If My people…Part 3

Point # 3 – God is STILL talking to His Godly King Solomon. He is responding to his request (2 Chron. 6:24-31), that God hear the prayers of His people when they repent for sins which bring trouble on them by way of judgment.

“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 will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

God’s promise hear is to His king.

Notice the promise was to heal the land of the natural disasters brought on them due to judgment for their sins.

Consider the examples of disasters God mentions:

  1. No rain on the land.
  2. Any plague that devours the land (locust and such).
  3. Pestilence (sickness) in the land.

Absolutely none of this is addressing political issues!

God is not promising Israel a metaphorical “healing of the land” meaning restoration of good leadership. In fact, He would not be promising anything if a good political leader had not just humbly prayed to Him in the first place!

Also, [and this is REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT] – God did NOT say this TO the people. He was addressing Solomon! God did not say, “Hear oh My people Israel, if you will humble yourselves and pray…” He was specifically addressing the one with national authority – the king!

Again, this is not some small, insignificant minutia it is THE PIVOTAL ISSUE!

If you question this, simply allow scripture to interpret itself. Where and how do you see this verse being applied in real life by a person in the Bible?

The answer – Jehoshaphat! (Who was the ruler – not one of the people under the ruler)

This was a promise to Solomon – the ruler of Israel and to all the future rulers of Israel by extension. This is why this very same prayer was referenced by Jehoshaphat before the Temple of God, prior to an impending battle which should have wiped Israel from the map!

Lets read it,

“It came to pass after this also, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle. Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria; and, behold, they be in Hazazontamar, which is Engedi. And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD. And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court, And said, O LORD God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee? Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever? And they dwelt therein, and have built thee a sanctuary therein for thy name, saying, If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help.” – 2 Chron. 20:1-9

We can readily see (especially if you read the entire account) that it was Jehoshaphat that…

  1. Humbled himself
  2. Sought God
  3. Prayed
  4. Declared a national fast

Notice, also that it was Jehoshaphat that God was answering – not the people! Yes, God addressed everyone – but it was in response to the prayer of their ruler – 2 Chron. 20:13-18.

So we have established that the promise was not to the people but to their ruler. This is not to say the people of Israel were unaffected or unimportant. It simply places the entire passage BACK into its proper context for clarity and understanding.

Most often, when I hear Christians pray in reference to this passage – they spend the entire time praying for God to change their land, by which they mean the current President, Congress and/or Judges. Which has three major problems!

  1. No where in the entire passage does it suggest that we ask God to heal anything! (land or otherwise) God’s healing the land is HIS part which He promised to do if Israel did THEIR part!
  2. The promise was to heal the physical land of sickness, disease, famine, drought or war. It was not a political healing!
  3. The people and land God was referring to was Israel. Israel was a natural nation of one religion and race. Christians are a supernatural nation comprised of many people and nations. Christians do not have a “land” to heal.
    1. I know that our founding fathers were predominately believers, but it is NOT true that all were. In fact we know by way of history that some were deists. The point being that exclusivity to Christian theology was NEVER a per-requisite to establishing, maintaining or becoming a citizen of this nation. Therefore by very definition it never was a “Christian Nation” in the truest, most straight forward meaning of the words.
The promise to the Christian was the desire of Abraham. Abraham longed for a “heavenly country”, whose builder and maker was God (Heb. 11:13-16). Let’s read it,

“All these died in the possession of faith. They had not received the promised blessings, but had seen them from a distance and had greeted them, and had acknowledged themselves to be foreigners and strangers here on earth; for men who acknowledge this make it manifest that they are seeking elsewhere a country of their own. And if they had cherished the remembrance of the country they had left, they would have found an opportunity to return; but, as it is, we see them eager for a better land, that is to say, a heavenly one. For this reason God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has now prepared a city for them.” – Heb. 11:13-16.

It is a sad reality that those who had this promise made to them, desired to have the inheritance we have received. We, on the other hand, who have what they longed for, wish to return to the mundane earthly promises they desired to leave behind!

What did God say about Abraham for longing for a heavenly country?  “For this reason God is not ashamed to be called their God…” What then does this imply God feels about our hearts which desire to establish an earthly kingdom in His Name? This is the exact same delusion the Israelites were under which kept their eyes blinded to their Messiah, when He came. They were looking for a conquering ruler to deliver them from the politics of their day and set up and earthly reign. I wonder how many Christians today are living under that same delusion and so missing the work of the Messiah in their lives. Jesus CLEARLY STATED His intentions and His kingdom when He was among us.

