At the end of the first decade of the 21st century, I began to read the book of Esther and simultaneously began a serious study of the books of Ezra and Nehemiah:
"For I was ashamed to ask the king for an escort of foot and horse soldiers to help us against the enemy on the way, because we had spoken to the king, saying, 'The hand of our God is upon all who seek Him for good, but His power and His wrath are against all who forsake Him.'" --Ezra 8:22
"They said to me, 'The remnant that returned from captivity is there in the province enduring great affliction and reproach. Also, the wall of Jerusalem remains broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire. When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days. Then I fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven.'" --Nehemiah 1:3-4
" ... because the good hand of my God was upon me." --Nehemiah 2:8c
Daniel was in office the first year of King Cyrus' reign. Daniel and Esther fasted and prayed. Ezra and Nehemiah rebuilt the wall.
"However, in the first year of Cyrus the king of Babylon, King Cyrus made a decree to rebuild this house of God." --Ezra 5:13
"Daniel continued even to the first year of King Cyrus." --Daniel 1:21
"So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian." --Daniel 6:28,
"Cyrus king of Persia even brought forth more for them, by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer and had them numbered for Sheshbazzar, who was the prince of Judah." --Ezra 1:8,
During personal Bible study time, it came to me that we should be ashamed to say we are trusting God, only to turn to the world's solutions for our problems. I don't mean we can't use what is available to use, because the wealth of the wicked is laid up for the just. But do we trust that God will guide us in taking possession of the "spoils," or are we relying on getting the goods by our own strength?
For example, the early 21st-century stimulus packages and freebies promised by our government may have contained some "hidden treasures," but as we rushed to receive the handouts, did we by faith rely on God to direct our approach for the solutions and supply our wants and needs? Or were we looking to God while using earthly solutions? I can't say God will never instruct someone to do something we, as Christians, would ordinarily not try, because Peter had a dream to eat "unclean" food, and God told him not to say what was clean or not but to let Him make those decisions. But do we come up with schemes on our own and then say that "God blessed us" if we happen to win? I think not.
One reason America borders on the brink of economic disaster and constant violent upheaval is that we have turned blind eyes and deaf ears to the plight of our brothers and sisters. Like Cain, who killed his brother Abel, we have despised good and have turned away from caring about what happens to our brothers and sisters. We must humble ourselves as Nehemiah did:
"When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days. Then I fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven" --Nehemiah 1:4
Early in 2016, America found herself facing the choice of repenting first of her own sins before taking on the ills of the world or continuing along the troubled paths that have been set before us. Yes, repenting and returning to God, rebuilding the foundations of a nation that once tried to live up to the creed of being "one nation under God," or forsaking God altogether and going the way of other civilizations that forsook God and perished. The saga of Sodom and Gomorrah is perhaps one of the more extreme examples of such, but we must ask ourselves if we are closer to experiencing a similar fate than we might realize.
Amazingly, in 2015, there emerged a least-likely presidential candidate who wanted to "make America great again." He started speaking of "building a wall" around America's borders. The people became fearful; the naysayers became furious. Yet the talk of America's wall continued.
All of this talk about a "wall" for America has actually caused the hearts of America's prayer warriors to hope again, realizing that a wall must have a strong foundation, a sturdy rock, and a chief cornerstone. Finally, 21st-century America seems to have taken notice that something more is required if there is truly to be hope for America.
Yes, there is hope, and there still may be time to return to God and rebuild God's wall of protection around our nation. If we sincerely desire to rebuild our nation, there is much to be learned from the lessons in the books of Esther, Ezra and Nehemiah.
One thing is for sure: Many men and women in the Bible came to discover and understand that there is a God in heaven. And many rejected the ways of the one true God. We learn the consequences of rejecting Him through the experiences of those who would not submit to His sovereignty.
In the Bible, many learned to love, serve and obey God. Their successful testimonies have become our examples for living throughout history, even today. As our Bible heroes began to know and follow God in the fullness of truth, so can we. For those who receive God as Father, Christ as Lord, and Holy Spirit as Helper, God expresses agape love and divine sovereignty.
In God's many expressions, titles and names, His character is revealed. To name a few, we can come to know God as "Adonai" (The Boss), "Christ" (The Redeemer), "Paraclete" (The Holy Spirit, Teacher and Comforter), "The Way, The Truth and The Life," (Jesus) and "Abba" (God, our heavenly Father in Christ).
Those who receive God as Abba, in the fullness of God's loving grace and commandments through the shed blood of Jesus the Christ become not only God's creations, but we also become "children of God."
Also, we must ever be mindful that God is not a "he." God is not a man. God is a Spirit. In the Christian faith, for those of us who receive God as Abba, God is known as "He." In His earthly life, Jesus Christ was God in the body of a human male. Holy Spirit is also often referenced as "He." Yet please don't be turned away from God by the human efforts to define Him.
"God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?" --Numbers 23:19 (NLT)
"God [is] a spirit; and they who worship him must worship [him] in spirit and truth." --John 4:24 (DARBY)
Here in the 21st century, the kingly and priestly anointing arise together. Along with the Esthers, Daniels, Nehemiahs, and Ezras, we meet the prophetic. We see Obadiah's hidden prophets emerging from the caves to join Elijah as Jezebel and Ahab are defeated.
During America's 2016 elections, we experienced a season where Jezebel had fallen. "They killed us but they ain't whipped us yet ..." according to the report by one candidate, Tim Kaine.
Consequently, we continue advancing God's kingdom with "thus saying," presenting ourselves to Ahab (and all world government authorities, including those in the high places of Ephesians 6:12) so that the latter rain can fall increasingly on the earth (avoiding distractions, yielding always to Father God, championed by Lord Jesus, guided by His Excellency, Holy Spirit):
"After many days, in the third year, the word of the Lord came to Elijah, saying, 'Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain upon the earth'" --1 Kings 18:1 (MEV)
It's the season for the "hidden prophets" to speak out:
In the Bible account, Ahab called for Obadiah, his household supervisor. This man, who feared the Lord very much, had taken 100 prophets and had hidden them by fifties in a cave, providing them with food and water when Jezebel was trying to destroy the Lord's prophets.
Let the kings and priests of God arise. Let the prophets and intercessors unite with the high praises of God in our mouths.
In the final analysis, hope springs eternal. Even as the year 2016 was a season for God repairing breaches and unleashing many spiritual gifts to advance His heavenly kingdom, I pray that 2017 and beyond will be remembered as the beginning of a new and fresh wave of repentance, healing and forgiveness among families, communities and nations. As hope springs eternal, faith will increase and agape love will grow stronger. As this happens, the repairing, rebuilding, restoring process is all part of God's eternal plan to draw America ever closer to His heart.