Judgment In The Sanctuary

Judgment In The Sanctuary
Robert Wurtz II

For it is time for judgment to begin, starting with the house of God. And if it starts with us, what will be the fate of those who are disobedient to the gospel of God? And if the righteous are barely saved, what will become of the ungodly and sinners? (1 Peter 4:17–18 NET)

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 9:6 emphasis added)

One of the most disturbing things about our times is the ever increasing rebellion against God’s word among His own people. We expect the world to trample God’s word under foot, but what are we to make of things when it happens in God’s own house? It’s like multitudes no longer believe in the inspiration of scripture. God has spoken in His word and He will not change His mind. Nevertheless, with each passing day something new is being compromised. And then we wonder why we don’t have revival. Nay verily; we may as well brace ourselves for a bloodbath. If history is any indicator, it’s only a matter of time. 

It is sobering to consider that the accounts of Israel’s apostasy and judgment, according to Paul, “were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” (1 Corinthians 10:11 NKJV) We are to learn from their experiences. In fact, the renowned Greek scholar of the late 19th century A.T. Robertson remarked that 1 Peter 4:17-18 is taken from the vision of Ezekiel 9. You will notice in Ezekiel 9:6 that the wrath of God is first revealed upon those who are called by the name of the Lord but are not obeying the truth (Romans 1:18). Beginning with those who most knew better (or should have known better), God’s judgment started with them. Why? Because they deserved the greater condemnation in that they had the greater privilege; and with privilege comes accountability.

The Ancient Men First

In Ezekiel 9:6 God told the executioners not just to begin with the sanctuary, but with the sub-group that were to be first judged within the sanctuary; i.e., the ancient men. These were not the righteous ancients, but the ancients whom were spoken of in the previous chapter who were not really loyal to God at all, but committed abominations in the darkness (in secret). The seventy elders, also known as the Sanhedrin, were the first people who came under the judgment of God (Ezekiel 8:11). This tells us that judgment begins first upon unrighteous leaders who are secretly or publicly rebelling against God. After judgment falls on the unrighteous leaders — judgment flows down through the sanctuary and out into a rebellious society. 

In modern times we can almost see a similar scenario setting up. Radical Islam, a modern and savage version of ancient Assyria and Babylon, is chomping at the bit — waiting to baptize Christians in fire and blood. Their resurgence is no accident. The ancient Assyrians were a murderous band of barbarians who were legends in fierce brutality. Nevertheless, in modern times ISIS, in its insatiable bloodthirstiness, is training up ten-year  old boys to execute who they term as “infidels” by carving them with knives or riddling their heads and bodies with bullets. If they had their way they would brutalize every Christian on earth in ways that would make Mary I (Bloody Mary) of England blush. In a figure, these brain-washed and demon-possessed people are massing on the borders of our peace and security. All the while,   a general hostility towards Christianity grows in the Western World. Could these people be the agents by which God will purge His house? Are we on the brink of a modern-day 1 Peter 4:17-18?

The Seal of Sorrow

And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer’s inkhorn by his side; 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. (Ezekiel 9:3b, 4)

One of the great lessons of the Old Testament is that people often fail to see God’s perspective of circumstances. They fail to feel as He feels. Nevertheless, there is always a remnant who knows the times and reacts according to the ungodliness thereof. Our passage reveals that God had set a seal upon the people who were vexed from day to day with the lawless deeds of the people around them (2 Peter 2:8 lit. tortured). While the rest of those naming the name of God were getting more and more worldly, content with the wickedness of our day as though it had no effect on them — the righteous felt as God felt about things. 

Understand that rebellion is a very subtle thing at times. Most people are able to see rebellion in others, but cannot see it in themselves. Believers justify all kinds of compromise and call it Christian liberty. However, if the behavior does not line up with the plainly revealed word of God — it is rebellion.  Some want to identify with the world and sin and not only “be saved,” but have influential ministry. We must discern the rebellion. The enemy is working overtime to get people into positions of leadership who refuse to do God’s will and obey His word. 

If the pattern of the past has any meaning today, God has already rejected many and placed them on the list for judgment. Paul said that the stories of the Old Testament were recorded, written down, reported for our example and learning. To those in Ezekiel their secret agreement with sin and iniquity, manifesting itself in silent approval and tearless eyes, was enough to level upon them the full fury of God’s wrath. They received no mark in their foreheads. 

