2016-05-11 Confessing our Nation’s Sins

Confessing our Nation’s Sins

Introduction

Thank you for coming this evening. Let’s start off with a short prayer.

Opening Prayer

Father, we thank you for giving us freedom from sin; for providing this freedom through the blood of your Son, Jesus Christ, who sits at Your right hand in prayerful intercession for us. Father, remember us this evening as we have prepared our hearts to be broken with Yours over what breaks Your heart. Help us to have a deeper walk with you, and may your Word guide, strengthen, and pierce us where needed. Remember your servants gathered here this evening; remember your called-out ones that cannot be here; and remember the lost that their hearts would soften and be ready for the salvation message. This we ask and pray in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

National Issues

When we gather here to pray, we address the concerns that are brought to our attention – immediate needs that require a swift response. God is faithful, and He answers our prayers faithfully, even when the answer is no. And while God is aware of these issues, I believe that there are also greater issues that are breaking God’s heart:

  • The turning away from God by this nation
  • The turning away from God’s Word by His people who profess His name, but live and believe contrary to His Word:
  • The murder of children in the womb
  • The ongoing pressure to remove even the ability to say God or Jesus in places that receive money from the Federal government
  • The assertion by The President Of The United States himself that we only have a right to worship in private, nay – secretly!, rather than the ability to live out our religious beliefs in freedom as we conduct ourselves in our everyday lives.

There are many others, as you well know, but this is a national crisis. This breaks God’s heart, when a nation that was dedicated to Him rejects Him, and His people are cowed in silence by unrighteous and unjust courts that not only oppress the weak and the defenseless, but even seek to impose their “evil is good and good is evil” immorality on the very people they swore an oath – TO GOD! – to protect from these very practices.

Prayers in the Old Testament

In the Bible, there were many who saw very similar things going on. Since we look to God’s Word for answers, let us take a look at how several people responded to their circumstances.

Daniel

First, Let’s look at Daniel. He confessed the sins of his nation as though they were his own:

Daniel 9:4-19

4 I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed:

“Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5 we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.

7 “Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. 8 We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against you. 9 The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; 10 we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. 11 All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you.

“Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you. 12 You have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing on us great disaster. Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem. 13 Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come on us, yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth. 14 The Lord did not hesitate to bring the disaster on us, for the Lord our God is righteous in everything he does; yet we have not obeyed him.

15 “Now, Lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong. 16 Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, turn away your anger and your wrath from Jerusalem, your city, your holy hill. Our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors have made Jerusalem and your people an object of scorn to all those around us.

17 “Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. 18 Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. 19 Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”

Nehemiah

Nehemiah, upon hearing of of the condition of Jerusalem, sat down and wept. He then prayed to God and confessed the sins of the nation as though they were his own:

Nehemiah 1:1-11

1 In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, 2 Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem.

3 They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”

4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. 5 Then I said:

“Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. 7 We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.

8 “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, 9 but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’

10 “They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. 11 Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”

I was cupbearer to the king.

It is notable that Nehemiah was not a prophet of God, yet he still confessed the sins of the nation.

Ezra

Ezra, when hearing about the unfaithfulness of the Israelites in keeping themselves from their neighbors and their “detestable” practices, tore his tunic AND coat, pulled hair from his head and beard in distress, and sat down appalled until the evening sacrifice, where he then confessed the sins of Israel as though they were his own:

Ezra 9:1-15

1 After these things had been done, the leaders came to me and said, “The people of Israel, including the priests and the Levites, have not kept themselves separate from the neighboring peoples with their detestable practices, like those of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians and Amorites. 2 They have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, and have mingled the holy race with the peoples around them. And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness.”

3 When I heard this, I tore my tunic and cloak, pulled hair from my head and beard and sat down appalled. 4 Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel gathered around me because of this unfaithfulness of the exiles. And I sat there appalled until the evening sacrifice.

