Those who yearn for our Sovereign God to be glorified in the nations have long prayed for a change of order—a change from a smothering brand of humanistic statism as was adopted by Israel when she petulantly demanded a king (1 Sam. 8:5–7). That demand amounted to nothing less than a rejection of God’s order of limited representative civil government in favor of a centralized state that would usurp Israel’s true King and be as god to the people. The people abdicated their responsibilities as freemen and looked to Saul as a messianic and providential figure in place of the living God. The Lord warned them of the consequences of their idolatrous turning from Him and handed them over to their determined foolishness. Once again Israel was to reap a bitter harvest.
God would later have mercy on Israel and replace Saul with David, the man after God’s own heart. Israel, weary of Saul’s tyranny, was granted a changing of the guard. The benevolent reign of Christ once again had free reign in the nation. When restoring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem (2 Sam. 6:12–23), David proved the representative nature of his kingly authority by refusing to dance before the Lord’s presence in kingly attire. Rather, he worshipped in a priestly ephod and thus underlined his subordination as a ruler to the King of Glory. Saul’s daughter Michal, David’s wife, displayed her contempt for her husband in his pointed honor of the true King of Israel. She was accustomed to her father’s self-exaltation and demanded that her husband glorify himself before the people, rather than humble himself in the lowly ministry of priesthood unto the Lord. Her contempt was costly; she was barren for the rest of her days.
Can we look to God for the merciful turning of the tide in our time as it was in David’s day? Dare we hope for such amazing mercy? Could it be that our God is arising to scatter His enemies? “Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered,” proclaimed David the warrior in Psalm 68:1. Can those who faithfully steward the victory of Christ carry the good report of Joshua and Caleb in the face of the giants of our generation? Can we see our God towering over a defiant Goliath who is pathetically unaware of his puny, uncircumcised stature? Can we agree with the psalmist who, in penning the second Psalm, so powerfully declared the words of Holy Majesty, “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion,” and “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession”?
Understanding the Times
First Chronicles 12:32 characterizes the sons of Issachar as those who had understanding of the times and knew what Israel ought to do. Those who find themselves in this category today need to see the great opportunity that has presented itself in the current international economic crisis. The shaking that God has initiated cries out for intervention and deliverance. Predictably the state is intervening and promising deliverance.
We need to see current events from the perspective of the one who sits upon the throne. The Lord’s covenant informs us that God cannot be mocked. America is reaping the harvest that it has sown for many a year. God’s law is not coercive in its commanding power. It sets the boundaries for the realm of righteousness and holiness where men are to find true liberty. It also sets the penalties for the contempt of those boundaries. Christ, the rightful King of the whole earth, has inherited the nations. He rules them by His covenantal sanctions: blessings for faithfulness to His crown rights and penalties for the contempt of His law-word. These sanctions are inescapable. The only stopping place God has provided for the curse is the Cross of Christ. Only grace can heal a nation.
America needs the intervention of the Great Physician, Jesus Christ. While many look to the messianic state for salvation from our current troubles, the sons of Issachar know better. They know the answer to national woe is the Great Physician. They know America needs a proper diagnosis of her condition as well as the proper remedy for recovery.
This is no time for marginalized Christians to sit on the sidelines waiting to be given permission to enter the field of play. God has arisen in a visitation that is shaking formerly unshakable confidence. The humanist junta has donned an unmoved front and claims yet to have the answers. However, behind the front is great uncertainty and perplexity. Many have built their house on the sand and find they are not impervious to the shaking. The sons of Issachar, however, have built their lives on the Rock (Matt. 7:24–27) and realize that they are part of a Kingdom that cannot be shaken (Heb. 12:27–28).
Opportunity must be seen for what it is; otherwise it will be wasted and will pass us by to the detriment of many. Darkness must be met by light; corruption must be met by salt; and the Kingdom of God must leaven all things. The contrast between Rock and sand must stand out in sharp relief. God has not put us here to blend in, but to stand out and give example of the security of His grace and His ways.
The gospel has economic implications that cannot be downplayed. We are to disciple the nations and move them from sand to Rock. We have in many respects fallen short in our mandate. The effects of a subjective pietism, the sentimental practice of the faith, a high-handed antinomianism, and an eschatology of defeat has left the nations on the sand, selling them fire insurance, rather than leading them to the high ground of the mountain of the Lord. God has not given us this crisis to have us stand back in dismay or to believe that we have on our hands an inevitable and irremediable disaster. Contrary to dispensational dogma, we are not facing apocalyptical times but rather times of an apostasy that destroys society. We must see our opportunity, drive our stake in the ground, and agree with the Living God who has clearly pronounced, “That’s enough!” to a corrupt generation.
The French philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville, in his assessment of America, attributed the greatness of America to the pulpits of the land. He noted that the pulpits were “aflame with righteousness.” Just consider the impact of that simple observation!
This is what we must see today. Preachers aflame with the holy and righteous love of God. Preachers who know that righteousness exalts a nation (Prov. 14:34). Preachers unafraid to proclaim the gospel of sovereign grace. Preachers unafraid to declare the governing authority of God’s royal laws of love and liberty. Preachers who do not shrink back from proclaiming the whole counsel of God. Preachers who would not dream of presenting any less than the total claims of Christ to their hearers. Preachers who know that Christ is indisputably the sovereign owner and supreme ruler of the nations. Faithful men of God who consider it unthinkable to reduce or trivialize the lordship of Christ. Men who preach the comprehensive dominion of their Lord and call men unwaveringly to serve and establish that dominion. Men who agree with the Dutch preacher and statesman Abraham Kuyper, who declared unflinchingly that there was not one square inch in the entire domain of human existence over which Christ as Sovereign over all did not cry, “Mine.”
God’s people must repent of presenting a reduced and thus idolatrous version of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom to the nations. The total claim of God’s Kingdom has to be pressed. Failure to do so creates a vacuum that is filled by the state.
This is our problem today. We see the state expanding into all realms of life and asserting its own claim of sovereignty and ownership, viewing the populace as subjects rather than citizens. This will continue and increase until the state sees its claim as total. Consequently it will view King Jesus as a rival to be vanquished. This is what constitutes totalitarianism. This is where we are heading in the West if we miss the opportunity presented in this shaking. For then it shall be that men ambitious for power and domination will seize the opportunity. But the opportunity is not theirs, it is ours, created by God for the blessing of the nations if we have the love, the vision, the nerve, the bravery, and the faith to take it. We carry good news. He came to set the captives free!
Answer to Prayer
The great international crisis is the answer to prayer we’ve been long awaiting. The status quo has been upended. The door of opportunity is open. Will we take it or will we let it go by default to the power brokers of our age?
The rulers of this present darkness (Eph. 6:12) are determined to talk us out of the opportunity. They want to see us leave it on the table for them to maximize to their advantage. The great reformer John Knox saw an open door of opportunity in his day and prayed importunately, “Give me Scotland or I die!” Scotland was delivered from great corruption. The door was not wasted. God was glorified. Scotland was exalted in righteousness.
Arise O Lord! Grant a new awakening in America. Grant us great repentance. Heal our land and secure the future for generations to come. Together we can push back the gates of hell, beloved saints of God. There are many righteous servants of Christ in this land. Carpe diem! God save America!
- Mike O’Donovan
Mike O’Donovan is a South African Irishman on pastoral assignment in Fort Worth, Texas. He is a father of five and is delightedly married to Nicki, a woman of honor indeed! He oversees Team GlobalConnect, a ministry team with members in various nations across the world. He can be reached at [email protected].