Sighs and Cries that Saved their Lives

Sighs and Cries that Saved their Lives

Robert Wurtz II



And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house. (Ezekiel 9:4-7)


There are two basic type of people in the world; they who are vexed by righteousness, and they who are vexed by wickedness. One group sighs and murmurs because of the overflow of sin, the other group sighs and murmurs because of holiness. 

As Paul was writing to the Corinthians he was careful to advise the people that events that took place in the Old Testament were written for our example and for our learning. Moses, who had been seeking to lead the people in the Covenant of God and righteousness was faced with a group that would not follow God. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.” The people did not want to live holy and righteous before God. They wanted to go back to Egypt (a type of this present evil world). What did they do? They murmured against Moses. 

Then there was the other group of “murmurers” if you will that appear in the time of Ezekiel. Israel had backslidden and was carrying on like the rest of the pagan world. However, not everyone was pleased with the sin and evil. In fact, God told a recording angel to go through the city and mark the forehead of each one that did “sign and cry” for all of the abominations that were going on in Israel. The backsliders had so defiled the Temple of God that He was departing and there was a group that lamented for it. What the backsliders did not know is that the Temple was about to be destroyed and the people killed or led into exile in Babylon. What can we learn from these events?


First: that they are recorded for our learning. There was no reason to record it for the people that suffered these things as they were already dead. So we see then, that it is a clear warning to the living. God will not long live with sin and compromise. This is our example. People are afforded a space to repent, as was Jezebel in the Revelation. If there be no repentance then we are certain that God will act in some way, of which we only have samplings spread throughout the New Testament. For Jezebel, she was cast into a bed of great tribulation along with those that agreed with her. For those in Ezekiel, they beheld the sin and as a result of their agreement or indifference, they were judged all the same.

Second: although it is impossible to know the counsel of God in such matters, we know that the examples of the Old Testament are exemplary. That is to say, they are a revelation of God’s estimate of the behaviors. Whether one dies in the same way as Jerusalem is God’s prerogative; but it is certain that He has demonstrated for all time by this one act of judgment how He feels about this type sin. God being no respecter of persons, each that commit the same sins under the same conditions deserve equal punishment. 

Third: that there was a group that lamented for the sin. They did not walk around indifferent, but as was Lot in Sodom, they were vexed from day to day with the unlawful deeds. This means that God is taking account of how we react to sin and compromise. Do we lament for sin in such a way that had we lived in Ezekiel’s day God would have marked our foreheads? Would we have been spared from the wrath of God? This is an important question to ask in a day and age where the knowledge of God is being resisted at unprecedented levels. Sodom had no Bible. What aggravated the crimes in Jerusalem was that they had been entrusted with the oracles of God. To whom much is given, much is required. 

Fourth: none that did not have the mark of God in there forehead were shown mercy. They were slain from the oldest to the youngest. Again, God is no respecter of persons. The youth that refuse to lament are just as guilty as the elders that refuse to lament. Why? Because they have casually sided with the enemy. They did not agree with God in the matters of sin that was being committed. Had they agreed with God, they would have been offended for His sake. They would have been stirred with zeal for God and His sanctuary. They were not and were left to perish with those that committed the acts. They were passive participants. This tells us that there is no middle ground. One is either a child of God that is vexed by sin and unrighteousness, or a child of the devil and are at home in it. Do you and I hate what God hates? Do we love what God loves? Or do we have those two reversed? 

The people under Moses murmured against him and against righteousness, but the people in Ezekiel’s day murmured against sin and compromise. The one group was destroyed and the other group was spared. God heard the murmurings of both groups and He acted accordingly. 

Dropping the Torch

Dropping the Torch
Robert Wurtz II

And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel. (Judges 2:10)


Our passage is a sobering look at a generation that came along after the generation of Joshua and they knew not God nor the things He had done for Israel. Something had gone terribly wrong. One generation walks with God in righteousness and holiness, and the next one comes along and is as indifferent and unconcerned as anything. It’s almost as if the two generations were from different planets. The one generation longs to serve the Lord and pass that heritage down to continue on in what God had started, but the next generation seems to care less. They wanted to do their own thing and make a clean break with the past. We read the chilling words in Judges 2:11, 12; And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim: And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger. 


