The river of prophecy is filled with rapids, obstacles, eddies, and undercurrents. This often has more to do with the milestones we will see along the way than it does in the details of bringing about something that was foretold. Events tend to collide and conflict in the currents as prophecy moves toward fulfillment. The flotsam and jetsam of experience sometimes seem to move ahead briskly, but at other times, it comes to a stagnant halt. It might, perhaps, even disappear from sight only to reemerge farther downstream. This often makes finding ourselves at any one point in the river in a state of confusion; it is easy to get lost if we look only at the currents, gauging our progress in relation to the bank.
This is why God gave us mile markers along this river to let us know what to watch for next. Thus, if we look back from where we have come, it can be easier to see how to handle the rapids and undertows on the way to the sea. By understanding the flow of prophecy over the last few centuries, we begin to clearly see what Bible prophecy holds for America.
The U.S. is here today in full strength and regarded as a world leader and as such is present in the events that will shape the world during the final days of life on this earth. The keys to America’s future are not buried in some elusive Bible code, but in understanding the will of God, and specifically as He prepares for the final battle that will put evil away for a thousand years.
Many look at prophecy and think that certain things have been ordained. This mind-set gives them a reason to sit back and wait. As in the days of Noah, however, too many continue to eat and drink, marry and give in marriage, and yet disaster—or deliverance—is at the door. What will be on the other side of the door for us will clearly come from our choices. While many may think that the fulfillment of biblical prophecy is a sovereign act of God alone, the Scriptures themselves indicate something quite different. When God was about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, He said to himself, “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?” (see Genesis 18:17). God felt He should take no action of judgment without giving His friend Abraham the right to intercede on behalf of the inhabitants of both cities.
As Daniel was reading in the book of Jeremiah, he came across a Scripture that reads, “After seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place” (Jeremiah 29:10). Daniel did some quick counting—over 70 years had already passed, and Israel was still in captivity to Babylon. So Daniel began to remind God of His promises. In response, God touched the heart of King Cyrus and then later Artaxerxes, and Nehemiah was given permission to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple.
Years ago, God called me to a season of repentance. When I started, I felt pretty good about myself. I didn’t think I needed to do much repenting. God broke my pride and self-reliance. After a week in the presence of a high and holy God, I cried out to Him in repentance.
One of the things I asked God was for the courage to tell the truth—not just about others, but about me. When we present an image of ourselves to the world, most of the time we carefully craft it so that we look good. We only tell the successes and triumphs and victories. The depression, discouragement, defeats, and mistakes get left out. We tell a self-inspired narrative, SIN, rather than the truth. God said to me, “Don’t you dare tell the story and leave out the pain and the failures.”
At the end of that week of repentance, the Spirit of God said, “I want you to go to Congo and hold a meeting. I want you to rent a large building and invite 10,000 pastors to come.” I made the arrangements and flew to the Congo with my two daughters. When I arrived, I heard that there was a prayer meeting going on about our services. I wasn’t tired, so I thought I would go down and join them that night.
When I walked in to where the meeting was being held, there were thousands of people there. I planned to walk down to the front to thank them for praying, but then I heard what the leader was saying. The speaker was a witch doctor. He told the people to bring stones to the meeting to kill me while I spoke. He had a voodoo doll up there and was sticking needles in it. I decided I wasn’t going to thank them for praying!
The first night of the meeting, I looked out and saw that man and many other witch doctors. I realized they had brought stones with them to throw at me. They held up their voodoo dolls and stuck pins in them. I stopped the service and told the people to look at those witch doctors. I said to them, “Call on your gods and their power, and we’ll see what they can do.” They stood up and started chanting and waving the voodoo dolls. Nothing happened.
After a few minutes, I said, “Now I’m calling on my God.” I declared the Mighty Name, and those witch doctors all hit the ground. Tens of thousands of people watched in amazement as they screamed in torment. They tore off their fetishes and made a pile that they set on fire. It was a move of God like nothing I had ever seen before. The president of the country invited me to go on the national news program run by the government. We trained 10,000 pastors. There was a mighty work.
It didn’t come out of great faith. It’s didn’t come out of amazing spiritual gifts. It came out of broken repentance. True repentance looks beyond forgiveness to deliverance. True repentance produces a clean heart and a right spirit. The power of the Holy Spirit moves through a heart that has repented. The power of the Holy Spirit moves through a church that has repented. The power of the Holy Spirit moves through a nation that has repented.
