Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Head-Markers and the Missing Sin-Grievers

This morning, I was headed to James, but my Bible fell open to a passage that gripped my attention.

Ezekiel's vision of the marking of foreheads.

He was sitting in his house in Babylon, where he had been in captivity for years. Things had normalized a bit, and the elders of Judah were there, visiting. I imagine they were sitting around, drinking coffee, and telling tall tales. Doing what men do when they gather.

Ezekiel wasn't praying or doing a ritual or having particularly religious conversation. He was hanging out with the other guys. Out of the blue, the hand of God fell on him. In the midst of the men. 

Not one of the people in the room noticed. Everyone kept drinking coffee, telling tall tales, and sitting in their places.

Everyone except Ezekiel. 

His eyes were glued to the vision of a glowing fire-man before him. Suddenly, he felt himself snatched up by the hair and carried back home. 

"And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there..." (Ez 8:4)

I shudder when I realize that not one person even paused to take note of the presence of God. Would I? Would you?

In the vision, Ezekiel was taken through Jerusalem. He carried Ezekiel in through a hole in the wall of the temple, and what he saw broke his heart. Repeatedly, God pointed his attention to the terrible things happening in His house. 

In case you've wondered, there is no wall we build that's secure enough to keep God out. 

There is nowhere we can go to hide our sin from Him. He sees. He knows. 

Ezekiel saw that "every form of creeping things and beasts and detestable things, with all the idols of the house of Israel, were carved on the wall all around." Sin had found its way into the very walls of the temple. It had become an indelible part of the structure. 

Enclosed by evil-engraved walls, seventy elders stood with censers in their hands, offering incense to God as if the sin surrounding them didn't matter at all. 

But it did. It mattered to God, and the incense-offering in the sin-room wasn't the worst of it. People were indulging in horrible sin, as if God was blind, deaf, and dumb. He wasn't. He hadn't missed a thing.

Suddenly God shouted and six executioners and a man with a writing kit showed up. The Writer-Man was instructed to go throughout the city and mark the foreheads of all the men who mourned over the sin of the people. The executioners were instructed to kill all the rest.

This next part is horrible, but we need to know it. As a warning. 

The head-marking writer-man started at the temple, marking foreheads as he went. The executioners followed close behind, killing the ones who didn't care about the sin of the people.

Ezekiel watched in horror. 

No one was receiving a mark. 

People were dropping like flies all around him. The leaders in the temple. The people coming and going at the temple. The church people. 

The march to find the Sin-Grievers was relentless. They moved through the city and found no one. 

No one.

Ezekiel cried out in terror, "I'm the only one left standing." He was probably wondering if he would be next. 

God said a profound thing we'd do well to understand and heed. "I've held back on judgment so long, they think I don't care about their sin. But I do."

On that terrible day that's coming, the Head-Marker will not care who we are, what position we hold, how much money we have in the bank, nor how many good deeds we do. 

The only thing that will matter is how much sin matters to us. Do we have the righteousness that comes from the blood of Jesus or not?

This is important, so don't miss it. If we are truly God's people, we care about sin.

If we don't care about sin, we have a problem that needs serious attention. Now. It will be too late when the Head-Marker and the Executioners show up.

Today, as those who claim to be the people of God, we would do well to ask ourselves a few questions. 

Do I notice the presence of God when it enters my busy life?

Would the Head-Marker find enough evidence of righteousness in me to mark my forehead?

The answer to those questions might be sobering. Today, let's ask God to forgive us for our complacency toward sin and give us His heart for righteousness. A day is coming when the only ones left standing will be the Sin-Grievers. Let's be sure we're among them.
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's blog: The Twenty-Five Cent Tulips and The Crying Lady
For those who have had a hard time downloading the James study to their phones, I've divided it into separate blog posts, and you can access it that way. Links are embedded. You won't need the BLB app, but you will need the electronic copy to have the links, even if you print it. Go to Lessons in Discipleship
If you'd like to participate in the James study, here's how: More than Enough: Living a Life Worth Living
If you'd like to help support this ministry, here's the link to give: Global Outreach Acct 4841