I was recently asked to post a purported prophetic word on the National Day of Repentance website. It said – in view of the pattern of lawlessness in government at all levels – it was time for the children of God to recognize He has blessed our faithfulness and given us favor at this time to stand against this very lawlessness. I gave it a “thumbs down” because it was clearly not a word from the Lord our God. How did I know? It flunked the Sons of Issachar test.
Issachar is one of the twelve sons of Jacob, one of the twelve Patriarchs after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob of the Hebrew people of the Old Testament. Jacob’s most famous son is of course Joseph, he who rescued Egypt and Israel from famine after being sold into slavery by his brothers. The sons of Issachar were said to be anointed with supernatural understanding of pragmatic times and seasons, their implications and consequences, and the currents of relationships and alliances.
The purported prophetic word flunks the Sons test because it ignores the very real bankruptcy of the Body of Christ. Yes, there is a pronounced pattern of lawlessness at all levels of government– from the President re-writing healthcare law and the First Amendment to ignoring immigration law to states taxing illegally under their laws and expelling Christian groups from university campuses for insisting leaders accept their faith. Decorated Navy Chaplain Wes Modder has been relieved of duty and banned from his men for adhering to his faith in a counseling session despite the fact his conduct is protected in federal law and naval regulations. The jury is in on government lawlessness.
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But the Church has no moral high ground on which to stand. Martin Luther King’s favorite scripture – Amos 5:24 – calls for justice to flow like a mighty river and righteousness like an unending stream. Stewarding this process is the job of the Church, not the government that derives its just powers from the consent of the governed. Yet more than a third of evangelicals and an unknown number of Catholics and mainliners do not even vote – let alone vote intelligently. In California, at least, large majorities of Christians elect the leaders who re-define concepts from marriage to immigration law to suit donors instead of constituents. Non-physicians perform abortions on our daughters – this would be illegal on a family pet – and now legislators prepare to endorse assisted suicide despite overwhelming evidence it is unnecessary and open to massive abuse.
The Church stood in the eighteenth century, and a nation was founded on God’s love and liberty. She stood in the nineteenth century, and slavery was abolished. She stood yet again in the twentieth century and ushered in authentic equality and respect between the races. Where is the Church now that so fundamental a liberty as life is under unprecedented attack throughout the so-called civilized world?
Where is the Church – I mean each and every believer, not some ponderous resolution adopted in be-robed convention – in addressing the stalkers and sexual abusers in our own ranks? The percentages of leaders who engage in these behaviors or cover them up is about the same in every denomination. The percentage of pastors and preachers who address socio-moral issues from their pulpits is correspondingly small across the board. As a young priest, I informed my bishop I planned to expel an admitted stalker from my congregation if he refused to leave his victim alone; the bishop told me I could expect no backing from him. (I did it anyway.) When do the rest of us accept responsibility to be voices for justice and righteousness, with the proviso that our personal repentance must come ahead of the repentance we call for from government and society?
The next National Day of Repentance is set for April 30. It inaugurates a week of prayer and fasting to culminate on May 7 and the National Day of Prayer. Californians are invited to our own statewide Day of Repentance on September 9. Who will show up that God might show off in our presence? Who will show up at future hearings, at the ballot boxes, and in the coffee hours of our churches and the coffee rooms of our workplaces? God’s favor is not a reward for good behavior, but it is bestowed only on those He can trust. Are we willing to become such?
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California leads the nation in the blood of Native Americans on our hands, in elective suicide, abortion, family break-ups, and the addictive cycles of drugs and pornography. The Church is just as steeped in these things as any other demographic. We do have a mandate and a responsibility to address these issues in the public square. But we are going to have to re-earn the right to speak; and – ironically – speaking out as we repent is part of that re-earning. But until we do this, spare me the prophecies about God’s favor resting on us. He loves us, but He cannot be very proud of us in this hour. We need to re-take the Sons of Issachar test.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website.