When we think about taking back the land, we do so understanding that we are no longer in the land. Our situation is different from the Israelites as they were actually removed from the Promised Land. We on the other hand are still in the land but powerless. In order to take back the land in power, we must turn back to God. 2 Kings 23:25 “Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.” Most individuals, churches or denominations will not do this. Repentance is turning away from ourselves towards God. 2 Chronicles 7:14 “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” At this point there is a remnant of people who serve God whole-heartedly according to God’s word although when asked most will say they are serving God wholeheartedly at least according to how they have been taught. This is the deception of our day. But due to God’s grace he has left us a remnant. Ezra 9:7 “From the days of our ancestors until now, our guilt has been great. Because of our sins, we and our kings and our priests have been subjected to the sword and captivity, to pillage and humiliation at the hand of foreign kings, as it is today. 8 “But now, for a brief moment, the Lord our God has been gracious in leaving us a remnant and giving us a firm place in his sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyes and a little relief in our bondage. 9 Though we are slaves, our God has not forsaken us in our bondage. He has shown us kindness in the sight of the kings of Persia: He has granted us new life to rebuild the house of our God and repair its ruins, and he has given us a wall of protection in Judah and Jerusalem.”
As we return to the land, we are asking God to protect us along the way. Satan is overjoyed with the complacent Christian but when they turn back he is not happy. In light of this we know that God will be with those who seek him. Psalm 18:13 tells us, “If my people would only listen to me, if Israel would only follow my ways, 14 how quickly I would subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes! 15 Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him, and their punishment would last forever. 16 But you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.” But sadly many will not listen just like Israel would not listen. Hear me, my people, and I will warn you— if you would only listen to me, Israel! 9 You shall have no foreign god among you; you shall not worship any god other than me. 10 I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it. 11 “But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. 12 So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices.” But we do not have to be that way. We can turn from our way and follow God’s ways. On the journey back to the Promised Land Ezra trusted in God. Ezra 8:20 “I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. 22 I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.” 23 So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer. The hand of our God was on us, and he protected us from enemies and bandits along the way. 32 So we arrived in Jerusalem, where we rested three days.”
This journey to the Promised Land / Kingdom of God is built on the foundation of repentance. Jesus said repent for the Kingdom of God is near. King Hezekiah sent this proclamation throughout the land. 2 Chronicles 30:6 “People of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that he may return to you who are left, who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. 7 Do not be like your parents and your fellow Israelites, who were unfaithful to the Lord, the God of their ancestors, so that he made them an object of horror, as you see. 8 Do not be stiff-necked, as your ancestors were; submit to the Lord. Come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever. Serve the Lord your God, so that his fierce anger will turn away from you. 9 If you return to the Lord, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.” Based on this foundation of repentance, through the power of the Holy Spirit we will take back the land and the captives will be set free. This does not happen with slick presentations or programs or attractive buildings but by turning from our ways and letting God build his church. I came across this quote yesterday, which applies to the North American church. Leonard Ravenhill said, “The church right now has more fashion than passion, is more pathetic than prophetic, is more superficial than supernatural.” This can be changed but only by our submission to Jesus Christ. The good news is that God’s gracious hand will be with those who seek him with all their heart and with all their soul and with all their strength, in accordance with all the word of God.