FORGET NONE OF HIS BENEFITS, volume 11, number 45, November 8, 2012 Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension, 1 Timothy 2:8.
Now what? After the re-election of President Obama, what are we now to do? While the Democratic Party has bought into statism (that the state is our savior from cradle to grave), many in the Republican Party seem to be no better, having bought into mammon (material wealth) as our salvation. Jesus told us long ago that we cannot serve two masters, for we will love the one and hate the other, or hold to the one and despise the other, stressing that we cannot serve God and mammon (Matthew 6:24). My concern, if Mitt Romney had won the election, was that many believers would have thought all is well, that God has once again smiled upon us. Such a response reminds me of life in Israel under Jeroboam II who reigned from 793 to 753 B.C. The Assyrians were not a threat at the time, Israel had regaind land they lost earlier, there was military might, and the people were living large in economic prosperity. However Israel, God’s covenant community, was as wicked as ever and Amos repeatedly took them to task for their idolatry. They were guilty of three things—social injustice, sexual immorality, and religious syncretism (Amos 1:6-8). We, the church, are God’s covenant community today; and are we not also guilty of the same things! God commands us not to show personal favortism toware the rich, to not merely say to those in need of food and clothing, “Go, be warmed, and be filled,” (James 2:1,15-16). There is as much unbiblical divorce, adultery, fornication, and internet porn in the church as outside of it. And many preachers, in a desire to entertain the sheep rather than to feed them, in a quest to draw larger crowds, give the people what they want rather than what they need, failing to preach the terrors of the law and the justifying and sanctifying grace as it is in Jesus. Yahweh rehearses His grace to Israel (Amos 1:9-11) but they rejected it and consequently judgment was coming and their once strong military would not be able to protect them (Amos 1:12-16). After Jeroboam II’s death there were five more wicked kings (four of whom were assasinated) and the Assyrians regained their military swagger and destroyed Israel, taking them away into exile in 722 B.C. Because of Israel’s recalcitrance, their unwillingness to return to the Lord, Yahweh promised to overthrow them like He did Sodom and Gomorrah. Thus He said, “Prepare to meet your God, O Israel,” (Amos 4:11-12). But still Yahweh made gracious overtures to His people. He said, “Hear this word which I take up for you as a dirge, O house of Israel . . . Seek Me that you may live . . . or He will break forth like a fire . . . and it will consume with none to quench it,” (Amos 5:1-5).
My dear friends—our hope is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth (Psalm 121:1), not either of the political parties of our nation. So, what are we now to do? The context of Paul’s command from 1 Timothy 2:8 is to pray for all men, for kings and all who are in authority. Why? So that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity (1 Timothy 2:1-2). So, the first thing we must do is lift our hands in prayer to the sovereign King, our great God and Savior. And what must we pray? Start with contrition over your sin (whether it is statism or materialism; whether it is social injustice, sexual immorality of even the slightest degree, or watering down the gospel message); and contrition must lead to sincere, heartfelt repentance. Our pride is keeping God from blessing us (James 4:6), for He dwells in the heart of the contrite and lowly (Isaiah 57:15). But then we must lift up holy hands to pray for our President and all others in authority over us. And what shall we pray? Among other things, you can pray King David’s desire for Solomon, his son, who was taking over the kingdom, (1 Chronicles 28:9-10). Ask God to work true conversion in our President, his cabinet, his advisers, so that they may serve God with whole hearts and willing minds, impressing on them that the Lord searches all hearts and understands every intent of the thoughts, that they will grasp the promises and curses of God’s covenant—”If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.” And then lift up your hands in prayer for revival. With humility, zeal, and passion pray as Habakkuk did, “O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years. In the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy,” (Habakkuk 3:1). I have said repeatedly that we are doomed without it. Can any sincere believer doubt the validity of these words!
And then use your hands to draw your children and grandchildren to yourself in prayer, biblical discipline, and instruction on how to live as godly people in an ungodly world. And then put your hands to the plow, not looking back, breaking up the fallow ground of a once great nation that has forsaken her God. With your hands sow the gospel seed in personal evangelism. Open your mouth and speak to people about Jesus. Take your hands off the remote control of your entertainment center at night and get to work in your local church. Reach your hands out to neighbors in need, church members who need encouragement, inner city children who need to be mentored. And put your hands over your mouth, marvelling at God’s grace to you, understanding that you are a debtor to His grace. And take your hands out of your pockets, those hands which have clutched tenaciously for your money, and write checks to your church and world mission organizations to get the gospel to your community, state, nation, and world.
The church very well may be in for difficult times; but neither individuals, families, churches, or nations grow very much in peace and prosperity. It is in our DNA to coast, to maintain and defend the status quo. God may be exacting from us a costly tuition in the school of affliction. But James tells us to consider all things joy when we encounter various trials (James 1:2). Paul told us to rejoice in the Lord at all times (Philippians 4:4). He said that this momentary, light affliction is working in us an eternal weight of glory, far beyond all comparison (2 Corinthians 4:17). He also said that it is through many tribulations we enter the kingdom of heaven (Acts 14:22), that we are to suffer hardship as a good soldier of Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 2:3). And Jesus said that we should expect persecution in this world (Mark 10:30, John 15:18ff). In a similar time of bewilderment and heart-wrenching national declension, Habakkuk is beside himself with grief over the impending invasion of Judah by the fierce and impetuous Chaldeans (Habakkuk 1). He knows, however, that Yahweh is holy, eternal, just, and merciful (Habakkuk 1:12). This is enough for him, and he, therefore, is able to say, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea . . . the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him . . . though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the field and there be no cattle in the stalls yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds‘ feet, and makes me walk on my high places,” (Habakkuk 2:14, 20, 3:17-19).
Reverend Allen M. Baker
Pastor Baker is ordained in the PCA and has been in the ministry for over 30 years. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he received his M.Div. degree from...