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Sermon: “A Message of Hope to the Exiled”November 20, 2022
I wanted to add to last week’s sermon a few thoughts about the politicization of God. I talked about a man named Doug Mastriano who talked as if God was appointing him to the position he was running for, as were many christians saying and believing that he was selected by God to lead in that position. As one prophet prophesied about his supposed victory, “The time has come for their great fall and for the great steal to be overturned.” But then he lost! They also prophesied that many who opposed this nonsense would die but as Jeremiah said Jeremiah 14:14 “Then the Lord said to me, “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds.” You even had Kari Lake who said “God is on OUR side. We are truly fighting pure evil right now. It is evil what we’re dealing with .. It’s coming from the Left, it’s coming from their spokespeople in the media.” She ended up losing though she was right in saying, “It is evil what we’re dealing with.” Not only did you have losers, but you also had some winners with the same types of messages like Ron DeSantis. One writer said “The Republican governor, a strategic politician who is up for reelection in November, is increasingly using biblical references in speeches that cater to those who see policy fights through a morality lens and is flirting with those who embrace nationalist ideas that see the true identity of the nation as Christian. (Trump did the same thing) He and other Republicans on the campaign trail are blending elements of Christianity with being American and portraying their battle against their political opponents as one between good and evil.” DeSantis had said “put on the full armor of God. Stand firm against the left’s schemes. You will face flaming arrows, but if you have the shield of faith, you will overcome them, and in Florida we walk the line here, DeSantis told the audience at Hillsdale College in February. And I can tell you this, I have only begun to fight.” You also had this ridiculous advertisement that said this about DeSantis, “On the eighth day,” the narrator opens, “God looked down on his planned paradise and said: ‘I need a protector.’ So God made a fighter…” And so on. “The black-and-white ad, tweeted out by DeSantis’ wife, Casey DeSantis, shows a series of images from the governor’s public and private life narrated by a man who invokes God 10 times in the minute-and-a-half-long video.” And yes, many will believe and believed this to be true. This, as I talked about last week is dangerous and the politicization of God is not Christianity, and many have been deceived and deluded by it. Having said this, God still is in charge. Daniel 4:19 “Daniel praised the God of heaven 20 and said: Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. 21 He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others.” When Nebuchadnezzar finally submitted to God, he said Daniel 4:34 “At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. 35 All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?” 36 At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom.”
The so-called christianity of politics, christian nationalism, even christian zionism and most of what is happening in the church today is not the Christianity of the gospels. This is clearly seen just by reading the gospels and comparing them to the church. As we talked about before, the Queen and now King of England are supposed to be the defender of the faith (Church of England), President Biden and third in line Nancy Pelosi both call themselves devout Catholics and Vice-president Kamala Harris appears to be Baptist with other influences but the countries are no closer to the truth of God’s word, in fact they are further away. Jesus made it very clear what the church was supposed to look like. That is what the gospel message is supposed to be. Matthew 4:23 “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them.” Jesus showed us what to do and how to do as He did, but it cannot be done in our own strength but only with power from on High.
The church today after 2000 years looks nothing like the church Jesus is the head of. 1 Peter 1:1 “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces. 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” We were supposed to stand firm on the word of God. Paul said 1 Corinthians 15:2 “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” Instead, the church focused on that which can spoil and fade and did not retain the faith. Jesus said John 14:15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth.” The church did not keep the commands and God turned His face from us and Isaiah 59:15 “truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.” This is because the church rebelled against God’s word and went their own way. Daniel 8:12 “Because of rebellion, the Lord’s people and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground.”
