A look at CBN's special Week of Prayer service from September 14, 2018 with Gordon Robertson.
- Let's lift these requests to the Lord.
Someone asking, pray for an end
to the violence in Baltimore City.
Pray for my two sons to get off drugs,
and my youngest son to stop from lying.
Pray for my diabetes, my kidneys,
restoration of hearing,
and pray I have more faith.
Pray for my daughter to be cured
of gender identity confusion.
Pray for my husband, he hasear ringing for many years.
He also was recentlydiagnosed with Alzheimer's.
So let's just lift these to the Lord.
Lord, we exalt you, for you are able.
You are able to do exceedingly
above all we could ever ask or think.
And Lord, we just ask thatyour will would be done,
on earth, as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day these requests.
Forgive us of our transgressions.
Set us free from iniquity.
Set us free from thepain of sin and death.
Do it, Lord God, stretchforth your hand, Lord God.
Restore your people, thesheep of your pasture.
For we ask it in Jesus' name, amen.
You may be seated.
Here in Virginia Beach, it's really nice
not to have a hurricane.
And if you look at the path,
it's like, goes all the way around.
Now if you live in NorthCarolina or South Carolina,
you're not really happy about that.
But you oughta be really happy
that the stage four hasturned to a stage one.
Lord willing, by the end of the day,
it will come into a tropical storm.
I heard a real badforecast from Myrtle Beach
that if it stays cat oneand keeps going down,
there could be a storm surge
that would be devastating to Myrtle Beach.
Let's just take a momentright now and pray.
Lord, we ask,
and before we ask, we thank,
for what you have done,
and how you took a category four
that was supposed to bethe storm of the century,
the storm of a lifetime,
and in your hands, it become nothing.
But now, Lord, we lift ourfriends in North Carolina,
South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee,
West Virginia, Pennsylvania,
we lift them to you, and Lord,
we just ask for mercy.
You are able to dissipate these winds.
You're able to take this storm wall,
and make it nothing.
You're able to take the rain,
and make it a very gentle shower.
So Lord, we ask, we ask, and we stand,
believing in your awesomepower, that you are able.
And in your will, there aren'tany hurricanes in Heaven.
So, we see that, and we ask
that your will would be done on earth,
as it is in Heaven,
just as you stilled thestorm on the Sea of Galilee,
still this storm, Lord God.
For we ask it in Jesus' name, amen.
Today, I wanna continue my teaching
about the Day of Atonement,
as we're beginning thisPray for America campaign.
And on Yom Kippur, one ofthe things that is done,
is the entire book of Jonah is read.
The congregation joins together,
and they read the book of Jonah.
So, we're not gonna read the whole thing
because we don't have all day.
But, we're gonna read portions.
The word of the Lord cameto Jonah, son of Amittai:
go to the great city ofNineveh, and preach against it
because its wickednessis come up before me.
But Jonah ran away from the Lord,
and headed for Tarshish.
You ever run away from God?
I did, ran long, ran hard.
Ended up in the belly of a fish.
There's a lot going on here.
And when you apply itto modern-day America,
or modern-day Europe or modern-day Asia,
sort of pick a city,
and you can come up with this.
Its wickedness is come up before me.
What was going in Ninevehwas extreme violence.
There wasn't any sanctuary in that city.
They were extraordinarily violent
because that was anextraordinarily violent culture.
They praised violence.
They practically lived for it.
Rabbis have debated a long time
about why Jonah ran away from the Lord.
And it's not what we think in,
sort of, Christian thinking,
that somehow, Jonah decidedbacksliding was better,
or it was really timefor me to be rebellious,
or anything like that.
There are rabbinical interpretations
that if the reason is, thathe knew Nineveh would repent,
and by their repentance,Israel would look bad.
And that would cause judgment on Israel.
I think you go away from the plain meaning
of the text when you do that.
And I'll get into that specificverse of why Jonah's mad.
