You and I cannot make contact with God without prayer. If we don’t make that connection, no matter how sincere our intentions, we will not see a change in the circumstances of our life. Pastor and author Dr. Charles Stanley wrote of prayer: “I would say to anybody: the greatest lesson you can learn is to learn to live by faith on your face before God. You can face anything, no matter what it is.”
God said, “I’ll never leave you or forsake you.” But if I’m too busy then I’m not listening to Him, I’m not waiting for Him, I’m not expecting Him to do something. I think people face a lot of circumstances and go through a lot of heartache and trouble that would be unnecessary if they would just stop and listen. Often, I think we are like little children—not so much hard of hearing as we are hard of listening. We hear, but we do not necessarily heed His warnings.
Learning to hear God’s voice from Scripture—learning the way He expressed Himself to the men and women of old—teaches us how to distinguish the sound of His voice from our own and helps us avoid the deceptive whispers of the Enemy. My journey to wholeness in Christ has been painful at times, but it is not an unfamiliar path. I meet people all the time who feel that in order to get God’s attention they must do more, work harder, talk louder, be smarter, but God tells us that in order to hear Him, we must wait and seek and listen closely.
Seeking first the Kingdom and His righteousness leads us to increased faith and less worry. Peace and worry cannot occupy the same space. One forces the other out. Instead of doing more, we must learn to worship at His feet. Our prayer should be, “Help me to wait patiently for the very best You have for my life.” God places watchmen on the walls of our lives. I call them Esthers and Nehemiahs…people such as Corrie ten Boom and, perhaps, people like you. The world has figuratively been scratching its collective head trying to find an answer to the ongoing crises we face. That answer is in your hands and mine…we just have to hear from God, through prayer and intercession.
Moses had been called to lead a company of people that continually grumbled, complained, and finally mutinied. It was not surprising that eventually, Moses’ patience reached its breaking point, and in anger, he failed to follow God’s instructions. He disobeyed God at that one crucial juncture, showing a lack of trust in God’s ability to provide, and his punishment was that he would not be allowed to enter into the promised land. Instead, that honor would belong to his successor, Joshua.
However, God did take Moses to the top of the mountain and allow him to see the other side—the land that flowed with milk and honey. Then Moses died, and the Lord buried him. As we read in Deuteronomy 34:5–6: “So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. And He buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth Peor; but no one knows his grave to this day.”
Despite his missteps, Moses’ life was characterized by obedience. He led a nation of rebellious, dissatisfied, disobedient, quarrelsome, and complaining people through the wilderness to the banks of the Jordan River. Through all the ups and downs, the years of wandering in the desert, Moses held high the name of Jehovah-Nissi—God our Banner. It was a banner of encouragement “to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11b).
Moses was able to defeat the forces of the Enemy because he was submissive to God’s will. He delivered his people from the chains of darkness and degradation because he complied with Jehovah’s instructions. Moses’ obedience and trust won him unfailing favor with God, and he is still known as a hero of the faith. This is not because he was perfect, but because he was obedient. All of us fail, sin, and fall short. Yet in his grace and mercy, God forgives us and still uses us for His work. Nothing in the past should deter you from obeying God today.
Zionism is something that has become very controversial in our day. In fact, speaking out against Zionism has become the new and acceptable form of anti-Semitism. In 2001, the United Nations Conference World Conference Against Racism met in Durban, South Africa. At the urging of Jew-haters, they declared that Zionism—the idea that Jewish people deserve a home in the land of their fathers—was itself a form of racism.
That’s right. If you believe God’s Word, the United Nations, which means most of the nations, thinks you are a racist! It’s outrageous.
Christian Zionism is defined as the support of the return of the Jewish people to Zion (Jerusalem or Israel) by Christians. These Christians recognize and celebrate the biblical covenant in which God promised certain lands to Abraham and his descendants—forever. This divine land grant, called the Promised Land, would be theirs for all time.
Since God’s decree, there has always been a presence of Jewish people in the Land, but they did not always rule it or maintain it as the State of Israel. That began to change in the 19th century. The contemporary outpouring of support for the belief in a homeland for the Jewish people surged to the forefront of British foreign policy in the 1800s. It was spread from there to the United States by those who believed in a literal interpretation of the Holy Scriptures: William Blackstone, Cyrus Scofield, Dwight L. Moody, John Nelson Darby, Professor George Bush, and other noted Bible scholars.
First, the Blackstone Memorial and then the Balfour Declaration began to influence noted politicians who were forced to take a stand—for or against God’s Chosen People. After a decades-long battle for the right to possess their original God-given grant, David Ben-Gurion stood before a microphone on May 14, 1948, and declared the rebirth of the State of Israel in Palestine. United States President Harry Truman was the first foreign head of state to acknowledge the new nation, and other heads of state took up the gauntlet to ensure that Israel would survive.
