembly; National Day of Prayer May 4, 2017
April 19, 2017
Consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord… Joel 1:14, 2:12-13
Dear Praying Friends,
Rev. Richard Owen Roberts’ (see bio) biblical and historical study, preaching and writing brought to the 20th and 21st century church a historic understanding of the Solemn Assembly and the role it has played in the repentance and returning to God, not only of individuals, but also of nations. What he has uncovered in Scripture has birthed a growing cry for corporate repentance in our day. These excerpts are from one of his chapters on the Solemn Assembly, ordered with links for study.
Most professing Christians have never heard of a Solemn Assembly. Of the small number who have, many consider it as merely an Old Testament practice of no relevance today.
The Biblical Background: There are not fewer than twelve revival movements in the Old Testament. There are at least four factors preceding each revival which they all hold in common.
- A Tragic Decline. A moral and spiritual decline among God’s people, e.g., Ex 32-33.
- A Righteous Judgment from God. Old Testament revivals were preceded by a righteous judgment from God. Some resulted in the deaths of the wicked others in brokenness, prayer, repentance and extraordinary seeking of God's face.
- The Raising Up of An Immensely Burdened Leader or Leaders. This is illustrated by a) the revival under Moses - Ex 32ff; b) the Revival under Samuel - 1 Sam 7 (see also Ch. 1-6); c) the Revival under David - 2 Sam 6, 7; d) the Revival under Asa - 2 Chr 14-16; e) the Revival under Jehoshaphat - 2 Chr 17-20; f) the Revival under Jehoida - 2 Chr 23-24; g) the Revival under Hezekiah - 2 Chr 29-32; h) the Revival under Josiah - 2 Chr 34-35; i) the Revival under Zerubbabel - Ezra 1-6; j) the Revival under Ezra - Ezra 7-10. k) the Revival under Nehemiah - Neh 1-13; l) the Revival under Joel - Joel 1-2:27. God Himself raised up leaders who were under the heavy burden of the moral and spiritual needs of his people (e.g., Moses in Ex 32:32): "But now, if Thou wilt, forgive their sin - if not, please blot me out from Thy book which Thou hast written."
- Some Extraordinary Action. The most common action taken was a Solemn Assembly. Note the record of the revivals: a) Ex 33:7-11 - Moses pitched the tent outside the camp, called it the place of meeting and required everyone who sought the Lord to leave the place of sin to meet the Lord at the tabernacle; b) 1 Sam 7:5, 6 - Samuel required all Israel to gather at Mizpah for a Solemn Assembly. They prayed, fasted and confessed their sins; c) 2 Sam 6:14 and 1 Chr 13-18 - After sinning against the Lord by moving the Ark of the Covenant by the Philistine method, David and the people repented and moved it according to the Word of the Lord; d) 2 Chr 15:9-15 - Asa called a Solemn Assembly in Jerusalem and the people entered into a covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their hearts and all their souls; e) 2 Chr 20:3-13ff - Jehoshaphat called a Solemn Assembly throughout all Judah and Jerusalem and the people fasted and sought the Lord; f) 2 Chr 23:16 - Jehoida, in a Solemn Assembly, made a covenant between himself, the people and the king, to be the Lord's people. They proceeded to cleanse the land of the evil; g) 2 Chr 29:5ff - Hezekiah and the leaders established a decree requiring all the people to gather for a Solemn Assembly and the celebration of the Passover. Fourteen days were devoted to seeking the Lord and worshipping Him; h) 2 Chr 3:31-33 - Josiah gathered the people together in a Solemn Assembly, and they entered into a covenant with the Lord to walk in all his ways and to perform all the words of the covenant; i) Ezra 6:16-22 - Zerubbabel led the people in a Solemn Assembly and seven day celebration of the Passover in which they separated themselves from the impurity of the nations and pledged themselves to seek the Lord God of Israel; j) Ezra 8:21-23; 9:5-15 - Ezra proclaimed a fast at the River Ahava to humble themselves and seek the Lord. They later engaged in public humiliation and putting away of sin in a Solemn Assembly; k) Neh 8:1ff – Under Nehemiah, a Solemn Assembly was held in front of the Water Gate where the Book of the Law of Moses was read by the hour and an agreement was made in writing to put away sin and to seek the Lord with all their hearts; l) Joel 1:13; 2:12-17, etc. - Joel called a Solemn Assembly in which all the people were required to attend and to return to the Lord with all their hearts, with fasting, weeping and mourning. They were called to rend their hearts and not their garments.
