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Let This Be a Day of Prayer and Repentance

 
I am writing this on September 11. I was born exactly 50 years and 11 days before that dreadful day in 2001. This 50-year Jubilee connection is just one of many reasons that 9/11 has especially deep meanings for me.

It has been 18 years since the heart-breaking tragedy, when terrorists attacked our country, killing 3000 people, injuring over 6000, and inflicting massive physical damage.

Those of us old enough will remember watching the television coverage in agonized shock. We were stunned, and later that turned into terrible hurt and anger for all that we had lost. Many of our leaders sought to stand tall and speak bravely in order to console us. A President demonstrated American strength and courage, vowing retribution by assuring the world that “the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!” Nationalist fervor welled up in our leaders, and their continual rallying cry became “We will rebuild!

After 9/11, the churches filled with people needing answers to their own pain and confusion. They prayed for those who had been killed; U.S. flag lapel pins were everywhere; and “God bless America” became a catch-phrase. But it didn’t take long for the church-going trend to wither away, and attendance reverted back to pre-9/11 levels. There was no lasting “great awakening” or quickening of our spiritual fervor. There was no unified plea to God to forgive our national sins and to heal us as a people.

Time passed, and a new wave of leaders emerged. Another President assured us that all we needed to heal our 9/11 wounds and to unify the country were “the smallest acts of service” and “the simplest act of kindness.” Others would seek to minimize the terror and the terrorist origins of 9/11 by describing it with such toss-off lines as “some people did something.”

And so, every 9/11, we Americans have a deep-seated need to memorialize it somehow. We flood social media with memes demanding that we “Never Forget,” but which fail to tell us how to deal with what we remember. We experience each 9/11 knowing that our response is somehow incomplete, but there have been precious few strong voices to tell us why we still feel empty and desolate. All we know is that we are unable to find our way back by minimizing the importance of the event, or by fist-shaking patriotic bravado — or even by rebuilding taller and better.

At least subconsciously, we kept trying to answer seemingly unanswerable questions. What is missing? What don’t we know or acknowledge? Why do we still feel empty and incomplete?

Jonathan Cahn“We Will Rebuild”
Exactly 10 years after the bin-Laden-inspired attack, a book hit the market, written by Jonathan Cahn, a Messianic Jewish Rabbi, of whom few had heard by that time. The book was titled The Harbinger, and it spent 100 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. Word of mouth won it a huge readership, particularly throughout the conservative and evangelical Christian communities and churches, and in Jewish Messianic congregations.

I had heard a little about the book, but I had not yet found a compelling reason to read it. However, after it was strongly recommended to me by a cousin of mine and his wife (thanks, David & Joan!), I bought a copy and (to quote an old phrase) I couldn’t put it down. The author’s huge and important message centered around three main things: (1) 9/11, (2) a brief passage from the book of Isaiah, and (3) the author’s seemingly inexhaustible knowledge of Old and New Testament scriptures.

This is not a “book report” on The Harbinger, by any means. Suffice it to say that the book draws startling and undeniable parallels between events in the final days of the ancient kingdom of Israel and the 21st century nation of the United States — up to and including 9/11.

I’ve had many conversations with people about the book in the intervening years, and they almost always have been very positive about it. Virtually every one of them, however, talked mainly or exclusively about the book’s prophecy content. “If ancient Israel had an event that mirrored our 9/11, and therefore was a kind of prophecy for it, then what happened to Israel afterward? Is that also a prophecy for what is going to happen to America??” And to be fair, there is no doubt that these are important questions that Jonathan Cahn wanted his readers to explore and take to heart.

But after my second reading of The Harbinger, I came away convinced that the prophetic teaching of the book, however large and captivating, is not its most important message. Here’s why.

As I mentioned above, author Cahn began by demonstrating the parallels between the terrorist attacks suffered by ancient Israel and those of 9/11 in this country. One thread of the book goes forward from there and fleshes out the prophetic meaning of those parallels. But there is a much more important thread (or so it seems to me) which explores how we as a nation can avoid the calamities suffered by ancient Israel after those terrorist attacks. That second thread is one concerning Prayer and Repentance. And after I separated those two threads in my mind, I began to notice that when Cahn was interviewed about the book, and he was inevitably (and understandably) asked about its prophetic message, he always found a way to turn the conversation back around to his book’s (and the Bible’s) call for our nation to turn to prayer and repentance.

