An American serviceman was killed yesterday in Afghanistan, bringing U.S. military deaths in the Afghan war to 2,000. Closer to home, at least for me, a 3.4-magnitude earthquake shook the Dallas-Ft. Worth Airport Saturday evening. And stock markets are likely to open lower this morning after Asian stocks dropped yesterday on news of shrinking Chinese factory output.
Are there days when you read the news and wonder if these are the “end times”? Jesus predicted wars, economic crisis and earthquakes (Matthew 24:6-7). Is God using the crises of our day to send us a message, warning us to return to him before it’s too late?
A large group gathering in Philadelphia over the weekend thought so. Their event, titled “America For Jesus 2012,” drew 10,000 people to Independence Hall, where Pat Robertson declared that “this nation belongs to Jesus.” He told the group, “I ran for president once, and it’s a mistake I wouldn’t want anybody to make. We will never change America through politics. We will only change America through an outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit.”
I am convinced that he’s right. Media has given the impression that the event was partisan; the Associated Press noted that “a number of event organizers . . . have been vocal critics of the Democratic president.” However, no political parties or candidates were mentioned by speakers.
Here’s what most media coverage did not report: Two weeks before the rally, those who planned the assembly began distributing food and offering medical care throughout Philadelphia. A message of support from Billy Graham was read at the event; an executive with his ministry was among those who offered prayers at the gathering. And those who attended were asked to begin 40 days of prayer and fasting, through the November 6 election, to help turn our nation to God.
The subtitle of the event was to me most significant: “A National Solemn Assembly.” A “solemn assembly” is based on Joel 1:14: “Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord.” When facing moral decay (v. 13), economic crisis (vs. 16-18) or natural disasters (vs. 19-20), the nation was to gather for repentance, seeking the forgiveness and restoration of God.
Is this such a day for America? Is the Holy Spirit moving in the hearts of God’s people, calling us to passionate intercession for our nation and her leaders? Leonard Ravenhill warned, “As long as we are content to live without revival, we will.”