I was in Caesarea in Israel at the home of my attorneys, a husband and wife team. We were having lunch one day, and they had three Israeli generals there for lunch. (These are very famous attorneys in Israel.) And as we sat down to have lunch, the wife knew that I love to pray, so she said, “Mike, why don’t you pray over the food?”
Well, at that time there was a massive fire, one of the worst fires in Israel’s history, and it began on Mount Carmel. It had spread over Haifa, and it was a catastrophe. Help was coming from countries all over the world, trying to fight those fires. It was a disaster. I just felt prompted to remind them about Mount Carmel and the Prophet Elijah. The fire of God fell on Mount Carmel. Then Elijah, in the midst of a drought, declared that rain was coming. Seeing a cloud the size of a man’s hand, I said, “I’m going to pray for rain.” So I prayed for rain. When I finished my prayer, we started eating. In the middle of our meal, with the screens open to the outside, the wind blew over the chairs by the pool. Within seconds, a massive downpour of rain started. “You called down the rain,” one of the generals said. “God did it, not me,” I replied.
We need the rain of the Holy Ghost to refresh and heal hurting hearts, to bring and birth a great awakening in a healing of the soul of the nation and bring the move of God that will transform America and the world. We need repentance that will heal the divides and win the battle for the soul of this nation.
Billy Graham said, “If God doesn’t punish America and judge it, He’ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.” America holds the record for murdering babies: 62 million. America holds the record for drug addiction and alcoholism and pornography. Yes, there will be judgment if we don’t repent. I believe that every problem facing us as Americans is basically at its root a spiritual problem. Crime is a spiritual problem; inflation is a spiritual problem; corruption is a spiritual problem; social injustice is a spiritual problem; racism is a spiritual problem. The lack of will even to defend our freedom is a spiritual problem.
Pointing fingers and accusing others will not heal our land. Politicians will not heal our land. Prosperity will not heal our land. Only repentance will heal our land. Repentance will cause God to forgive our sins and heal our land.
Without humility and repentance, prayer has no power. There will be no healing of a nation from division, there will be no healing of a nation from a plague, there will be no healing of a nation from economic collapse until God’s people seek His face as He has commanded. Someone has to stand in the gap for a nation. Someone has to fight and win the war against principalities and powers for the soul of America.
The key is repentance. That is the key to healing the racial divides, the key to healing the economy, the key to healing the plague. We’re not going to make America great with money or fame or status. Years ago, I prayed with Mother Teresa. Before we prayed, she said, “Please pray for me because I’m going to the poorest country on earth.” I said, “Are you going back to Calcutta?” “No,” she said, “I’m going to America. It suffers from the poverty of spirit.”
Years ago, God directed me to go to El Salvador. The country was in the grip of a bitter conflict. There were death squads roaming the nation, pulling people out of their homes and killing them. The country was divided. I met with the president and some of his top leaders while I was there to preach. I asked the president, “Do you want this to stop? Do you want your land healed? It can be, but it is going to take 2 Chronicles 7:14.”
I watched as he wrote that reference down. I listened as he issued a national call for a day of humility, fasting, repentance, and prayer. And I watched as God did heal the divide in their nation. He can do the same thing for us in America.
Isaiah the prophet declares in Isaiah 30:1-7: “Woe to the obstinate children, declares the Lord. To those who carry out their own plans that are not mine, who form an alliance, but not by my spirit, heaping sin upon sin, who go down to Egypt without consulting me, who look for help from Pharaoh’s protection, to Egypt’s shade for Refuge. But Pharaoh’s protection will be to you your shame…. The envoys carrying their riches on donkeys’ backs, their treasures on the humps of camels, to that unprofitable nation whose help is utterly useless. Therefore, I call her rahab.”
This word in Hebrew literally means “big mouth that does nothing.” God says, “I call her a big mouth, those who cut alliances with the world, looking for deliverance, that lean to the arm of flesh looking for deliverance. I call do nothing, big mouths.” There is no help in the world…help comes from God, or it does not come at all.
We are living in a time of shaking. But I have some wonderful news for you…idols may be big, but they don’t have any power. Human rulers may be strong, but they cannot stand against God. Disease may be serious, but it bows before the Great Physician. Times are hard, but God is good.
