He was a godly man of faith who wanted to see his people freed from oppression. He quoted Scripture in his speeches. He encouraged peaceful protests and was resolute in his mission. Martin Luther King Jr. was eventually killed for his leadership in the Civil Rights Movement. But, his dream did not die. He left us his "I Have a Dream" speech as a picture of the goal and an inspiration for the future.
Peppered throughout the "Dream" speech are words that come from Scripture: "We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." (Amos 5:24) We should remember that the foundations of God's throne are righteousness and justice. (Psalm 89:14) "I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low. The rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope." This portion of the speech was taken from Isaiah 40:4-5.
Could it be that King recognized the mission of Jesus Christ to set captives free and so quoted the prophets that told of the coming of this King who would fight for the weary and oppressed and bring hope to the hopeless? As the apostle Paul writes to the Galatians, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free." (Galatians 5:1) Jesus Christ Himself made His mission known when He stepped into the synagogue in Nazareth and read from the scroll of Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoner and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." (Luke 4:18-19)
Freedom in every realm of our lives is a God-given right since we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and his life, death and resurrection. However, many of us are not walking in complete freedom. The battle for our freedom is a spiritual one. God gives us direction on how to obtain freedom. Here are the words of Jesus: "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free...So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:32,36)
Do you see the beginning of a new year and new decade as an opportunity to examine the call on your life and the assets you possess? I do. Let us remember that each of us is unique in the gifts and callings placed within us by God. Our time on earth has been establish by God. "From one man He made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands." (Acts 17:26) "Man's days are determined; You have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed." (Job 14:5) The Psalmist recognized the blessing he had been given by God. "Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance." (Psalm 16:5-6)
How do we take possession of our inheritance and produce a harvest that blesses God, those around us and the generations to come? First, we must recognize that we are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, one of expansion and increase. Bill Johnson, Senior Pastor of Bethel Church in California says, "Our very purpose in life is intertwined with the in-breaking of God's Kingdom and the unveiling of God's glory." Second, we must live our lives according to God's commandments. This means putting God first (Matthew 6:33) and allowing Him to lead us. Paul the Apostle had the right perspective. "I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now, as always, Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or death." (Philippians 1:20) We must live according to an eternal perspective, honoring Christ in every decision we make and action we take. In addition, we must become students of the Lord's plans and purposes for our lives. We must evaluate our gifts and the territory that God has called us to possess. We must set goals for our lives through intimacy with the Lord that brings revelation of our part in bringing His Kingdom to earth.
We have been assigned a territory on earth where we will have the greatest impact for the Kingdom of God. The gifts He has given to us are seeds to be planted in our territories. Unfortunately, the kingdom of darkness is scheming to destroy the good seed we plant in our land. Remember that Satan's plan is to steal, kill and destroy. (John 10:10) After Moses died, Joshua was called to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land and to take possession of it. Here is what God said to Joshua: "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9) This is a word for us! There will be battles as we possess the land and plant seed in the territory we have been ordained to take. We must courageously battle the enemy. Jesus has encouraged us with these words: "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
We have a vital role to play in the establishing of God's Kingdom on the earth. If every person took responsibility for their territory and planted their seeds so that they take root and produce fruit, we would see an explosion of the Lord's glory throughout the earth. Our world is in desperate need for the "sons of God to be revealed." (Romans 8:19) Let's make 2020 and the decade to come the season for the earth to be "filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." (Habakkuk 2:14)
In his books and devotionals, Rabbi Jonathan Cahn enlightens us about the times and seasons and patterns of life in ancient Israel. He studies these patterns because they are a harbinger for the United States. We, like Israel, were established as a godly nation, and God judges both of us in a certain way.
The Lord's desire is for us to have relationship with Him and to live lives that reflect His nature. He chose one man to form a nation to represent Him. "For I have chosen him (Abraham), so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just…” (Genesis 18:19) As the children of Israel were being led to the Promised Land, God told them, "For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples of the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession. The Lord did not set His affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other people, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath, He swore to your forefathers that He brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commands.” (Deuteronomy 7:6-9)
Reading through Scripture, we learn that the children of Israel frequently broke covenant with God and strayed from His commands. He always warned them of the consequences of their disobedience. Then He gave them a time period of grace in which He held back the full force of His judgment and wrath. If the nation did not return to a godly way of living during the grace period, God's judgment fell. Rabbi Jonathan's January 2020 devotional tells the story of Israel's northern kingdom and how God warned them to return to Him and follow His ways. The nation did not take the warning seriously and used up their grace period without changing. God lifted His hand of protection from over them and allowed the Assyrians to destroy them.
After looking at different times in the Bible when God extended grace to the children of Israel, Jonathan has discerned that God's period of grace for America may be ending in the year 2020. Our spiritual and moral decline is noticeable and flies in the face of the nation's Judeo-Christian foundation. Jonathan points out that the year 2020 is the 400th year since the Mayflower journeyed to the shores of America and the pilgrims made a covenant with God. 400 is a number of significance in the Bible where situations for Israel changed.
Jonathan also points out the significance of the number 19 in the Bible. In the year 605 B.C. the Babylonian army invaded the kingdom of Judah to make their first strike—a limited one—against them. Nineteen years later (586 B.C.) when nothing changed, the Babylonians returned in full force and destroyed Judah. (Jeremiah 52:12) On September 11, 2020, it will be 19 years since the terrorist attack on the twin towers.
Could this be the year when our nation will see calamity and destruction? Or, could this be a year when revival will hit? As we begin the year 2020, I believe it is our obligation to pray for a national turning to our Godly roots. Let us pray that God will revive each of us and that we will be part of a company of Christians leading the people of America back to our Judeo-Christian foundation.
Joan E. Mathias