Steps to national repentance
Leviticus 4 contains instructions for those who have sinned and want to be forgiven. There are four sections for four different classes of people. For anyone who wants to see his nation turn back to God this order is significant.
The first set of instructions is given to priests who sin. Verses 1-3 say,
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, If anyone sins unintentionally in any of the LORD’s commandments about things not to be done, and does any one of them, if it is the anointed priest who sins, thus bringing guilt on the people, then he shall offer for the sin that he has committed a bull from the herd without blemish to the LORD for a sin offering.”
Repentance and spiritual renewal must begin with the priesthood. In our age that means the believers in Christ, since we make up the only priesthood God recognizes in the present age. First Peter 2:9 says,
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
If Christians want to change our society we must begin with ourselves. Each one of us must begin by examining his own life to make sure he is right with God and then we must make sure our churches and other organizations are in full harmony with God’s will. First Peter 4:17 says,
For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
Judgment begins with us; repentance must also begin with us.
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
Some people interpret this as a call for a nation to repent but it is addressed to “my people who are called by my name.” It doesn’t apply to a nation but only to the Christians in that nation.
Next comes the congregation as a whole, represented by their elders. Verse 15 says,
And the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands on the head of the bull before the LORD, and the bull shall be killed before the LORD.
In our present society the equivalent of the elders would be those who are in positions to shape our culture and influence the opinions of the people. This would include educators and those who control the news and communications media. Christians need to get involved in these fields both by providing alternative schools and news media and by influencing the secular institutions.
Political leadership comes next. Verses 22-24 say,
When a leader sins, doing unintentionally any one of all the things that by the commandments of the LORD his God ought not to be done, and realizes his guilt, or the sin which he has committed is made known to him, he shall bring as his offering a goat, a male without blemish, and shall lay his hand on the head of the goat and kill it in the place where they kill the burnt offering before the LORD; it is a sin offering.
Too many times Christians start here and try to bring about revival by changing laws. But is easier to bring about changes in the laws if there is first widespread support among the people. If people understand what God teaches about life and the importance of protecting it, it will be easy to pass laws prohibiting abortion. If there is widespread understanding about creation and the scientific evidence that supports it, teachers in public schools won’t face the pressure to teach evolution as fact and exclude any other explanation for the origin of life. If people understand what the Bible teaches about marriage and sexual conduct, they will be willing to change laws that make divorce easy and legalize same sex marriages.
Last we come to the individuals, in verses 27 and 28.
If anyone of the common people sins unintentionally in doing any one of the things that by the LORD’s commandments ought not to be done, and realizes his guilt, or the sin which he has committed is made known to him, he shall bring for his offering a goat, a female without blemish, for his sin which he has committed.
If changes take place in the first three areas it will be easier to preach the gospel because more people will already have some knowledge of the Bible and we can build on what they already know.