Laodicea and Ephraim
By Chris Josephson (written in Jerusalem)
“…the judgment of God is according to truth…the day of wrath [is the] revelation of the righteous judgment of God…” (Romans 2:2, 5).
Lately I’ve been in contact and dialog with both Jews and Christians concerning the “Lost Tribes”, commonly called “Ephraim” because that tribe was prominent in the northern kingdom of Israel. From the word and historical events we know Ephraim was scattered throughout the world and is therefore among Christians everywhere. Ephraim makes up one of the two sticks described as coming together in Ezekiel 37.
We Christians are known for being anxious to take all the blessings and heap the judgments on Israel. But if we believe we are “Ephraim” there are a lot of lessons to be learned from prophecies concerning him.
For the moment, let us forget about any margin of disagreement we may harbor concerning this teaching and lay the present Church Age (whether we call it “Ephraim” or “Gentile Church”), described in the book of The Revelation, alongside the history of Ephraim’s judgment.
Recently reading the Book of Amos with this parallelism in mind, I was shaken to the core. Since these things happened to Israel for our example (I Cor. 10:11), let’s apply it to US.
Just listen to this: “Hear this word that the LORD hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying, You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish [visit upon] you for all your iniquities. Can two walk together except they be agreed?” (Chapter 3:1-3)
“Seek the LORD, and ye shall live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph [Ephraim/Church] and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Bethel [House of God]. Ye who turn judgment to wormwood and leave off righteousness in the earth . . . They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly. Forasmuch therefore as your treading is upon the poor, and ye take from him burdens of wheat: ye have built houses of hewn stone [for yourselves upon the backs of the poor], but ye shall not dwell in them; ye have planted pleasant vineyards, but ye shall not drink wine of them. For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: they afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate from their right” (Amos 5:6,7,10-12).
“Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing, and knowest not that thou art wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” (Rev. 3:17,18). Therefore, He will blow with His Spirit and the Laodicean Age church will be gone!
Some who are proclaimed to be ministers of God are bleeding the poor and needy who are seeking for Truth. Ministries of the Laodicean church today are upstaging the very Truth of God in the public’s eye. We have even heard followers say that such and such a minister’s writings should be in the Bible! Worship of man abounds.
And why the craze and over-emphasis on escaping tribulation and leaving Israel and the rest of the world to the 666? Verse 18 of Amos 5 says, “Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! To what end is it for you? The day of the LORD is darkness, and not light.”
Is judgment so sure that ‘the prudent [can only] keep silence for it is an evil time’? (V. 13).
“Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph” (Verse 15).
God is not pleased with our self-proclamations of “king’s kids” and “I have MY rights”. With conventions that show off the talents of this and that one and devour the poor to do it! Verse 21: “I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell [your ‘offerings’] in your solemn assemblies.”
Verses 23 & 24: “Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.” And verse 26, “. . . the star of your god which ye made to yourselves.”
Love of ME
Often Christ is twisted to our own liking. “Oh, He LOVES me, He wouldn’t send evil upon me. He wants me to be wealthy” etc. Instead of being conformed to His image, we try to make Him like us!
Chapter 6:1, “Woe to them that are at ease in Zion [a name Christians often claim], and trust in the mountain of Samaria [home of Ephraim], which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came.” What country is chief of the nations whose door has swung wide to the lost sheep of Israel?
The Laodicean church today has many golden calves who say she is rich and has need of nothing. The “calves” compete with the world’s entertainment Loud religious music blasts out one’s ear drums while they “chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of music [and claim to be] like David.” But is it really like him?
Over-eating and drinking, over-grooming with flashy clothing, thigh-and-breast revealing dresses (in both Judaism and Christianity), all proclaiming the carnal nature: “That drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph” (Verse 5).
God says, “I abhor the excellence of Jacob [read “Ephraim” or “The Church”], and hate his palaces.” He will, therefore, “deliver up the city [the pagan city, represented by Babylon] with all that is therein” (Verse 8).
What are we seeking to set forth here is this: Are we wanting Ephraim’s blessings without his judgments?
In chapter 7 of the Book of Amos, twice the expression occurs: “By whom shall Jacob arise? For he is small.” The marginal reading is “Who of (or for) Jacob shall stand?”
The Plunge of the Plumbline
The Prophet Amos was then shown the Lord standing upon a wall with a plumbline [instrument of measure] “set in the midst of my people” (Verses 7-8). For some years now we Bible-believing Christians have been proclaiming ourselves as “watchmen on the walls” (Isaiah 62:6). Are we standing with Him who STANDS upon the wall with the plumbline? Let us examine ourselves by God’s Word – the Plumbline, with which the Spirit of God is always in harmony.
