Transformations in the Bible

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Is Revival the desire of your heart? Do you long to see the churches and communities in South Africa revived and restored to a God honouring condition?

“Restore us, O God Almighty; make Your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.” Psalm 80:7

Are you praying for a great spiritual awakening that will change our cities and our country? Is it your prayer that God may be honoured and glorified in all areas of life?

“Oh that You would rend the heavens and come down, . . . come down to make Your Name known to Your enemies and cause the nations to quake before You!” Isaiah 64:1-2

Duncan Campbell of the Hebrides revival observed that: “Revival is not churches filled with people, but people filled with God.” Jonathan Edwards described revival as “a special season of mercy.”

Revival is a sovereign move of God initiated by the Holy Spirit working through consecrated men. A study of revivals in the Bible and in history reveals that all revivals begin with a deeper appreciation for the holiness of God and a realisation of how offensive our sin must be in the sight of our holy God.

“Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him, and to our God, for He will freely pardon.” Isaiah 55:7

When the Book of the Law (the first five books of the Bible) was read to King Josiah of Judah, he tore his robes in anguish and exclaimed: “Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us . . .” 2 Kings 22:13. He called all the elders together to hear the Law of God and to repent together for the wickedness that they had allowed to flourish in the land.

“The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the Lord – to follow the Lord and keep His commands, regulations and decrees with all his heart and all his soul . . . Then all the people pledged themselves to the Covenant.” 2 Kings 23:3

This repentance was then followed by vigorous action to remove or destroy everything contrary to the Law of God – including the pornographic Asherah poles, the Baal altars where babies were sacrificed, and the prostitutes and false prophets who had corrupted the people (2 Kings 23:4-10).

The Bible records that Josiah “. . . turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.” 2 Kings 23:25. God sent a prophet to declare to Josiah: “Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I have spoken . . . I have heard you, declares the Lord.” 2 Kings 22:19

Conviction of sin is the first step towards a Biblical Transformation. This includes focusing on the Law of God, mourning over our sin, confessing that sin and undertaking whatever steps of restitution or obedience are necessary.

“If anyone sins and is unfaithful to the Lord by deceiving his neighbour about something entrusted to him or left in his care or stolen, or if he cheats him, or if he finds lost property and lies about it, or if he swears falsely, or if he commits any such sin . . . he must make restitution in full, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the owner . . .” Leviticus 6:2-5

Those who claim to want revival, but are unwilling to thoroughly repent of every known sin and make full restitution cannot be serious.

“Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.” Revelation 3:19

Like Josiah, we need to take a careful look at the Law of God. The Ten Commandments reflect the unchanging character of God. It summarises our responsibilities to God, to our parents and to other people.

“. . . The Law was our tutor, to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” Galatians 3:24

“The Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul...” Psalm 19:7

Martin Luther declared: “The first duty of the Gospel preacher is to declare God’s Law and show the nature of sin.”

John Bunyan said: “The man who does not know the nature of the Law cannot know the nature of sin.”

John Wesley suggested that evangelists should preach 90% Law and 10% Grace.

Charles Finney wrote: “Failure to use the Law is almost certain to result in false hope, the introduction of a false standard of Christian experience, and to fill the church with false converts.”

Charles Spurgeon declared: “They will never accept Grace until they tremble before a just and Holy Law.”

As our Lord taught: “Do not think I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. I tell you the truth, until Heaven and Earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law . . . Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven, but whoever practises and teaches these commands will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 5:17-19

We want God to bless South Africa, so we need to evaluate our nation in the light of God’s Word. As we seek a Biblical Transformation of our country we need to start by confessing our national sins. As we look at the Ten Commandments we must confess that:

Our leaders are too proud to bow before God in prayer at the beginning of Parliament or to acknowledge a source of authority above themselves.

At state events our leaders have committed idolatry, worshipping other ’gods’ who are not God at all.

God’s Name is routinely taken in vain on national television and at cinemas and this blasphemy is constitutionally protected and regarded as ’entertainment.’

The Lord’s Day is desecrated every week. What God ordained as a Day of rest and a Day of worship is being commercialised and abused for the worship of pleasure.

