The Plague Was Stopped
My goodness! I just looked at the date of my last blog and it has been a full month since I have written! I am sorry, friends. Life is rather unusual for all of us right now. In mid-April I came down with an awful flu that kept me in bed for a little over two weeks. All praise to our Mighty God, I am fully recovered and John was kept under His divine protection and stayed well!
In my time of reflection, I came to understand that this plague of sickness is not going away any time soon. Though there IS a remnant in America who have "not bowed the knee to Baal" (as in 1 Kings 19:18), I do believe God has allowed this plague because of the gross magnitude of sin that has overtaken our nation. Ecclesiastes 3:15 tells us that "What is has already been, and what will be has been before; and God calls back the past." So, when we look in His Word to find out "what has been before," we find a long history of a Righteous Judge who uses whatever is necessary to reach the hearts of His people and turn them from their wickedness, that they might come back to His pure and loving ways and be blessed again. In Hosea 14:1-2 the LORD says, "Return, O Israel, to the LORD, your God. Your sins have been your downfall! Take words with you and return to the LORD. Say to Him, 'Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips.'"
What is God looking for, then, when He pleads with His people to "offer the fruit of their lips?" I just spent some time in 2 Samuel 24:1-25 to get the answer. The answer is important, so stay with me. These passages describe a time in history when David was king over all Israel and he became absorbed in his own "greatness" and authority. In those days, the sheer numbers of people who pledged allegiance to the king showed how great the king was; so David decided to have a census and count the fighting men. His servant Joab tried to correct him when he said, "May the LORD your God multiply the troops a hundred times over and may the lord my king see it. But why would the king want to do such a thing?" (2 Samuel 24:3). Joab gets it. He acknowledges that it is the God of Israel who brings the increase, whether of people or crops. He confronts David to get him to think about what the motive of his heart is in taking this census; but it doesn't get through to David and he sends his commanders to "enroll the fighting men."
Now, this scenario pales in comparison with the sinful, despicable laws being enacted in our nation - but the principle is the same. And the remedy for the ensuing plague is exactly the same. After doing this thing that displeased God, "David was conscience-stricken and he said to the LORD, 'I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, LORD, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing." (2 Samuel 2:10)
The leader has exalted himself and gone against God - and despite his confession, there is still a consequence of his sin. God speaks to Gad the prophet and tells him to go to David and give him three options, allowing him to choose the consequence of his sin. As a result, a terrible plague overtakes the land of Israel and many die from the sickness. However, because God loves David's repentant heart, He intervenes at some point and commands the angel who is striking the people to stop. In verse 24 it says, "When the angel stretched out his hand to destroy Jerusalem, the LORD was grieved because of the calamity and said to the angel, 'Enough! Withdraw your hand. ' When David saw the angel who was striking down the people, he said to the LORD, 'I am the one who has sinned and done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Let your hand fall upon me and my family.'" (2 Samuel 24:15-17).
Right at this point of the story, my heart swells with the compassion of our God and the humility of King David, who accepts all the blame and is willing to pay the price for it. The prophet Gad instructs him to go to Araunah the Jebusite and build an altar to the LORD on his threshing floor. Araunah wants to give David the threshing floor for free, but David will not allow it! As R. Loren Sanford said recently, "David doesn't buy into cheap grace. He will not accept an easy way out that costs him nothing! "
I pause and wonder what would happen if our current politicians and leaders came to this place of personal repentance, their hearts broken before a Holy God? What if there were men and women of God who would boldly confront the wickedness in America's government, as Joab confronted David? What if a great wave of repentance swept across this nation and the people's hearts cried out, "We have sinned greatly in killing sixty million unborn children; Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips.'"
God calls back the past. What He has done before He would do again. He would stop the plague. If the leaders and the people of America and Israel would take themselves off the throne and "build an altar" to God in their hearts, overturning wicked laws in deep repentance and then offering the FRUIT OF THEIR LIPS - THE SACRIFICE OF PRAISE - the plague would be stopped. 2 Samuel 2:25: "David built an altar to the LORD there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. THEN the LORD ANSWERED PRAYER on behalf of the land, and THE PLAGUE ON ISRAEL WAS STOPPED."
Psalm 43:2: For You are the God of my strength. Send Your light and Your truth. Then I will go out to the Altar of God and there I will bring my [sacrifice of] praise!
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Kelly Ferrari Mills