The church then was taken captive just as we saw with Israel and Judah in the Old Testament. They were vomited from the Promised Land just like God said would happen when they disobeyed. That is not how it needed to be. Jesus came to give us a living hope and a future. Luke 4:16 “He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” When Jesus came, the temple changed from a building to people and the Promised Land changed from a location in Israel to the whole world. Revelation 11:15 “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.” John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” What Jesus intended for us was not only eternal life but life here that was better than the Garden and the land of milk and honey. John 11:25 “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” God gave us the Garden, the Promised Land and Jesus and his people rejected all three. Death has been defeated and the works of satan could also be defeated. 1 John 3:8 “The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” Notice I said could. Many Christians have been confused thinking that satan had no power after Jesus died, but that is not true. If fact in the church today, satan has great power which is why the church is desolate. The church was given power to continue to defeat the works of satan until the final day, not be defeated by him. This is made clear Luke 9:1 “When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” Mark 6:12 “They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.”
Without God’s power from on High, we cannot do as Jesus did. Instead, due to the rebellion of the church who refused to obey God’s word, the gates of hell have decimated the church just as Assyria and Babylon destroyed Israel and Judah. The people are now the temple, and this third temple has also been destroyed just like the first two but not completely. Disobedience is the root cause in all three. We are told 1 Corinthians 3:16 “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” But because of rebellion, God turned His face from the church. We were told Daniel 9:27 “At the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” We were told this would happen and that it would come to an end. This describes the severity of this desolation. 2 Thessalonians 2:4 “He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. 9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.”
What we have today is a church / people who are in captivity and darkness instead of freedom and light. The sad part of this is most do not know they have been deceived or deluded. They see churches everywhere and people attending, some more than others. Most have been taught that going to church is what Christianity is all about. Though talking about Ezekiel, this passage can describe the church. Picture this on a Sunday morning. Ezekiel 33:31 “My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to hear your words, but they do not put them into practice. Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. 32 Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice.” James 1:22 “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” Micah 3:9 “Hear this, you leaders of Jacob, you rulers of Israel, who despise justice and distort all that is right; 10 who build Zion with bloodshed, and Jerusalem with wickedness. 11 Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money. Yet they look for the Lord’s support and say, “Is not the Lord among us? No disaster will come upon us.” 12 Therefore because of you, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble, the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets.” Jeremiah 2:5 “This is what the Lord says: “What fault did your ancestors find in me, that they strayed so far from me? They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves.” Isaiah 57:11 “Is it not because I have long been silent that you do not fear me? 13 When you cry out for help, let your collection of idols save you! The wind will carry all of them off, a mere breath will blow them away. But whoever takes refuge in me will inherit the land and possess my holy mountain.” Jeremiah 5:21 “Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear: 22 Should you not fear me?” declares the Lord. “Should you not tremble in my presence? 23 But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts; they have turned aside and gone away. 24 They do not say to themselves, Let us fear the Lord our God. 30 A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: 31 The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?” Jeremiah 4:22 “My people are fools; they do not know me. They are senseless children; they have no understanding. They are skilled in doing evil; they know not how to do good.” Jesus said Mark 7:6 “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 7 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ 8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” Galatians 1:6 “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all.”
Jeremiah also describes the church this way. Jeremiah 5:2 “Although they say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’ still they are swearing falsely.” 3 Lord, do not your eyes look for truth? You struck them, but they felt no pain; you crushed them, but they refused correction. They made their faces harder than stone and refused to repent. 4 I thought, “These are only the poor; they are foolish, for they do not know the way of the Lord, the requirements of their God. 5 So I will go to the leaders and speak to them; surely they know the way of the Lord, the requirements of their God.” But with one accord they too had broken off the yoke and torn off the bonds.” Jeremiah 7:2 “‘Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the Lord. 3 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. 4 Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!” When the church does not follow or even believe God’s word, the church is in rebellion and as we have seen becomes desolate. Zechariah 7:11 “But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and covered their ears. 12 They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the Lord Almighty was very angry. 13 “‘When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,’ says the Lord Almighty.” Isaiah 1:15 “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood!” Amos 5:21 “I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. 23 Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps.”
