Thy Will be done on Earth...
In the run-up to the 2014 Referendum there was an uncertainty in the Scottish praying community in knowing quite how to pray. In the run-up to the general election, it’s not much different now.
"Gather together, gather together, O shameful nation, before the appointed time arrives and that day sweeps on like chaff, before the fierce anger of the Lord comes upon you, before the day of the Lord's wrath comes upon you.
Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord's anger. "
In giving a framework to his disciples who asked for guidance, Jesus gave them what is now commonly-called ‘the Lord’s prayer’. [The term is a misnomer: it should be more correctly entitled 'the Disciples’ prayer'.]
Those who are familiar with this ‘prayer pattern’ which Jesus taught, will know those verses which commence:
“Our Father, who art in heaven...” ;
and the following entreaty:
“Thy will be done on earth.....”
But the question - for earnest intercessors not least – is:
"What is the Lord’s will..?"
There is absolutely no point in praying for anything other than that which is in line with His purposes.
There is an extremely fine balance between judgement and mercy in the courts of heaven. God’s grace has been defined as: “Giving us (the good things) we don’t deserve, and withholding from us the punishments which we do deserve.”
The Bible tells us that God takes “no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.” (Ezek. 33:11). And He is “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Pet 3:9)
But the Almighty is also a God of righteousness who cannot abide sin. “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing” (Hab. 1:13).
In his letter to the church in Rome Paul wrote:
"Modern-day Scotland is certainly deserving of coming under the most profound of judgements."
“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness.” (Rom 1:18).
There were times in the Old Testament era when God used the enemies of His ancient Hebrew people to bring judgement on them for their sins. The Assyrians who overran the northern tribes of Israel were referred to by God as ‘a rod of My anger’ (Is 10:5). While the southern tribes were later carted off into captivity in Babylon for 70 years (Jer 25:8-11).
It is a common view amongst the intercessors in Scotland who prayed most earnestly at the time of the independence referendum, that the outcome of the vote (to maintain the union) was an act of Sovereign mercy. But that it was 'interim' mercy. The feeling was then, and now, that Scotland was being given no more than a ‘second chance’.
So we were not ‘off the hook’ but merely being granted a ‘temporary reprieve’ by a long-suffering sovereign God.
However there is absolutely no obvious indication that those who govern the nation are in any way more inclined to live by and uphold God’s righteous standards; and all the while the proud and bellicose rhetoric has continued.
To say that we will be living in a different UK following the forthcoming general election is to state the obvious. However it remains to be seen what will be the scale and nature of the changes that will come upon us.
Modern-day Scotland is certainly deserving of coming under the most profound of judgements.
The prophet Habbakuk cried out to God:
“How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, "Violence!" but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds.Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.” (Hab 1:2-4)
God’s answer to the prophet's plaintiff cry could be a a word-for-word description of the self-proclaimed Islamic State. (And let us not think that the UK is immune from these things.)
The Islamic State?
“Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.
I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwellings not their own.
They are a feared and dreaded people; they are a law to themselves and promote their own honour.
Their horses are swifter than leopards, fiercer than wolves at dusk. Their cavalry gallops headlong; their horsemen come from afar.
They fly like an eagle swooping to devour; they all come intent on violence.
Their hordes advance like a desert wind and gather prisoners like sand.
They mock kings and scoff at rulers. They laugh at all fortified cities; by building earthen ramps they capture them.
Then they sweep past like the wind and go on — guilty people, whose own strength is their god.” (Hab 1:5-11)
In response to Habakkuk’s promise to be attentively watchful, God continued:
“Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.
For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.”
A Litany of 'Woes'
The Almighty then enumerates a series of woes (Hab 2:6-20) which will befall those who follow the ways of dishonesty, violence, lust, injustice, greed, idolatry and self-indulgence.
But finally the prophet comes to a point where he reminds himself of all the great things that God has done:
“Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.
Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known.
And ends with the plea to a righteous God:
This must surely be our plead, our cry; our earnest supplication; our heart-felt hope.
And all for His glory; in Jesus' Name. Amen.
See: 'Prayer/Anthem for the nation(s)
Postscript: The principal means by which God is already judging the nation(s) in the socio-political realm is through Islam, secular humanism and neo-atheism.