before the sun goes down

"Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people, and for the cities of our God: and let the LORD do that which is good in His sight" (I Chronicles 19:13).

Monday, May 6, 2013

Lifting "Bloody" Hands in Prayer?

Just last week, on the 2nd of April, we had the National Day of Prayer here in the United States of America.  All across this land churches, groups, and individuals lifted their voices in prayer to God for their country.  Some in prayer closets, others outside city buildings, still more around flagpoles.  Some on their feet, some on their knees, some on their faces.  Most were disturbed over the evil that prevails and sought the hand of the Almighty to change hearts and bring revival.  And it is meet that we should make supplication to the God of Heaven for our nation.

This week I've seen verses like these posted on church signboards"Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance." (Psalm 33:12).  And "happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD" (Psalm 144:15).

These are excellent verses to be sure.  They boldly declare the blessing that is upon a nation who acknowledges God, whose policies are in according to His Scriptures, and whose people follow Him with the whole heart.  When we consider the rebellion that is glorified in our own United States we must sadly come to the conclusion that all
 is not well in our country.  As a nation we countenance covetousness, allow injustice, and promote perversion.  Even our churches can be filled with those who refuse to speak the truth and push for compromise—a compromise that can only exalt what God calls wicked. 

Scripture teaches that "righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people" (Proverbs 14:35).  And that "the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God" (Psalm 9:17).  These are hard verses but they are given by God to warn of coming consequences, to keep us holy and vigilant against sin, and to drive us to pray specifically for a country engaged in such evil practices!

On the 1st of April (the day before the National Day of Prayer), I read the first chapter of Isaiah and was smitten in my heart for my people.  In the text, God was rebuking the kingdom of Judah for their wickedness, and foretelling the desolation and destruction that would come as a result of their sin.  Take note that Israel hadn't stopped their sacrifices, feasts, or prayers. They may have filled their time with religious obedience but they also allowed other gods to creep in alongside.  As they dwelt in the temple, they also permitted sin to dwell in their hearts.  Singing praises one hour and defaming the name of Christ the next.  Continuing to worship God a midst other vile acts, all the while expecting God to bless them.  But God was not pleased, is not pleased, with lip service alone.  During His earthly ministry, Jesus quoted the prophet Isaiah, giving the following rebuke: 

"He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me" (Mark 7:6).

My mind was grieved, picturing how the words "Ah sinful nation" could apply to the USA as a wholehow even many claimed Christians could be described as "a people laden with iniquity".  The Scripture says "...they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward."  Wait a minute!  Forsaken God?  Seems a rather harsh statement for a "claimed" Christian.  For someone who still goes to church!  Still wears His name!  Still testifies to be believe in the Lord!  

Let's take a look at just one grievance put against God's chosen people in Isaiah:

Among all of Judah's rebellion, we find child sacrifice was one sin that God especially highlighted as being grossly abominable:

"And also for the innocent blood that he shed: for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; which the LORD would not pardon" (II Kings 24:4).

We could easily make an enormous list of national sins that are rife in the United States, but let's just take this rebuke to Israel as an example of the many.  Here within our borders, in the last 40 years, we have slain over 55,000,000 baby boys and girls through child sacrifice—a sacrifice to the god of self—and our government calls it "legal".   The Christian church is not clean of this atrocity either.  The sad statistics show many of those that have abortions are professing Christians.  And I have witnessed this to be true.  Every week at the local murder mill in KCK, I either see a "Christian" fish on a client's car or hear one of them claim to follow Jesus.  They answer my pleading and preaching that they are "fine with God", tell me that "Jesus is okay with this," that "God is forgiving," and that they "will be going to church tomorrow."  

This calls to mind the words of the LORD to Ezekiel: 

"for when they had slain their children to their idols, then they came the same day into my sanctuary to profane it; and, lo, thus have they done in the midst of mine house." (Ezekiel 23:39).

What was the result of the prayers of people who asked for God's blessing, while they were guilty of abominations?  Read what He thought of their worship, their special days, and acts of devotion in verses 10-15, culminating with...

