When we are in trouble, when we need help, when we want to be saved from something, we generally turn to good men/ women; don’t we? It is natural for us to take the help of Good Men (I will use the masculine term from here, but it includes Women too). We trust them, we believe they have good intentions and hence they won’t let us down, they won’t cheat us etc. Have you seen the superhero movies like Avengers. A few Good men and women with some super powers get together to save the world. We have the Indian counterparts of Krish and Chotta Bheem. Children especially love Chotta Bheem. Don’t they? We love such stories don’t we? We love such stories because they are about good men and women who make sacrifices to save the world. We wish that such good men and women will be able to solve the problems of the world, problems like Wars, Diseases, Criminals and rapists, Famine etc.
At the spiritual realm, there is a trend to reduce the whole aspect of faith to the battle between the good and the bad and the good ultimately prevailing. There are many world religions that ultimately propound this theory of exalting the Good. The whole world accepts Jesus Christ as a “Good Man”. Actually as long as we put Jesus in the list of Good Men, there is no problem. No one will persecute you. No one will put you in jail, no one will oppose you if you just way that Jesus was a Good man. Is there anything wrong in it? It is a natural question for us to ask. The question that I would like us to ask is not whether being good is a problem. The question that I would like us to ask ourselves this morning is can a few good men save the world? Save us? I would like us to refer to my last sermon here, where we established that we are by ourselves sinners and by ourselves, we cannot escape the wrath of God. We by ourselves cannot escape the sin that is ingrained in us. So can a few good men/ women save us from this certainty of eternal punishment?
Let us look at a few good men from the Bible. Let us look at the Old Testament. The names that will jump at us are that of Moses, Samuel, Noah, Job and Daniel. I am not saying they we “perfect men”. For example Moses killed someone. Samuel also has killed people. But then they killed bad people didn’t they? The superheroes that we spoke about at the beginning of this message also has killed many bad people. So our heroes from the bible were not perfect, but we can still put them in the category of “Good people”. These were righteous men. They did not sin. They did what is right in the eyes of the Lord. They served Him. They were willing to sacrifice everything to obey God. Noah lived in a time when the land was full of sin, but he stood out. He was different. He was righteous and God chose him to give continuity to human race. Moses had his skirmishes with God, but those were all for interceding for others. He was a righteous man. God chose him to bring the nation of Israel together to their homeland and to record the laws for their living. Samuel was faultless, and obeyed the Lord always. God used him to identify and anoint the best King the world has ever seen, in David. Job of course was absolutely faultless to the extent that God was willing to take on a challenge with Satan to make him do something bad. God used him to teach others that God is sovereign and ultimately we are dependent on Him and Him alone. Daniel was true to his faith and stayed true to the faith even in a hostile land under persecution and threat to his own life. God used him to prophesy about the nature of things to come.
These were good men. And so, it is not a bad thing if we trust in them and say that these good men could possibly save me from God’s wrath when I do something wrong. After all, we have read stories of Moses interceding on behalf of the stubborn Israelites many times, and God relenting to his intercession. We have seen Samuel interceding on behalf of the Israelites after they demanded a King over them. We have seen Job interceding for his friends who blasphemed God’s name and nature, and they were spared. So it is OK if I put my hope in these good men to save me from God’s wrath.
Unfortunately for you and me, the message this morning is different.
Let us take Moses and Samuel first.
Jeremiah 15:1-2 (NKJV) Then the LORD said to me, “Even if Moses and Samuel stood before Me, My mind would not be favorable toward this people. Cast them out of My sight, and let them go forth. And it shall be, if they say to you, ‘Where should we go?’ then you shall tell them, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Such as are for death, to death; And such as are for the sword, to the sword; And such as are for the famine, to the famine; And such as are for the captivity, to the captivity.” ‘Read this in continuation of Chapter 14 and you will know the importance of this statement. In Chapter 14, Jeremiah is shamelessly imploring God to spare the people giving him multiple reasons to do so. God’s answer is interesting. He says even if Moses and Samuel Stood before me I shall not spare them from famine, war, diseases and death, imprisonment or living in a land of persecution. Such is the depth of the abominations of the people that God categorically tells them. “Nope, these good men cannot save you. I love my servant Moses, I have great affection for my prophet Samuel, but their intercessions are not good enough to save you from the consequences of your sin.”
