(9/19) Introduction- Open your Bibles to Jeremiah 2:11-13,
Has a nation changed its gods, which are not gods? But My people have changed their Glory for what does not profit. 12 Be astonished, O heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid; Be very desolate," says the Lord. 13 "For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living
waters, and hewn themselves cisternsóbroken cisterns that can hold no water.
While Jeremiahís prophecy is primarily to Israel, we certainly can see that the United States of America fits the description. Many of our Presidents have been men of strong faith in God. Again, I remind you that if you would read the preamble of the constitutions for the 50 states, you would find that the
majority have a faith in God, His Son Jesus and the Bible included in them. John Jay the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court advised that no one ever be elected to office without a firm faith in Jesus Christ and the Bible as Godís Word.
I am sure that I told you this before but do you know why we have a 3-fold system of government; that is, a legislative branch, a judicial branch and an executive branch? It is based on Isaiah 33:22 which says, "For the Lord is our Judge, The Lord is our Lawgiver, The Lord is our King; He will save us."
It was Benjamin Franklin, a man whose faith is most questionable, that suggested that Congress be opened with prayer. It came at a time when a fledgling country could not come up with an agreeable constitution. Franklin said, "In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find
political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the Contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for
the divine protection. - Our prayers, Sir, were heard, & they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending providence in our favor.
To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? or do we imagine that we no longer need his assistance? I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more
convincing proofs I see of this truth- that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that "except the Lord build the House they labor in vain that build it." I firmly
believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages. And what is worse,
mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest.
I therefore beg leave to move-that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of this City be requested to officiate in that Service."
Mr. SHARMAN seconded the motion.
I could go on and on with quotes from founding Fathers, and from Presidents that sought the favor and counsel of God. But, we as a nation and as many Christians in this nation, have done precisely as the Lord says through Jeremiah. My people have changed their Glory for what does not profit. 12 Be
astonished, O heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid; Be very desolate," says the Lord. 13 "For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisternsóbroken cisterns that can hold no water.
We have gone from seeking the favor of God, and the honor and glory of God, to seeking our own will, and our own ways. Churches across this nation are concerned with pleasing people with coffee, and entertainment, and not the glory of God. Self- help and happiness sermons have replaced those on holiness,
discipleship, and the realities of heaven and hell. Pleasing people is more important than pleasing God. Personal feelings are more important than obedience to the God before whom we will all appear. Prayers for happiness, possessions, health, and pleasure, have replaced pleas for the salvation of the lost, and the revival of
holiness in our land. Sports and pleasure, politics and possessions, are the gods that we have forsaken the living God for. And as the Lord told Jeremiah, we should be horribly afraid. There is no fear of God in our country nor in most of our churches. Our hunger is for more things not for the face and favor of God.
Turn to 2 Chronicles 7:14 and letís read it together, 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 will forgive their sin and heal their land."
What does it mean to seek Godís Face? I thought that God said to Moses that no one could see the face of God and live. Look at Exodus 33:11-23.
. 11 Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.
12 Moses said to the Lord, "See, you say to me, ĎBring up this people,í but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ĎI know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.í 13 Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may
know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people." 14 And he said, "My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." 15 And he said to him, "If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. 16 For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I
and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?"
17 And the Lord said to Moses, "This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name." 18 Moses said, "Please show me your glory." 19 And he said, "I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ĎThe Lord.í And I will
be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20 But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live." 21 And the Lord said, "Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, 22 and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I
will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen."
Moses wanted the assurance of Godís presence and favor with him. Look at verses 15-16. Letís pause for a moment. Consider this:
ē God is Omnipresent. There is no place where He isnít present. Psalm 139 makes that abundantly clear. Do we agree?
ē God resides in every believer who has placed his or her faith in Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:9). Do we agree?
ē God has promised to never leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5). Do we agree?
ē But God will forsake those whom He has promised to never leave. How? The exact same way that you can remain in a marriage and not pay attention to the one you are married to. The same way the church can forsake God. Is this not what our Lordís complaint is in Rev. 2:1-5? If you donít visibly and
intentionally seek to love, bless, and honor your spouse, you have forsaken your vows and your spouse. God told Solomon and Asa and others that if you forsake God He will forsake you (1 Chron. 28:9; 2 Chron. 15:2; cp. Deut. 31:17). But if you seek God you will find Him because He is right here.
