Senior Pastor, International Christian Fellowship Ministries
A Pastoral Letter to the Nation on July 26, 2014
Lessons: II Chron 7:12-15; Proverbs 14:34; Ezekiel 22:23-31; Proverb 3:1-12
Text: 12 Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice.
13 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14 if my people who are called by my name 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. 15 Now my eyes will be opened and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place….2 Chronicles 7:12 -15……34 Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people…Proverbs 14:34. ….. “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none… Ezekiel 22:30.
A. This year, July 26, 2014 is the one hundred and sixty-seventh independence anniversary of the Republic of Liberia which was declared in 1847 that is celebrated annually. Since the country’s declaration of independence and to the present, the nation has faced many challenges. These challenges include the deadly 1980 military coup which turned into a senseless civil war. Instead of things becoming better, there is now mass poverty; the lack of major infrastructures such as quality public educational institutions – at all levels; available quality health care, electricity, safe drinking water and sewer systems, deplorable roads, jobs and quality technical institutions to undergird development. Instead of the ruling party making major changes facilitated with the oil and other natural resources’ revenue to propel Liberia into an oasis economic empowerment and uplift the quality of life for its 4 million people; there is gross corruptions in high and low places, with the majority of the people living in vast poverty, while a select-few living well. The prospect of things getting better for the poor looks deem!
B. To top it all, this practice has become the norm and the way of life in the Liberia. Now with the addition of the Ebola epidemic that struck Liberia, there will be more deaths and sufferings for the Liberian people. The epidemic has become rampant and the national health system seems not to have a plan in place to control the spread of the virus. Recently, two doctors and a nurse became its victims, 129 had died since the virus was discovered in Liberia. We must register our thanks and appreciation to all persons in Liberia and abroad particularly the international community who are doing whatever they can do about the “Ebola” saga. On the other hand, the “Church” must also become involved and begin asking the right questions concerning this deadly disease that has come upon the nation of Liberia. For Christians and others, What does the WORD OF GOD say about this deadly matter that hand? Has the Church addressed the matter as a “spiritual matter”? And if not, why not? Could it be that the Church is too engaged in preaching the “prosperity gospel” instead of teaching the truth ….the whole Bible and what the Lord desires, requires and expects?
C. The answer to the Ebola virus has a “spiritual root” and should not be a difficult one if we dig deep into the Word of God because there are many countless examples. You see, God loves his people but hates disobedience and wickedness – He will also bring about war, calamities and death upon a nation and people when they failed to obey Him. The Book of Judges (chapters 1-21) demonstrates that the Children of Israel (God’s chosen people) were always in a cycle of blessings and curses. When they obeyed God as read in Deuteronomy 28:1-14, there were much blessing but when they disobeyed (Deuteronomy 28:16-58), they felt His wrath. To carry the matter further, Deut 28:58 is clear that God will send deadly diseases when the people fail to obey. In other parts of the Old Testament, God sent enemies to defeat His people again and again. In Numbers 21:4-9 when the people acted ugly and disobeyed God, the snakes bit them. However, they were later saved when they looked up to the bronze serpent.
D. There are many social issues and ills in the nation of Liberia that can be considered as not consistent with the Word of God. Despite the many blessings and natural resources He has bestowed upon Liberia; yet, the leaders and the people still disobey Him. Certainly indeed, leadership has changed again and again, but things seem to be getting worse. As we have noticed in the past, national leadership changed due to coup and elections, but the people seem bent in keeping things the same and are not willing to change. As a result of not doing things the “God-Way”, we still have poor educational system, high illiteracy and unemployment, the lack of basic essentials such as electricity, safe drinking water and sewer systems; quality health service, deplorable roads, coupled with high corruption that runs amuck in high and low places. Additionally, there are mountains of moral and social problems that leaves one to wonder what have we achieved to be celebrating July 26 each year? Is there a parallel between Liberian and the Children of Israel who kept forgetting to obey God after they were delivered from bondage and oppression but doing the very thing that sent them into bondage? Based on the Prophet Ezekiel’s observation, there seems to be a mirror image of what is going on in the nation of Liberia. God is angry with Liberia and wants someone or a group to “stand in the gap” but the search seems to not find the “Church” that is the moral vanguard/watchman on the tower of justice/peace to make up the “hedges” and to “stand in the gap” as read in Ezekiel 22:30-31. Now let me have you ponder upon this: What would be the outcome if the “Liberian Church” stood in the gap for God?
E. Let us bring it closer to home with respect to the urgency of standing in the gap for the nation. In many ways, Liberia is like the City of Jerusalem whose walls were gapped up and broken. Nevertheless, the Bible teaches us that “Righteousness exalted a nation, and sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). As we look at Ezekiel 22:23-31, we see that the actions of the religious leaders, the governmental leaders and people have much in common with the leaders and people of Liberia. Let us now dig deeper into our text to gain some insights.
II.THE LIBERIA AND EZEKIEL 22:22-31 PARELLES:
A. First…we have the PROPHETS (verses 24/28) who were like a roaring lion devouring souls, giving false visions when the Lord had not spoken.