OK. We say, let us try the others, we still are left with Noah, Daniel and Job. Why not try them? Can they save us?
Ezekiel 14:12-14 (NKJV) The word of the LORD came again to me, saying: “Son of man, when a land sins against Me by persistent unfaithfulness, I will stretch out My hand against it; I will cut off its supply of bread, send famine on it, and cut off man and beast from it. Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness,” says the Lord GOD.
The Lord is categorically saying that these three men might be able to save themselves, but not others from famine and poverty.
Ezekiel 14:15-16 (NKJV) “If I cause wild beasts to pass through the land, and they empty it, and make it so desolate that no man may pass through because of the beasts, even though these three men were in it, as I live,” says the Lord GOD, “they would deliver neither sons nor daughters; only they would be delivered, and the land would be desolate.
The Lord reiterates that these three good men will not be able to save us from criminals and rapists and thieves and other wild animals that roam the earth. They will be safe because of their righteousness, but they cannot save you and me.
Ezekiel 14:17-18 (NKJV) “Or if I bring a sword on that land, and say, ‘Sword, go through the land,’ and I cut off man and beast from it, even though these three men were in it, as I live,” says the Lord GOD, “they would deliver neither sons nor daughters, but only they themselves would be delivered.
We cannot escape the problem of war because of these good men. Again , they themselves will be spared from problems of a war, but not us, not others.
Ezekiel 14:19-20 (NKJV) 19: “Or if I send a pestilence into that land and pour out My fury on it in blood, and cut off from it man and beast, even though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live,” says the Lord GOD, “they would deliver neither son nor daughter; they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness.”
No. These three good men cannot save us from deadly diseases. They can save themselves but they cannot save anyone else.
Phew!! The message cannot be clearer isn’t it? God repeats it four times using the same three names that we thought could save us. God says, sorry my friend, if you thought these good men can save you, you are mistaken. They cannot save you. At best they can save themselves, but they cannot save you.
That is a disappointing message for the morning. What we are being told is that a few good men and women, a few superheroes, cannot save the world from the doom that is over us because of our sins.
But is there hope? You know the answer. Ezekiel himself provides the answer Ezekiel 21:27 (NKJV) Overthrown, overthrown, I will make it overthrown! It shall be no longer, Until He comes whose right it is, And I will give it to Him.” The Lord says he will overthrow all the wickedness and hand over the throne to the one whose right it is. We know who that one is. That is the message of the first Christmas, the message that Mary received. Luke 1:31-32 (NKJV) And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. Yes; all the confusion, all the famine, all the wars, all the pestilences can only end when Jesus’s kingdom is established finally.
Only Jesus provides hope for our sins. Only Jesus can save us. Because he is the ultimate symbol of perfection, He is God incarnate. He is the ultimate sin offering and guilt offering. He is a lot more than just being a Good Man. Through the prophet Ezekiel the Lord told the Israelites who came to inquire of the Lord, a few Good men will not be able to save you from famine. Jesus says John 6:35 (NKJV) “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. The Lord said through the prophet Jeremiah that a few Good men like Moses and Samuel cannot save them from Captivity. Jesus says John 10:9 (NKJV) I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The Lord cautioned us through Ezekiel that a few Good men like Daniel, Noah and Job cannot save them from wild beasts. Jesus says John 10:11 (NKJV) I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. The Lord told the Israelites through both Jeremiah and Ezekiel that a few Good men cannot save them from diseases or death . Jesus says John 11:25-26 (NKJV) “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” The Lord spoke through Ezekiel and confirmed to the Israelites that a few Good men cannot save them from war. Jesus says John 14:27 (NKJV) Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
So you see. A few Good men cannot save us. However good they might be. Avengers or Krish or Chotta Bheem cannot save the world. True saving can come only from Jesus Christ and the blood that was shed on the cross for our sins. Jesus summed up the message when he said John 14:6 (NKJV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. And John 15:5 (NKJV) I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
Let us once again accept our utter helplessness that without Jesus we are nothing and In Jesus we have everything. If anyone of you is still doubtful about Jesus and His saving power, this is the time to give up all your doubts and lean completely on Him and Him alone and let go of the hope that you have in a “Few Good Men”
As we sing the closing Hymn “What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus..” may I encourage all of us to recommit our lives to Jesus Christ.