Look at the Nations and Watch!

“Look at the nations and watch– and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.”  Habakkuk 1:5 NIV

“Look at the nations and watch!” This is as timely an exhortation today as it was over 2500 years ago when it was first given!  Keeping a watchful eye on what is happening in the nations is critical because Jesus commanded us that as His people we engage in being a house of prayer for all nations.  Watching the nations provides us with understanding into the unfolding of God’s purposes in the earth.  And, it arms us with strategic insights into ways in which we can intercede for His kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

The manner in which the nations relate to God and His people, both Israel and the church, has always been associated with the blessings or judgments that He metes out.  The three chapter book of Habakkuk provides an excellent illustration of how God invites us through intercession, into His history shaping intervention in the nations.

Habakkuk was a prophet in the years preceding the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC and the resultant Jewish exile.  It was at a time when God was raising up the Babylonians to bring judgment upon Judea and the surrounding nations for their lawlessness and injustice. (Habakkuk 1:6-17)  What Habakkuk saw happening in the nations caused him to take a stand before God as a watchman intercessor. (2:1)  In so doing he was seeking to understand what God was doing and to intercede on behalf of God’s people and purposes in the earth. “Lord,” he prayed, “I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.” (3:2)

This is a common pattern throughout the Bible, particularly in the lives of the prophets, when God took initiative to reveal to His servants what He was doing among the nations and called them to intercession. (Isaiah 59:16, Ezekiel 22:30)  Not surprisingly, God’s strategic dealings with the nations continue to this day!  And this call to “look at the nations and watch – and be utterly amazed” is even more relevant for us today “upon whom the end of the ages has come.” (1 Corinthians 10:11)

There are seven billion people on the planet, making up over 16,000 distinct people groups who speak roughly 6500 languages and inhabit 196 politically defined nations.  They are all people whom God loves and for whom He sent His son Jesus to die for and redeem.

What happens in those nations governmentally, religiously, educationally, economically, militarily, in the arts, entertainment and media all affect the advancement or restriction of the gospel and ultimately their salvation.  How they relate to other nations, the church, Israel, and most importantly to God, all determine their place in God’s end time destiny.  It is He who controls the course of world events and it is He who will have the last word.  “He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.”  (Daniel 2:21 NIV)

Given these facts what then should we watch for as we look at the nations?  Here are five things in the form of questions that we should ask about the nations that will help us intercede.

1.  How do they relate to the church of Jesus Christ?  Is there freedom to worship and preach the gospel?  Or are believers restricted in their activities and even persecuted for their faith?  Is the church merely surviving or is it thriving?

2.  How do they relate to Israel?  There are clear promises in Scripture that those who bless Israel will themselves be blessed and those who curse it will be cursed. (Genesis 12:3) What nations are friendly to Israel and what nations oppose her?

3. How do they relate to those who are victims of injustice?  How do their domestic and foreign policies affect the poor, the weak and vulnerable, minorities, those suffering, the refugee, the widow and orphan?

4. Where does it appear anti-Christ principalities and powers are forming battle lines in the spiritual realm?  Where are there shifts in power?  Which nations are extending their influence and dominion?  What nations are losing their influence and control – to whom?  How and with whom are nations aligned economically politically and/or militarily?

5. Where is God at work in and through all these things?  Can you see what God is doing to extend His kingdom and righteousness of which He has promised an increase without end?

I have personally found these observations very helpful in praying for God’s purposes to unfold in the nations.  God has a way of combining our natural understanding with spiritual revelation that leads to anointed, energized times of intercession. (1 Corinthians 14:15)  Being “utterly amazed” at what God is doing is often the result.

How has God led you in answering Jesus’ call to be a house of prayer for all nations?  Please share any insights or experiences you have had.

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2 thoughts on “Look at the Nations and Watch!”

  1. Great post!! As a Christian living in a Muslim country the encouragement your post gives me to look positively at all God is doing is the reminder I need to continue praying and expecting for God to move. It is also encouraging to know Christian brothers and sisters in the US have a heart for the Nations and are interceding on the behalf of those who don’t know Him.

  2. Thanks for your comment. You along with other Christians expats living in foreign lands have much to impart to pray-ers back home. I think sharing your “insider” observations of what you see God doing is an encouragement and helps add important understanding to the intercessors from afar. Think and pray about simple ways to pass such insights on. We thank God for your answering His call to be a light in other cultures for Jesus.

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