Friday, May 31, 2019

Friday - Ezekiel 33 - The Crier and the Crowd

UCH attention is devoted here to two different things. On the one hand, we find the responsibility of the crier. On the other, we can see the duty of crowd. There are several possible combinations that are described here. The preacher can warn his congregation of impending judgment, & they can prepare for it by repentance. In that case, everybody ends up happy. Or, the preacher can warn them, but they can ignore him. In this case, he is not in trouble, but they are. Or, the preacher can neglect his post, in which case he will be in serious trouble, but notice that the people are still in grave danger even though they are ignorant. Significantly, there is no equation where the watchman can be negligent, but the people are saved anyway.

In all of this, there is an expansion of these truths in that God subdivides the crowd into the meek and the weak. I'm calling the righteous ones meek, and the wicked ones weak. Notice that in Ezekiel 33:12-16 God clarifies that each person in the audience is specifically judged based upon what he does with the message of the messenger after it is delivered. If you are a crier, then cry loudly my friend - preach the Word. If you are in the crowd, then listen carefully and with faith, then make the appropriate adjustments.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Thursday - Ezekiel 32 - The Fate of the Uncircumcised

OW, this chapter is a lamentation concerning the downfall of Pharaoh and Egypt. Egypt is categorized as uncircumcised and doomed. And, the damnation of Egypt places them in the same category as every other uncircumcised nation. Assyria, Iran, Russia, Edom, Sidon... it doesn't matter how large or small, it doesn't matter when the entity existed, all that matters is that they have not followed after their Creator. Their physical uncircumcision simply represented (or represents) a deeper problem: spiritual uncircumcision.

Both testaments teach that the ultimate issue that must be grappled with is not the physical foreskin of any young male, the thing that must be dealt with in every man and woman is the foreskin of the heart. Consider Deuteronomy 10:16 & Romans 2:28-29. The spiritual insensitivity of the human heart must be corrected.

It may be that you are uncomfortable discussing salvation using such graphic terminology. I challenge you to consider the possibility that God had a very specific reason for shocking us with His vivid examples. Could it be that there are many of us who have great pride in some outward symbol of faith, but we have no genuine faith in God Himself? Every ritual in the book will do a man no good if he isn't humbly submitted to God's authority. And, although there are many good rituals that are taught in the Bible, (rituals that we should follow), they only illustrate God's grace, they do not obtain it for us. The only sure physical and material vehicle of God’s grace is the virgin born Son of God.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Wednesday - Ezekiel 31 - He Can do it Again

URPRISINGLY, this message from Ezekiel to Pharaoh appears to be mostly about the Assyrians. The Assyrian empire had been great and powerful, yet God brought it down to nothing. Ezekiel challenged the Pharaoh to consider the demise of the Assyrians, and to recognize that if Assyria could fall, then so could Egypt. But is this section really all about Egypt and Assyria? Even if we extrapolate an excellent application from this chapter – like, for example, that America (similar to those ancient nations) is not immune to deterioration, defeat and disassembly – have we accomplished what the Spirit intended when He gave Ezekiel this message? I think not. Egypt is not primary. Assyria is not primary. Israel is not primary. America is not primary. God is primary!

Notice in Ezekiel 31:1 that it was "the word of the Lord" that came to Ezekiel. Then again in Ezekiel 31:8, Assyria was compared to "the cedars in the garden of God." "Thus saith the Lord God..." (Ezekiel 31:10, 15 & 18). "I have... delivered him into the hand of the mighty one of the heathen," God said (Ezekiel 31:11). "I made the nations to shake... I cast him down to hell... (Ezekiel 31:16). The nations and empires of the world are being compared here to great trees, but who owns the grove? Who marks trees for felling? God is the gardener.  God is the ruler over nations and empires (Isaiah 40:15). The same God who brought Assyria and Egypt to their knees is still on the throne today. The USA, the UN, the USSR (in its heyday), the EU – it doesn't matter, God can handle all comers. What He did before, He can certainly do again.  He has already brought down many great and proud trees. We are not invincible. We are at God's mercy. We would be wise to be humble before Him (Psalm 33:12 & Proverbs 14:34). Our future is in His hands.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Tuesday - Ezekiel 30 - A Cloudy Day

ERHAPS you have read in literature somewhere about a foreboding or an ominous sky. Very likely, your mind invented an image of tall dark clouds rolling in over a prairie, or something like that.  Well, you should begin imagining that scene again now as you read Ezekiel 30. But these clouds are not to be examined meteorologically, but theologically. They are not full of water. They are full of God's judgment and wrath.

In Ezekiel 30, God threatened (or better, promised) much trouble for the northern part of Africa. He had said as much concerning many other people groups before this. What's going on here? Is God sadistic? That can't be. The incarnation and crucifixion of Christ proves that God is the absolute opposite of a sadist. The whole plan of redemption is about the eradication of sin, pain and death. Can we ask why so many bad things happen to so many good people; to innocent people? This is a fair question, as long as we qualify our question with some clear definitions. Goodness and innocence are relative terms that we use while comparing ourselves foolishly to each other.  But friends, neither you nor I can stand as the standard of morality.  God alone is that standard.  He is perfect, holy, good, righteous, just and pure. He and the holy angels stand alone in their absolute morality. And, even in that, God towers above the angels, because He can't fall or fail.  Only God is incapable of error.  For any creature to reach that plateau of perfection, it can only be by virtue of God's grace & power.