Prayer Targets: America Returning, Repenting, Reconciling, Healing, More
March 04, 2020
Even now, declares the Lord, "Return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning." (Joel 2:12)
Dear Praying Friends,
Rev. Richard Owen Roberts's (bio) biblical and historical study, preaching, and writing brought to the modern church a historic understanding of the Solemn Assembly and the role that repentance and returning to God has not just for individuals, but for nations. What he has uncovered in Scripture has birthed a cry for national repentance in our day. These excerpts are from The Solemn Assembly:
Joel called a Solemn Assembly in which all the people were required to be in attendance and where all were required to return to the Lord with all their hearts, with fasting, weeping and mourning. They were required to rend their hearts and not their garments (Joel 1:13; 2:12-17)
The people, as was common, were guilty of flagrant sin which had not been confessed and put away. God visited them with a remedial judgment - a plague of locusts of such proportion that nothing like it had happened before: "What the gnawing locust has left, the swarming locust has eaten; and what the swarming locust has left, the creeping locust has eaten; and what the creeping locust has left, the stripping locust has eaten." In addition to the terrible plague of insects, a fierce drought had afflicted the land. The Drunkards wailed because they had no new wine to drink, the priests mourned because the grain offering and the libations were cut off from the House of the Lord, the fields were ruined and the land itself mourned, the vinedressers wailed, and the beasts groaned while the herds of cattle wandered aimlessly because there was no pasture for them. The people themselves wailed like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the bridegroom of her youth.
The Prophet issued orders: "Gird yourselves with sackcloth, and lament, O priests; Wail, O ministers of the altar! Come, spend the night in sackcloth, O ministers of my God... 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... Blow a trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble... Yet even now, declares the Lord, return to Me with all you heart, with fasting, weeping and mourning; and rend your heart and not your garments. Now return to the Lord your God... Blow a trumpet in Zion, consecrate a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly, gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children and the nursing infants. Let the bridegroom come out of his room and the bride out of her bridal chamber. Let the priest, the Lord's ministers, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, 'Spare Thy people, O Lord, and do not make Thine inheritance a reproach, a byword among the nations.'"
Promises were offered as encouragement: "Then the Lord will be zealous for His land, and will have pity on His people. And the Lord will answer and say to His people, 'Behold I am going to send you grain, new wine and oil, and you will be satisfied in full with them; and I will never again make you a reproach among the nations. But I will remove the northern army from you [the horrendous swarm of locusts], and I will drive it into a parched and desolate land, and its vanguard into the western sea, and its rear guard into the western sea. And its stench [of rotting carcasses] will arise and its foul smell will come up..."
And in response to the corporate repentance of the people through the use of the divinely ordained means of the Solemn Assembly, the land rejoiced and was made glad. The pastures of the wilderness turned green. The trees and the vines bore fruit. And the fruit borne was not ordinary but extraordinary for God moved the rainy seasons closer together, and caused the sun to shine upon the earth, so that the threshing floors were full and the vats overflowing. So great was the blessing bestowed by the God who delights in a broken and contrite people that He made up to them the years that were lost to the mighty army of locusts. The people had plenty and were satisfied and praised the name of the Lord who had dealt wondrously with them. They knew that God was in their midst, that He only was God, and that there was none other!
Unfortunately, some professed Christians will be disinclined to seriously think of a Solemn Assembly because the illustrations above are all Old Testament. They would do well to weigh the entire season of preparation prior to Pentecost in the light of the Solemn Assembly and see that those days in the upper Room were indeed a Solemn Assembly if ever in the history of the world one was held.
Historical Foundations Not only were Solemn Assemblies a very common aspect in the revivals of the Bible, but they were a very important part of the life of believers in America during all its early years. For verification of this one has only to consult the Sprague Collection of Early American Pamphlets at the Weidener Library at Harvard University. There will be found a large number of sermons that were preached at the Fast Days and Solemn Assemblies which were frequently called and earnestly attended by American believers prior to the general decline of true Christianity which characterizes twentieth-century America.
Our Fathers believed God was offended by sin. They themselves were deeply troubled both by the existence of personal sin in their own lives and by the presence of unconfessed corporate sins in the churches and in the nation. They regarded natural calamities as manifestations of the displeasure of God Almighty against sin and allowed such events as earthquakes, fires, volcanoes, epidemics, floods, and droughts to prompt them to special seeking of God's face in fasting, prayer, and corporate repentance. They also sought the Lord in Solemn Assemblies in connection with wars, murders, rapes, etc., believing such outbursts of wickedness to be directly related to the general decline of moral and spiritual life in the churches... (Richard Owen Roberts, The Solemn Assembly, 1989)
What would our Forefathers have thought about the sin so rampant in our country today? They made it clear that "religion and morality are indispensable supports" (see George Washington's Farewell Address) undergirding our Republic. How would they have responded to the acts of terrorism, the violence and sex that is pumped into our homes via television and the internet, the pornography use by 68 percent of the men in our churches that has been declared a public health crisis in 16 states, modern sex trafficking that goes with that evil industry, legalized marijuana, abortion, angry atheism, Bible-less, Ten Commandments-less, and prayer-less schools, sex-changing surgeries and governments requiring taxpayers to fund such operations, Drag Queen Story Hours for children in our public libraries, and the propaganda of the world's largest abortion network used to provide an anything-goes sex education to our public school children? How about a substantial portion of America, mostly young people, embracing godless socialism taught by teachers trained by 60's generation professors with radical moral and political agendas who have forsaken faith in the true God? Many reject the reality that the source of our nation's blessings has been God and people's faith in him, hard work by people free to pursue their honorable dreams, and the sacrifices of faithful men and women who labored to make and keep our nation free under God to protect and preserve our liberty.
