For many in ministry, the question is asked; how can we do this better? The guise is “to win souls” but the reality is how can I be more successful, not necessarily in God’s eyes but in man’s eyes. I am dating myself here but most in the church followed and still follow someone like Schuller, Warren, Hybels, MacArthur, Moore, Osteen, John Paul, Jakes, Copeland, Meyer, Dollar, Bell and there are many more. I have not kept up with the latest and greatest gurus but it is still the same as when the names used to be Ignatius, Augustine, Wesley, Calvin, Luther, though the discussion of doctrine and theology was set aside and the discussion turned to how to “do church” which became extremely profitable for those who had attained success selling their wares, even though Paul said 2 Corinthians 2:17 “Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.” So, you see the distinction of those out to make money and those sent from God. Paul also pointed out that the church was already on a downhill slide because of teachers and preachers not sent by God who were teaching and preaching other gospels. 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. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!” Paul makes it clear there is only one gospel to follow but you wouldn’t know it looking at the names above and the doctrines they teach. Jesus said Matthew 4:19 “Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people.” Paul was saying I followed Jesus and you should follow me because I followed Jesus and so on and so on. He said, 1 Corinthians 1:1 “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” But that stopped happening as the church stopped following the word of God to go their own way, which is rebellion. Paul’s teaching about following Jesus was set aside and we were warned that would happen. 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. 2 Thessalonians 2:3 “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.” Jesus told us to make disciples in His name, not in man’s name. Matthew 28:18 “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” That only happens if you follow Jesus. Paul also told us what should have happened. Paul said to the Thessalonians 1 Thessalonians 1:6 “You became imitators of us and of the Lord. for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13 “And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe. 14 For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus.” This imitating was supposed to continue in the church, but it did not. Instead, the church began to imitate so-called successful men and women.
In their rebellion, the church became very good at following the ways of man instead of the way of Jesus. The effort was so good that people today actually think the church is how it was supposed to be and even refuse to turn from it. Even though Jesus said John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” the church went their own way and basically rewrote the bible to suit their own needs. Since Jesus is the only way, that means His words are the only way to get to the kingdom of God, the present kingdom Jesus talked about when He said Mark 1:15 “The time has come, the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!,” and the eternal kingdom that is coming. Matthew 25:46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Though no one will ever admit to it unless they repent, the word of God has been set aside for reason, tradition and experience. Most will put the three together and say this must be right because they are in agreement, so they set aside scripture and deem it irrelevant. Setting aside scripture comes in many shapes and sizes. The word of God is distorted, added to and taken from and often just mostly ignored and replaced with man’s words. Some will even go as far as saying they believe in Jesus, but His words are irrelevant for today. Worst of all are those who treat God’s living word as a book, albeit the bible is a number one best seller. The problem is this number one best seller is as someone said, the least read but still not a book. This is why Jesus would still say, 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.” What Jesus would say to the church today has already been written. Luke 3:8 “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” Acts 2:38 “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.”
Most church leaders follow other church leaders hoping to do as they did, but that usually never works out quite the same. They at least hope to glean some knowledge and wisdom from them that will help their efforts and gurus are more than willing to help for a price. Rick Warren once said “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” He also gave great ability to his followers to do as he did. He gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. No, wait, that was Jesus who said that and gave His disciples power. So, if Jesus was the only one who could say that and give power to do as He did, why do so many desperately want to be like men and women who have built something with their own hands? Why do so many continue to follow in the footsteps of man and refuse to follow God wholeheartedly? Sure, they have wisdom and knowledge in the art of the man-made church, but they lack power. God said Jeremiah 23:1 “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord.” That is happening everywhere in the church today. Many confuse following God wholeheartedly with their commitment to a particular leader or brand of church or doctrinal distinction and yes many have died totally committed to their church but will only hear from Jesus, Matthew 7:23 “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”
During the last couple of weeks, we have looked at examining the scriptures and testing the spirits because many false prophets are in the church today and yes, we were warned. Jesus said Matthew 7:15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” Paul warned us when he said Acts 20:29 “I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.” Many disciples have been drawn away. Most do not know that the gospel they think they are listening to has been distorted nor do they seem to care. Jeremiah 5:31 “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?” The church needs to stop idolizing men and women and return to following Jesus.
