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Posts Tagged ‘national elections’

Word:  Isaiah 12 (NLT)

In that day you will sing:
    “I will praise you, O Lord!
You were angry with me, but not any more.
    Now you comfort me.
See, God has come to save me.
    I will trust in him and not be afraid.
The Lord God is my strength and my song;
    he has given me victory.”

With joy you will drink deeply
    from the fountain of salvation!
In that wonderful day you will sing:
    “Thank the Lord! Praise his name!
Tell the nations what he has done.
    Let them know how mighty he is!
Sing to the Lord, for he has done wonderful things.
    Make known his praise around the world.
Let all the people of Jerusalem shout his praise with joy!
    For great is the Holy One of Israel who lives among you.”

 

Do you remember your parents being angry with you for something you did?  Of course, some people had abusive parents, and that’s all they remember, that is, the anger.  But in happier families there were those angry times as well, always followed by better times that told us as children, “My mom and dad aren’t angry anymore; they still love me!” And mostly, the memories of anger don’t frighten us, but offer just enough contrast to make the memories of love even sharper.

And so it was with ancient Israel and the King of All Nations. It was a new and wonderful day—a day of national victory, so with joy they drank deeply from his fountain.

But it was not enough for ancient Israel to celebrate their own victory; they were to share it with other nations: “Tell the nations what he has done!”  If national pride, however, were based in its own native strength and prowess, then such boasting over victory would likely stir jealousy among nations, a sense of threat, a fear that such national boasting would lead to greed, entitlement, or a miscalculated sense of security.

If, on the other hand, national celebration is giving honor to the King of All Nations, then our nation is praising and honoring the King of all nations—of their king as well, so naturally they delight with us that we are honoring their king!

Not every nation knows who the King of All Nations is. Have we forgotten to tell them! Have we forgotten to celebrate with them!  Was the Good News of his salvation ours to horde?  Did we claim the victory as our own?  If so, we have endangered world peace.  But we know what to do to begin to repair this damage. . . .yes, just celebrate more the King of All Nations. Give him the glory and tell all the world!  That’s all.

 

Prayer:  O Lord, forgive our failure to acknowledge that it is you who has given us victory, who has blessed us, who is the source of all good that we as a people and nation enjoy.  And because we have claimed too much credit, we have boasted mostly in ourselves. Forgive our national egotism. Give us a clean heart, boldness and willingness to celebrate your salvation with all the nations—all of your nations! Amen.

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Word:  Isaiah 11:1-10

Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot—
    yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.
And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
    the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
    the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
He will delight in obeying the Lord.
    He will not judge by appearance
    nor make a decision based on hearsay.
He will give justice to the poor
    and make fair decisions for the exploited.
The earth will shake at the force of his word,
    and one breath from his mouth will destroy the wicked.
He will wear righteousness like a belt
    and truth like an undergarment.

In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together;
    the leopard will lie down with the baby goat.
The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion,
    and a little child will lead them all.
The cow will graze near the bear.
    The cub and the calf will lie down together.
    The lion will eat hay like a cow.
The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra.
    Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm.
Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,
    for as the waters fill the sea,
    so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord.

10 In that day the heir to David’s throne
    will be a banner of salvation to all the world.
The nations will rally to him,
    and the land where he lives will be a glorious place.

 

Christians believe this to be a prophecy about the coming Messiah Jesus. Ancient Israel believed it to be a word from God about their political future, about some future prince/king/messiah—the Anointed One, who would make them a powerful nation again and free them from oppressors. Sceptics believe it is wishful thinking by a pie-in-the-sky poet of an ancient nation in chaos, confusion, and imminent danger.  Do you believe the King of All Nations could create such a peaceful country, such an unimaginably perfect place?

The images of wolves and lambs lying down in peace together, even a baby playing near the deadly cobra, could be replaced in our time with images of a racially diverse society living at peace, with nuclear powers invested in peace, not war, or maybe even as simple as images of neighbors caring for each other.  But these fantastically peaceful images are not the goal, but rather the consequences, the results of something else even greater, the rise of a great leader.

