For the past three years I have experienced grief like never before. Have you, too, been troubled and distressed? If it was over sin, not only yours, but another’s—over disobedience, rebellion or the consequences and destruction of sin—your feelings are appropriate. In fact, they are godly.
“Jesus wept” (John 11:35). Although this is the shortest verse in the Bible, it’s significant. It reveals the heart of God and the emotion Jesus feels in the face of death, the inevitable consequence of sin (Romans 6:23, James 1:15).
Lazarus was dead. Friends and family wailed (klaiontas) because they loved Lazarus. But the emotion Jesus felt went even deeper. John 11:33 tells us Jesus was deeply moved. The Greek word enebrimesato connotes anger, sternness. The text also tells us Jesus was troubled–etaraxen means “stirred” or “agitated.”
Jesus wasn’t experiencing these emotions simply because Lazarus was a dear friend; He knew He was about to raise him from the dead. Rather, this was the clash between sin and righteousness, between death and life. The latter would triumph through Jesus’ death and resurrection, but at this point Jesus was agitated at what sin does to people!
How about you, Beloved? Does sin’s ruin, destruction and death agitate you and bring you to tears? If so, your heart has touched the heart of God, and the two beat in unison.
For several months we have looked at America at the Crossroads, studying and applying Scriptures to what is happening as our nation collectively commits unfaithfulness against God (Ezekiel 14:13-21).
In our final lesson in this series, let’s continue the pattern of observing the text so you discover truth for yourself. Our text will be Ezekiel 9.
- • Color every reference to God in yellow or mark it with a triangle (the first He in verse 1 is a reference to God).
- • Mark every reference to the man clothed in linen with a check or color it blue.
- • Double underline every reference to the city (its name is in the text).
- • Mark executioners with an X.
- • And, finally, put a cross over every reference to the mark.
- 1 Then He cried out in my hearing with a loud voice saying, “Draw near, O executioners of the city, each with his destroying weapon in his hand.”
2 Behold, six men came from the direction of the upper gate which faces north, each with his shattering weapon in his hand; and among them was a certain man clothed in linen with a writing case at his loins. And they went in and stood beside the bronze altar.
3 Then the glory of the God of Israel went up from the cherub on which it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed in linen at whose loins was the writing case.
4 The LORD said to him, “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.”
5 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.
6 “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.
7 And He said to them, “Defile the temple and fill the courts with the slain. Go out!” Thus they went out and struck down the people in the city.
8 As they were striking the people and I alone was left, I fell on my face and cried out saying, “Alas, Lord GOD! Are You destroying the whole remnant of Israel by pouring out Your wrath on Jerusalem?”
9 Then He said to me, “The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is very, very great, and the land is filled with blood and the city is full of perversion; for they say, ‘The LORD has forsaken the land, and the LORD does not see!’
10 “But as for Me, My eye will have no pity nor will I spare, but I will bring their conduct upon their heads.”
11 Then behold, the man clothed in linen at whose loins was the writing case reported, saying, “I have done just as You have commanded me.”
On a separate piece of paper, describe the message of this chapter in three sentences at the most. What did you learn about God? What is God doing and why? What do you learn from marking references to the man in linen? Who gets the mark and why? What happens to the city and why?
And now let’s apply the truths you observed. If this were to happen in America today, would you be marked? Why? What did those people do? What does it tell you about them–and how they felt about sin? Do you think most Americans feel this way about sin?
Is it time for us to weep over sin, to be angry because of what it does to an individual, a city, a nation–to a holy God? Is it time to warn people to flee from the judgment that will come if we do not return to God? Oh how America needs our tears, our prayers, our fervent supplications!
Jesus wept. Jeremiah cried, “O that my head were waters and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people” (Jeremiah 9:1). May we cry, “Lord, break my heart with the things that break your heart and groan with God over all the abominations committed in our land.”