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Third Sunday of Lent - Wall Against WallMarch 24, 2019Call to Worship: 1 Samuel 2:1 “My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance. 2 “There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.” Psalm 18:2 “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”Song: Let Your Kingdom Come- The Brooklyn Tabernacle ChoirEverlasting - Brian DoerksenJesus, Firm Foundation - Chapman, Mandisa, Hall, DoneheyScripture: Ezekiel 13Song: While I'm Waiting - Travis GreeneSermon: - “Wall Against Wall”Closing Song: Give Us Clean Hands- Mark SchultzBenediction: 2 Chronicles 20:20 “Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” 2 Chronicles 20:29 “The fear of God came on all the surrounding kingdoms when they heard how the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel.”--------------------------------------------------------Sermon: “Wall Against Wall”Today we are going to be talking about the walls of a fortress. Obviously the idea of the wall is to keep the enemy out as it offers protection and peace. “Walls have traditionally been built for defense, privacy, and to protect the people of a certain region from the influence or perceived danger posed by outsiders.” There are walls that are secure and walls that are flimsy. As the church, our walls are supposed to stand secure, not burned and torn down of which we saw in Nehemiah and we are presently seeing now. Our walls are not supposed to be breached and we are to take the land no matter the size of the enemy’s fortress. Our walls are the ones that are supposed to stand secure not the walls of our enemies. Psalm 144:2 “He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.” The enemy cannot stand against the wall of the Lord. 2 Samuel 5:6 “The king (David) and his men marched to Jerusalem to attack the Jebusites, who lived there. The Jebusites said to David, “You will not get in here; even the blind and the lame can ward you off.” They thought, “David cannot get in here.” 7 Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion—which is the City of David. 9 David then took up residence in the fortress and called it the City of David. He built up the area around it, from the terraces inward. 10 And he became more and more powerful, because the Lord God Almighty was with him.” There is no wall that can stand against the church when we serve God faithfully. We are also a wall that will stand against those in the church, who refuse to listen to God’s word, just as we are a wall to the enemy. Their wall is no match for our wall.The picture on the screen is in the notes also but this is a battle where the enemy has already entered. Last week I talked about those who have secretly slipped in among us. These are false teachers who have led the church astray just as this picture illustrates. This has caused our defenses to crumble. Jude 1:4 “For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” The deny Jesus because of their teaching. Of course they say they don’t but when you teach your own message over God’s message, you are denying. Titus 1:16 “They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.” Paul said 2 Corinthians 11:12 “And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. 13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” So if Paul was talking about this in his day, it is worse now. Those who listen to these deceitful workers are also to blame. Paul said, 2 Corinthians 11:4 “For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.” Stop putting up with it. Romans 16:17 “I urge you to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. 18 For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.”Because of this ignorance and disobedience, the wall of protection started to come down and the enemy advanced against us. What should have happened was the wall needed to be repaired right away but the deception was so bad they actually helped the enemy tear down the wall. Here is that Trojan horse we talked about and one way the enemy infiltrated the church. They just opened the door.
This is one example of many where the watchman did not do their jobs but agreed to disagree. The door should have kept closed. This is a serious charge and has been one more reason for the desolation of the church. God told Ezekiel. Ezekiel 3:16 “At the end of seven days the word of the Lord came to me: 17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 18 When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. 19 But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself.” Ezekiel 33:1 “The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, speak to your people and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, 3 and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, 4 then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not heed the warning and the sword comes and takes their life, their blood will be on their own head. 5 Since they heard the sound of the trumpet but did not heed the warning, their blood will be on their own head. If they had heeded the warning, they would have saved themselves. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes someone’s life, that person’s life will be taken because of their sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood.”Let me show you an example of this. When the eclipse happened in North America, Anne Graham Lotz took it upon herself to warn America of impending doom. She said “A few years ago I was teaching through the book of Joel when the ancient words of his prophecy came up off the page. I knew with hair-raising certainty that God’s severe judgment was coming on America! I have taught Joel several times since. Each time has served to confirm with deep conviction that God is warning America of impending disaster and destruction.” A few lines later she said “While no one can know for sure if judgment is coming on America, it does seem that God is signaling us about something. Time will tell what that something is.” Now that’s prophetic! So what is the problem with this? At the same time she gives this bizarre statement of nothingness, in doing so she is also wanting you know to know she feels she is a watchmen. She said “In light of Ezekiel 33:1-6 that commands a watchman to be faithful to warn others of the danger coming against the land, I feel compelled to issue the warning once again.” Yet on the very same webpage she directs you to a false prophet. What kind of a watchman is that? The answer is she is not a watchmen but a false teacher, one to watch out for and beware. She is part of the church who worships the god of dispensationalism and she leads those who listen astray. Her warnings are not the warnings of a watchmen but more of a gate opener who opened the gates wide for the enemy instead of closing them. This is how it works. These false teachers are in our midst and no one is sounding the alarm. They have a huge voice. It is disturbing that many who do sound the alarm are just offering a different doctrine such as instead of pre they are post millennial but both wrong. 