Recently I heard a wonderful sermon here in Jerusalem on the subject of who the Redeemer really is, tracing Him with His people throughout the “Old” Testament [First Covenant, which the speaker pointed out] right on through the Book of The Revelation. After presenting the Lord’s greatness with the evident anointing of God’s Spirit on His Word, the speaker called for heart-searching and repentance. It seemed to me the Spirit of God was calling through this man of God: “Let the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?” (Joel 2:17).
At the time, the nation of Israel was (and still is) in crisis which the above verse so plainly depicts. The man of God was calling us to heart-searching repentance in a contrite spirit. But what happened? The “Praise Team” returned to the stage to lead the congregation in praise, song and dance. Because that was the planned agenda?
A portion of the wall of the old city of Jerusalem opposite David’s Village.
Certainly praise, song and dance is included in “time and place for all things”, as Solomon declared. But at this particular time the Plumbline was calling for a somber spirit. “The songs of the Temple will be howling in that day. . .And I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; and I will bring up sackcloth upon all loins, and baldness upon every head; and I will make it as the mourning of an only son, and the end thereof as a bitter day” (Amos 8:3 and 10).
Babylon, not Bible
Song and dance artists who perform with the billing of their carnal training and call it “worship” will be crying and lamenting – wearing sackcloth for flashy costumes and baldness for glamorous wigs – in that bitter day, for the days of famine are upon us. A famine not of bread nor thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. (Amos 8:11)
We’ve heard some even remarking, “Oh, I know what’s in that Bible. I’ve read it through twice”! — the same as saying, “I know ALL there is to know, now I need something that will thrill me!”
But among us are hungry hearts, wandering from ‘sea to sea, and from the north even to the east [looking for something] they run to and fro seeking [not realizing that it is] the Word of the LORD [they are in need of the refreshment it brings] but cannot find it’ (verse 12). Why can’t they find it? Because they are searching among the garbage of the Laodicean Church whose religion is laced with the poison of Babylon.
They can’t find the Bread of Life because Torah (His Basic Teaching) is rejected. Many call, “This is the way” and claim to preach Christ, but it’s a religious substitute – and replacement – for God’s Holy, Life-directing LAWS, which are not merely “suggestions” or “guidelines” or “principles” from which we can pick and choose, but THE WAY OF LIFE by which God (who made this planet and the people who dwell here) intends us to live. “If a man do, he SHALL LIVE [daily] in them.” They are a life-giving, happiness-producing lifestyle.
Prayers for Mercy
This warning of judgment bears down heavily upon me here in Jerusalem. The immediate days are not days of triumph, but of judgment. Throughout the Books of the Prophets, we read of two-thirds being destroyed and out of the ashes one-third rising to restoration. These are not only days to jump and dance for public show, because these are days of awe. Are we fiddling while Israel and all nations are experiencing the fire of God’s wrath on the wicked?
The Spirit of Intercession cries, “Oh, God, in judgment remember mercy,” for there are many Scriptures which tell how God loves Jacob/Ephraim/Joseph – and His “church” called out from the nations.
Vineyards on the Mount of Blessings. “Thou shalt yet plant vines upon the
mountains of Samaria: the planters shall plant, and shall eat them as common
things. For there shall be a day, that the watchmen upon the mount Ephraim
shall cry, Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto the Lord our God,”
So also Amos, at the conclusion of his Book, gives hope of restoration: “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen . . . all the heathen which are called by my name. . . And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards and drink the wine thereof: they shall also make gardens and eat the fruit of them.
“And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God” (Amos 9:11-15).
And the crowning message to the Laodicean church age is, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and will sup with him and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame and am set down with my Father in his throne.
“HE THAT HATH AN EAR, LET HIM HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT SAITH UNTO THE CHURCHES” (Rev. 3:19-21).
Thank God for the ministries who not only have worship and praise among themselves, but whose chief agenda is to be of practical help to the people and Land of Israel. It is for this purpose some of us are looking forward to an “Ephraim and Judah Conference” in the present Capital of Samaria, the city of Ariel. Next Spring, with days in Samaria, Galilee and Judea (Jerusalem and Hebron), God willing, I will be leading a Bible Light tour with this in mind. Final plans will be in place soon for 10 or 12 days, with the cost hopefully not far from $2,000.
Also, God willing, we’ll be having another mini-conference here in Ottawa this Fall. Watch for the announcement. -