I remember several years ago, a visiting missionary walking up and down the aisle in our church carrying a pocket watch on a chain. She was swinging it back and forth, much as a hypnotist would, singing, “Go to sleep, go to sleep…” to the tune of the children’s lullaby.
Why? She was trying to make a point that America was asleep when it came to reaching our world or being aware of what was going on around us.
Today, it seems as if we are still snoozing.
The apathy we are seeing in many ways is saying, “We don’t want to think about all that is going on in the world. We want our happy lives to continue, the sun to come up in the morning and everything to carry on as it always has.”
To Americans, it is half a world away. Most cannot begin to process the evil we are seeing, except on television, movies and video games. But these crimes against humanity, an R rating wouldn’t begin to touch it.
Senator Lindsey Graham warned some time back that Iraq was not the only country in danger. He put out the alarm that they would attack on U.S. soil. It is inevitable, they have vowed to raise their flag in the White House.
“Mr. President, be honest with the threat we face,” Graham said. “They are coming.”
He isn’t talking about the 30,000-50,000 that have taken over Iraq, Syria and invading other countries such as Libya and Egypt. They are already here. On U.S. soil.
So what is the answer?
When Jesus wanted to get the attention of the crowds He used the term, “Verily, verily…” Of course that is the King’s English so what does it mean, or what did it mean to them?
Many translations of the Bible use the words truly and assuredly in place of verily. The Greek definition goes back to the word Amen in the Old Testament. We use it today at the end of a prayer, or as a confirmation when we agree with the words of a minister, friend, or speaker. So be it, is another translation, or meaning of the word, Amen. In other words, we make it our own; we take possession and agree with what has just been said.
Some scholars say that Jesus used the words, “Amen, Amen, I am going to speak to you…” as His opening remarks to silence the crowds. Imagine the thousands on a hillside gathering to hear The Teacher. It could not possibly have been quiet! There were no microphones, sound systems or sophisticated megaphones. He had to say something to get them to sit down and listen to what He had to say.
Maybe that is why He used Amen at the beginning of what He was about to say. Not just to quiet them down and prepare them but also to let them know that what He was about to tell them was of great importance. “Listen up!”
He warned of days like this, that our lives would be in danger, we would be persecuted because of His name.
Those days are here.
Jesus told the story, He sounded the alarm. He repeated Himself. He called urgency to His message. He gave it authority, using emphasis and stressing the importance of His words.
He wants us to do the same.
What is happening in our world IS our world.
What matters is that people are being killed, literally slaughtered, because they will not renounce their faith and will not convert to evil.
Children are being killed, even beheaded; women are being sold as slaves, raped, beaten, and torn from their families.
Some have been buried alive. Others are being burned alive!
We had thousands of refugees trapped on a mountain with very little of life’s necessities to sustain them. No bed, no clothing, no documents identifying who they are or where they came from. They were literally people without a country!
Yet life goes on for us. We are free, we are happy, we have LIVES.
Friends, they have vowed to come for us, too. This is not pleasant to hear but we must prepare ourselves now. We must become unified as the Body of Christ in order to be able to stand. We need one another and our brothers and sisters on the other side of the world need our prayers.
Will ISIS go away if we pray? Will Israel and Palestine sign a peace treaty? Will Russia withdraw from the Ukraine?
Not necessarily, some of things must come to pass before the end comes and/or before the Second Coming of our Lord.
But prayer changes us and it puts warrior angels into action. They will fight on our behalf; they will stand in the gap. God does respond to the prayers of His people!
“‘And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.’ After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.” Acts 4:29-31.
It will strengthen those going through the fire; God’s Word is full of examples, such as when the Church prayed for Peter in Acts 12.
Look at what Paul says here to the Corinthian church concerning their prayers:
“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.” 2 Corinthians 1:8-11.
It is the most powerful weapon we own.
“But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened.…” Acts 16:25-26.
Not only were Paul and Silas delivered but the keeper of the prison, and his entire household, were baptized! It matters.
Can we get involved? Will YOU get involved? Will you pray, will you share and let others know that you believe God hears us when we call on Him?
Will you cry out, “Listen up!”
If we intend to reach the world with the Gospel we must get our focus off of things and on to people. We must listen up.
This post is written by our curriculum editor Nannette Elkins, wife of Douglas Elkins, our North America Regional Coordinator. Nannette also spent a year in Latvia helping launch Revival by Design. She is the author of The Daniel Fast, A Devotional available here! You can get acquainted with her writings at her blog Hope in the Healing and also at Internet Cafe Devotions where she is a monthly contributor.