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.”Instead of warning of impending doom and no the eclipse was just an eclipse just like the next one will be, these false teachers did not turn people away from the true impending doom that is coming on all who do not believe. 2 Peter 2:17 "These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” Long ago when the cracks started to appear in our walls they did not make the necessary changes but continued in their stubborn ways. 2 Kings 17:14 “But they would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their ancestors, who did not trust in the Lord their God. 15 They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors and the statutes he had warned them to keep. They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless. They imitated the nations around them although the Lord had ordered them, “Do not do as they do.” “They worshiped other gods 8 and followed the practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before them, as well as the practices that the kings of Israel had introduced.” When the wall needed repairs they just made it worse instead of fixing it. As we read earlier Ezekiel 13:5 “You have not gone up to the breaches in the wall to repair it for the people of Israel so that it will stand firm in the battle on the day of the Lord.” Lamentations 2:14 “The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The prophecies they gave you were false and misleading.”Today we are talking about wall against wall. We have been raised with walls that are no longer there. The wall of protection is gone just as we saw with Gideon. Judges 6:6 “Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help. 7 When the Israelites cried out to the Lord because of Midian, 8 he sent them a prophet, who said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 9 I rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians. And I delivered you from the hand of all your oppressors; I drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.” Nehemiah tells us Nehemiah 1:3 “The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” Psalm 89 gives us a description of what has happened also to us. I won’t read the whole thing but I recommend you do. Psalm 89:35 “Once for all, I have sworn by my holiness— and I will not lie to David— 36 that his line will continue forever and his throne endure before me like the sun; 37 it will be established forever like the moon, the faithful witness in the sky.” 38 But you have rejected, you have spurned, you have been very angry with your anointed one. 39 You have renounced the covenant with your servant and have defiled his crown in the dust. 40 You have broken through all his walls and reduced his strongholds to ruins. 41 All who pass by have plundered him; he has become the scorn of his neighbors. 42 You have exalted the right hand of his foes; you have made all his enemies rejoice. 43 Indeed, you have turned back the edge of his sword and have not supported him in battle. 44 You have put an end to his splendor and cast his throne to the ground. 45 You have cut short the days of his youth; you have covered him with a mantle of shame.”This is not how it is supposed to be. The watchmen should have cried out and sounded the alarm and the people turned and repented. They should have called in the engineers to inspect the cracks. “Engineers can be requested to assess existing cracking in buildings. When doing this it is important to establish whether the crack is increasing in size. The best method for measuring crack movements is by use of a crack monitor. In this case the engineers are the priests and the crack monitor, monitors obedience according tot God’s word. Instead we have listened to those who Jeremiah 6:14 “dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace. Jeremiah 23:20 “In days to come you will understand it clearly. 21 I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied. 22 But if they had stood in my council, they would have proclaimed my words to my people and would have turned them from their evil ways and from their evil deeds.” Instead of all these separate denominations we should have kept going and did what Jesus commanded us to do. Paul says1 Corinthians 2:6 “We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” 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.” But instead of repenting and turning away from our ways, they continued towards blackest darkness. Hebrews 6:6 “To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.”The good news is when we turn from our wicked ways and humble ourselves before God: he will hear our cry. 2 Chronicles 7:14 “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.” Yet we must walk faithfully. Nehemiah said about those broken walls. Nehemiah 2:17 “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” 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. 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.” We are supposed to have a wall of protection. David said Psalm 18:2 “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” We see this wall of protection when Israel left Egypt. Exodus 14:19 “Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, 20 coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.” If we trust the Lord and obey him Psalm 144:14 “There will be no breaching of walls, no going into captivity, no cry of distress in our streets. 15 Blessed is the people of whom this is true; blessed is the people whose God is the Lord.”Whether we face the enemy outside the church or the ones who infiltrated the temple, our wall is stronger than their wall because God stands for us. Jeremiah was told Jeremiah 1:9 “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.” 18 Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land.” Jeremiah 15:20 I will make you a wall to this people, a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue and save you,” declares the Lord. 21 “I will save you from the hands of the wicked and deliver you from the grasp of the cruel.” Not only will we be a wall to those who are unfaithful in the church: we will be a wall against the enemy outside. 