The Jewish people were no longer what staunch Zionist Chaim Weizmann had called “a sort of disembodied ghost.” They were following the command given to them in Deuteronomy: “Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the lord swore to your fathers.” When asked to speak to the Palestine Royal Commission in 1936, Weizmann explained: “I believe the main cause which has produced the particular state of Jewry in the world is its attachment to Palestine. We are a stiff-necked people and a people of long memory…. Whether it is our misfortune or whether it is our good fortune, we have never forgotten Palestine, and this steadfastness, which has preserved the Jew throughout the ages and throughout a career that is almost one long chain of inhuman suffering, is primarily due to some physiological or psychological attachment to Palestine. We have never forgotten it nor given it up.” Hebrew writings refer to Israel as the “navel” of the world, with Jerusalem at its center.
Imagine how Joshua must felt have when God ordered him to have the children of Israel march around Jericho for seven days. He was still new in the job of leading the Jewish people, and he had the unenviable task of following Moses in that role. Now he was facing a city that he had no hope of defeating militarily, and God had ordered him to do something that didn’t make sense in the natural.
Could the leader of the Israelites secretly have wondered if it was an exercise in futility? Jehovah had given the people specific instructions regarding the city that now stood between the sojourners and their promised land, and the plan must have seemed fraught with pitfalls. The people would be exposed to possible attack from those inside the city’s walls. They would be mocked and ridiculed; what good would that do? Marching around in a circle?! They were also to carry their trumpets, yet not utter a sound.
So it was, when Joshua had spoken to the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the Lord advanced and blew the trumpets, and the ark of the covenant of the Lord followed them. The armed men went before the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard came after the ark, while the priests continued blowing the trumpets. Now Joshua had commanded the people, saying, “You shall not shout or make any noise with your voice, nor shall a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I say to you, ‘Shout!’ Then you shall shout.” —Joshua 6:8–10
After six days of what surely must have felt like utter nonsense, they were to follow the same routine…but with two notable exceptions: They were to march seven times, and then the people were to shout in praise to Jehovah for delivering the city into their hands. Obedience is the key to moving the hand of God, even when we do not understand what He is doing. When we obey Him in a spirit of praise, He works in ways that man cannot understand—or stand against.
Hannah, wife of Elkanah, a Kohathite of the tribe of Levi, must have felt a great sense of despair when, month after month, she remained barren. Hannah might have felt that by not bearing a child with Elkanah, she lacked status and merit in his eyes. Author and professor Dr. Noreen Jacks wrote of the stigma of barrenness: “Barren women were habitually taunted and ridiculed, made to feel like second class citizens, and were considered a public embarrassment to their husbands. The shame of barrenness was always on the minds of infertile couples. In some societies, husbands were free to acquire secondary wives or concubines to fulfill their need for progeny, preferably a male heir.”
A childless couple faced an uncertain future with no offspring to work the fields, tend the herds, and assist with the daily chores in the home. Even worse, who would care for the couple in old age, mourn their passing, bury them with dignity, memorialize them annually, and carry the family name to the next generation and beyond? Such were the time-honored duties of one’s loyal children. With critical needs of this magnitude, it is not surprising that desperate people in the ancient world were obsessed with reproduction of the species.
It must have been emotionally draining for both Hannah and her husband that she had failed to present him with a child from their union. Being from the tribe of Levi, Elkanah was likely among those responsible for leading praise and worship in the tabernacle at Shiloh. Each year he was summoned for several weeks to serve Jehovah. As a faithful and devout wife, Hannah often accompanied him. While Elkanah fulfilled his duties in the tabernacle, Hannah would slip away to a quiet place in the tabernacle to petition for Jehovah’s favor and for an end to her infertility.
One day as she prayed fervently, she was in such despair that her lips moved silently as tears rained unchecked down her cheeks. Only a barren woman can totally understand Hannah’s sense of frustration and unhappiness and her petition for a son in her despair. When Eli, the high priest, saw her he came to the erroneous conclusion that the woman was drunk and had no place in the vicinity of the tabernacle. He marched over to where Hannah bowed beneath her burden of hopelessness, reprimanded her, and then shamed her drunken state.
Aghast at his rebuke, Hannah responded: “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:15, ESV). Eli then blessed her and sent her on her way with the inexplicable sense of peace and hope that Jehovah had heard her prayer. Assuredly He had; soon Hannah was able to reveal to Elkanah that she was with child, and not many months later, she presented Elkanah with a child that she had named Samuel, which means “God heard.”