Last week we looked at putting our hope in the word of God. Never elevate the words of man above the word of God, but it happens all the time. We are not putting our hope in a book about God but in the very words from God Himself, His living and enduring word. Hebrews 4:12“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” You cannot say you are a follower of Jesus if you don’t know His voice. John 10:27 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” Most have no discernment between the voice of Jesus and satan and most do not know that they have bought into another gospel, as many listen to satan as if Jesus were speaking. The false teachers, preachers and evangelists don’t have a neon sign pointing at them, but you can tell by listening to their words because their words and actions are different than Jesus. Matthew goes on to say Matthew 7:16 “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” Sometimes it is easy to spot them because satan is arrogant and all you have to do is listen to what they are saying. There are also good counterfeits that are harder to spot but the word of God is a light that will shine on their falseness. John 3:19 “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”
True power, or the lack of it is the clue. They say that God is blessing and has blessed them, yet they are spiritually powerless. They give their followers the impression that they have God’s ear. While many of those men and women I listed above are powerful like a Fortune 500 CEO, they are spiritually powerless because they do not do as Jesus did. That is usually easy to see. Because God has turned His face from the church, the church does not have the power we were intended to have. Isaiah 59:1 “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. 2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. 3 For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken falsely, and your tongue mutters wicked things.” 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!” Isaiah 64:7 “No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and have given us over to our sins.” There are three types of people as Revelation describes. Revelation 3:15 “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are (3) lukewarm—neither (1) hot nor (2) cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ 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.” You are either hot or cold but most in the church are lukewarm. Hot means you are searching for the truth of God’s word and believe, follow and obey His words. Cold obviously mean you do not. The worst place to be though is in the middle where someone kind of believes but actually believes the words of man more. This spitting out of Jesus mouth is the same as when God said, Leviticus 20:22 “‘Keep all my decrees and laws and follow them, so that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out.” Because Israel rebelled and did not obey, their enemies conquered them and only a remnant survived. 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. 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.” The church has done the same, thus the abomination that causes desolation that Daniel and Jesus warned us about. So now the church sits desolate and powerless because the church decided man’s ways were better than God’s way. Today you are either seeking God to turn His face back to the church so that His kingdom once again comes near, or you think all is well with the way it is. Which are you; hot cold or lukewarm?
When you look at the so-called leaders of the church, you do not see the power of Jesus nor are they doing as Jesus did. Yes, they are powerful but not clothed with power from on High. Covid was just one example that exposed the powerless church. Here are a few examples of powerless leaders. The Pope has enormous global reach but no power. The Queen and now the King of England, “Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England,” but what are they defending and again powerless when compared to scripture. If you looked at their buildings, you would think they had been blessed by God, but they haven’t been. Joel Osteen reaches millions around the world but has no power. John MacArthur also has global reach with schools training the minds of his followers, yet he flat-out states there is no power available like the disciples had, though he is very strong, is powerless. You also have those like Kenneth Copeland also with global reach who is a charismatic with no power from on High. (Sidenote - don’t be deceived by the charismatic movement. It is not God’s power they are playing with) You might remember he was the one shouting at covid at the beginning of this pandemic saying it was over in the US but now have over 1 million deaths. There were two organizations that really impacted the leaders of most churches. Almost everyone wanted to be like them and if they copied them, they thought that they too would reach the world and be successful. These two are Saddleback with Rick Warren and Willow Creek used to have Bill Hybels. Warren with his purpose driven church and life which became a bible for most and celebrate recovering are all powerless when compared to the bible. Willow Creek had such an impact on so many churches but then the world found out Bill Hybels wasn’t who they thought he was, again no power. That church should have been shut down just as many others should be. Malachi 1:10 “Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands.” You also had Ravi Zachariah (RZIM) world renown apologist (defender of the faith), who was also found out for who he was.
The list could go on and on but what you do not have in that list is true spiritual power from on High. It is simple, as you just have to ask the question, does the church look like Jesus and the disciples and the answer is no it does not. First of all, there is not true repentance where there is a willingness to turn away from wicked ways by the church itself or the people who attend. Secondly most are not seeking God to turn His face back to the church because they think He is already blessing, especially those who have tasted what they think is success. Thirdly just read the Gospels and Acts and compare them to the church. Here is the test. James 5:14 “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” If Jesus is the head of the church, then the church should do as Jesus did and go out in the same power and authority as Jesus just as He said.