"And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: YOUR HANDS ARE FILLED WITH BLOOD" (Isaiah 1:15). 

What a terrible thing to read!  God will not hear the prayers of those who will not first repent of their sin.  

 "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the LORD will not hear me;" (Psalm 66:18). 

Near the end of Isaiah we see that indictment again...

"Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:
But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
For YOUR HANDS ARE DEFILED WITH BLOOD, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness." (Isaiah 59:1-3).  

Read on in Isaiah 59, and meditate on how America is in such a strait:
"None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity...
Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths.
The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace.
Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness.
We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noonday as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men.
We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves: we look for judgment, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far off from us.
For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them; 
In transgressing and lying against the LORD, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood.
And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter..." 

There is a blot on the "American church" for not speaking out and standing without compromise for truth and life in society.  We have been largely silent, and our silence is in effect a support of the massacre of these millions.  Abortion is permitted by the voiceless permission of the church.  This applies to what is preached in pulpits, what is counseled by Christians to those considering abortion, the action of believers in the voting booth, what is discussed in family gatherings, out publicly on the street, in the marketplace, and also in the number of Christians going to plead for life at abortion mills.  

If even only one person from every Gospel preaching church in the Kansas City area alone came and stood outside the abortion mill every day it is open for abortion (twice a week), that bloody business would not be able to stay open.  Yet, only a few Christians go to stand/speak on behalf of the unborn on a regular basis.  What percentage of professing believers do you think have never stood for life at an abortion mill?  I fear the enormity of that percentage would shock us.  Yes, the hard truth is that we find blood on the hands of those in churches, not just in those doing and having the abortions, but also in those who will not warn those going to have the abortions!

You see, God has commissioned His people, those who are called by His name, to be watchmen, to sound the alarm, to warn sinners of the danger of their way, so that they may escape.  See the following passage:

"Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head.  
He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul.
But if the watchmen see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand" (Ezekiel 33:4-6).

Christians who neglect to stand and warn those who are murdering their children, representing Christ at the Gates of Death, are watchmen with blood on their hands too. These innocent image-bearers of our God are being slaughtered on OUR WATCH.  How many Christians across this land are lifting bloody hands to God on the National day of Prayer and every day?  

So, brethren, do you not see the danger of our estate?  How can we pray for God's blessing and intervention on our nation when we don't even acknowledge OUR sin in this one area (let alone our other sins)?  

I Timothy 2:8 states, "I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands..."  Should we not each seek God's cleansing?  Our hands are to be "holy," not bloody.

Can we not see that the abomination of shedding innocent blood brings judgment and destruction?  It is "a BOMB in [our] nation!"  Let us be zealous therefore and repent (Revelation 3:19)!  Why should we expect this country to repent of its iniquity, when many in the church will not turn away from their own transgressions?  "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy" (Proverbs 28:13).  

We need to go humbly to our Saviour Jesus Christ to seek cleansing (I John 1:9).  Consider the admonishment in Isaiah 1, right after the declaration about those who are praying with bloody hands.  What does God say to do?

"Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isaiah 1:16-18). 

Let us repent (confess and forsake) of our part in the bloodguilt of the holocaust of the preborn, when that part be Complicity, Compromise, Complacency, Callousness, or Cowardice.  

Let us who are Christians be faithful watchmen, 
-obedient to rise and open our mouths, 
-engage this culture of selfishness, 
-warn the wicked, rescue the weak, 
-bring the Gospel in conflict with murder, 
-call for justice and equity for the vulnerable, 
-and seek the total and immediate abolition of child sacrifice in this nation. 

Knowing that "...judgment must begin at the house of God..." (I Peter 4:17), let it be that repentance and revival begins there too.  Again, how can we expect the nation to repent and return in their hearts, values, laws, and policies to align with God's truth, justice, and equity if the church is not willing?  Let us consider OUR WAYS (Haggai 1:5).

Let us remember and apply to our lives this verse that is often quoted, including the part least practiced:

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and TURN FROM THEIR WICKED WAYS; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land" (II Chronicles 7:14).