He's mad that they repent.
The reason that Jonah runs away is
that he wants Nineveh destroyed
because he lives in Israel.
And who's the big bully on the block?
Nineveh, the Assyrians.
These are the guys thattook the 10 tribes away,
and wiped 'em off the map.
So they became lost.
So, you know, a modern day equivalent is,
what if God called you to gopreach the Gospel to Isis,
that God would say, I'mreally tired of the violence,
it's time for them to repent,
or I'm gonna wipe 'em off the planet.
Most of us would say, you go, God.
You know, I'm fine with youwiping them off the planet.
That would be a good thing.
And you might even add, it's about time.
So, the reason here isthat he does not want mercy
to come to Nineveh, because he knows this.
He knows what God showed to Moses.
Exodus 34:6-7, and Italked about yesterday,
the Lord, the Lord God,merciful and gracious,
long-suffering, aboundingin goodness and truth,
keeping mercy for thousands,
forgiving iniquity andtransgression and sin,
by no means clearing the guilty,
visiting the iniquity of the fathers
upon the children andthe children's children
to the third and fourth generation.
So he knows the 13 attributes of God.
I'm positive Jonah had memorized these.
So, when he prays, theseattributes are before him.
And he knows that when God speaks,
and specifically speaksabout mercy, he means it.
It's the third attribute.
The one who causes everything to be,
the I Am the I Am, God of all creation,
merciful and gracious.
You know, we do need to keep in mind,
he by no means clears the guilty,
but this is going through Jonah's head.
We all know the rest of the story
in terms of, he goes onto a ship.
He's trying to get to Tarshish.
In his mind, he forgets
that God's the God of the whole world.
He thinks that if he goes to Tarshish,
he's gone a long way,
and God can't possibly reach him there.
Or maybe, he's thinking,
God can't possibly callhim to Nineveh from there.
He's trying to getaway, ends up in a fish,
and ends up praying.
I'm doing this Superbook cartoon on Jonah.
I had to pull a real strongexecutive producer position
that we were going to include his prayer
because I think his prayer is one
of the greatest examplesof a salvation prayer
you can find in the Old Testament.
On the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur,
this prayer is recited in everysynagogue around the world.
And, you know, the sort of feeling
on the production team was,
good grief, Gordon, thisis a children's cartoon.
You're gonna really make it boring
by having this really long boring prayer.
And you know, why you putting it,
we need the action of the fish.
And you know, we need a fish to vomit.
The kids are all gonna love that.
Why you puttin' this prayer in the middle
of all this action?
Well, it really worked.
And the reason it really worked,
is this is a really powerful prayer.
And it shows that even whenyou think you're dying,
God is there, God is there.
His hand is not too short to save you.
So, Jonah chapter two, in my distress,
I called to the Lord.
All this week, in our distress,
as we're looking down thebarrel of a cat four hurricane,
we called to the Lord.
And he answered me,
from the deep and the realm of the dead,
I called for help, andyou listened to my cry.
Verse nine, chapter two, but I,
with shouts of gratefulpraise, will sacrifice to you,
what I have vowed, I will make good.
I will say, salvation comes from the Lord.
This is Old Testament.
This is Yom Kippur.
This is all within organized religion
about obedience to the Torah.
But still, the confession is,
salvation comes from the Lord.
It doesn't come from my acts.
We're sinners, the wholeDay of Atonement yearly,
is to recognize thenational sin of Israel.
And we recognize we're sinners,
and that the only way we canbe saved is from the Lord.
Well, God hears that prayer.
Jonah ends of on the shore.
And the word of the Lordcomes to him a second time.
Isn't that great?
Isn't it great, Goddoesn't give up on you?
I've had a lot of people say,
well, God called me to dosuch-and-such and so-and-so,
and I ignored it, or have I missed God,
or all these kinds of things.
No, you haven't missed God?
All you have to do iscome back just like Jonah.
And the great news is God will restore.
