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August 17, 2023

The Face of God


God often used places in the Old Testament to give us pictures of spiritual truths. Shechem is one of those places; it actually pictures several things.


First, Shechem is the place where God initially spoke to Abraham in Canaan, promising the land as an inheritance for him and his descendants (Genesis 12:7). Shechem represents both promise and inheritance. God is calling America back to Shechem, telling us we must reclaim our inheritance: “I gave you this land to steward, and partnered with you in the establishing of it. Now, reclaim it.” All of the earth belongs to God (Psalm 24:1), and He has the right to assign stewardship of it to whomever He sees fit. As those to whom He assigned this land, we must not allow its destiny to be stolen. Just as Israel had to fight for their inheritance, so must we.


Second, as the above statement infers, and as is clearly shown in Genesis 12:2-3, Shechem reveals God’s desire to partner with His family.


“And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”


God is asking America to partner with Him again, to agree with and realign with His purposes for establishing this nation. Since creation, His plan and desire have been to work on the earth through humans, not independently of them. Dr. Peter Wagner spoke of this partnership in regard to writing Earth’s history.


“Our sovereign God has for His own reasons so designed this world that much of what is truly His will He makes contingent on the attitudes and actions of human beings. He allows humans to make decisions that can influence history.”(1)


Profound. Weighty. Extremely consequential.


The third principle associated with Shechem can be easily deduced from the first two; they are all related. Shechem pictures responsibility. This is also hidden in a Hebrew word used in the following verse: "And the LORD appeared to Abram and said, 'To your descendants, I will give this land.'” (Genesis 12:7) The word "give" (nathan) is not only used in the sense of conferring ownership, but also to give a charge or an assignment. God was not only giving the land to Abraham and his family, He was also “assigning” it to them.


God's gifts are often His assignments. My children were gifts, but they were also assignments. My abilities are gifts with which I can prosper, but they also come with responsibilities: serving, giving, providing, etc.


The incredible wealth and prosperity of America is so much more than just a gift. It is a very important responsibility from God, an assignment we must steward. This stewardship is fulfilled through prayer, sowing into the preaching of the gospel, voting for individuals with biblical values, speaking out against evil and standing for truth, and more. All who enjoy America’s benefits will also give an account for how they stewarded them.


Fourthly, at Shechem, idolatry was cleansed. In Genesis 32, Jacob was transformed. He received a life-changing, face-to-face encounter with Yahweh, was delivered of his rebellious nature, and received a new identity. God renamed him Israel, and he (Israel) renamed the place, Penuel, “the face of God.” (There was as yet no nation of Israel, only this man.)


In Genesis 33, after Israel’s (Jacob’s) encounter with the Lord at Penuel and his peaceful reunion with Esau, he took all of his family and servants to Shechem, where God had met with his grandfather, Abraham. There he built an altar of remembrance and called it El-Elohe-Israel, meaning “God, the God of Israel” (Genesis 33:20). (He was referring to himself, not a nation, saying, “God is now my God.”


Two chapters later, Israel commanded his family and servants to bury all of their idols at Shechem:


“So they gave Jacob all the [idols and images of the] foreign gods they had and the rings which were in their ears [worn as charms against evil], and Jacob buried them under the oak tree near Shechem.” (Genesis 35:4 AMP)


God is calling America to Shechem, asking us to rid the land of idolatry: materialism, pleasure, greed, lust, pride, false gods, etc. This will occur through revival, not by force. Just as Jacob went back to his roots - the place where the Lord met with Abraham and promised him the land - God is asking America to go back to her biblical roots. “Choose you this day whom ye will serve…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). Yes, Joshua gave this famous speech at Shechem! It would be good to hear the entire verse, as well as the preceding verse:


“Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24-14-15 NASB)


Finally, in Joshua 20:7, Shechem became one of the “cities of refuge.” These were places in Israel where those who accidentally took someone's life could flee for protection from vengeance. It was forbidden for any retaliation to be taken against them while they lived in these towns, and precautions were put in place accordingly. According to Hebrews 6:18, the cities of refuge prefigure Christ, who became our refuge: "We who have fled for refuge in laying hold of the hope set before us."


I believe God is expressing His desire to once again become America’s refuge. So many places in America are now filled with violence, murder, poverty, destruction, and fear. God wants to transform them into safe havens, places of peace and refuge. He wants to send revival to inner cities, impoverished neighborhoods, and gang-controlled, drug-infested streets. He is a refuge in times of trouble.


Pray with me:


Father, You have given us an amazing inheritance in this nation. We have been blessed beyond words. These blessings are not only for our enjoyment, but are gifts to be stewarded in blessing others. We repent for our lack of discipline, for spending ourselves into poverty and debt, squandering Your blessings on our lusts.


Send a revival that not only saves and restores our spirits, send an awakening that transforms our souls from ungoverned desires and lusts. Cleanse us from idolatry, free us from ourselves - just as You did Jacob. Give us a face-to-face encounter; take America to Penuel! Transform us into noble people who can partner with You to save the world.


We pray again today for Lahaina and for Maui. Send relief quickly; cause unnecessary delays to be dealt with. Awaken the church to “buy the opportunity” of reaching people there with Your love, meeting their natural needs, which will open their hearts to our message: You. Send a mighty wave of life to that ravaged island.


In Christ’s name alone - through His authority - we pray these things. Amen.


Our decree:


We decree that America will be led to her Penuel, experience her transformation, and bury her idols at Shechem.


Click on the link below to watch the full video.




Today’s post was taken from my book Praying for America, which is no longer in print. [Dutch Sheets, Praying for America (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2001)]



________________________

C. Peter Wagner, Confronting the Powers (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1996), p. 242.

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