Whether we agree with it or not, our Amish friends have a thing that they call a shunning. One who has sinned or forsaken the ways of the Amish is still in the community but no one pays attention to him or her. A repentance must occur for the shunning to stop. So it is with God. He will not answer prayers.
He will not shower His blessings, on those with whom He abides until, His people humble themselves and pray and seek His face and turn from their wicked ways. Without repentance there is only discipline and judgment to look forward to.
To seek the face of God is to seek His manifest presence, His favor, His glory with us; just as Moses sought it. Listen to these scriptures:
Psalm 24:6, "This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek
Psalm 27:7-8, "Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice! Have mercy also upon
me, and answer me. 8 When You said, "Seek My face," My heart
said to You, "Your face, Lord, I will seek."
Psalm 105:3-4, "Glory in His holy name; Let the hearts of those rejoice who
seek the Lord! 4 Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face evermore."
David feared that God would shun him.
Psalm 69:16-18, "Hear me, O Lord, for Your lovingkindness is good; Turn to me
according to the multitude of Your tender mercies. 17 And do not
hide Your face from Your servant, For I am in trouble; Hear me
speedily. 18 Draw near to my soul, and redeem it;"
Psalm 27:9, "Do not hide Your face from me; Do not turn Your servant away
in anger; You have been my help; Do not leave me nor forsake
me, O God of my salvation."
Psalm 143:7, "Answer me speedily, O Lord; My spirit fails! Do not hide Your
face from me, lest I be like those who go down into the pit."
David feared that God would turn His back on him. Have you ever heard that expression, "He or she, turned their back on me?" That is; they refused to help. They refused to listen to my pleas.
Lincoln thought that this was the reason for the Civil War. He thought that Americaís prosperity had led us to forsake God and that war was Godís judgment, much like we spoke of in Deut. 8, and Jeremiah 18.
The Aaronic blessing in Numbers 6:25, is that God would cause His face to shine on His people. Psalm 80 is a prayer for revival in the land. 3 Times in Psalm 80, (vv. 3, 7, 19) Asaph pleads for Godís face to once again shine on Israel as David does in Psalm 31:16.
Why should we sing, God Bless America, when as soon as our Congress said that our motto would be, "In God We Trust," and added, "Under God," to our Pledge of Allegiance (1954 and 1956), we would spend the next 60 years forsaking the very God we pledged to trust by removing prayer and the Bible from schools,
and removing the 10 commandments from our courts and schools, approving abortion on demand, and gay rights, and honoring gay marriages, promoting transgenderism, and pluralism, and, contrary to our states preambles are electing un-holy and un-believing leaders, while removing the name of Jesus from our prayers. Why, why should we
expect God to bless America?
I believe with all my heart that God wants to bless America, but He cannot and will not until we follow the prescription He has laid out for us in 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 will forgive their sin and heal their land."
So, how do we as individuals, or a church, or a country seek the face of God? What will it take for the Lord to shine His face on us again? How can we once again, experience the manifest or experiential presence of God in our midst?
It comes from just this:
ē We Humble ourselves before a Holy God. We bow low and acknowledge that He is God and we are not. This is His world and not our own. Our lives are about honoring and obeying Him and not just our pleasure and desires. God forgave and blessed the most wicked king in Israelís history when he humbled himself.
2 Chronicles 33 describes the life of Manasseh. He was one of the most horrible and wretched men that ever lived, and yet when he humbled himself (v.12-13) God turned his affliction to blessings. The same is said of Hezekiah in 32:23-26, and Josiah in 34:27.
ē We pray. A prayer of introspection, confession, repentance, commitment, and intercession for ourselves, our family, our church and our country. We gather with others who also humbled themselves and will pray for their country as prescribed in Joel 2 and 2 Chron. 7:14.
