Editor’s Note: Be advised that there is mild profanity in this article, as quoted from a booklet from a well-known and respected missionary of the early 20th Century.
It is the “Little foxes” that spoil the vine. The vine is where fruit is produced. It is not noon-day elephants, but little foxes in the night that slip in to spoil fruit. Maybe you are not looking at porn on the computer, but your heart takes a deep interest in football and it causes you to lose time in God’s presence, amongst God’s people and in God’s purpose in your life. This is a spoiling of the vine. Maybe it isn’t sports. Maybe it is business. Corrie Ten Boom said, “beware of the bareness of a busy life.” Most little foxes are known only by you and God.
Benny Hinn said, “when you wholly belong to Him, you hunger only for His kingdom.”
To be honest about this, I have been on both sides of this fence. When I got cold, the volume of other things increased in my life. But when I got lit on fire again, they were all eaten up by the Holy Ghost. Smith Wigglesworth said, his life was “eaten away by the Holy Spirit.” Psalm 39 tells us that, “God eats away like a moth the things that are precious to man.”
He is FIRE. He consumes everything just by being present.
This is the only real understanding of the Christian life that I have. All else is compromise.
Tolerance is compromise. If you watch something that is not clean by tolerance, you have compromised. We must smash these things for purity’s sake. There is a fight for purity because “purity of heart affects all seeing (Art Katz).” Many people lose sight of things that are wrong in their lives because their eyes are dim from impurities tolerated in their lives. Lay the axe to the root and clear the way for the vision of Jesus!
Beware of little foxes. Time stealers. Sinful compromises. They are after your fruit. Jesus said that fruit is what Glorifies God (John 15). The little foxes want to steal the Glory of God out of your life.
“Fashion, entertainment, sports, materialism–we are idol worshipers (Dr. Michael L. Brown).” These are the Gods of this country. Beware of the seduction message that mixes the truths of Christ with a tolerant life. It is an attempt to give you enough of God to satisfy your religious desires and also make way for your heart to find fulfillment in the things of this world simultaneously. You will be rendered powerless. Seduction has slain many mighty men (Prov. 7.26). Seduction makes you as a loaf of bread, mindless and left only to be devoured. Seduction is the play upon your desires. It is an appealing message to the best of both worlds. You can have your idols and God too. No. In God’s view, He is first, or He is forgotten. The throne of your heart that rules your whole life is His and only His. He will not share it with another. Just ask Abraham.
The holes through which men are infected with the virus of powerlessness, unbelief and compromise are nothing other than the additions to Jesus in their hearts.
Christians are not to be Jesus, AND… We are to be Jesus ALONE. What other testimony is more in keeping with the claim that the Creator of the universe is really enjoyed and known by us?
Athlete turned missionary C.T. Studd wrote a great booklet entitled “The D.C.D.,” which was as controversial in its day as it would be in ours (for reasons that will be readily apparent, read it here for context). In the booklet, “D.C.D.” stands for “Don’t Care a Damn,” and he describes a new order of “D.C.D. Soldiers of the Lord Jesus.” According to Studd, “a ‘D.C.D.’ doesn’t care a damn what happens to himself so long as our Lord Jesus Christ is glorified.” In our modern vernacular, we would call them “followers of Jesus that don’t give a damn,” or, more politely “followers of Jesus that could care less.” As is stated in the Studd booklet, God is looking for men who could could care less about anything but Christ Himself and His gospel.
The leaven in Matthew 13 is a wonderful picture of what happens to a life that chooses the rule of God. It spreads to the consuming of the whole life. If this is not the picture of your life, than the leaven of an absolute submission to the Kings dominion has yet to be applied to your life. The last verse of the book of 1st John says, “Keep yourselves from idols.” You don’t have to look for things to fill your life with, they are looking for you and you must guard against them.
A boxer must keep his guard up in a fight. Why? Because the guy in front of him is trying to swing, is swinging and will swing to knock him out. If he is lazy with that guard, he will pay for it. We must guard our hearts above all for from it flows our life.
All the foxes start in the mind, to influence your body, to tip your will over in sin. The mind of man is the shipping and receiving center of life. Whatever you want to give out has got to go through the mind and whatever is going to come in must go in through the mind. Yet, “there are thoughts of evil and evil thoughts.” Thoughts of evil come from the outside and evil thoughts come from the inside. One grasps at your mind and the other your mind grasps for. The devils come to your mind. “He will keep you in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Him (Isa. 26.3).” “The mind set on the Spirit is life and peace (Romans 8.6).”
