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Cry Aloud or Sigh and Cry?

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Cry Aloud or Sigh and Cry?

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As I travel with our Beyond Today team to cities for our America: The Time Is Now! presentations, it is humbling, even marvelous, to watch the faces of new people as they hear a biblical message that both cautions and encourages. We are indeed delivering a warning message.

Sometimes we’re asked about our “warning message.” What is it? The Bible clearly declares: “Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secrets to His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7 Amos 3:7Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he reveals his secret to his servants the prophets.
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). We have that precious prophetic message from the biblical prophets, apostles and even Jesus Himself, which we strongly proclaim today.

But our warning message is far more than a graphic description of the prophesied terrible events that are to come. Our warning message focuses on the consequences of sin, the collective result of breaking or ignoring what God commands all to do. Peter tells us what the outcome, the purpose, of biblical prophecy is: “I now write to you . . . that you may be mindful of the words spoken before by the holy prophets” (2 Peter 3:1-2 2 Peter 3:1-2 [1] This second letter, beloved, I now write to you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: [2] That you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior:
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).

Peter goes on with a description that easily fits with events of our day: “Scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts” (1 Peter 3:3 1 Peter 3:3Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
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). He fearlessly writes that on the prophesied Day of the Lord that the works of man “will be burned up” (1 Peter 3:10 1 Peter 3:10For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:
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).

So what is our present duty? “Therefore, since all these things [of our present age] will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness” (1 Peter 3:11 1 Peter 3:11Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.
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). What should we be doing?

Our warning message centers on what presently makes up humanity’s hearts and minds. It is a warning about sin. It is a warning about what the consequences of what happens when repentance is scorned and sin is championed.

So here we ask: What is God’s will in all of this? Peter tells us: God “is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9 2 Peter 3:9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
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, emphasis added throughout).

What Does This Mean?

Directly quoting Jesus, the apostle John declared: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 John 3:16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
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). We, who are in the Church, are part of the firstfruits (James 1:18 James 1:18Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
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), the first to be called the children of God. As firstfruits, we are today to proclaim and demonstrate God’s way of life, so that our future spiritual brothers and sisters—literally billions of people—will have a tangible warning and witness to know what the terrible consequences are of ignoring the wide-ranging and deliberate purpose of God, which Paul described as “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27 Acts 20:27For I have not shunned to declare to you all the counsel of God.
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, English Standard Version).

In that context we fulfill our calling to “cry aloud and spare not.” Within the power that God gives us, we “tell My people their sins” (Isaiah 58:1-2 Isaiah 58:1-2 [1] Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. [2] Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.
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). This represents a somber and awesome responsibility, one that God describes as fulfilling the role of a spiritual “watchman” (Ezekiel 33:7 Ezekiel 33:7So you, O son of man, I have set you a watchman to the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.
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). If we do not accomplish that purpose to God’s satisfaction, He will hold us accountable (Ezekiel 33:7-9 Ezekiel 33:7-9 [7] So you, O son of man, I have set you a watchman to the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. [8] When I say to the wicked, O wicked man, you shall surely die; if you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at your hand. [9] Nevertheless, if you warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.
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).

As we preach “Thy Kingdom come,” we openly tell of the terrible things that are prophesied to happen. Ours is a daunting work that requires us to stand up and speak with a voice of clarity, a voice that fearlessly declares what will happen, and most importantly, why it will happen.

But even as we deliver this warning message, even as we watch the world fall apart about us, even as millions clamor in anguish, we should also weep. The prophet Ezekiel recorded this remarkable prophecy: “The Lord said to him, ‘Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it” (Ezekiel 9:4 Ezekiel 9:4And the LORD said to him, Go through the middle of the city, through the middle of Jerusalem, and set a mark on the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the middle thereof.
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).

Ancient Jerusalem was already demolished, and Ezekiel was a Jewish captive in Babylon when this was written, so obviously it is prophecy for a time beyond that of 593-571 B.C.

We are not a “prediction organization.” There are many religious organizations which solely focus on prophecy as their mission.

We are blessed by God to be able to see prophetic events coming together. But it is not important to smugly “know” what may or may not happen. What is important is our precious understanding of why these things are happening and how we can share God’s attitude toward coming prophesied events: “As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of wicked people. I only want them to turn from their wicked ways so they can live. Turn! Turn from your wickedness . . . Why should you die?” (Ezekiel 33:11 Ezekiel 33:11Say to them, As I live, said the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn you, turn you from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?
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, New Living Translation).

As He neared the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus Himself passionately reflected this attitude: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37-38 Matthew 23:37-38 [37] O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets, and stone them which are sent to you, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not! [38] Behold, your house is left to you desolate.
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).

Yes, it is devastating to watch the world spiraling down. The Internet drips with unhelpful, caustic sarcasm over the U.S. presidential election. People lash out at total digital strangers over social issues. We read of corruption at the highest level in Brazil, in Syria, in Venezuela, in Russia, in Singapore, and yes, in the United States. We watch people mock and fight.

But we are not to respond in kind!

Again, as Peter declared, as we watch potential prophetic events heat up, “What manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness” (2 Peter 3:11 2 Peter 3:11Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
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).

Do we sigh and cry over the way this world has chosen? Let us look to Paul, as he describes our expected standard of conduct: “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection” (Colossians 3:12-14 Colossians 3:12-14 [12] Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering; [13] Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do you. [14] And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfection.
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).

Yes, God commissioned His Church to thunder a warning message. Indeed, we must “cry aloud and spare not.” But as we do, it must be based on an understanding of “what manner of persons ought you to be” as we sigh and cry over the needless abominations manifested during these last days of this present evil age. 

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