Repent and Be Blessed
First Baptist Church
Des Moines, NM
Hello again and welcome to the Ministerial Alliance program here on KLMX radio. As I write this message, itís been the driest spring Iíve experienced since I moved back to New Mexico 14 years ago. The first year I was here, it was dry but starting raining in June and we had a great summer. This year, though, here it is mid-June and weíve had very little precipitation. Even the winter was dry, with very little snowfall out here on the plains. This weather has caused some hardship, and quite a bit of concern in our agricultural community.
Weíve been talking this week about rain and how God uses rain for both blessing and correction. Iíve pointed out how God clearly warns His people that if they turn away from Him, He will respond by cutting off their blessings, including rain. As far as I can tell, this warning has never been revoked in the New Testament. If anything, itís been broadened since previously "people of God" were the Israelite and Hebrew nations, but now, under the Lordship of Christ include men of all nations. The first commandment still stands- "You shall have no other gods beforeÖfor I , the LORD your God am a jealous GodÖ" (Exodus 20:1-4). And so, when our hearts turn away from God, as they inevitably do, God may respond in anger and wrath. And yet, as weíll see today, if Godís people turn from their wicked ways and confess their sins, God is faithful to heal them and their land. I pray that this message will pierce your heart, that God may grant us repentance leading to the truth, and that His name will be glorified, through our mediator, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Today, weíll look at a passage from 1 Kings. This is Solomonís prayer at the dedication of the temple which he was allowed to build. His father, King David, was not allowed to build this temple due to much shed blood on Davidís hands, but Solomon was. This was a dreadful and exciting task for it was here that the Jewish nation would offer their atoning sacrifices, and Solomon took it to heart. Here is part of his prayer at the dedication of that temple.
1 Kings 8:22-40 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands toward heaven; (23) and he said: "LORD God of Israel, there is no God in heaven above or on earth below like You, who keep Your covenant and mercy with Your servants who walk before You with all their hearts. Ö..(35) "When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against You, when they pray toward this place and confess Your name, and turn from their sin because You afflict them, (36) then hear in heaven, and forgive the sin of Your servants, Your people Israel, that You may teach them the good way in which they should walk; and send rain on Your land which You have given to Your people as an inheritance. (37) "When there is famine in the land, pestilence or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers; when their enemy besieges them in the land of their cities; whatever plague or whatever sickness there is; (38) whatever prayer, whatever supplication is made by anyone, or by all Your people Israel, when each one knows the plague of his own heart, and spreads out his hands toward this temple: (39) then hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and act, and give to everyone according to all his ways, whose heart You know (for You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men), (40) that they may fear You all the days that they live in the land which You gave to our fathers.
This is an earnest and honest prayer from a man who fears God. Note how Solomon started the prayer- with praise to God. He says "Öthere is no God in heaven above or on earth below like youÖ" Solomon appeals to Godís mercy with the statement and then makes a series of pleas which lead to verse 35. "When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against YouÖ" Solomon quite plainly addresses the cause of the removal of the peopleís blessings. "They have sinned against You." The cause for their affliction is simple- it forces them to recognize their sins: "Öwhen they pray toward this place and confess Your name, and turn from their sin because you afflict them. The solution to this sin is to appeal to Godís mercy: "Öhear in Heaven and forgive the sin of Your servantsÖteach them the good way in which they should walk; and send rain on Your land." Now there is a powerful set of statements! This set asks God to forgive his servants (which implies that they should serve the LORD), it asks Him to teach them the good way (which implies that they canít find that way on their own), and it asks for rain for His land (which implies that God owns everything). Solomon asks again for this mercy regarding famine, pestilence, blight, mildew, locusts, grasshoppers, and more. This, then, should be our response to hard times. We should pray to God for relief and deliverance and mercy from our sins. Have you personally done this recently? If not, I urge you to take a few moments right now to ask God for forgiveness of your sins and for Him to show you the good way.
We find this same prayer in 2 Chronicles. Kings and Chronicles are parallel accounts of events, each giving slightly different details according to their different point of views. And itís after Solomonís prayer in 2 Chronicles that we find this famous passage, which details Godís promise when His people repent of their sins:
2 Chronicles 7:1-15 When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. (2) And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD's house. (3) When all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed their faces to the ground on the pavement, and worshiped and praised the LORD, saying: "For He is good, For His mercy endures forever." (4) Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices before the LORDÖ. (12) Then the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: "I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. (13) When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, (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 will forgive their sin and heal their land. (15) Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place.