Eric Gilmour is an Associate Editor for Voice of Revolution, overseeing Revival & Evangelism. Visit his website at agonypress.podbean.com
Posted in Featured Articles, Revival & Prayer Tagged with: Abraham, art katz, benny hinn, C.T. Studd, christians, compromise, corrie ten boom, D.C.D, Dr. Michael Brown, Jesus Christ, smith wigglesworth, the Holy Spirit
“For a little while your people possessed your holy place, but now our enemies have trampled down your sanctuary.” -Is. 63.18
This passage speaks of the holy place and the sanctuary in Jerusalem itself, but there is much to be drawn from it for our spiritual enlargement.
If, on New Testament terms, Paul has declared that we are the “temple” or the “sanctuary” of the Holy Spirit, then we also have the high privilege of possessing our own souls and sanctifying them unto the Lord. He longs to dwell in the midst of His people, revealing Himself to us, and expressing Himself through us. This is something more than spiritual performance, religious playacting, or learning the proper words to say and the proper faces to make. Our appearance and reputation matter not one jot or tittle if the “holy place” of our hearts has been invaded by the spirit of the world, and “our enemies have trampled down” the sanctuary of the inner-man.
The writer of the proverb has instructed us along this way: “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” (4.23)
There is an intensity with which we must guard the inner-man, for the holy place of our heart is a tender place, and it can easily be trampled and flooded. It is our own responsibility to continually sanctify ourselves before the Lord, and to see to it that we are preferring His own life above our own. When at once you sink into your own wisdom and fail to possess and keep your heart before Him, the tenderness begins to harden, until eventually you have lost all touch with the reality of truth and love.
When our souls are dispossessed by untruth, when we cease to abide in the love of God, immediately the spirit of this age prevails and tramples the inner-man. This occurs not only in the overt moral failings of pornography, murder, and thievery, but also when we give ourselves over to a counterfeit kind of rest that is not the rest of God Himself. When we cease to guard that tender place of true union with God, we become brash towards others, speculative and suspicious, self-conscious, loose in speech, over-indulgent with money, entertainment and food, and many of the more subtle forms of compromise take the dominant place.
Our lives take on a cheap and synthetic nature, and the “springs of life” are replaced with something much more inglorious than that which the Lord has desired to give us. We may look Christian still, we may know how to put on a religious show, but we are giving up the holy place and allowing it to be trampled by the enemies of God. Our lingo may be correct, but anger, fear, and strife will have possession of our souls. Brethren, this is not the purpose of the Lord.
This trampling of the soul is the plight of all men without grace, but in the Gospel we are privileged and called to a life of abiding in the Son of God. You may only possess the holy place “for a little while,” but this is not your inheritance in Christ. Do not let your soul be trampled by the influences of this age, the lusts of the flesh, and the pride of life. Do not surrender your days or evenings to the enemy, dear saint. Let your heart be stilled before Him morning, noon, and night, and He will enlarge His own character and nature in your soul. The purity, tenderness, compassion and power of Jesus will become Your witness, and God Himself will be your portion and joy. Watch over your heart then, child of God.
Posted in The Kingdom of God Tagged with: abiding in Christ, compromise, guard your heart, holiness, religion, sanctification, unity with God, worldliness
To speak the word “regain” is to state that the subject in view had previously been realized. In this case, the blind man asked to “regain” his sight. He wanted to get back that which he previously had. I believe that many modern American Christians are backslidden. Backslidden, meaning, they have lost the sight that they once possessed. They have lost their sight of their life mission, their conviction of sin and their revelation of Jesus.
They have lost their view on the life mission given to us by Christ Himself to, “speak out the great message of the cross of Christ.” They have definitely not “pledged their heads to heaven.” Nor have they laid their lives down as true disciples saying, “my life for the gospel.”
They have slipped away from their conviction of sin. They say things like, “I wasn’t as mature in God as I am now.” But as Isaiah stated, “they have lost the power to blush over their sins.”
Their sight of Jesus is so limited that they are in desperate need for God to repair their view of Him. For it is only in an accurate view of Jesus that we can have an accurate view of holiness, purity, love, power, God and His Kingdom.
