26th September 2020
Our Dear Brethren,
In recent news, besides various rallies and protests for all kinds of reasons, there have been plans for hundreds, or possibly thousands of people to gather in the capital city of the United States for a day of prayer. There are various religious leaders in the country who are calling for people to join them, gathering in person or online, to collectively cry out to God and repent in hopes of seeking mercy from the Eternal and inspiring the rest of the nation to turn to their Creator.
What could possibly be wrong with calling on an entire nation to seek repentance from the one true God? After all, some of the religious leaders are even asking people to fast before the event (not necessarily biblical fasting, but partial fasting), take time off of work to seek God, and devote their household to prayer and worship. The day of the event is even planned for the Sabbath which, as we already know, is the day that God has set aside for us to worship Him.
Personally, I don't typically share these events with all of you for a few different reasons. First of all, I don't agree with some of the fundamental doctrines of many of the religious leaders who have organized such events. Second of all, many of the members of the Church who I write to do not live in the United States of America and have their own national spiritual dilemmas to worry about as well.
I do completely agree with the fact that each and every nation in this world would benefit from a national day of prayer, fasting, and repentance. Just like the great city of Nineveh where Jonah was sent to preach. "So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them...Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it" (Jonah 3:5, 10). Could you imagine if each and every one of the nations of the earth bowed themselves down before God in humble repentance for their sins?
The problem I have with the upcoming national day of repentance and subsequent collective prayer in the capital is that this manmade event (whether intentional or not) overshadows and neglects an even more important International Day of Repentance. God has already given us a specific day to meet together, no matter which nation we are from or which country we currently reside in, to refrain from food and drink, to get on our knees and pray, to collectively worship Him and acknowledge His greatness, and to humbly repent of our sins. We know this day as the Day of Atonement. We can and should support our nations when they decide to seek their Creator, but we must remember not to neglect the God-ordained appointed times of worship.
This Sunday, the 27th of September at sunset wherever you will be, I urge you to abstain from food and drink of any kind, to rest from all your work. I urge you to "afflict your souls" along with me "from evening to evening" as we are instructed to do. On Monday, the 28th of September is "the Day of Atonement" when we will hold a holy convocation all around the world, a 24-hour day of repentance, of prayer, of fasting, of humbling ourselves so we can draw close to our Creator and hear His words (See Leviticus 23 and Numbers 29).
It will be an amazing time when all the peoples of the world come together to honor God's command of an international day of repentance. It will be a time when our enemy has been put away and there will be peace on the earth for the first time since iniquity was first conceived of in the mind of Lucifer, and his heart was lifted up and corrupted because of his own pride (see Ezekiel 28). By keeping the Day of Atonement holy, by following the instructions from our God to honor Him in this way, we are leading the way for the people of this earth to one day repent for themselves. We are preparing our own hearts with the humility needed to be kings and priests in the kingdom of God which will fully encompass this world. We are preparing ourselves to live in a kingdom of freedom and peace.
If only all the nations could see the importance of such a day.
Our love is with you,
Pastor, United Church of God
NYC, NJ, CT, Malawi, Zimbabwe