“I Sat Astonished!”

Donald J. Trump will be our next President.  The liberals are crying and many conservatives are rejoicing.  I will leave it to the political pundits to explain how he was elected.

Dr. Jody Hice, Congressman from Georgia’s Tenth District, made an astute observation after the election.  He said, “Millions have been praying for mercy, and He has graciously given it.  In spite of our national sins, the grace of God is at work!  May we express proper gratitude, and turn back to Him … we cannot waste this moment of mercy!”

He was referring to Ezra’s prayer for the nation of Israel shortly after their return from the Babylonian captivity.  Ezra prayed, “And now for a little while grace has been shown from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and give us a measure of revival in our bondage.  For we were slaves.  Yet our God did not forsake us in our bondage; but He extended mercy to in the sight of the kings of Persia, to revive us, to repair the house of God, to rebuild the ruins …” (Ezra 9:8-9).

So this morning I join Ezra and I am astonished!  But we must read the context of the prayer.  Ezra was not astonished that God had given His mercy and grace.  No!  He “sat astonished” because of the national sin of Israel.  In their case they had “mixed the holy seed.”  They had compromised their faith.  They had turned their back on God.  Ezra admits to God, “I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift my face to You, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens” (cf. Ezra 9:2-7).

So I sit astonished, ashamed and humiliated this morning, at the egregious nature of our national immorality.  Today, in spite of the election of a Republican President, thousands of babies will be murdered in the womb!  Women and children will be bought, sold and used in the horrific yet pervasive practice of sex-trafficking.   Illegal drugs will be purchased and used and lives will be destroyed.  I need not give an exhaustive list of our national contraventions of God’s design and law.  Perhaps worst of all, the church will feel that it has been saved and will falsely trust in salvation by a government of men.  This is a tremendous danger we dare not ignore.  Our tendency is toward complacency in the church.  We must not make the mistake of thinking that Donald Trump, though surely a better choice than Hillary Clinton, is our Messiah.

We drift naturally toward praising God more for what He has done than for Who He is, largely because it is easier to do so.  We can see and feel more of what God does than we can Who He is.  Ought we to praise God for His intervention on our behalf?  Most decidedly!  We have collectively prayed for the defeat of a moral abomination, and our prayers have been answered by a holy and righteous God who loves us.  But at issue is the reason our God has responded to our prayers.  It is precisely because He is holy and righteous that He has heard us.  And this, then, must rightfully be the focal point of our praise—that He is a holy, righteous, and loving God who takes no pleasure in sin—or in the death of the wicked!  (Ez. 33:11)  If we dwell only on praising the intervention of God in our affairs, we run the risk of coming to worship the object of intervention, rather than the One who intervened.  This would be idolatry, and worse, would leave us in no better shape spiritually than if Clinton had won in the first place.

Congressman Hice is correct.  We cannot waste this moment of mercy.  It is an opportunity for the church to move forward pursuing our Great Commission mandate!  But if we are going to move forward we must repent!  Ezra went on after his prayer to instruct the nation of Israel, “Now therefore (because God has been merciful!), make confession to the Lord God of your fathers, and do His will; separate yourselves from the peoples of the land, and from the pagan wives” (Ezra 10:11).

Under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah the nation of Israel experienced great days of revival.   Will the leadership of God’s church step up at this great “moment of mercy” and lead the church to lead the nation to be ashamed of our sin and to repent?  Oh God, “we have been very guilty … give us a peg in [Your] holy place!”

Tom & Nathan Rush

One comment

  1. Emily Harber · · Reply

    Thank you for this Godly message, which I need to heed.

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