(originally posted in August 2017)

Introduction:

The events of August 2017 in Charlottesville and other cities around the country are setting an alarm off in the hearts of people. Regardless of class, ethnicity or education, men and women in our country are becoming deeply aware that our nation seems to be careening toward an abyss from which recovery may be long and bloody. There is a path to progress. There is an accountability that properly assigned, will bring shift and change. The outlook is not bleak. Change is possible. In history, there have been times in the Western World when civil unrest and spiritual darkness seemed about to plunge nations into chaos – then answers came and bright, new refeshings arrived from on high. In this word, we will look transparently at what is happening, and what course of action you as an individual can take to bring substantive, measurable change that will affect you and your loved ones in a real way. As complex and systemic as the problems are that are exacerbating the turmoil in our nation right now there is a SIMPLE and EFFECTIVE solution that properly applied will utterly shift our nation back into a path of peace and security.

Unrest and Injustice Fill Our Land:

The levels of unrest in our country and the Western World are rising to unprecedented levels. The streets are choked with protesters. The courts are congested with law suits. In almost every category of legal recourse law suits have dramatically increased in the last many years. FLSA law suits (Fair Labor Standards Act) by some metrics have increased 400%. The sense of injustice and scope in society of the sense of aggrievement is touching every people group in our nation. Minorities feel marginalized and victims of systemic prejudice in our country. Majority ethnic groups believe they are unfairly held accountable for societal injustices that they claim don’t originate with them. These convictions and sentiments have festered for so long, that once again violence, death and destruction are being visited upon our land in escalating levels that rival the periods of unrest that led up to the civil war.

What is the answer to the cry of our nation? How can the tide of race hate and bigotry be stemmed? Left unchecked, the upsurge of racial and societal unrest will without question threaten our way of life and the safety of our streets. White people in areas of our country now feel that to travel openly in parts of their city is to court death itself. Black parents fear as their children step out of the house they may never see them again. The America we know is changing radically and regardless of who has been held accountable, the courts, the legislative bodies throughout our land, even the police forces are impotent to bring peace. Where do we turn? Have we no recourse?

An Example from Ancient Times:

We tend to think our problems are new and unique but in fact they are not. In New Testament times, there was a city that very much characterized much of what we see around us today. It has much in common with us and there was a Christian community there whose leader – none other than the apostle Paul addressed directly issues identical to our modern-day concerns that we would do well to heed.

The apostle Paul in 58 AD wrote a letter to a young man by the name of Timothy whom he had been mentoring for some years. Paul was traveling apart from Timothy and Timothy himself was in Ephesus under appointment by the apostle to set the affairs of the church there in order and maintain that order until Paul could return to Ephesus a second time, which he did eventually return there as recorded in the book of Acts. One of the chief counsels that Paul gave to Timothy addressed the issue of societal change, upheaval and the threat level against the people of God in the early church. Paul’s answer to this heightened level of disturbance and civil unrest in found in 1 Tim. 2:1-2:

[1Ti 2:1-4 KJV] 1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, [and] giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and [for] all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this [is] good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

To properly understand the weight and impact of what Paul is saying we need to know what is going on in Ephesus at the time. In 58 AD the emperor Nero was in power and the jackboot of Rome was firmly grinding into the nation states of the Middle East including Ephesus. From the point of view of those of us who are citizens of nations who have thrown off tyranny in their history it may sound unusual to our sensibilities that Paul would suggest prayers to be offered up in behalf of a despot such as Nero who delighted in all forms of cruelty against the faith, including burning Christians alive as entertainment and to provide light at his garden parties.

Also in 58 AD when 1 Timothy was written, the Roman-Parthian war is raging full tilt. We might not realize what that meant but the Parthians were guerrilla fighters from the land area that would become the state of Iran in modern times. The Parthians were vicious and ruthless bringing their violence not only to the Roman armies but to the civilian populations throughout the Middle East. Though the Parthians were very near in distance to Rome and not protected by any land features from invasions, the Romans nonetheless never managed to defeat these ancient terrorists. The fear they brought upon the ancient world was universal and palpable. In those days mothers who wanted to warn unruly children about their behavior would tell them that the Parthians would get them if they didn’t behave.