He came to give dead men – Life. – Jn. 10:10; Jn. 17:1-3; Mk. 2:17

He came to establish the rule of God in the hearts of men – Luke 17:20-30*

There are those today who teach that God is seeking to establish His kingdom here on earth in a very tangible way – which  doctrine Jesus very specifically denied in Lk. 17:20-21. They believe God will unify the earth under His leadership expressed through His church.

Many believe this expression of leadership will be through what they call “The 7 Mountains” of  business, government, media, arts (and entertainment), education, the family and religion. Do not get me wrong, there are many who believe The 7 Mountains to be simply a platform upon which to reach the lost with the Gospel of Reconciliation through Jesus Christ. There is nothing wrong with that so far as I can tell. People are gifted by God with wisdom in various fields of interest, and without a doubt they should honor God and reveal Jesus our Savior through their God given gifts and talents. However, there is a HUGE difference between expressions of God’s grace within those “mountains” and “reclaiming” those mountains for God. I do not wish to get bogged down here on this topic, but if you are interested, you might wish to research this topic on your own. I only caution you against the idea of anything approaching a “Kingdom Now” theology – ’nuff said!

To get an idea of the way God desired His church to regard politics, lets look at the topic as it is addressed during the time of the Apostles. Remember, God chose to come to earth and establish His kingdom in the hearts of mankind at this specific point in time – Gal. 4:4. What I want you to consider due to this is that if “taking over” and establishing a very real, natural Kingdom of God here on earth was God’s intention, then the Apostles epically failed to communicate such or establish any such kingdom! In fact, Paul went so far as to say that we should submit to the natural powers that exist. That Paul did this while under a Roman dictatorship only makes this point all the stronger!

Consider the fact that Paul, who lived under Roman dominion, never prayed for God to change the politics of Rome – nor its leaders. In fact, what did Paul instruct us to pray in regards to our leaders?

“First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior,”– 1 Tim.  2:1-3.

Now wait a minute…Was Paul ignorant of the pagan lives of those Roman Emperors who ruled over him? No he knew! Obviously how these rulers decided to behave themselves did not matter or Paul would have made this a conditional statement. I believe one of the problems we have is that we think that just because we pray something, it has to happen. Just because Paul tells us to pray for our leaders so that “we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” does not mean that the leader has to submit to our prayers.
How many of you have urgently prayed for the salvation of a loved one who has since died without ever coming to know the Lord?
Does that mean your prayers were a waste? No more than salvation being purchased for everyone was a waste, just because everyone does not choose to receive.
Also, notice that it was while under Roman rule that Paul was inspired to write this,

“Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God. So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves.” – Rom. 13:1-2.

What did Jesus say about this?

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” – Mat. 5:44-45.

and, for those who use special pleading to side step the obvious and claim that this is just in reference to the “position” of authority, not the one IN the position of authority, consider this…

“For the Scripture tells Pharaoh: For this reason I raised you up: so that I may display My power in you, and that My name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” – Rom. 9:17

Who specifically raised Pharaoh to power? God!

Was Pharaoh a nice guy? NO!

Wasn’t he the one who made the Israelites make bricks without straw and doubled their work load? YES!

And you mean to tell me that God placed him in that position? ABSOLUTELY!


“So Pilate said to Him, “You’re not talking to me? Don’t You know that I have the authority to release You and the authority to crucify You?” “You would have no authority over Me at all,” Jesus answered him, “if it hadn’t been given you from above. This is why the one who handed Me over to you has the greater sin. – John 19:10-11.

Where did Jesus seem to think the Pilate’s authority to rule came from? God!

Why was Israel in bondage to Egypt and later to Rome? It was judgment. This is why God can say, that leaders are His ministers for their good. It does NOT mean the ruler is always going to be benevolent and rule in ways which WE SUBJECTIVELY call good. Sometime it means quite the contrary! If they offend us, it is so that we will be filled enough with our own ways until we are sick enough of them to change our ways.

What if good people suffer as well as evil? There is MUCH the scriptures have to say about that, and I will address it in another study, but suffice it to say that Nehemiah, a Godly prophet – repented personally over the sins of the nation. He did not attempt to disassociate himself with the sufferings of God’s people just because he was righteous. In fact, it was his righteousness which called him to identify with the nation and suffer with it [Nehemiah 1:1-11].

The same was true of Moses,

“Through faith Moses, when he grew to manhood, refused to be known as Pharaoh’s daughter’s son, having determined to endure ill-treatment along with the people of God rather than enjoy the short-lived pleasures of sin; because he deemed the reproaches which he might meet with in the service of the Christ to be greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt; for he fixed his gaze on the coming reward. – Heb. 11:24-26

 <Cont. to If My people…Part 4>

Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it right...safety in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!