Today, we minimize sin. Sin’s wages are deadly, but some conditions are abominable. At such times, God removed His people from the land that had been intended as a stage for the world to witness His relationship with Israel and come to know Him.
Nations have purposes. John Adams believed that God had orchestrated the founding of America to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth. The Pilgrims saw the new fledging nation as a ‘city on a hill.’ Such notions now seem like faint dreams. Instead of evangelizing the nations, they are coming here to preach to us. We have lost our way. Sin can never be completely privatized; it is never merely a personal matter. It is an atmospheric pollutant, a virus that spreads through populations, a cultural cancer that grows on our institutional soul.
When Israel sinned as a nation, a Solemn Assembly was required. The whole nation gathered and repented. No one was exempt. They understood that sin had national consequences. They saw the connection between a good harvest and divine favor; national safety and the protective hand of God; human health conditions and God’s mercy.
Why should a Solemn Assembly be held for a corporate entity? Because…
- Of a sense that the city/ nation is reaping what it has sown. Judgment is looming over the land, and we must fulfill our mission to stand in the gap.
- Of a sense that judgment is imminent or already present; the crisis might deepen. And even among God’s people, there is compromise and it is critical that they redirect their lives.
- Of fresh revelation. Truth from His word has been ignored. Now rediscovered, we must change.
- Of the sense that our change, will make a difference far beyond us.
What is a Solemn Assembly? It is the urgent call to all the people to come together:
- to repent – something has gone wrong and change begins with us.
- to humble ourselves, to be broken.
- to seek God’s face – not merely his hand (In the openness/ transparency, we see ourselves – and God more clearly. Moved to our face.)
- to fast and pray, to demonstrate that our greatest hunger is spiritual.
- to turn from wicked ways, to change our lifestyle.
- to return to the pattern of Scripture – which often meant hearing God’s Word read aloud to the group.
- to remove all things and practices from lives that might be displeasing to God and frustrating his purposes in our lives, our homes, our church, our nation.
- to worship God aright with all their hearts.
- All – to renew the solemn covenant with God that has in some way been broken.
- To facilitate the group’s desire to be a more effective instrument in God’s hand;
- And to fulfill their specific institutional mission.
In the eight most prominent Solemn Assemblies of the Old Testament (2 Chronicles 12:1-8; 15:1-19; 20:1-29; 29-31; 34; Ezra 10:7-9; Nehemiah 8-9; Joel 1-2), they were called by a king, prophet or a priest. Twice by a king acting alone; twice by a king acting with a prophet and once acting with a prophetess; once by a member of the priestly community; once by a priestly representative acting with a governor; once by a priest acting alone; once by a prophet acting alone. In six of the instances, a king or governor was involved; in four of the instances a prophet or prophetess was involved; and in only two a priest was the leader.
Our government is fashioned on this triad. Instead of king, we have a President, the Executive. Instead of priests involved in government, we have representatives of the people, a congress. Instead of prophets, we have the judiciary. Is there anyone who can see the current White House repenting, calling a Solemn Assembly, and leading a national revival? I pray for such a thing – but in the natural, I know the odds are less than slim. Does anyone see such a movement coming from either the Congress or the Supreme Court? The last national solemn assembly was called by Abraham Lincoln in the midst of the Civil War – 150 years ago.
If it is unlikely that the Executive, the Representative (Congress), or the Judiciary would call the nation back to God, are we stuck with a ledger filled with a clear record of national sins?
There are many efforts taking place in the US today striving towards a Great Revival. One of which is happening today on the National Mall – TOGETHER 2016 – unified prayer, worship, and a call for catalytic change. Learn more at reset2016.com>
Another such event is PROJECT PRAY’s involvement in the prayer efforts of the Church of God denomination. The General Assembly is next week, July 19-22. The PROJECT PRAY team has been working hard to create a Prayer Room experience unlike any other. Learn more at praycog.org/generalassemblyprayer.
Join us in prayer for these events!