Ephesus was an ancient equivalent of an urban center with a population over 220,000. The city at the time that Timothy would have received this letter from Paul was rife with escalating ethnic and religious strife and contention. Timothy would have felt this keenly because he was of mixed race himself. There were also warring religious groups including those who followed John the Baptist but not Jesus. Fertility cults who practiced prostitution and debauchery as a form of worship. In addition, Ephesus was what we would call a college town, a seat of learning filled with manipulative schemers, high-minded intellectuals and agnostics, wealthy Romans, refugees from the Parthian wars and many other diverse peoples all clamoring for their own issues and perceived needs. The comparison to the modern world could not be more compelling!

Let the Word Discern the Situation in Ourselves and Our Cities:

In assessing and trying to understand what we see happening around us, we could go to many so-call authorities to frame a comprehensive wisdom about what is going on. We could look back in history. We could lean on our own rationale arising from conditioned attitudes about the specific issues at hand. All of these and other agendas could be used to make a judgment but in fact are all relative to finite human understanding. Human understanding even considered outside the context of what the scriptures says is wholly flawed and you cannot fix a flawed situation with a flawed perspective. As Einstein said you cannot solve the problem on the level of the problem. To look to any man or women or group of people to come up with a solution to societal injustice is almost impossible because that person can only proceed from the framework of their own judgments and values. We must have something above the natural – not a relative or subjective metric but the flawless metric and comparator of the infallible word of God. Of course, you then have to make up your mind about the word of God. Do you believe what Paul (interestingly enough) told Timothy in his second letter to the bishop of the Christian community in this troubled city?

[2Ti 3:16-17 KJV] 16 All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

Taken in consideration of what was going on around Timothy we can extrapolate that Paul is saying is:

“Timothy, I know you are dealing with some difficult race relations but the word of God is the answer.”

“Timothy, I know the forces of agnosticism and atheism are setting the population against each other but the word of God is the answer.”

“Timothy, I know the sex trade has overrun the city but the word of God is the answer.” (etc., etc.)

How does God’s word address the problems of Ephesus that are so akin to the problems of our day? First you have to identify where the responsibility lies. When you look around you is the government at fault? Is the breakdown of good order in our society the fault of heartless Republicans or godless liberals? Is it the fault of privileged white culture that has proved itself incapable of redressing centuries of bigotry and abuse of minority races on whose backs the modern world was built? Is it the fault of black people or other ethnicities not in the majority who at times paint the majority with the same brush of judgment they themselves have suffered? None of these people groups or the individuals in their ranks that choose extremism as their credo are truly at fault – if you believe what the bible says. Let us read what Hebrews 4:12 tells us:

[Heb 4:12 KJV] 12 For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

What is this telling us? That the word of God laid as a plumb line alongside our broken society will unflinchingly lay the accountability where it falls without fear or favor. Does that mean the word of God will denounce white privilege? Will the word of God excoriate the 1% of the upper classes? Will the word of God correct the judgments of the ethnic minorities? As difficult as any of that would be to hear in reality (if you can believe it) the axe falls much closer to the roots of the faith community than they could ever realize.

One example: In the Old Testament in the last few years before Jerusalem was destroyed and the temple reduced to rubble – the paganism and rampant sin of the city was off the charts in Jerusalem. Those who felt they had the pulse of what the problem really was were pointing in many directions but Jeremiah laid the responsibility right at the feet of those who saw themselves as the helpless victims of what was going on around them. It was the priests (pastors) and the prophets who believed they had the right message that Jeremiah called to accountability:

[Jer 12:10 KJV] 10 Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.

[Jer 5:31 KJV] 31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love [to have it] so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?

I’m sure that many of the leaders took great umbrage at Jeremiah’s words but the understanding must be accepted that those who have the potential to be a part of the solution and not part of the problem are the ones who bear the responsibility. The political arena cannot and has proved itself incapable of solving the problems that are ripping our nation apart. The educational systems of our nation have been proven incapable of being a part of the solution and not part of the problem. The media, the law enforcement community, every major player that could drive social change has for generations shown that even when they were willing to do the right thing (which was rare) the exact opposite is always the outcome. As the Lord says in Ezekiel:

[Eze 22:30 KJV] 30 And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.