Respect for our parents and elders is being undermined everywhere by the laws, the entertainment industry and the explosion of violent crimes against the elderly.

Every year over 20 000 people are murdered in South Africa and our Justice system is failing to protect the citizens of this land. Most of the murderers who terrorise our people escape being brought to justice. In fact our laws seem to favour the rights of the criminals – and all too often criminalise the victims.

Selfishness, greed, covetousness and deception are pervasive and we have become a nation infested with corruption and theft. Our Constitution entrenches the rights of pornographers to exploit for profit people made in the image of God – to take what God has made to be holy and pervert it; to take what God designed to be special and make it sordid; to distort what God intended to be private and develope it into a multi-million rand exploitative industry.

We must admit that it is hypocritical to claim to be a “human rights society” while denying the right to life to pre-born babies. Our government interprets the ’Right to Life’ as a means to protecting guilty murderers from execution, but not to protect innocent babies from receiving the death penalty through abortion. Our society has become so calloused, careless and cruel that it allows little babies to be dismembered, smothered or strangled through abortion – legally – and with tax payers’ money. How can we expect God to bless a nation that kills babies?

“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.” We must confess that most of us, even in the Church, have shamefully done nothing to protest and work against the legalised slaughter of pre-born babies in South Africa.

God’s Word declares that “Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.” Matthew 25:45. “Anyone then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” James 4:17.

We have not loved God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, nor have we loved our neighbours as ourselves. We have not done unto others as we would have others do unto us. We have been thoughtless and careless. We have been self-centred and preoccupied with less important things. We have thought so much of ourselves and so little of God and of our neighbours. We have wasted too much time watching television. And we have too often spent more time reading the newspaper than reading the Bible.

In the Bible, national transformations always involved a return to studying and obeying God’s Word.

The Bible is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105); it is “sharper than any double edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” Hebrews 4:12. It is like a fire that burns within our heart, it is like a hammer that breaks the rocks in pieces (Jeremiah 23:29). “It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” Romans 1:16. It is the Truth (John 17:17) that sets us free (John 8:32). It is sweeter than honey (Psalm 119:103) and more precious than gold or silver (Psalm 119:72). It is “radiant, giving light to the eyes” and “joy to the heart” Psalm 19:8.

Therefore Asa expelled the prostitutes and destroyed pornographic idols (2 Kings 15:12). Jehu demolished the temple of Baal where child-sacrifice had taken place and turned it into a latrine (2 Kings 10:27). Jehoiada led the people in the destruction of the temple of Baal, smashing the perverse idols and blood stained altars (2 Kings 11:18). Josiah ordered idols, charms and other articles of false religion removed from the temple of the Lord (2 Kings 23:4).

“Let those who love the Lord hate evil . . . .” Psalm 97:10

Jehoshaphat rid the land of Asherah poles and set his heart on seeking God (2 Chr 19:3), Hezekiah also removed offensive materials that were not in accordance with God’s Law from the land (2 Chr 31:1; 33:15). Ezra required the people to bring their marriages into obedience to God’s Law (Ezra 10:3). Nehemiah enforced Sabbath observance in honour of the Lord (Nehemiah 13:19). The people of Ephesus destroyed their occultic books (Acts 19:17-20).

“Who will rise up for Me against the wicked? Who will take a stand for Me against evildoers?” Psalm 94:16

We cannot achieve anything of eternal value, unless God’s Word is foundational and central, and if we think that we can take a short cut to Revival, avoiding repentance, restitution and obedience then we are only fooling ourselves. Every Revival and national transformation in the Bible involved decisive action to bring society into obedience to the Law of God!

“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.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

Dr Peter Hammond is a missionary who has pioneered Frontline Fellowship outreaches into Mozambique, Angola and Sudan. He is the author of The Greatest Century of Missions, Putting Feet to Your Faith and Faith Under Fire in Sudan.

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Website: http:// www.frontline.org.za.

Dr. Peter Hammond

Christian Action P.O.Box 23632 Claremont 7735 Cape Town South Africa info@christianaction.org.za - 021-689-4481 - www.christianaction.org.za
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