Question: How does God change a nation?
Answer: He looks for someone to partner with and work through.
The book of 1 Samuel tells such a story. The book starts with the nation of Israel far from God. “And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation.” (1 Samuel 3:1) This is the nation of which God said, “…then you shall be a special treasure to Me…” (Exodus 19:5). This is the nation that God is jealous for (Exodus 20:5). What will He do to redeem the situation? Surely He will not leave it as it is. Surely, the almighty, desiring, fiery God will not leave His beloved one like this.
2 Chronicles 16:9 says, “…the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” Even today God is searching across the earth for ones who would partner with Him to change nations. He does very little on the earth apart from partnership alongside His people. And so His eyes found a woman named Hannah.
What is God’s strategy to bring Hannah into His plan? He allows deep desire to be awakened in her heart. She has no children. In those days, to have no children, to be barren was to have no inheritance and no future. “…she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish.” (1 Samuel 1:10) But as she is weeping over her barrenness the Spirit of Revelation comes upon her. She begins to see parallels between her own barrenness and the barrenness of her nation. Her anguish deepens. Her desire meets the desire of God and intercession erupts from the deepest places of her heart. “Then she made a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maid servant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.” (1 Samuel 1:11) So it came to pass in the process of time that Hannah conceived and bore a son, and called his name Samuel (meaning: heard by God), saying, “Because I have asked for him from the Lord.”
After Samuel is weaned Hannah takes her son to the tabernacle and gives Him to minister before the Lord all the days of His life. The result? 1 Samuel 3:19-4:1 – So Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel had been established as a prophet of the Lord…And the word of Samuel came to all Israel.
God’s strategy to change a nation is to find people who are fully committed to Him, to awaken deep desire in their hearts (often by allowing suffering – see 1 Samuel 2:21 for the end of Hannah’s story) and to call them into the place of intercessory partnership with His own burning desire. This is the journey Jesus took (Hebrews 5:5-10). And this is His invitation to us in our own hour of history.