According to Isaiah, a leader will arise and the King of All Nations will give him wisdom and understanding, so that he can give justice to the poor and protect the exploited. This Anointed One will judge fairly, not based on appearances because he delights in obeying God! He speaks the truth and fights evil.

While such perfection and peace seem completely unattainable through any political means that I can imagine, it does make sense that every leader a nation chooses that is more like this Ideal, every national leader that delights in obeying God, who seeks to judge fairly, not based on appearances, who works to give justice to the poor and protect the exploited, who fights evil, the more leaders reflect these qualities, the closer is the realization of this peaceful kingdom.

These leaders will be good news for the whole world. They will be followed by other nations toward peace–and “the land where he lives will be a glorious place.”

 

Prayer:  Sovereign Lord, raise up for our nation leaders who delight in you. Raise up for our nation leaders who judge fairly, who want justice for the poor and who will protect the exploited. Raise up for our nation leaders who will fight evil and who speak the truth.  And help us to recognize these leaders, even in their imperfections.  We long for a peaceful nation that brings peace to every nation.  Amen.

 

 

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The northern nation of Israel was defeated by Assyria and all of the citizens were carried away and forced to live in other countries. Foreign people were then brought into the land and settled in their homes. The destruction was so complete that people still talk about the “lost tribes” of Israel when referring to this nation. This unusual passage is the explanation of Scripture itself.

 

Word:  2 Kings 17

This disaster came upon the people of Israel because they worshiped other gods. They sinned against the Lord their God…. They had followed the practices of the pagan nations … .as well as the practices the kings of Israel had introduced. The people of Israel had also secretly done many things that were not pleasing to the Lord their God. They built pagan shrines for themselves in all their towns, from the smallest outpost to the largest walled city. 10 They set up sacred pillars and Asherah poles at the top of every hill and under every green tree. 11 They offered sacrifices on all the hilltops, just like the nations the Lord had driven from the land ahead of them. So the people of Israel had done many evil things, arousing the Lord’s anger. 12 Yes, they worshiped idols, despite the Lord’s specific and repeated warnings.

13 Again and again the Lord had sent his prophets and seers to warn both Israel and Judah: “Turn from all your evil ways. Obey my commands and decrees—the entire law that I commanded your ancestors to obey, and that I gave you through my servants the prophets.”

14 But the Israelites would not listen. They were as stubborn as their ancestors who had refused to believe in the Lord their God. 15 They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors, and they despised all his warnings. They worshiped worthless idols, so they became worthless themselves. They followed the example of the nations around them, disobeying the Lord’s command not to imitate them.

16 They rejected all the commands of the Lord their God and made two calves from metal. They set up an Asherah pole and worshiped Baal and all the forces of heaven. 17 They even sacrificed their own sons and daughters in the fire. They consulted fortune-tellers and practiced sorcery and sold themselves to evil, arousing the Lord’s anger.

18 Because the Lord was very angry with Israel, he swept them away from his presence.

As a nation, they completely forgot!  They forgot Moses and Joshua. They forgot Samuel and David. They forgot Sinai, and they forgot Jericho.  And they had filled the place of those things forgotten with what they saw around them.

They saw big, wealthy nations who worshipped “all the forces of heaven”—nature, science, material things!  They saw powerful nations who sacrificed their sons and daughters—seeking success, control, prestige!  They turned to the occult, giving preference to karma and zen and crystals and auras.  They practiced sorcery—deception, calling things true that are false, and calling false things true!

And they sold themselves to evil—were addicted to it, enslaved by it, and profited from it. These were the worthless idols and sinful practices that brought the nation to a place where the King of All Nations could not tolerate them any longer. He swept them away from his presence.

What should we as a nation do so that we do not forget what the King of All Nations has done for us?  What do those of us do who remember?

 

Prayer:  Lord, what have we forgotten?  Restore our memory of all that you have done for us. Restore our memory of all the words your prophets and priests have spoken to us for you.  Do not let us be deceived by what we see around us, by nations who believe in wealth or raw power or revenge or other gods.  Help us to recognize evil, Father, and deliver us from it.  Do not sweep us away, but continue to show us mercy until we remember!  AMEN.

