“If religious books are not widely circulated among the masses
in this country, I do not know what is going to become of us as a nation.
If truth be not diffused, . error will be;
if God and His Word are not known and received, . the devil and his works will gain the ascendancy;
if the evangelical volume does not reach every hamlet, . the pages of a corrupt and licentious literature will;
if the power of the Gospel is not felt throughout the
length and breadth of the land, . anarchy and misrule, degradation and misery, . corruption and darkness, will reign without mitigation or end.”
—-Daniel Webster, 1823
If readers want to start with the Bible or any of my books, I have no complaint! Both mine and the Bible are available on Amazon.com and can be at your door in as little as two days.
“The Church is constantly tempted to accept this world as her home . . . but if she is wise she will consider that she stands in the valley between the mountain peaks of eternity past and the eternity to come. The past is gone forever and the present is passing as swift as the shadow on the sundial . . . Even if the earth should continue a million years not one of us could stay and enjoy it. We do well to think of the long tomorrow.”
The following article is from Kairos Journal. It is so timely, I felt I had to pass it on. Few Christians and even fewer Americans read the book of Ezekiel. Its images and metaphors are not always easy to understand. But the discerning and determined reader will gain much from meditating on its message and will find a warning for our present political and cultural situation. This brief exposition is a great place to start a renewed interest and application of God’s word through Ezekiel.
Set your heart to study, teach, and apply Ezekiel’s message.
I Searched for a Man
“And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none.”
Not all men are true men—at least not in the eyes of God. True men lead, speak out, and stand firm. They “stand in the gap” in times of crisis. They build great cities and organizations, but at their best, they build up the Church. In the counsels of heaven, a search committee of One looks for those who have the courage and moral fiber to do what is right. Because God is God, He does not need experts, technicians, or skilled orators to accomplish His work. He simply needs men.
During the time of the rise of [the] Babylonian empire, God looked for a man to warn the wicked people of Judah and its leaders of their impending doom. Judah’s breathtaking wickedness prompted God’s swift and righteous judgment on the inhabitants of Zion. The many dark deeds of Judah included bloodshed and murder (vv. 22:1-5), government corruption (v. 6), a hatred of parents (vv. 7a, 10), extortion (vv. 7, 12), sexual immorality (vv. 10-11), and greed (v. 13). For these and like actions, God promised decisive punishment. Although the Babylonian captivity certainly involved physical removal from Jerusalem, the penalty in full meant the complete undoing of an unfaithful people—“I will gather you and blow on you with the fire of my wrath, and you shall be melted in the midst of it” (v. 21).
Religious leaders led the parade of infidelity and hatred of God. The Lord described the prophets as co-conspirators with evil (v. 25). By approving the sin of Judah’s princes or staying silent, the prophets themselves betrayed the innocent. By refusing to speak out against the immorality of their day and by covering up for sins of political leaders, the prophets “smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them” (v. 28). In doing so, these supposed servants of God dipped their hands in blood unjustly shed. Those responsible for leading worship did the same. By failing to distinguish between “the holy and the common” (e.g., corrupting reverence toward God in worship), the priests made the sovereign God into a public laughingstock.
In the midst of such abomination, God “sought a man to build up a wall and stand in the breach” (v. 30). Such a man preaches sin and judgment—and the blessings of repentance—without fear or favor. But in all of Israel, God could not find this man. It takes courage, after all, to stand alone for God. Due to the shortage, God called Ezekiel, who informed Judah that they had not been forgiven. For this message, Ezekiel was mocked (cf. vv. 20:49; 33:30-32). Those who follow Ezekiel’s model should expect the same.
Could the Lord find a man in today’s multitude of preachers and teachers? Could He find a prophet who spoke the truth to cultural power and a priest who resolved to keep the holy things of God holy? Men act upon conviction and virtue. Cowards wait for poll results and position themselves in the middle. Godly men act out of confidence in the Word of God. False prophets say what people want to hear. True prophets embark upon a narrow way, a path not for the faint of heart.
Two lines I want to underscore:
“Ezekiel was mocked (cf. vv. 20:49; 33:30-32). Those who follow Ezekiel’s model should expect the same.”
“True prophets embark upon a narrow way, a path not for the faint of heart.”
Pray for preachers and your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to be bold in proclaiming the truth. Pray that we would follow Ezekiel’s model and not be faint of heart.
I quoted this passage from Stanley Hauerwas’ theological commentary on Matthew this week as I exposited the text from Matthew’s gospel (4:12-25).
He was relating a story about Clarence Jordan. I just might spend the rest of my life studying the life of Clarence Jordan. What a great man of God! I’m looking forward to meeting him in glory one day.
Thank your Lord, for such men and such preaching.
Clarence Jordan, the founder of the Koinonia Community, an interracial farm in Georgia . . . illumines the difference between being a disciple and those who simply admire Jesus. In the early 1950’s . . . Clarence asked his brother, Robert Jordan, who would later be a state senator and a justice on the Georgia Supreme Court, to represent Koinonia Farm legally. His brother replied:
“Clarence, I can’t do that. You know my political aspirations. Why, if I represented you, I might lose my job, my house, everything I’ve got.”
“We might lose everything too, Bob.”
“It’s different for you.”
“Why is it different? I remember, it seems to me, that you and I joined the church the same Sunday, as boys. I expect when we came forward the preacher asked me about the same question he did you. He asked me, ‘Do you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior?’ And I said, ‘Yes.’ What did you say?”
“I follow Jesus, Clarence, up to a point.”
“Could that point by any chance be–the cross?”
“That’s right. I follow him to the cross, but not on the cross. I’m not getting myself crucified.”
“Then I don’t believe you’re a disciple. You’re an admirer of Jesus, but not a disciple of his. I think you ought to go back to the church you belong to, and tell them you’re an admirer not a disciple.”
“Well now, if everyone who felt like I do did that, we wouldn’t have a church, would we?”
“The question,” Clarence said, “is, ‘Do you have a church?”
(First reported in McClendon 1990, 103)
Cited in Matthew, Stanley Hauerwas (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2006), p. 57
Are you taking discipleship as serious as Jesus did?