Click here for today’s reading http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezekiel%205-11&version=NLT
Most of the chapters today reveal how much God’s people had turned from HIM. So sad when the Glory of The Lord left the Temple…..but did the people EVEN notice??? YET God had placed HIS PROPHETS in Jerusalem (Jeremiah), in Babylon (Ezekiel), and in the royal castle in Babylon (Daniel) not only to remind the people of their sins but to remind them that HE IS ….and HIS remnant would come out of all of this (HOPE.)
The Lord suspended Ezekiel between earth and Heaven and gave him another vision. A vision of the Temple. He is revealing the extent of the idolatry and wickedness that occurred. Disgusting pagan practices with sex, men and animals. Prostitution was a form of god worship. Woman were mourning over a false god, and men were outside worshipping the sun. But God was going to show them that all their false gods could NEVER save them!! But HE could and He would and HE DOES!!! From all that Ezekiel, the ONE thing God wanted them to know was: “THEN THEY WILL KNOW I AM GOD.” (this phrase or one very similar is stated at least 65 times in Ezekiel.) Surly this got their attention!! Does it get your attention today?
Our reading today reminds us of two things.
First, through God taking Ezekiel back to Jerusalem we see how greatly the people, HIS people, had sinned were continuing to sin, and God does not like sin especially when people have hardened their hearts toward HIM to the point of refusing to acknowledge HIM in any way.
Second, God told Ezekiel in Chapter 11:18-21 (NLT) “When the people return to their homeland, they will remove every trace of their vile images and detestable idols. And I WILL GIVE THEM SINGLENESS OF HEART AND PUT A NEW SPIRIT WITHIN THEM. I WILL TAKE AWAY THEIR STONY, STUBBORN HEART AND GIVE THEM A TENDER, RESPONSIVE HEART, so they will obey my decrees and regulations. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God. But as for those who long for vile images and detestable idols, I will repay them fully for their sins. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!” that HE would change the hearts of the remnant who are spared.”
GOD’S PROMISE TO HIS REMNANT….. “A New HEART!”
God promised to be as a little sanctuary unto them, in the lands where they had been scattered.
He would watch over them in the alien, and hostile environment.
He would be as a shield of protection for them.
Do you ever feel like a stranger in this world we live in??? I know for me personally, watching the news is very painful …. seeing all the ways people are making their OWN way based on their feelings and not God. God blessed us with feelings …feelings are not a bad things as long as we keep them in check with God’s Word. We are human, we are going to mess up. Yet God in HIS grace and mercy sent Jesus Christ for us so we would have a heart of flesh…a tender heart…a heart that desires to do HIS will. And..when we mess up…we seek forgiveness to our God who loves us deeply…far more than we can even imagine. God did not HAVE to send Jesus. In our own nature…human….we are all sinners and the ONLY way we have a chance is through Jesus Christ because left to our own devices we WILL make the wrong choices. Thank God HE loves us sooooo much that although we do not deserve HIS gift……HE did it for us!!!
In our news we see results of sin on so many levels. When we as individuals sin, even when we ask forgiveness (and we ARE forgiven..NO DOUBT) we often still have consequences of our past CHOICES. We also see the consequences of sin that everyone has to live with when the leaders of a nation no longer make their decisions based on God’s Word….but rather on money, power, politics, and feelings. Israel and Judah suffered consequences for their individual choices as well as because of the choices their leaders made. The evil and the remnant suffered. Is it fair, NO. But God never promised “fair”. However, HE does promise that HE will NEVER leave us or forsake us…NEVER NEVER NEVER and the last part of Chapter 11 is showing us this very point. I know I long for the day when the kingdom of God to come, for His will to be done in this earth, as it is in heaven, God has promised to be as a little sanctuary to you and me. He will surround and protect you and me. HALLELUJAH!!
He promised to deliver them from their captivity and to give to them the land of Israel.
He promised to give to them one heart, and put a New Spirit within them.
He said that He would remove the heart of stone, and give to them a heart of flesh. THINK about this one…..HOW do we get a heart of flesh that is tender towards HIM? It is actually quite simple…..we believe that Jesus Christ is WHO is says HE is, we confess our sins, ask forgiveness, and change our ways with HIS help. WHEN the Holy Spirit comes to dwell IN SIDE OF US…. we ARE given a NEW heart…HIS heart…a heart of flesh where HIS words can be written. We are mere “men”…we mess up….we can not change our hearts….ONLY the indwelling Holy Spirit can change us if we allow HIM.
Although we stand on this side of the cross there are many many people today who have hardened their hearts so long against God and the things of God that their hearts have become as a stone. They are set in their ways of sin, and have no intention of changing. All of the pleading, and entreaties from God are met with a stony resistance.
When God told Jeremiah and Ezekiel that HE would write HIS ways on our hearts of flesh; God was declaring that He was not seeking some legal relationship with man, BUT WAS LOOKING FOR A LOVING RELATIONSHIP SHARED BETWEEN GOD AND MAN.
God is not interested in binding you to some legal contract written in stone. He desires that you serve Him with a heart that is motivated by your love for Him. He does not want to bind you with chains to force obedience. HE SIMPLY desires our love for HIM to exceed the love we have for anything else. He desires our service to HIM to rise spontaneously from a fleshly, tender heart of love OF HIM. HE desires that we desire to walk in HIS ways…NOT by force, guilt, condemnation, power, or anything else but our desire to do so. God will NEVER force us to love or serve HIM. But HE will give us a heart of flesh that is after HIM, and that heart of flesh will be accompanied by a new spirit…HIS SPIRIT!! Paul tells us that if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, the old things have passed away, and behold all things become new. HE promises to them that with this change of heart and spirit, they will become His people, and He will become their God.
Somehow the Israelites and Judeans felt that God couldn’t see all they were doing!! Ummmmmmmm……..I know there have been times when I have felt this way. However I heard a minister once say something like: “what do you do in the booth, in the back, in the dark.. where you think no one can see you?” But God sees it all doesn’t He. HE KNOWs what we think. HE knows what we are going through. The Psalms are FULL of people who were hurting (and they all knew God) and they shared the good, the bad, and the ugly with HIM…..He KNOWS anyway!! So why not come before HIM and “spill the beans to HIM”…He already knows…..HE just wants to make sure you know not just what was done but also just how much HE loves you!!! WE are part of the REMNANT!! WE are covered by HIS wings. HE is all we will EVER need. I believe reading Ezekiel reminds us to simply follow HIM in ALL HIS ways.
Sharing HIS love,