Modern Christians have a greater knowledge of Hollywood than of Christ Himself. They have set up their home to revolve around a flat screen t.v., instead of setting up their lives to revolve around Jesus. They have a greater sight for themselves than Christ. As Keith Green stated, “It is so hard to see when my eyes are on me.” The only true and valuable sight is the seeing of Jesus. Backsliders need their view of Christ restored. All issues in life return to vision, namely, the vision of Jesus. Not necessarily what He would do, but what He is doing. It is knowing His heart beat. It is an issue of knowing Him, right now. Not in the past, or recent past, but today. Do you see Him today? Backslider regain your sight! All issues of seeing are summed up in a seeing of Jesus. If there is no seeing of Jesus there simply is no seeing. No matter the intellect and glory of man, men are blind till they see Jesus.
In this blind man’s state, he heard the commotion of Jesus and asked other people what was going on. The blind backslidden Christian is a person who must look to others for sight. So many Christians today are looking to a book, a minister, ministry or church to open their eyes. They look to men for guidance. They cannot see rightly, so they have no other option. Praise God these people pointed him to Jesus saying, “It is Jesus passing by.”
This blind man wanted his sight back. He had the sense to notice it is gone. I pray we would see our deficiency, for we are in a bad way if we lose sight of that. Look at the heart of this blind man after seeing his deficiency…He cries out to Jesus. A cry that comes from a revelation of our deficiency will be sincere and deep. Oh for deep cries that go out to the deep of God!
The people around him tried to silence him. Know this dear reader, if you are blind and backslidden lacking what you once had in God, the whole world is seeking to silence your cry to God. Worldly satisfactions are trying to bring you to a place of contentment with your blindness. Lots of Christian things are trying to make you content with blindness and compromise. Many complacent friends are indirectly seeking to silence your cry. But you must not listen! You must, like this blind man, push through and cry out to God for a restoration of what you know is available, the sight of a living Jesus.
After this blind man pushed through and refused to listen to the silencers, he met Jesus. He was brought into Christ’s presence and Jesus spoke to him. This is the only place of restoration, the only place of life; The experience of His presence and the hearing of His voice. He was then, and only then, healed. Nothing else will heal you. He received his sight back and he began to follow the Lord. As he was glorifying God he was made a spectacle to everyone. If we are to be a testimony to the world, it is only as we glorify God with our lives by following Jesus, because we see Him. Oh reader, do you see Him!? Do you see Him now? Or are you lost, blind and clueless as to what has happened to you? Are you wondering how you got to where you are now in life? Do you look back and say, “where did I get off?” Brother, I will tell you where you got off. You took your eyes off of Jesus and you lost your sight, for just as He is the only seeing, He is the only sustaining of sight.
Oh blind one, who cannot see, my heart breaks for you, as I know the Lord’s does…all out to Him! If you cannot see like you used to and you have taken your eyes off of Jesus…cry out to Him! If in the name of liberty you have opened the door to lesser lovers…cry out to Him! If you are not more in love with Him now than ever…cry out to Him! If you know you are distant and you know something is between you and God…call out to Him! Maybe as you read this, you contrasted your hunger now with your hunger in the past, and have come up sadly lacking…call out to Him! Do not let anything silence you. He will take you into His presence, speak to you and you will see Him again. At this point and no other can you begin to follow Him rightly.
Reader, look deep within. Are you blind today? I am not asking you if you know the bible, go to church or profess Christ. I am asking you…”have you lost your sight?”
Posted in The Kingdom of God Tagged with: backslidden, Backslidders, blindness, compromise, holiness, Jesus, Keith Green, meaning, the Gospel
The book of Judges opens with the recounting of Israel’s campaign to conquer the territories allotted them by the LORD, capturing the cities and dispossessing the inhabitants of the land. However, despite initial success in the united victories of Judah and Simeon, and from the house of Joseph, Israel failed to complete what they had begun. Instead of utterly driving out the people and tearing down their altars, they began to grow weary in the battle. Rather than maintain their position of strength until they thoroughly displaced their enemies, they subjected them instead to forced labor, content to live among them by concession rather than endure the ongoing conflict and delayed settlement. This premature cessation of warfare and the permitting of idols and altars provoked the angel of the LORD to come up from Gilgal, declaring that Israel’s compromise essentially amounted to their establishing a covenant with the people of the land, and effectively breaking their covenant with Him.
