“But as soon as they had rest, they did evil again before You; therefore You abandoned them to the hand of their enemies, so that they ruled over them. When they cried again to You, You heard from heaven, and many times You rescued them according to Your compassion” (Nehemiah 9:28 NASB).
“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it; prone to leave the God I love” (Robert Robinson, 1758). The hymn writer captured in a sentence what is universally true of man.
Our humanity is weak, the devil is strong, and the world pulls us relentlessly away from God. Even those who have come into a relationship with Christ still wander at times.
God made us, so He knows this truth. And He has made incredible provision for us. It’s called grace.
Grace is the unmerited favor of God. It is His goodness extended to us in spite of our rebellion.
This compassion makes possible a cycle that occurs again and again with people and nations. It’s a cycle America is in right now; and if we don’t properly understand it, we may not cooperate with God in the ways He desires.
“But as soon as they had rest, they did evil again before You.”
This happens over and over again. Even when we know better, we find ourselves moving away from God’s goodness.
The constant temptations of this world have a hard pull on our affections. If we are unwise, we yield to them and find ourselves losing the greatest gift—God’s presence—as we follow after the world’s gods.
“Therefore You abandoned them to the hand of their enemies, so that they ruled over them.”
When God’s children wander, He disciplines them. His main tool is to let us feel the weight of seeking another master, another god. These gods begin to “rule over us.”
Think of every person (including yourself) and the weight of every addiction we have. It’s because we love those false gods and keep returning to them. And God lets us feel the pain of that dominion.
His judgments are always perfect in righteousness and goodness. They are remedial, i.e., designed to bring a remedy.
His discipline is like the good gift of pain. Without this gift, we could put our hand on a hot stove and never know it. We would suffer increasingly worse consequences of our foolishness.
So God has designed something to help us see our wrong. And the greatest judgment is to lift His protecting hand and let us go our own way.
We Cry Out, and He Rescues
“When they cried again to You, You heard from heaven, and many times You rescued them according to Your compassion.”
When we get desperate for change—so desperate that we realize we cannot save ourselves, so we cry out to God—He always hears and answers. Our soul, our church, our nation receives the gift of God’s reviving. He saves us as we turn to Him.
We have known four or five nationwide spiritual awakenings in our history, depending on how you count them: the First Great Awakening (1735–1742), the Second Great Awakening (1800–1825), the Prayer Revival (1857–58), the Welsh Revival (1904-05), and the Jesus Movement (1969-72).
It is times like these, when God hears from heaven and sends nationwide revival and spiritual awakening, that bring a course correction to nations and put them back on the right path.
Could it be that the whole explanation for what is happening in our world right now is that we have forgotten God? That He is lifting His protecting hand? That He is wanting us to see our helplessness and return to Him?
Everyone who knows God would agree: The need for such a time right now is great.
It is time to admit our sin and our fathers’ sins. It is time to cry out. It is time to repent and ask God to heal our land. We cannot endure our rebellion much longer, or we will lose our place as a light to the nations.
Oh, Father, be merciful to us once again. Bring Your people to desperation. Do whatever is necessary to make us willing to turn from every false god and return to You. And then in mercy, Lord, send the reviving that we do not deserve. Send it so mightily that everyone will know that it has come from Your hand alone. Return us to serve You and accomplish Your purposes of taking the gospel to every tribe, tongue, people, and nation. Do this so that You will be glorified and Your people will be saved. Do this, Lord, to take us nearer to the end, when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that You are Lord!