Those Who Sigh and Groan

By 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. However, there are things that He also hates. Without becoming self-righteous, we must allow ourselves to feel the Lord's hatred for sin and injustice; we must receive into our spirits His attitude concerning violence, abuse and abortion.

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 affected adversely by it. "And the Lord said to him, "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."

There is a great tolerance in the church today. Instead of serving the passions of God, we serve a "philosophy" called Christianity. The ability to intellectualize and define right and wrong has masqueraded as obedience. Tolerance and compromise are now esteemed as virtues; to possess strong convictions is to be labeled extreme. Hear me, beloved, God doesn't want us to simply live in the midst of sin; He wants us to sigh and groan over it.

The Lord continued His word to the prophet,
"But to the others He said in my hearing, 'Go through the city after him and strike; do not let your eye have pity, and do not spare. Utterly slay old men, young men, maidens, little children, and women, but do not touch any man on whom is the mark; and you shall start from My sanctuary'" (Ezekiel 9:4-6).

I know that many, in the past, have felt heartache concerning the sins of our society. We have protested abortion, fought it in courts and pleaded with those about to terminate their pregnancies. We have labored much, but gained little. In a quiet retreat from the fire of this heartache, we buried our feelings. Today, we barely hear the whisper of what once was outrage in our hearts. Even when alone before God we have tuned out the voice of our vexation about sin.

Yet, let us be aware that, to Ezekiel, the Lord said, "strike . . . and do not spare" those who do not mourn. And then He warned, "And you shall start from my sanctuary." As leaders, as pastors and intercessors, as fathers and mothers, we must not be afraid to express our heartache and distress over sin. We must care what happens in our schools and what parades as entertainment. We must allow distresses to affect us.

Jesus said, "Blessed are they that mourn." 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. We are drifting toward a religion about God that is void of God.

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."

Although judgment had fallen upon Jerusalem, it occurred prior to Ezekiel's vision. What happened with the prophet was a yet-to-be fulfilled vision, not 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 Revelations declares that prior to the judgments of tribulation, the Almighty shall send forth His angels to seal the bondservants of God. The seal or "mark" on their foreheads shall identify them and protect them during plaques; 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; we sit in front of televisions and are amused by bloodshed. We have allowed our hearts to be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

The Lord does not want us to be unthankful, unbelieving, nor focused only upon what is wrong, for much has been accomplished. But He does desire we reconnect with His heart concerning the evil in our world.

One last thing: I believe we could see major breakthroughs in our society in the next few years, but we will need to let ourselves feel again the heartache of God concerning injustice and sin; we will need to return to the womb of God's passions.