Do the various afflictions of the church grieve you? When congregations do not glorify Jesus, become lukewarm, or begin to stray from a literal and serious interpretation of God’s word, for example, does it grieve you? One of the condemnations The LORD gave to Jerusalem that led to their captivity/judgment was that they were “not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.” Speaking through Amos, The LORD says,
"Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came! … Ye that put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come near; That lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall; That chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of musick, like David; That drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph." [Amo 6:1; 3-6]
Those in Zion (Jerusalem) were content in prosperity. They didn’t want to think about end times events; they had nice beds, ate well, had parties and entertainment, and spared no expense in food, drinks, or amenities. And in their worldly pursuits they had no care for the affliction of Joseph.
Those in Zion were spoken to by Amos “in the days of Uzziah king of Judah.” Around 100 years later the prophet Zephaniah, “moved by the Holy Ghost,” wrote to Judah, promising those who were upset at Israel’s spiritual degradation, they would experience restoration and blessing in the future:
"In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack. The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, who are of thee, to whom the reproach of it was a burden. Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee: and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame. At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the LORD." [Zeph 3:16-20]
Those who faithfully endured in their desire for spiritual restoration, who were burdened that God’s solemn assemblies were being reproached, will be given that restoration, that intimacy with God they so longed to see in themselves and in others.
This attitude of yearning after God personally, and with others, is found in the Psalms,
"As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God? When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday." [Psa 42:1-4]
David goes on to comfort Himself, saying, “hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the salvation of his countenance.” Likewise, those of us who are grieved for the church, desiring for her, and ourselves, to follow Jesus wholeheartedly in love, will one day be granted such a comfort, for Jesus promises, “blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted,” and one day soon we shall see the salvation of The LORD’s countenance, Jesus Christ:
"For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me." [Job 19:25-27]
The bride of Jesus Christ should be one of our greatest passions, desiring to see her pure and lovely before her Groom. We ought to not only look after ourselves, but as Paul says, “look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” [Phil 2:4] We are to “naturally” care for the state of our brethren, which is to seek those “things which are Jesus Christ’s.” [Phil 2:20-21] And this care will naturally be not just for individuals, but for congregations, and the church as a whole, when Jesus is not glorified in them. Let us not be apathetic or lukewarm in our zeal, but let us “exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” [Heb 3:13]