The glory of the LORD is an awesome thing- it is, in fact, the only truly awesome thing- and we see that even the priests couldnít enter the temple when the LORD was present. Now think about this- so many people think theyíre going to just waltz up to God and demand an accounting from Him. "Why didnít you send rain? Why did you do this, why did you do that?" In reality, no man can stand on his own in front of the glory of God. It is only through the mediatory act of Jesus Christ that we can stand before God. And so, even though when God in this passage is referring to the Jews as "My people who are called by My nameÖ" all Christians are, in fact, people of Godís name. The word "Christian" means "Little Christ" and thus all Christians are people of Godís name. Therefore this promise is to them. And if people called by Godís name will "humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then [God] will hear from heaven, and forgive their sin and heal their land." Unfortunately, Jeremiah tells what is all too often the action of Godís people.
Jeremiah 5:20-25 "Declare this in the house of Jacob And proclaim it in Judah, saying, (21) 'Hear this now, O foolish people, Without understanding, Who have eyes and see not, And who have ears and hear not: (22) Do you not fear Me?' says the LORD. 'Will you not tremble at My presence, Who have placed the sand as the bound of the sea, By a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass beyond it? And though its waves toss to and fro, Yet they cannot prevail; Though they roar, yet they cannot pass over it. (23) But this people has a defiant and rebellious heart; They have revolted and departed. (24) They do not say in their heart, "Let us now fear the LORD our God, Who gives rain, both the former and the latter, in its season. He reserves for us the appointed weeks of the harvest." (25) Your iniquities have turned these things away, And your sins have withheld good from you.
God calls them "foolish people, without understanding, who have eyes and see not, and who have ears and hear not." Their fault is "Do you not fear me, says the LORD, will you not tremble at my presence?" This, I fear, is the plight of mankind now. Have we lost the fear of the LORD? Have we replaced worship of God with worship of idols? Whom do we credit for our rain- God Almighty or Mother Nature? The mighty hand of the LORD, or the winds of randomness? Jeremiah tells us that God gives us rain, both the early and the late rains, in its season. Any agricultural person knows that you need both. No rain in the spring means the grass doesnít get started early enough to sustain thru the summer and no fall rain means that it doesnít grow enough to sustain over the winter. We need both rains. Sadly, according to Jeremiah, "your iniquities have turned these things away and your sins have withheld good from you."
Hereís what drought is like:
Jeremiah 14:1-7 The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah concerning the droughts. (2) "Judah mourns, And her gates languish; They mourn for the land, And the cry of Jerusalem has gone up. (3) Their nobles have sent their lads for water; They went to the cisterns and found no water. They returned with their vessels empty; They were ashamed and confounded And covered their heads. (4) Because the ground is parched, For there was no rain in the land, The plowmen were ashamed; They covered their heads. (5) Yes, the deer also gave birth in the field, But left because there was no grass. (6) And the wild donkeys stood in the desolate heights; They sniffed at the wind like jackals; Their eyes failed because there was no grass." (7) O LORD, though our iniquities testify against us, Do it for Your name's sake; For our backslidings are many, We have sinned against You.
Now that last line is a truly humble one. It is calling for the LORD to bring on the drought. It says "our iniquities testify against us, do it for your nameís sake. For our backslidings are many, we have sinned against you." Thatís what it means to throw yourself on the mercy of the Lord. Jeremiah is recording a true heart-felt confession of sin which says "Punish us LORD for your nameís sake." Thatís an attitude which puts God first not us. And if we truly have this attitude and not the one evidenced in the Revelation passage I read yesterday:
Revelation 16:21 And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great.
Then God will heal our land and lead us on the good path. If perhaps He grants us repentance leading to the truth, let us never forget His righteous judgment. Let us never forget- as we have now- that God is not only a God of love, but is also a jealous God and a God of wrath. Let me close this message by asking you to personally pray that Godís will be done, no matter what it means to us. Humble yourself, confess your sins, and ask Him to heal our land and give us rain.
Iím Bryan Kimsey from 1st Baptist Church in Des Moines. I hope to see you again tomorrow here on KLMX radio at 9:45 am.
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