'Those Who Sigh and Groan' Francis Frangipane
The true church is a child in the womb of God; what the Almighty feels affects us. We absorb into our spiritual DNA the great loves of God: His passions become our passions. Yet there are also things that the Lord hates. Without becoming self-righteous, we must allow ourselves to feel the Lord's hatred for sin and injustice. That is, we must receive into our spirits His attitude concerning the unrestrained advance of hell in our world.
I am thinking of Ezekiel. The prophet was commanded to walk through sinful Jerusalem and take note, not only of its perversity, but those who were repelled and distressed by it. In fact, the Lord said to Ezekiel, "Go through the midst of the city . . . and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst" (Ezek. 9:4).
There is too much tolerance in the church today. We are too accommodating of things that the Word of God condemns. When abominations are being mainstreamed into the consciousness of the church and it doesn’t trouble us, something is wrong in our conscience. Yes, there is a godly tolerance that is patient with human frailties, and true, we can compromise in many peripheral issues as we reach to a greater good, but we must not lose the power of our convictions. When hell advances and sin is celebrated, we must not retreat into a passive tolerance. We cannot say we carry within us the heart of God and yet be silent concerning the evil in our world.
The Lord continued His word to the prophet saying judgment would come to all except anyone “on whom is the mark” (Ezek. 9:6). Remember, the “mark” identified those who felt the passions of God concerning evil. I know that many of us have lived with heartache concerning the sins of our society. What once was expressed in outrage by many has now become barely a whisper of inner vexation.
Yet concerning those who compromise, who don’t sigh and groan, the Lord told Ezekiel to “start [the judgment] from My sanctuary" (v. 6). As church leaders, as pastors and intercessors, as fathers and mothers, we must not be afraid to express our heartache and distress over sin. We must stand up and push back against evil -- caring about what happens in our inner cities and schools, and refusing to ingest the slime that parades in our world as entertainment.
Jesus said, "Blessed are they that mourn" (Matt. 5:4). If the church today isn't a revelation of the heart of Christ, even in mourning over wickedness, then we are positioning ourselves outside the passions of God. Remember the Lord’s rebuke to the church in Thyatira, that they tolerated the woman Jezebel (Rev. 2:20). It is the tolerance that puts us at risk. The Mark of the Cross The Lord told Ezekiel to put a mark on the forehead of those who were distressed about the abominations in their world. The Hebrew word for this designated "mark" was the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, "tau." Its symbol was that of a cross without the top, similar to our letter "T." In fact, this sign was often used in first century Christianity as the symbol of the cross. Looking at it from God's eternal perspective, it was as though the Lord said to Ezekiel, essentially, "Put a cross on the foreheads of those who grieve over sin."
As far as we know, the word the Lord spoke to the prophet was never fulfilled in Ezekiel’s lifetime; it never manifest as a physical reality. As best as we can tell, no one prior to Israel's exile to Babylon was physically marked on the forehead with the sign of a tau; no one was slain who hadn't groaned and sighed.
Yet the Book of Revelation declares that prior to the judgments of tribulation the Almighty shall send forth His angels, and they will seal the bondservants of God. The seal or "mark" on their foreheads shall identify them and protect them during times of judgment and plagues. This seal of God shall be a shield of immunity in the days ahead. There are many interpretations of what this mark will actually be, but I wonder if God is still seeking to identify those who have not grown comfortable, those who still "sigh and groan" over the abominations of their land?
Dear friends, let me speak perfectly clear: too many of us are entertained by things we should weep over. God destroyed the world during Noah's day because of violence, yet we sit in front of television screens and are amused by it. We see tragedies on newscasts and are hardly affected. Of course, the Lord does not want us to be unthankful, unbelieving, nor focused only upon what is wrong, for much is good, and in many places Heaven too is advancing. We must walk in the full bloom of the fruit of the Spirit. Yet a portion of our hearts, that which feels the Lord’s passions, must be free to express our grief to God in prayer.
One last thing: I believe we could see major breakthroughs in the upcoming years, but we will need to let ourselves feel again the heartache of God. Even now, the angels of God are marking those who sigh and groan.