We were supposed to be bringing in the harvest as Jesus showed us but instead Isaiah 17:10 “You have forgotten God your Savior; you have not remembered the Rock, your fortress. Therefore, though you set out the finest plants and plant imported vines, 11 though on the day you set them out, you make them grow, and on the morning when you plant them, you bring them to bud, yet the harvest will be as nothing in the day of disease and incurable pain.” Haggai 1:3 “Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?” 5 Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 6 You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” 7 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 8 Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. 9 “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. 10 Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. 11 I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.” Isaiah 63:18 “For a little while your people possessed your holy place, but now our enemies have trampled down your sanctuary.” Judges also describes this destruction. Judges 2:10 “After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. 11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals. 12 They forsook the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They aroused the Lord’s anger 13 because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. 14 In his anger against Israel the Lord gave them into the hands of raiders who plundered them. He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist. 15 Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the Lord was against them to defeat them, just as he had sworn to them. They were in great distress.” Habakkuk described the lack of harvest when he said Habakkuk 3:18 “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.”
The lack of harvest not only describes people not being saved but people not being healed or having demons cast out from them, but that is not how it was supposed to be. Jesus showed us what the harvest would look like. 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.” Matthew 9:35 “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Now compare that to your church. Not only did Jesus show us what the harvest would look like, we saw the harvest continue with His disciples. When Jesus called His disciples to come follow Him, this was a prelude to Pentecost where the church would continue doing as Jesus did as long as they continued to follow Him. Matthew 10:1 “Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.” When Jesus sent out the seventy-two, He said Luke 10:8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. 9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.” They then 17 “returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” Then after Pentecost Acts 5:2 “The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.” Acts 8:5 “Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.” So we see what the harvest would entail. Jesus said Matthew 9:37 “to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” John 4:35 “Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” Now ask yourself why would you listen to those telling you this is not possible for the church.
Instead of harvesting the fields, everything is dying on the field. People around the world are dying without ever hearing the truth. Mark 13:20 “If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them.” People in the church who have been told they are safe and secure are also dying, as they have been told what they thought to be truth but instead were deceived and under delusion. Just take a moment to think about judgment day and millions of people who thought they were Christians find out they had been deceived. Thinking about hell is bad enough but thinking about Christians who thought they would be in heaven is dreadful. Just let that sink in. 2 Thessalonians 2:9 “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.” When you look at the church you see the charismatics who have been deceived by signs and wonders and the non-charismatics deceived by a fear of signs and wonders. Both have been deceived by satan. True signs and wonders, healing, casting out demons is part of the gospel but it seems people would rather die than repent and acknowledge the truth of God’s word. Jeremiah 5:3 “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.” Isaiah 9:13 “But the people have not returned to him who struck them, nor have they sought the Lord Almighty. 14 So the Lord will cut off from Israel both head and tail, both palm branch and reed in a single day; 15 the elders and dignitaries are the head, the prophets who teach lies are the tail. 16 Those who guide this people mislead them, and those who are guided are led astray. 17 Therefore the Lord will take no pleasure in the young men, nor will he pity the fatherless and widows, for everyone is ungodly and wicked, every mouth speaks folly.” Amos 4:6 “I gave you empty stomachs in every city and lack of bread in every town, yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord. 9 “Many times I struck your gardens and vineyards, destroying them with blight and mildew. locusts devoured your fig and olive trees, yet you have not returned to me, declares the Lord.” Isaiah 65:2 “All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations— 3 a people who continually provoke me to my very face.”
The church today refuses to submit to God and follow His ways instead of their own. The church continually provokes God but if the church would turn back to God, God would dwell once again in the church. We were told 2 Chronicles 7:13 “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.” When God turns His face back to us, the church will once again have the power and authority we were intended to have in the first place. Isaiah 63:18 “For a little while your people possessed your holy place, but now our enemies have trampled down your sanctuary.” Daniel knew what to do, therefore we know what to do; we pray as he prayed. 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. 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 good news is that there is hope but the church must return to God’s word and do as we are commanded. For the kingdom to come near, the church must repent. Ezekiel was told what to say to the people when it came to repentance. Ezekiel 33:10 “This is what you are saying: “Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?”’ 11 Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’ 12 “Therefore, son of man, say to your people, ‘If someone who is righteous disobeys, that person’s former righteousness will count for nothing. And if someone who is wicked repents, that person’s former wickedness will not bring condemnation. The righteous person who sins will not be allowed to live even though they were formerly righteous.’ 13 If I tell a righteous person that they will surely live, but then they trust in their righteousness and do evil, none of the righteous things that person has done will be remembered; they will die for the evil they have done. 14 And if I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ but they then turn away from their sin and do what is just and right— 15 if they give back what they took in pledge for a loan, return what they have stolen, follow the decrees that give life, and do no evil—that person will surely live; they will not die. 16 None of the sins that person has committed will be remembered against them. They have done what is just and right; they will surely live. 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.”
