Once upon a time, in the day of the prophet Ezekiel, the city of Jerusalem was in great sin, with many abominations being committed in it. God called for a man and said to him:
Ezekiel 9:4 “Pass through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it.”
And he said to six executioners:
Ezekiel 9:5 “Pass through the city after him, and strike. Your eye shall not spare, and you shall show no pity. 6 Kill old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women, but touch no one on whom is the mark. And begin at my sanctuary.” So they began with the elders who were before the house.
So, beginning with the religious leaders at the Temple, God had the executioners pass through the city, killing anybody who had not been sighing and groaning over all the sin.
This is a scary story. What if such a thing happened today in the churches? Today’s churches are disunified with one another, and even within themselves. They harbor one error after another regarding the doctrines of the Bible. They defend the sins of the leaders more than the sins of the members—and they defend the sins of both where God condemns such sins. They depart from the pattern of godly living laid down by scripture, and they do it in the name of God. And as if all this weren’t bad enough already, with very few exceptions, they all love war, promoting and defending the work of the soldier as if he is working for God, and not for the moneymongers.
Among them are very, very few who sigh and groan over these abominations.
So what would you think if God sent a man one day to put a mark on the heads of those few who do sigh and groan over the sad, sad state of the churches, and then killed everybody else in sight?
Would you charge him with being unjust?
Ezekiel questioned God during this killing because it seemed that God was killing off the cherished “remnant” of Israel. Perhaps Ezekiel was surprised at the unsympathetic judgment of God’s reply:
Ezekiel 9:9 “The guilt of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great. The land is full of blood, and the city full of injustice. For they say, ‘The Lord has forsaken the land, and the Lord does not see.’ 10 As for me, my eye will not spare, nor will I have pity; I will bring their deeds upon their heads.”
I suppose that the churches are filled with people who are acting as if “the Lord does not see” what all they are doing and neglecting to do. They are most certainly not expecting God to bring their deeds upon their own heads. No, they erroneously expect him to have unlimited patience with their sin and error, so much so that they needn’t lift a finger to reform anything themselves.
This is why there is not one church, in all the thousands, that is known for correcting its own errors when they come to light. No, they all persist in them instead.