I was reading in the Old Testament book of Jeremiah a couple days ago and once again read a passage that I have read many times; in fact have highlighted as well as partially underlined. This scripture makes a good foundation for a few thoughts that have been running through my mind. The passage is found in Jeremiah 6:16 and reads like this:
“This is what the LORD says: Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls…”
I was listening to one of my favorite preachers the other day and was listening to a multiple part sermon called, “Do you know what time it is?” Chuck was using the quite familiar passage written by King Solomon found in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, where Solomon is writing about there being a time for everything. As part of his sermon he read a poem written by a black preacher in the early 20th century. The poem was really a series of seven sermons titled, “God’s Trombones”, written in verse, and published in 1927, just a handful of years before the author died. The writers name was James Johnson.
I transcribed the verses from my phone and have typed them below. If you can, you will have to imagine yourself in a fair sized black church. For anyone that has been to a typical black church, you know not only is the preacher quite animated when he speaks—usually with a booming, demonstrative voice, but so is the congregation. That is the setting for this reading, and the sermons that came from it.
Please do follow this article clear to the end as there is a reason for using this poem. This is how it goes:
In that great day! In that great day!
God’s gonna rain down fire-
God’s gonna sit in the middle of the air
To judge the quick and the dead
Early one of these mornings,
God’s gonna call Gabriel,
That tall, bright angel Gabriel
And God’s gonna say to him-
Gabriel! Blow that silver trumpet
And wake the living nations-
Gabriel’s gonna ask Him,
LORD, how loud must I blow it?
God’s gonna tell him,
Blow it calm and easy
Then putting one foot on a mountain top
And the other one on the sea
Gabriel is going to stand, blow his horn
And wake the living nations-
Oh sinner! Where will you stand?
In that great day when God’s gonna
Rain down fire-
You gambling man, where you gonna stand?
You whore-mongering man, where you gonna stand?
Liars and back-stabbers, where you gonna stand
In that great day when God’s gonna rain down fire?
God will divide the sheep from the goats-
The one on the right, the other on the left
To the ones on the right He’s gonna say-
Enter into my Kingdom, and those who have come
Through great tribulations and have washed their robes
In the Blood of the Lamb
They’ll enter in, clothed in spotless white
To them on the left, god’s gonna say
Depart from Me into everlasting darkness,
Into the bottomless pit,
And the wicked, like lumps of lead
Are going to start to fall
Headlong for seven days and nights, they’ll fall-
Plummeting to that big, black, red-hot mouth of hell!
Too late sinner! TOO LATE!
Good bye sinner! Good bye!
In hell sinner! In hell
Beyond the reach of the love of God
And I hear a voice crying, crying
Time shall be no more! Time shall be no more
Time shall be no more-
And the sun will go out like a candle in the wind
The moon will turn to dripping blood
The stars will begin to fall like cinders
And the sea will burn like tar
The earth shall melt away and be dissolved
And the sky will roll up like a scroll
With a wave of God’s hand-
He will blot out time
And start the wheel of eternity
Where you gonna stand sinner
When God rains down fire?
I suppose a delivery like this may be way over the top for many in our sophisticated generation. It is likely, just the reading of this poem may have made some uncomfortable. I wonder how many today would write a delivery like this off as an example of an “old time religion” that is not really fitting for our day?
In our “educated” society, people who cling to the “Old Time Religion” are usually viewed as less educated, not quite up to speed for the jet-set today. Likely, they have little people skills, and so, just like the people themselves, their form of religion needs to be cast aside for a much more acceptable, form of practicing religion—if one must do so.
Thank God not all of us think this way. There is something to be said for a walk with God that is not as concerned about how it looks or sounds, as how God Himself sees it. I think this is one of the things we so easily forget. We have a tendency to form our own way of practicing Christianity. Why is it that so many demand God to fit in the pre-packaged box we have made for Him? I’ll explain…
I was reading a short excerpt of a devotional by Kevin Kleint. His subject matter was “The Cult of Nice”. Being politically correct has become a destructive force in our culture—to the point, I don’t know how it will ever be turned around without a societal upheaval, or an act of God! In Seattle, just a few weeks ago, new restrictions were either set in motion, or were about to, that would restrict a person from using the term “brown bag lunch” because it would be degrading to homeless people. Another new politically correct restriction was that the word “citizen” was not going to be allowed anymore because it would be degrading to those who were living in the nation illegally. How absurd! There are many more examples.