The Second Thread
Here’s what that second thread comprises. If you have read any Old Testament history at all, you will remember that ancient Israel was warned by God’s Prophets that He would punish them severely if they did not stop their sinful, evil ways, return to Him, and keep His Covenant. The Prophet Isaiah tells us that, as a warning, ancient Israel was attacked by a terrorist nation that shook them as badly as 9/11 shook America. The early verses of Isaiah chapter 9 remind the reader of that event:

The Lord sent a message against Jacob; it came against Israel.
All the people — Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria — will know it. They will say with pride and arrogance:
“The bricks have fallen, but we will rebuild with cut stones; the sycamores have been cut down, but we will replace them with cedars.”
The people did not turn to Him who struck them; they did not seek Yehovah of Hosts.
Isaiah 9:8–10,13 (HCSB)

Did you notice in this passage the similarities to 9/11 and its aftermath? “We will rebuild” is not considered by God to be a statement of courage or strength — even though post-9/11 American leaders thought it was. God instead calls it “pride and arrogance” when they (we?) assert that “the previous building has fallen, but we will rebuild with better, stronger materials.” Why does God say that? Isaiah tells us in verse 13: “The people … did not seek Yehovah of Hosts.”

Here is how Cahn lays it out: God allowed the destruction of ancient Israel’s buildings (also a tower, as it turns out) (1) to get their attention, (2) to give them a reason to turn back to Him, (3) to bring them to Him on bended knees, and (4) to persuade them to ask for forgiveness of their national sins. And here’s a truly astounding point, which we might easily read past without noticing. The first part of verse 13 (see above) says that it was God, Himself, “who struck them.” The attack was God’s will and He caused it to happen. In The Harbinger, Cahn makes the case that this is the same reason God allowed (caused) 9/11.

Isaiah 9:13 tells us that God purposefully caused the terrorist attack on ancient Israel, in order to accomplish His will for His people. Are we, today, less in need than ancient Israel of such a wake-up call from our Creator God?

Did ancient Israel heed God’s wake-up call and turn back to Him in prayer and repentance? No.

Did America heed God’s wake-up call and turn back to Him in prayer and repentance? No.

Must we in America turn back to God in prayer and repentance, to avoid further punishment for our sins? Almost certainly, Yes.

After the “shaking” of the terrorist attack, God gave ancient Israel a time to listen to His prophets, to abandon their sinful ways, to return in humility to their Creator God, and to repent of the evil in the land. We must never forget that ancient Israel did not listen to God’s calling. In their “pride and arrogance,” they boasted that they would recover through their own strength, and they ignored God’s call to Prayer and Repentance.

And what happened? God caused the Kingdom of Israel to be taken into captivity by the nation of Assyria as punishment.

If their terrorist attack was God’s wake-up call to them to prayer and repentance, is it possible that 9/11 was the same thing for America — a country which has long boasted of being a Christian nation, built on a Judeo-Christian foundation? And if we ignore this call to prayer and repentance, are we in danger of a national calamity equal in size, scope, and purpose for defying our Creator God?

A Day of Prayer and Repentance
I said above that our hearts and minds realize every year that our feelings about 9/11 are still uneasy and incomplete. God is trying to tell us that it is only through Him that our lives can be whole, complete, positive, and forgiven.

We must as a nation drop to our knees, bow our heads toward the ground, and humbly ask God’s forgiveness for our own individual sins and those of our nation. In the words of the king of Nineveh,

Everyone must call out earnestly to God. Each must turn from his evil ways and from the violence he is doing. Who knows? God may turn and relent; He may turn from His burning anger so that we will not perish.
Jonah 3:8–9 (HCSB)

And so, it was to Jonathan Cahn that I turned today to find a prayer that would articulate exactly what we as a nation need to bring to our minds and hearts and, in humility, to say to God. Cahn used the phrase “Prayer and Repentance” in introducing his prayer, and I have borrowed it in my call to all of us to commit to making 9/11 A Memorial Day of Prayer and Repentance.