Today the world is loaded with those who hate righteousness and love iniquity. Nevertheless, we are called to be as Christ who loved righteousness and hated iniquity (Hebrews 1:9). The Spirit of Christ wells up in those in whom He dwells as a revolting reaction to the sin and compromise that grieves His holiness. A Christian reaction to sin (especially their own) can only be described as vexation; that is, torture. When sinners have rejected Christ, trodden under foot the blood that could have sanctified them, and are sinning with a high-hand we ought to be gravely disturbed. God sent His messenger to set a seal upon the people who were vexed in Ezekiel’s day. The Lord knoweth how to deliver the Godly out of temptations. The wrath of God will someday consume those that know Him not nor obey the Gospel. The only real proof that we are not in line for this judgment is whether the Spirit of God who is in us is grieved within us — or are we as those who have no grief, but rather take pleasure in those who commit such sins (Romans 1:32)They who are born of God are vexed by rebellion and sin — just as He is. 

Marked out by God

When God set His mark upon the people it was a single Hebrew letter “tav.” This letter, in some ancient texts, is in the shape of an X or a T. Perhaps this symbolized the fact that the righteous would be saved but scarcely (1 Peter 4:18 lit. with great difficulty). 1 Peter 4:18 tells us that judgment begins at the house of God, but if it first begins at us, and if the righteous scarcely be saved; what shall the end be of those who obey not the gospel? To those who so rightly deserve judgment — judgment will be applied first, and to each one in their own order. The Lord knows they who are His; His name is in their foreheads. 

Driving God from His Temple

It is a dangerous thing to let sin reign in our mortal bodies. It is akin to allowing the devil to run rampant in the Temple in Jerusalem. Satan is the great defiler of sanctuaries. He lures men and women to backslide away from God where He once dwelled in them. Have we not all seen it? They did run well and now they are moving in carnality and sin. What a dangerous place to be in. We have some examples of how these things play out from the Old Testament. God never leaves without some form of warning. 

Ezekiel was a priest whom God used to prophesy to Israel. 

In Chapter 1, God revealed Himself to Ezekiel. 

In Chapter 2, God anointed Him with His Spirit (Ezekiel 2:2). 

In Chapter 3, God put His words in His mouth as a scroll and warned Him to be a watchman of the people to warn them-lest their blood be upon his hands. 

In Chapter 4, Ezekiel cooked up some dung cakes to get the peoples attention (for they were sorely hardened and inattentive). 

In Chapter 5, He shaved his head, divided the hair into three equal parts, burnt the first third (for they were consumed by pestilence and famine), diced up the second third (for a third part died by the sword), and tossed the latter third into the wind (for they were scattered into the nations).

In chapter 8 God showed Ezekiel that the ancients were driving His presence from the Temple because of their lewd imaginations. In verse 8-10 we read: Then said he unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall: and when I had digged in the wall, behold a door. And he said unto me, Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here. So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, printed (carved out) upon the wall round about. The leaders were committing abominations in their heads and they thought that God was not watching. Verse 12 reads: Then He said to me, “Son of man, do you see what the elders of the house of Israel are committing in the dark, each man in the room of his carved images? For they say, ‘The LORD does not see us; the LORD has forsaken the land.’” For this cause God was being driven from the Temple because of their sin (Ezekiel 8:6).

Getting Used to Darkness

“I stumbled into the dimly lit dungeon, fell over a chair and mumbled that I needed a flashlight to read the menu. When the food came I ate it by faith and not by sight. Gradually, however, I began to make out objects a little more distinctly. You know how it is if you sit a while in a dark room. And my friend remarked, ‘Funny, isn’t it, how you get used to the dark.’” (Vance Havner)

This “getting used to the dark” often takes place over time; that is the subtlety of it. Once the sins that were committed “in the darkness” have ran their course the enemy closes in on our borders. These are the times we are living in. Hardened hearts in congregations all throughout the nation will cry out to the righteous as they did in the days of Isaiah… Seer’s — See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits (Isaiah 30:10). Rebellion has no time for truth. It has no time to hear what the Spirit is saying. And it happens according to the true prophecy of the Apostle Paul which said… For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables (2 Timothy 4:3,4).

A Deadly Combination
(A Hard Heart, a Soft Chisel, and a Weak Arm)

When a generation hardened itself against God throughout history, God always stepped up the power, wisdom and fortitude of His ministers to meet their highhanded backsliding head on (Isaiah 50:7, Jeremiah 1:8-10). It cost the prophets their lives, including John the Baptist. All but one of the Apostles were martyred according to tradition. Even the Lord Jesus. Anyone that communicates the life of God to this darkened world is a target of the enemy. 

What if the messengers of God were so “bound up” with sin and so ready to compromise God’s word that they couldn’t preach with authority (Ezekiel 8-9)? What if a famine of the word of the Lord existed in an hour and society that so desperately needed rebuked and called back to repentance (Amos 8:1ff)? What if the watchmen were drunk, not with wine or strong drink, but on the elixir of their own sin and rebellion — unable to sound the warning call (Ezekiel 3:1ff)? What if every end-time prophecy was being fulfilled at once — would they who name the name of Christ, who are living in rebellion within the churches of God, follow the world into their secret chambers? 