Today there is still a stubborn refusal to believe. Jesus said to His disciples when He Mark 16:14 “appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.” He says the same to the church. Luke 18:8 “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” The church has accepted the words of man over the words of God. Isaiah 48:17 “This is what the Lord says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. 18 If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea. 19 Your descendants would have been like the sand, your children like its numberless grains.” Jeremiah 7:23 “I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you. 24 But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward. 25 From the time your ancestors left Egypt until now, day after day, again and again I sent you my servants the prophets. 26 But they did not listen to me or pay attention. They were stiff-necked and did more evil than their ancestors.” Stephen said before he was killed, Acts 7:51 “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52 Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— 53 you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.”
The good news is that there is hope. All is not lost as God will keep His promise to David. Though small, there will always be a remnant saved to keep the promise alive. Peter said Acts 2:36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” But for us to have that hope we must turn from wicked ways. Jeremiah was told Jeremiah 36:2 “Take a scroll and write on it all the words I have spoken to you concerning Israel, Judah and all the other nations from the time I began speaking to you in the reign of Josiah till now. 3 Perhaps when the people of Judah hear about every disaster I plan to inflict on them, they will each turn from their wicked ways; then I will forgive their wickedness and their sin.” But they did not listen nor has the church listened. Jeremiah 44:2 “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: You saw the great disaster I brought on Jerusalem and on all the towns of Judah. Today they lie deserted and in ruins 3 because of the evil they have done. They aroused my anger by burning incense to and worshiping other gods that neither they nor you nor your ancestors ever knew. 4 Again and again I sent my servants the prophets, who said, ‘Do not do this detestable thing that I hate!’ 5 But they did not listen or pay attention; they did not turn from their wickedness or stop burning incense to other gods. 6 Therefore, my fierce anger was poured out; it raged against the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem and made them the desolate ruins they are today.” This is exactly what has happened to the church.
Last week we talked about the warnings Israel was given. They were warned that they would be destroyed and as we just read, they did not listen, and those who survived ended up in captivity in another land. The church has been warned that there would be desolation and hell awaits those who refuse to obey God’s word, yet there is no fear of God. Romans 3:18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Just as Israel and Judah did not listen, the church refuses to listen. Today if you call yourself a Christian, you should be worried especially if your Christianity is based on man’s word (doctrines and theology) of which most have placed their hope in. By following the words of man, doctrines and theology, they have ignored God’s word. Many who call themselves Christians do not think God is just. Therefore, they ignore the bible and decide for themselves who God should be and how He should act. If He doesn’t act the way they want Him to, they turn away. Ezekiel 33:17 “Yet your people say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ But it is their way that is not just. 18 If a righteous person turns from their righteousness and does evil, they will die for it. 19 And if a wicked person turns away from their wickedness and does what is just and right, they will live by doing so. 20 Yet you Israelites say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ But I will judge each of you according to your own ways.” Most christians are not worried about judgment. They have believed what they have been told by the church they go to, and they feel they are safe and secure even though what they have been told does not line up with scripture. They have believed the lie that a little prayer or some water has given them a free pass even if they follow other gospels. You don’t see this in scripture. This why some teach the Old Testament really doesn’t apply to the church even though God said Malachi 3:6 “I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.” Jesus said Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” We were warned this deception in the church would happen, but the church continued down their own path all the while rejecting the truth found in God’s word. Jeremiah 8:6 “I have listened attentively, but they do not say what is right. None of them repent of their wickedness, saying, “What have I done?” Each pursues their own course like a horse charging into battle.” Not only did deception take place, God also brought upon the church delusion because of disobedience. 2 Thessalonians 2:11 “For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie.” That delusion is everywhere.
Since there will always be a remnant reserved, we can have hope because God is compassionate even though we do not deserve His compassion. Romans 11:4 “And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” We are told 2 Chronicles 30:9 “If you return to the Lord, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.” 2 Chronicles 7:12 “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices. 13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.” There is no rain, locusts have devoured the land and there is a plague of hearing the word of the Lord. This is not about becoming a better Catholic or Baptist or Pentecostal or Methodist… but turning away from these to the gospel according to God’s word, not man. If we want God’s compassion to pour out on us, we have to turn from these wicked ways because there is only one way, not many and that is Jesus. John 14:6 “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This means we must follow His words so that we can do as He did.
