When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Then I said: I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. Nehemiah 1:4-6
As I was praying about the coronavirus pandemic this morning, the Lord told me that it is time for the people of the world to confess their sins and repent of their unrighteousness. The Lord reminded me that the world has been taking him for granted for a very long time. Atheism and secularism are consistently rising, while the number of people attending churches regularly is decreasing dramatically.
In many cases, biblical ethics is often criticized for being archaic, while orthodox Christians like myself are often demonized for our devotion to biblical principles. Many people’s love for God has grown cold, “For the people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes” (Matthew 13:15). Religious institutions have victimized some people as ungodly religious leaders have preyed upon the innocent. Many politicians have demonized immigrants while trivializing the suffering of the poor and the marginalization of the oppressed.
The coronavirus is just another added burden to the ills that plague the world. It would be theologically inaccurate to say that God caused COVID-19. However, I think there are spiritual lessons we can learn from the pandemic.
We should cry out to God for mercy in a spirit of confession. As this pandemic continues to wreak havoc in the economies of the nations of the world, government leaders are struggling to limit the impact on their nation while trying to prevent the spread of the disease. So far, the pandemic has proven that it is no respecter of person or country. The virus has done more damages in the wealthiest countries of the world than in the poorest countries. It is affecting democrats and republicans, conservatives, and liberals alike.
Indeed, the virus does not care if a person is white or black, or Hispanic or Asian. It does not matter if a person is rich or poor, immigrant, or citizen. Therefore, we need to confess our sins of racism and xenophobia. We have to repent of the growing economic disparity that exists between the super-rich and the poor.
In today’s text, Nehemiah prayed, wept, and fasted for four months after his brother told him that the wall of Jerusalem was torn down, and those who survived the exile were in great trouble and disgrace. Nehemiah confessed his sin, the sins of his family as well as the sins of the Israelites. He took responsibility for the disobedience and sinfulness of the Israelites as he cried out to God for mercy.
Starting today, I am going to go into a period of prayer on behalf of the people of this world, as Nehemiah did. Every believer should look within to see how they’ve disobeyed and dishonored God. Then we should take some time to confess our sins so we can receive mercy and forgiveness. That is precisely what we are told to do in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
I want to pray for God’s mercy for those children who will go hungry while schools are closed. Many people have elderly parents in nursing homes whom they cannot see for at least two weeks and are deeply concerned about their wellbeing. Many churches will not be able to help meet the needs of the poor and needy, as their financial resources will be dramatically reduced because they cannot have corporate worship.
Only God knows when this pandemic will end. We need him to sustain us as we go through these difficult days. However, we cannot go before a Holy God with sinful dispositions. We have to confess our sins so he can purify us of all unrighteousness and heal our land.
Prayer- Lord, we confess that we have been disobedient and put our sinful desires above your righteous will. We repent of our greed, selfishness, covetousness, hatred, xenophobia, sexism, classism, racism, atheism, and secularism. Have mercy upon us according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion, blot out our transgressions.