We need to make an honest inventory of personal as well as corporate (national) sin. In order to rectify them, we must acknowledge these sins, own them, and humble ourselves before the Lord. Pray that the Lord helps us, giving us the spiritual fortitude and grace to not only recognize spiritual deficiency but to be remorseful in spirit, pleading for His mercy and forgiveness.
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV)
“Consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders and inhabitants of the land to the house of the Lord, your God, and cry out to the Lord. ‘Yet even now’ declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.’ Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.” (Joel 1:14, 2:12-13 ESV)
In the book of Joel, the prophet recognized that the Day of Judgment by God was at hand. He then called for a holy convocation (a solemn assembly) of all people and their leaders to repentance. The Bible gives many examples of solemn assemblies, but its main focus is a special time allotted for the repentence from sin(s) that may invite the judgment of God upon the nation.
According to the book of Joel, the solemn assembly is to function as:
A solemn assembly for all nations is their own National Day of Repentance. Scripture documents that when there were times of great turmoil, grieving and conviction of sin, leaders arose and called together a solemn assembly of the nation for repentance. In standing up against tyranny, as Christians we believe that the source of rights to liberty, justice and the pursuit of happiness do not come from man but from God. Keeping God as Sovereign over all, the founding fathers wove Biblical morality into the fabric of our nation; into its laws, values and culture, in order to preserve our godly heritage. They understood the consequences of not upholding the word of God.
“Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even the nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber. Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep and say, ‘Spare your people, O Lord, and make not your heritage a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’ Then the Lord became jealous for his land and had pity on his people.” (Joel 2:15-18 ESV)
For example, the last time the United States was called to a solemn assembly was by Abraham Lincoln. We were long overdue for a time of repentance before God. The former passage instructs us the actions we should now take. We are to:
P. Douglas Small paints a beautiful word picture of what an authentic Solemn Assembly looks like. “The actions of the Solemn Assembly are dramatic and emotional. Brokenness and transparency should rule. Priest and ministers are to weep in the area of the porch, or the approach to the altar. At the place where the lamb died for our sin, there must be brokenness at the reality of what sin does. It destroys. It ministers death. It is a killer, a life-waster. It inflicts needless pain. It spills blood. It makes us ministers of death, and not of life. We must weep over our sins, the sins of our people, and the sins of the nation. We must weep over the dead lamb, the innocent Christ who has been killed at the hands of sinful man. Priests, who are the bride builders, are those who stand in for others and weep in the place of a nation that has committed itself to sin.”
Two-thousand years later, the world has not repented of these terrible deeds. On the contrary, our sins have increased. But God says:
“John the Baptist’s words continue to resonate today as we await our Savior’s second coming. Those words are, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” (Matthew 3:2 ESV)
When Jesus started His ministry, “from that time Jesus began to preach, saying ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (Matthew 4:11 ESV)
The consequence of not humbling oneself with a contrite heart before the Lord is death. “I tell you; but unless you repent, you will likewise perish.” (Luke 13: 3 ESV)
Let us move forward in the Lord’s power to continue the return, to bring salvation and revival to the world!