Sunday, October 23, 2011
Ezekiel 9:3-7, The Godly Must Speak Out!
"Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub on which it rested to the threshold of the house. And He called to the man clothed in linen, who had the writing case at his waist. And the Lord said to him, 'Pass through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it.' And to the others He said in my hearing, 'Pass through the city after him, and strike. Your eye shall not spare, and you shall show no pity. Kill old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women, but touch no one on whom is the mark. And begin at My sanctuary.' So they began with the elders who were before the house. Then He said to them, 'Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain. Go out.' So they went out and struck in the city."
This is a tough passage! It speaks of a time of latitudinarian spirituality. Anything goes. Everything is okay. Don't be judgmental. There are times of such ease throughout the Old Testament, See, for example, Deuteronomy 12:8, Judges 17:6, Judges 21:25, and Proverbs 21:2. And again in Ezekiel's time. But this time the Lord pours out His wrath against the lackadaisical church-member. He commands a man to go through Jerusalem and place a mark on all those who weep over the apostasy of their society. Then He sends others out to slay everyone without that mark.
Doesn't this describe our own time? The leadership of many churches deny the fundamentals of the faith. One prominent "evangelical" has now declared that there is no Hell. There have been ministers for decades who deny the divine inspiration of the Bible. And now we have loony theology flying all over the place, such as the Prosperity Gospel. But we mustn't criticize. Mustn't act superior. Mustn't judge. But John 7:24 tells us to judge, but to do it "with right judgment." And doesn't this passage from Ezekiel indicate that we face severe judgment ourselves if we disobey this instruction? Doesn't God reveal that He hates loose and impotent Christianity?
However, we must understand that we face not only God's wrath if we fail to judge error and sin, but also that we face the government's wrath if we do. In 1954, then-Senator Lyndon Johnson inserted a clause into the federal tax code to revoke the tax-exempt status of churches, if their pastors used the pulpit to criticize government. The Alliance Defense Fund is attempting to stir up pastors to resist this shackle on their work.
Acts 5:29 tells us that we must obey God rather than men. Since it is the duty of pastors especially, but also all Christians generally, to speak against the evils of our time, surely the tax code should be an inferior authority in our concerns. Let the Pastor, and each Christian, exercise his spiritual responsibility and constitutional rights. And what consequences the government brings on us, let us be honored to suffer for doing right (I Peter 3:17)!