Summary of sermon by Erlo Stegen, 28 Sep 2014
This verse contains a challenge and a wonderful promise. God speaks directly to his people, not the gentiles but to the believers. “If my people return to me and humble themselves, they will receive forgiveness of sin.” God sees the sin and if people repent of their sin, God will heal their land. This text is an inspiration to every believer. The challenge is that the world is in our hands. If we repent and get right with God, our land will be healed and restored. We are not to point to the sin of other people but to ourselves and if we repent the Lord will heal our land. God requires that we humble ourselves. This word was said to Solomon where God said, “If my people will humble themselves and turn from their wicked ways, I will heal the land.” Things can be turned around if people have an ear to hear what God says.
When you gossip about someone you kill that person. You should rather go to that person and try and help them. Otherwise, you have used the poison from your tongue to kill them. The Lord says if a person humbles himself and returns to Him, He will forgive that person. Instead of finding fault with others rather say, “Lord expose the sin in my heart.” If you do that, the Lord will work in other people’s hearts and will send rain on the dry earth. If you want to help other people, you must get your own life right with God even if it is an old sin – get it right with Him now.
We have a great responsibility towards others. Other people are living in sin because we haven’t repented of our own sin. If you want other people to come to faith and if you are right with God, God will then touch others. If the wicked go into destruction, it is because you don’t deal with your own sin. We say satan is powerful, but we give him power because of our evil ways.
In Col 2:15 it says that Jesus exposed Satan to open shame and He removed his weapons from him. We don’t understand the symbolism behind this but the people of that era understood perfectly. The Romans ruled the known world. If there was a rebellion in some distant part of the empire against the government, Caesar would send men to quash the rebellion. They would then remove the leader’s weapons, strip him and tie him to the chariot and then drag him all the way back to Rome. He was exposed to open shame. Two horsemen would ride ahead to tell Caesar that the enemy was defeated. They would burn incense symbolizing victory. Then the chariots would arrive and they would drag the rebel leader to the city square and tie him to a pillar. Everyone could come and stare at this man who dared to go against the government. People would throw rotten tomatoes at his face and contempt was poured on him. In like manner, Jesus conquered Satan and removed his weapons. This is the imagery Paul refers to. Satan has no power except the power you give him through your sin which you do not repent of.
In Sodom and Gomorrah all manner of perversion was rampant (also homosexuality and lesbianism). Three angels went to Abraham and told him that the cities would be utterly annihilated. Abraham said, “Would you destroy Sodom and Gomorrah if there were 50 righteous people?” and God said, “No.” Abraham then asked that if there were 40, and then 30 or 20 righteous people, would God destroy the cities? God answered, “Even if there are 10 righteous people I will not destroy it.” Abraham thought surely there were 10 righteous people. When the angels went there, they couldn’t even find 5. It was only Lot and his two daughters. The land can be destroyed or saved through you if you are right with the Lord. Children of God, what does God require of you? Ask God to show you what you have done from your childhood till today. Forget the sins of other people and deal with your own sin before the Lord.
We Christians are hard. It is so difficult to say we have sinned. This is why God will not send revival if people are still living in their sins. Then we will never reach the goal. It is God’s command that we examine ourselves and part from our sins. Don’t say it is too difficult.
Remember the young man from the UK who loved rearing beautiful birds. He found some very beautiful birds and he wondered how to get hold of them. They were nesting half way down a cliff. It was very high – about 200 to 300 metres high. So he got a rope and let himself down to get some eggs. When he was half way down, he noticed that the birds had their young inside the cliff and so he thought he would swing himself towards the cliff. As he swung and landed on a ledge, he lost hold of the rope. Then he noticed that with every swing the momentum of the rope was getting less. He decided to leap before the swinging rope was too far for him to catch. With the next swing, he caught the rope and tied it around himself so that he wouldn’t slip out of it. He said that as he climbed up to the top again that he forgot about those birds forever. He never attempted to go to those birds again. Do you understand that? God throws out the rope to us in the form of the Lord Jesus Christ. He alone can rescue you. Bind Him to yourself. He says, “I will forgive your sins. I will open my eyes towards you and I will hear your prayers.” Even if you were intending to do evil, repent of it immediately.
You know what those beautiful birds symbolize in your life. God throws out the rope to you. Catch it now.