When the kingdom comes near, power will be available once again. 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.” We have this same hope because God is gracious and compassionate. Hezekiah said this 2 Chronicles 30:6 “People of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that he may return to you who are left, who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. 7 Do not be like your parents and your fellow Israelites, who were unfaithful to the Lord, the God of their ancestors, so that he made them an object of horror, as you see. 8 Do not be stiff-necked, as your ancestors were; submit to the Lord. Come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever. Serve the Lord your God, so that his fierce anger will turn away from you. 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.” We only have hope if we seek Him wholeheartedly and turn from our wicked ways. Ezekiel 18:31 “Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel / church?”
What will it mean when God turns His face to shine on us once again? The answer is simple; the church will look like the Gospels and Acts once again and do as Jesus did. The good news will be preached, people will be truly saved, healed and demons will be cast out. The church will go out in the power and authority of Jesus name just as the first disciples did. Matthew 10:1 “Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.” You don’t even have to imagine what the church would then look like. All you have to do is read God’s word. By the way if that happened, there would be a lot of leaders out of a job and a lot less peddling for profit. Church as we now know it would be turned upside down and never be the same again. 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.” When Jesus spoke to His disciples, He started with a rebuke which also applies to the church when He said Mark 16:14 “Later Jesus 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. 15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” 19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” This is how it was supposed to be but sounds foreign only because God’s word has been replaced with reason, tradition and experience. I am still amazed at how many refuse to believe that the power of God is available for today. I guess that is the stubborn refusal to believe Jesus was talking about.
When the kingdom comes near, power follows. Zechariah 12:8 “On that day the Lord will shield those who live in Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the Lord going before them. 9 On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem.” David had an army of mighty men. 1 Chronicles 12:22 “Day after day men came to help David, until he had a great army, like the army of God.” When God turns His face back to the church, our enemies will be afraid and no, our enemies are not people, even though it feels that way. Our enemy is satan himself and he is trying to completely destroy the church. Revelation 12:12 “He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” At this point he does not fear the church, but he knows what will happen if the church turns from their wicked ways, hence the deception. As of now there is only a remnant left. 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.” satan has been fighting against God and His people since the beginning and he will continue to do so until he is destroyed once and for all. Revelation 20:10 “And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” You do not want to go with him but he will try to take you. You will join him if you do not turn from following man’s ways and return to God. Matthew 25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
Jesus came to destroy the work of the devil and the church was to continue in that work. 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.” The church at Pentecost was given the power and authority to continue in that work. Without power from on High, defeat follows quickly as the church found out, yet most refuse to repent. If we would repent and obey, you can read the blessings that follow found in Deuteronomy 28:1 “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. 2 All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God.” and Leviticus 26:3 “‘If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, 4 I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit.” If you read the cursed side, that is the condition the church is presently in, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. We have hope because God promised David there would always be a remnant. As of now the church has been pretty much destroyed with only a remnant left but as Amos said 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, 12 so that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that bear my name,” declares the Lord, who will do these things. 13 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman and the planter by the one treading grapes. New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills, 14 and I will bring my people Israel back from exile. They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. 15 I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them, says the Lord your God.” And James also said Acts 15:6 “‘After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it.”