5 Then, at the evening sacrifice, I rose from my self-abasement, with my tunic and cloak torn, and fell on my knees with my hands spread out to the Lord my God 6 and prayed:

“I am too ashamed and disgraced, my God, to lift up my face to you, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens. 7 From the days of our ancestors until now, our guilt has been great. Because of our sins, we and our kings and our priests have been subjected to the sword and captivity, to pillage and humiliation at the hand of foreign kings, as it is today.

8 “But now, for a brief moment, the Lord our God has been gracious in leaving us a remnant and giving us a firm place in his sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyes and a little relief in our bondage. 9 Though we are slaves, our God has not forsaken us in our bondage. He has shown us kindness in the sight of the kings of Persia: He has granted us new life to rebuild the house of our God and repair its ruins, and he has given us a wall of protection in Judah and Jerusalem.

10 “But now, our God, what can we say after this? For we have forsaken the commands 11 you gave through your servants the prophets when you said: ‘The land you are entering to possess is a land polluted by the corruption of its peoples. By their detestable practices they have filled it with their impurity from one end to the other. 12 Therefore, do not give your daughters in marriage to their sons or take their daughters for your sons. Do not seek a treaty of friendship with them at any time, that you may be strong and eat the good things of the land and leave it to your children as an everlasting inheritance.’

13 “What has happened to us is a result of our evil deeds and our great guilt, and yet, our God, you have punished us less than our sins deserved and have given us a remnant like this. 14 Shall we then break your commands again and intermarry with the peoples who commit such detestable practices? Would you not be angry enough with us to destroy us, leaving us no remnant or survivor? 15 Lord, the God of Israel, you are righteous! We are left this day as a remnant. Here we are before you in our guilt, though because of it not one of us can stand in your presence.”

Jeremiah

Jeremiah was recorded as having confessed the sins of the people not once, but twice, as his own:

Jeremiah 3:22b-25

22 “Yes, we will come to you,
for you are the Lord our God.
23 Surely the idolatrous commotion on the hills
and mountains is a deception;
surely in the Lord our God
is the salvation of Israel.
24 From our youth shameful gods have consumed
the fruits of our ancestors’ labor—
their flocks and herds,
their sons and daughters.
25 Let us lie down in our shame,
and let our disgrace cover us.
We have sinned against the Lord our God,
both we and our ancestors;
from our youth till this day
we have not obeyed the Lord our God.”

Jeremiah 14:19-22

19 Have you rejected Judah completely?
Do you despise Zion?
Why have you afflicted us
so that we cannot be healed?
We hoped for peace
but no good has come,
for a time of healing
but there is only terror.
20 We acknowledge our wickedness, Lord,
and the guilt of our ancestors;
we have indeed sinned against you.
21 For the sake of your name do not despise us;
do not dishonor your glorious throne.
Remember your covenant with us
and do not break it.
22 Do any of the worthless idols of the nations bring rain?
Do the skies themselves send down showers?
No, it is you, Lord our God.
Therefore our hope is in you,
for you are the one who does all this.

Judgment of God

God reveals something to us that is very interesting in Ezekiel chapter 9. Ezekiel, in a vision concerning the coming judgment of Jerusalem, saw something important. God first instructs the ones appointed to execute judgment on the city to wait until someone else first went out and put a mark of the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all of the detestable things that were done in the city:

Ezekiel 9

1 Then I heard him call out in a loud voice, “Bring near those who are appointed to execute judgment on the city, each with a weapon in his hand.” 2 And I saw six men coming from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with a deadly weapon in his hand. With them was a man clothed in linen who had a writing kit at his side. They came in and stood beside the bronze altar.

3 Now the glory of the God of Israel went up from above the cherubim, where it had been, and moved to the threshold of the temple. Then the Lord called to the man clothed in linen who had the writing kit at his side 4 and said to him, “Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it.”

5 As I listened, he said to the others, “Follow him through the city and kill, without showing pity or compassion. 6 Slaughter the old men, the young men and women, the mothers and children, but do not touch anyone who has the mark. Begin at my sanctuary.” So they began with the old men who were in front of the temple.