Actually, it should be our mission every single day. And in our heart of hearts, I think we all know it.

So below is the video Cahn made of a 4-minute Prayer for America on 9/11, exactly 5 years ago. It is my gift to you who read this, in the hopes that it will become your goal to bring these same petitions to our Creator God continually and fervently. I have also made a complete transcription of the prayer and appended it below the video, so that you can easily go back and re-examine it in detail.

God bless you, my readers, and may God find in us both genuine humility and abject repentance so that He will continue to bless the United States!


A PRAYER FOR AMERICA ON 9/11  —  JONATHAN CAHN   (4.22)
 


 

A PRAYER FOR AMERICA ON 9/11
Jonathan Cahn

Jonathan CahnLord, we ask for Your mercy on this land.
We ask for your hand upon this land.
Lord, we have sinned.
We have turned from You.
We have turned from Your ways.
We have ruled You out of this culture.
We have mocked Your name.
We have blasphemed Your name and the name of Your Son.
We have called what is evil “good.”
We have called what is good “evil.”
We have promoted immorality, not only here but around the world.
We were called to be a “city on a hill” and to spread Your light throughout the world.
But Lord, we confess on behalf of this nation, and we intercede on behalf of this nation —
      Lord, we have turned from the light as a nation.
      We have spread darkness and immorality, as well, around the world.
We have pursued idols.
We have served idols of greed and money and success over You.
Even in the Church, even among Your people, we have promoted prosperity over righteousness.
We have watered down the Gospel.
Father, we ask for Your hand upon this nation.
We ask for —
      Your hand upon Washington, DC.
      Your hand upon the White House, Lord; have Your way with the White House.
      Your hand upon the Capitol; have Your way with Congress.
      Your hand upon the Supreme Court; have Your way.
      Your hand upon the governments of every state, every governor, every house of governing in every state; Lord, we ask Your hand.
We ask Your hand upon the cities; let there be revival.
Lord, whatever it takes, let there be revival in this land.
Lord, let there be revival in the cities.
Lord, let there be revival in the coastland.
Let there be revival, Lord, from New York City to California.
Let there be revival in the heartlands.
Let there be revival among the young, Lord; revival among the old.
Let there be revival in the churches, Lord.
Lord, let there be a move of holiness, a move of righteousness, a move of Your Spirit.
Lord, let there be revival in us.
Lord, we cannot ask for revival for others, if we are not ourselves willing to live in revival now.
So, Lord, whatever it takes, have mercy on this land that was dedicated to Your Name and to Your purposes.
Have mercy on the “city on the hill.”
And, Lord, let it again shine with the light of Your glory, with the light of Your righteousness.
Lord, let the ones who have ears to hear, let them hear; let them be saved; let them turn.
Lord, let there be a massive outpouring of Your will.
We praise You, and we thank You for Your mercy, for your grace.
For we ask all these things in the name of Yeshua HaMashiach, Jesus the Messiah.
By His blood, by His atonement, in the mercy of that sacrifice, we ask that You have mercy on all of us and upon this nation.
And let there be revival, Lord.
Let there be the Gospel going forth to this world, to the nations, for an end-time revival.
And we pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the coming of Your Kingdom.
In the name of Jesus the Messiah, the Lord of all and the Hope of America.
Amen.

 

ARTICLE © 2019, DR. GROVER B. PROCTOR, JR. — ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

 

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What Sweeter Music?

The Timeless Music about Christ’s Birth

In this post, I am giving you a gift of Nativity music from my heart, which I hope you will enjoy and be inspired by 365 days a year. While music about the birth of Jesus is played and sung almost exclusively in December the world over, I’d like to make what some will see as a radical suggestion — that Christians use it in worship all year round.

After all (as everyone from the Catholic and Jewish Encyclopedias to countless Protestant Commentaries all agree) we have no unimpeachable knowledge as to when He was born — although it seems highly unlikely that it was December 25.