Who Can Stand in the Gap for Our Country:

If you let God’s word discern the situation it becomes crystal clear how change can and will take place. It is simple, it is achievable and the only reason why change will not come is that those who could drive city reformation and social change in our nation lack the will to do the very simple thing that is in their power to do. Let us look again at 1 Tim. 2:

[1Ti 2:1-4 KJV] 1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, [and] giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and [for] all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this [is] good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

Notice that Paul with the authority of holy scripture promises if we do “ X “ we will get “ Y “. What is that? If we will pray – we will live in communities and in a nation, that will experience:

  1. Peace
  2. Quiet
  3. Godliness
  4. Honesty

If we do not have these things it is because those who should pray are not doing so. Are these the descriptors that frame the character of your city? Are you praying? If you are praying then God’s word is a lie because Paul says in the verse above that if you do pray this will be the character of the community you live in. Could you honestly impeach the infallibility of God’s word by suggesting that prayerlessness is not the bane of our nation and the revealed true cause of the unrest in our communities? I submit to you that someone in Charlottesville wasn’t praying and isn’t praying! I submit to you that if you are not living out your life in peace and in quiet in an environment of godliness and honesty then who is it that isn’t praying? Or is God’s word untrue or does it somehow not apply to the conditions facing your community or our nation? 2 Chronicles 7:14 has been quoted so much that it no longer pierces our hearts or pricks our conscience:

[2Ch 7:14 KJV] 14 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.

Conclusion:

I submit to you that the political arena will never solve what is taking place in our society. We could put the most gifted political operators in total control of the political agenda of the nation and there would still be the unsolvable problems we have faced. In Barack Obama we had a capable organizer with the passion of an entrenched ideologue who made every effort to deliver on his promises to those who elected him. In Donald Trump, we have a bombastic populist who is blasting through every political convention to keep his promises to his constituency and our country. The answer is not in the political. The answer is not in how many drone strikes we can deliver against Jihadist radical. Zechariah 4:6 points us in the right direction – if we have the boldness and courage to pull ourselves away from the pagan idol the church has erected in the voting booth and hear the declaration:

[Zec 4:6 KJV] 6 Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This [is] the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.

Only on our knees my brothers and sisters will our nation be changed. The fact that there is no peace and quiet and no godliness or honesty characterizing our communities lies not in the sinfulness of man but in the prayerlessness of God’s people. If we will pray – God will hear. If we will bring God’s will to Him in prayer and declare and petition “as in heaven so in earth” that will be the condition that will be forthcoming in our land. We know that petition is what is necessary. We have however spent all our time petitioning the courts, petitioning the politicians, petitioning through military campaigns and things only are getting worse. It is time to return to the courts of heaven and not the courts of man. It is time once again to PETITION THE HEAVENS and return to the simplicity of prayer both publically and privately until 2 Tim. 2:1-2 becomes the base state of our nation and our cities:

  1. Peace
  2. Quiet
  3. Godliness
  4. Honesty

To suggest it cannot be is to deny the power of God’s word and that is the first order of repentance to those that mock and neglect the altar of prayer.

Now my wife Kitty and I never commend anything to anyone that has not been implemented in our own life. Every morning we purposely get up long before it would otherwise be necessary and before we do anything else we pray together. We pray for what 2 Tim. 2:1-2 commands. For all men and women. For family. For our community. For our leaders and our legislators and our courts. Why? Because we have time – hardly. It is because we are accountable. We are not going to stand before God and give an account for the body count in our nation with excuses for why we slept in rather than pray.

I am challenging you to reform your prayer life if you have one. I am calling upon those that honestly haven’t had the prayer life they know they should to set aside all false guilt and just make the adjustment. To say with me that you will do whatever it takes to set aside the time upon waking every morning and to fulfill the 2 Tim. 2:1-2 mandate. If you will pray and you are willing to meet the challenge and be a part of a church that shakes the nation for the kingdom then right where you are – at home, in the church lift up your hand and say with Isaiah “here I am Lord send me!!!” If, on the other had you are astonishing capable of coolly panning the plaintive cry of this message then I say to you two things:

  1. You are part of the problem as much as anyone you would point the finger at.
  2. You need to repent.

And you can repent. And to that end I invite you to join with Kitty and I and 100’s perhaps thousands of others and make the renewed commitment this day to discharge your responsibility in prayer to see societal transformation become a reality in our time as it was in the days of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, Great Awakenings. Revival awaits us.  The healing of our nation awaits us – if we just will.

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2 Comments

  • Ruth says:

    🔥🙏

  • ReGina says:

    Glory be to God, praying without ceasing. Oh dear LORD send more workers, warriors on our knees obeying Your Word, ears to hear Prophet Russ! Standing, praying, anticipating As it is in Heaven let it be on Earth! Bless FHM! Thank You Jesus!

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