B. Secondly…we have the PRIESTS (verse 26) who were the religious leaders that violated the laws of God and could not distinguish holy things from common things.
C. Thirdly…we have the PRINCESS (verse 27) who were the GOVERNMENTAL OFFICIALS who were like wolves tearing souls apart, killing people to make unjust gains, greed, and gross corruption.
D. Fourthly…we have the PEOPLE (verse 29) who practiced extortion, they and oppressed, the poor and needy as well as mistreated strangers and foreigners.
Now in 2 Chronicles 7:12, it is very interesting to note that God heard the prayers of people and choice a place for himself! Indeed, Liberia was chosen by God but our prayers are blocked despite the huge church attendance and praises that we see in the nation. On the other hand, note with me in 2 Chronicles 7:13, God will shut up the heaven, command locus to devour the land or sent pestilence among the people. Could the “Ebola” be a pestilence that God has sent as He has done in the past? Even now, Liberia is having more rain than she ever had that keeps the people in for days! Nevertheless, in 2 Chronicles 7:15, we know for sure that when certain things are done according to the Word, God’s eyes become opened, His ears become attentive to prayers. So the logical question is this. Are we praying and not getting answers from Heaven and why or are the eyes and ears of God closed to Liberia? Perhaps, we need to see what the Word of God has to say according to 2 Chronicles 7:14 as discussed below.
III. WHAT IT TAKES TO HEAR FROM HEAVEN (2 Chron 7:12-15):
A. We Have To Be God’s People…Called By His Name (ref 2 Chron 7: 14). It suggests that we must know the Lord on a personal level, know who we are and our identity as well as walk and talk as a people of God at all times!
B. We Have To Humble Ourselves… (ref 2 Chron 7: 14a). It suggests that we must be ourselves, be respectful of each other regardless of social class, tribe, color, religion, creed and physical limitations. However, it starts with humbling ourselves before God and He will lift us up!
- We Have To Pray To God… (ref 2 Chron 7: 14b). It suggests that we must have no other gods that we pray to include trees, objects, animals, material items and people or an individual. However, our prayers to God must be sincere and God-centered.
- We Have To Seek God’s Face… (ref 2 Chron 7: 14c). It suggests that we must put God first in all that we do and it must be real and from the heart instead of lip-service or mere personal seeking for what God can do for us personally. Above all, we must seek the Kingdom of God first and then everything else will be added unto us.
- We Have To Turn From Our Wicked Ways… (ref 2 Chron 7: 14d). It suggests that we as a people sure have some wicked ways that must be dealt with and not swept under the rug of pride, arrogance, apathy, and unrighteousness which is a reproach to the people! Perhaps, if the “wickedness cap” fits you, wear it, confess it, repent of it, and turn from your ways to God’s way. The instruction of the Word is to turn from and not to gossip, witchcraft, juju, palm reading, oppression, corruption, stealing, lying, cheating, immorality, corruption, murder, killing, classism, tribalism, fornication, adultery, homosexuality, laziness, apathy, all forms of physical and verbal abuses.
IV. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE HUMBLE OURSELVES, PRAY, SEEK GOD AND TURN
A. When we humble ourselves, pray, seek God and turn from our wicked ways; God promised that we will HEAR from heaven… 2 Chron 7:14e.
B. When we humble ourselves, pray, seek God and turn from our wicked ways; God promised that He will FORGIVE OUR SINS from heaven… 2 Chron 7:14f.
C. When we humble ourselves, pray, seek God and turn from our wicked ways; God promised that He will HEAL OUR LAND from heaven… 2 Chron 7:14g.
When we strive to do the things as commended in 2 Chron 7:14, we will hear from God to heal and restore our Land. Let us therefore turn to God in our national crisis and put Him to a test for a new, better, and prosper Liberia as God’s people who will be known by the way we love and care for one another.
I urge the Liberian Council of Churches to establish a national “10-Day Daniel Fast” to invoke divine healing.
Rev. Dr. William B. G. K. Harris is the Founder & Senior Pastor of the International Christian Fellowship, Inc. (ICF), Atlanta, Georgia. In 1984, he was ordained in the East Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church by the late Bishop James S. Thomas. For three years he served as adjunct/part-time professor at Beulah Heights Bible College in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a 1973 graduate of Booker Washington Institute (BWI), Liberia, where he received a Diploma in Electronics. In 1981, he obtained his BsEE degree in Electrical Engineering from Tuskegee University; and he went to earn his MDiv degree from the ITC of Atlanta University Center (Gammon Theological Seminary) in 1987. In 2012, earned his Doctor of Ministry from Adamsville Theological Seminary. Pastor Harris worked for nineteen years with GEC Marconi Avionic as an Electrical Engineer in the disciplines of Quality Assurance, Reliability and Logistic Engineering.
Pastor Harris is a published author. He is very active in the Liberian and larger communities in Georgia. He has been happily married to Queeta Tolbert for 33 years. Their union is blessed with 7 children including triplet daughters and two granddaughters. One of their children (son) died in an automobile accident in 2002. Pastor Harris had a successful kidney transplant August 11, 2011. He and his family reside in Buford, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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