This week showed death creates a high level of shock, sadness and fear. During the NFL’s Monday Night Football, the game was suddenly cut short when one of the players went into cardiac arrest and briefly died on the field. CPR was quickly given and then the player was rushed to the hospital. One article said “approximately 70%–90% of individuals with OHCA (out of hospital cardiac arrest) die before reaching the hospital. The survival rate from sudden cardiac arrest is less than 1% worldwide and close to 5% in the US.” It seems the player is now on the road to recovery which is good news. The amazing part, other than the player’s recovery is that this corporate giant shut down Monday Night Football and that game it appears will not continue or be replayed. The 32 teams in the league have all taken up the cause of this young man. His charity that he had hoped would raise $2500 for gifts for children, blossomed to over 7 million dollars. After the incident on the field, players gathered around, and many were weeping and looked as if they were in a state of shock and no wonder as that kind of event is not supposed to happen during a game. There are always injuries from the game, but death is a whole different story. Take the quarterback who stands in the pocket almost every play and looks into the eyes of the defensive line who basically want to take him out on every play, yet he stands there fearlessly knowing he will be hit hard and possibly injured. All these players game in and game out fearlessly play a game where violent impact is just part of the job, but death is a different story. What you saw on the field was staff, coaches, and players from both teams kneeling and praying for this young man. The stadium was silent as people watched the medical staff help the injured player and then the ambulance drive off the field. They had no idea what would happen in the next moments or days. Many times, injured players will give a thumbs up as they are carted off the field, but not this time. This event shook the football community as death affects every person in this world, not just athletes. No one wants to see someone die or have a loved one die, but death is one of the guarantees of this life. We are going to die.
In sports, you always see signs with the inscription John 3:16, which was made famous by Tim Tebow. Many players will point to the sky and thank God for points scored, giving recognition to God for their ability. On that day I was amazed to see how many people bowed a knee to God asking Him to intervene. This response to death happens whenever something occurs that is beyond our control. One player said he did not know what to do, so he prayed. They knew that this was out of their control. But like many other traumatic events, when the event passes, life goes back to how it was before. In this case the quick response from the medical staff on the field was able to save this player. The hospital was then able to stabilize him and now the healing process continues. There was a collective sigh of relief when he made progress and it did not seem that death was imminent. Now the players can play for their fallen teammate, which changes everything but does it change their lives for God.
As I said, I was struck by the collective prayers that were offered for this young man. As of this point in time, God in His great mercy spared this young man’s life. We are told in Daniel that God holds our life in His hand but I do not think most will acknowledge that. Daniel 5:23 “But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways.” Job said Job 12:10 “In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” We see in this situation what normally takes place for most when there is an injury or sickness, healthcare is called upon. In this case CPR was given, he was intubated and was in critical condition. The medical center’s healthcare team then took over and in this case, the healing journey began. That is the normal process. If you get sick you go to the doctor, get a prescription for drugs and hopefully get better.
As I watched the many people praying, then and the days following the incident, I could not help but ask myself who they were praying to. I realize that may sound like a dumb question, but I would be really curious to know. For years many have been taught to pray to the god of their understanding and that leads to many gods. But many gods do not have God’s power as David said 2 Samuel 7:22 “How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you.” The same goes for Jesus. What was their understanding about who Jesus was? What did they expect from Him? They would pray and then the medical community would save him would be a common consensus. I know that the church has accepted the world’s view of healing and yes, the medical profession is a large part of that view but is it a biblical view? No, I am not telling you to go off your meds or stop seeing your doctor but what I am saying, which goes along with repentance, is do you have a biblical view of healing and not a world / healthcare view of healing. And if not are you willing to seek the biblical view? Here is an example as this thinking is not new. 2 Chronicles 16:11 “The events of Asa’s reign, from beginning to end, are written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel. 12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord, but only from the physicians. 13 Then in the forty-first year of his reign Asa died and rested with his ancestors.” For many, they can’t separate healthcare from Jesus. They pray guide the physicians’ hands or that a drug will be found and it is no wonder as that is all most know or have seen.
