Friday, June 29, 2012

Grieve and Lament for the Church

If you have been following my posts on this blog, such as Something's Happening in 2012 and Trumpets heard Around the World, I realize you may be wondering about two things.  First of all, where is this all found in Scripture?  And secondly, what should we do about it?  Let me address these questions one at a time.

Scriptural Basis of Current Events
Regarding the Scriptural question, I already touched on this in part in Something's Happening in 2012. I stated: "If you'd like to read about the events that are occurring, you can check out the gospel of Matthew chapter 24, the gospel of Luke chapter 21, the gospel of Mark chapter 13, and Joel 2." 

Now let's go into a little more detail with you on those.

Wars, famines, earthquakes, terrors, and great signs from heaven
Jesus said, "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes." (Mat 24:7)

Then He continued by saying to them, "Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven." (Luk 21:10-11)

"For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. (Mar 13:8)

The mountains melt like wax
"The mountains will melt under Him And the valleys will be split, Like wax before the fire, Like water poured down a steep place. All this is for the rebellion of Jacob And for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the rebellion of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? What is the high place of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem?" (Mic 1:4-5)

When I see the volcanoes erupting in these videos from 2012, I see mountain rock melting like wax.  All this is because the earth must rid itself of the rebellion and idolatry that are in it (Isa 24:19-20).

The deep waters tremble, lightning flashes, the skies give forth a thunderous sound, and the earth shakes
The waters saw You, O God; The waters saw You, they were in anguish; The deeps also trembled. The clouds poured out water; The skies gave forth a sound; Your arrows flashed here and there. The sound of Your thunder was in the whirlwind; The lightnings lit up the world; The earth trembled and shook.
(Psa 77:16-18)

The earth quakes and the heavens tremble
The Lord spoke through the prophet Joel saying, "Before them the earth quakes, The heavens tremble, The sun and the moon grow dark And the stars lose their brightness. The LORD utters His voice before His army; Surely His camp is very great, For strong is he who carries out His word. The day of the LORD is indeed great and very awesome, And who can endure it?" (Joe 2:10-11).  The earth is quaking and the heavens are trembling.  The Lord utters His voice.

Wonders in the sky and on the earth, blood, fire and columns of smoke
"I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire and columns of smoke. "The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood Before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes."
(Joe 2:30-31)

The Day of the Lord is Coming -- a day of clouds and thick darkness
The Lord spoke through the prophet Joel saying, "Blow a trumpet in Zion, And sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, For the day of the LORD is coming; Surely it is near, A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness. As the dawn is spread over the mountains, So there is a great and mighty people; There has never been anything like it, Nor will there be again after it To the years of many generations." (Joe 2:1-2)

What Should We Do About All This?
Now to address the second question I opened with at the beginning of this article: What should we do about all this? Let's continue reading from Joel 2.

Blow a Trumpet and Sound an Alarm
As I just mentioned, the Lord spoke through the prophet Joel saying, "Blow a trumpet in Zion, And sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, For the day of the LORD is coming; Surely it is near," (Joe 2:1)

This means that we need to warn the others.  We need to blow a shofar in Zion and sound the alarm, in order to wake them up to what's happening.  The expressions "in Zion" and "on My holy mountain" indicate that the Lord wants us first and foremost to warn His people. These blogs are one way to do that.  Another way is through preaching and testifying to others.

Consecrate a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly, gather the people, seek holiness, lament, wail, and cry out to the Lord
The Lord says, "Gird yourselves with sackcloth And lament, O priests; Wail, O ministers of the altar! Come, spend the night in sackcloth O ministers of my God, For the grain offering and the drink offering Are withheld from the house of your God. Consecrate a fast, Proclaim a solemn assembly; Gather the elders And all the inhabitants of the land To the house of the LORD your God, And cry out to the LORD." (Joe 1:13-14)

He says the priests and ministers of God need to lament, wail, fast, proclaim a solemn assembly of the people and cry out to the Lord.  These are words we don't hear any more.  Lament means to grieve audibly.  We do this when we deeply regret our sin and the condition of the Church.  People lament when someone dies.  It involves wailing, which is grieving loudly, make a prolonged, high-pitched sound like a cry.  When was the last time you heard that at a Church meeting? This is called a solemn assembly.  Crying out to the Lord is exactly what it says.  It's to make a clamor in his ears from a broken and contrite heart.  Many Christians know how to make a clamor when angry about something, raising their voice and yelling about it.  But when was the last time we made a clamor over our sin, the condition of the Church, and the fact that it's not ready for the soon-coming day of the Lord?

