The prophets of the Old Testament were desperate to awaken Israel from spiritual slumber in order to prepare for or avoid the troubled days about to come upon them. Their desperation flowed from a depth of love for God and for His people. If you read the prophets as they're meant to be read, you can feel their grief coming through in their words.
Today I understand their desperation and grief more deeply than I ever have, but I have hope. When I travel, I see a remnant—a growing remnant—longing for God. They don't want hype. They're tired of the show. They won't respond to manipulation or deceit. They just want Jesus. There's a purified hunger growing in them. They love worship and will linger in it for extended periods of time. They love the Word, they love to pray and they love one another. Their passion is growing.
I remain convinced that, although that remnant hungers for God and is alive to His reality, the vast majority of the body of Christ remains tragically sound asleep during a vital time of lessened pressure intended to give us time to prepare for what is coming. We in the U.S. live in a window in time of economic expansion, when pressure on Christians is less than it has been because of an administration that favors both the church and Israel. Religious freedom has been upheld in Supreme Court decisions. It would be too easy to fall asleep during this season, too easy to fall into complacency. If we allow that to happen, we will find ourselves unprepared for the troubles to come.
In December 2016 God gave me a vision that told me we had four years to prepare, but that in middle of the fourth year, there would begin to be real trouble. If the current U.S. administration is voted out in the election cycle of that fourth year, the radical left will take control of the nation. In the name of the left's version of "justice" and "equality," laws will be passed that Christians will be unable to obey. Freedoms will begin to vanish. The economy will enter an accelerating decline because of higher taxes and the destruction that socialism has always wrought wherever it has been tried. Our military will be gutted in the name of peace and budgetary constraints, and the Pax Americana that has held the bad guys at bay in the world and fed every economy on the planet will sputter and come to an end as the power of the United States fades. At that point, war will become inevitable, and it will be the most destructive the world has ever seen.
In the midst of this, we must prepare to shine in the darkness and walk in the most glorious days of our lives when this season of ease inevitably comes to an end. Isaiah 60 is the word of hour for us, filled with power and promise:
Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For the darkness shall cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; but the Lord shall rise upon you, and His glory shall be seen upon you. The nations shall come to your light and kings to the brightness of your rising. Lift up your eyes all around, and see: They all gather themselves together; they come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be carried at your side (Isa. 60:1-4).
As we shine in the darkness, wielding the power and love of God in an unprecedented outpouring of the Holy Spirit, a great harvest of souls will be won to Jesus, drawn by the brightness of our rising.
Know, however, that we're on the clock, and we must make the most of the time we've been given to prepare. We can pray for an extension of this season of grace and ease, and I believe God will grant it if we accompany our prayers with deep cries of repentance, both in our personal lives and on behalf of the church and our nation. Pray for the coming presidential election. Many have prophesied that President Trump will be reelected, but know that this is not a certainty without the prayers of the saints, refining in the president's character and rhetoric, and an awakened church.
Many of us cry for revival, and I support that cry, because I know what we mean, but we don't need revival. We need an awakening. We must come alive to the touch of God and sharpen our senses to the moving of His Spirit as well as the condition of the world around us. This is a time for renewed passion in love for our Lord and for people in this dying world. It's a time for prayer on our faces and for battle on our feet.
R. Loren Sandford is an author, musician and the founder and senior pastor of New Song Church and Ministries in Denver, Colorado. He has a bachelor's degree in music and a Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary. In addition to pastoring, Sandford has an international teaching and worship ministry. Married since 1972, he and his wife, Beth, have two daughters and one son. They live in Denver, Colorado.
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