He is the God of restoration.
I don't care how old youare, how young you are,
you cannot miss God's boat.
All you need is thatprayer, Lord restore me.
I don't care where you are in life,
he wants to do good things for you.
His plan and his purpose for you endures.
It's not a surprise tohim that you messed up.
He's not disappointed in you.
He doesn't love you any less.
He still wants the best.
So, second time, go tothe great city of Nineveh,
and proclaim to it the message I give you.
Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord,
and he went to Nineveh.
Now this takes guts,'cause he's Israelite.
So, he's going to the camp of the enemy.
And Nineveh's a big city.
Nineveh was a very large city.
It took three days to go through it, wow.
Jonah began by going aday's journey into the city,
proclaiming, 40 more days, andNineveh will be overthrown.
Don't you wish every Sundaysermon was as short as this?
That's his message, that'sthe sum total of it.
Bible doesn't add a single word to this.
In 40 days, Nineveh will be overthrown.
When a message has theanointing of the Holy Spirit,
trust me, it's not thewords that are spoken.
It's not the words.
What opens hearts, what openears, is the Spirit of God.
And it was on this message,
40 more days, Nineveh will be overthrown.
And the Ninevites believed God.
And underline that one.
They didn't believeJonah, they believed God,
because God was on the message.
He sends forth his word.
He watches over it to perform it.
The Ninevites believed God.
A fast was proclaimed, and all of them,
from the greatest to theleast, put on sackcloth.
For Yom Kippur, a fast is proclaimed.
The Jews do not eat.
If you have a medical issue,
you're allowed to, if you're a child.
They don't fast their children.
But everyone else in theassembly fasts the whole day.
There is great rejoicing whena shofar blows at sundown
because the fast is over.
And then, it's a big party.
But there's a fast, from the greatest
to the least, they put on sackcloth.
And then, this is theproclamation the king put out,
by the decree of the king and his nobles.
Notice here, everyone'sinvolved in leadership.
It's not the king, there's not division.
Everyone in leadership isinvolved in this proclamation.
Let everyone call urgently on God.
Let them give up their evilways and their violence.
Who knows, God may relent,
and with compassion, turnfrom his fierce anger
so that we will not perish.
Now, imagine, you're Jonah.
You've done your three-dayjourney through Nineveh.
You've seen this result.
And now, everyone in thecity is in sackcloth,
is fasting, crying out urgently on God,
forsaking their violent ways.
You've got success.
I mean, it might be time to get a tent,
let's have regular meetings, not Jonah.
But to Jonah, this seemed very wrong.
He didn't like it at all.
And he says, he prayed to God,
isn't this what I said, Lord,
when I was still at home?
That is what I was trying to forestall
by fleeing to Tarshish.
I knew that you are a graciousand compassionate God,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
a God who relents from sending calamity.
He's mad because it worked.
He wanted Nineveh wiped out.
I'll just make a side comment,
about prophets of doom.
Do you ever get the sensethey're disappointed
when the doom doesn't happen?
Please don't be that.
Please don't be that.
In the New Testament Age, prophecy is
to encourage, comfort, and exhort.
Please don't be doom and gloom,
God's gonna bring the brimstone.
Anyway, Jonah was angry.
It seemed very wrong.
Now examine your own heart on this one.
Have there been times whenwhat God was doing seemed
to you to be very wrong?
Have you ever been like Jonah?
I have, I'll freely, I'll lead everyone
in confession, I have, I have.
You know, but God seemed to be wrong.
Certain things aren't right.
These people should be wiped out.
You know, why does judgment delay?
All of these things.
And in all of that process,
I'm not recognizing my own sin.
And I'm not recognizing I,first of all, need judgment.
I should be judged, I've done evil things.
I have sinned against arighteous and holy God.
I encourage people todo thought experiments.
What would you do if you were God?
What would you do, how would you act?
I found out more aboutthe character of God,
raising young children,
than reading the Bible.