One of the first stories children learn in Sunday school is the story of the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace. Nebuchadnezzar built an idol of gold that was 90 feet tall, and he commanded everyone to bow down and worship it. But Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego refused. Because the king liked them, he gave them a second chance. Their second refusal was stronger than the first.
They said, “O King, we do not need to defend ourselves. The God we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us by His power from you but even if He doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you that we will never worship the golden statue that you have made!”
Now that is the response of a person who is standing on a rock, walking with the Lord, and filled with the Holy Ghost! That is a person who has the Word burning in his or her soul, and who is walking in repentance.
Their answer outraged the king. He commanded the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than before. It was so hot that it killed the soldiers who threw Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego into it. But it didn’t touch them! King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, your Majesty.” He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”
Not only did those faithful Hebrews not burn up, they weren’t touched! What a truth for troubled times. Their hair wasn’t singed, their robes weren’t scorched…you couldn’t even smell the smoke! That is God’s deliverance, and that is what He has for those who will refuse to worship idols and instead walk in repentance and holiness before His face.
There is no other god who can rescue you like this. You see, saints, God is raising up fireproof Believers who refuse to worship idols, Believers who will smile in the face of the fire! A great awakening is coming. But as David Wilkerson said, it’s coming through repentance, and it is going to begin in the pulpits of America, and it is going to shake the world. Hallelujah!
God’s house today is not a house of prayer. Why are we lying about that? If Jesus came into the average church in America, He would turn over the tables as He did in the Temple because it’s not a place of prayer. There is not red-hot prayer going on there. At best, there is a quick prayer at the end if you want someone to pray for you, but there are no people crying out to God for revival in brokenness and repentance.
How is it possible today, brothers and sisters, that Believers can go to R-rated movies, and they don’t feel convicted but comfortable? How is it possible that the lost, the immoral don’t have to go to bars anymore to pick up girls? They can go to church. The Spirit of God is saying “Your golden calves are coming down, REPENT!” The Spirit is saying “Build your house upon the rock. Repent in prayer. Stop glorifying flesh.”
America is experiencing panic, and you and I are seeing it every day. People are panicking—not just the lost, but Believers. Why? Because they have built their houses on sand and not on the rock. The walls we put up keep us from seeing the face of God. The walls we put up keep us from repenting. God is pulling all of those walls down. As Peter wrote, “The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray” (1 Peter 4:7). The word “sober” in the Greek means to be calm, collected, good sense, good judgment, good wisdom, and level-headed in times of distress. That is what we have been born to do. The Spirit of God is saying to be sober. Don’t trust in the flesh. Be sober. Seek the face of God and love Him passionately. Return to your first love: passionately love the Savior.
America has an epidemic of backslidden churches, pastored by backslidden pastors who are drunk on their own wine, obsessed with success and numbers, who refuse to preach repentance or the cross. Do you know how you can tell it? Ask yourself one question. When was the last time your pastor got up in the pulpit crying and trembling and said, “I’ve got to repent”? God showed me something this week. This week…not 10 years ago…not 20 years ago. He showed it to me this week. I need to repent and so do you and so do all of God’s people.
Yes, God has allowed the coronavirus to call us into repentance, to stop running and be quiet before Him. God is shutting down our busyness and our businesses because flesh has been on the throne of our lives, and chaos has been the norm. Everything is programmed, the songs, the sermon. There’s not even room for the Holy Ghost. The Spirit is saying, the rains and the floods and the winds will not knock down the house that is built on the rock. The house Jesus is building is intimacy with Christ, Holy Ghost prayer life, a passion for the Word of God and souls, and that building begins with repentance.
In this time of crisis and uncertainty and fear, everything that can be shaken is being shaken. The things in which people put their faith—the economy, the political system, the education system, and even the churches—have been closed. This is something none of us have ever experienced before.
All of our idols are coming down. Do we have idols in our lives? Yes. An idol is anything that gets between us and God. Anything. It could be money or family or shopping or sports or fame or education or status. Whatever we treasure and consumes us is an idol. It could even be your church. Your idol could even be your pastor.