This turning away from God is basically a rejection of God by not seeking Him as Asa did not do. Yes, most will say they are seeking help from God, but their expectation is that help will come through the medical profession. When the medical profession is not able to cure the person, the person praying then is upset with God. People have also stopped praying because God has not answered their prayers, but they do not seek why. Here is an example of the right response, someone who had turned to the professionals but then realized that Jesus was the only answer for healing. Mark 5:24 “A large crowd followed and pressed around him. 25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. 30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” 31 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ 32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Notice the immediate results. What about the woman Luke 13:11 “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?” We were told Matthew 16:19 “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.” That meant we would have to be standing on the right rock for that to happen. When Jesus touches you, it is immediate, but the healthcare is not. Many like this woman, suffering for twelve and eighteen years, continue to suffer with no relief in sight. Yes, many are healed by the medical profession and drugs but many are not. Some say they are healed but take the drugs away and they are not. As with this young man the medical profession can heal but there is so much more power available to heal than we are seeing.
If you look closely at the cost of illness, the numbers are astounding. One example said, “heart disease in the United States costs more than $321 billion each year—$193 billion in direct medical costs and $128 billion in lost productivity from early death.” When you look at the burden of disease or cost of illness, it is staggering as we saw with just one disease. I looked at a graph (How much will Canada spend on healthcare in 2022) from 1975 to 2022 that showed the rising cost of healthcare. In 1975 the total was 12 billion which exponentially rose to a forecasted 331 billion dollars and as the graph showed will continue to get worse. That is just Canada with a total population of around 39 million. Look at all the countries where getting sick means death follows. Oddly people continue to turn to healthcare as their primary source of healing but refuse to repent before God. Jesus showed us a better way, but most have been taught to not really expect it nor do they actually believe it. Of course, most want to be healed but most in the end will accept the disease and even death as God’s plan for their life. At no point do most come to the conclusion that the women who was bleeding came to; if I just touch Jesus, I will be healed.
This lack of knowledge comes from generations of false teaching and rebellion. The church stopped following God’s word and God turned His face from us. That means as we have talked about His kingdom is not coming near. Jesus showed us how it was supposed to be. Matthew 4:23 “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them.” Matthew 8:16 “When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.” His disciples did the same. Mark 6:12 “They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.” Acts 5:15 “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.” The church was supposed to continue in that healing as James tells us. 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.” 1 Corinthians 12:9 “to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits.” Churches telling you that these gifts are no longer available to the church are lying to you. This lying prevents your repentance before God.
We are also told not to fear death. 1 Corinthians 15:54 “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” As Christians, even though our bodies die, we will not die. John 11:25 “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this? 27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” Sadly, the church responds the way the world does and fears death and does not seek healing because they really do not believe. Paul said 1 Corinthians 14:1 “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.” Nowhere does the bible say the gifts are no longer available, so we should be seeking them. We are told 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.” Most do not even believe this is possible or to be expected.
Even though for most, life continues as it has for generations, that is prayers are made and healthcare is left to the professionals. As I was researching this football medical crisis, I kept seeing people praying, and even whole teams praying. This is strange as many have no idea who the God is they are praying to nor do their lives reflect a relationship with Jesus. When healing comes as it did with this young man, will they turn to God? Jesus told the rich man who wanted to warn his family about the torment he was facing, Luke 16:31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” Today I am talking about the church and unfortunately the church acts and looks like the world. Even though as you saw from the graph with skyrocketing health costs that I talked about above, people still refuse to repent and submit to God. Jeremiah 8:4 “This is what the Lord says: “‘When people fall down, do they not get up? When someone turns away, do they not return? 5 Why then have these people turned away? Why does Jerusalem always turn away? They cling to deceit; they refuse to return. 6 I have listened attentively, but they do not say what is right. None of them repent of their wickedness, saying, “What have I done?” Each pursues their own course like a horse charging into battle. 7 Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people do not know the requirements of the Lord. From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. 11 They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. Peace, peace,” they say, when there is no peace. 12 Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when they are punished, says the Lord. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?”