Moreover, far more importantly, what does God think about these things? Scripture is clear. The cosmic, global, regional, and local catastrophes we face are warnings to us to return to God. God allows worldwide epidemics, disease, pestilence, tornadoes, floods, wars, etc. with the hope that we will turn back to him both as our Savior but also our Lord. The tendency to look more and more to government as savior and provider is nothing less than idolatry to be repented of.
- God, may 2020 become the year of America's return to you in repentance, for individuals, families, churches, cities, counties, and states. Be gracious to us as you were in Joel's day. May your pastors and prophets call America to a genuine national Solemn Assembly! (2 Chr 7:14; 2 Chr 30:6-9; Pr 28:13; Hab 3:2; Mt 3:8; 4:17; Acts 3:19; Jas 4:8; 2 Pet 3:9; 1 Jn 1:9)
The Coronavirus -- Panic led to a massive sell-off in the stock market last week and volatility continues, even as the Federal Reserve lowered key interest rates to banks by half a percentage point in response to coronavirus fears. Retail stores are reporting massive shortages of supplies of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and water, and some outlets are selling face masks for many times their regular price. President Trump and Vice President Pence have made every effort to calm the nation amid incessant criticism and some news outlets overstating the case for panic. They met with pharmaceutical company leaders and scientists to discuss progress on the research and development of vaccines and medicines to treat the virus. Meanwhile, Israel's MIGAL Research Institutehas announced that it is near development of a Covid-19 vaccine. Scientists there expect to start producing the vaccine in the next eight-ten weeks. Researchers discovered a potential Covid-19 vaccine as a by-product of the Infectious Bronchitis Virus (IBV) vaccine researched and developed over the past four years to vaccinate poultry from the coronavirus. They made genetic alterations to the IBV vaccine to the human strain of the coronavirus. The vaccine was effective in pre-clinical trials at the Volcani Institute.
- May God stir believers to pray for people everywhere impacted by this virus. May we hold fast to God and his promises in Psalm 91. May God superintend calm and healing among the people. May he guide Vice President Mike Pence and the team of leaders and experts President Trump has assembled to deal with the crisis. May he guide researchers to quickly discover and produce highly effective treatments and vaccines. May the reality of our dependence upon God cause millions to cry out to him amid this crisis. (Is 26:4; 41:13; Eze 18:32; Mt 8:24-26; Jn 15:4-5; I Cor 2:1-16; Php 4:19)
Pray for the Middle East -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared Monday's election "the biggest win of my life" in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, but he came one seat short of a majority, meaning he must work to build a governing coalition. The ambitious Turkish President Erdogan gave a blistering warning of another major military attack on Syria. Iran is now known to have stockpiled enough uranium to create a nuclear bomb. Meanwhile, Iran has mobilized its military to assist health officials to deal with the sick and reduce the spread of the coronavirus virus. Iran has the highest rate of coronavirus infection in the world outside of China. A deputy health minister and 23 members of the Iranian Parliament are being treated for the virus, anda top adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei died of coronavirus on Monday.
- Oh God, please govern the political affairs of the Israeli people and the nations of the Middle East. You, alone, can bring peace to this region. Intervene to help Israel, the U.S., and our true allies in our quest to bring stability to the region. (Ex 14:14; Dt 31:6; Ps 122:6; Pr 3:6; Is 57:15; Zech 4:6-10; Eph 2:14-18)
Alabama Declares Pornography a Public Health Crisis -- Last Thursday, Alabama became the 16th state to declare pornography a "public health crisis." Other states that have formally recogn ized pornography as a public health crisis are Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia (read CNS News' informative news article).
- Pray God will use his people to deliver America from this life-sapping, family- destroying plague of spirit, mind and body! (Mt 5:14-16; Rom 10:13-14; 2 Cor 5:11-21)
Finally, please add these issues to your prayer list: 1) Today, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case challenging a Louisiana law requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges in a hospital within 30 miles of their abortion facility.Members of Congress (199) have asked the court to revisit Roe v. Wade; 2) FRC will host another Stand Courageous men's conference in Naples, Florida this Friday evening and Saturday (March 6 and 7); 3) On Monday, the Supreme Court agreed to consider another appeal to overturn Obamacare by conservative states that view it as unconstitutional. The case, to be heard in the fall, will be an election issue, but a ruling will come after the election; 4) The year-long Awakening in Nashville is continuing and locals are praying it will expand nationwide. Amid this good news, a powerful tornado ripped through Nashville and Middle Tennessee killing 25 people, with more human loss tragically expected as rubble under collapsed structures is searched.
Much more to pray for. Thank you for being a part of this essential prayer movement!