The LORD would now no longer drive out the people from before them; instead they would become as thorns in their sides, and their gods as snares to them. When the angel of the LORD spoke these words to all the sons of Israel, they lifted up their voices and wept, naming the place Bochim as a testament to their tears. Had the angel also announced where he had come up from, then the extent of their disobedience would have been driven home more fully: Gilgal, where the reproach of Egypt had finally been rolled away from them, the wilderness-born. Here Israelites were circumcised the second time, after the previous generation and ‘men of war’ had died in the desert for refusing to listen to and obey the voice of the LORD. Now they too had failed to heed and wholly follow the call of God! T. Austin-Sparks called Judges ‘the Book of the tragedy of the unfinished task,’ offering prophetic insight in his reasoning of why Israel’s initial response to the heavenly vision presented to them failed to result in a completion of the call: weariness and discouragement in the battle, the loss of heavenly vision, and the subtle seduction of the spirit of the world finding place among them.
These reasons remain relevant today, and are worth expounding upon while considering our own beginnings and ongoing fidelity to the call of God.
It was a long, drawn-out warfare that Israel was engaged in, often discouraging because of the continual, seemingly unending, conflict. They began well, but the faith and initiative required for consecutive battles exhausted their resolve, and depleted the warring spirit in their midst. This tendency was not new to the tribes. The sons of Gad and Reuben had formerly been rebuked by Moses for asking permission to prematurely settle down with their possessions in the land of Gilead, reasoning that it was “..a land for livestock, and your servants have livestock.” (Numbers 32:4) ‘Must we continue further? This will suffice as an inheritance for us. All we require is right here!” Moses’ response? “Shall your brothers go to war while you yourselves sit here? Now why are you discouraging the sons of Israel from crossing over into the land which the LORD has given them?” Going on to call them a ‘brood of sinful men,’ he compared them to the spies sent into Canaan, whose rejection of their inheritance and rebellion against the LORD had provoked His anger and sentenced them to the wilderness-wanderings from which they would only emerge forty years later – and even then to reveal the same reluctance to arm themselves before the LORD for war, ‘..until He has driven His enemies out from before Him, and the land is subdued before the LORD…” (Numbers 34:20,21).
As the people of God, we must be careful that the desire for personal or familial respite from the warfare does not result in our premature withdrawal and permanently distancing ourselves from the ongoing battles of our brethren or the eternal purposes of our God. Often at such times we display a disproportionate concern for our own welfare and security over the encouragement of and commitment towards His inheritance in a fully-established people. Like Esau, we can despise our eternal birthright by sacrificing it on the altar of immediate need; returning exhausted from our labors in the field, we impatiently demand temporary fullness, consuming the bread that perishes dipped in the bowl of betrayal.
In ceasing to contend then for the LORD’s sake, their vision was reduced from a heavenly compulsion to an earthly compromise. The pressures of sustaining faith and family life amidst constant resistance and opposition, and the compelling argument of the undeniable progress that had been made, both in their lives and in the nation ‘for the LORD,’ made subjugation an appealing alternative . Though outwardly the warfare ceased, the battle continued for the heart and its occupancy. If the people of God would not wholly assert their influence upon the land, then the unholy practices of its inhabitants would do so upon Israel’s latent affections. Dwelling in relative peace with the people meant that their customs and idolatry went unchallenged, practiced daily without opposition from Israel.
Soon the people of God began to make comparisons and draw conclusions about the worthiness of serving their God versus the benefits of the gods of the surrounding nations. Like the psalmist (Ps.73), they envied the apparent ease and prosperity of the lives of the surrounding nations they were called to displace; lives unrestricted by the governance of covenant and commandments, without the burden of prolonged periods of testing and the constant proving of their faith in order to secure the pleasure of their God. Wearied tolerance begat interest and dialogue, which produced acclimation and finally integration. Having yielded their fighting spirit and surrendered the exclusivity of their inheritance by attempting to accelerate the promised rest, Israel forfeited their eternal purpose. From casual observers of Canaanite culture, they became conversant, even intimate, acquaintances. Preparing a table for their enemies in the presence of their God, the unguarded hosts entertained the spirit of the world, their lives increasingly comparable, and indistinct, from that of their neighbors.’ Spiritual fruit akin to that originally discovered in the valley of Eschol was intended to come to maturity and remain on prominent display in the land. Instead, Israel were choked by the the decision to remove themselves from the heavenly ground of the sojourner, whose soil is enriched by obedience and seeded by faith, and chose, like Lot, to position themselves according to earthly appearances and the more obvious security of the ‘greener pastures.’