"Blow a trumpet in Zion, Consecrate a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly, Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, Assemble the elders, Gather the children and the nursing infants. Let the bridegroom come out of his room And the bride out of her bridal chamber. Let the priests, the LORD'S ministers, Weep between the porch and the altar, And let them say, 'Spare Your people, O LORD, And do not make Your inheritance a reproach, A byword among the nations. Why should they among the peoples say, 'Where is their God?' " (Joe 2:15-17)

This says we need to call a fast, assemble together solemnly and seek holiness as a congregation. The elders, as well as children and infants must all be included.  Even those who are preparing for marriage or just married.  The pastors and priests must weep and ask the Lord to spare His people.

This is not something limited to the old Testament.  James said, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom."(Jam 4:8-9)

Woe to those who are at ease in Zion and do not grieve over the ruin of the Joseph
"Woe to those who are at ease in Zion And to those who feel secure in the mountain of Samaria, The distinguished men of the foremost of nations, To whom the house of Israel comes." (Amo 6:1)

So many Christians today are at ease during this most serious hour in the history of the world.  They feel secure and are overconfident that they are ready for the Lord's return.
 
"Those who recline on beds of ivory And sprawl on their couches, And eat lambs from the flock And calves from the midst of the stall, Who improvise to the sound of the harp, And like David have composed songs for themselves, Who drink wine from sacrificial bowls While they anoint themselves with the finest of oils, Yet they have not grieved over the ruin of Joseph. Therefore, they will now go into exile at the head of the exiles, And the sprawlers' banqueting will pass away." (Amo 6:4-7)

The Lord GOD has sworn by Himself, the LORD God of hosts has declared: "I loathe the arrogance of Jacob, And detest his citadels; Therefore I will deliver up the city and all it contains." (Amo 6:8)

The Lord's people are reclining in luxury, eating choice foods, listening to music while drinking wine, and applying skin care products to keep their skin moist, when we should be grieving over the present condition of the Church and the ruin about to happen. There is still so much arrogance in the Church, but it should have no place among God's people.  It's time to grieve over the ruin of Joseph!

Grieve and lament over the detestable things done in the Church
During the days of the prophet Ezekiel, when the Lord was about to bring judgment upon Jerusalem, he showed the prophet the detestable things that were being done in the temple -- even by the elders. The showed Ezekiel that he had a team of guardian angels that had been in charge of guarding the city. And he instructed them to take swords and slaughter the people, pitying nobody.  But before they did, the Lord sent another angel ahead of them with a writing kit to mark the people who sighed and groaned over all the abominations being committed in the midst of Jerusalem.  This angel knew which people were signing and groaning over sin in their lives and in their midst.

The LORD said to [the angel with the writing kit], "Go through the midst of the city, even through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst." But to the others He said in my hearing, "Go through the city after him and strike; do not let your eye have pity and do not spare. "Utterly slay old men, young men, maidens, little children, and women, but do not touch any man on whom is the mark; and you shall start from My sanctuary." So they started with the elders who were before the temple. (Eze 9:4-6)

Amazingly the Lord had these angels begin their slaughter at His holy sanctuary.  It's the same today.  Judgment must first begin with the house of God (1 Pe 4:17), and it begins with those in oversight -- pastors, and elders. 

As Micah said, "Because of this I must lament and wail, I must go barefoot and naked; I must make a lament like the jackals And a mourning like the ostriches." (Mic 1:8)

Cry Aloud, Seek the Lord, and Stretch Out Your Hands to Him at Night
For the choir director; according to Jeduthun. A Psalm of Asaph. My voice rises to God, and I will cry aloud; My voice rises to God, and He will hear me. In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; In the night my hand was stretched out without weariness; My soul refused to be comforted. When I remember God, then I am disturbed; When I sigh, then my spirit grows faint. Selah. (Psa 77:1-3)

Fear of the Lord, who weighs motives
"All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the LORD weighs the motives." (Pro 16:2). It's normal for Christians to think that we are clean and do not need to worry about God's judgment.  But the Lord weighs the motives of our hearts.  That's why we need to fear Him.

"The LORD has made everything for its own purpose, Even the wicked for the day of evil. Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; Assuredly, he will not be unpunished. By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for, And by the fear of the LORD one keeps away from evil." (Pro 16:4-6)

We rarely hear about the fear of the Lord any more.  But it's by the fear of the Lord that we keep away from evil.  Don't be proud in heart, thinking you are in good shape and don't need to concern yourself with this, or else you will be punished.  Humble yourself.  Fear the Lord! Repent of all pride and arrogance.

"There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death."  (Pro 16:25).  You could be on a path that leads to death and yet think your way is right!  This is how deceptive it can be.

