Friday, July 12, 2013

Should the Church Flee Before It Finishes Delivering the Ezekiel Warning?

From what I read in various blogs that discuss Church of God matters, it seems that some in the Church of God feel that the great tribulation may start any time, maybe within a few months or a year or two. Some may feel that the Church needs to be ready to flee to a place of safety soon.

Should you flee to a place of safety now or very soon?

If you want to be counted worthy to escape the great tribulation and be in God's kingdom, NO! NO. NO.

However, if you want to be punished in the tribulation, or lose your eternal life in the lake of fire, yes, by all means, flee to a place of safety as soon as possible.

The Church of God is commissioned, commanded by God, to deliver the Ezekiel warning to all Israel. That is our job! We are the Ezekiel watchman. No one in the Church of God, minister or lay member, is exempt from that responsibility. We can contribute with tithes and offerings. Those without income can spend extra time praying for God's work of preaching the gospel and the Ezekiel warning to the public (Luke 2:37, Acts 6:4) and by encouraging others in the Church to support God's work by speaking of God's work in conversation (Proverbs 27:17, Malachi 3:16-17). Pastors can contribute by teaching their congregation the importance of supporting the preaching of the gospel and Ezekiel warning to the public.

Where in the Bible is that command, that commission, that makes all of us in the Church of God collectively the Ezekiel watchman for Israel?

Put these scriptures together: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:39). "Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 7:12). "Deliver those who are drawn toward death, and hold back those stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, 'Surely we did not know this,' does not He who weighs the hearts consider it? He who keeps your soul, does He not know it? And will He not render to each man according to his deeds" (Proverbs 24:11-12). "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand" (Ezekiel 3:17-18).

Now, combine the above scriptures with the fact that we know what is coming and why. We know the great tribulation is coming upon "Jacob" (Jeremiah 30:7). We know who "Jacob" is (Genesis 48:1-16). We know we are near the end of 6,000 years of the age of man, so the tribulation will come soon (2 Peter 3:8, Exodus 20:9-10, Daniel 12:4). And we know from many scriptures and from watching what is happening around us what Israel's sins are for which they will be punished and what they need to repent of.

Therefore, we know everything that we need to know in order to know that Israel needs a warning and what that warning should say.

We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. We are to do unto others as we would want them to do to us. Would you want to be warned if you were headed for disaster and didn't know it? If you are normal, yes you would. If there was a hazard in the road ahead that you couldn't see at night, you would appreciate it if some one put out a flare. If the building you were in was on fire and you didn't know, you would want someone to warn you.

Are our nations stumbling to the slaughter? Yes they are, and we know it. Therefore God commands us to try to hold them back, and the only way we can do that is to warn them.

It is the combination of the scriptures from God commanding us to give a warning to those who need a warning, motivated by love, with the knowledge we have about what is coming, that together constitute a command by God to warn. It is the Church of God and its members who have that knowledge.

But what if God is angry with the Church? Does that mean we should not try to do a powerful work of warning? Does that disqualify us? Are we exempt from that duty and job if God is angry with us for our sins?

"If the spirit of the ruler rises against you, do not leave your post; for conciliation pacifies great offenses" (Ecclesiastes 10:4). In such a case, we are NOT to "leave our post" - we cannot walk away from our responsibility just because we have faults. That would only make things worse.

If we don't warn? God makes it clear, if we do not warn, the blood of the people will be on our heads. That applies to each of us individually. If I do all I can to support the warning, but you don't, I will not be guilty but you will be guilty of the blood of the people.

How many should we warn before we quit? Two percent of the population? Ten percent? 50%? 90%?

Every soul is precious to God. "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). God wants all to come to repentance, and giving every person a warning before the punishment comes is a first step to bring them to repentance because it will help them accept responsibility when they know they were warned but ignored the warning. As long as we are able to do a work, we are never to quit the effort to warn the people of the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand till everyone in those countries has heard a strong warning, or at least may have heard it as far as we know. If we only warn some of the people, then quit and say, "that's enough, I did my part, I won't do anymore", the blood of those we did not warn will be on our heads.

How many have we warned? Probably not even two percent have heard our warning. There is a tremendous work left to do. We have an enormous responsibility on our shoulders.

Jonah tried to run from his responsibility, but God corrected him. God was merciful not only to Nineveh but to Jonah by giving him strong correction, for if God had allowed Jonah to run away from his job and not do it, the blood of 120,000 Ninevites would have been on his head.

We cannot deliver a warning from the place of safety.

Those who want to go to a place of safety very soon, before we have warned about 400 million people, apparently have little love for their neighbors, or they think God has little love for Israel. They will bear their guilt.