To survive this desolation that has destroyed so many, you have to reject the words of man and flee because your eternal destination depends on it. Jeremiah 51:6 “Flee from Babylon! Run for your lives! Do not be destroyed because of her sins. It is time for the Lord’s vengeance; he will repay her what she deserves.” Job said Job 42:5 “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. 6 Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” We must say the same. We must fear God. Jeremiah 4:3 “Look! He advances like the clouds, his chariots come like a whirlwind, his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe to us! We are ruined! 14 Jerusalem, wash the evil from your heart and be saved. How long will you harbor wicked thoughts?” Ezekiel 24:14 “‘I the Lord have spoken. The time has come for me to act. I will not hold back; I will not have pity, nor will I relent. You will be judged according to your conduct and your actions, declares the Sovereign Lord.’” Many sit around waiting for Jesus to return singing Oh what a glorious day that will be not realizing that they will be judged severely for following other gospels. Picture that day when Jesus tells people Matthew 7:23 “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” Matthew 25:41 “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Amos 5:18 “Woe to you who long for the day of the Lord! Why do you long for the day of the Lord? That day will be darkness, not light.” Amos also said Amos 5:14 “Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is. 15 Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts. Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph.” Lamentations 5:21 “Restore us to yourself, Lord, that we may return; renew our days as of old22 unless you have utterly rejected us and are angry with us beyond measure.”
Both Ezekiel and Jeremiah had messages for the exiles. Ezekiel was called by God to speak to the exiles. Ezekiel 3:10 “And he said to me, “Son of man, listen carefully and take to heart all the words I speak to you. 11 Go now to your people in exile and speak to them. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says,’ whether they listen or fail to listen.” He was told Ezekiel 3:4 “Son of man, go now to the people of Israel and speak my words to them. 5 You are not being sent to a people of obscure speech and strange language, but to the people of Israel— 6 not to many peoples of obscure speech and strange language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely if I had sent you to them, they would have listened to you. 7 But the people of Israel are not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for all the Israelites are hardened and obstinate. 8 But I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are. 9 I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint. Do not be afraid of them or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people.” Before this he was told Ezekiel 2:3 “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me to this very day. 4 The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says.’ 5 And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious people—they will know that a prophet has been among them. 6 And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or be terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people. 7 You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. 8 But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious people; open your mouth and eat what I give you.” Even in exile the people were a stubborn bunch who were unwilling to listen. Later Ezekiel said Ezekiel 11:13 “Alas, Sovereign Lord! Will you completely destroy the remnant of Israel?” Then God answered.16 “Therefore say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Although I sent them far away among the nations and scattered them among the countries, yet for a little while I have been a sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone.’ 17 “Therefore say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will gather you from the nations and bring you back from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you back the land of Israel again.’ 18 “They will return to it and remove all its vile images and detestable idols. 19 I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. 20 Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God. 21 But as for those whose hearts are devoted to their vile images and detestable idols, I will bring down on their own heads what they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord.”
Notice that God told both of these prophets not to be afraid and warned them they would be opposed. Jesus said Matthew 10:17 “Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Acts 9:15 “the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” Paul was told Acts 21:11 “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’” 12 When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
Jeremiah also has a message for the exiled. Jeremiah was called by God to be His prophet.” Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. 7 You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord. 9 Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. 10 See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” His message was that they would be overthrown. Jeremiah 1:14 “The Lord said to me, “From the north disaster will be poured out on all who live in the land. 15 I am about to summon all the peoples of the northern kingdoms,” declares the Lord. 16 I will pronounce my judgments on my people because of their wickedness in forsaking me, in burning incense to other gods and in worshiping what their hands have made. 17 “Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them.” He said Jeremiah 2:3 “My people have committed two sins: they have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” Over and over Jeremiah prophesied the word of the Lord but they did not listen. He told them Jeremiah 3:12 “‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will frown on you no longer, for I am faithful,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will not be angry forever. 13 Only acknowledge your guilt— you have rebelled against the Lord your God, you have scattered your favors to foreign gods under every spreading tree, and have not obeyed me,’” declares the Lord.” He warned them of the disaster that was coming but they did not listen. Jeremiah 5:18 “Yet even in those days,” declares the Lord, “I will not destroy you completely. 19 And when the people ask, ‘Why has the Lord our God done all this to us?’ you will tell them, ‘As you have forsaken me and served foreign gods in your own land, so now you will serve foreigners in a land not your own.’ 20 “Announce this to the descendants of Jacob and proclaim it in Judah: 21 Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear: 22 Should you not fear me?” declares the Lord. “Should you not tremble in my presence?
