Chapter One: The Promise of Divine Intervention
By David Schnittger
The Bible presents Yahweh God as both transcendent and immanent. By transcendent, we mean that He stands beyond and is unaffected in His essential being by the circumstances of earth and the universe. By immanent, we mean that He is, at the same time, concerned and intimately involved in the affairs of this universe, and, in particular, with mankind. As such, God has chosen to be responsive to man’s actions, whether judging and punishing sin and unbelief, or granting merciful intervention in response to man’s repentance and faith. It is the latter subject that we will explore in this series of articles.
In this series, we will explore what the Bible says about “divine interventions,” in particular, societal or national interventions. We will look at examples of such interventions, both those that are recorded in biblical history as well as those that have taken place in church history. I believe that, as we look at these examples, a pattern will emerge. The examples we will consider in this study include:
- Israel during the time of the Exodus
- Nineveh during the time of Jonah
- Judah during the time of the Babylonian Captivity
- America during the time of the Revolution
- England during the time of the Second World War
- America during the present time
The purpose of this study is not merely historical or academic. We will employ what we learn from these historical examples to try to discern, as best we can, whether America is in the midst of a gracious divine intervention, and what we, as born again and Bible believing children of God, should do in such a time as this. In this article, I would like to examine general promises of divine intervention, as the foundation for the examination of specific instances of divine intervention.
The first such promise is found in Psalm 22:4, 5: “Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.” Psalm 22 is known as the “Psalm of the Cross.” This amazing psalm is a prophetic description of the future crucifixion of God’s Son, written a thousand years before its fulfillment and describing in graphic detail the suffering of Christ on the cross. In this midst of this first person narrative of His own future sufferings on the cross, Jesus declares in verses four and five how His father, Yahweh God, had delivered Israel on many occasions, but yet He would not be delivered from the agonies of crucifixion as we see in verse six: “But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.” God the Father, in His amazing redemptive plan, chose NOT to intervene in the sufferings of His only begotten Son. Nevertheless, the Lord Jesus Christ, in this prophetic passage, declares that Yahweh’s “normal modus operandi” is to intervene in deliverance to those who trust in Him.
Another passage which declares God’s promise to intervene in deliverance in response to belief, is seen in Psalm 50:15: “And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” In contrast to the call of faith, and subsequent deliverance, the psalmist contrasts this with the fate of the wicked in verse 16: “But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth?” In short, God promises deliverance to those who call upon Him with a believing heart, but promises nothing but judgment to the wicked.
Another classic passage promising divine intervention is found in 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” While this verse is well known among believers, it is noteworthy that this verse occurs in the context of, and as the antidote to, divine judgment. In verse 13 we read: “If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people;” In other words, the national repentance of 2 Chronicles 7:14 is seen as the remedy for national divine judgment! It appears that the breadth of the sin and judgment must be matched in breadth by the humbling, praying and repentance of the people in order for national intervention to take place. Does this promise give indication of a pattern that may exist when instances of national divine intervention takes place? We will explore that question in subsequent articles as we look at examples of national divine intervention.