7 Then he said to them, “Defile the temple and fill the courts with the slain. Go!” So they went out and began killing throughout the city. 8 While they were killing and I was left alone, I fell facedown, crying out, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! Are you going to destroy the entire remnant of Israel in this outpouring of your wrath on Jerusalem?”

9 He answered me, “The sin of the people of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great; the land is full of bloodshed and the city is full of injustice. They say, ‘The Lord has forsaken the land; the Lord does not see.’ 10 So I will not look on them with pity or spare them, but I will bring down on their own heads what they have done.”

11 Then the man in linen with the writing kit at his side brought back word, saying, “I have done as you commanded.”

We should not only be grieved, appalled, and lament over what is going on in our nation, but also specifically for the apostasy within the church. God doesn’t take this lightly, and He has been firing warning shots over our proverbial bow for decades now. A couple of the more recent ones were the successful hijacking of 4 planes on September 11, 2001; the massacre at Fort Hood; and the election by the people of this Great Nation – TWICE! – of a President who bows to Muslims and shows great disdain for the Word of God.

God also tells us:

Judgment begins in the house of God

1 Peter 4:17

For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

God will remember His covenant with His people Israel if they will confess their sins and their ancestors sins with humbled hearts

Leviticus 26:40-45

40 “‘But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their ancestors—their unfaithfulness and their hostility toward me, 41 which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies—then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin, 42 I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. 43 For the land will be deserted by them and will enjoy its sabbaths while it lies desolate without them. They will pay for their sins because they rejected my laws and abhorred my decrees. 44 Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them or abhor them so as to destroy them completely, breaking my covenant with them. I am the Lord their God. 45 But for their sake I will remember the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of Egypt in the sight of the nations to be their God. I am the Lord.’”

God will heal our land if we humble ourselves, pray, confess our sins, and turn from our wickedness

2 Chronicles 7:14

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

God’s Blessing

God WANTS us to be prosperous in Him and be physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthy:

Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

God also gives another clue to a major issue that has consistently crept into the lives of His people Israel, and especially now in the people of the United States of America:

Deuteronomy 7:5-15

5 This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire. 6 For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.

7 The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. 8 But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9 Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. 10 But
those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction;
he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him.
11 Therefore, take care to follow the commands, decrees and laws I give you today.

12 If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the Lord your God will keep his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your ancestors. 13 He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers. He will bless the fruit of your womb, the crops of your land—your grain, new wine and olive oil—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you. 14 You will be blessed more than any other people; none of your men or women will be childless, nor will any of your livestock be without young. 15 The Lord will keep you free from every disease. He will not inflict on you the horrible diseases you knew in Egypt, but he will inflict them on all who hate you.

Are we God’s people, who are called by His name? Are we breaking down the “idols” in our lives? I am at a loss as to how I can more emphatically convey how much this breaks God’s heart. I am fearful that unless we allow these things to completely break our hearts as they broke the hearts of those mentioned before, we will be held accountable for it.

What is keeping us from His blessing? I propose that it may be due to a lack of mourning, lamenting, and crying out daily for the sins of our nation.

Are we not God’s people? Are we not grafted into the same source (Romans 11:17-24)? Here is the conundrum: Are these promises only for genetic Israelites? There is a covenant between God and the Israelites. However, we have Jesus – the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. So – do we just get to claim son-ship with Israel yet not partake in the blessings? Do we then say that all of the promises of the Old Testament are for Israel only, and not for the Redeemed Gentiles? There are specific promises for God’s people Israel, yet we participate in the greater covenant.

Questions for Group Discussion

  • Are we crying out daily to God for the sins of our nation?
  • I personally fall short of this, and am repenting of it.
  • Are our hearts being broken by these things?
  • Are we confessing the sins of this nation as though they were our own?
  • For further reflection: What step or steps is God nudging you to take?