This is the final part of this critical series. Yesterday, I shared several biblical passages so we could see the scriptural precedent regarding times of God’s judgment and the response He required for His judgment to be stayed. I sought to bring our attention to the patterns we could see running through these scriptures and said we would compare notes today.
What does God require? (continuation)
What were the common themes?
- Acknowledgement of sin (1 Chron. 21:8, 17). David was more than willing to take the punishment from God for what he had done. He gave no excuses. This must be our stance before the Lord. The Israelites also acknowledged to Moses that they had sinned against God (Num. 21:7).
- Repentance. David and the elders clothed themselves in sackcloth (1 Chron. 21:16). What is the significance? Sackcloth is symbolic of showing penitence, showing remorse, to be in mourning. It denotes one’s guilt and willingness to do what is necessary to show one’s responsibility and penance for one’s wrong doing. Your intention must be to make a 180 degree turn away from the sinful behaviour that brought God’s judgment upon you. We also see in the Numbers’ passage that God required the accursed thing be removed from among the people. This is really what repentance is all about. We have to cut ourselves off from that thing that is displeasing to God with no intention of ever returning to it again. In 1 Chronicles 7:14, God requires that His people turn from their wicked ways. In fact, the healing of the nation is contingent on the Body of Christ repenting. All of the six churches in Revelation 2 and 3 were not only told to repent but some were also told what would happen if they failed to repent. There are consequences if we fail to repent in this season.
For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. (2 Cor. 7:10)
- Separation. In Joshua 7:10-13, God instructed Joshua to have the people sanctify themselves. Sanctification means separation, dedication, purity, consecration and service. Being set apart and separated from the world’s system and separated unto God. Being pure and holy.
And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. (Rev. 18:4-5)
Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (Jas. 4:4)
Now therefore, make confession to the Lord God of your fathers, and do His will; separate yourselves from the peoples of the land, and from the pagan wives.” (Ezra 10:11)
- Humility and total submission. David and the elders fell on their faces before God (1 Chron. 21:16). This is the first requirement mentioned in 2 Chronicles 7:14 for God to hear the prayers of His people. We must have the right heart attitude or our prayers will be ineffectual. God will resist the prayers of the proud.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” (Phil. 2:5-8)
But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” (Jas. 4:6)
- Prayer and intercession. David had compassion for the people and interceded on their behalf. Moses had not sinned but was willing, at the request of the people, to make intercession on their behalf. God is a compassionate God and when He sees His people showing compassion for others it moves His heart. God calls His people to pray in 1 Chronicles 7:14 first for the forgiveness of their sins so that there can be healing of the nation. However, we are not called to just pray any old prayer. We must seek His face so that we know how we are to pray.
- Seek God’s face. If we can’t see God’s face how do we seek it? The Hebrew word for “face” is often translated “presence”. Seeking God’s face means seeking His presence; returning to Him; not being willing to go on until He reveals Himself to us. A person’s face reveals much about a person’s character & personality. Many of us do not fear God because we do not know His character. We fail to take time to know Him and approach Him presumptuously to our own detriment. We need to come to that place where we want His presence more than any other thing He can give us. It is critical in this COVID-19 season that we know the heart and mind of God and align our prayers accordingly. I hear people rebuking the corona virus and sending it back to the pit of hell. They have missed the fact that this is judgment sent from God and there is justification for it. We need to be looking into ourselves, the church and the nation to identify the sins that have come up as a stench in God’s nostrils, which would have allowed Him to release this plague in the earth. Thus, we must begin with prayers of confession and repentance. Only then can we stand in the gap and begin to cry out for God’s mercy to be visited upon us, the nation and the world.
- God requires a sacrifice. In 1 Chronicles 21, God required David to build an altar. Offering a sacrifice was necessary in David’s day as an atonement for sin. It is important to note that the true nature of a sacrifice is that it must cost us something or else it is not really a sacrifice acceptable to God. This is why David refused Ornan’s offer to give him the threshing floor and oxen free of cost.
What was the nature of the sacrifices David made on the altar he built? He gave a burnt offering and a peace offering. The burnt offering represents offering yourself totally to God – total obedience and total dependence. Not doing anything without the Father’s prompting (John 5:19). This is in keeping with Romans 12:1, where we are told “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” The peace offering symbolized giving thanks for God’s deliverance in an hour of dire need. Note, David gave this offering before he actually knew that God would stay His hand against Israel. Similarly, we, in faith, through the sacrifice of fasting, service and spending time in praise and worship unto God will move God’s heart.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart – These, O God, You will not despise. (Psa. 51:17)
Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. (Heb. 13:15)
At the evening sacrifice I arose from my fasting; and having torn my garment and my robe, I fell on my knees and spread out my hands to the Lord my God. (Ezra 9:5)
David said something quite profound in 1 Chronicles 21:13.
And David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Please let me fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are very great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man.”
David obviously knew the heart of God because later we see God relenting of bringing total destruction on Jerusalem.
And God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it. As he was destroying, the Lord looked and relented of the disaster, and said to the angel who was destroying, “It is enough; now restrain your hand.” And the angel of the Lord stood by the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. (1 Chron. 21:15)
This is the God we serve. If we meet God’s requirements in this season of judgment God WILL show Himself merciful.
A Call Back to the Fear of the Lord
I started out this series recognizing that one of the sins most displeasing to the Lord is that we have lost our fear of God. In Psalms 2, the Lord is rebuking the kings of the earth.
Now therefore, be wise, O kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, And rejoice with trembling. (Psa. 2:10-11)
How can the kings of the earth fear God when we, the Body of Christ, are not serving the Lord with fear? What does the fear of God look like? Those who fear the Lord will:
- Bless the Lord (Psa. 135:20)
- Trust in the Lord – acknowledge need for help and protection (Psa. 115:11)
- Depart from evil (Prov. 3:7)
- Seek God’s instruction in every matter (Prov. 1:7)
- Delight greatly in His commandments (Psa. 112:1)
- Walk in uprightness (Prov. 14:2)
- Not associate with the unstable and those with deceitful hearts (Prov. 24:21)
- Be pure in heart and be persistently faithful (Psa. 19:9)
- Be humble (Prov. 15:33)
- Stand in awe of God (Psa. 33:8)
- Understand the might of God’s hand (Josh. 4:24)
- Praise Him (Psa. 22:23)
- Keep the tongue from evil and lips from deceit (Psa. 34:13)
- Seek peace and pursue it (Psa. 34:14)
Until we begin to walk in righteousness and the fear of the Lord He will not hear our cries and we will not be delivered out of our troubles. Let us fall on our knees before our Holy God and become holy as He is holy. Then and only then will we touch His heart strings for our nation.
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles. (Psa. 34:17)
Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling: (Psa. 91: 9-10)
“Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation.” (Psa. 91:14-16)