Monday, August 31, 2020

The Importance of the Ezekiel Warning at this Time

This is a critical time in God's work.

There is a crisis for the nation and the Church of God.  Within that crisis is danger but also opportunity.

The danger is that we will fragment due to the stress of the effects of the coronavirus.  There is also the danger that Church income will decrease due to mass unemployment because of the corovavirus.  This can diminish our power to preach the gospel to the world and the Ezekiel warning to Israel.  And by Israel, I mean all the tribes of Israel and the nations that are made up of those tribes: the United States, Canada, Great Britain, etc.

But the irony is, the opportunity is tremendous.  Interest in our work has surged.  This could be due to several factors.  Some people have more time on their hands because they are unemployed.  They have more time to watch our broadcasts and read our websites and literature.  But also people are worried.  Some are scared.  They are worried about the direct effects of the virus on themselves and their loved ones.  They are worried about the economy and their income.  And in an election year when the liberal Democrats have a real chance to gain control of the white house and Congress, some of them are worried about the liberal, anti-God agenda growing and being enforced upon the people.  Add to that, worry about national debt and a possible dollar collapse.

This is a great opportunity to expand the work and reach more people with a warning message, a message they desperately need whether they realize it or not.

This is a time when we should be spending more money on the gospel, not less.

Some people think of preaching the gospel only or primarily in terms of bringing in new people, those God calls.

That is certainly important.  And it may be that this period of crisis we are in is a time when God is waking people up and drawing to the Church a large group of people He is calling - a group that will increase our numbers, our income, and our power to do God's work in the years ahead.  There may be tens of thousands of new people God is starting to call and is ready to bring into the Church, and it may be that God is using the corovavirus crisis and economic crisis to wake them up and get their attention.  This may be the beginning of a big renewal of God's work.

But there is another, perhaps more important reason for getting the Ezekiel warning out to our nations.

We need to warn everyone of their sins before the great tribulation starts while there is time for them to repent.  This is important for reasons beyond helping those God is calling in this age.

God is not calling the majority.  Yet, the first generation of the millennium will be made up largely of people alive today.  

They are not called to salvation in this age.  But they need to hear the warning anyway.  Why?  Even though most, without God's calling, will not repent, they need to hear it, remember it, and know that God was fair to give them a warning.  This will make it easier for them to accept responsibility for ignoring the warning.  They will know God was fair.  It will be easier for them to repent and learn to trust God during the great tribulation so that they can be converted after Christ returns and be teachable as the first generation of Israel in the millennium.

In other words, we have the opportunity to do some of the work of the millennium now by preparing the minds of the people who will be in the beginning of the millennium.  Never before in history has the Church of God had the opportunity to deliver a message to the first generation of Israel that will be saved after Christ returns.  We need to show them that God is fair to give them a warning, whether they heed it or not.

Many Catholics and Protestants never heard a warning against keeping Christmas and Easter and other wrong traditions.  They need to be told.

It can mean the difference between people saying, "It's not my fault, no one warned me, God is not fair," and "It's my fault, I heard the warning but I didn't listen.  God is fair - I should have listened."

We are going to have to work with these people in the millennium, and I would rather work with people with a repentant, humble, and teachable attitude than a complaining people who think God was not fair.

By demonstrating God's fairness and love, we glorify His name and reputation.  In the model prayer, we pray for God's name to be hallowed.  By our actions now, with our prayers, our tithes and offerings, our service, and our loyalty to God's work, we honor and glorify God's name and reputation by showing His love and fairness to give everyone a warning while there is time to heed and escape the punishment.

Giving a warning now will make it easier for the people to repent in the great tribulation.  Why?  By showing God's fairness to warn, we make it easier for the people to trust God and believe in His goodness.  We make it easier for them to accept responsibility.  Both of those things make repentence easier, and if easier, then more likely.  God can grant repentance to all Israel during the tribulation, but He doesn't force anyone to repent.  Each person makes his or her own choice.

Not all will repent when God grants repentance.  Some may choose to reject repentance.  They could lose their salvation and go into the lake of fire, eventually, if they do not repent when God gives them the opportunity.

So some could lose their salvation who otherwise might have been saved if we make their repentance more difficult by not giving the warning.

No wonder God counts us as murderers if we fail to do our part to warn our nations of the great tribulation to come upon them because of their sins.

God gave us a job to do, and we better do it.

"Cry aloud, spare not; Lift up your voice like a trumpet; Tell My people their transgression, And the house of Jacob their sins" (Isaiah 58:1).

"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).

What makes us the Ezekiel watchman, you might ask.

Several scriptures make it clear that God commands us to warn the nations.

The most general, but perhaps the most important, is the command to love our neighbors (Matthew 22:39).  Also, we are to do unto others as we would want them to do for us (Matthew 7:12).

We know that trouble is coming and our nations need a warning.  Love demands that we warn them.  And if we were in danger, we would want a warning, so we should do for others as we would want done for us.

But God gets more specific.  "Deliver those who are drawn toward death, And hold back those stumbling to the slaughter" (Proverbs 24:12).  The only way to hold back is to warn.

We know the truth.  We know the sins of the people and we know the punishment that is coming.  We have the opportunity to warn.  That makes us the watchman.  Our opportunity to warn plus God's command that we love makes us the watchman, because if we don't warn, we don't love.

And in Ezekiel, God makes it clear how serious our responsibility is and the consequences if we don't do our job.  The consequences are, God will count us as murderers.

"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).

There was a movie named, "The Perfect Storm".  The title referred to the perfect conditions for a powerful storm.

In the preaching of the gospel, God is giving the members of the Church of God a perfect test.  The test is a test of faith - if we believe God's word that the great tribulation is coming and what it will be like for the people - and a test of love - if we love our neighbors enough to go all out with sacrifice to get the warning message out.

For it is a sacrifice.  Each one of us who supports the gospel and the warning pays a price, in tithes and offerings, in prayer time, or in service.  The man or woman who gives up some small but unnecessary purchase to contribute a little more to the preaching of the gospel and the warning is making a sacrifice.  Those sacrifices can be small but they add up.  They show God where are hearts are.

So we are being tested.  And the eternal lives of many may depend on our passing the test.

Let us be motivated by love to go all out to preach the true gospel and the Ezekiel warning to all the Israelite nations and to the world.

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