A Mixture

You will notice that the new generation was “exposed” to be Godless once the elder generation that loved God had passed on. Joshua died in verse 8 and the rest were dead by verse 10. It is a sad thing to consider, but this left no one to keep the rebellious people in check. Undoubtedly these young people were a thorn in the side of the elders until they all grew old and the elders finally died. It was not as if they woke up one day and were backslid, these people were kicking against the goads all their life. What were they doing? Verse 12 is instructive, and [they] followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them. This is a sure sign of backsliding: wanting to be like “the people that were round about them.” There was no desire to be wholly sanctified unto the Lord. No desire to maintain continuity with the God of their fathers. They wanted a novel change. This is important to consider because God has called His people out of this present evil, Satan-inspired world. Soon the lust for worldliness led to the people worshipping Baal and God at the same time. As the people got used to this “compromise” it became no big deal to keep doing it. Over time it was almost impossible to reverse the trend. This is why the resistance has to be strongest when the compromise begins. The compromisers needed to be rebuked and stopped. Not as the failure Eli that “rebuked” his sons and then passively allowed their madness to continue until God’s presence left.

Progressive compromise


Israel broke ranks with their fathers and followed the patterns of the people around them until they wanted a king like the rest of the nations. This would have horrified previous generations, but this new generation cares-less. It is their day now. What was happening? They were abandoning their uniqueness one step at a time. This is key. There is something terribly wrong when folk that are called by the name of Christ want to be like the world rather than being what God calls us to be, separate and holy. If we allow this in the churches of God it is only a matter of time until we have totally lost Christianity.


Discouragement

Some people in Israel probably got discouraged when they were challenged or they found out that folks didn’t quite agree with how things were going. Any resistance was seen as a personal attack. Likewise today, leaders are often clueless to the fact that we are not talking about personal convictions and preferences here; we are talking about the very soul of the Church and what it means to be a Christian. Further, what these folks don’t realize is that had the resistance to the change been what it needed to be it would probably have caused a revolt. But because the ones resisting were depicted as “trouble-makers” or “influenced of the Devil”, the compromise is allowed to come in and leaven the whole lump. This is where we are today. Resistance has been all stomped out and the people that resisted are hated and despised. 

Out of Church Christians?


Others simply discouraged and simply quit church all together. In retail sales we have a saying, “Most people don’t complain. They just don’t come back.” They don’t have a voice or their voice is not heard. They have tried everything and still we seem to be snow-balling towards hell. If they do dare speak they get blackballed. Talk about discouragement? 



But none to fear, God is watching. I’m reminded of a passage in Ezekiel:

And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house. (Ezekiel 9:4-6)


What we need in this adulterous generation is a people that will get discouraged when the glory of God is being challenged and His churches are trying to take up the ways of the people of the land. Where are the people that have a zeal for God? Where are the people that will get discouraged when they look on Facebook New Years Eve and can’t tell the church houses from the party houses because of the similar black tones and colored lights? Who will weep for a generation that would decorate the temple of God like the Temple of Dagon as if it were a light thing? Where are the people that will sigh and cry because they see a generation establishing precedence for what Christianity is supposed to be and yet it looks like the corner bar dealing death in the name of freedom. Who will weep for a generation that loves darkness and the feel and ambiance of a worldly sin den as a place of worship? The elders are all almost dead now and there are none to restrain them. The philosophy of the youth-group in the former generation has become the philosophy of church in our generation. What some of us resisted and fought against is now here and there is nothing left to do but weep and pray for God to mark our foreheads.
  
It’s all legalism?

There is a generation that wants to know freedom but inquires not of the holiness of God. There was a time when Christian men and women would go out of their way to keep from offending God or identifying with this present evil world. Not today. It’s been said that the difference between many Christians and the world is only about 6 months. That sounds like a harsh thing to say, but look around. I remember a time when people came to church and poured their heart out to God in songs and prayers of great substance. Prayer was with unction. They truly meant what they sang. If they didn’t- you could tell it. They didn’t care how they looked doing it. No need to impress the judges. Nobody was watching them anyhow because they were caught up in the moving of the Spirit in such a way that they were utterly worshipping God themselves. The reason they didn’t go to places other people went, or dress like other people dressed, was because they didn’t want to offend God or identify with the world. They did not want to compromise the fact that they were temples of the Holy Spirit. It’s all legalism now. People do what they want and there is no difference. 

Fading Away

Perhaps by now you are good and upset wondering who this guy thinks he is. I would provoke you to love God and hate this evil world if I could. Maybe you already do. But anymore it’s as if we are just fading away. Folk don’t even care anymore. Those that are left are growing tired of fighting the system. The old-timers are dying off and there are few now left that even remember what Christianity ought to look like. 

Lukewarm is room temperature. Its what everything else is. When the Spiritual vitality of a church or a Christian is such that they are just like the world, they are lukewarm. But God is calling us out of that lethargy. He is calling us out of pretense and fakery. He is calling us to a depth of walk that is deeper than skin deep. No more going through the motions. No more working at being like the world. We are supposed to hate the world and abhor evil. Two things that are missing in this crisis hour. 


     

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