How about the church? I believe the church has the problem as well, although in a more damaging way because it results in a spiritual lack. How often do we hear the word “sin” anymore? How about “living in sin?” Who teaches about the “carnal nature” that the Bible says so much about? Do most Christian people even know what “sanctification” is? Does anyone teach about it? How about holiness or repentance? How many churches talk about humbling ourselves before God? The word “righteousness” has even become a word rarely used. There are many more.
Could it be that the church has also become way too accommodating of people’s feelings and sensitivities? Homosexuality and abortion are becoming more and more a “hands off” subject in church. Labeling any sin is hardly acceptable anymore. More and more churches are becoming “seeker friendly” to the point to where the clear lines between black and white have become mostly gray. We don’t want anyone to get their feelings hurt. We don’t want to touch any subjects that might offend. We want to make the church experience a happy one—pretty much at all costs. As a result, the Church is full of sin, corruption, false teachings, moral depravity, and lacking the testimony to the world that the Church is suppose to have. Right has become wrong, and wrong has become right. In short, the Church has become the “Church of Laodicea” that Revelation 3 describes in the last verses of the chapter. The “Church of Philadelphia” described prior to the Laodicean Church is still represented on this earth, but its number is small in comparison.
The “Cult of Nice” that Kevin Kleint spoke of has become predominant in mainline denominations; unfortunately even infecting many full gospel leadership and congregations. “Old Time Religion” represented by James Johnson’s sermon series called “God’s Trombones” calls sin just what it is. A spade is a spade. It’s time that we prize God’s Word above our own feelings! God’s Word tells us if we really love Jesus, we will obey His commandments. In fact, it says that if we claim to love Him and don’t obey His commandments, we are liars and the truth is not in us. Is that too harsh? Not according to God and He is the Judge! Our love for God is defined by our obedience. It is truly a rare church today that will accept the truth of the Word of God.
It is becoming a rare church today to accept the exclusivity of Jesus being the one and only way to God. An increasing number of “Christian” organizations are joining Oprah in her insistence that there can’t possibly be only one way. There must be many ways to God and to heaven! This is why Jesus said that the road to life is a narrow one. The gate is also narrow, whereas the road to destruction is wide and many are on it!
The clock signaling the end of the age is now at 11:59 and none of us have the luxury of waiting any longer in making sure that our eternity has been settled with the God that created us. He is the One that said there is only one way to Him and to life everlasting in His heaven! It is not negotiable.
God is telling His prophets all over the world today that time has run out and He requires humble repentance for the forgiveness of sins. It takes us making the choice to allow Him not only to forgive us, but allow Him to be the LORD of our life. Then, He helps us to live a life the life of holiness which should be the hallmark of God’s people. It is not a life of “do’s” and “don’ts”, but rather a life of following the leading and guidance of the Spirit of God through the increasing chaos on this earth.
I don’t know how to emphasize this enough. We have run out of time! I don’t want to dramatize anything, but I also don’t want to be guilty of not giving the warning that God has burned into my soul. There are very difficult days ahead. I believe that the true followers of Jesus Christ will be pulled from the increasing chaos on this earth just before God’s wrath on this rebellious planet is unleashed, but I believe we are going to see some very big events just prior. These will be like none we have experienced before. When nothing else works, God will use catastrophic events, so as to shock people into realizing things are not normal, and God is the only answer. I’m afraid a great many people will die—many of them who don’t have a clue of what is immediately ahead. The things that we are on the precipice of seeing will leave many wondering why they were so self-absorbed in their own lives and agendas. I also believe that Psalms 91 will apply to those who have an intimate walk with God.
A great many Christian people claim that God is #1 in their lives, but in reality He is #2—or less. Philippians 2:4 says:
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”
Ephesians 5:1 tells us to be imitators of God. Way too many of us who claim Jesus to be the LORD of our lives, love the world and everything it has to offer so much that we hang onto every dime and every possession we have like they’re going to follow us into eternity! There are missionaries who are giving their all, including their very lives. What are we giving? What is our commitment to the One that gave His life for us? We conveniently turn the other direction and head back to our love of the world and its materialism and entertainment.
God does not call all to be missionaries, but He does call all of those who are followers of Jesus Christ the Messiah, to open up our lives, our finances, and everything else we hold dear. He must have Lordship over us, or we really are not serving Him as we claim to be.
I would challenge us all to draw a line in the sand and dedicate everything we hope for, everything we claim as our own, our very future—even while still on this earth under His control; His agenda, not ours. Look for the ancient paths and then walk in them. It’s the only true way to satisfaction in life, and the only way to an eternity in our God’s presence.
Keep Looking Up,