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Ancient Israel divided into two kingdoms. This northern kingdom existed for a little over 200 years. As you read through the summary of each of their national leaders, ask yourself why they were chosen and why they were such bad leaders. Most have a much longer story if you want to read about each one individually. These abridged verses are from the NLT.

Jeroboam (I Kings 14:7)   Give your husband, Jeroboam, this message from the Lord, the God of Israel: ‘I promoted you from the ranks of the common people and made you ruler over my people Israel. I ripped the kingdom away from the family of David and gave it to you. But you have not been like my servant David, who obeyed my commands and followed me with all his heart and always did whatever I wanted. You have done more evil than all who lived before you. You have made other gods for yourself and have made me furious with your gold calves. And since you have turned your back on me, 10 I will bring disaster on your dynasty’”

Nadab (I Kings 15:25) But he did what was evil in the Lord’s sight and followed the example of his father, continuing the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit. 27 Then Baasha …plotted against Nadab and assassinated him

Baasha (1 Kings 15:32) There was constant war between King Asa of Judah and King Baasha of Israel. 34 But he did what was evil in the Lord’s sight and followed the example of Jeroboam, continuing the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.

Elah (I Kings 16:9) One day in Tirzah, Elah was getting drunk at the home of Arza, the supervisor of the palace. 10 Zimri walked in and struck him down and killed him. They provoked the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, with their worthless idols.

Zimri (I Kings 16:15)  Zimri began to rule over Israel …but his reign in Tirzah lasted only seven days. 16 When they heard that Zimri had committed treason and had assassinated the king, that very day they chose Omri, commander of the army, as the new king of Israel. 17 So Omri led the entire army of Israel up from Gibbethon to attack Tirzah, Israel’s capital. 18 When Zimri saw that the city had been taken, he went into the citadel of the palace and burned it down over himself and died in the flames. 19 For he, too, had done what was evil in the Lord’s sight. He followed the example of Jeroboam in all the sins he had committed and led Israel to commit.

Omri (1 Kings 16:21) But now the people of Israel were split into two factions. Half the people tried to make Tibni son of Ginath their king, while the other half supported Omri. 22 But Omri’s supporters defeated the supporters of Tibni. So Tibni was killed, and Omri became the next king25 But Omri did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, even more than any of the kings before him. 26 He followed the example of Jeroboam in all the sins he had committed and led Israel to commit. The people provoked the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, with their worthless idols.

Ahab (I Kings 16:29) But Ahab son of Omri did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, even more than any of the kings before him. 31 And as though it were not enough to follow the sinful example of Jeroboam, he married Jezebel, and he began to bow down in worship of Baal. …33 Then he set up an Asherah pole. He did more to provoke the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than any of the other kings of Israel before him.

Ahaziah (I Kings 22:52) But he did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, following the example of his father and mother and the example of Jeroboam, who had led Israel to sin. 53 He served Baal and worshiped him, provoking the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, just as his father had done

Joram (2 Kings 3:1) He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, but not to the same extent as his father and mother. He at least tore down the sacred pillar of Baal that his father had set up. Nevertheless, he continued in the sins that Jeroboam had committed and led the people of Israel to commit.

Jehu (2 Kings 10:31) But Jehu did not obey the Law of the Lord, with all his heart. He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.

Jehoahaz  (2 Kings13:1)  He reigned in Samaria seventeen years. But he did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. He followed the example of Jeroboam, continuing the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit. So the Lord was very angry with Israel, and he allowed King Hazael of Aram and his son Ben-hadad to defeat them repeatedly.

Jehoash (2 Kings 13:10) But he did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.

Jereboam II (2 Kings 14:23) He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.

Zechariah (2 Kings 15:8) Zechariah did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, as his ancestors had done. He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.

Shallum (2 Kings 15:13) Shallum reigned in Samaria only one month. 14 Then Menahem son of Gadi went to Samaria from Tirzah and assassinated him, and he became the next king

Menahem (2 Kings 15:18) But Menahem did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. During his entire reign, he refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.