They did not fear God, nor did they tremble, and they were destroyed and the few who survived were taken captive. But because of God’s promise to David Jeremiah 51:5 “For Israel and Judah have not been forsaken by their God, the Lord Almighty, though their land is full of guilt before the Holy One of Israel.” Though they were warned over and over again, Israel and Judah did not listen. 2 Chronicles 36:15 “The Lord, the God of their ancestors, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. 16 But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against his people and there was no remedy. 17 He brought up against them the king of the Babylonians, who killed their young men with the sword in the sanctuary, and did not spare young men or young women, the elderly or the infirm. God gave them all into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar. 18 He carried to Babylon all the articles from the temple of God, both large and small, and the treasures of the Lord’s temple and the treasures of the king and his officials. 19 They set fire to God’s temple and broke down the wall of Jerusalem; they burned all the palaces and destroyed everything of value there. 20 He carried into exile to Babylon the remnant, who escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and his successors until the kingdom of Persia came to power.” Notice that they even mocked Jesus just as they continue to mock His servants. Mark 15:16 “The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. 17 They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. 18 And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” 19 Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.” Then some realized the truth. 38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” Don’t be those who still crucify Jesus. Hebrews 6:4 “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6 and who have fallen[c] away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.” Hebrews 10:29 “How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?”
Jeremiah had warned the people and told them about the king of Babylon coming just as the church was warned about the desolation. Jeremiah 20:4 “I will give all Judah into the hands of the king of Babylon, who will carry them away to Babylon or put them to the sword. 5 I will deliver all the wealth of this city into the hands of their enemies—all its products, all its valuables and all the treasures of the kings of Judah. They will take it away as plunder and carry it off to Babylon.” Then Jeremiah told the people this. Jeremiah 25:25 “The word came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, which was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. 2 So Jeremiah the prophet said to all the people of Judah and to all those living in Jerusalem: 3 For twenty-three years—from the thirteenth year of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah until this very day—the word of the Lord has come to me and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened. 4 And though the Lord has sent all his servants the prophets to you again and again, you have not listened or paid any attention. 5 They said, “Turn now, each of you, from your evil ways and your evil practices, and you can stay in the land the Lord gave to you and your ancestors for ever and ever. 6 Do not follow other gods to serve and worship them; do not arouse my anger with what your hands have made. Then I will not harm you.” 7 “But you did not listen to me,” declares the Lord, “and you have aroused my anger with what your hands have made, and you have brought harm to yourselves.” 8 Therefore the Lord Almighty says this: “Because you have not listened to my words, 9 I will summon all the peoples of the north and my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon,” declares the Lord, “and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants and against all the surrounding nations. I will completely destroy them and make them an object of horror and scorn, and an everlasting ruin. 10 I will banish from them the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, the sound of millstones and the light of the lamp. 11 This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.”
Jeremiah gave this message to the exiles. Jeremiah 29:1 “This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.” It is important to understand there were false prophets along the way saying the exact opposite of what Jeremiah was saying. We see this all through scripture and we see it today in the church. Jeremiah told the people Jeremiah 29:4 “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” 8 Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. 9 They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord.” Then Jeremiah prophesied this word of hope to the people. He said Jeremiah 29:10 “This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” We see in 2 Chronicles 36:21 “The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah.”