Now, perhaps by some means God will intervene and empower us and give us an open door to finish preaching the warning to the hundreds of millions in our nations who have not heard it yet, even in a very short span of time, a few weeks or a few months. If God miraculously intervenes to give us that open door, and we go through it and really finish the work (not just say it is finished), then fine, it may be time to flee. Or, perhaps we will not flee yet. I do not know how we will know it is time to flee after we warn everyone. But we should not be thinking about fleeing while the majority in this country and other nations of Israel have not yet heard the warning.

Learn a lesson from the book of Jeremiah. Urijah warned the king and people of Judah, giving the same message Jeremiah spoke, but when he was threatened with death, he was afraid and fled to Egypt. But the king of Judah sent men and brought him back from Egypt and killed him. But Jeremiah did not flee, and God protected him (Jeremiah 26:20-24).

"For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it" (Mark 8:35).

Here are links to related chapters or sections in Preaching the Gospel:




Anonymous said...

It might be that the Church would have to flee, or as I would term it, be exiled, because it preaches this warning. It may be then be left up to the two witnesses to continue that warning. said...

Yes, I tend to agree. Once we have finished the work by getting the message out to everyone, or nearly so (we may not be able to know if we reached every individual), the nations may persecute us and DRIVE us out, and once we are in the place of safety, the two witnesses may continue the warning with more intensity and more detail, not only to Israel but to the world. But by that time, the tribulation has started. The two witnesses can tell the people of the United States, Canada, Britian, etc. why they are going through the tribulation and what they need to do to repent, but they cannot tell them how to ESCAPE the tribulation by repenting - it will be too late for that. Teaching the English speaking people how they may escape is our job now.

Tig1 said...

What about praying that we can be counted worthy to escape as Luke 21 says? Perhaps we will be taken, or translated, to Jerusalem and flee from there. Then it will be up to Christ as to wheather we escape to a place of safety. Just a thought. said...

I agree we should pray to be accounted worthy to escape the tribulation. And while we pray that, we should do our part to be worthy to escape by diligently working to warn others, so God can account us worthy and not account us guilty of the blood of the people.

I am not sure how the actual protection and place of safety will work out. My best guess is that most of the fleeing, that is, for most people, will be done by normal physical processes - plane travel, ship, etc. - but God can perform miracles to handle a few exceptions who are not able to travel normally.

Tig1 said...

I fully agree that this warning must go out to the nations. That shows our love for people, to announce the terrible things that are coming on a deceived world, and provide the answer through the Gospel message of repentance and Gods Kingdom to come. However not many of Gods people today have that zeal. said...

Exactly. That lack of zeal on the part of the majority of the Church is one evidence we are in the Laodicean era. Our scattered condition is another. But those who are of the Philadelphia spirit and character will have that zeal, and they are the ones who will be protected in a place of safety.

And some in the Church who do not have that zeal can still repent and develop that zeal to get the warning out. It is not too late for repentance in the Church of God.

Anonymous said...

I for one subscribe to the notion that the most effective way to preach the Good News, media preaching not withstanding, is preaching by example

Action always speaks louder than words, and having a church that has a time tested adherence to obeying what Christ said in John 13:34-35 would have given the original WWCG a more enduring legacy.

Instead, they, at the very least, put too much emphasis on procedural matters and material excesses, which is why we are where we are today.

Sadly, it is not unlike the Jews of the flesh who also neglected such a weighty matter and just as the Temple that they emphasized so much was ultimately destroyed, so too have the beautiful campuses been dismantled and many a fine building has been torn down.

God is no respecter of persons. said...

Example is the most effective way to teach one person you know. But you can't teach 500 million people by the personal examples of only a few thousand Church members, because most of those 500 million people do not know a single Church of God member to see his example, good or bad. The ONLY way you can reach 500 million people is by media of some kind.

Anonymous said...

Well, allow me to disagree somewhat, or at least better explain my point:

I think that growth would have been exponential, and steady had the original WWCG had the reputation for obeying God's Word in 13:34-35 and 1 Corinthians 13.

People can be drawn by substantial acts of kindness and acknowledgment of their legitimacy and worth (such things also enhance the legitimacy of the Church); the curent head of that roman church is proving that, despite his evil motive.

But we have been more worried about being a conservative church instead of adhering to the liberalism as defined in Isaiah 32:8. Hence we find ourselves floundering.

You can also see the consequences of disobedience to John 13:34-35 in the book of Acts where the apostle Peter allowed the negligence of the widows and subsequently the Church suffered persecution (coincidence? I think not).

Like I said to the " cogwriter ", before any living being was Created , before any laws or doctrines were Commanded, there was the basic loving relationship between two beings, and after all is said done, love is what it's all about.