So why does the church not ask why there is no healing? Why does the church not seek the way it was with Jesus? Why does the church fear death when Jesus said we would not die? The church is filled with the sick and dying. The problem is that most in the church think the church they see is how the church is supposed to be. That really shows the disconnect with scripture because the church and the bible look nothing alike. You can’t read the Gospels and Acts and then say the church is how it should be. Even though there is a disconnect with God, most in the church believe that God is smiling down upon them and filling them with His blessing even though most of what they call blessing is manmade. Isaiah tells us otherwise. 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!” No one is too interested in getting God to listen. The church is set on refusing to repent even though God said Hosea 14:1 “Return, Israel, to the Lord your God. Your sins have been your downfall! 2 Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to him: “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips. 3 Assyria cannot save us; we will not mount warhorses. We will never again say ‘Our gods’ to what our own hands have made, for in you the fatherless find compassion.” The church likes what their hands have made and the ways that have brought them to where they are. Yes, some are very successful in their manmade ways but there is no healing and fear of God. Take a look at some of the biggest churches in North America and ask yourself if they look like Jesus. That means you would compare them to scripture. Even so they do not repent because they think there is nothing wrong. These verses describe this. Amos 5:14 “Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is. 15 Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts. Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph.” Micah 3:11 “Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money. Yet they look for the Lord’s support and say, Is not the Lord among us? No disaster will come upon us.” Or as we saw above “What have I done?” Each pursues their own course like a horse charging into battle.” Just because the church says God is with them, does not make it so. The presence of the Kingdom of God makes it so and for most the kingdom of God has not come near. They even go so far as saying God will not do anything about their rebellion. Jeremiah 5:11 “The people of Israel and the people of Judah have been utterly unfaithful to me,” declares the Lord. 12 They have lied about the Lord; they said, “He will do nothing! No harm will come to us; we will never see sword or famine. 13 The prophets are but wind and the word is not in them; so let what they say be done to them.” And it was!
Like the fable of the Emperor’s New Clothes, the church thinks they are dressed and ready to enter eternal life. Revelation gives a different picture with the church of Laodicea. 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 lukewarm—neither hot nor 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.” Jesus said Revelation 16:15 ““Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed.” Right now the church is shamefully exposed and has a clothing problem. Jeremiah describes the shameful nakedness this way. Jeremiah 3:3 “Therefore the showers have been withheld, and no spring rains have fallen. Yet you have the brazen look of a prostitute; you refuse to blush with shame.” Jeremiah 6:15 “Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when I punish them,” says the Lord.”
The church is not supposed be naked and wretched but clothed with power from on High. Luke 24:49 “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.” 1 Corinthians 15:54 “When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” Galatians 3:26 “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Romans 13:11 “And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.” Isaiah 61:10 “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” Revelation 3:4 “Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. 5 The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels. 6 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Spiritual nakedness means powerlessness. Powerless means no salvation, healing or casting out demons. Powerless means our enemies prevail against us. Powerless means God does not shine His face upon us. This describes the church as it lays desolate, yet the church continues down a path that only leads to death. Instead, we want God to shine His face on us so that we can be clothed with power from on High, just as the disciples were. Luke 9:1 “When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” The church then can go to the ends of the earth doing as Jesus did, but is it even possible? Most in the church would say no, but thankfully scripture says it is possible with a resounding yes, but this means a massive change for the church and all those who call themselves Christians. Habakkuk 3:2 “I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.” This is good news for the church. God said Proverbs 8:17 “I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.” That is a guarantee. Jeremiah 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.” Notice they were in captivity just as the church is. Here is the good news. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” We are 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.” Notice, like Jeremiah, that there was a dire situation, no rain, locusts and plagues. The church is in a famine. Amos 8:11 “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine through the land— not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.” The good news is that when the church seeks God wholeheartedly, He will be found. When found, healing follows, and it will look nothing like what we see today. Read through the gospels and you will see what I mean but don’t listen to the voice that tells you the church is fine. Jeremiah 6:14 “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.” Jeremiah 14:13 “But I said, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! The prophets keep telling them, ‘You will not see the sword or suffer famine. Indeed, I will give you lasting peace in this place.’” They saw the sword.
Last week I talked about repentance, the best resolution. To repent means to acknowledge your rebellious state. This also means that you now intend to submit to God wholeheartedly. Earlier we saw this verse from Daniel 5:23 “you (King Belshazzar) did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways.” Daniel said to King Belshazzar, King Nebuchadnezzar’s son, Daniel 5:22 “But you, Belshazzar, his son, have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this. 23 Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. You had the goblets from his temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines drank wine from them. You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand. But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways.” Daniel told him Daniel 5:18 “Your Majesty, the Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar sovereignty and greatness and glory and splendor. 19 Because of the high position he gave him, all the nations and peoples of every language dreaded and feared him. Those the king wanted to put to death, he put to death; those he wanted to spare, he spared; those he wanted to promote, he promoted; and those he wanted to humble, he humbled. 20 But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory. 21 He was driven away from people and given the mind of an animal; he lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like the ox; and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and sets over them anyone he wishes.” King Nebuchadnezzar did submit to God and his kingdom was restored. King Nebuchadnezzar was told Daniel 4:32 “Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.” 34 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. 35 All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?”