ē We intentionally turn from and forsake our wickedness as individuals, churches and in our country, and we seek holiness. We choose the way of life instead of the way of death (2 Chr. 7:14; Deut. 30)
To Seek Godís face and Favor and manifest presence we must intentionally and intensely:
1. Seek to Know God Personally, (Deut. 4:29, Jer. 9:23-24 contrast, vv. 3 & 6); For Godís people this is a longing to return to our first love (Rev. 2:4-5). We donít want to just know about God, we want to know Him intimately, heart to heart and soul to soul. Like the old Steve Fry song says, "to feel your
heart and know your mindÖ. Oh, I want to know you more." This was the desire of Paulís heart (Phil. 3:9-10), and our Blessed Lord says that, this is what Eternal Life is; Knowing God and His Son Jesus Christ personally, experientially (John 17:3). Do you have that kind of hunger, to know God deeply, personally, intimately? Thatís
His desire for you. We have often sung the song that says, "Knowing You Jesus, Knowing you, There is no greater thing, Youíre my all, Youíre the best, Youíre my joy, my righteousness, and I love you Lord."
2. Seek His Profound Wisdom, (Proverbs 2-3). 1 Kings 10:24 says that people came from all over the world to hear Solomonís profound wisdom. Thatís what God wants us to do with Him. Wisdom is the ability to know how to apply truth to life. Solomon said it is more important than riches and should be sought as
one who would seek treasure or riches. How does God want me to live this life this side of heaven? How do I know when I am listening to the wrong voices? How do I respond to fools and non-believers? How do I help the poor and needy? How do I handle conflict? How can I avoid the mistakes that got me in this mess to begin with? Do
you diligently seek Godís profound wisdom? His wisdom comes from His mouth and has been written in this book Ė The Bible!
3. Seek His Paths, (Deut. 10:12; 1 Kings 2:3). His paths are His ways. The way that He has laid out for us to walk. The way he leads us as our Shepherd (Ps. 23:3-4). We seem eager to seek some new way, an easier way to be righteous, a faster way to be holy, a pleasurable way to be prosperous. The old ways,
the narrow way, the way of the cross, not so much. Listen to Jeremiah 6:16-19; "Thus says the Lord: "Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls.
But they said, ĎWe will not walk in it.í 17 Also, I set watchmen over you, saying, ĎListen to the sound of the trumpet!í But they said, ĎWe will not listen.í18 Therefore hear, you nations, And know, O congregation, what is among them.19 Hear, O earth! Behold, I will certainly bring calamity on this peopleó
The fruit of their thoughts, because they have not heeded My words
Nor My law, but rejected it." I am not talking about the worship style you choose, but I am talking about the spiritual road you are traveling. Unless you are following Jesus, (walking the same road with Him as a student and disciple). Jesus, Himself said, choose your path wisely because only one way leads
to life and few people find it (Matt. 7:13-14). You cannot pray a prayer and seek grace and then choose to follow your own path. You must determine to follow Jesus.
4. Seek His Prerogatives, that is, His Will (Matt. 6:33-34). While all of these are very similar, I differentiate them to show you that you intentionally seek to know what He commands, and what He has determined for our good and His Glory (Deut. 6:24-25; 10:13; John 14:15). How do I respond to my enemies?
How do I handle my money? How do I respond to my spouse? How do I react to my President and leaders? Most of life has been laid out for us by principle or precept in this book. It is our ownerís manual. We need to take the time to seek His will. How are you doing with that?
5. Seek His Power and Provision by Prayer, (Psalm 34:4; Jer. 29:12-13). I sought the Lord and He answered me." We know or believe that this is Godís will and Godís way, we have sought Godís wisdom but donít know how this is going to happen without Godís personal intervention. (cp. Asa and his son
Jehoshaphat; 2 Chron. 15 and 20). "Our enemies are so much more than we able to withstand. If you donít intervene we are done." The old hymn says, I need you, oh, I need you, every hour I need you." Or compare the Apostlesí prayer in Acts 4:29, "Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness
they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus."31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness."
Sometimes we just need grace to endure what it seems we cannot bear. Sometimes we need a provision we just canít produce. Sometimes we need a miracle. We seek Godís favor and His face for His glory (John 14:13-14).
Letís close by looking at one more part of scripture. Isaiah 55:6-7 says, "Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.7 Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will
abundantly pardon." This is what we must do as a nation if we are going to endure. This is what we must do as Christians, people are called Godís people. And this is what we must do as individuals if we want to experience a vibrant relationship with the God is with us and in us, and wants us to know Him as Moses did, face to face.
This, then is seeking the face, the favor, and the manifest presence of God. This is what our country, our churches, our families, and ourselves must do if we are to experience a revival in our country and avert Godís judgement.
Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman