Should You Then Possess?

by Earl Roberts on April 21, 2013


Should You Then Possess?
Some Thoughts on Revival
Rev Earl E. Roberts
Sunday 21st April 2013


The year was 585 BC; two years after the Babylonian armies had completed their destruction of Judah with the sack of Jerusalem.  

The prophet Ezekiel had been one of the exiles who had been deported to Babylon some 12 years before.  Upon receiving a first-hand report from a survivor, the Spirit of the Lord spoke through him:

Now the evening before the man arrived, the hand of the LORD was on me, and he opened my mouth before the man came to me in the morning. So my mouth was opened and I was no longer silent.

Then the word of the LORD came to me: "Son of man, the people living those ruins in the land of Israel are saying, 'Abraham was only one man, yet he possessed the land. But we are many; surely the land has been given to us as our possession.' Therefore say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Since you eat meat with the blood still in it and look to your idols and shed blood, should you then possess the land? You rely on your sword, you do detestable things, and each of you defiles his neighbor's wife. Should you then possess the land?'  Eze 33:22-26
Standing on the Promises?

In the plight of those refugees who were left behind in the land of Israel, I saw a parallel with the Church.

In the face of all evidence to the contrary (defeat and deportation) they were standing on the promise, which God had made to Abraham:
All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever.  Gen 13:15
They were, at first blush, people of unshakeable faith who believed in revival.  Closer scrutiny, however, reveals that their lives bore no resemblance to the life of faithful Abraham despite their citation of his godly example.
The LORD Speaks
The Israelite survivors, like so many of us in Church today, were confident of revival, correctly citing precedents of past revivals, while at the same time living careless and ungodly lives.
The word of the LORD came to Ezekiel in vv. 25 & 26 revealing to him and to the Church some of the reasons why revival tarries.
1.     They were living in ruins in the Promised Land. (v.24)
They were in the church, members of the body of Christ, yet living lives of spiritual poverty. Worse yet, they were too blind to see their lack.
2.     Their confidence was in their numbers (…we are many; surely the land has been given to us...) (v.24)
We are obsessed with numbers; God – not so much. We tend to measure the accuracy of our walk with God by the number of our adherents. It ain’t necessarily so. Remember Gideon and his 300!
One of my favorite scripture verses is Hebrews 11:12:
And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
God does not need multitudes to initiate revival nor to validate a move of His Spirit. He will use one man, and a dead one at that!
3.     They saw no need for the atoning blood (…you eat meat with the blood still in it...) (v.25)
The Israelites were commanded not to eat blood. Blood was to be used for the sacred purpose of atonement for our sin. Eating meat with the blood showed a disregard for the righteousness of God and a cavalier attitude toward our own sinfulness.
For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life… That is why I have said to the Israelites, "You must not eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood; anyone who eats it must be cut off."  Lev 17:11, 14
How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? Heb 10:29
4.     They were involved in idolatry (you…look to your idols…) (v.25)
We in the evangelical Church do not build graven images, but we do purchase them.  In our pursuit of the next move of God we must be willing to be parted from those things which we hold near and dear; things which sometimes (if we are honest) could take the place in our hearts which God rightfully reserves for himself.
5.     They engaged in internecine warfare (you...shed blood…) (v.25)
Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:19 that there must be differences among us, but here we are not contemplating mere differences.  This is take-no-prisoners, brother against brother, scorched earth bloodshed.  The great shame of the Church is that our war on each other is usually over non-essential peculiarities and preferences of our own group. As long as the body of Christ is busy shedding each other’s blood, there can be no revival.
6.     They relied on their natural strength (You rely on your sword…) (v.26)
Revival requires that we come to wholly rely on the Spirit of God rather than on our programs, our financial influence and our giftedness.
This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty.  Zec 4:6
7.     They engaged in witchcraft (you do detestable things...) (v.26)
A question for you Evangelical church members. Have you checked your horoscope today?
He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced divination, sought omens, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the LORD, arousing his anger.  2 Kin 21:6
He followed the ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire, engaging in the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites.  2 Kin 16:3
8.     They paid lip service to sexual purity (each of you defiles his neighbor’s wife…) (v.26)
God’s standard for sexual relations has not changed. Social standards and mores change, but God does not. A sexed-up Church is a candidate for removal from God’s presence, not revival in His Spirit.
Through the mouth of the prophet Ezekiel, the Lord asks the Church today the same question He asked the remnants of Israel back then:
In the face of your willful blindness, “should you then possess the land?”25.  In the face of your egregious sin, “should you then possess the land?”26 The answer to both questions is a resounding, “NO!”
I believe in revival on Cape Cod.  I believe that there will be a move of God’s Spirit in our lifetimes.
I will know that revival is here when the greater part of those who name the name of Christ, those who call themselves Christians, begin to live their daily lives as Disciples of Christ.
The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. Acts 11:26b
Rev Earl E. Roberts
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