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The Power of Preaching in Reviving a Nation

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Nehemiah is an amazing account of one of the great revivals in human history. The Jews had rebelled against God and been overcome by the Babylonians and been in captivity for many, many years. 

True to form, God still had His hand on His people, and miraculously moved Cyrus, the king, to return the people to their land, and also had allowed (later) Nehemiah to return and rebuild the walls, which was done in 52 days. 

Now the people come to the city to meet together as a nation. What do they do? They made a small, wooden platform and called the godliest leader they knew, Ezra, along with other priests, to simply read the word of God and translate it to "give the sense so that they understood the reading" (Nehemiah 8:8). This is called PREACHING. What were the results of the Spirit-led preaching of God’s Word to His people?

CONVICTION

As the people realized how far short they were falling, they began to weep and mourn "For all the people were weeping when they heard the words of the law" (8:9). They did this "because they understood the words which had been made known to them" (8:12).

CORRECTION

The people had not done what God desired. They immediately began to correct this, preparing to celebrate the Feast of Booths. This was a feast they had been commanded to observe annually to remind them of what God had done for them in the exodus from Egypt to the Promised land.

REPENTANCE

For the next seven days, as prescribed by God in the Word they had heard, they "stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. While they stood in their place, they read from the book of the law of the Lord their God for a fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God" (9:2-3). This was called a solemn assembly. And the results of this practice were nation-changing.

REVIVAL

God revived, i.e., brought to life again, His people. Then, they wrote a fresh covenant to be faithful before God. The leaders signed it first, then all the people. It was a full, nationwide revival. (Can you imagine such a moment in our nation?)

Where did this all begin? There were many factors, but one of the indispensable elements was the God-initiated, timely preaching of the Word of God.

Never forget that God's Word is "like a hammer that shatters the rock." It is one of God's primary means of grace to advance His kingdom and accomplish His purposes.

We must not neglect nor minimize preaching. And we should consistently put ourselves under the sound of true, Biblical preaching and bring others we love to do the same. It might mean the salvation of a nation.

 

How Do We Respond to a Broken Nation?

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It is a tragic thing to watch a nation digress. We live in the midst of such immorality today in our nation, that the current generations cannot possibly remember anything different. 

I can. And so can millions of people over 60 years of age. Before you scoff, don't discount the reality.

I remember a nation where ...

  • Every day in the public school we began with prayer, asking God's help and protection on our day. You may laugh at this, but your very laughter indicates you cannot envision the possibility or the blessing that comes when whole segments of society see prayer as an important function.
  • Television had no profanity (none), no sexual perversion, no nakedness and what was promoted was wholesome. The daily fare was Father Knows Best, Gunsmoke, Red Skelton and I Love Lucy.
  • Political leaders disagreed, but they disagreed agreeably. There was a level of civility that is now a distant memory.
  • Church activities and special events were reported, even on the front page of the paper.
  • The church had great respect from all levels of society and was making rapid advances.
  • The things of God were not scoffed at or ridiculed.
  • A child could ride his bike almost anywhere with safety.

I'm not saying these days were perfect or that our nation was living in revival. And, I'm not praying for a return to "Americanism" or mere moralism. We need spiritual revival and a great awakening that will manifest itself in vastly different ways.  But it was a very different moral culture in the 50’s, which has eroded dramatically over the last 50 years.

NEHEMIAH'S EXAMPLE

Nehemiah watched a similar digression. His people had disobeyed God and God had given them up to their enemies so they would come to desperation and return to him. Nehemiah saw the low point come in a conversation with his brother, who had returned to Babylon from their hometown of Jerusalem.

Now it happened in the month Chislev, in the twentieth year, while I was in Susa the capitol, that Hanani, one of my brothers, and some men from Judah came; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped and had survived the captivity, and about Jerusalem. They said to me, “The remnant there in the province who survived the captivity are in great distress and reproach, and the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are burned with fire.” When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. (Nehemiah 1:1-4)

There are four responses you can make to the moral and spiritual digression of a nation.

 GRADUAL ASSIMILATION

This will happen without knowing it is occurring. Like the frog in the kettle, you can gradually adjust your morals so that godlessness is a part of your lifestyle and doesn't really disturb you anymore.

 HOPELESS RESIGNATION

You can be disturbed, but just throw up your hands and offer no resistance (even though, if you are a believer, you are an Ambassador of the King of Kings and “greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world”).

  FRANTIC HUMANISM

You can rush around, vainly trying every human option to stem the tide of the enemy's assault. This can make a big noise, but in the end produce little substantive change.

SPIRITUAL REPENTANCE

Nehemiah chose this response. His appeal was to the God who is above the nations and rules over all. He fasted and prayed and then immediately obeyed the promptings of the Holy Spirit and the directives of His Word. In the end it lead to one of the greatest nationwide revivals in the history of the world (see Nehemiah, Chapter 8-9)

Nehemiah knew that only God could stem the tide and reverse the decay. Only God could mercifully forgive and return His glory to the land. Only God could move the hearts of government leaders. Only God could revive a sleeping church and awaken a lost society. Only God. Only God.

As you survey our land today, what do you suppose this is a time to do? What will history record as your response?

Posted by Bill Elliff with 0 Comments

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