Pekahiah (2 Kings 15:23) He reigned in Samaria two years. 24 But Pekahiah did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.

Pekah (2 Kings 15:27) But Pekah did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.29 During Pekah’s reign, King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria attacked Israel again,

Hoshea (2 Kings 17:1) He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, but not to the same extent as the kings of Israel who ruled before him. King Shalmaneser of Assyria attacked King Hoshea, . . . for three years he besieged the city of Samaria. Finally, in the ninth year of King Hoshea’s reign, Samaria fell, and the people of Israel were exiled to Assyria. . . .

 

Every national leader worries about his/her legacy—as they should because they leave behind a unique history that can have repercussions for generations. This list of rulers is horrifying and seems to be the primary legacy of the first king Jeroboam.  He was chosen king in a moment of reaction and rebellion. That moment and that choice left its mark for 200 years. If we don’t want this kind of legacy, we need to choose wisely and prayerfully now.

Prayer:  O Lord, this list is so discouraging! Give us wisdom not to choose leaders who will leave such legacies. Give us foresight to choose leaders who can withstand the tides of political history and turn their nation into your path. Amen.

 

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Word:  Isaiah 61 (NLT)

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
    for the Lord has anointed me
    to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
    and to proclaim that captives will be released
    and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
    that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
    and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel,
    he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
    festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
    that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins,
    repairing cities destroyed long ago.
They will revive them,
    though they have been deserted for many generations.
Foreigners will be your servants.
    They will feed your flocks
and plow your fields
    and tend your vineyards.
You will be called priests of the Lord,
    ministers of our God.
You will feed on the treasures of the nations
    and boast in their riches.
Instead of shame and dishonor,
    you will enjoy a double share of honor.
You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land,
    and everlasting joy will be yours.

“For I, the Lord, love justice.
    I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
I will faithfully reward my people for their suffering
    and make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants will be recognized
    and honored among the nations.
Everyone will realize that they are a people
    the Lord has blessed.”

10 I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God!
    For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation
    and draped me in a robe of righteousness.
I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding
    or a bride with her jewels.
11 The Sovereign Lord will show his justice to the nations of the world.
    Everyone will praise him!
His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring,
    with plants springing up everywhere.

 

Warnings after warnings after warnings were delivered by the prophets. Opportunities to turn away from evil and injustice accompanied every message . . . until punishment was the only option for the King of All Nations.  Even punishments were accompanied by mercies. A remnant seems to have always been saved because the King of All Nations has never delighted in destroying that which He created.

Finally, the prophet Isaiah is given Good News to deliver: relief for the poor, comfort for those who despair, freedom for those enslaved, and justice for the enemies of the righteous.  Rebuilding, repairing, and revival take the place of destruction and death, honor takes the place of shame, and blessing replaces cursing!

Who wouldn’t be “overwhelmed with joy!!” And the Sovereign Lord, the King of All Nations, will show his justice to the nations of the world, so everyone will praise him. Eternal Spring!

We, the people of the King of All Nations, when we champion relief for the poor, comfort for those who despair, freedom instead of enslavement or addiction, and justice for those who do evil, when we rebuild, repair, and revive rather than destroy, when we act honorably rather than shamefully, and when we bless the world rather than curse it, then are we not preparing the way for the King of All Nations?  Are we not serving in His Name?

When our nation, our people, when we are like great oaks, then won’t the King of All Nations also be overwhelmed with joy! And won’t the nations of the world notice!

Prayer:  We have heard your warnings, O Sovereign Lord, and we have taken notice, but today the promise of your blessing motivates us even more to imitate in our nation the goodness that will bring you overwhelming joy!  And may all the nations observe so that they too may enjoy the eternal spring that the King of All Nations is bringing!  AMEN.

 

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The prophet Isaiah spoke the message of God to ancient Israel in the time just before the Assyrian empire invaded and conquered it, taking most of the people into exile in other countries, never to return. In this passage, we have a glimpse into the mind of God as he uses nations to accomplish His will.

