Deeper Christian Life Ministry – Search The Scripture 28 Sunday, March 2021 (Lesson 993)
Topic: Prayer For National Deliverance And Revival (STS 28 March 2021)
MEMORY VERSE: “Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee? Shew us thy mercy, O LORD, and grant us thy salvation” (Psalm 85:6,7).
TEXT: Psalms 79 to 85
God is holy, just and consistent in relating with man from generation to generation. Being holy, He hates sin and loves righteousness. He created man in His image and likeness to live like Him. He redeems from sin and captivity for this singular purpose. Thus, the repeated disobedience of the children of Israel whom He delivered from Egyptian captivity and gave the Promised Land to inherit provoked Him and incurred His wrath. As a result, they suffered oppression from enemy nations in their homeland and were, at other times, overrun and herded into captivity in other nations for refusal to obey His precepts which He has given for their good and happiness in time and eternity. Having failed to reciprocate the undeserved mercies enjoyed right from their historic exodus from Egypt up till their final settlement in Canaan through consistent Obedience, the children of Israel suffered humiliating Chastisements that occasioned the psalmist’s lamentation and prayer to God for mercy, deliverance and revival of their nation in the texts. Truly, Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).
Question 1: What can a believer learn from the Justice of God and the need to be consistent in obeying His word?
BONDAGE AND PERPLEXING PROBLEMS OF A BACKSLIDDEN NATION (Psalms 79:1-13; 80:8-19; 81:1-16; 82:1-8; 9:16, 17; Proverbs 14:34; 2 Chronicles 36:11-21; Romans 1:18-32)
The text opens with the psalmist’s pity-evoking lamentation for Jerusalem that had been ravaged by the heathen. “O God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance; thy holy temple have they defiled; they have laid Jerusalem on heaps. We are become a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and derision to them that are round about us” (Psalm 79:1,4). This referred to the period of the Babylonian conquest of the holy Land when the temple was desecrated and Jerusalem destroyed and occupied by the heathen (2 Chronicles 36: 1701). Consequently, many of God’s servants were killed and the entire nation of Israel became an object of reproach to their neighbours (Psalm 79:2-4,10). Prior to this desolation, the psalmist recalls God’s kindness to Israel whom he referred to as the vine He transplanted in a good land, alluding to the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage and settlement in Canaan. He then enquires rhetorically, “Why hast thou then broken down her hedges, so that all they which pass by the way do pluck her?” (Psalm 80:12). This question is needless as the Lord had threatened desolation of the vine (the nation of Israel) if they would not heed His warning to repent of their backsliding and live righteously (Isaiah 5:1-7; Jeremiah 9:11; 26: 18; Micah 3:12). This avoidable national calamity was a direct fallout of Israel’s disobedience and an expression of God’s holy anger against sin. The psalmist acknowledged this when he asked, “How long, LORD? Wilt thou be angry for ever? shall thy jealousy burn like fire? O LORD God of hosts, how long wilt thou be angry against the prayer of thy people? Thou feedest them with the bread of tears; and givest them tears to drink in great measure” (Psalms 79:5; 80:4,5). God is the Creator of the entire universe and He alone is to be worshipped. But Israel provoked divine jealousy by worshipping other gods contrary to divine command (Exodus 34: 14; 20:4,5). “Hear, O my people, and I will testify unto thee: O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto me; There shall no strange god be in thee; neither shalt thou worship any strange god. I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it. But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me. So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels” (Psalm 81:8-12). Besides, miscarriage of justice and oppression of orphans and the poor with impunity reigned in the land (Psalm 62:2-5). Israel’s rebellion made God to abandon them to live as they chose and face the consequences. All present-day counterparts of backslidden Israel who carve, sell and worship idolatrous images or deify any other creatures of God will suffer similar consequences except they repent. The Israelites forfeited God’s plan to subdue their enemies and missed the provision of “the finest of wheat” and “honey out of the rock” through disobedience (Psalm 81:13-16). God wants individuals as well as nations to seek Him for salvation and all other blessings they need. But many countries reject God and enact anti-God laws (same sex marriage, abortion, etc.). They even kill believers in Christ. Awfully, materialism and the pursuit of mundane things have replaced true worship of God while corruption, immorality, pornography, rape, murder, occultism, false religion, homosexuality, bloodletting, etc. have reached unprecedented levels in such nations today (Romans 3:10-18; Galatians 5:19). These evils result in spiritual enslavement, absence of peace, satanic oppression, insecurity of lives and property.
Question 2: Explain the psalmist’s lamentation and the reasons for it.
The captivity of Israel debunks the erroneous doctrine of believers ‘ unconditional security. This doctrine creates false sense of security in its adherents and engenders careless Christian living. The uniform testimony of Scripture is that believers are eternally secured only as they continue to abide in Christ (John 15:1-7). Irrespective of a believer’s spiritual attainment, it is possible to lose the grace of God if such becomes careless. And those who have lost their salvation must repent to avoid being rejected and judged by God (Hebrews 10:26-30; Exodus 32:33).
Question 3: Why is the doctrine of eternal security of believers false and dangerous?