Tig1 said...

Mat 24:14 says"and this Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached". Preach means"declare in Public", give religious advise", "proclaim to the public". Example is very important, but the Gospel goes way beyond that

Anonymous said...

I think that a gospel is validated in the minds of a target audience by the good conduct and reputation of they who preach it. Face it: people are spiritually tone deaf to truth, but what they see with their eyes first is what they respond to.

A good example of that is the head of the roman church: despite the fact that their doctrines are non-biblical, and despite the absolutely obvious evil of his church, well documented electronically, etc., his reaching out to the common people and validating them is slowly starting to change peoples perceptions of his office.

Action has always been more effective than words; the ultimate break up of the old WWCG was due to actions and subsequent reactions.

Even the apostle Saul understood that overbearing tithe requirements HINDER the gospel, a point that our WWCG failed to heed, and the consequences are clear.

It was actions that hindered the preaching of the Good News, hence the current stagnation we are experiencing today.

Also a failure to understand, believe or accept the principle put forth by the apostle Saul in 1 Corinthians 6:4. This scripture alludes to the worth of even the least of those who are converted as does Matthew 24:22.

Simply put, in any kind of relationship one must make the other feel loved and welcomed. Had the old WWCG put more emphasis on this it would have had a reputation for being such a church and people would have paid more attention to us.

Instead, our emphasis was on tithing, faith healing, British Israelism, building lavish campuses, non of which have made people want to join en masse or give us the benefit of the doubt regarding doctrine

Anonymous said...

I would also add: we can preach the Good News effectually all around the world, but unless we obey the afore mentioned Scriptures as well 1 Corinthians 13 we are just sounding brass and tinkling cymbals.

An honest assessment of our progress since the days my grandfather listened to HWA on the radio decades ago would be that our lack of understanding has stalled the work; stalled certainly relative to its peak in the 1970's. said...

We certainly need to obey God, love God and our neighbor, and fully practice what we preach in order for God to bless our efforts to preach the gospel to the world.

But the idea that if we had shown more love that people would pay more attention to us really has little to do with preaching the gospel to the world and the Ezekiel warning to Israel simply because it is not about "us", it is about God and His word the Bible. Yes we put an emphasis on tithes and offerings, because that is how the gospel is preached. People see the TV program and read the literature before they know anything about us or our example. They see what we say about prophecy and can look up the scriptures. They either take the time to look up those scriptures and the proofs, or they don't, but if they don't, they have been warned anyway. Or, if they look up the scriptures, they either believe God or they don't, but they have been warned. This is the case, even if our examples are bad.

But we need to set the right example also, because if God sees we are not practicing the right way of life, He will not bless us with the income and power we need to preach the gospel effectively.

So we need both: we need to live the right way of life to please God so He blesses our efforts to preach the gospel and we need to do the work of preaching the gospel with TV, magazines, the Internet, and public Bible lectures, and any other opportunity God gives us for reaching a mass audience.

Too many in the Church of God emphasize setting the right example as a backdoor way of DE-emphasizing the importance of a large, well-financed, well-organized work of preaching the gospel with TV, radio, magazines, Internet, and public lectures. They say, "It is our example that is important," but what they IMPLY is, "We only need to set the right example, but we do not need a mass-communication program to preach the gospel on TV, radio, print, and the Internet." That is wrong. We need both.

And to the degree that the lessons of the past can tell us about the future, to do a powerful work, we need organization, we need leadership, we need a ministry, and we need to have respect for authority in the Church and and cooperate with and support the ministry and leadership that rightly preaches the gospel to the world.

Tig1 said...

In my earlier post I quoted Mat 24:14 , "and this Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached". This verse goes on to sat "as a witness to all the nations". Yes, agapa love is very important, but the commission Christ gave us was to be that witness for Him. The calling is up to God, but if we refuse or neglect our witness to the world(even if few heed it or except it) we have obeyed our Savior in this most important function of our calling and conversion. Let's not justify or explain away our job now for what we may preceive was wrong doings of the past. Our love for our fellow man can be no greater than share Gods truth with them, whether they except it or not.

Anonymous said...

Well I think history is on my side in this one. The well oiled communications machine that was the old WWCG simply did not stand on its own merits, and today the world is no where nearer to the Truth than they were pre HWA.

We are even less affective now than we were in that heyday. I agree, the Good News must be preached, but clearly the way we are currently doing it is not reaching people en masse.

But I suspect that this will change once "the people that know their God" do exploits according to Daniel 11:32 and John 14:12.

Anonymous said...

Dueteronomy 4:6 also alludes to the power of example. I think God expects no less from Spiritual Israel.