The quaker philosopher Elton Trueblood once stated that “By the year 2000 the church will be a conscious minority surrounded by an arrogant, militant paganism.” This is 2015 and we are not only surrounded by an arrogant militant paganism, but by radical Islam. The time to get serious was many years ago and yet the masses have slumbered. For it is time for judgment to begin, starting with the house of God. And if it starts with us, what will be the fate of those who are disobedient to the gospel of God? And if the righteous are barely saved, what will become of the ungodly and sinners? (1 Peter 4:17–18 NET)

SIN… On The Side

Sin… On The Side
Robert Wurtz II

Their backslidings have increased. “How shall I pardon you for this? Your children have forsaken Me And sworn by those that are not gods. When I had fed them to the full, Then they committed adultery And assembled themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses. They were like well-fed lusty stallions; Every one neighed after his neighbor’s wife. Shall I not punish them for these things?” says the LORD. “And shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this?” (Jeremiah 5:6–9 NKJV)

I have been taken aback of late reading the many articles that are trending on popular web news programs dealing with infidelity among married people (adultery). Simply put, adultery is a serious problem… depending on whom you ask. Foxnews and other news organizations have even discussed these articles on their programs. What strikes me most is the cavalier attitude that prevails among those discussing the subject. Where has this insouciant and dismissive view of adultery arisen from? I hope to examine this question in this article. 

Horses neigh, so I understand, for different reasons. The context of our passage is obviously sexual in nature, so we can carry the metaphor in that direction. The prophet is telling us that the men would give off signals (what we call flirting today) in order to express their wanton lust. Neighing is the horses way of expressing its desires. Men (and women) do the same type things today as if it were no sin. How awful are these behaviors in the sight of God when He would resort to using a wild, well fed, lusty horse as a metaphor for describing these men? This is strong language that borders on vulgarity. As Jesus referred to the religious leaders as vipers and serpents, the prophet, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit characterizes these adulterous people as a bunch of wild, lustful neighing horses… going after other men’s wives. Shocking it is. 

Although we give a lot of time to the subject, homosexuality is not the only sexual sin running rampant in the world today. Other forms of perversion are taking over like a plague. We are being desensitized to the seriousness of mortal sins. Every one-liner from “judge not” to “what’s so bad about it” rally together to cool our moral sensibilities. What are some factors we need to be aware of? 

One article suggests that people who had committed adultery themselves are much more likely to forgive than those that did not. That makes sense, I suppose. What they should have said is that they are more understanding of the sin; and that is a totally different thing. A person who truly repents hates the sin they committed. They don’t look for ways to justify it or condone it. They who committed the sins and never repented are far more likely to tolerate it. Some even encourage it or savour talking about it. In public and private, they are far more likely to downplay the seriousness of it. Why? Because they know what it is like to desire to fool around so they want to sympathize with others that are doing the same. Birds of a feather flock together. It’s not rocket science.
Old Notions Revived

It may come as a surprise to you, but there are people in this generation that think having what the 60’s generation called “a little strange” on the side is no big deal. In fact, some wives are being pressured to accept their husbands whoredoms as normal. The age old notion has somehow resurfaced that a man can cheat on his wife and in the morning remain a gentleman; but if the wife does it she is a (pardon the expression) whore. Should we accept this type of devilishness? Have we come to the point where they commit adultery and assemble themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses? They are like well-fed lusty stallions; Every one neighing after his neighbor’s wife? 

The Rebuke-less Sin
So where can a man (or woman) find a rebuke these days for these type sins? With each passing day there seems to be more people guilty of infidelity. Theoretically, this means fewer people around that will take a strong stand. 

Will the rebuke come from parents? Sometimes and sometimes not. One concern I have is that we live in a perverse generation where some moms and dads enjoy seeing their sons and daughters as sex objects. It is a twisted mindset that enjoys seeing ones child (no matter how young or old they are) as the object of other peoples’ lust. “Men just throw themselves at my daughter!” or “Women just throw themselves at my son!” Really? 

What is worse is when that warped mindset travels into the spouses and they excuse the infidelity (whoredom) by convincing themselves that their spouse is so attractive, that the opposite sex can’t help but run a lusting after them. It may help ease the pain of an adulterous spouse to tell onesself that – but it probably has no basis in reality. Again, if not from friends, family, or spouses… where can an adulterer find a rebuke? Few feel passionately about it and even fewer stand ready to confront it. 

God Answers

Their backslidings have increased. “How shall I pardon you for this?… Shall I not punish them for these things?” says the LORD. “And shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this?

