Today the number of new Covid-19 infections reached 100,000 in the United Kingdom. But it was for another very different reason that I wept.
During the last fortnight some of us at Elim Hope Church have been meeting online for an hour's prayer together two or three times a day. Just before this morning's pre-breakfast meeting the Lord popped into my head the words of Isaiah 45:22: “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth!” Realizing that the Covid-19 epidemic was worldwide, the Lord seemed to be urging us to look to him for salvation. My thoughts went to Isaiah chapter 65, and when we came to a suitable point in the meeting I read the relevant verses aloud.
“I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me. I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, “Here am I, here am I," to a nation that did not call on my name. I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices; a people who provoke me to my face continually... You who forsake the Lord, who forget my holy mountain, who set a table for Fortune and fill cups of mixed wine for Destiny; I will destine you to the sword, and all of you shall bow down to the slaughter; because, when I called, you did not answer, when I spoke, you did not listen, but you did what was evil in my eyes, and chose what I did not delight in." (Isaiah 65:1-3a,11,12)
Isaiah’s words struck a horrible chord in my heart. Since 1950 the British Government has passed 25 ungodly laws, beginning with The Fradulent Mediums Act which legalized witchcraft, and ending (so far) in 2019 with The Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act, which took advantage of Northern Ireland’s political weakness to impose abortion and same-sex marriage on a province that historically has held to biblical values more faithfully than the rest of the UK. Laws relating to gambling, homosexuality, abortion, obscene publications, gender recognition, Sunday trading and divorce have all undermined the laws and instructions of the God who created us, the God without whom we would not even exist. At one point this year the government even tried to make it illegal to meet together to worship God.
It is not only successive governments that have been responsible for such ungodly laws. The Christian Church, which is supposed to be God’s representative on earth, has done little to oppose them: in many ways it has even supported them. The media have generally not opposed them. And I suspect that if a poll were taken there would be a large majority of the general population who would be in agreement with them too. Many church leaders have led us even further away from God, promising forgiveness without repentance and heaven without hell, forsaking anything in the Bible that so-called science or even popular culture contradicts. Bible teaching and prayers in schools and homes have almost ceased. We are truly ‘a rebellious people who walk in a way that is not good'. The dreadful results can be seen in family breakdown, unwanted children, adultery, sexual immorality, rape, theft, debt, murder, terrorism, corruption, drug abuse; and the murder of almost 10 million unborn babies, very few of whom threatened the lives of their mothers.
I then read out a post I had received this week from Voice for Justice UK. It stated that the Government has recently refused them permission to post a petition on the Parliamentary Petitions' website requesting the Queen to call a national day of repentance and prayer for deliverance. There were gasps of unbelief. A brother began to read out again the opening words of Isaiah 65, and it was at that moment that I burst into tears. I wept for my godless nation, a people who imagine that they can manage life without God’s help, in direct rebellion to his loving will for us all. In 78 years I have never wept in a prayer meeting, but this morning I sobbed my heart out. And even as I type this up, I am in tears.
Before the pandemic began I confided to a friend, “God may have to bring us to our knees before he can bring us to our knees.” I fear that I was right. Only ten days ago it was forecast that by November, if we failed to act appropriately, we could be seeing around 50,000 corona virus infections a day. That sounded like a horrible prediction. Yet now, while we are still in October, the number has already reached 100,000!
So in this morning’s small online prayer gathering, a gathering of little importance from a worldly point of view but linked by faith to the throne of the Almighty, I spoke to the Lord. “Lord, I am going to ask you to do something I would never have dared to ask until this moment. Lord God, I ask you to bring our nation to a place of despair. I ask you to bring our government to a point of desperation, where they have to admit that they don’t know what to do. I pray that you will make things so bad that the nation will realize at last that you are our only hope. Cause us to repent of our sins and turn to you, for only you, Lord God, can bring this scourge to an end. You have power to do this. You will do it, if only we will repent. 'In wrath remember mercy.'” (Habakkuk 3:2)