One of the exiles was Daniel. God took care of Daniel in exile and raised Him up to a great position in the land. Daniel 1:1 “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia[a] and put in the treasure house of his god. 3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility— 4 young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. 6 Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 7 The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego. 17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.” The account of these young men is amazing and miraculous. Daniel 2:25 “Arioch took Daniel to the king at once and said, “I have found a man among the exiles from Judah who can tell the king what his dream means.”
Daniel was a man of God who trusted and believed God’s word. In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom— 2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. 3 So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. 4 I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed:” Daniel then prayed this prayer. “Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5 we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land. 7 “Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. 8 We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against you. 9 The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; 10 we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. 11 All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you. “Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you. 12 You have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing on us great disaster. Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem. 13 Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come on us, yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth. 14 The Lord did not hesitate to bring the disaster on us, for the Lord our God is righteous in everything he does; yet we have not obeyed him. 15 “Now, Lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong. 16 Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, turn away your anger and your wrath from Jerusalem, your city, your holy hill. Our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors have made Jerusalem and your people an object of scorn to all those around us. 17 “Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. 18 Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. 19 Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.” The church should be praying this prayer.
As we read earlier, God is sovereign. Daniel 2:20 “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. 21 He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others.” Daniel 4:3 “How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation.” We then see this when the people retuned to the land. God is in control of even the secular kings. 2 Chronicles 36:22 “In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing: 23 “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: “‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up, and may the Lord their God be with them.’” Not only will God make a way as He sees fit, God will also punish our enemies. Jeremiah also said this Jeremiah 25:12 “But when the seventy years are fulfilled, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation, the land of the Babylonians, for their guilt,” declares the Lord, “and will make it desolate forever. 13 I will bring on that land all the things I have spoken against it, all that are written in this book and prophesied by Jeremiah against all the nations. 14 They themselves will be enslaved by many nations and great kings; I will repay them according to their deeds and the work of their hands.” Isaiah 10:12 “When the Lord has finished all his work against Mount Zion and Jerusalem, he will say, “I will punish the king of Assyria for the willful pride of his heart and the haughty look in his eyes.” Ezekiel 17:22 “‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will take a shoot from the very top of a cedar and plant it; I will break off a tender sprig from its topmost shoots and plant it on a high and lofty mountain. 23 On the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it; it will produce branches and bear fruit and become a splendid cedar. Birds of every kind will nest in it; they will find shelter in the shade of its branches. 24 All the trees of the forest will know that I the Lord bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall. I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. “‘I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.’”
When Daniel prayed, he said Daniel 9:17 “Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary.” Not only did he have first-hand knowledge about desolation, but God would also show him the desolation that would come in the future; the abomination that causes desolation that you and I live in. Daniel 8:26 “The vision of the evenings and mornings that has been given you is true, but seal up the vision, for it concerns the distant future.” False teaching tells us the abomination is way off in the future but the future has already been here. Unlike Daniel who stood on God’s word, most do not stand on God’s word and have been deceived and do not see it and do not repent of their wicked ways. But like we saw in Ezra, captives were then free to return to their own land just as God said. Ezra 1:1 “In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing: 2 “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: “‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. 3 Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them.” Just a handful of people returned compared to the number of people before Assyria and Babylon attacked but the remnant was saved. We also see the remnant saved in the book of Esther which again shows the sovereignty of God. Today in the church there is a remnant that will be set free to be the church God intended it to be just as God has promised.
Habakkuk also was told about the devastation Babylon would bring. Habakkuk 1:5 “Look at the nations and watch— and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. 6 I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwellings not their own. 7 They are a feared and dreaded people.” Habakkuk prayed this prayer Habakkuk 3:2 “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.” As Habakkuk described the power of God, he said he would wait. 16 I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled (not because of the enemy). Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. 17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. 19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.” The remnant of the church is also waiting. Micah 7:7 “But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. 8 Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light. 9 Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the Lord’s wrath, until he pleads my case and upholds my cause. He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness. 10 Then my enemy will see it and will be covered with shame, she who said to me, “Where is the Lord your God?” My eyes will see her downfall; even now she will be trampled underfoot like mire in the streets.”
