America at the Crossroads (Part 3)
God Uses Men to Achieve His Purposes
Before I relate what happened the following day, I would first like to stress an important point about the relationship between the sovereignty of God and the agency (or actions) of man, in this case in regard to prayer. In Scripture, the sovereignty of God is never divorced from the agency of man. The purpose of God is not accomplished apart from His chosen image bearers, whom He has redeemed and called into action by his grace. It is indeed a great mystery, and yet the Lord has chosen to involve us in fulfilling His purposes.
Why? I do not know, because at times I do such a pitiful job. Sometimes, we all do. Nevertheless, that is the mystery of God’s ways. I would like to suggest that there are generations that do not get done what is on the heart of God to be accomplished because they are not in tune with God’s heart. Frankly, this is a danger for our generation as well, particularly as we look at what our nation and the world face today. We must not err through adherence to an inaccurate understanding of the sovereignty of God that justifies ungodly passivity.
God is indeed sovereign, but at the same time it is God Himself who calls us to prayer. God, in His sovereignty, calls us to faithfulness in prayer so that His promises will be fulfilled and His purposes accomplished. God involves us in what it is He wants to do. I believe an ungodly passivity that relies on mental assent to the sovereignty of God is an abomination to the Lord. Why? Because it uses a divine attribute to justify our prayerlessness and faithlessness. We cannot afford to abuse the sovereignty of God by excusing ourselves.
On Election Day 2000, after a season of worship and prayer, a deep peace suddenly settled over me. I looked up to heaven and asked, “Lord, is this peace a confidence that, whatever happens today, You are in control? Or is this peace an assurance that You are going to grant us a leader according to mercy?”
Before I could even finish my prayer, like a lightening bolt into my heart the Holy Spirit spoke clearly and powerfully: “Stand still and behold the salvation of the Lord.”
I was so stunned that I almost fell out of my chair. The Lord directed my attention to Exodus 14:13, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today….The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” (NKJV)
In this verse we clearly see the sovereign involvement of God, made manifest according to a decree issued in heaven: “The Lord will accomplish salvation for you today.” As I read that verse, I sensed the Lord saying, “I have heard your prayers, and the prayers of so many others for mercy, and I have granted your request. I have issued a decree of mercy. Exodus 14 is My word, My will, for the current situation your nation faces. You stand here in Exodus 14, and you meditate on this passage, and you pray from this passage, and you praise from this passage.”
God is the one who is going to accomplish the deliverance of Israel; yet note what the Lord then says in Exodus 14:16, “But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the mist of the sea.” (NKJV) The Lord had already said He was going to do it, but He then involved Moses in the miracle. Earlier the Lord had told Moses to be still and He would accomplish a great miracle by the moving of His righteous hand, yet in Exodus 14:16 we see the agency of Moses in this deliverance.
How awesome that God would want to use Moses, and that God would want to use you and me to stretch forth His rod! What was the rod? The rod of His authority. The rod of His decree issued in heaven. The rod of His mercy which he extended to the children of Israel. Moses obeyed the Lord, and as he did, the seas parted, and the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea on dry land.
What happened next? Exodus 14:23 tells us that the Egyptians pursued the Israelites into the midst of the sea. We can imagine the Israelites asking, “Wait a minute, Lord, what about the miracle? Here come the Egyptians – what are You doing?” Yet Exodus 14:4 reveals that it was God Himself who hardened the heart of Pharaoh. Three times in chapter 14 God says that He brought the Egyptians after the Israelites so that He might gain greater honor for His name. (Exodus 14:4, 17, 18) We must emphasize the fact that the Egyptians could not have pursued Israel if God had not allowed them to do so. Exodus 14:31 clearly says that God brought the Egyptians out against His people so that the Israelites would fear God and believe. Not a passive belief, but Biblical belief. Biblical belief is never passive. Biblical belief is never just mental assent. Biblical belief involves the entrustment of our whole being to the purposes of God as He reveals them to us. O, that we would fear the Lord and believe, that we too might have the opportunity to witness a mighty deliverance for our nation!
The “Egyptians” and the Election
On the evening of Election 2000, I stayed up most of the night in Israel. I laid out Exodus 14 before the Lord and cried out, “Lord, I believe this is Your word from heaven. It’s Your decree of mercy. I stretch out my rod, and I join with all the others whom I don’t know, whom You are leading to do the same thing.” When God speaks to us, He is also speaking to many others. We may not know them. In fact, we may never know until heaven all the people who have been led to pray the very same prayer strategy from the Word of God. We do not need to know them; we just need to know what He tells us and to stand on that.
In obedience I stretched out the Word of God, and watched and prayed. There is probably not one American who does not remember what happened next. First, Florida went to Gore, and then it was declared “undecided” again. Then, it went to George W. Bush, who was then declared the President elect of the United States. I stood in my living room and began to praise the Lord.
But when Florida was taken away from George W. Bush and put back in the “undecided” column once more, I could not believe it. I cried out, “Lord, what is going on? I was sure that You said George W. Bush would be our ‘leader according to mercy’.” The Lord said, “Read your Bible; read the second half of Exodus 14.” In Exodus 14:23, I read that the Egyptians came after the Israelites in an attempt to snatch the Lord’s victory. Then the Lord said, “I have given you Exodus 14 so that you would be prepared for what is happening and would not be afraid, but would know that I am granting deliverance. Stand on the Word of the Lord and stretch forth My rod.”
I began to pray according to Exodus 14: 24, “During the last watch of the night the Lord looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion. He made the wheels of their chariots come off so that they had difficulty driving.” In addition, I noticed something else that I thought must be very significant. The Lord instructed Moses to stretch out his rod over the sea a second time (14:26-27). Twice in one chapter God commanded Moses to stretch forth his rod. The first time Moses stretched forth his rod pictured intercession based on God’s decree of mercy and deliverance. God used Moses to initiate the miracle. Then, the second time that Moses stretched out his rod, God used him to consummate the miracle.
When we are praying, sometimes we don’t know where we are in that process. We do not know whether God is calling us to initiate something, or whether we are a part of the consummation of something. The most important principle to remember is this: As God involved Moses, so God desires to involve us both to initiate and to consummate deliverance for our nation at this hour.
Beloved, the Lord has no other plan than us—the Church, His body. He could send angels. He could give a personal testimony. He could appear to everyone, or speak out of a thundercloud, as He did at Meribah. But that is not what He has chosen to do most of the time. The Lord is calling us to stand with him as Moses did. He desires for us to hear the word of the Lord in order to initiate and consummate according to His leading.
In the case of Election 2000, thirty-six days after the controversy ensued, we saw the consummation of the miracle. The decree of mercy the Lord had initiated in heaven was enacted on the earth. For those 36 days, I watched and prayed, standing confidently on the word the Lord had given me from Exodus 14. I heard from many people from all over the world who had also been given Exodus 14 to pray for our nation. God’s people prayed, and He brought forth the miracle.