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…