The following article arose out of my readings on the Sabbath Day past.
I thought that I would share my thoughts with you.
I have also included an audio recording of me reading the article. There ought not to be too many differences between the two!!
The Lord bless you all richly,
IDENTIFYING OURSELVES WITH THE LORD
“Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face against mount Seir, and prophesy against it,” Ezekiel 35:1-2.
One of my Bible readings for Lord’s Day, 2nd October, was Ezekiel chapter 35. I noted what it was the Lord said to Ezekiel in the opening verses and thought to myself that:—
I. GOD’S SERVANTS ARE REQUIRED TO BE AGAINST THOSE THE LORD IS AGAINST!
This is surely the implication of the words: “Set thy face against mount Seir” when considered in the light of the opening words of the Lord’s message to mount Seir, or the land of Edom. “And say unto it, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O mount Seir, I am against thee, and I will stretch out mine hand against thee, and I will make thee most desolate,” verse 3.
To be God’s servant in this day likewise requires a man to :—
1. Publicly manifest our opposition to that which the Lord is against. To do that we must be acquainted with God’s view on the ways and practices of men around us. We must be familiar with the Lord’s view of the conduct of our fellows in this age. Wickedness can ‘creep up’ on Christians and become accepted as being of no real harm. The devil loves to ‘creep’, Jude 4. He turns the heat up slowly so that few notice the change. It cannot be denied that there is much that is found acceptable to Christians today that was repudiated by previous generations. Conduct, lifestyle, behaviour, practices that are easily engaged in by many Christians today would have been utterly shunned by our forebears as totally unacceptable ways for a Christian to act.
The reason for that is IGNORANCE of God’s Word, a blasé attitude toward what the Lord states clearly in His Word. Jeremiah asks the question: “Have ye forgotten the wickedness of your fathers, and the wickedness of the kings of Judah, and the wickedness of their wives, and your own wickedness, and the wickedness of your wives, which they have committed in the land of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem?” Jeremiah 44:9.
May that not be asked today? That which was condemned in others a generation ago by our fathers is sadly, the common practice of all too many professing believers today!
We cannot serve the Lord or be His witnesses while such is our behaviour and attitude.
2. For Ezekiel to ‘set his face against mount Seir’ he must share God’s mind and attitude to that land and its ways. Paul exhorts us to “ Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus,” Philippians 2:5. That is a most telling exhortation. Basically we are to ‘think’ as the Lord Jesus Christ thinks. We are to hold His perceptions of the ways of men. We can only have such a mind in us by closely studying that revelation of Christ’s mind that is given in His Word.
Peter had a very serious difference of opinion with the Lord Jesus on that infamous occasion recorded in Matthew 16:23. “But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” The word ‘savourest’ is the same word translated ‘mind’ in Philippians 2:5. Peter erred because he was not of the same ‘mind’ as the Saviour on the subject of His death and resurrection, verse 21.
Being unaware, unacquainted with the mind of Christ as revealed in His Word will cause us to think and act in total opposition to His will and mark us as savouring “not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”
That will set us in direct opposition to the Lord. How then can we hope to serve Him?
3. To ‘set’ your face against that which the Lord is against, entails a very public manifesting that you share the Lord’s view of things. What cowards such a requirement has made of many Christians? We tend to curl our lip at the disciples whose words are recorded in John 6. “Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? . . . . . From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?” John 6:60-61, 66-67.
On this occasion Peter had the mind of Christ and was able to answer the Lord’s question on behalf of his fellow apostles. “Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” John 6:68-69.
Peter and his companions did not join in the drift away from the Saviour. They were not offended by His words. Rather, they saw His words to be “the words of eternal life.”
To hold this view of God’s Word will enable us to unashamedly own it and stand boldly for it. It will enable us to declare with Paul: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek,” Romans 1:16.
Who is it would not wish to be in such company?
Please also notice that:—
II. EZEKIEL WOULD HAVE KNOWN LITTLE OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE LORD AND EDOM WERE IT NOT FOR WHAT THE LORD TOLD HIM.
I believe we can say that the Lord was against Edom for a three-fold reason.
1. It was against His people. “Therefore, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will even do according to thine anger, and according to thine envy which thou hast used out of thy hatred against them; and I will make myself known among them, when I have judged thee,” verse 11.
Men do not realise just how offensive to the Lord is their opposition toward His people. They mock, sneer at, miscall and slander the Christian with the encouragement and to the enjoyment of all. But see how it brought down God’s most severe judgment on Edom. With ‘anger’ the Lord would deal with mockers!
Of course, it must be noted that Christians often are at fault in that their behaviour, marked by unfaithfulness and hypocrisy, prompts the enemy to mock and sneer. Sadly, today there have been all too many occasions when the profession of Christianity has not fitted well with the actions and conduct of many, especially those engaged in public life. I need not rehearse the occasions when that has been so. Those who have acted so as to give grounds for mockery will give their own account to the Lord. It was so with David. “Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die,” 2 Samuel 12:14.
2. Edom also was against the land given to Israel by the Lord. “And thou shalt know that I am the LORD, and that I have heard all thy blasphemies which thou hast spoken against the mountains of Israel, saying, They are laid desolate, they are given us to consume,” verse 12.
We may learn from this. In the wonderful providence of God, the nation of Israel had come to possess the Holy Land. In many ways this was a unique event. However, it may also be said that in the superintendence of God over the affairs of the nations, they have come to possess territories He, in His wisdom, has allocated to them. “And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation,” Acts 17:26.