The church has done exactly as Israel and Judah did; rebelled against God’s word. We were warned what would happen, but the church did it anyway. The church was also taken into captivity because of that rebellion. But like Israel and Judah this time of desolation is coming to an end. The return of the remnant gives us great hope. Isaiah 64:7 “No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; (we should be) for you have hidden your face from us and have given us over to our sins. 8 Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. 9 Do not be angry beyond measure, Lord; do not remember our sins forever. Oh, look on us, we pray, for we are all your people. 10 Your sacred cities have become a wasteland; even Zion is a wasteland, Jerusalem a desolation. 11 Our holy and glorious temple, where our ancestors praised you, has been burned with fire, and all that we treasured lies in ruins. 12 After all this, Lord, will you hold yourself back? Will you keep silent and punish us beyond measure?” Isaiah 49:8 “This is what the Lord says: “In the time of my favor I will answer you, and in the day of salvation I will help you; I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land and to reassign its desolate inheritances, 9 to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!” Amos 9:11 “In that day “I will restore David’s fallen shelter— I will repair its broken walls and restore its ruins— and will rebuild it as it used to be.” We see this again in Acts 15:6 “‘After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, 17 that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things’—18 things known from long ago. Isaiah 30:18 “The Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! 19 People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. 20 Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. 21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 54:6 “The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit— a wife who married young, only to be rejected,” says your God. 7 “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. 8 In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord your Redeemer.” Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him, 8 but with an overwhelming flood he will make an end of Nineveh; he will pursue his foes into the realm of darkness.” Ezra 9:8 “But now, for a brief moment, the Lord our God has been gracious in leaving us a remnant and giving us a firm place in his sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyes and a little relief in our bondage.” Micah 4:6 “In that day,” declares the Lord, “I will gather the lame; I will assemble the exiles and those I have brought to grief. 7 I will make the lame my remnant, those driven away a strong nation. The Lord will rule over them in Mount Zion from that day and forever. But now many nations are gathered against you. They say, “Let her be defiled, let our eyes gloat over Zion!” 12 But they do not know the thoughts of the Lord; they do not understand his plan, that he has gathered them like sheaves to the threshing floor. 13 “Rise and thresh, Daughter Zion, for I will give you horns of iron; I will give you hooves of bronze, and you will break to pieces many nations.” You will devote their ill-gotten gains to the Lord, their wealth to the Lord of all the earth.” Zephaniah 3:19 “At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you. I will rescue the lame; I will gather the exiles. I will give them praise and honor in every land where they have suffered shame.” This is good news for the church if they will listen.
Sadly the church continues to go their own way. They continue to build with their own hands and strength and refuse to turn from wicked ways. Hosea 4:6 “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. “Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children.” Day after day people who think they are Christians are dying without ever knowing or seeking the truth. They have been told there is plenty of room to go through the wide gate, but they have been deceived even though we are told Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” The church is filled with false prophets and teachers who teach other gospels just as we were warned. They teach doctrines of demons as if they were God’s word and people believe them as if they are. If you look at scripture anew and seek God wholeheartedly and then look at today’s church, you can see the deception and delusion that has come upon so many. The emperor is not wearing any clothes said the little child. Revelation 3:17 “But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.” Paul said Romans 13:11 “And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.” Paul also told us Ephesians 6:11 “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm.”