Like Israel, perhaps some of us have made a similarly-inspired beginning, only to become discouraged in the passage of time between our initial response and the fulfillment of the promise. Have we surrendered the fighting spirit before his purposes have been fully accomplished in and through our lives? Have we become increasingly wearied by the warfare waged in the workplace and in our homes, in raising children and contending for our marriages amidst the influence and opposition of the principalities and powers in the land? Somewhere in the midst of this Kingdom campaign, we reconsidered our place in the eternal purposes of God, and lost sight of the heavenly vision. The varied yet daily demands upon our faith and endurance resulted in our questioning the validity of the call and the assurance of victory. Perhaps the exhaustion from an extended trial, a hope deferred or disillusionment with a leader, ministry or community prompted a discussion with your spouse that began the exploration of the possibilities of an alternative way to reside in the land, proposing a change of city perhaps, or establishing a new identity in the marketplace? Did we consider the lot of those around us: our neighbors, former friends, family members, whose lives, and homes, in comparison to ours, were void of similar conflict, uncomplicated, even carefree? Did we come to the conclusion that we had, in fact, kept our hands clean and hearts pure in vain, since the rewards of doing so were not as apparent as we expected?
However, the fruit of such decisions to withdraw from the ground of battle and remove ourselves from the garrison of the Body has left the hearts and lives of many individuals, marriages, and children increasingly compromised with the world, captivated by its idols, compliant with its culture and complacent in their witness and pursuit of God. In the Emmaus Road fellowship to which some now belong, they discuss all the things that have taken place, reminiscing about the movement, ministry and meetings that gave them identity, and laid the foundation for a bright, revolutionary future. Only now they struggle with the dichotomy of the days that have followed, and the seeming demise of the prophetic movement began by Him who was “..mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people..?”
Disappointment blinds us to the reality of His presence with us, and weakens our war-resolve, so that in the battle that yet remains – regardless of our desires or declaration of independence – we are prevented from seeing and knowing Him in the power of His resurrection. We stand wondering at those around us who question our sadness, unaware of all that we have seen and heard, not understanding all that we had hoped…
Yet there is hope still. Men, husbands, and fathers: you may have remained behind at a crucial time when brothers, as well as kings, are to be found at war. You discovered upon your rooftop of discontent that you were still engaged in battle, though now to contend alone. But listen: the voice of those brothers you once fought alongside to victory, who remained engaged in the fight, is calling back from the field with the invitation to gather yourselves together, recover the warring spirit, and claim a crown (See 2 Sam.12:26ff)! Consider your ways, and take courage! Whether discouragement or disengagement, intimidation or impatience, caused the building and establishing of His testimony in our lives and in the land to be delayed, His Spirit and promises remain. Let us consider our ways and realize that, dwelling in our rebuilt, historic houses with restored hardwood floors, we have become as desolate as His house lies in many places, without investors and unrestored by a historic revival. Instead of laboring with God for eternal riches and holy purposes, we have instead worked independently for earthly wages placed in holey purses.
Once more, in a little while, he is going to shake the heavens and the earth, and all nations. We know His judgments have already begun in His house. We cannot afford to dwell on the memories of former glory, delaying obedience to building His house now because of our lament for the legacy of a monument – or movement – that was. It is not about a place but a people, built together as a spiritual house, offering in themselves the revolution, protesting by their very lives the spirit of the age, and provoking Jew and Gentile to jealousy and inquiry because of the love they have for one another. Perhaps we have been subjected, and not willingly, to a season of futility, left wondering at the glory promised to be revealed to us, transforming us, supposedly incomparable to our suffering? Could it be that He permitted such frustration in the hope that our longing would produce a patience that was allowed her perfect work, making us complete as children of God and knowing the glorious freedom from enslaving self-interest and the deeply-entrenched interests and affinity for the things of this world?