The date of the birth of Jesus was never revealed to us, which in and of itself raises the question of whether we were intended to observe it at all. But that hasn’t stopped speculation throughout the last 2000 years. It seems to have been in Egypt after 200 A.D. when the very first feast of the Nativity was held, and Bishop Clement of Alexandria noted that the church there “curiously” selected the date of May 20, “apparently out of thin air.”

In modern times, because so much of the earthly ministry of Christ (our Passover) was linked to God’s Holy Days, some theologians have suggested He may have been born on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, and therefore circumcised on the 8th and Last Great Day of the Feast.

Jonathan Cahn

Jonathan Cahn

More recently, a new and compelling theory of the birth date of Christ has come from Jonathan Cahn, the Messianic Jewish author of the best-selling books The Harbinger and The Mystery of the Shemitah. Drawing research from such widely diverse sources as the Talmud, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Greco-Roman astronomer/astrologer Ptolemy, the Vatican document archives, and numerous Scripture references from both Testaments, Cahn believes that the most doctrinally, historically, and prophetically sound choice is Nisan 1 — the first day of the first month of the Hebrew sacred calendar — which falls each year somewhere from late-March to early-April in the Western calendar. (If you have an interest in hearing Cahn’s 30-minute explanation of his remarkable reasoning and findings, click here to watch his video.)
 

We Simply Don’t Know

Even with such interesting theories to choose from, the fact is that we simply do not know for certain when Christ was born.

Celebrating the FACT of His birth, taken in tandem with what it means for our eternal lives, seems far more important than celebrating solely on the day we think may be the anniversary of it. So might we agree to use the Nativity story for worship at any time of the year, employing all of the glorious music written about it? This is literally, I hope, a “timeless” suggestion.

With that in mind, here are four works that are up there among the greatest Nativity carols/arias/performances/recordings that I have ever encountered. While this article offers only four of them, I may well add more as time goes by.

As always, it will be true for each of them that good quality headphones are almost mandatory, in order to appreciate the subtleties and nuances of the performances.
(I’ve given the complete lyrics for each selection at the bottom of this post, in case you want to follow along.)

 


ONE   “Mary Did You Know” (Pentatonix)

This first selection was originally a gospel song that many have come to love. Of the 15+ recordings of it I have heard, this performance is by far and away the most pure, inspirational, tender, and beautiful. It is performed with precision laced with abundant feeling by the a cappella specialists Pentatonix. The amazing musical climax they provide — beginning (at 2:20) with Jesus being “the Lord of all Creation” and ending with (most emphatically, at 2:48) the revelation He Himself made that He was “the Great I AM” — reflects and summarizes the most astonishing of all the aspects of the earthly-yet-eternal life of the Christ.

“Mary Did You Know” by Pentatonix


TWO   “What Sweeter Music,” (John Rutter)

This gem is a modern setting of the 17th-century poem “A Christmas Carol” by Robert Herrick. And you may find, as Adrianne and I do, this to be one of the sweetest and most beautiful carols ever. Composer John Rutter is renowned for his short pieces about the birth of Christ, and he may have reached his pinnacle with this one. He is conducting his own Cambridge Singers here, in what is almost certainly the most moving, jewel-like performance of it on record.

“What Sweeter Music” by John Rutter and the Cambridge Singers


THREE   “Sweet Is the Song the Virgin Sang” (Ralph Vaughan Williams)

This sweet lullaby comes from a larger work, a cantata telling the entire story of the Nativity called Hodie (This Day), written by English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. I strongly commend the entire hour-long masterpiece to you, but here I’m giving you one short section only — the endearingly sweet lullaby of Mary as she “ponders in her heart” the mystery of her being the mother of the Savior of the world. Sir David Willcocks conducts the Choristers of Westminster Abbey and the London Symphony Orchestra in this classic 1965 recording. The soloist is the incomparable Dame Janet Baker.

