ANSWERING GOD'S CALL By Pastor Max Solbrekken, D.D. An unseen, fearful and devastating battle has been raging for millennia! It could rightly be called the 'Battle of the Ages', because that is exactly what it is! This battle is being fought in the heavenlies, as well as on earth! It is between God and the devil, good and evil, right and wrong, the angels and the demons! The prize in this immense conflict is the souls of humanity, the billions of members of Adam's fallen race!
In order to rescue 'fallen man', Almighty God initiated a very elaborate sacrificial system to redeem the descendants of Adam and Eve, who were created in His "image and likeness". After the fall of our first parents, God set the precedent of 'animal sacrifice' as the means of meeting the demands of divine justice and bring man back into fellowship through the forgiveness of sins!
Because of the
seriousness of the offence, God had pre-determined that He would intervene in
the conflict by sending His only begotten Son - Jesus Christ our Lord - to
purchase our freedom and privileges as His children! His Son would be incarnated (God in human flesh) so that He could bear our penalty and pay the price of our redemption through the shedding of His pure and perfect blood!
The Holy Bible records: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:16, 17)
The Church was born on the Day of Pentecost - after Jesus' death and resurrection - when God poured out His Holy Spirit upon 120 disciples in Jerusalem! The Church is the body of Christ, a living organism with Jesus Christ as Head, and the Holy Spirit as His representative upon this earth! Since that day, our Heavenly Father has effectively used the Church in His battle to free lost humanity and place them in His Kingdom, by receiving His Son as their Lord and Saviour!
1. GOD LOOKED FOR A MAN!
“And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before Me for the land that I should not destroy it: But I found none. Therefore have I poured out My indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; their own ways have I recompensed upon their heads., saith the Lord God.” (Ezekiel 22: 30 – 31)
God states: "I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before Me for the land..." In order to stave off judgment against His own people because of their evil, pernicious and sinful ways (verses 23 - 29), the Almighty looked for someone to STAND IN THE GAP, to make up the hedge, to be a mediator between Himself and a sinful people, so that He wouldn't have to destroy them!
"But" states the Lord, "I FOUND NONE"!
"Therefore have I poured out Mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath: their own ways have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord God." (verse 31)
God is still looking for men to stand in the GAP, to make up the HEDGE, to INTERCEDE before His throne for a lost and dying humanity! We realize that there was only ONE Who could be the ultimate Mediator between God and man, Who could BRIDGE the Gap between sinful mankind and a Thrice -Holy God, and that Person is Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God!
He is still looking for bridge builders, intercessors and soul winners, as followers of the MASTER and ambassadors of His glorious Kingdom!
2. HE SAW THAT THERE WAS NO MAN!
The Bible says: "And the Lord saweth it, and it displeased Him, that there was no judgment. God saw that there was NO man, and He WONDERED why there was NO intercessor! In Ezekiel we see God searching for a man to stand in the gap, to make up the hedge, and here we see that He did not find anyone!
The most extraordinary truth is that God wants to involves us in His great work of salvaging humanity from destruction, death and hell! And that He is still looking for people who really care, to be intercessors and ambassadors for His great cause!
It is almost unthinkable that the great God Who created this world and all of us, would WONDER why we are so uninterested in His Redemptive plan! After searching heaven and earth for someone to intercede, someone to stand in the GAP, His own arm brought salvation!
And when Jesus hung on Calvary's cross between two thieves - dying as a common criminal - He took the hand of God in one hand and the hand of man in the other, and brought God and Man together at the CROSS!
Since Jesus has done so much for us, can we not obey His Great Commission to carry His Name, His Word and His Gospel to the ends of the earth, thereby helping to build His Great Kingdom in the hearts and lives of men and women?
The Bible says: "Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission for sin" (Heb. 2: 22); "It is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul." (Lev. 17: 11); "If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sins." (I John 1: 7)
2. RUN THROUGH THE STREETS!
“Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it.” (Jer. 5:1)
God told Jeremiah to run to and fro throughout the streets of Jerusalem, searching for an upright man who could execute judgment and seek the truth! If such a man emerged, God promised to spare the city. He said: "And I will pardon it."
Why was God so interested in finding an honest man who would tell the truth and bring people back to righteousness? The only way to stop judgment from falling upon a people who have sinned, is for them to repent and turn back to God! It is a Divine Law!
The entire nation of Israel had sinned. Jerusalem was filled with iniquity and the ‘hammer of God's judgment’ was about to fall. The message of His mercy had to be preached, so there could be a revival! This verse reveals their ungodly state:
"For My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water. " (Jer. 2:13)
The Bible says: "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." (Ezek.18: 20); "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. (Rom. 3: 23); "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life though Jesus Christ our Lord." (Rom. 6: 23)
4. ABRAHAM, THE INTERCESSOR!
And the men (angels) turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the Lord.