Let us take courage again, encourage and build up the hearts of our brothers by emerging from the comfort of our ’spiritual conversation’ with the people of the land and affiliation with their brands, and wield again the sword of the Spirit, clothed with Christ and the full armour of God! Let us return to holiness and the fear of the Lord, speaking to one another in such a way that captures His attention and delights him with every hearing, filling a book of rememberance from those who love His name. If we mourn, let it not be because we are ‘comparers of the glory,’ but like Nehemiah, sharers of the grief over the remnant whose walls are broken down and whose gates are burned with fire. Let us fast and pray in identification with our brethren and their sins, repenting and reminding the LORD of His covenant, seeking the favor and provision necessary for restoration and rebuilding together a people and place of His pleasure and glory. Ridicule and opposition from the people of the land, or even their attempts at inclusion (see Nehem.2:19ff; Ezra 4), will always be present and seeking to frighten, frustrate – or participate in – the completion of God’s testimony.
We must refuse to cease from this good work, overcome discouragement with prayer, and not withold provision by closing our hearts and hiding ourselves from our – and His – own flesh: “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren..’ (1 John 3:16). Temptation to compare our lives with the world around us will inevitably rear itself, but when we enter the sanctuary of God we will remember their end, and desire nothing on earth besides Him who is the strength of our hearts and our portion forever. When we were younger, we girded ourselves and walked wherever we wished. Now older, we find ourselves bound and directed toward a place we had hoped to avoid, or like Jonah, fled. If so, now is not the time to slumber unconcerned in the hold of the ship while the storm rages, or demand, ‘What about him?’ in response to Jesus’ call to follow. Let our concern be to support one another wherever we are in the ongoing work and warfare, to rally together at the sound of the trumpet, and, remembering the LORD who is great and awesome, fight for our brothers, our sons, our daughters, our wives, our house – and His. Our ways are not hidden from the LORD, and the justice due us does not escape His attention, remembering the end intended even for Job. He gives strength to the weary, to those who have grown tired, and to the once-vigorous young men who have stumbled badly.
“Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up toward Him again with wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.”
Posted in Scripture Tagged with: Canaanites, compromise, courage, God, idolatry, israel, perserverance, Revolution & Justice, spiritual warfare
Editor’s Note: A previously published article from Dr. Brown. An important message to take to heart for those of us trying to make an impact in our culture.
When we think of the words “unyielding and hardened,” we think of stubborn sinners defiantly refusing to heed the message of God, of proud and obstinate rebels firmly entrenched in their arrogance and intransigence. We think of sinful hearts that refuse to bow, of determined and resolute wills that mock that which is sacred and disdain that which is holy. We think of the image of the earthly, not the heavenly.
Yet sometimes it is God Himself who makes His servants unyielding and hardened. He does it for His glory, and He does it for their good. It is part and parcel of the prophet’s call. The prophet must be immovable — utterly. The prophet must be a rock.
The Lord said to Ezekiel that:
the house of Israel is not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to Me, for the whole house of Israel is hardened and obstinate. But I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are (Ezek. 3:7-8).
The Lord fights fire with fire!
God’s people would not listen to His words. They were defiant and resistant. How could the prophet withstand the pressure? How could he weather the storm? How could he stand firm and hold fast to the commission of the Spirit? The people were so hard. The prophet had to be harder still! Once he moved an inch, the battle was lost.
I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint. Do not be afraid of them or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house (Ezek. 3:9).
Yes, Ezekiel, I will make you harder than flint!
This was also the word of the Lord to Jeremiah:
Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land — against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land (Jer. 1:18).
Jeremiah had to be “a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall.” He was standing against everyone!
Some of us get rattled when one unkind word is spoken against us, or when a leader doesn’t pay sufficient attention to us, or when our friends fail to recognize our gifts, or when our unsaved co-workers avoid us because of our faith. Talk about shallow security and shifting assurance! What would we have done if were in Jeremiah’s shoes?
The kings, the princes, the officials, the priests, the prophets, the people as a whole, and even his family stood against him. He had no wife or children, by the direction of the Lord (Jer. 16:20), and he was almost completely without friends. This man was alone in this world. Yet God told him to stand against the crowd, to refuse to be moved, to proclaim a word of terrible judgment and hardship, to declare that the ruthless enemy king was actually the servant of the Lord, that it was God’s will that the chosen people go into exile. How could this be?