His son in his arrogance ignored God even though he saw what happened with His father. This was the king of Babylon. The same happened when Jonah went to Nineveh. The people listened and repented but later we saw that Nineveh was destroyed. Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him, 8 but with an overwhelming flood he will make an end of Nineveh; he will pursue his foes into the realm of darkness.” In Israel we saw the great repentance of Manasseh. 2 Kings 21:10 “The Lord said through his servants the prophets: 11 “Manasseh king of Judah has committed these detestable sins. He has done more evil than the Amorites who preceded him and has led Judah into sin with his idols. 12 Therefore this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I am going to bring such disaster on Jerusalem and Judah that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. 14 I will forsake the remnant of my inheritance and give them into the hands of enemies.” 10 The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention. 11 So the Lord brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon. 12 In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors. 13 And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God.”
The question is do you really know that the Lord is God? Who is it you think you are praying to? Are you prepared to meet Him? Amos 4:12 “prepare to meet your God.” That should strike fear in us. The answer would be no for most as they are not prepared to meet God. Since most who call themselves Christians are not prepared, repent and submit is the only way. I say most are not prepared to meet God because most have not truly humbled themselves before Him as most do not even know the enormity of deception in the church. Most do not know they follow false gospels and most feel they do not need to repent, at least that is what they have been told. That is a lie. The doctrines and theology of the manmade church will not save you. Most people in the church need to say Hosea 14:3 Assyria cannot save us; we will not mount warhorses. We will never again say ‘Our gods’ to what our own hands have made, for in you the fatherless find compassion.” Joel tells us how important this is. Joel 2:1 “Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming. “Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” 13 Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. 14 Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave behind a blessing— grain offerings and drink offerings for the Lord your God. 15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly. 17 Let them say, “Spare your people, Lord. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’”
Sadly, most are not listening. Even when Jesus spoke, he said Matthew 13:13 “This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. 14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15 For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.” The church is filled with arrogant and stubborn people. I say arrogant because they actually think their way is better than God’s way. I say stubborn because most are so entrenched in their doctrines they will not turn. Jeremiah 2:13 “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” 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.” At this point it doesn’t seem like the ears are tingling.
God said in Isaiah 57:11 “Whom have you so dreaded and feared that you have not been true to me, and have neither remembered me nor taken this to heart? Is it not because I have long been silent that you do not fear me?” Peter also tells us 2 Peter 3:3 “Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.” Isaiah goes on to give us this good news. Isaiah 57:15 “For this is what the high and exalted One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit,to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. 16 I will not accuse them forever, nor will I always be angry, for then they would faint away because of me— the very people I have created. 17 I was enraged by their sinful greed; I punished them, and hid my face in anger, yet they kept on in their willful ways. 18 I have seen their ways, but I will heal them; I will guide them and restore comfort to Israel’s mourners, 19 creating praise on their lips. Peace, peace, to those far and near,” says the Lord. “And I will heal them.” 20 But the wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud. 21 “There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.” Jeremiah 7:3 “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. 4 Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!” We do not want to join the wicked, so we must turn from our wicked ways. Ezekiel 33:11 “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?” Ezekiel 18:30 “Therefore, you Israelites, I will judge each of you according to your own ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. 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? 32 For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!”
The good news is that God has the power to bring the dead back to life both physically and spiritually. Ezekiel 37:4 “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’” Jesus told His disciples, Matthew 10:8 “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.” He also described what the church would do, verifying that Jesus was the Messiah. Matthew 11:4 “Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 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. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”
Not only were the spiritually dead raised but also the physically dead. John 11:43 “Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” When the woman who was bleeding touched Jesus, He was on His way to the home of Jairus. Luke 8:41 “Jairus, a synagogue leader, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house 42 because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.” The he was told “Your daughter is dead,” he said. “Don’t bother the teacher anymore.” 50 Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.” 52 Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. “Stop wailing,” Jesus said. “She is not dead but asleep.” 53 They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. 54 But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” 55 Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat.” I have heard church people say she really wasn’t dead. Paul even raised Eutychus from the dead. Acts 20:9 “Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. 10 Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” 11 Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. 12 The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.” When the widow’s son died, 1 Kings 17:21 “he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, let this boy’s life return to him!” 22 The Lord heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived. 23 Elijah picked up the child and carried him down from the room into the house. He gave him to his mother and said, “Look, your son is alive!” 24 Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth.” If the church believes in the resurrection of Jesus, why is it so hard to believe that the dead can be brought back to life. I think most people really don’t get the magnitude of the resurrection of Jesus. For most it is just a date on the calendar. Maybe people would not fear death if they truly believed death had no sting.
