OceanSide church of Christ
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SOME JUST CANNOT BE WARNED
Victor M. Eskew
Words can come back to haunt you. Deeds can bring disastrous consequences. Doctrines can lead one astray from truth. Attitudes can infect one’s soul with poison. Movements can overtake nations. People can influence others to great evils. Nations can adversely affect the course of history.
All of the above statements are true. These things, however, are easy to forget. Thus, it is essential that warnings be issued from time to time about these things. A faithful minister of the gospel understands this and will sound the trumpet call with clarity. Paul did. When Paul reviewed his labors among the Ephesians, he reminded them of his constant warnings. “Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years, I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” (Acts 20:31). He also warned the saints in Corinth. In I Corinthians 4:14, we read: “I wrote not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.” This noble apostle and faithful preacher also issued warnings to his brethren in Colossae. “Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Col. 1:28).
Yes, the faithful minister will seek to warn brethren of many things, things that can put their lives and souls in extreme jeopardy. Unfortunately, some people just cannot be warned. Regardless of how clear and how loud the warnings are, they just refuse to listen. Some will even challenge the warnings and declare that the things being warned against will never come to pass.
The fact that some cannot be warned dates to the very beginning of time. Adam and Eve were warned by God not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:16-17). They, however, could not be warned. Eve partook of the tree, and did eat. She gave also unto her husband, and he did eat (Gen. 3:6). The results were catastrophic. It is interesting that it was Satan who had said: “Ye shall not surely die” (Gen. 3:4). (Keep this point in mind when you have a tendency not to believe the warnings that are being issued).
When Israel was first told to enter the Promised Land, they rebelled. Because of this, God punished them with the Wilderness Wanderings which were to last forty years. When this sentence was passed, the people were sorrowful. They, then, desired to take the land. God warned them not to go (Num. 14:42-43), but they could not be warned. Numbers 14:44 tells us that they “presumed to go up unto the hill top…” The results of their presumptuous efforts are recorded in Numbers 14:45. “Then the Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites which dwelt in that hill, and smote them, even unto Hamah.”
After forty years of struggle in the wilderness, the children of Israel crossed the Jordan River and went to battle against the city of Jericho. When the overthrow of this city was complete, none of the Israelites was to keep any of the spoils of battle. They were to be dedicated to the Lord. The warning against taking the spoils is recorded in Joshua 6:17-19. “And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the Lord: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that were sent. And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, when ye take the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the Lord: they shall come into the treasury.”
One man of Israel just could not be warned. His name, Achan, is known to all. From the spoils he took “a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight” (Josh. 7:21). His sin caused Israel to lose the initial battle at Ai. It also cost Achan and his family their lives. “And all Israel stoned them with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones” (Josh. 7:25).
Both the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel stand as examples of those who could not be warned. Prophets were sent to both nations by God. They exhorted the people to turn from their idolatry and immorality. To Judah, Jeremiah cried, saying: “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place” (Jer. 7:3). Neither Israel nor Judah gave heed to the divine warnings. Thus, both were carried into captivity. Israel was carried away by the Assyrians in 722 B.C. “Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only” (II Kings 17:18). Judah lasted just a little over a century longer than Israel. She, however, could not be warned either. She continued in her rebellion against the Lord. Thus, the Babylonian armies carried the southern kingdom into captivity beginning in 606 B.C. The account of the destruction of Jerusalem and captivity of the people is found in II Kings 25. The last sentence of II Kings 17:21 tell us: “So Judah was carried away out of their land.”
The citizens of the United States, members of the precious church of our Lord, and individual Christians are much like those of old who could not be warned. Warnings are constantly being sounded by faithful servants of God. They cry aloud about many things: immorality, denominationalism, materialism, communism, socialism, liberalism, Islam, pride, compromise, lukewarmness, and a host of other things. They, like the prophets of old, are not heard. They are rejected. They are laughed at, ridiculed, and sometimes persecuted. People just do not believe that evil can prevail. They do not believe that nations can be overthrown, especially the United States. They do not think the church can be severely persecuted. They do not seem to believe that God will punish the evildoers. They are much like the inhabitants of Judah to them these words were proclaimed: “To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? Behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the Lord is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it” (Jer. 6:10).
Yes, some people just cannot be warned. They will hold to their foolish imaginations. They will trust in lying words. They will reject the examples of the past. They will stop their ears to the cries of the watchmen among us. My friends, the Lord exhorts us, saying: “Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, wherein is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls” (Jer. 6:16a). Please, we beg you, don’t do as Judah did, and reply: “We will not walk therein” (Jer. 6:16b). Please, give ear to the warnings of the watchmen upon the walls.