March 5, 1999
We must cry to the Lord for mercy!
By JOHN ANDERSON
"They have lied about the Lord; they said, 'He will do nothing! No harm will come to us; we will never see sword or famine. The prophets are but wind."(Jeremiah 5:12,13)
There is a perilous attitude in America-and nations of the West-an attitude seen before in Noah's generation, Sodom, Babylon, the Northern Kingdom of Israel, Judah, and other nations whose corpses litter history.
It's the attitude that refuses to believe we could be judged.
However why not us? Why not America? Why do we cavalierly persist in the self- serving and self-deluding idea that we can escape judgment? If we are convinced of our nation's sin and of God's righteousness, must we not be equally convinced of the prospect of our nation's judgment?
Even Thomas Jefferson said, "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice will not sleep forever." Will God's justice sleep forever against our self-absorbed indifference to our sins such as our killing 38 million of our unborn-their blood cries to Him for justice-and our easy immorality, heterosexual and homosexual?
Bible teacher Derek Prince said, "I feel these judgments are closer at hand than most of us are willing to recognize, and that God may not prove to be so 'nice' as many contemporary preachers depict Him."
It should give us pause that while we complacently spend our coins of grace with sinful abandon, we are under indictment: "Because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath..." (Romans 2:5)
A very important question rises: Has America gone too far? Has America crossed that invisible moral line of no return? Some believe that we have indeed crossed such a boundary, that we have willfully moved not only to a post- Christian era, but to a post-repentance time, a dangerous moment when, yes, we could, repent, but, determined in our sin, we simply won't repent. If so, our situation is like it was for the six pagan nations to whom Amos spoke and said, "God will not turn back His wrath!" (see Amos 1 and 2)
Just having to consider such questions should shake us. One place we can go for hope is the story of Jonah. Jonah preached God's judgment message to Nineveh, capital of Assyria: "Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned."
The effect was incredible: From king to peasant, the city repented in sackcloth, and a sweeping spiritual awakening broke out, perhaps one of the most striking such awakenings in history, and one of the most significant given the international prominence of Nineveh.
The edict of the Nineveh's king was desperate: "Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish!" (Jonah 3:8-9)
And the king was right. The heavenly Father graciously answered this prayer and they did not perish: "When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction He had threatened." (Jonah 3:10)
What a beautiful story of repentance and our Lord's compassion and mercy which started with a prophet, Jonah, clearly proclaiming God message of warning to a city close to judgment.
We can only speculate as to what the response might have been if Jonah had substituted his own wisdom for God's and gone into Nineveh with some sort of positive "peace, peace," feel-good proclamation, and didn't give the word God wanted him to give. Jonah might have gotten huge crowds, he probably would have gotten the king to come; however the king would never have humbled himself and issued his wholehearted call to repentance. That kind of repentant response comes only when God's message for the moment is preached. For us it comes to a decision as to whether we want to tickle ears or penetrate hearts, whether we want a crowd or a revival, whether we want to fill offering plates or fill heaven, whether we want to cater to society or save it from judgment.
Will there be national revival? God knows. But what would happen if like Nineveh, from our leaders-president, cabinet, leading officials, members of the Senate and House of Representatives, governors, etc.-all the way to the man and woman in the street, to you and I, repented? What might God do?
Where is the voice of Jonah now? Whether America has 40 days, 40 weeks, 40 months or whatever, our greatest need could be the kind of urgent message God commissioned Jonah to deliver.
We might not want to believe that America has crossed the moral line of no return; but what is undeniable is that every day in which we do not repent only further ingrains our wilfulness to sin and increases our condemnation-and that indisputably hastens our judgment!
Nineveh cried to God for mercy. May we do so also.
Let us pray together: Our holy and loving heavenly Father, we come to you in the Name of your Son Jesus Christ, asking your mercy upon us. We repent for our sinning society. From the killing of our unborn to our immorality we are revealing how self-absorbed and prideful we have become. Certainly we deserve judgment. Give us the voice of Jonah in our pulpits. And may we like Nineveh cry to you, and see the kind of spiritual awakening that happened in that ancient city!
John Anderson has been in ministry over 34 years, including 24
serving three churches. Since 1988 he and his wife, Esther, have been
traveling ministry across the world. Recently they have based their CRY
OF THE INNOCENTS MINISTRY near Washington, D.C. John is editor
of Pastor's Alert, a publication of The Alliance for Revival and
He is author of two books, CRY OF THE INNOCENTS and THE
CRY OF COMPASSION. He is available for ministry and may be