 

Word:  Isaiah 10:1-5 (NLT)

What sorrow awaits the unjust judges
    and those who issue unfair laws.
They deprive the poor of justice
    and deny the rights of the needy among my people.
They prey on widows
    and take advantage of orphans.
What will you do when I punish you,
    when I send disaster upon you from a distant land?
To whom will you turn for help?
    Where will your treasures be safe?
You will stumble along as prisoners
    or lie among the dead.
But even then the Lord’s anger will not be satisfied.
    His fist is still poised to strike.

Words: from the prophet Zephaniah about Ancient Israel

Chapter 3 
No one can tell it anything;
    it refuses all correction.
It does not trust in the Lord
    or draw near to its God.
Its leaders are like roaring lions
    hunting for their victims.
Its judges are like ravenous wolves at evening time,
    who by dawn have left no trace of their prey.
Its prophets are arrogant liars seeking their own gain.
    Its priests defile the Temple by disobeying God’s instructions.
But the Lord is still there in the city,
    and he does no wrong.
Day by day he hands down justice,
    and he does not fail.
    But the wicked know no shame.

“I have wiped out many nations,
    devastating their fortress walls and towers.
Their streets are now deserted;
    their cities lie in silent ruin.
There are no survivors—
    none at all.
I thought, ‘Surely they will have reverence for me now!
    Surely they will listen to my warnings.
Then I won’t need to strike again,
    destroying their homes.’
But no, they get up early
    to continue their evil deeds.

 

Some things make the King of All Nations furious!  Unjust judges who issue unfair laws that show disregard or take advantage of the needy are at the top of the list. Next come religious leaders who disregard God’s instructions, usually because they are interested in their own advancement more than helping others or serving God.  So if the judges of the nation disregard the needy and the religious leaders disregard God in favor of promoting themselves, the nation is in serious trouble.

The King of All Nations is still there! He is not instantly offended, quick to exercise His wrath; no, instead he continues to minister day after day, causing it to rain on the just and the unjust, providing for the sheep and the goats—but not forever.

Apparently when the Goodness of the King fails to win the hearts of the people, then His justice demands punishment. “I have wiped out the nations . . . . Surely they will have reverence for me now!” What does God have to do to a nation to win its heart and its obedience?

Prayer:  O God, forgive our judges for corruption; capture again the hearts of our religious leaders. Teach us to obey your instructions because your love and mercy and fairness overwhelms us. You and you alone are our King!  Amen.

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Word: Jeremiah 10:1-10 (abridged)(NLT)

This is what the Lord says:

“Do not act like the other nations,
    who try to read their future in the stars.
Do not be afraid of their predictions,
    even though other nations are terrified by them.
Their ways are futile and foolish.
    They cut down a tree, and a craftsman carves an idol.
They decorate it with gold and silver
    and then fasten it securely with hammer and nails
    so it won’t fall over.
Their gods are like
    helpless scarecrows in a cucumber field!
They cannot speak,
    and they need to be carried because they cannot walk.
Do not be afraid of such gods,
    for they can neither harm you nor do you any good.”

Lord, there is no one like you!
    For you are great, and your name is full of power.
Who would not fear you, O King of nations?
    That title belongs to you alone!
Among all the wise people of the earth
    and in all the kingdoms of the world,
    there is no one like you.

People who worship idols are stupid and foolish.
    The things they worship are made of wood!
Then they dress these gods in royal blue and purple robes
    made by expert tailors.
10 But the Lord is the only true God.
    He is the living God and the everlasting King!
The whole earth trembles at his anger.
    The nations cannot stand up to his wrath.

What god does your nation worship?  Is it made of oil (the god of prosperity) or atoms (the god of power). Is your nation’s god an ideology (the god of political knowledge) or politics (the god of control), or money (the god of materialism), or travel and leisure (the god of self-indulgence).  Are the gods of your nation dressed in royal blue and purple robes as if they were royalty, but, in reality, they are of human invention and must be carried or maintained or supported by extraordinary national efforts. Have nations not fought wars over their gods, murdered millions of people for their gods, and spent decades—even centuries—of national time and energy in an attempt to show that their god is supreme!

