SHAPING HISTORY THROUGH FASTING AND PRAYER

USA President Zachary Taylor called for a “Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer” on August 3, 1849. The Resolution stated in part: ” It is recommended to persons of all religious denominations to abstain as far as practical from secular occupations and to assemble in their respective places of public worship, to acknowledge the Infinite goodness which has watched over our existence as a nation, and so long crowned us with manifold blessings, and to implore the Almighty in His own good time to stay the destroying hand which is now lifted up against us.”

In St. Louis alone 120 died of cholera in April, 1849.  “The toll grew six-fold in May…reached 2,200 in July..;.with a weekly toll of 640, seven times the city’s normal death rate… bodies were buried in ditches.. the official death toll was 4,317…The number of deaths dropped suddenly in August. President Taylor’s Proclamation of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer was observed Friday, August 3, 1849, and by the end of the month, the death toll had ‘dropped suddenly.’  [Miracles in American History,  Susie Federer,  Amerisearch, Inc, 2012, p.121]

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Queen Esther ponders Mordecai’s news. Ezra 8:21-23 and Esther in the fourth chapter of the Book of Esther provide other incredible examples of God stepping in to change the course of history in response to collective fasting and prayer.

All of the above examples relate to Israel but Scripture provides us with an example of a gentile nation, Assyria, at the time the most powerful empire in the ancient world. The Book of Jonah records God’s dealings with Nineveh (capital of Assyria). The response to the reluctant Jonah’s message was immediate and dramatic: “So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth from the greatest of them to the least of them. The king decreed “… and cry mightily unto God :yea let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if Cod will turn and repent, and turn away from His fierce anger, that we perish not.” Jonah 3:5-9. Moreover we know the outcome – much to Jonah’s dismay God ” repented of the evil that He said He would do unto them” and we know Nineveh continued as a more or less stable and prosperous city for 150 years before God did ultimately judge the city and nation.

In God’s dealings with nations His promise of blessings and His warnings of judgement are both alike conditional. Judgement may be averted – even at the 11th hour- by repentance. Conversely, blessing may be forfeited by disobedience. If only the leaders of our nations understood this edict.

“DARKNESS IS DESCENDING ON OUR REGION”, NETANYAHU WARNS

Speaking before the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of a clear and present danger facing the world: the threat of a nuclear Iran. It was good to hear him quote Scripture  – the Book of Esther.

“Darkness is descending on our region,” Netanyahu warned, naming “radical tyranny” as the force behind Tehran’s quest to build an “aggressive empire” that includes Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, Yemen and more—all in a quest to seek Israel’s destruction.

He condemned President Obama’s 2015 Iran nuclear agreement and said Iran its proxies are looking for ways to attack Israel.

“Last week, we read in the Book of Esther about an earlier Persian attempt to exterminate our people. They failed then. They’ll fail now.”

“In addition to moving its army, its air force, its navy to Syria to be able to attack Israel from closer hand—it’s also seeking to develop, to build precision-guided missile factories in Syria, Lebanon against Israel. I will not let that happen,” he vowed, before praising President Donald Trump for his firm stance against a nuclear Iran.

“President Trump has made it clear that his administration will not accept Iran’s aggression in the region. He has made clear that he too will never accept a nuclear-armed Iran. That is the right policy. I salute President Trump on this,” Netanyahu said.

“And the president has also made it clear that if the fatal flaws of the nuclear deal are not fixed, he will walk away from the deal and restore sanctions,” he added. “Israel will be right there by America’s side, and let me tell you, so will a hundred countries in the region.

Netanyahu concluded by reminding those present that the “wellspring” of the U.S. and Israel’s enduring friendship was their shared values, under girded by a strong faith in God.

“They come from a certain book—a great book, a good book. It’s called the Bible,” Netanyahu told the audience. “It says that all of us are created in the image of God.”

“These values are an inseparable part of America’s story,” he continued. “They’re an inseparable part of Israel’s story. And today we’re writing a new chapter of our common story—a story of freedom, of justice, of peace, of hope.”

“And it’s because we’re inspired by the same ideas because we’re animated by the same values that America and Israel have forged, an eternal bond that can never ever be broken,” he said.