Wednesday, August 24, 2016

WICKED CISTERNS

Octagonal Roman Cistern
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2Ch 7:14)

“WICKED” is one of those loaded, or pregnant, or heavy words in our language.

Let’s be sure we are all on the same page. There was a time (maybe still is) when this word got swapped around to mean the exact opposite of its original intent.
It became “wicked good.” “That’s bad” actually meant “awesomely good.”

This NOT the way I am using the word in this article.

It is defined as— 
  • evil or morally wrong. "a wicked and unscrupulous politician"
  • intended to or capable of harming someone or something. "he should be punished for his wicked driving"
  • informal extremely unpleasant. "despite the sun, the wind outside was wicked"
The Hebrew word so translated in this verse is defined by Strong’s as “bad or evil.”

If we are going to use this verse from the Old Testament (2 Chron. 7:14) to apply to God’s people today (Christians), then we will have to admit the possibility of wickedness among us.

Easier said than done.

For the most part it seems to me that we readily admit of “wickedness”—in the other person—but we dare not admit the same to be in our own life.

When it comes to acknowledging our personal sinfulness, it usually falls into the general euphemistic language of “I repent of not following You like I should,” or some other saccharine-sweet phrase with nothing specific.

While there are numerous individual sins mentioned in the Bible, and plenty of them are noted for believers to forsake within the pages of the New Testament, there is one passage in Jeremiah which sums up the problem for my understanding—
For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. (Jer 2:13)
Not only have we left the Lord, but we have also tried to replace His presence with our own efforts. (That could fill a book in and of itself, but I don’t want to go there.)

It is because of the first part—forsaking the Lord—that we end up doing the second—trying to fill the void with something of our own making. It is because of this that we are looking at the verse from 2 Chronicles 7:14, and the idea of “returning” to the Lord.

I want to return to the statement above about not admitting the sin in our own life, for this goes to the concept, “God’s People,” which we looked at earlier.

Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that maybe you don’t have anything in your life to turn from. You have no deep-seated wickedness with which to deal. There is no gross sin from which you must repent. (It is an assumption, I know; but hang with me on this.)

Do you identify yourself as a Christian? Do you claim to be a part of the people of God?

Let us also assume that you are not like the Pharisee of Luke 18:11—
The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican—
separating yourself from others.

If all that is true, we still need to recognize that we are identified with the sin that is causing the troubling of the land.
Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father's house have sinned. We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses. (Neh 1:6-7)
Nehemiah was not personally guilty of the sin which brought about the captivity, but he identified himself with it by saying that he had sinned in the same manner as those before him.
But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel. (Jos 7:1)
One person, Achan, sinned; but notice that the account reads “the children of Israel committed a trespass…” They were ALL involved in the sin, though they did not commit the sin themselves.

Paul, in writing about the man who was sleeping with his stepmother, said, “…a little leaven leavens the whole lump.” (1 Cor. 5:6) One man was doing the sin, but the whole church was guilty.

Ezra took upon himself the sin of the Israelites in his prayer before the Lord—
And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens. (Ezr 9:6) (read the entire passage of Ezra 9:1-6)
It is time for the people of God (you and me) to quit separating ourselves by pointing our finger at “those other people,” and take on the burden of intercession on behalf of those “others.”
Therefore he said that he would destroy them, had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, to turn away his wrath, lest he should destroy them. (Psa 106:23)
Do we not have the pattern laid out for us to do such a thing?
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2Co 5:21)
You and I can personally fulfill the requirements of 2 Chronicles 7:14 without calling on anyone else to join us.

We can begin to “stand in the gap” for the people of God to turn back His hand of judgement by humbling ourselves, acknowledging our sin as a people, praying and seeking God’s face.


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