2 Kings 19:32 “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. 33 By the way that he came he will return; he will not enter this city, declares the Lord. 34 I will defend this city and save it, for my sake and for the sake of David my servant.’” We also have this great promise that the walls will be repaired and stand strong against the enemy. 2 Kings 19:30 “Once more a remnant of the kingdom of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above. 31 For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors.” The wall will be repaired. Nehemiah 4:6 “So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.” This work was not completed without opposition. Read Nehemiah again. Nehemiah 6:1 [ Further Opposition to the Rebuilding ] When word came to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall and not a gap was left in it.” 9 They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.” But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.”Are you willing to carry on the work so that the temple will be rebuilt and the walls stand strong? Are you willing to work on the wall with one hand and a weapon in the other? Nehemiah 4:16 “From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah 17 who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, 18 and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked.” Are you willing to be that person who will stand in the gap unlike in Ezekiel 22:30 “I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one. 31 So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord.” Obviously we do not want that so we must also understand that God is holy and a jealous God and stand in the gap. Isaiah 6:1 “I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Mark 1:15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” 16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 18 At once they left their nets and followed him. 19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.” Are you ready to build and fight? Are you ready to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant?”We have been called to rebuild, tear down, demolish and destroy. No man will stand against us and everywhere we set our feet will be ours. Jesus said to wait so we wait to be clothed with power from on high. We will be a wall like Jeremiah was. We will stand as a wall to proclaim the gospel to the land. This is not a docile wall but an active and powerful wall. Like the defensive line stacked on the goal line in football. They will do everything in their power to stop the other team from crossing the line. The church should have fought like this to stop those who have secretly slipped in among us. Instead of being a “Steel Curtain,” they step aside and let them through. Jude 12 “These people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. 13 They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.” The church should have shut these men down. The church should have been like the Ephesians church but not forget our true love. Revelation 2:2 “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. Jeremiah 23:25 “I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies in my name. They say, ‘I had a dream! I had a dream!’ 26 How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds? 27 They think the dreams they tell one another will make my people forget my name, just as their ancestors forgot my name through Baal worship. 28 Let the prophet who has a dream recount the dream, but let the one who has my word speak it faithfully. For what has straw to do with grain?” declares the Lord. 29 “Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?” Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:3 “As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer 4 or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. 5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. 7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.” So our words go out like a hammer and fire because they are not our words but the word of the Lord.When we attack the enemy 2 Samuel 22:30 “with your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.” When Joshua attacked Jericho they could not stand against them. Their wall was no match for the Lord. Joshua 6:1 “Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in. 2 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. 3 March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. 4 Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. 5 When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.” Hebrews 11:30 “By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.” We have the promise of God to defeat our enemies. Deuteronomy 9:1 “Hear, Israel: You are now about to cross the Jordan to go in and dispossess nations greater and stronger than you, with large cities that have walls up to the sky. 2 The people are strong and tall—Anakites! You know about them and have heard it said: “Who can stand up against the Anakites?” 3 But be assured today that the Lord your God is the one who goes across ahead of you like a devouring fire. He will destroy them; he will subdue them before you. And you will drive them out and annihilate them quickly, as the Lord has promised you.” Unbelief in the power of God leads to defeat. Deuteronomy gives the summary of hat happened the first time they were supposed to take the land but rebelled against the Lord. Deuteronomy 1:26 “But you were unwilling to go up; you rebelled against the command of the Lord your God. 27 You grumbled in your tents and said, “The Lord hates us; so he brought us out of Egypt to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us. 28 Where can we go? Our brothers have made our hearts melt in fear. They say, ‘The people are stronger and taller than we are; the cities are large, with walls up to the sky. We even saw the Anakites there.’” 29 Then I said to you, “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. 30 The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, 31 and in the wilderness. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.” 