There is only one God who legitimately wears the title King of All Nations! He is the Living God and the Everlasting King—all without our vote, all without our effort, all without us!

The gods of nations are just as lifeless as a scarecrow—just as powerless. Ask a scarecrow to be your national leader and your nation will be in trouble.  Nations that follow scarecrows are stupid! What god does your nation follow?

Prayer:  O King of Nations, we acknowledge that you and you alone are God. You are the One who created the world. You are the one who created the nations. You are the One who created us. We will worship and follow You alone.  Give us courage to tell others that You are the only King of All Nations. Amen.

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After King Rehoboam angered his people and harshly threatened them, ten of the twelve tribes in his kingdom seceded and anointed a new king named Jeroboam.

Word:  I Kings 12:25-33 (abridged)(NLT)

26 Jeroboam thought to himself, “Unless I am careful, the kingdom will return to the dynasty of David. 27 When these people go to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices at the Temple of the Lord, they will again give their allegiance to King Rehoboam of Judah. They will kill me and make him their king instead.”

28 So on the advice of his counselors, the king made two gold calves. He said to the people, “It is too much trouble for you to worship in Jerusalem. Look, Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of Egypt!”

29 He placed these calf idols in Bethel and in Dan—at either end of his kingdom. 30 But this became a great sin, for the people worshiped the idols, traveling as far north as Dan to worship the one there.

31 Jeroboam also erected buildings at the pagan shrines and ordained priests from the common people—those who were not from the priestly tribe of Levi. 32 And Jeroboam instituted a religious festival in Bethel, held on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, in imitation of the annual Festival of Shelters in Judah. There at Bethel he himself offered sacrifices to the calves he had made, and he appointed priests for the pagan shrines he had made. 33 So on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, a day that he himself had designated, Jeroboam offered sacrifices on the altar at Bethel. He instituted a religious festival for Israel, and he went up to the altar to burn incense.

Jeroboam had just led a successful coup and won over most of the nation to his side!  He was the new king, but politically he had a problem. The religion of the nation required them to perform their rituals in the capital of the old country—the enemy country.  So, on the advice of his counsellors, he creates a new religion—or perhaps more accurately, a new imitation of the old religion.

To create a new religion, you need a new history: not that old God of the old story, but these new gods are the true gods of freedom, of liberty. Then you must have a new priesthood to tell the new story, of course.  These new priests lacked only the credentials and anointing of the old religion and the old god, so if they are given new credentials and if they dress like the old priests, almost no one will notice any difference. Then the clever new king created new religious festivals “in imitation” of the old festivals, and he chose appropriate days, and he performed the main rituals himself—because, after all, he is the creator of this entire new religion—that looked and felt a lot like the old religion.

Beware of leaders that need to change the national story, who ignore history, and especially who offer new and improved morals and values! Neither goodness nor power reside in this new religion just because it feels like the old one.  Goodness and power are where the real God is!

Prayer:  Lord, You alone are the God who has led us to this day in history. You are the real God who has shaped our nation. Keep us from being deceived by imitation gods, pretending to be good and have power, but who are nothing!  Deliver us from leaders who would create substitute histories and substitute morals/values in order to further their political agendas. Amen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

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Word:   Jeremiah 6:19-21 (NLT)

19 Lord, you are my strength and fortress,
    my refuge in the day of trouble!
Nations from around the world
    will come to you and say,
“Our ancestors left us a foolish heritage,
    for they worshiped worthless idols.
20 Can people make their own gods?
    These are not real gods at all!”

21 The Lord says,
“Now I will show them my power;
    now I will show them my might.
At last they will know and understand
    that I am the Lord.