“Jeremiah, back down! Look at this thing rationally. Listen to the voice of reason. Everyone can’t possibly be wrong. The leaders can’t all be misled. The prophets can’t all be deceived. The priests can’t all be in error. Nobody else is proclaiming such harsh things. Nobody else is telling us that our women will be raped, our children orphaned, our men slaughtered in battle. Nobody else is telling us that the Temple of the Lord — the very dwelling place of the God of the whole earth — will be destroyed. Never! Jeremiah, come our way and join the crowd. It feels so right to be accepted. It feels so good to be loved. Surely you’re not the only one hearing from God. You’re not a fanatic, right?”
Actually, what God calls faithful the world calls fanatical. Sometimes the pressure is intense! It is true that the prophet is made for pressure and that pressure makes the prophet, but Jeremiah was human, just like us. He needed affirmation and encouragement. He longed for moral support just like we do. The insults and taunts and hatred and rejection of the people must have stung him deeply. What did it feel like to be Jeremiah? His suffering was almost unbearable:
Alas, my mother, that you gave me birth, a man with whom the whole land strives and contends! I have neither lent nor borrowed, yet everyone curses me (Jer. 15:10).
O LORD, You deceived me, and I was deceived; You overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the LORD has brought me insult and reproach all day long (Jer. 20:7-8).
Surely a little compromise would be acceptable. Surely there must be some movement on Jeremiah’s part. It was impossible that so many good people could be so wrong. Surely the Lord understood both sides of the story. Surely He was not so inflexible. Hardly:
“Let this people turn to you, but you must not turn to them. I will make you a wall to this people, a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue and save you,” declares the LORD (Jer. 15:19b-20).
There it is again! The prophet was called to be a mountain of holy resistance. “Jeremiah, do not budge!”
Listen to the cumulative force of these words from the Lord. God made the prophets as unyielding and hardened as the most obstinate sinners, with foreheads like the hardest stone, harder than flint, like a fortified city, a bronze wall, and an iron pillar. God built them up and God backed them up.
For the prophet, compromise was more bitter than death, and finding the middle ground was an act of treachery against the Lord. As Jesus said, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters” (Matt. 12:30). Jesus was no people-pleaser either. In the prophet’s education and calling, there is no “Politics 101.” Who ever heard of a politically correct prophet? How we need the true prophetic spirit again in our day!
Of course, as to our character and attitude we must be meek and lowly, quick to listen and slow to speak, easily approachable, ready to learn, willing to receive correction, open to godly reason, submitted and submissive, teachable and kind, not argumentative but speaking the truth in love. Still I ask you, didn’t Jesus exemplify those characteristics to perfection? And yet He was absolutely inflexible and unyielding when it came to doing the will of His Father. He could not be moved. And wasn’t Paul a walking model of a godly, Spirit-filled minister? Yet who more than Paul refused to go the way of the crowd? Who more than Paul shunned compromise like the plague? It was Paul who asked the Galatians:
Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ (Gal. 1:10).
Pleasing men and serving the Lord are often incompatible — totally.
Of course, I know there are fanatics and weirdoes who have separated themselves from the Body and who think they are on some kind of divine mission. They and they alone have the revelation. They and they alone — along with their motley little group of self-anointed spokesmen and self-appointed martyrs — have the truth. I am fully aware that there are some flakes out there who believe that the Spirit tells them to wear shorts and a tee shirt in the snow as a test of their obedience. (Why is it always those people who tend to be the most bold and vocal “witnesses,” always carrying their Bibles — their very big, prominent Bibles, of course — and never failing to show up just when you are finally reaching someone with the Good News? Why are they often the ones whose vehicles are so covered with gospel bumper stickers that you can’t even tell if they’re driving a car or a truck?)
To such people I say this: Grow up! Get into a congregation and practice submission. Take the low road and learn in quietness. If God has given you a word, He will make it known. Get your personal life in order and make a meaningful contribution to society (maybe starting right in your own home?). Your end-time prophetic mission to the universe can wait a few more years.
