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Imprecatory Prayer! - The Church's Duty Against Her Enemies

By Jeff Ziegler
Published March 1, 1996

There is a communion of men with God by which, having entered the heavenly sanctuary, appeal to him in person concerning his promises in order to experience, where necessity so demands, that what they believed was not vain, although he had promised it in word alone.

– John Calvin

Introduction

This grand description of the legislative dynamic of prayer as taken from Calvin’s introduction to the subject in his “Institutes of the Christian Religion,” is an essential foundation for the Church to recover if she is to resolutely and effectively exercise her parliamentary role in the earth.

Explicitly, this “communion of men” reach into the very seat of all governmental authority in heaven and earth through prayer. These prayers are marked not by sentimentality, mystical expression, nor monastic vain babbling. Rather from this lofty plane, they make appeal to the Father through Christ concerning divine legislation, chiefly, that which God has promised to perform in His Law-Word. As depicted, the Church, this “house of prayer for all nations” is asking the “God who keeps covenant forever” to execute his Word “where necessity so demands” thus advancing the Kingdom on “Earth as it is Heaven.”

The aim here is not that the Church should pray for indeed she must even “without ceasing.” Rather the stress is upon the legislative content of prayer. That is for the Church to rightly function in her governmental capacity, she must through prayer and public proclamation legislate God’s will, as revealed alone in Scripture, on earth, thus enforcing the Crown Rights of Christ over all of life.

Again I must stress, that the body and form of these legislative prayers are not subjective and cannot be formed by human instrumentality no matter how noble the thought may be. Rather such praying must be founded upon all that God has vouched to effect exclusively in the inspired and infallible Law-Word of God. God’s written Word is peerless in that it alone is divinely guaranteed not to “return void” and to “accomplish that which I (God) please” even to “prosper in the thing whereto I (God) sent it.”

Positive and Negative Sanctions

The promises of God could be defined as anything that God has vouched to perform. Specifically, the promises of Scripture are grouped throughout in covenantal structures. Within these structures, God promises blessings both spiritual and material for those, who, in the long term, obey His statutes. Through this inheritance of blessing, God multiplies and increases His covenant people, so that in turn, they may advance His purposes in the earth. Just as crucial to understand is that within the same covenantal structures, God promises negative sanctions both spiritual and material for those, who, in the long term, transgress and mock His Law. Thus through the covenantal curse, the wicked are disinherited in history. Through this dynamic of blessing and negative sanctions, the righteous accrue dominion in the earth.

As an example of the covenantal foundations of Scripture we examine the structure of Deuteronomy 28.

The first verse exhorts the Israelite nation to hear, observe, and perform all the commandments which God had given for the expressed purpose of setting her high above all the nations of the earth. Then in the next 13 verses, all the blessings that were to be accrued in relation to their obedience are delineated. Literally blessings are conferred which are coextensive with all of life both spiritual and material and all given with the end of blessing the nations of the earth. However, in the 15th verse the transition to negative sanctions (curses) occurs.

From this point until the end of the chapter, temporal but very real curses are delineated for long term disobedience and covenant breaking. Thus, the negative sanctions exist to disinherit, diminish and eventually destroy wicked unrepentant individuals and nations.

If then the church is to pray and make proclamation covenantally, she must embrace the statutes of Scripture, both the blessings and the curses. For both are inspired by God and necessary for the work of Divine governance.

King David At War

David the warrior king, was a man of covenant who approached civil polity and spiritual worship, with a firm understanding of positive and negative sanctions. Witness the first Psalm. David extols the virtues of the righteous man who delights in God’s Law. He declares blessing and strength for the lawkeeper. The righteous man is described as a tree planted by the water, which brings forth its fruit in due season, whose leaf does not wither. This man is shown to be prospering in “whatsoever he doeth”.

However, David goes on to describe the lawbreaker as one who under the crushing weight of Divine wrath, becomes chaff driven by the wind, who cannot endure the judgement and will by virtue of his wickedness, perish from the earth.

This covenantal understanding is paramount if we are to comprehend, embrace, and emulate David’s imprecatory war Psalms and recapture our lawless society.

Let us examine the controversial 109th Psalm. David is at prayer warring against the enemies of God. In verses 4 and 5, David gives himself to prayer and describes his enemies as those who act with disdain for God and righteousness. From this forensic, legal ground he proceeds to proclaim and enforce the covenantal negative sanctions against these very same enemies in verses 6 through 29.

