And he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” Luke 1:17
These are the words of the angel Gabriel who stands in the very presence of God. This is the beginning of the Christmas story. Before Jesus comes—even as a baby—His holy presence requires a national clean-up. John the Baptist is sent to get the people ready for the greatest event in history. Could the words of the mightiest angel have application for a 21st century nation that walks in darkness, with brokenness between fathers and children, full of stupidity and flagrant injustice, and completely unprepared for the Holy Child of advent?
The wisdom of God required that a way would be prepared for His coming. He chose John, filled him with the Holy Spirit, and called him to deny himself the lavish eating and drinking and chaos which people of the day had settled into as if it were a normal way of life.
It amazes me that it only took one man, full of the Holy Spirit, to prepare for Jesus’ coming. One Spirit-filled man, totally dedicated to the calling, got the job done. Today, God has filled tens of thousands in America with His Holy Spirit. How could our nation be in such an awful place? Perhaps we don’t understand our calling as John understood it.
To turn a nation, we must go in the spirit and power of Elijah. James writes, “Elijah was a man of like passions as we are, yet he prayed fervently…” God, teach me to pray fervently for my nation. Teach me to pray Elijah prayers.
Elijah is known as a man of fervent prayer, and also a man of extraordinary boldness. Had it not been for God’s intervention, he would have gotten himself killed by the fierce anger of Ahab and Jezebel. His message was clear. Forsake the worship of Baal, and choose the one true God. Baal—the god of fertility, food, and child sacrifice—must be utterly abandoned. God’s Spirit-filled people must clearly proclaim the message of Elijah. It is a message of holiness. Our lives do not find their meaning in the pleasures of food and sex; nor do we live in such fear of the future that we would sacrifice our children for our own security. Life is repentance, faith toward God, baptism to forsake the old life, healing, resurrection, and the judgment that is certain for every soul. Proclaim it as loud as Elijah did.
Sometimes I am bewildered by 21st century American young people. I listen to them, but I am clueless of the conversation. I watch them, and I am ignorant to explain their actions. To prepare the way for Christ to come to America, something must happen among generations. The young and the old must learn to stand as one in the mission. Families are reunited. Love and forgiveness will bring back mother and father and children as a unit of Holy Spirit power. It is why John condemned Herod so strongly for taking his brother’s wife. John’s mission declared by the angel Gabriel was to restore families. Herod was not just a lone pleasure seeker. His sin was mocking the calling of God on a nation. America believes the lie as thoroughly as Herod did. “It’s personal, it’s private, it’s doesn’t affect you.” It took a John the Baptist to bring that lie to the light.
I believe there is a prophetic cleansing going on in America today. The rampant sexual sin is being brought out of the darkness and into the light every day. A part of me is repulsed, but there is excitement in my spirit. The clean-up is preparing the way for the Holy One to come. Isaiah saw the clean-up. He wrote, “For when he sees his children, the work of my hands, in his midst, they will sanctify my name; they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.” (Isaiah 29:23) I long to see the children, and the grandchildren, all of the generations together, forsaking sin and its destruction, standing in awe of my God!
John was finally called to bring disobedient people to wisdom and justice. The war that rages in America is precisely against God’s wisdom and justice. And the tens of thousands of Spirit-filled Johns that could prepare the way for His coming to us cannot seem to hear a clear message, nor is there John Baptist boldness to proclaim it. It is God’s wisdom and God’s justice that will heal the brokenness of our nation.
We Spirit-filled Christians must stop whispering about Jesus’ coming. He is coming now to save a nation. I will go in the spirit and power of Elijah to prepare the way. I speak with the authority of an heir of God, who has called me His friend, and has asked me to become a fellow laborer with others He has called. He has made us kings and priests to our God, and we shall reign upon the earth. I am praying the earnest prayers of Elijah for my nation, and I have one desire, to hear, “well done, good and faithful servant.” Like John the Baptist, we were born for this hour.