We must not put our faith in man. We have to put it in God because any faith in man that we exalt and lift up is idolatry, even if it is in your pastor. It breaks my heart to say this, but God shut down the church. The government did not do it. God did it.
He shut churches down so His people would get on their faces and pray and repent. He shut churches down so His people would get in the Word. Most of them are not in the Word, and do you know what they use as an excuse? “Oh, I use my iPhone.” Yeah, you use your iPhone for a lot of things. You use it to surf pornography, but you are reading the Word of God? You are not burning with the fire of God, and God is saying, “I am going to drive you to a place where you are going to have to seek My face. You are going to have to get in the Word. You have no choice. All of your idols I am pulling down.”
The Bible convicts us to the bone of our soul. Jesus said in Matthew 7:21 – 23:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and, in your name, do many wondrous works? Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”
Now, evildoer in the original means a worker of iniquity, a worker of lawlessness. They are a law unto themselves. It is similar to an invisible virus. Remember what Satan said to Eve? Let me put it in our language today: “Hey Eve, God is easy, He loves you, he won’t punish you for disobeying.”
Do you know what that is? That is exactly the theme of the seeker-friendly church in America. It’s a gospel of accommodation. Churches are accommodating Sodom and Gomorrah to fill the pews. It’s a gospel that doesn’t preach against sin, doesn’t speak about immorality. The immoral feel comfortable in that church. That is why the divorce rate is as high inside the church as outside it.
When was the last time God called you to repent? You tell your stories of success but, friend, a lot of those are self-inspired narratives. By the way, that is an acronym for S.I.N. You only tell the part that makes you look good. You don’t want to tell them the rest of the stuff. I’m hearing the rest of the stuff! And the idols have to come down before God can do His work in our lives.
Isaiah, Esther, Nehemiah, and so many more heard God’s call and took a stand. Today, God is calling once again…but that raises a vital question.
When God calls, who will answer? Those who have the heart to obey regardless of the cost. The prophet Isaiah was one such man. In his day, God’s people were in a desperate spiritual condition. Their king, Uzziah, who had once been a good man dedicated to following God, had violated the law and been judged as a result. His death created a power vacuum at a time when the kingdom was surrounded by enemies and danger lurked on every side.
At that moment, Isaiah was given a vision of God’s power and majesty—a reminder of the help that was available to the Jewish people if they sought God’s face. But there needed to be a go-between, someone to speak to the people for God. Isaiah heard God’s call and volunteered for duty. He said, “Here am I; send me.” Notice that he did not ask God to find someone else to take on the challenges of the job. Isaiah was willing to step up and take responsibility to stand for God’s Chosen People.
During my most recent trip to Israel, I thought of Nehemiah when I was looked out at the walls of Jerusalem. When the Jewish people were in crisis, with the walls of the Holy City destroyed and no defense against their enemies, this one man decided that he would make a difference. When Nehemiah heard of their desperate plight, he received it as a call of God and answered “Hineni”—here am I.
That decision changed the course of the entire nation. Nehemiah gave up his secure life in the palace for the uncertainty and danger of building something to encourage, defend, and help the Jewish people. He had a position of prominence and power, but he was willing to lay all that aside to defend the Jewish people from destruction. Nehemiah answered the call.
Isaiah and Nehemiah were certainly not the only ones to hear and answer the call of God. Throughout the Old Testament, we see stories of those who heard God’s voice and responded “Hineni.” Abraham, the very first Righteous Gentile left his home in search of a new land. Ruth abandoned her relatives in Moab to return to Israel and care for Naomi.
It is time for us to rise up and declare in faith that we do all that is possible to deliver Israel from destruction, just as Esther and Mordecai did centuries ago. It is time for us to stand in the gap. And I believe with all my heart that it is time for us to receive the signet ring of heaven’s approval and authority so that we can see God’s power on display in every part of our lives.
Today, God is once again looking for men and women of courage and faith to answer the call and stand in the gap for the sake of Israel and the Jewish people. Will your answer be “Hineni”? We are the people He is calling to be a great wall of defense for His Chosen People.