When talking about our enemies, Isaiah said about Egypt Isaiah 19:16 “In that day the Egyptians will become weaklings. They will shudder with fear at the uplifted hand that the Lord Almighty raises against them. 17 And the land of Judah will bring terror to the Egyptians; everyone to whom Judah is mentioned will be terrified, because of what the Lord Almighty is planning against them.” When talking about Babylon Jeremiah 51:31 “See, I am against you, you arrogant one,” declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty, “for your day has come, the time for you to be punished. 32 The arrogant one will stumble and fall and no one will help her up; I will kindle a fire in her towns that will consume all who are around her.” Revelation 18:10 “‘Woe! Woe to you, great city, you mighty city of Babylon! In one hour your doom has come!” Today our enemies are not people, and we are not fighting against people but the power that controls them. When Jesus preached the good news, there was power to cast out demons. Mark 1:21 “Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, 24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” 25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” 26 The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. 27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” 28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee. 32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.” Luke 13:10 “On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11 and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” 13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. 16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” Think about how many people are still bound. If the church really believed as Peter said, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” then this would be happening in the church. Matthew 16:18 “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
James said James 2:19 “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” Our enemy doesn’t shudder when there is no power. When God dwells among us, our enemies tremble. 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.” Rahab said in Joshua 2:9 “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. 10 We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea[a] for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. 11 When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” Jesus describes the power of the church when John’s disciples asked his if He was the Messiah. Luke 7:19 “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” 20 When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’” 21 At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. 22 So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” That definitely doesn’t describe the church today, but it should.
People in the church seem to think there are no demons or at least they act like it. The power of the cross enabled the church to continue to destroy the work of the devil, it didn’t wipe them from the face of the earth, as they are still here. Matthew 8:28 “When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. 29 “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” 30 Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. 31 The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.” 32 He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water.” The power Jesus had and the fear of that power by the demons was supposed to continue in the church. When you talk about the church you are supposed to be describing the Gospels and Acts and the power of God, not talking about how to best fill an hour on Sunday morning and keep people entertained so that they don’t go elsewhere to have their ears scratched. Jesus showed us what to do and then empowered us to do it. It was in fact Jesus not Warren who said John 14:12 “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” He also said Luke 24:48 “You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Man has no power over their enemies without being clothed with power from on High. Instead, our enemies have overpowered the church. Yes, the church has flocked after men and women to be like them and do as they have done to the demise of the church. After 2000 years, the church is still getting further and further from the truth. Isaiah 59:15 “Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.” John 16:2 “They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God.” Hosea 9:7 “The days of punishment are coming, the days of reckoning are at hand. Let Israel know this. Because your sins are so many and your hostility so great, the prophet is considered a fool, the inspired person a maniac.” 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.’” Our enemies do not fear the church and have overpowered the church because we did not continue to do as we were told to do. The world saw the funeral of Queen Elizabeth at Westminster Abbey, a magnificent structure and there are many like it and today there are many modern structures in the name of God but completely powerless. That was the wrong direction to go and not the church Jesus built.
We were told to be like Christ and do as He did. He sent His Spirit so that could happen. We were told to put Him first by obeying and carrying our cross. Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” We were told to obey. John 14:23 “Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” When that happens, the kingdom of God comes near as does the power that goes with it. So, we must make sure we are following the truth. Hebrews 2:1 “We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 2 For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, 3 how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” When we follow the truth, gifts of the Spirit (all of them) will follow just as described. 1 Corinthians 12:7 “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.”
Paul told us to seek these gifts and he also told us to do as he was doing because he was obeying Jesus. 1 Corinthians 14:1 “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.” 1 Corinthians 1:17 “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” That power raised Jesus from the dead. Ephesians 1:18 “the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.” It was also the power Jesus gave to His disciples. Mark 6:7 “Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits. 8 These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9 Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. 10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” 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.” Paul said 1 Corinthians 2:1 “When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.” Paul also said 1 Corinthians 4:18 “Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. 20 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” 1 Thessalonians 1:4 “For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction.” Acts 19:11 “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.” Even though Paul doesn’t describe everything that happened, there was power present. Galatians 3:1 “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? 4 Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? 5 So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?”
Unfortunately, the church chose foolishness instead of power by deciding to build with their own hands instead of depending on the power of God. Paul said to the Corinthians. 1 Corinthians 1:26 “Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called.” 1 Corinthians 6:9 “Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” Think of the power the church does not have. Yes, some in the church speak out against homosexuality (many have now said God approves) but don’t have the power to do anything about it. Yes, the bible is perfectly clear that homosexuality is an abomination before God, but it is not the people the church is fighting against but the sin and the demonic power that is present. Revelation 17:4 “She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. 5 The name written on her forehead was a mystery: babylon the great the mother of prostitutes and of the abominations of the earth.” 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.” Without God’s power the church cannot win that battle.