Because when young children are in
that whole two-year-old it's mine,
and you want fire and brimstone,
or maybe just immediatesleep to come upon them,
then you start to say,
well, no, I really love them.
These are my children, I really love 'em.
It doesn't matter what they do.
I don't care if they justre-decorated the bathroom
in toilet paper, it doesn't matter.
I still love them, I still want them.
And watch the 13 attributes of God.
And as Christians, we aretrying to be like him.
That's our goal.
So, merciful, gracious, long-suffering,
compassionate, slow toanger, abounding in love.
That's what we need to be.
The purpose of readingthis at Yom Kippur is
to show how, in our judgment,
in our condemnation of others,
we are actually separatingourselves from God.
We need to turn that around
so that we are just like he is,
gracious, compassionate, slowto anger, abounding in love.
I will confess, on Tuesday,I was not slow to anger.
I was hot, and you know,
this has really brought me up short,
no, uh-uh, uh-uh, can't do this.
Here at the very end,
you know, there's this whole story
of this plant that grows up.
And, you know, Jonah'sout there in the heat.
The plant grows up and gives him shade.
And Jonah's like, I'mhappy, I got shade now.
I'm kinda wondering, Jonah,
why don't you just go on home?
But, uh-uh, for whateverreason, God has him there.
And then, God causes a worm to come,
and overnight, the plant gets destroyed.
And so, Jonah's back in the heat again.
And you know, Jonah's just mad.
He's waiting for thedestruction of Nineveh still.
And he's still mad.
And this is all a lesson from God for him,
that you know, you tookcompassion on a plant.
You're mad that a plant gets destroyed.
Where's your compassion for the people?
And, here's his explanation.
And these are the words of the Lord.
Jonah chapter four, verse 11,
and should I not have concernfor the great city of Nineveh,
in which there are morethan 120,000 people
who cannot tell theirright hand from their left,
then curiously, and also many animals?
If you've ever wonderedif God is concerned
about your dog or your cat,
go to the end of Jonah,
and the answer is yes, he is.
Unlike a plant, they are conscious.
They are thinking, they are feeling.
God's concerned about 'em.
But, he's more concernedabout the 120,000 people
who cannot tell theirright hand from their left.
That is a curious turnof phrase in Hebrew.
And it essentially means,
you can't discern right from wrong.
You haven't been educated in the Torah.
You haven't been broughtup in the synagogue.
You haven't learned the 613 commandments.
You haven't gone through the Bar Mitzvah.
You have not been acceptedinto the community.
You have no idea what right and wrong are.
You are out there, beinggoverned by your own conscience.
And as we all know, when wedo right in our own eyes,
we are doing wrong, by definition.
Our heart is deceptive,it is unbelievably wicked.
The way may seem right in our eyes,
but it leads to destruction.
So God is saying for Nineveh,
they don't know right from wrong.
That's how they got into this mess.
Why shouldn't I have compassion on them?
So, in praying for America,
should we not realize,
there has been a whole generation
that has been raised without the church,
has no idea what is right and wrong?
They can't determine it at all.
Should we be surprised thatthey end up in trouble?
God isn't, why are we?
And, you know, let us not be surprised
that sinners do sinful things.
I think I'm getting to the point
where I'm not surprisedChristians do sinful things.
And I'm not sure I'm happy about that.
Perhaps Christians shouldhave a higher standard.
But then, I start looking in the mirror,
and saying, mercy, grace, and compassion.
But, as Christians, weshould be holding ourselves
to that standard.
We do know right from wrong.
We do know the way.
And we should walk in that ancient path.
This is the way, walk in it.
When you walk in accordancewith what the Bible commands,
you're on very solid ground.
Alright, Matthew 12,
let's take this intothe New Testament era,
because there's an amazing imagery here.
And here, we're in Matthew chapter 12,
verses 39 through 41.
Here, the Pharisees are being Pharisees.
