Question: What do you think of “The Return,” both the video and the movement behind it (led by Jonathan Cahn)?
I have seen the video The Return | National and Global Day of Prayer and Repentance. I’m not entirely comfortable with Jonathan Cahn, especially because of the multiple exegetical errors and misapplications of Scripture in his book The Harbinger. But more broadly than Cahn, there is a very common misapplication among evangelicals of 2 Chronicles 7:13–14:
If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and 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, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
No one reads the immediately following verses, which speak of the temple and the Davidic covenant.
Here is the key point: like Israel, our country has become Ichabod (“the glory has departed” due to repeated disobedience); but unlike Israel, we are not a theocratic covenant nation. Indeed, righteousness exalts a nation (Proverbs 14:34), and America has been blessed by two great awakenings and other revivals characterized by collective repentance. God has graced this country as no other before because of its unique constitutional foundation on deism/theism and virtue. But unlike in Israel’s case, the Lord makes no promise of eventual restoration to America. This is not to say that God will not grant the United States the grace of a third great awakening in this eleventh hour, but it would not be wise to base the hope of such an awakening on a promise made in the Hebrew Bible to His covenant people.
In A Free People’s Suicide, Os Guinness presents a causal cycle between faith, virtue, and freedom: faith is the foundation of virtue, virtue is required for freedom, and public expressions of faith require freedom. That cycle has been decisively broken in this country, which has become a visible enactment of Romans 1:18–32: spiritual darkness (versus 18–21a) followed by intellectual darkness (versus 21b–23) and moral darkness (versus 24–32).
As I concluded in 2005 when I made 10 comparisons between the United States and first-century Rome in The Decline of Nations, America has passed the tipping point. But judgment has been postponed because of the righteousness of a remnant and America’s role in the purposes of God for Israel.
There is a Camelot syndrome in which we long for a lost golden age. Many believers have placed a false hope in a scenario that includes a Christianized version of the United States rather than a biblical understanding of the spiritual, intellectual, and moral conditions that must precede the second coming of the Lord Jesus. We must walk in faith, hope, and love in this present age while longing to see God’s kingdom on earth with the return of the King.