The church presently has no power, but that power will happen once again and change the lives of people held in captivity just as we read happened to the people Paul preached to. Paul’s statement “that’s what some of you were” is powerful and will happen once again. Yes, the world will be upset with this teaching, but truth is for saving lives from eternal damnation. Most churches today have ignored scripture for reason, tradition and experience but as we just read, wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God even if someone somewhere in a church said the opposite. Don’t bet your eternal life on man’s word when it is in direct contradiction to God’s. Blackest darkness is reserved for those who teach other gospels which are contrary to scripture. 2 Peter 2:1 “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 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.” Don’t spend eternity with them.
There is hope because God has not forsaken the church. 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. 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.”Revelation 18:2 “With a mighty voice he shouted: “‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!’ She has become a dwelling for demons and a haunt for every impure spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable animal. 3 For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.” 4 Then I heard another voice from heaven say: “‘Come out of her, my people,’ so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; 5 for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes. 6 Give back to her as she has given; pay her back double for what she has done. Pour her a double portion from her own cup.” Revelation 7:14 “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.” We are told Ephesians 5:8 “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Jude 1:7 “In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire. 22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” 2 Timothy 3:1 “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”
The last part of this verse is crucial; having a form of godliness but denying its power. So many in the church today are religious but not really Christians. Not only is there no power, but they deny the available power as described in scripture. Having power is the church. Without power the church is not the church. The only way to be clothed with power from on High once again is to turn away from man’s way and return to God’s way. Jesus said come follow me, so we must follow Him. If we do, there is great hope. The church today is in captivity and living in darkness, so this applies also to the church. Ezekiel 11:17 “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.” Ezekiel also gives us hope when he said, Ezekiel 39:25 “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will now restore the fortunes of Jacob and will have compassion on all the people of Israel, and I will be zealous for my holy name. 26 They will forget their shame and all the unfaithfulness they showed toward me when they lived in safety in their land with no one to make them afraid. 27 When I have brought them back from the nations and have gathered them from the countries of their enemies, I will be proved holy through them in the sight of many nations. 28 Then they will know that I am the Lord their God, for though I sent them into exile among the nations, I will gather them to their own land, not leaving any behind. 29 I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the people of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord.” It is not man’s power that will defeat stan but God’s power. Zechariah 4:6 “So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.” 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.”
Habakkuk was told Habakkuk 2:3 “Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay,” so we must also wait patiently for God to act once again. Zechariah 1:2 “The Lord was very angry with your ancestors. 3 Therefore tell the people: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty. 4 Do not be like your ancestors, to whom the earlier prophets proclaimed: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Turn from your evil ways and your evil practices.’ But they would not listen or pay attention to me, declares the Lord. 5 Where are your ancestors now? And the prophets, do they live forever? 6 But did not my words and my decrees, which I commanded my servants the prophets, overtake your ancestors? “Then they repented and said, ‘The Lord Almighty has done to us what our ways and practices deserve, just as he determined to do.” Zechariah 2:10 “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.” Zechariah 1:12 “Then the angel of the Lord said, “Lord Almighty, how long will you withhold mercy from Jerusalem and from the towns of Judah, which you have been angry with these seventy years?” 13 So the Lord spoke kind and comforting words to the angel who talked with me. 14 Then the angel who was speaking to me said, “Proclaim this word: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I am very jealous for Jerusalem and Zion, 15 and I am very angry with the nations that feel secure. I was only a little angry, but they went too far with the punishment.’ 16 “Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house will be rebuilt. And the measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”
It has been a lot longer than seventy years but as Daniel prayed, we pray also for God’s mercy. Daniel 9:2 “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: “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.”
For thousands of years man has followed man, all the while acting as if they were following God but there is no power. The church has paid a severe price for their rebellion and remains in captivity but there is hope. Daniel 7:21 “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.” As Jesus said ask the Lord of the Harvest to send out workers into His field. Will you seek God and obey His word and be one of His workers? Will you turn from the wicked ways of man and follow the truth of God’s word? Will you follow Jesus? God said Jeremiah 29:10 “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.” Psalm 27:13 “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Jude 1:24 “To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”