If you really read scripture and set aside the powerless and pathetic manmade teaching you have had all your life, you would actually seek God. You may respond and say I have been a Christian my whole life and a church goer but ask yourself where is the power? I have heard people say salvation is the miracle and yes, it is but that is not all there is. There is power to heal, power for signs and wonders and power to cast out demons also. 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.” Jesus went on to say 37 Then he said 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.” How can you be a worker if you don’t believe the power that is available to all who believe? Mark 16:16 “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.” Since the signs are not accompanying the gospel, then that means the church has been following a different gospel. 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!”
Just to recap. When you believe the word of God, you believe Jesus is the Messiah. You also believe He rose from the dead and death now has no sting. You also believe that there is power available and the church was to continue to do as Jesus did. Jesus raised people from the dead, so can the church. Jesus healed and cast out demons, so can the church. Jesus destroyed the work of the devil (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), so can the church. Unbelief has destroyed the church. Look at what happened when unbelief prevailed, even with Jesus. Matthew 13:53 “When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. 54 Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. 55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.” 58 And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.” Matthew 11:20 “Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. 21 Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.” Instead, we need to be like Abraham. Romans 4:20 “He did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” So we pray Mark 9:24 “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Hebrews 3:7 “So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, 9 where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did. 10 That is why I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ 11 So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ”12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 10:38 “my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” 39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.”
The good news is that God will hear our cry and return to us. Malachi 3:7 “Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.” Zechariah 1:16 “Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house will be rebuilt.” Zechariah 8:2 “This is what the Lord Almighty says: “I am very jealous for Zion; I am burning with jealousy for her.” 3 This is what the Lord says: “I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the Faithful City, and the mountain of the Lord Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain. 7 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “I will save my people from the countries of the east and the west. 8 I will bring them back to live in Jerusalem; they will be my people, and I will be faithful and righteous to them as their God.” 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.” God will turn His face back to the church and once again the church will do as Jesus did. Isaiah 54:6 “The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit— a wife who married young, only to be rejected,” says your God. 7 “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. 8 In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord your Redeemer.” 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.”
Jeremiah describes the church this way. Jeremiah 32:17 “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you. 18 You show love to thousands but bring the punishment for the parents’ sins into the laps of their children after them. Great and mighty God, whose name is the Lord Almighty, 19 great are your purposes and mighty are your deeds. Your eyes are open to the ways of all mankind; you reward each person according to their conduct and as their deeds deserve. 20 You performed signs and wonders in Egypt and have continued them to this day, in Israel and among all mankind, and have gained the renown that is still yours. 21 You brought your people Israel out of Egypt with signs and wonders, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with great terror. 22 You gave them this land you had sworn to give their ancestors, a land flowing with milk and honey. 23 They came in and took possession of it, but they did not obey you or follow your law; they did not do what you commanded them to do. So you brought all this disaster on them.” Jeremiah had warned the people over and over that Babylon would destroy them if they did not obey. The church was also warned that the abomination that causes desolation would destroy the church if they did not obey; neither listened.” Jeremiah 7:23 “I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you. 24 But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward. 25 From the time your ancestors left Egypt until now, day after day, again and again I sent you my servants the prophets. 26 But they did not listen to me or pay attention. They were stiff-necked and did more evil than their ancestors.’ 27 “When you tell them all this, they will not listen to you; when you call to them, they will not answer. 28 Therefore say to them, ‘This is the nation that has not obeyed the Lord its God or responded to correction. Truth has perished; it has vanished from their lips.”
The good news is that God will listen when we call, if we approach Him in submission and with a repentant heart. Jonah 2:2 “Jonah said: “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry. 9 But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.” Daniel was aware that Jeremiah prophesied that they would be in captivity for seventy years. We don’t know the length of the church’s captivity, but it too will come to an end. So, like Daniel we pray His prayer believing that God will hear us when we call because he is a compassionate and loving God who will not stay angry forever. Micah 7:18 “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. 19 You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. 20 You will be faithful to Jacob, and show love to Abraham, as you pledged on oath to our ancestors in days long ago.”
As you pray this prayer, pray for the church who is also in captivity. 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.”