“And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt Thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far from Thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from Thee. Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
“And the Lord said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare the place for their sakes. And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes: Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt Thou destroy the city for lack of five? And He said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it’
“And he spake unto Him yet again, and said, Peradventure there be forty found there. And He said, If there be forty found there. And He said, I will not do it for forty’s sake. And he said unto Him, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall be thirty found there. And He said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there.
“And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And He said, I will not destroy it for twenty’s sake.
“And he said. Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And He said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake. And the Lord went His way, as soon as He had communed with Abraham: And Abraham returned unto his place.” (Genesis 18: 20-33)
THE MERCY OF GOD IS SO GREAT!
I’ve often said, “Homosexuals have no better friends than born again Evangelical Christians who hold back God’s judgment.” Christians must triple their prayers for a world lost in depravity and wickedness!
In this Scripture, we see a classic picture of a real Intercessor! Almighty God had come down - in a theophany - to discuss with His servant and friend Abraham, what He must do with the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Abraham was concerned about these two cities, which were targeted for destruction because of their wickedness. And doubtless, he was more concerned for his nephew Lot and his family! Immediately, he began to intercede with the Lord to spare the city of Sodom!
Look at his logic: "And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt Thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? That be far from Thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from Thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?"
As the Lord agreed with his fervent prayer, Abraham continued to press for concessions and mercy for Sodom. Again and again, he pressed for leniency and was rewarded with a resounding, "Yes, I'll spare it for ten's sake."
But there were not ten righteous souls in the city and Abraham finally stopped pleading! He knew that it was over for that wicked city! Oh, how we need more intercessors in the Church to plead with God for our cities and our loved ones!
5. MOSES INTERCEDES FOR THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL
“And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin; and now I will go up unto the Lord; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin.
“And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Oh this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if Thou wilt forgive their sin ---; and if not, BLOT ME, I pray Thee, out of Thy Book which Thou hast written. And the Lord said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against Me, him will I blot out of My book.” (Exodus 32: 30 – 32)
The children of Israel had sinned grievously, while Moses was on the Mount receiving the tablets of stone with the Ten Commandment, written by the finger of God. The Lord was wroth and stated that He would destroy them and make of Moses a great nation.
The prophet plead with the Almighty and in no uncertain terms stated: "Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if Thou wilt forgive their sin --; and if not, blot me, I pray Thee, out of Thy book which Thou hast written." (verses 31, 32)
God changed His mind and did not destroy them. Moses was willing to go to Hell to save the people of Israel. And the Lord listened to his prayer!
6. PAUL WAS WILLING TO GO TO HELL FOR THE JEWS!
“I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according o the flesh. Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.” (Rom. 9: 1-3; 10: 1)
Only two people in the Bible were prepared to go to hell to save the Jewish nation - Moses and Paul.
When I first read this Scripture, I was shocked! It was so powerful, that it did not seem right to me! What was I reading? Was it possible that the great apostle to the Gentiles could have made such a statement? And why did he need five witnesses to prove that he was telling the truth?
He said: “I say the truth, number one; I say it in Christ, number two; I lie not, number three; My conscience bears me witness, number four; So does the Holy Ghost, number five!
What was so heavy duty that he had to use five witnesses to prove that he was telling the truth? Simply this: He had such a burden for the lost souls of his Jewish nation that if it were possible, he would have gone to hell in their place if that would have saved them!
Of course, that was not possible! Only One could save them and His name is Jesus Christ! And remember, the Holy Spirit put that burden on Paul's heart!
7. NO MAN LOOKING BACK!
In closing, a strong word of warning! Jesus didn't make it easy to follow Him. He knew that the way would often be hard, so He encouraged people to count the cost before embarking on the journey with Him!
Growing up on a farm in Saskatchewan, I learned early the wisdom of Jesus’ words about plowing. Whether using horses or a tractor, you had to look straight ahead to make a straight furrow. The message is, make up your mind. Don’t get distracted but keep looking at Jesus at all times!
The Bible says: "And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto Him, Lord, I will follow Thee withersoever Thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head. And He said to another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the Kingdom of God.
"And another also said, Lord, I will follow Thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow and looking back is fit for the Kingdom of God!" (verses 57 - 62)
God is looking for men and women who are totally dedicated, unafraid and consecrated to do His will, regardless of cost! We must not compromise nor look back, but press on for Jesus Christ and His glorious Kingdom! Amen.