There are a few things we’ve learned so far in this series. First: Christ Will Likely Return In This Generation. Just look at the evidence! Secondly: He Holds Us Responsible to Know The Time of Our Visitation. He held the 1st century Jews responsible because they had the evidence of His word. We’ve got the same evidence with regard to His Second Coming. Finally, because the first two principles are true: A Day of Judgment Is Coming. You can take that to the bank!
Repentance & Restoration
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2Peter 3:9)
So here’s the set up. Our world is in a mess. Circumstances and nations are aligning exactly how the Scriptures said they would. We are living in very critical times. Yet still the scoffers are scoffing saying: “Where is the promise of his coming?” (2Peter 3:4) Where is God’s heart in all of this? Despite our rejection, despite our rebellion, He still wants us to come to Him. He longs to save us. As we read above, He is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” There is the key, repentance. There you have it. God is both a God of justice, and none of us can stand before a righteous God. But He is also a God of mercy, seeking that all will be saved. So there is a very important principle here: GOD IS A GOD OF HIS WORD. In both judgment and mercy, God will keep His word. You can depend on it!
While the world rebels or ignores, the church, – perhaps somewhat naively, – calls for revival. We in the church want to be part of the next great move of God. Yet God’s call has always been repentance. Repentance! It was the message of Christ’s first sermon. It was the cry of John the Baptist in the wilderness, “the kingdom of God is at hand, repent ye and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:15) Here is the spiritual principal: REVIVAL ALWAYS FOLLOWS REPENTANCE !
We can see that pattern at work in Israel’s history and this is it; Rebellion, Punishment, Repentance, – only then Restoration or Revival. It is a pattern for individuals and nations, – personal and corporate. It is a pattern that we seem hardly able to escape. For most of us, it is sadly, only when we have lost sight of God that we are able to realize our need for Him. It is that realization that drives us to repentance. Let’s look at the Apostle Peter’s Pentecost day sermon that brought the ‘Revival’ that gave birth to the Church. In his sermon recorded in Acts 2, Peter, beginning in verse 17 quotes the prophet Joel. “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh.” And he rightly saw that these words apply to these last days that began with that Pentecost birthing of Christ’s Church. But it was not just the proclamation of the coming of the Holy Spirit with His gifts, – but the fact that Peter allowed himself to be used by God’s Spirit to bring forth words that convicted his listeners of their sin and their complicity in Christ’s death. That complicity is ours to claim too. We are all sinners in need of that atoning blood. We have all fashioned the nails, and drove them home, and worked the lash, and fashioned the crown of thorns. It is a guilt that has traveled down across centuries and generations to all who have ever sinned. That’s me too. I know that’s me. And Peter convicted them with his words until they cried out “‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’ Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent.’” (Acts 2:37-38) That is where we are today.
So in the course of this message here is what we’ve seen:
- Christ Will Likely Return In This Generation
- He Holds Us Responsible to Know The Time of Our Visitation
- A Day of Judgment Is Coming
- One Day [Soon?]: Everything Will Change
- God Is A God of His Word: He’s Coming Back
- Revival Follows Repentance
So where does that leave us? WE ARE CALLED TO REPENT ! Since He is returning soon, we – the Church – the people called by His name – are called on like John the Baptist to cry out in the wilderness: “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” (Matthew 3:3) For “the kingdom of God is at hand.” That is the work of the Spirit in us. If we would see revival, we must start with our own repentance.
Here is God’s promise to Solomon for troubling times such as we live in. It is a promise for the nation and for the Church. It is found in 2Chronicles 7:13-14. “When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” That is the call: to humble ourselves and pray and seek and turn (repent). It is a call for every age. Then God promises He will: hear, forgive and heal. Such a deal!
But God always gives us a choice. His word is clear to on our fate should we choose to reject Him. I wish to take a little detour here to the prophetic significance for our nation of the events that occurred beginning September 11, 2001. This came to my attention through the work of messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn. We’ll start by looking at a passage in Isaiah. “The Lord has sent a message against Jacob; it will fall on Israel. All the people will know it— Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria— who say with pride and arrogance of heart, ‘The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with dressed stone; the fig trees have been felled, but we will replace them with cedars.’” (Isaiah 9:8-10)
Now as I have argued before: God gives a clear pattern for the spiritual life of a nation. Israel often fell into that pattern of sin – judgment – repentance and only then restoration. Now what Isaiah is referring to in the passage above is the slide into sin of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. So God allowed her enemies to strike a blow to serve both as correction and a further warning of judgment to come. But Israel did not repent. Instead the Israelite leaders answered “with pride and arrogance of heart ‘The bricks are fallen down. But we will rebuild with hewn stones: the sycamores are cut down, but we will replace them with cedars.’” (NIV) Notice just a few phrases: sycamores, bricks falling, rebuild with stone, trees cut down and replaced with cedars. There are amazing parallels that come into play here with America and the events and reaction to the 9/11 attacks. We in America have reacted much the same way, – in arrogance and pride in our own power. But God cannot use a nation that would trust only it itself. That pride is nothing but rebellion. And we are always faced with the choice, – both as a nation and personally: Whom will we serve? Who will YOU serve?
Now is the time to make that choice. If you don’t know Him, if you do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the very Son of God, – there is a little piece of business that you must attend to first. As Jesus told Nicodemus, “You must be born again.” (John 3:7) He drove the point home with that Jewish scholar of the Scriptures. “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) You see, we have this sin problem. The Scripture tells us that all are sinners and that we cannot get right with God through our own efforts. So when Jesus says, we “must be born again,” there is no other choice. If you do not know Him as Lord and Savior – commit yourself to Him right now. You can pray something like this. Lord Jesus. I admit I am a sinner unable to save myself. I am sorry for my sins, but I have no power in myself to come before a wholly righteous God. Yet I believe that you have paid the price for my sin by dying on the Cross. I accept that gift in faith. I accept that payment. I accept you Jesus as my Savior. I accept you as the Lord of my life. So I repent of my sin and ask that you forgive me and wash me clean from my sins. And I believe that you are the very Son of God and that you have taken my sins and removed them as far the east is from the west. Thank you Jesus!
If you have prayed that prayer for the first time, you have become a child of God and the Spirit of the Living God lives in you. Your sins are forgiven. You belong to Him. Now join the rest of God’s Church in rejoicing in your salvation and coming to the altar with repentance and prayers for our nation, that He might heal the land.