Just before I started writing the study series on “America At the Crossroads,” which began with the July-August issue of Decision, I watched the fact-based film “Hitler, The Rise of Evil.” I wanted to understand how such an evil human being could rise to such power. As I watched, I saw the commitment of those who were willing to resist evil and stand in the gap for truth.
One of the heroes of the story was a German journalist, Carl Albert Fritz (Michael) Gerlich. This son of a fish monger was not deceived by Hitler’s ability to manipulate others through his rhetoric. At the peril of his own life, Gerlich exposed the dangers of following Hitler and the Nazi party. He was the one who wrote, “The worst thing we can do, the absolute worst, is to do nothing.”
On March 9, 1933, after the Nazis seized power in Germany, they arrested Gerlich, took him to the concentration camp at Dachau, and on July 1, 1934–the “Night of Long Knives”–murdered him. Gerlich had a cause beyond himself and was willing to risk all for what he believed was right.
What about you, Beloved? For whom and what do you live? Do you live differently from the way most people live–for themselves?
Last month, I left you in Ezekiel 22 where God was calling for judgment on Jerusalem, the bloody city. You observed the first 12 verses, seeing for yourself what the problem was. May I suggest you stop for a minute, get out your Bible and read through the entire chapter. Then read Ezekiel 22:23-31, which is printed out below. Let’s focus on the who of the 5 W’s and an H: who, what, when, where, why and how. Read through the text and underline the various classes of people mentioned (prophets, priests, princes).
23 And the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
24 “Son of man, say to her, ‘You are a land that is not cleansed or rained on in the day of indignation.’
25 “There is a conspiracy of her prophets in her midst like a roaring lion tearing the prey. They have devoured lives; they have taken treasure and precious things; they have made many widows in the midst of her.
26 “Her priests have done violence to My law and have profaned My holy things; they have made no distinction between the holy and the profane, and they have not taught the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they hide their eyes from My sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.
27 “Her princes within her are like wolves tearing the prey, by shedding blood and destroying lives in order to get dishonest gain.
28 “Her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD,’ when the LORD has not spoken.
29 “The people of the land have practiced oppression and committed robbery, and they have wronged the poor and needy and have oppressed the sojourner without justice.
30 “I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one.
31 “Thus I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; their way I have brought upon their heads,” declares the Lord GOD.
Now read the text again and see what you learn about each class of people you underlined. Next to each class, write the parallel position for today. For instance, princes would be those who rule (political figures).
Now think. When you read the Word, you need to study it. Ask God how it applies to life. For example, consider how various contemporaries of Hitler reacted to the rise of evil in their day:
The Prime Minister of England (prince), Neville Chamberlain, was taken in by Hitler, but Winston Churchill declared him a “monster of wickedness.” Many German pastors (priests and prophets) supported Hitler, while Dietrich Bonhoeffer, also a pastor, warned the church of the true intentions of this man. Bonhoeffer eventually was put to death for “standing in the gap.”
Now think about how the Scripture you read applies to your life today. Read the text again and mark every reference to the Lord, including pronouns, with a triangle. Or color it yellow so it pops with light! What do you learn from marking these references? Does this fit your image of God? Does He have a right to do this? Why is He doing it?
As you marked what you learned about the Lord, you saw the word indignation. Mark it.
The day of indignation would be God’s judgment on Judah and Jerusalem when He permitted the cruel, evil Babylonians to conquer them. Could something similar happen in America?
What was the solution to evil in Ezekiel’s day? What is the solution today? God was looking for a man to stand in the gap before Him for the land–a person on “Kingdom business; God’s business, not his own.”
This is why I felt led of God to write this series, which we will finish next month. God is looking for you, beloved. Gerlich stood as an intercessor for truth; Bonhoeffer, a herald of truth. Will you not do the same? Will you not study God’s Word so you have a plumb line by which to measure everything? Then, knowing truth, will you proclaim it no matter the cost? There’s nothing to lose–only to gain. Join the ranks!
“Beloved … I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 1:3).