David was a nobody in the world’s eyes. He was born on the wrong side of the tracks. He had no idea that the black hole he lived in would be transformed into a holy hill. David was held in such low regard by his own father that when Samuel came and told Jesse that one of his sons would be the next king of Israel, Jesse didn’t even invite David to meet the famous prophet. He was not worthy of consideration in the eyes of the world, but God saw something else. God saw David’s heart.
This boy that no one wanted or cared about became one of the most prominent figures in history. He led Israel to become a mighty kingdom. He ruled with power, putting down threats to the Jewish people. He ruled with wisdom, uniting a nation that had been divided. He ruled with compassion, showing mercy to Mephibosheth, the son of his dearest friend, Jonathan.
God had a plan for David, and for much of his life, David followed that plan. But all of us know the story of Uriah and Bathsheba and how David strayed off the path of righteousness. His heart turned away from loving God to focusing on himself. He stopped following the Lord and started following lust. When Bathsheba sent word that she was pregnant, David did not repent. Instead, he concocted a plan to try to make it look like Uriah was the father.
When that plan failed because of Uriah’s character and commitment to do what was right, David did not repent. He concocted another plan to try to have Uriah killed in battle. That plan succeeded. David thought his sin was covered. “After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the LORD” (2 Samuel 11:27).
So God sent the prophet Nathan to confront the sinful king. Nathan told him a story about a rich man who stole a poor man’s sheep. David, who had grown up taking care of sheep, was outraged. He said that the rich man should pay with his life. Then Nathan thundered, “You are the man!” Broken, David finally repented. He turned away from his sin and sought God’s forgiveness.
In fact, he wrote a psalm about it. Imagine writing a poem about your sin that the whole church would come together and sing! David was serious about his repentance. He didn’t want to keep his sin close any longer. He didn’t want to conceal it. He wanted it gone. David’s repentance came after he was confronted with the reality of his sin.
True repentance is an appeal for God’s mercy and a cry for cleansing. But if we don’t think we are dirty, we will not cry out to be clean. So many Believers today are self-satisfied with the sin in their lives. They rationalize and justify and excuse it so much that they lose sight of the fact that they need to repent. If you see yourself in the presence of Jesus, your sin will be brought to light. No one is clean in the presence of the Holy God.
Nebuchadnezzar was the most powerful man on the face of the earth, as the unrivaled leader of the massive Babylonian Empire. His military victories had expanded his kingdom beyond anything the world had seen before. Built on the site where the Tower of Babel had been constructed following the Flood, Babylon was the representation of the very best that the world’s system had to offer.
Standing on the walls of the greatest city on earth and looking at his accomplishments, Nebuchadnezzar’s heart was filled with pride. He began to boast of all that he had accomplished. God hates pride, and He sent Nebuchadnezzar a stern warning in a dream, which Daniel came to interpret for him.
Daniel warned the king that God would judge his pride unless he repented. He fearlessly confronted a man with the power of life and death and told him the truth. We need more of that in the Church today! Daniel interpreted the dream to warn Nebuchadnezzar that if he continued on, he would lose his mind and spend seven years living like a wild animal. Only when he was finally ready to acknowledge the God of Israel as the one true and sovereign ruler would Nebuchadnezzar’s reason return, and his throne be restored.
For a year, Nebuchadnezzar did change his ways. But then his pride returned, and judgment fell. “Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, ‘Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?’ Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, ‘This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you’” (Daniel 4:29-31).
Today there are many people, even within the Church, who, like Nebuchadnezzar, are walking in pride. Even their religious observance is part of the world system. They are convinced in their minds and hearts that they are responsible for their achievements and accomplishments. They are proud and lifted up. And the rebuke of God that Daniel proclaimed to Nebuchadnezzar is being sounded once again today.
It was only when Nebuchadnezzar’s pride was exposed, and he genuinely repented that God could heal and restore him to power. Nothing happens in this world in the power of the Kingdom without repentance. Until and unless our hearts and minds change, the power of God will not be released. We cry out for God to hear our prayers and heal our nation and our churches, but before that will happen, we must heed the Babylonian Rebuke.
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.