More seriously, there are really tragic cases of truly fanatical acts. I cringe when I think of the deeply deceived and disturbed individuals who have burned babies in ovens and shot, stabbed, and strangled at the supposed direction of the Lord. What a terrible and pathetic shame. What an ugly, inexcusable reproach. The Word of God and the voice of God never led these people to commit such atrocious acts, and nothing I am writing here is directed to such demented souls. What they need is a new heart through repentance and faith. What they need is to be saved from their sins.
But please hear me: There have always been religious fanatics, spiritual weirdoes, Bible-quoting flakes, and demonized pseudo-believers misrepresenting the Spirit of God. There have always been counterfeit Christians, bogus believers and satanized saints wreaking havoc in the name of the Lord. They existed in the days of Jesus, and they exist in our day too. Our error has been to retreat from righteousness because of the extremists and to tone down our message because of the fanatics. Our sin has been to compromise for the sake of “correctness” and to muddle the truth for the sake of middle ground. We justify our comfortable seat on the sidelines of non-commitment because others “take things too far.” As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow expressed so well, “We often excuse our want of [involvement] by giving the name of fanaticism to the more ardent zeal of others.”
This is sheer spiritual suicide, and it is guaranteed to fail. It is the way of the world and the formula of the flesh. It is Satan’s trap, and it is set to ensnare. Only the inflexible will escape. Are you entrapped? How have you fared on the day of testing? Remember: Temptation can come in the form of death threats or in the form of sweet promises. Have you held your ground in the face of temptation? Have you withstood the onslaught of the enemy and the world?
Are you inflexible when it comes to the clear and indisputable standards of God’s Word? Or have you compromised your convictions to keep the peace or to make your way up the ladder in your church or business? Have you quenched the persistent voice of the Spirit because it was too hard to go against the grain? The world can be intimidating. The church can be intimidating. Your friends and family can be intimidating. Your fellow-leaders can be intimidating. Have you feared the face of man, or have you feared the face of God?
And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house. You must speak My words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you (Ezek. 2:6-8).
Do you grasp what God said to Ezekiel? They are rebellious; they don’t listen to Me. Don’t you be rebellious! Receive My commission, ingest My message, and declare My words to My rebellious people without flinching, without holding back, without watering down the truth. Not to speak is to rebel.
Again it is recorded in the book of Jeremiah:
Early in the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, this word came from the LORD: “This is what the LORD says: Stand in the courtyard of the Lord’s house and speak to all the people of the towns of Judah who come to worship in the house of the LORD. Tell them everything I command you; do not omit a word (Jer. 26:1-2).
Tell the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
This was a quality that made Samuel great. When he was still young and after receiving his very first word from God — a frightful, terrible word — the Scripture says: “So Samuel told him [i.e., Eli the priest] everything, hiding nothing from him” (1 Sam. 3:18). He held back nothing, even though that word from God promised judgment and destruction on Eli’s very household. Samuel told the truth. As a result,
The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and He let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the LORD (1 Sam. 3:19-20).
God would back us up too, if we would learn to declare His Word, directly and without dilution.
Yet so often we are weak-kneed wimps. We crumble like cookies and have as much staying power as spaghetti: When the water gets hot, we get soft. Where is our courage? Where is our conviction? Where is our commission?
It will take faces like flint and foreheads like bronze to stand strong in the midst of the world’s immoral madness and the church’s moral morass. Only those who are deep in Him will be able to confront the shallowness of this superficial age. Only those with roots will withstand the flood to come. Are you standing today? Are you firm? Are you moved forward by God, or do you move backward away from God?
For many years I have written and preached that we hardly realize how far we have fallen — as a nation, as families, as individuals, as a church. True restoration will be more radical than most of us (including myself) can imagine. And while we are certainly making spiritual progress in many ways, and while the Lord is truly moving in our midst, we dare not think that we have arrived, that times of refreshing are proofs of total approval, that an increase in spiritual life and power means an increase in prophetic truth and character. No! We must make a determined, fresh stand. We must recover the spirit of holy inflexibility, of divine immovability, of prophetic intransigence. We must reclaim the posture of the uncompromising overcomer — even if it costs us our lives:
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death” (Rev. 12:10-11).
May this be our story too: overcoming the pressures of this age, refusing to cave in or give up, ruthless with the flesh, radical in the Spirit, obedient even to death. May God make us harder than flint. May we yield to Him alone.
Posted in Revolution & Justice Tagged with: compromise, ezekiel, jeremiah, old testament prophets, prophecy, prophets