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IS a “warning message” enough?
There are certain sabbath-keeping groups that preach they have as a primary commission to preach “The Ezekiel warning message” of what is about to befall the world and the USA. It’s based on a passage about being a Watchman in Ezekiel 33:1-9. If you’re unfamiliar with it, I recommend you pull out your Bible and read it.
In its most conservative explanation, some believe that is their primary – maybe even only – commission: to warn everyone that the seals of Revelation are about to be opened, and then the Trumpet plagues, and then the 7 Last Plagues – and hundreds of millions will die in all of this. Part of that approach is also to warn the USA and Britain and the modern descendants of The Lost 10 Tribes of Israel that they are going down soon and will be sold as captives around the world.
And in focusing on this warning message, some of the adherents of this approach become very isolationist and protective of their “chosen people” status – and distance themselves from the people of the world. Please hear and read my latest sermon titled “God’s Greatest Miracle”. I address what scripture says our relationship to the people of the world should really be. While not becoming a part of the ways, culture and lifestyle of the world we are to be like God, loving the people of the world. Remember John 3:16? We’re supposed to “come out of her, my people” (Revelation 18:4). But hear the sermon and you’ll see what I mean.
There certainly are strong and frightening prophecies of the times of Great Tribulation – the worst times the world has ever seen. Many of us feel we are certainly within a few years – and at most, less than a couple decades – of all this coming to pass.
So back to my question: Is the “Ezekiel warning message” enough? Or are those people and groups who subscribe to that message as being their primary goal and purpose – missing out on the much bigger and more important message we’re told to also preach?
Click on “Continue Reading” to the right here to find out the answers. It has everything to do with fulfilling our God-given true roles as Watchmen.
The Ezekiel 33:1-9 “warning message” basically was a warning first to Watchmen who could see what is about to happen and yet do and say nothing about it. God says in that case he will require a stiff judgment against that kind of watchman. A watchman who sounds the alarm of the impending crisis can save a lot of people who hear him and heed the warning. Those who don’t heed will pay the price for their own carelessness.
So people who subscribe to Ezekiel 33 as their primary focus will put their dollars and focus on warning everyone that the world system as we know it is going to get more and more evil first – and then God’s wrath will be poured out. I certainly know and also teach that things will get far worse before they get better with the return of our King of kings, Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus). But there is another message we also need to be getting out there.
Let’s review what those who were Watchmen before us said and did.
Jonah 1:1-3 “Now the word of YHVH came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me."
Jonah went the other direction and had to be swallowed up by a great fish prepared specially by God for the purpose. He was vomited out on the shore. Imagine what he looked like and smelled like. If anyone witnessed it, the stories would have spread like wildfire. One of the gods of the Ninevites was a fish god, by the way, so who knows. That’s chapter 2.
In chapter 3 Jonah finally goes to Nineveh and his message was simple and very effective: “In 40 days, Nineveh will be overthrown” (Jonah 3:2). Was that the complete message YHVH had given him? He was one of the most effective preachers in all history. The city actually heeded the warning and repented and turned from their evil way – even though there’s no record of Jonah calling on them to repent and to turn from their evil way.
Jonah 3:5-10 -- “So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them. Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, ‘Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?’
10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it”.
In Jonah 4 we see this displeased Jonah. I wonder if our message was one of calling on our nations to repent, if that could result in their repentance? And if so, would we be thrilled – or displeased that now we don’t get to see the spectacular fireworks of Revelation and Daniel? Just a thought. Surely we can learn from the story of Jonah. Let’s do better than he did.
Those given a special mark by God are those who cry out in prayer for the abominations in the land (Ezekiel 9:3-4). Even if we think it might be “too late” for our nations to repent and turn back to God – and surely that is God’s call and not ours – God is apparently moved by his children feeling deeply about what is going on. They are NOT among those who publicly mock and ridicule our leaders via our Facebook accounts. That is so wrong for children of God to do. I’m no fan of most of our leaders, believe me, but to be disrespectful of those people and their office is not God’s way. God tells us to “honor all… honor the king” (1 Peter 2:17). The king at that time was Nero, a very evil man. And yet we see nothing in print in scripture from Peter and Paul and others mocking and ridiculing their leaders. Yeshua called the Pharisees a brood of vipers (as they were acting like Satan, the original viper), but hey, Yeshua was/is God’s son and he can make judgments as he wishes. But you and I aren’t God or the Messiah.
