I have been reading Jeremiah and Ezekiel lately. Not the lightest of experiences! However, they contain a message of hope. It is however a strange hope. It is the hope of the wrath of God being poured out on His people in a way that satisfies Him, calms Him and causes Him to turn His wrath away and begin a process of restoration. Speaking of His people as an unfaithful bride and the devastation of what the nations will do to her, God says, “So I will satisfy my wrath on you, and my jealousy shall depart from you. I will be calm and will no longer be angry.” (Ezekiel 16:42.) God’s wrath against His people must be satisfied for His anger to be turned away before a sure and certain restoration. Remember, all of this is being said to a nation that had its birth in grace and promise that were there before the Law was given and broken.
When God judges the people He calls His own possession to the extent their survival is impossible save for His action, there is hope, hope based not in God’s people, their reforms or efforts (Josiah’s well intentioned reforms failed), but based on God’s faithfulness to Himself. This is both our fear and our confidence: “He cannot deny Himself.”
I have this strange hope for the Church in Scotland. Judgement is present and deepening. That is why there is hope. The darkest hour is just before the dawn. We have not reached the bottom of the curve as it were, not reached the turning point…but we will…I don’t know when. Some people are confident that the turning point, the Revival, is coming soon. I hope they are right, but I have seen many godly people, closer to God than I am, who have prayed with much more passion than I have consistently done, who have spoken with such conviction and it has not happened. It will happen. Will it happen in my life time? I have no promise from God on that for myself. Will I see it? God knows… but He has birthed this strange hope that the message of Jeremiah and Ezekiel though it was first given to ancient Israel is relevant to the Church in Scotland in our own day. It may be more frighteningly relevant to some congregations, groupings and denominations than others. Some may disappear completely and not be part of the future restoration I know is coming. They will not disappear simply because of being out of touch and irrelevant to their communities, nor because they have not found out the right pattern for their life, nor because of a lack openness to the ministries of Apostles, Prophets and Evangelists to complement the ministries of pastors and teachers, but because of the fixed and unavoidable judgement of God.
On thing is for sure. There will come a day when in a manifest way, God will presence himself among those who are humble, of a contrite spirit and tremble at His Word. To borrow from another prophet, Malachi, there is a day coming after the judgement and through the judgement that will make it obvious that God makes a distinction between those who serve God and those who do not, between the righteous and the wicked. Those that even now in these days fear the Lord and His Word and find themselves talking together about such things will have their names written in a Book of Remembrance before the Lord. “These will be mine in the day when I make up my treasured possession.” That makes me tremble, especially when I hear what is said by some who are regarded as leaders in their church circles who have boldly and with silver tongued eloquence led God’s people to certain departures from the word of God, albeit limited and not total. Before you say it, I am aware of the fingers pointing back at me type of thing. Whenever I write in a tone like this, I ask, “Is it I Lord?”
I believe what I am saying cannot be avoided by prayer. It is fixed. It will happen…
Amen. Well said Kenny. The LORD is going to divide every single denomination, church, and even family, between those who love Him, and those who do not…THEN His Bride will preach HIS Gospel, “in Spirit and in Truth”. A time of harvest and tribulation. Then the End will come, and the LORD will return.
I’ve heard stories numerous times how evangelicals in the CoS 20+ years ago were adamant the ‘tipping point’ was coming soon. Going by the past 10 years in the CoS, the tipping point is further than ever.
However, I think the demographic timebomb is likely to hit in the next decade – with huge numbers of (mainly liberal) congregations being forced to close or unite due to their being few large givers, very few active members, and no new blood.
I read an interview with an infamous CoS liberal minister recently. His last sentence in this reply is telling:
Q: In what ways, during your ministry, has institutional religion changed?
A: I suppose the word ‘decline’ covers it. Less folk attending worship, less baptisms, less marriages in church; and with this numerical fall, an inevitable drop in resources to sustain ministries and keep church buildings open. Although I must say, as a liberal Christian, the only area of growth that seems to buck the trend is an increase in those concurring with what I would call a conservative or fundamentalist religion.
… Yet, they continue to teach extremely liberal theology, despite the obvious implications.
When I started my theology degree and being a student assistant in 1979, one of my professors acknowledged then that conservative evangelical churches were growing, and obviously so. However, such people, wherever their herts may be with the Lord, and only he knows that not me, find a way of avoiding the truth of things. He said it was because in uncertain times conservative evangelicals gave easy certainties, in fact the phrase was “simplistic and easy certainties.” Not sure why such folks can’t seem to see the bible offers quite lot of certainties, nice promises and not so nice promises etc., that are really clear and easy to understand and which God will keep.