Evangelist Franklin Graham delivered a message Sunday night at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif., mixing a bit of politics into his call for repentance.
Reading from 2 Samuel 9:1-8, Graham recalled an event in the life of King David, in which the ancient ruler of Israel seeks to show God's kindness to the son of his childhood friend Jonathan.
“You see, David is a picture of God in Heaven.” Graham told service attendees at the megachurch of evangelist Greg Laurie.
“And we’re Mephibosheth,” he continued, referring to the Jonathan’s crippled son. “We’ve been crippled by sin and we come before the King and the King shows kindness and love and mercy.”
During the message, Graham listed a variety of sins, from lying and stealing to bearing false witness.
Most emphasized, however, was the sin of murder, in particular abortion.
“You say, ‘Well come on, Franklin. This is California. We’re kind of a liberal state, but they’ll still put you in jail for murder around here.’ No, they don’t,” Graham said before pointing to abortion as a form of murder.
“There’s some of you here tonight who are guilty, guilty of murder. And there are some of you men ... you’re guilty because you’ve approved of what your girlfriend has done or what your wife has done or your sister has done,” he said. “You’ve approved it, and you’re guilty too.”
The evangelist then went on to recall the story of a woman from “one of those liberal New York magazines” who conducted a two-day interview with him some time ago.
After growing a bit tired from the interview, Graham had asked the reporter if he could ask her a few questions.
When she told him to go ahead, Graham asked her where she stood before God.
“All of a sudden her eyes filled up with tears,” he recalled. Graham then went on to share the Gospel with her and prayed with her, though they were at a restaurant at the time.
The ministry leader then recalled how the woman turned to him and said she had to confess something to him at that moment.
“You don’t have to confess anything to me. God is forgiving you,” Graham told her.
“No, I have to tell you,” she responded.
“Twenty years ago, I had an abortion and it has haunted me all the days of my life,” she said. “And there hasn’t been a day that hasn’t gone by that I haven’t asked myself what that child would have looked like.
“Can God forgive me for what I have done?” she asked.
“I said, ‘He just did,’” Graham recalled. “Then she buried her face in her hands and just wept.”
Going back to the story of David and Mephibosheth, Graham recalled how the young boy came before the king of Israel and how David vowed to show kindness to him for the sake of his father, Jonathan, who had died years earlier. David also promised to restore to him all the land that belonged to his grandfather, the former king Saul.
“[A]nd you will always eat at my table," David told Mephibosheth, according to 2 Samuel 9:7.
Using the story as a basis, Graham urged attendees who had not yet received Christ to come before God so that they too may receive the invitation to eat eternally at His table.
“When you come before God in Heaven, you are crippled by sin. But when you come to God and accept His salvation, His gift, Jesus Christ … when you ask Christ by faith to come into your heart, into your life, He (God) doesn’t see you,” Graham said. “He doesn’t see your sins. He sees the blood of His son that covers you.”
During his message, Graham also made a reference to the presidential election just weeks earlier, noting that in the same way the Israelites called on the prophet Samuel to request from God an earthly king to reign over them “because it was cool,” as the evangelist imagined them saying today; some who had voted on Nov. 4 also wanted someone who was “cool.”
“This is what the children of Israel wanted. They’re wanting someone who looks cool. And God gives them somebody who looks cool,” Graham said, labeling the first king of Israel, Saul, as a big, good-looking guy who was “cool.”
In a subtle forewarning, however, Graham noted that Saul started off well but later disobeyed God.
“God saw it and God withdrew his hand from Saul,” Graham recalled. “He appointed another.”
Graham’s message at Harvest came weeks after Californians had voted 61 to 37 percent for president-elect Barack Obama and 52 to 48 percent against Proposition 4, which would have amended the state constitution to require physicians to notify the parents or legal guardian of a pregnant minor at least 48 hours before performing an abortion involving that minor.
Many conservatives contend that Obama will be "the most radical pro-abortion president" in U.S. history and that his election dashes hopes within the anti-abortion movement for possible Supreme Court vacancies over the next four years to be filled by judges who might support reversal of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision establishing a right to abortion.
Obama's incoming administration is also expected to reverse President Bush's executive orders on embryonic stem cell research, which Bush has limited federal spending on. Many within the pro-life community equate the processes involved in such research to abortion as they require the destruction of embryos.
In an interview with The Associated Press last month, Graham had noted how Obama’s abortion position is “contrary to biblical teaching.”
“I hope God will change his heart,” the evangelist said.
Graham’s father, renowned evangelist Billy Graham, meanwhile, has expressed his desire to meet Obama, though his days as a pastor to presidents have faded. For more than 60 years, the now retired 90-year-old preacher had been a friend to every U.S. president since Harry Truman.
Currently, Franklin Graham serves as president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association as well as the relief organization Samaritan’s Purse. He is expected to attend the latter group’s Operation Christmas Child Send Off for Orange County on Tuesday before departing California for Denver.