One of the most important things Christians should talk about right now is repentance. With the plethora of problems we are facing at the moment, the fact is that, almost universally, among Christians, there lacks a deep humbling of ourselves before the Lord in true repentance.
It really is the height of arrogance for us to avoid the question of why nothing is going well. We are plagued by wars and rumors of wars, economic fall-out, corrupt leadership, and a lingering pestilence that has brought mass confusion as we watch the systematic destruction of a nation before our eyes. And the people seem to expect the government to save us as de facto God. Yet, we angrily respond in outrage to the newest hypocrisy of the day, lobbing “gotcha articles” for our side and the corresponding pot shots toward our enemies. But maybe we’re missing the real issue, the most important of issues.
Fire From the Throne
The reason things are not going well and why it feels like everything is going to hell in a hand basket is because temporary judgments are being issued from the throne room of heaven. You cannot have this kind of chaos, disorder, abuse, sickness, and confusion part from what David called the heavy hand of the Lord. But Christians, by and large, seem afraid to talk about God’s temporary judgments. For clarity, I’m not talking about the Pat Robertson kind of stuff, namely, that God is judging because of some specific group of sinners. Jesus corrected that thinking in Luke 13. Let’s move on from that to a right understanding of dark providence.
We sing from the psalms that Christ “judges the nations” and executes justice on oppressors, as the wrath of God is revealed from heaven in the present (Rom. 1:18ff). We are told from the book of Revelation (a book meant to encourage the church in times of great persecution and satanic assault by the corrupt, beastly governments of this world), that God, in answering our cries and prayers, throws fire back down on the earth. That this fire comes in the forms of the “earth burning up” or the “sea becoming blood” or the “water becoming bitter” is meant to be understood as God answering the cries of his elect (see. Rev. 8).
Why then are Christians falling apart in shock over the things that are happening on the earth? The governmental grabs for power, the ungodly responses, and the many oppressions in the earth by the wicked, are desperate attempts to “save Babylon” from heaven’s divine blows. Yet, we act like we can stop this and “save America.” We sit in front of our computers and yell angrily at the wicked for taking our “freedoms and rights” as if our purpose is to bring calm to the storm in America through activism, on social media. Does anyone stop and think for a minute that what we are facing are symptoms of the world’s panicked response due to divine judgments from the throne? God hears the cries of his people; when we pray, he repays, this is what deliverance from Egypt by plague should have taught us.
Let me be a bit more clear: Have Christian’s prayed against abortion? For how long? Maybe some have made progress picketing abortion clinics but, by and large, we have been ineffective in stopping the slaughter of the unborn. Might the chaos and confusion we are facing be the very response of God in dropping fire on a nation that has clearly stepped outside its God-appointed authority (Rom. 13), in its attempts to play God as we have prayed against these evil atrocities.
Don’t get me wrong, Christians should speak against evil and do what they can in appropriate, judicial appeal, calling upon governments to honor their own agreed upon laws. But we forget that there is a war against the dragon and Christ’s offspring in the earth (Rev. 12). This is what we are told to expect. And one thing is for sure, we are not bringing peace back between America’s walls in times of divine response like this. We are not God, and that, by and large is forgotten among Christians today in many of their responses. It is the prerogative of God alone to “make wars cease to the ends of the earth, breaking the bow and cutting the spear in two (Ps 46).”
A Time for Repentance
What then is the greatest need of the moment? If judgment begins with the house of God, and we know the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God (1 Pet. 4:17), then the greatest need of the moment is for us to display before the world, a broken and contrite heart in true humility and repentance. What we do not need are more angry warriors fanning the fire, yelling at the other side, on whatever the issue is, thinking that will solve anything. What we need is for the people of God in our day to show the world what true repentance and faith in Christ look like, absent of all fear. We need to sound a lot more like humble Moses than rebellious Korah, contrite David than arrogant Nebuchadnezzar.
When David was at his best, in was in the posture of prayer, debased before the Lord in true repentance asking God this:
Have mercy on me [for my sins] O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment (Ps. 51:1-3).
When David received the washing away of his own sins, the reassurance of God’s covenant, steadfast love, then he was able to do any good for the people and “teach transgressors in the way that they should go.” David had his own sins to address first.
Probably one of the most abused verses in our current context is 2 Chron. 7:14, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” God does not promise to heal America as Israel in a theocracy, but he does promise “still” to forgive our sins. And he does have the power to lighten his heavy hand upon us and bring peace. That too comes with the goal that all peoples would receive forgiveness of sins.
Dear Christians, the great need of the hour is collective humility and repentance for our sins, for our selfishness, for our idolatries, and our attempts to make our home in this world in denial of our heavenly citizenship. And we shouldn’t miss the silver lining in all of this. We are still able to publish the best news ever, a lamp is still shining in Babylon, and a voice is still sounding out, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
This is not forever, the time is short, but we still have a golden moment before the second coming to lead the way for people to come to Jesus. That is, after all, why we were left here on the earth.