All the articles in the world can be written to discuss adultery and immoralty. Foxnews and their panel of experts can talk about it until the cow eats the cabbage; but God is going to have the last word in all this. How can God pardon a sin that people refuse to truly repent of? How can He pardon people who have an entourage of supporters standing willing to make excuses and justify their adulterous sins? Why would a friend or family member ever see the need to repent when so many of their supporters encourage and defend the behavior? 

God says, Shall I not punish them for these things? The first step is to realize that God is going to judge what the writer to the Hebrews calls unrepentant whore mongers and adulterers. (Hebrews 13:4) Popular culture may change their standards until every one neighs after his neighbor’s wife, but God has not changed. Could it be that the cavalier attitude towards adultery that prevails, even among professed Christians, is an expression of the falling away that the scriptures speak of in the last days? Nevertheless, God is not depending on men to deal with what offends Him. “And shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this?God is going to take care of it Himself.  

The Heavenly Reward

The Heavenly Reward
Robert Wurtz II

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; line-height: normal; vertical-align: top;" value="(A)”> We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; line-height: normal; vertical-align: top;" value="(B)”> for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; line-height: normal; vertical-align: top;" value="(C)”> those who through faith and patience<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; line-height: normal; vertical-align: top;" value="(D)”> inherit what has been promised. (Hebrews 6:10-12 NIV)

Our passage is a great encouragement to those, that by implication, are overlooked in the service of the Lord. The writer states first, God is not unjust. That is to say, God will not withhold the reward that He has determined and ordained for you to receive. He will seek no opportunity to keep back by fraud the wages of the laborers that have worked in His fields (James 5:4). Not that God has ever owed man anything; but rather, He is determined to reward those good works He has proposed. He is the gate-keeper of the Heavenly storehouse where moth and rust doth not corrupt, nor thieves break through to steal. Secondly; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him. Here ‘forget’ is the Greek word epilanthanomai (ἐπιλανθάνομαι) and it means to forget either by carelessness/accident (James 1:24, Matthew 16:5) or intentionally (Philippians 3:13). At any rate, it will not happen with Him; the omniscient God will not forget your work and the love you have shown him

The greater blessing

I have desired no one’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine provided for my needs and the needs of those who were with me. By all these things, I have shown you that by working in this way we must help the weak, and remember the words of the Lord Jesus that he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ (Acts 20:33-35 NET)

Paul said it plainly, I have desired no one’s silver or gold or clothing. He then goes on to tell us that he worked with his own hands while at Ephesus providing for his own needs and the needs of those who were with him. Why? By all these things, I have shown you that by working in this way we must help the weak, and remember the words of the Lord Jesus that he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Think strongly upon those words. He had no desire for anyone’s silver or gold or clothing, though he rightfully could have received of their offerings and support. No one chose this way for him, he chose it for himself. Nobody ever accused Paul of being in it ‘for the money’. He chose the more blessed thing to do, to work with his own hands and in turn give rather than receive. Praise the Lord! Amen.

Serving Christ

Jesus has said plainly that in as much as we have done it unto the least of these, we have done it unto Him. (Matthew 25:34-40) It seems very plain from the reading of the text that the writer may have proactively encouraged these dear saints, that in the midst of persecution and trouble, would have to forgo any earthly compensation or recompense for their efforts. Perhaps their synagogues were receiving of the tithe, but because they were believers in Christ they were not allowed to be ‘partakers of the altar’ (1 Cor. 10:18)? All the while they looked on faithfully discharging their duties. As we say, it will be on their own dime and on their own time. What did God say? God is not unjust (unrighteous); He will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. Man may defraud unjustly or forget unintentionally, but God will remember. Their only compensation in this life will be the blessed joy of giving itself. They may indeed forgo, but God will not forget. Theirs is a Heavenly Reward.    

Keep working!

So don’t quit! No matter how bad you want to. Overlook the ways of men and circumstances, looking on to a day when God will reward. The writer continues, we want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(B)”> for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(C)”> those who through faith and patience<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(D)”> inherit what has been promised. Imitate Paul. Imitate Jesus. Imitate Stephen and James. Don’t get discouraged and lazy just because man could care-less about your labor of love. Keep going! What ever God has called you to do, blindfold yourself if you have to and focus your mind on eternity. You don’t have to tell a soul. Some men’s good works go before, but some follow after. Jesus told us more plainly, Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. (Matthew 6:2) Lay up for yourselves treasure in Heaven, where the Judge of all the earth is the paymaster. He will do right. 

One of the last things Jesus ever said to man in inspired text is found in Revelation 22:12; And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. Time is running out to get about the Master’s work. May we all  show this same diligence to the very end, so that what we hope<sup class="crossreference" style="color: blue; font-family: Times, 'Times New Roman', serif; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(B)”> for may be fully realized.   

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