It is important to note that David is merely applying God’s Law to specific conditions. That is each imprecation found in this Psalm is directly related to definite covenantal sanctions.

There is nothing of David here!

All of his utterance is being inspired by God and applied to very real circumstances. Yet to the casual observer, the language is harsh even hateful. Indeed, this has caused great bewilderment for many learned men who have tried to reconcile such praying with the love ethic of Christ. C.S. Lewis for example found these Davidic imprecatory prayers so offensive that he ascribed them to demonic authorship. C.I. Scofield while not as brazen as Lewis, nevertheless asserts that the imprecatory Psalms amount to something of a Davidic temper tantrum, which under the “old dispensation” was excusable, yet in the “new” is less than desirable behavior.

While these views are common, they are also heretical and in the case of Lewis, blasphemous. Certainly these views (Lewis in particular), fail to take into account that God’s Word is Divinely inspired, infallible, and immutable. Secondly, they fail to understand the covenantal continuity of both Old and New Testaments. What this means practically, is that unless the New Testament specifically changes, modifies, or nullifies an Old Testament principle, that principle is still in effect and is binding. Mr. Scofield and the adherents of dispensational thought find this proper covenantal hermeneutic somewhat disturbing in that it strips away the convoluted notions that the New Testament saint should never act “harsh and hateful” as David. However, David is not praying these prayers autonomously, but rather under Divine inspiration. Thus to assert that David is motivated by hate is to charge the God of Old and New Testaments with maniacal intentions.

Truly, many pietistic clergyman have maintained that the God of the Old Testament is full of wrath and hate and yet the very same God is full of sentiment and love in the New Testament. Rather than a Biblical depiction of the God who “is the same yesterday, today, and forever”, their perception is of a truncated and schizophrenic deity who maintains an identity crises replete with subjective, mercurial and arbitrary actions.

Due to these views, the pietistic, antinomian, dispensationalist framework denies any possibility of enforcing negative sanctions in the temporal yet inconsistently and hypocritically affirms Divine wrath in eternity. Such incongruent thinking is typical of anticovenantalists.

The New Testament Speaks!

Another strange omission by these anemic evangelicals are the numerous imprecations which are found in the New Testament directly from the lips of Jesus and the apostles. For example, In Matthew 23 verses 13, 15, 16, 23, 24, 27, and 29, Christ unleashes a crushing cannonade upon the Pharisees in the form of a seven-fold curse upon their heads! Is this utterance inharmonious with the love of God?

Certainly not!

Rather this is a loving warning of the sure and swift negative sanctions that are about to fall upon those who have prostituted the Law of God if they do not repent. In fact Christ is delivering a covenantal lawsuit that will arrest their miscreant behavior either through repentance or horrific judgement.

Also, the apostle Paul declares anathema (eternal destruction) upon anyone “who loves not the Lord Jesus” in I Cor. 16:22. Again Paul grapples with heretics who were seeking to pervert the church at Galatia when he pronounces a curse upon them in Galatians 1:8 and again praying that they would be emasculated, neutered lest their heresy reproduce in chapter 5:12. In II Timothy 4:14 Paul invokes covenantal theology when he declares that Alexander the metal worker be repaid according to his deeds. Alexander resisted and caused great damage to Paul’s ministry.

Question:- Is this the same Paul who authored the great love chapter namely
I Corinthians 13?

Yes, indeed and the same God who moved upon him with Divine inspiration!

Real Protestants Fight!

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.

- 2 Corinthians 10:4

Our Protestant forefathers embraced covenantal imprecatory prayer as a potent and Divine weapon that would demolish all opposition to the advance of the Kingdom of Christ. They were not a squeamish lot, and were fully prepared to prosecute the war against the lawless.

We should pray that our enemies be converted and become our friends, and if not, that their doing and designing be bound to fail and have no success and that their persons perish rather than the Gospel and the Kingdom of Christ.

- Martin Luther

If any of the enemies of God’s people belong to God’s election, the Church’s prayer against them giveth way to their conversion, and seeketh no more than that the judgement should follow them, only until they acknowledge their sin, turn, and seek God.

- David Dickson

Dear saints it is time to stand upon the covenants of Scripture. It is time to rise and strike for the advance of the Gospel. No shirkers nor cowards need apply. The call of Divine government is upon you. Will you be girded with terrible resolution as David? Will you join the “communion of men with God? Will you exercise dominion? I pray so for the sake of your children and our republic.

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