These ugly situations highlight the urgent need for the Church to awake to its responsibility of praying for deliverance and revival. The reason is, “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17). Sin is still damning today. God’s judgment against sin may be delayed but it is certain and imminent. Therefore, sinners and backsliders should heed His call to repentance, forsake sin and receive Jesus as Lord and Saviour before judgment comes (Isaiah 55:6,7). Besides, believers should engage in constant self-examination, commit to regular intake of God’s word, maintain a holy lifestyle and abide in the fellowship of believers to avoid present and eternal suffering that backsliding brings (Zechariah 5:3,4; Revelation 20:12-15; 21:8). There is also need to renew our commitment to rescuing the perishing and restoring the prodigal into the fold.
Question 4: Describe the spiritual state of your nation that requires urgent divine intervention.
BIBLICAL PATTERN OF POTENT PRAYING FOR THE NATION (Psalms 79:4,8,9, 13; 80:1-7, 14, 18, 19; 83:1-18; 2:8; Genesis 18:17-33; Romans 9:1-6; 1 Timothy 2:1- 4,8; James 5:16-18; 1 Kings 18:41-46)
The psalmist did not stop at bemoaning the horrible fate that had befallen Israel but decided to intercede for the nation. This is the path God wants all His children to tread in order to bring divine intervention to bear in human affairs on earth (1 Timothy 2: 1 , 2). The psalmist’s prayer reveals essential elements required in intercession that can bring about spiritual revival. One Of these is repentance with confession. Acknowledgment of sin and plea for mercy resonate the length and breadth of these Psalms (79:8,9; 80:3,4,14,18,19; 83:1-4). Daniel and Nehemiah did so too (Daniel 9:5-9; Nehemiah 1:6,7). This is necessary because “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). Two, identification: the psalmist identified with the people in his repeated use of the words five’ and ‘us’ (Psalms 13; 14, 18, 19; Three, thirst and hunger for more of God. “My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God” (Psalm 84:2). Such spiritual quest attracts divine intervention (Matthew 5:6). Four, importunity: the psalmist was importunate in his plea to God for mercy and forgiveness for Israel (Psalms 79:9; 85:4). This is reflected in his repeated pleas, “Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved” (Psalm 19). God has promised a sweeping revival in these last days (Joel 2:21-28) but it tarries for want of importunate intercessors. Five, righteousness: an intercessor must Possess inner and outward holiness and passion for revival of righteousness (James 5:16). Six, burden for the lost to be saved. It is with passions the psalmist asks rhetorically, “Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy People may rejoice in thee? Shew us thy mercy, O LORD, and grant us thy salvation” (Psalm 85:6,7). We must change the content of our prayer from the mundane to the spiritual: the salvation of souls. Seven, faith in God’s word: the psalmist made an impactful allusion to past mercies of God to their patriarchs as recorded in the Scripture. He said, “Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the Cherubims, shine forth” (Psalm 80:1). Intercessors like Nehemiah, Moses and the early church appealed strongly to God’s covenant with Israel, as written in the Scripture (Nehemiah 1:6-10; Exodus 32:10-14; Acts 4:23-26,31). Believers, like Daniel, should pray with specific promises of God in Scripture. This boosts faith and makes our prayer potent and undeniable.
Question 5: What are the elements of effective intercession for spiritual revival?
BOUNDLESS POSSIBILITIES OF PERSEVERING PRAYER FOR THE NATION (Psalms 81: 16; 82:1-8; 83:1- 18; 84:1-12; 85:1-13; Acts 4:31-33; 9:1-15; Joel 2:18- 27)
The joy of the psalmist knew no bounds upon realising that God had answered his prayers. He expressed it this way: “LORD, thou hast been favourable unto thy land: thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob. Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin. Thou hast taken away all thy wrath; thou hast turned thyself from the fierceness of thine anger” (Psalm 85:1-3). This underscores the unmatched importance of being forgiven by God (Psalm Those whose sins are forgiven by God, either through salvation from sin or restoration from backsliding, should ever be grateful to Him. They should reciprocate this gesture by serving Him whole-heartedly and devotedly (Romans There are great possibilities of praying unceasingly and perseveringly for the nation. These are, one, massive salvation of sinners (Psalm 85:9); two, restoration of backsliders and true worship (Hosea 14:4- 6; John 4:23); three, prevalence of divine mercy and truth in the land (Psalms 85:10,11; 79:8); four, prosperity in the land (Psalm 85: 12; Isaiah 1:19); five, righteousness and peace in the (Psalm 85:8,13); six, multitudes being made ready for Christ’s eternal kingdom (Revelation 5:5-12). The psalmist assures that the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprighty” (Psalm 84: 11). This is an encouragement to believers who are committed to praying for spiritual and economic revival of their nation. He will not withhold good things from the upright now and in eternity (1 Corinthians 15:58). Thus, believers are enjoined by God to pray for their nations and expect divine intervention. His promise is, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). With this assurance of deliverance and revival, a believer’s resolve should be: “For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, unto the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth)’ (Isaiah 62: l).
Question 6: What are the benefits of praying for the nation?
Flatimes’ Notice Board: Until you are born again, God ever abiding presence will never be with you. You must be born again to enjoy continuous victory. Please say the displayed prayer below in faith:
Lord Jesus, come into my life. I accept You as my Lord and Personal Saviour. I believe in my heart You died and rose from the dead to save me. Thank You Lord for saving me, in Jesus name Amen.
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