While the following message is addressed to Westgate Chapel where serve as the senior pastor, you may find that the message of this blog resonates with your own heart for your church, for your marriage or for your family. Whether or not you attend Westgate Chapel, I pray that this message will touch your heart and speak to you:
In the New Testament covenant and for New Testament believers, there is a new hub and focal point that is called the City of God and that is the local church (I am not saying God is through with Israel or Jerusalem). Hebrews Chapter 12:22 says, “You have come to Mt. Zion and to the City of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven…”
Each local congregation today represents the City of God. As such, Isaiah 22 can be a message to the local church today.
In Isaiah 22, the cities surrounding Jerusalem (the City of God) had already fallen to the enemy. Whatever direction you looked from the walls of the City of God all you could see were cities that used to serve God and were a buffer against the encroachment of the enemy. But in Isaiah 22, those cities had been defeated by the enemy and had actually become enemy strongholds.
Instead of going about their normal daily business, the people in the City of God had retreated to the roof of their houses to see what the enemy was doing and how close the enemy was encroaching on the City of God (Jerusalem).
The valleys around the city that used to supply food for Jerusalem were now full of enemy chariots and soldiers.
There was a lot of noise coming from the people standing on their rooftops shouting this and that about what was happening and what they thought were reasonable solutions for their predicament.
The Valley of Vision (a title associated with the City of God where the voice of God was heard), had been reduced to tumult, trampling and confusion.
Everyone was upset and unsettled.
No one was seeking God or listening for His voice.
Things had deteriorated so badly in the City of God that Isaiah had to look away and weep.
The tragedy in this story was not the enemy encroachment. The tragedy was that the people were focused on human strategies for protecting and defending themselves against the enemy.
Their eyes were focused on…
* …the weapons of the armory
* …the disrepair of the city’s defenses
* …the breaches in the walls
* …the houses to be demolished for building materials
* …the protection of the water supply
All of these things are reasonable and rational reaction to an enemy attack; the logical response of good leaders, with one glaring exception.
They didn’t look to God.
God tells them in Isaiah 22:11, “…You did not look to Him who did it or see Him who planned it.”
What was it that God “did” and what was it that He “planned” long ago? I’m convinced it was this exact predicament the City of God found themselves in. God was trying to get the eyes of the people of God turned back to Himself through their enemies. What did God want from His people? He wanted them to return to Him.
Their problem was where their eyes were focused.
Their sin was the sin of presumption.
* The leaders presumed they knew what got in them into their predicament.
* They presumed to know who was behind it (the King of Assyria).
* And they presumed they knew how they were going to get out it.
This is what grieved God, the sin of presumption.
What did God want from the people in the City of God?
He wanted them to humble themselves before Him with prayer, with fasting, with weeping and with mourning. This is what the Lord was looking for in His people in Isaiah 22 and it is what He is looking for from His Church today.
Tragically the people of God did the exact opposite. They went to feasting and revelry, “Lets eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”
Lord willing, we are going to do, here at Westgate Chapel, what God was looking for from the people of Jerusalem. We are going to fix our eyes on the Lord and not the broken walls or the enemy. I believe we serve a God who says, “Call on me and I will hear and I will answer you.”
Let ‘s come down off the roof tops and stop shouting this and that, and let’s just quiet ourselves before the Lord and invite Him to do His work in each one of us.
– SO, after consultation with the elders, yesterday morning, and in light of all I have shared today, I believe we are…
1. To set aside one week from tomorrow for a week of prayer and fasting… Monday, July 27-Sunday, August 2.
2. Every morning of that week (Monday-Sunday) there will be a call to prayer in the sanctuary at 6 am… I am calling all pastors, board members, leaders and people of Westgate to join me.
3. Every evening of that week (Monday-Saturday) there will be a call to prayer in the sanctuary at 7 pm… I am calling all the pastors, board members, leaders and people of Westgate to join me.
4. We are going to cancel all other activities that week for the purpose of prayer and fasting.
5. We will provide guidelines for fasting. Let the Holy Spirit, your health and the activities of that week help guide you in your choice of fasting.
6. I want none of this to be a guilt trip on anyone who is unable to participate in all of the prayer events. At the same time, the more of you that can come to some or all of them, the greater will be the impact on the church as a whole.
7. I purposely will not be providing a lot of structure to the prayer times. We are coming to humble ourselves and put our eyes on the Lord for ourselves, our families and the church…so save us from our enemies and make us a light on a hill.
If you would like to join in on our daily prayer meetings this week, but do not live in the area, you can download an app called, Periscope. You will need to have a Twitter account and follow me, Pastor Alec, on Twitter at @pastoralec. I will then invite you to join the prayer meeting on Periscope and then you can view and listen and participate.