 

Most prophets had very difficult messages from God to deliver. While sometimes they might be given good news—for instance, the nation is leaving slavery and returning to their homeland—on most occasions, the prophets tried in vain to rouse people with dire warnings: Repent or perish; turn to God or the nation will be conquered.  Jeremiah, often called the weeping prophet, carried an especially ominous message to his nation because they had completely abandoned the King of All Nations.  For faithfully proclaiming this message of imminent disaster and punishment, he was viciously mocked and ridiculed and eventually imprisoned—until all he said came true just as God had revealed to him.

In this prayer of Jeremiah’s, the prophet shares with us the big picture! He knows the “day of trouble” is coming, but he personally finds shelter, not in new systems, new kings, or new ideologies; rather, he finds comfort in knowing the King of All Nations is his refuge and strength.

The nations of the world can’t rejoice because they have been led astray by their foolish heritage!  What part of our nation’s heritage has led us astray? What if it were treasured values like rugged individualism, national exceptionalism, or even capitalism?  What gods has our nation created that are not real gods at all?

In Jeremiah’s time, God had to reduce ancient Israel to a remnant and start over again in order to convince them that He alone is real. He alone is the King of All Nations.

Prayer:  Lord, open our eyes to the gods that we have inherited from our heritage, some of which we may not even recognize as gods. Open our hearts, Lord, that we might recognize your activity among the nations, that we will know that you are the only God, and that you are our King. And be our strength and our fortress in the fight against godlessness. Amen

 

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Word: Ezekiel 18:19-32 (NLT)

19 “‘What?’ you ask. ‘Doesn’t the child pay for the parent’s sins?’ No! For if the child does what is just and right and keeps my decrees, that child will surely live. 20 The person who sins is the one who will die. The child will not be punished for the parent’s sins, and the parent will not be punished for the child’s sins. Righteous people will be rewarded for their own righteous behavior, and wicked people will be punished for their own wickedness. 21 But if wicked people turn away from all their sins and begin to obey my decrees and do what is just and right, they will surely live and not die. 22 All their past sins will be forgotten, and they will live because of the righteous things they have done.

23 “Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign Lord. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live. 24 However, if righteous people turn from their righteous behavior and start doing sinful things and act like other sinners, should they be allowed to live? No, of course not! All their righteous acts will be forgotten, and they will die for their sins.

25 “Yet you say, ‘The Lord isn’t doing what’s right!’ Listen to me, O people of Israel. Am I the one not doing what’s right, or is it you? 26 When righteous people turn from their righteous behavior and start doing sinful things, they will die for it. Yes, they will die because of their sinful deeds. 27 And if wicked people turn from their wickedness, obey the law, and do what is just and right, they will save their lives. 28 They will live because they thought it over and decided to turn from their sins. Such people will not die. 29 And yet the people of Israel keep saying, ‘The Lord isn’t doing what’s right!’ O people of Israel, it is you who are not doing what’s right, not I.

30 “Therefore, I will judge each of you, O people of Israel, according to your actions, says the Sovereign Lord. Repent, and turn from your sins. Don’t let them destroy you! 31 Put all your rebellion behind you, and find yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O people of Israel? 32 I don’t want you to die, says the Sovereign Lord. Turn back and live!

These are words spoken to a nation complaining that God is not fair. They thought that the goodness of their forefathers might save them from destruction. The great men of their history like Abraham, Moses, Joshua, and David had built a God-fearing nation, and now it had drifted far away from those founding principles . . . yes, worshipping other gods, practicing religious prostitution and ritual murder, abusing the poor and neglecting their social obligations, but weren’t they still that exceptional nation!!  How could God judge them and allow this special nation to diminish, to be destroyed—even disappear?

“Do you think I like to see wicked people die?”  Some people believe God to be an evil judge, but that is nonsense. The whole story of the King of All Nations is that He calls nation after nation to repentance, to put rebellion behind, to find a new heart and a new spirit.  “Turn back and live.”

Prayer:  Father, we long for that new heart and new spirit. We fear death, both individually and as a nation, so we repent of doing evil. Give us leaders who will lead us in your path, away from all that is evil.  Forget our past sins, Father, and help us not depend on the merit of our forefathers. We accept the responsibility for ourselves and our nation today, and we turn to you.  Amen.

 

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