1 Peter 2:17 – “Honor ALL people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king”.
Some people may not be worthy of honor, but we’re told to have a gracious and civil approach to all people, honoring them, for all are made in God’s likeness and when God begins to work with each one, who knows what God can do with even the worst of humanity?
So it’s time to stop the bashing of President Obama, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, etc. When we bash, when we ridicule, we are not obeying God. It’s that simple.
Now expand that to the broader context of a whole nation. Love your country enough that you’re praying for God’s mercy on the nation and that He’ll lead the nation to repentance. After all, did Abraham not ask for God’s mercy even on Sodom, if but 10 righteous could be found in there (Genesis 18)? Abraham did not pray for mercy on the 10 righteous, or to save them first and then blot out the cities. No, he prayed for mercy on the City-state. In earlier chapters he even risked his own life to save his nephew Lot and the others who were of the wicked city who had been taken captive in a recent war (Genesis 14).
Look at Yeshua’s message. What did he preach –even knowing that in 40 more years the city of Jerusalem would be burned, including their precious temple? He came preaching “REPENT, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” He wept over the city –see Luke 19:41-44. Also see Luke 13:34-36 – the passage about his will was to protect them like a hen does its chicks, but they were not willing. Please read those passages yourself.
Do we feel the same as our Messiah? Is that OUR heart? Is that OUR mind? It should be, if Christ is really in us.
What was Paul’s message? He certainly did teach about the coming of Christ and the hot anger he will have against those who destroyed the creation and who persecuted his people (See 2 Thess 1:5-11 for but one example). But was that his central message? Was it? Was that his focus?
Brethren, no! His focus was the good news of a better life right now – and in the world to come -- if we’re one with Christ because we’ve repented and accepted Him as our Messiah Savior! And much of his teaching was to focus on living a life of holiness by God’s spirit. He taught us to forgive and love one another and put away the sins of our former way of life. He taught us to be lights in a dark world. But all of that comes after the first thing that has to be preached, taught and received. What was the first thing he focused on – and that we should?
Look at what Paul himself says he preached:
1 Corinthians 15:1-5
“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you — unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.”
In verse 12 he mentions “if Christ is preached…” And when you look at the historical record in Acts as to what he preached, Paul’s emphasis was to preach Yeshua (Jesus) was the Messiah, the Christ. That was his first message after his conversion (Acts 9:19-22, please read it) and one he apparently continued to hammer.
Our message has to be the central message that God’s son came to die for you and for me and that in him, by His resurrection we can have eternal life and be saved from our sins. Our life now must be in Christ. We preach he is risen and empowers us by His spirit. We teach that God still speaks to his children. That we are his sheep and his sheep hear the voice of their Shepherd and follow him wherever He leads them (John 10:27-29). And that, yes – if we don’t heed these messages, a worse thing will befall us than what befell our forefathers before us. But it’s all about context! The context has to be the joy of his salvation, the high calling we have in him – more than the dread of what is coming upon the earth.
And then as we do this, we’re fulfilling Christ’s command to go to all the nations and teach them all the things Yeshua has taught us, making disciples of all peoples, baptizing and leading them into the way of our God and Master. See Matthew 28:19-20 and Mark 16:15.
Mark 16:15-18 “And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."
Our message is one of hope, of love, and of a bright new life in Christ right now – and in the ages to come. Sure, we’ll preach the warning to repent as well. But the primary message is one of joyous hope and thankfulness that our God will save all who will accept His Messiah whom He sent. It’s a message of redemption, of the removal of any wrath and condemnation, as our God’s son took it all upon himself for us.
What an amazing Father God we have, the Creator of heaven and earth by His Word, the one who became Yeshua, our Salvation. Praise you YHVH. Praise you Messiah.