The battle we are in is not the human battle they faced with the Babylonians, it is a spiritual battle and just as ferocious. No, it is not flesh and blood, but it is the same dark forces at work. The good news is victory will be ours if we stand firm on God’s word and turn from our wicked ways. When King Sennacherib threatened Judah, King Hezekiah came before God and pleaded for mercy. The church must do the same. Isaiah 37:16 “Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 17 Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to all the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God. 18 “It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste all these peoples and their lands. 19 They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. 20 Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, Lord, are the only God.” God answered by saying “Virgin Daughter Zion despises and mocks you. Daughter Jerusalem tosses her head as you flee. 23 Who is it you have ridiculed and blasphemed? Against whom have you raised your voice and lifted your eyes in pride? Against the Holy One of Israel! 24 By your messengers you have ridiculed the Lord. 31 Once more a remnant of the kingdom of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above. 32 For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. 33 “Therefore this is what the Lord says concerning the king of Assyria: “He will not enter this city or shoot an arrow here. He will not come before it with shield or build a siege ramp against it. 34 By the way that he came he will return, he will not enter this city,” declares the Lord. 35 “I will defend this city and save it, for my sake and for the sake of David my servant!”
Today God will defend and build His church for the sake of David. The spiritual battle we have been in is just as devasting as when Babylon and Assyria attacked. There is great devastation in the church, almost unthinkable since Jesus gave the church power to defeat satan. It is hard to believe the church rejected Jesus to go their own way. Jesus said Matthew 24:22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.” There will be survivors because of God’s mercy. Revelation 7:14 “I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Yes, you will look around and see church buildings everywhere, but you will not see the church. You will see people who think they are Christians go to these buildings yet remain powerless against their enemies and defeated by them. Sunday after Sunday they listen to other gospels and do not know enough to repent. But Daniel tells us these days are coming to an end and our enemy will be defeated. Daniel 7:1 “As I watched, this horn was waging war against the holy people and defeating them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the holy people of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom. The church will rise up once again in the power and authority of Jesus name. Matthew 24:14 “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
Nehemiah felt he needed to go back to the land. He was told Nehemiah 1:3 “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” Nehemiah prayed “Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. 7 We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses. 8 “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, 9 but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’ 10 “They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. 11 Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name.” Ezra also prayed Ezra 9:6 “I am too ashamed and disgraced, my God, to lift up my face to you, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens. 7 From the days of our ancestors until now, our guilt has been great. Because of our sins, we and our kings and our priests have been subjected to the sword and captivity, to pillage and humiliation at the hand of foreign kings, as it is today. 8 “But now, for a brief moment, the Lord our God has been gracious in leaving us a remnant and giving us a firm place in his sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyes and a little relief in our bondage. 9 Though we are slaves, our God has not forsaken us in our bondage. He has shown us kindness in the sight of the kings of Persia: He has granted us new life to rebuild the house of our God and repair its ruins, and he has given us a wall of protection in Judah and Jerusalem.”
If you have a burden for the church, then pray these prayers, repent and humble yourself before God. Not only are people outside of the church dying without the truth, those who call themselves the church are dying without ever knowing the truth. The abomination that causes desolation has been devastating and millions have lost their eternal life because of it. Just like in the time of Jeremiah there will be many who will not believe the word of God. This is all written down right before our eyes. The question is do you believe what you read and if you do, will you come to your sense sand bow before God in submission to His sovereignty. Will you turn from your wicked ways, or will you continue down a path that leads to death and destruction? Micah 4:1 “In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it.”Isaiah 57:14 “And it will be said: “Build up, build up, prepare the road! Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.” 15 For this is what the high and exalted One says— he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. 16 I will not accuse them forever, nor will I always be angry, for then they would faint away because of me— the very people I have created. 17 I was enraged by their sinful greed; I punished them, and hid my face in anger, yet they kept on in their willful ways. 18 I have seen their ways, but I will heal them; I will guide them and restore comfort to Israel’s mourners, 19 creating praise on their lips. Peace, peace, to those far and near,” says the Lord. “And I will heal them.” 20 But the wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud. 21 “There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.” Psalm 130:1 “Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; 2 Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.3 If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? 4 But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. 5 I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. 6 I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. 7 Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. 8 He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.” Isaiah 62:1 “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her vindication shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch. 2 The nations will see your vindication, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow. 3 You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God. 4 No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the Lord will take delight in you.”Luke 13:35 “Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”