“Sweet Was the Song the Virgin Sang” by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Dame Janet Baker, Choristers of Westminster Abbey


Alfred Deller

Alfred Deller


FOUR   “All My Heart This Night Rejoices” (Alfred Deller)

2016 marked the 350th anniversary of the writing of this traditional chorale by German composer Johann Ebeling. I freely admit to having a sentimental attachment to this recording, performed by countertenor Alfred Deller. As far back in ancient history as my college days, I fell in love with Deller’s beautiful singing, his lyrical phrasings, the gentle counterpoint of the accompaniment as played by lutenist/guitarist Desmond Dupré, as well as the carol’s endearing message and the music’s graceful lilt. Some may be taken aback by hearing a man sing with such a high-pitched voice, but the countertenor (sometimes called male alto) voice has a long and distinguished history in Western music. (Mark Deller, Alfred’s son, is also one of England’s foremost countertenors.) If you think about it, our popular music also includes men with equally high ranges — but none, I would suggest, are as simply beautiful as Deller’s.

“All My Heart This Night Rejoices” by Alfred Deller


Lyrics
 
ONE   Mary Did You Know” (Pentatonix)

Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you delivered will soon deliver you.

Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm the storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God.

Mary, did you know?

The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak the praises of the Lamb.

Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
That sleeping child you’re holding is the great I AM !

(lyrics by Mark Lowry)


 
TWO   “What Sweeter Music” (John Rutter)

What sweeter music can we bring
Than a carol, for to sing
The birth of this our heavenly King?
Awake the voice! Awake the string!

Dark and dull night, fly hence away,
And give the honor to this day,
That sees December turned to May.

Why does the chilling winter’s morn
Smile, like a field beset with corn?
Or smell like a meadow newly-shorn,
Thus, on the sudden? Come and see
The cause, why things thus fragrant be:
‘Tis He is born, whose quickening birth
Gives life and luster, public mirth,
To heaven and the under-earth.

We see him come, and know him ours,
Who, with his sunshine and his showers,
Turns all the patient ground to flowers.
The darling of the world is come,
And fit it is, we find a room
To welcome him. The nobler part
Of all the house here, is the heart.

Which we will give him; and bequeath
This holly and this ivy wreath,
To do him honour, who’s our King,
And Lord of all this revelling.

What sweeter music can we bring,
Than a carol for to sing
The birth of this our heavenly King?

(“A Christmas Carol” by Robert Herrick)


 
THREE   “Sweet Was the Song the Virgin Sang” (Vaughan Williams)

But Mary kept all these things,
and pondered them in her heart.

Sweet was the song the Virgin sang,
When she to Bethlem Juda came
And was delivered of a Son,
That blessed Jesus hath to name:
“Lulla, lulla, lulla-bye,
      Sweet Babe,” sang she,
      And rocked him sweetly
          on her knee.

“Sweet Babe,” sang she, “my son,
And eke a Saviour born,
Who hath vouchsafèd from on high
To visit us that were forlorn:
“Lalula, lalula, lalula-bye,
      Sweet Babe,” sang she,
      And rocked him sweetly
          on her knee.

(anonymous Medieval lyrics)


 
FOUR   “All My Heart This Night Rejoices” (Alfred Deller)

All my heart this night rejoices,
      As I hear,
      Far and near,
Sweetest angel voices.
“Christ is born,” their choirs are singing,
      Till the air
      Everywhere
Now with joy is ringing.

Hark! a voice from yonder manger,
      Soft and sweet,
      Doth entreat,
“Flee from woe and danger.
Brethren come, from all doth grieve you
      You are freed,
      All you need
I will surely give you.”

Come then, let us hasten yonder;
      Here let all,
      Great and small,
Kneel in awe and wonder.
Love Him who with love is yearning;
      Hail the Star
      That from far
Bright with hope is burning!

Thee, dear Lord, with heed I’ll cherish,
      Live to Thee,
      And with Thee
Dying, shall not perish;
But shall dwell with Thee for ever,
      Far on high
      In the joy
That can alter never.

(original German lyrics by Paul Gerhardt, 1607-1676)
 

COPYRIGHT 2025, 2017 DR. GROVER B. PROCTOR, JR. — ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2015 in Worship

 

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