And they're asking for a sign,
even though, under the Torah,
if a false prophet comesand performs signs,
you're still not supposedto listen to him.
If he's trying to temptyou to follow other gods,
you're not supposed tobe listening to him.
But they're still asking for that sign.
Jesus knows what'sgoing on in their heads,
and doesn't really havekind words for them.
A wicked and adulterousgeneration ask for a sign.
Have you ever asked God for a sign?
You ever tried to make that bargain?
You know, I've heard it a lot, you know.
Usually, it involves, God, ifyou'll heal a family member,
then, I'll do such-and-such,and so-and-so.
Or it's some kind ofbargaining thing going on.
And really what you're doingis you're asking for a sign.
And, I actually count allthose bargain prayers as sin.
And it's the sin of unbelief.
If you really believe that Jesus died
for all people for all time,
if you really believe
that by his death, all sin is forgiven,
if you really believe that byhis stripes, we are healed,
then your bargain doesn't matter at all.
And by offering a bargain to him,
you're saying, I'm sorry Jesus,
your cross isn't good enough for me.
So, as Christians, wereally need to pay attention
to these words from Jesus
because he wants us tohave a life of miracles.
But he wants it on his terms, not on ours.
He wants it on the ground
that we actually believehe is the Messiah,
that by his word, all things
that were created came into being.
He actually wants us to believe that.
So, a wicked and adulterousgeneration ask for a sign.
And, go back to that thought process.
Imagine you're Jesus,
and you've done a lotof signs to this point.
I mean, we're already in the 12th chapter.
So a lot has gone on.
And surely the Phariseeshave heard about it.
So, they're coming, asking you for a sign,
and you actually are the sign.
You know, it's like, goingin front of a stop sign,
and saying, are you sureyou want us to stop?
You are the sign.
So no wonder he reacts so strongly.
You wicked, adulterous generation.
But none will be given it, except the sign
of the prophet, Jonah.
For as Jonah was threedays and three nights
in the belly of a huge fish,
so the son of man will bethree days and three nights
in the heart of the earth.
The real meaning of the story of Jonah,
on the Day of Atonement, on Yom Kippur,
is a pointing sign, Jesus, Jesus.
Jesus is our atonement.
He is the sign for our age
that he was three days, three nights,
and then he rose again to Glory.
And that, it doesn't get any better.
It's the best sign we can possibly have.
So for the Day of Atonement,
let's not just read Jonah in isolation.
Let's read Jonah in lightof the resurrection.
That wicked, perverseNineveh is able to be saved,
which, for wicked, perverseGordon, is really good news,
because it means I can be saved.
Because God is merciful,compassionate, slow to anger.
He doesn't keep records of wrong
for those who say, Jesus is my Lord,
and my Savior, he is the one.
This is the one I will stand for,
merciful, gracious, long-suffering,
abundant in goodness and truth,
keeping mercy unto thethousandth generation,
forgiving iniquity and transgression
and sin, who cleanses.
Doesn't get any better than this.
This is what we cling to.
This is what we pray for America.
And let's pray, because we need to change.
Just like Nineveh, we need torepent, and turn back to God.
So join me, Lord God, we just come to you,
and we just depend on your mercy.
We depend on how gracious you are,
how long-suffering you are.
And Lord, turn our hearts to you.
Let this nation have a great revival
where we turn back to you,
no longer pursuing whatis right in our own eyes,
but pursuing what youhave written for the ages.
Now, Lord, cleanse us.
For you are our salvation.
Without you, we can do nothing.
But with you, we can do all things.
Cleanse us, deep within our heart,
deep within our innermost being,
that our thoughts, themeditation of our hearts,
the words of our mouths wouldbe acceptable in your sight.
Lord, righteousness exalts a nation,
and we confess now, we are not righteous.
But with you, we canonce again be restored.
Restore us, Lord God, be with us.
For we ask it, in Jesus' name, amen.