32 In spite of this, you did not trust in the Lord your God, 33 who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go. 34 When the Lord heard what you said, he was angry and solemnly swore: 35 “No one from this evil generation shall see the good land I swore to give your ancestors, 36 except Caleb son of Jephunneh. He will see it, and I will give him and his descendants the land he set his feet on, because he followed the Lord wholeheartedly.”We have been given the power to take any land and defeat any enemy if we believe. We are standing on a firm foundation. Ephesians 2:19 “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” Matthew 7:24 “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” The walls of our enemies will come down with a great crash but so will our own walls if we do not obey. When Jeremiah was called, God said he would make him a wall “to stand against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land.” Unfortunately for us our protection has been removed because those who went before us did not adhere to God’ word. Ezekiel goes on to say in Ezekiel 22:23 “Again the word of the Lord came to me: 24 “Son of man, say to the land, ‘You are a land that has not been cleansed or rained on in the day of wrath.’ 25 There is a conspiracy of her princes within her like a roaring lion tearing its prey; they devour people, take treasures and precious things and make many widows within her. 26 Her priests do violence to my law and profane my holy things; they do not distinguish between the holy and the common; they teach that there is no difference between the unclean and the clean; and they shut their eyes to the keeping of my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. 27 Her officials within her are like wolves tearing their prey; they shed blood and kill people to make unjust gain. 28 Her prophets whitewash these deeds for them by false visions and lying divinations. They say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says’—when the Lord has not spoken. 29 The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery; they oppress the poor and needy and mistreat the foreigner, denying them justice. 30 “I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one. 31 So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord.”Up until now our hope has been only a whitewashed wall. Until now most have put their trust in this wall to save them, not knowing they have been deceived by some paint. By not following the true gospel and turning to false gospels our protection was gone. Ezekiel 13:15 “So I will pour out my wrath against the wall and against those who covered it with whitewash. I will say to you, “The wall is gone and so are those who whitewashed it.” Ezekiel 13:10 “‘Because they lead my people astray, saying, “Peace,” when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, 14 I will tear down the wall you have covered with whitewash and will level it to the ground so that its foundation will be laid bare. When it falls, you will be destroyed in it; and you will know that I am the Lord. 15 So I will pour out my wrath against the wall and against those who covered it with whitewash. I will say to you, “The wall is gone and so are those who whitewashed it, 16 those prophets of Israel who prophesied to Jerusalem and saw visions of peace for her when there was no peace, declares the Sovereign Lord.”’So like Jeremiah we speak against what the church has become. Not only is it a whitewashed wall but a whitewashed tomb. Jesus said it this way. Matthew 23:27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.” We saw twice what happened to the temple. Jeremiah 39:8 “The Babylonians set fire to the royal palace and the houses of the people and broke down the walls of Jerusalem.” Ezra 5:12 “But because our ancestors angered the God of heaven, he gave them into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar the Chaldean, king of Babylon, who destroyed this temple and deported the people to Babylon. Matthew 24:1 “Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2 “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” In 70 AD the temple was destroyed. As far as the third temple, it has been infiltrated by the enemy but this one cannot be completely destroyed like the others. There will always be a remnant rise up. 1 Corinthians 3:16 “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.” Remember that Jesus is the cornerstone and he already defeated death.No longer is the temple and the walls made of stone. Ephesians 2:21 “In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” Psalm 5:11 “But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. 12 Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.” Zechariah 2:5 “And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will be its glory within. 7 “Come, Zion! Escape, you who live in Daughter Babylon!” 8 For this is what the Lord Almighty says: “After the Glorious One has sent me against the nations that have plundered you—for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye— 9 I will surely raise my hand against them so that their slaves will plunder them. Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me. 10 “Shout and be glad, Daughter Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,” declares the Lord. 11 “Many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you. 12 The Lord will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land and will again choose Jerusalem. 13 Be still before the Lord, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.”So although we have been raised with whitewash, we have great hope because we have turned away and returned to the word of the Lord. 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 do not have to be afraid of the giants we will face. We must listen to Caleb when he said Numbers 14:9 “Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.” As we get ready to cross into the land of promise we hold to Isaiah 60:18 “No longer will violence be heard in your land, nor ruin or destruction within your borders, but you will call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise.” It will not be our gates that have been burned nor will it be our walls that are broken down. Jeremiah 51:58 “This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Babylon’s thick wall will be leveled and her high gates set on fire; the peoples exhaust themselves for nothing, the nations’ labor is only fuel for the flames.”So we continue this journey. Nehemiah 2:17 “Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” Ezra 5:11 This is the answer they gave us: “We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the temple that was built many years ago, one that a great king of Israel built and finished.” This week the focus will be on armed for battle as we follow God’s plan