Saturday, August 29, 2009

Holy Indignation

Ezekiel 9:4-6
(4) And the LORD said to him, "Pass through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it."
(5) And to the others he said in my hearing, "Pass through the city after him, and strike. Your eye shall not spare, and you shall show no pity.
(6) Kill old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women, but touch no one on whom is the mark. And begin at my sanctuary." So they began with the elders who were before the house.

This continues Ezekiel's vision. He saw that the Lord wanted this man clothed in linen to put a mark on those who were upset by what they saw in Jerusalem. This reminds me of what Peter had to say about Lot and his reaction to Sodom:

2 Peter 2:7-8
(7) and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked
(8) (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard);

It seems that there is something to be said for being upset by what we see around us. However, I also think that there is a danger in this. It is popular, particularly in more fundamentalist circles, to build a bunker against the world. Yes, the world is filled with wickedness. We even have whole Christian denominations calling evil good. The homosexual lobby practically has a whole broadcasting network dedicated to their cause. Our churches are filled with gossip and slander.

Yes, there is much to get upset about. However, unless that indignation comes from the right place we are nothing more than Pharisees. Are we upset because we want to feel good about not doing what we see others doing? Or are we upset because we realize how much sin grieves God?

More importantly, are we starting with the mirror? Are we mostly concerned with dealing with our own sin. I know how easily my heart is led to seeing things I shouldn't. I know how easily my stomach is led to eating when I don't really need the fuel. I know how easily my mouth can go to gossip and slander. I know how easily I move to laziness when I should be working to earn the salary I am paid each month.

Yes, let us groan about the abominations before us, but let us start with those we see in our own lives, amen?

1 comment:

tom sheepandgoats said...

Are we upset because we want to feel good about not doing what we see others doing? Or are we upset because we realize how much sin grieves God?

I like this point, Jason. And it's not only grief to God, but the damage done to his reputation due to misconduct of those who would claim to be his people.

And, as you say, the focus is on God, rather than any personal inconvenience we may suffer because of an ungodly climate. They are "sighing and groaning," after all, not "bitching and complaining."

JWs have long linked this scripture with several others as foreshadowing the same group:

1) the ones sighing and groaning (Ezek 9)
2) ones forshadowed by Jehonadab, who takes a decisive and public stand for God's judgement
3) the "other sheep" of John 10:16, who Jesus unites with his main fold
4) the great crowd of Revelation 7:9, who come out of the great tribulation and ascribe their salvation to God and the Lamb.

These, in our view, are the ones who survive on earth after God has removed those who oppose, and after Kingdom rule has taken effect. It is when his kingdom has "come," and his will is done "on earth, as it is in heaven."