I believe that as we look back on the history of the Protestant people in Ulster, we may see the hand of God ‘appointing’ this land for us. The events in the 17th century, the ‘Ulster Plantation’, the revival amongst our forefathers just after that event and the rebellion by the Roman Catholic Irish, all give us indications of the divine will in that matter. There have been successive attempts, attended by the most cruel terrorism, to deprive the Ulster Protestant of the land God gave them. The ‘native Irish’ would claim it is theirs and we have no right to it since it was taken by invasion! They forget of course, that the so-called ‘native Irish’ are in truth no such thing but invaders who drove out the former occupants! They are as we are, occupants of a land granted to them by divine providence! Indeed, it can be argued that the ‘native Irish’ actually originated in Scotland!!
But the main point to remember is that in the purpose of God our forefathers were brought to this land and to them was granted many gospel blessings by which a wonderful distinction was established between Ulster and the other parts of Ireland. That ‘distinction’ is what, in truth, stirs the animosity of Irish Republicans. It has fomented the terrorism mounted against the Ulster Protestant and it is ongoing today. We see Sinn Fein representatives celebrating the terrorist slaughter which took place in recent times with frequent public gatherings at the graves of those who met their deaths while engaged in acts of murder in the name of the ‘Provisional IRA’.
I cannot help but think that the words of Psalm 44 have some bearing on the experience of the Ulster Protestant. “We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what work thou didst in their days, in the times of old. How thou didst drive out the heathen with thy hand, and plantedst them; how thou didst afflict the people, and cast them out. For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favour unto them,” verses 1-3.
Such enmity against Ulster has not gone unnoticed by Heaven! It is true that we stand to lose our heritage because of the turning from God by ‘Protestantism’ under the leadership of the false shepherds of Ecumenism and liberal and modernistic ‘Christianity’ and their endeavours to reunite with Romanism. But that does not absolve the wickedness of Irish Roman Catholicism and its support of IRA terrorism.
Israel had greatly sinned in the days of Ezekiel. Ezekiel himself was a captive in the land of Babylon as a result of the apostasy of the nation. Ezekiel, like Jeremiah and Daniel and many others, had not been guilty of apostasy but they suffered with the nation nevertheless.
3. Being against God’s people and being against the land of Israel meant that Edom was against the Lord. The Lord identifies very much with the people of Israel. He said to Moses: “And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt,” Exodus 3:7-10.
Let us remember those solemn and significant words of Zechariah. “For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye,” Zechariah 2:8.
Significantly, Isaiah the prophet wrote: “For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old. But they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them,” Isaiah 63:8-10.
In like manner the Lord speaks of the land of Israel as His possession. The next chapter to the one we are considering contains these words. “Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Surely in the fire of my jealousy have I spoken against the residue of the heathen, and against all Idumea, which have appointed my land into their possession with the joy of all their heart, with despiteful minds, to cast it out for a prey. Prophesy therefore concerning the land of Israel, and say unto the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I have spoken in my jealousy and in my fury, because ye have borne the shame of the heathen: Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; I have lifted up mine hand, Surely the heathen that are about you, they shall bear their shame,” Ezekiel 36:5-7.
With these words before us let us, in the midst of today’s spiritual turmoils remember that “It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD,” Lamentations 3:26.
Finally, please note that:
III. THOSE THAT FIND THEMSELVES AROUSING GOD’S WRATH HAVE AN ETERNAL PRICE TO PAY.
“Thus saith the Lord GOD; When the whole earth rejoiceth, I will make thee desolate. As thou didst rejoice at the inheritance of the house of Israel, because it was desolate, so will I do unto thee: thou shalt be desolate, O mount Seir, and all Idumea, even all of it: and they shall know that I am the LORD,” verses 14-15.
In the day of Israel’s misery and grief, Edom mocked. In and around the very same times as Ezekiel was declaring this message, Obadiah was echoing his words. “But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress. Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity; yea, thou shouldest not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity,” Obadiah 1:12-13. Nothing could be more certain than Edom’s doom for the Saviour said: “ . . . in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established,” Matthew 18:16.
With what casualness men mock God, His people, His Word and have not the slightest awareness that “That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment,” Matthew 12:36. These again are the words of the Lord Jesus. How wise it would be for men to bear these words ever in mind!
The very things that God holds dear, men love to mock and ridicule and rant against, without the slightest realisation that they will listen to themselves repeat every one of those words before God one day and an account demanded of them why they so wickedly spoke against that which the Lord loved.
They will then learn the meaning of these words! “For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,” Hebrews 10:30-31.
Just how fearful is beyond the comprehension of men. But being incomprehensible does not mean that it is not a reality!
If you are not saved, then irrespective of whether you are amongst those such as the Edomites, mockers of God and His people, you are NOT amongst the people of God!
Repenting of our sins and trusting in the shed blood of Christ to redeem us from the penalty of our sins brings about the most wonderful change in our standing before God.
“That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby,” Ephesians 2:12-16.
Dear reader, if you are not saved do not place your trust in any measure of respect you may have for God or the Bible or His people. Rather, heaven is for those ALONE who have a living relationship with Christ by faith.
Learn from the blind man who was wonderfully healed by the Lord and who was ostracised for his standing up for the Lord, though he was unacquainted with just Who the person was that had healed him.
“The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes. Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. If this man were not of God, he could do nothing. They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out. Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him,” John 9:30-38.
Please learn from this man’s merciful encounter with Christ.
Rev Ivan Foster (Rtd)
5th October 2022