I have today received a communication of a most ominous nature, a prophetic message to the effect that the western coast of North America is WITHIN DAYS to receive an earthquake, the size of which will be sufficient to cause the whole coastal plain to slide into the ocean.
Of course, there are many who will just laugh it off, saying that this type of junk message has been heard a million times before. And they will be waiting to poke fun at the author of the message as soon as the time passes without a seismic murmur.
There will be others who are rather more sensitive, and will treat the message seriously, and hope it doesn’t happen. They will be watching, and waiting, and will heave a sigh of relief if California is the same in November as it is now.
But there will be some who, having received the message, will give themselves to prayer. This is what the prophet requested, that the Lord will see sufficient repentance from the American people to cancel the event. Does the Bible give us a clear directive? I think it does, in the person of Amos.
In Amos chapter 7 the prophet was shown three visions, each one of terrible judgment. The first vision was of the Lord actually forming millions of locusts, ready to eat up the vegetation of the land. Amos prayed. “Oh Lord God, forgive, I beseech You . . .” And the Lord changed His mind, and told Amos that it would not be.
In the next vision Amos saw the Lord about to visit the earth with a swathe of fire, destroying everything in sight. Amos prayed yet again. “Oh Lord God, cease, I beseech You . . .” And the Lord changed His mind, and told Amos that this would not be.
In the third vision, Amos saw the Lord standing on a well made wall, holding a plumb-line in His hand. Before Amos could utter a prayer, the Lord said that He would not pass by His people any more, but would judge them for their wrong-doings, hence the symbol of the plumb-line.
The prophet Joel has also seen a massive swarm of locusts, ready to devour the whole land. But he also had the mind of the Lord, and wrote it down for all to read. “Thus says the Lord, turn to me with all your heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Rend your hearts, not your garments, and turn to the Lord your God, for He is gracious, and merciful, and of a great kindness, and changes His mind over the (predicted) calamity.” (Joel 2:12-14)
There are many Christian books on the market that seem to take a ghoulish delight in writing about the great plague of locusts in the Book of Revelation, and the other great disasters predicted to strike the earth in these last days. The authors don’t seem to have digested the message of Amos, that the calamities are meant to bring God’s people to their knees in repentance.
We don’t need to emulate the behaviour of Jonah, who wanted to see Nineveh destroyed. Rather should we have the yearning in our hearts to ask the Lord to withhold His hand of judgment.
Moses was told by the Lord that He would destroy the whole house of Israel, and raise up a righteous nation through Moses. Was Moses pleased? Not in the least. He asked for God’s mercy and pardon for the people, and gained it. (Numbers 14:20-23) However, the “plumb-line” of God’s judgment could not be averted. They were to die in the wilderness, and not see the Promised Land.
Yes, there are some judgments that can be averted by prayer, but there will always be a plumb-line, by which God will judge His people. Whatsoever we sow, that shall we also reap, and there is no respect of persons with God.
The Apostle Paul likewise had the true spirit of Christ within him when he uttered those amazing words, saying, “I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart, for I could wish myself accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites.” (Romans 9:2-3) How many of us have the sacrificial love for others that would match that? Personally, I shrink from the very thought, which is to my shame.
Brethren, during the last month the world has seen many large-scale tragedies, most of which are called “acts of God” by the insurance companies. Others, like the train crash in London on Tuesday, are the result of human error. Are we beginning to see the anger of God building up at what we, the people of the world, are doing to His earth, and to each other? If so, then it is indeed time to pray, to intercede for the world, that all but the plumb-line will “cease to be”, after the manner of Amos’s prayer. Let us cast out the spirit of spectator Jonah, and emulate the example of Amos, the man of intercession.