A few days ago I read a newspaper article that claimed ISIS – the terrorist group that has been murdering people in the Middle East – has a full complement of terrorists in place in the United States, all ready to kill, murder and destroy in the name of Islam. That certainly is an alarming statement! It is also an easy one to believe when you consider how our government has failed to protect our borders from these monstrous people. Yet, immediately on reading that statement, my mind went to the story of when King David decided to take a census of the fighting men in Israel. (You can read the story in either 2 Samuel 24 or 1 Chronicles 21 -- the narrative begins with the statement that the Lord was angry with Israel and was seeking an occasion against them.) The way the story reads it is clear that God was displeased with David’s action from the get-go. When it was all finished, David’s conscience bothered him and he prayed, repenting of this sin. In response, the Lord sent the prophet Gad to him giving him three choices: 1) A seven year famine, 2) three months of defeat before his enemies or 3) a three-day plague. It’s interesting that David didn’t really make a choice. Instead he said, “I am in great distress. Please let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for His mercies are great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man (2 Sam 24:14)” Basically, David said no to the military defeat option and chose to let God do what He would with the other two options. He made this choice because he knew that God was merciful.
It might seem like a strange statement for me to make, but judgment from God is always merciful. Yes, it is. Judgment comes to nations when they depart from God and His ways. Whenever we depart from God and His way of life, the result is misery, heartache and hardship because that’s what sin does to people. So, God sends judgment to us to cleanse out the sin and restore us to righteous lifestyles that will minimize and avoid that misery, heartache and hardship. His judgment flows out of His mercy.
If you consider the state of America today, it is clear that not only do we deserve God’s judgment, but we need it. Our sins are many and if He does not cleanse our land, we will fall apart, ceasing to exist as a nation. The prophetic voices in the church have, for years, been predicting that God is going to deal with us and our sinful ways, and that it won’t be pretty or easy. When it comes it will seem horrific, but in reality it will be an expression of His mercy. Keep that it mind when you see it happening! Yet, even when judgment is well-deserved, God listens to us when we pray. In Amos 7:1-6 God gave Amos two visions dealing with the northern kingdom of Israel. In the first he saw a plague of locusts of unprecedented magnitude that destroyed the entire land. It so appalled Amos that he prayed, asking God to relent – and God heard his prayer and said, “It shall not be.” The second vision was similar. This time the land was so completely destroyed by fire that there was nothing left. Again Amos was appalled, again he interceded and again God relented and said, “It shall not be.”
God responds to our intercessions! Let me say it again, God responds to our intercessions! Indeed, one of the major functions of the prophet is to take the things God shows him and intercede for them. Through the prophet’s intercession judgments are diverted, changed, even lessened. When David chose against falling into the hands of men, throwing himself and all of Israel on God’s mercy, he was essentially interceding for the nation. God responded to David’s intercession by choosing the more merciful of the two remaining options. (A plague lasting three days is far more merciful than starvation lasting seven years.)
In September of 2014 Rick Joyner, a strong and well-proven prophetic voice in America today, had a dream in which he saw ISIS type terrorists invading the Southwestern US, committing horrific and unspeakable atrocities. (You can hear him share this dream here.) I have no doubt as to the authenticity of what he said. This is a judgment coming on our land because of the deep sins we have embraced as a people. When I first heard this I was deeply appalled and alarmed, yet my first reaction was to pray, asking God to relent and stop this from happening. I believe that even as God heard Amos’ intercessions, so He has heard my intercessions – and those of many others across America – and that He will relent concerning this. Judgment is coming to America, it has to come, we must be cleansed, but my continuing prayer, like that of David, is that God will not give us into the hands of man (or terrorist), but will choose our judgment out of His mercy.