We need to cry out for Him to reveal any hidden sin in our lives that we have stowed away and no longer see.  You need to go hunting for sin in your own life.

A rebellious nation, obstinate and stubborn
Here was the commission the Lord gave to Ezekiel. Then He said to me, "Son of man, I am sending you to the sons of Israel, to a rebellious people who have rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have transgressed against Me to this very day. "I am sending you to them who are stubborn and obstinate children...' " (Eze 2:3-4)

The situation is the same today in the Church.  There is rebellion against the Lord.  His people have transgressed.  Many of us are still stubborn and obstinate! So just as Ezekiel had a hard time finding anyone to listen to what he was saying, there are few today who will tolerate this message.

Eat the scroll containing lament and mourning
The Lord warned Ezekiel, "Now you, son of man, listen to what I am speaking to you; do not be rebellious like that rebellious house. Open your mouth and eat what I am giving you." Then I looked, and behold, a hand was extended to me; and lo, a scroll was in it. When He spread it out before me, it was written on the front and back, and written on it were lamentations, mourning and woe." (Eze 2:8-10)

The Lord knew that Ezekiel might be tempted to refuse to accept this assignment and speak these words of lamentation, mourning, and woe.  It would have been rebellious for him to refuse this assignment, even though it was very difficult and he knew the people wouldn't listen.

"For you are not being sent to a people of unintelligible speech or difficult language, but to the house of Israel, nor to many peoples of unintelligible speech or difficult language, whose words you cannot understand. But I have sent you to them who should listen to you; yet the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, since they are not willing to listen to Me. Surely the whole house of Israel is stubborn and obstinate." (Eze 3:5-7)

The Lord explained to Ezekiel that His people would not be willing to listen to what He was saying through the prophet, because they were not willing to listen to the Lord.  Again, it's the same today. The Church is not willing to listen to those who sound the alarm and proclaim this message, because they are not willing to listen to the Lord. They are hardened and obstinate.

Whoever will listen, let him listen; Whoever will refuse let him refuse
The fact is that some will listen, so this message still needs to be proclaimed.  "But when I speak to you, I will open your mouth and you will say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD.' He who hears, let him hear; and he who refuses, let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house." (Eze 3:27)

The watchman is not responsible for the people's response.  He is responsible to obey the Lord and sound the alarm.  Many will refuse to listen.  So be it.  Let them refuse.  If you don't like this message, you are free to refuse to listen to it and accept the consequences.  But let those with ears hear it!

Mourn for sin and separate from the world and false church
The Lord told Ezekiel that some survivors would escape this judgment.  He showed the prophet what kind of people they would be.

'Even when their survivors escape, they will be on the mountains like doves of the valleys, all of them mourning, each over his own iniquity." (Eze 7:16)

These are the people who had ears to hear what the prophet was saying and separated themselves.  They went up to the mountains and mourned, each person for his own iniquity.  This doesn't mean we need to literally go to a mountain. But we need to come out from among them and be separate, so that we will not be partakers in the judgment.  We need to cleanse ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit.  We need to pursue holiness, righteousness, and the kingdom of God.  And we each need to mourn for our own sin.

Call upon the name of the Lord, Who is a refuge for His people
Let's not forget what the Lord said through Joel, "And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD Will be delivered; For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem There will be those who escape, As the LORD has said, Even among the survivors whom the LORD calls." (Joe 2:32).  Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be delivered.  That's not lip service.  That's sincere repentance and seeking His face with all your heart.

"The LORD roars from Zion And utters His voice from Jerusalem, And the heavens and the earth tremble. But the LORD is a refuge for His people And a stronghold to the sons of Israel." (Joe 3:16)  While the Lord roars and utters His mighty voice, we need to remember that He is a refuge for His people.

Putting it All Together
As we've just seen, the Scriptures clearly tell us that these things in our current events would happen. The earth is groaning, ridding itself of all the idolatry and rebellion within it. And we need to do the same.

Are you ready?  Do you hear the sound of the trumpet? Please do not wait any longer or you could miss the rapture.   Repent now and give your life to Jesus Christ.  Look to Him, who alone can prepare you to enjoy the rapture, and join the worshipers in heaven.

If you know Him, but are not living 100% for Him, then repent and get right with Him now.  We need to fast, pray, wail, grieve, mourn, lament, groan, and cry out to the Lord for our own sin and the detestable condition of the Church.  It's high time we sought holiness and consecration. He is coming back right away, but only for the holy ones.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note:  You may also want to read my other post called, "Very Few Will Hear the Trumpet".  Then check out "Are You Rapture Ready?" And "The End Has Come."  You may also visit our Signs of the Times Directory, and access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

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