Historically, unheeded remedial judgments have turned into final judgments. America, as a nation, is ripe for destruction. The Evangelical Movement in this country is characterized by an arrogance that is almost beyond belief. The neglect of prayer, the involvement in Philistine methodology, the moral evils, and the doctrinal corruptions that characterize the Movement are sufficient to cause the people of Sodom to wonder at God's justice in destroying their city while sparing the United States.
If the youth of the nation are to live out their lives in a land of freedom and opportunity, they will do so because their parents had grace sufficient to humble themselves, pray, repent of their sins, and seek God's face in Biblical Solemn Assemblies.
Obedience is still better than sacrifice. Joel's call requires prompt response, "Consecrate a fast, proclaim a Solemn Assembly; gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the House of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord." (Richard Owen Roberts, The Solemn Assembly: Forgotten Means of God's Grace; Hope for the Survival of America, 1989, edited for space. Read or download the entire unedited study HERE.
Roberts’ Biblical Outline of the Solemn Assembly shows the required response to God’s amazing promise in the oft-quoted verse: 2 Chronicles 7:14. But despite the election of a new president, the war for our nation’s soul continues unabated. Our national sins continue to proliferate: violence, murder, sexual licentiousness, abortion, drug abuse, anarchy, sedition, and with them the consequences: economic troubles, broken homes, failing institutions, oppressive government, declining churches, spiritual death. Meanwhile, the U.S. and our allies around the world face unprecedented threats. Christians are being persecuted and slaughtered; a Christian genocide is underway in some places. Meanwhile in America, our “City on a Hill,” public policy is becoming increasingly socialistic and anarchistic and even pagan and anti-Christian. Those who understand these things know that God has given America a reprieve – a space to repent – a window of opportunity to return to Him.
Many Christians understand that cultural involvement and political action are important with a government “of, by and for the people,” but all must realize that our deepest problems and the solutions are spiritual. Churchwide and national repentance and returning to God are the only real solution. The solemn assembly is the Bible way. Early American colonial governors and legislatures, the Continental Congress, presidents have called for days of prayer and fasting. These have been the historic response in America to the doctrine of biblical solemn assembly.
The annual National Day of Prayer (to be observed May 4, 2017, just two weeks from now) is the closest thing to a national solemn assembly that America has. The Call2Fall, the Sunday before Independence Day, is a time for pastors to lead their church to seek God in repentance and prayer for themselves and our nation. It is timed to do so before Americans celebrate our nation’s Independence. Too many Americans have no idea of the spiritual jeopardy our nation is in. Our churches must lead the way. A growing number of believers are praying that President Trump and Congress will call all Americans to gather as families and churches together to fast, pray, repent of sin and to seek the face of God for our nation. As recorded in Bible history, God hears the repentant prayers of his people and he forgives the sins of entire nations (e.g., ancient Israel & Nineveh) when they seek forgiveness and reconciliation with him in this way.
- May we pray for such a day, days, and seasons of solemn assembly, while doing all we can to magnify observance of the National Day of Prayer, Call2Fall, and other such prayer initiatives. May we pray until the streams of God’s people have come together into a wholehearted corporate response to 2 Chronicle 7:14, one that satisfies the heart of God and enables him to send our churches great revival and our nation one more great awakening before the consummation of the age. We must grow prayer and great prayer efforts until America returns to the God of our Fathers. When we do, we will bring many nations with us.
Finally, as always, there are many matters that need our prayers (e.g., North Korea, Syria, Russia, China, ISIS, the family, efforts to legalize mind-altering drugs, forced gender confusion in our public schools, the continuing struggle for life over abortion/Planned Parenthood; godless and unnatural sex education, sex trafficking, religious liberty issues, etc., -- all of which accentuate the urgency of a solemn assembly.
- With just two weeks until the National Day of Prayer, May 4, 2017, may we focus our prayers, prepare for and promote this critically important National observance during the short time we have left. May the word spread via Facebook, Twitter and other social media, email, letters to the editor, word-of-mouth and every other means! May the National Day of Prayer reach more Americans and draw more participants than ever before, two weeks from now!
Thank you for praying and for helping to grow the quantity and quality of prayer for our nation!