These verses remind me that God is a God of justice, but also mercy. His heart toward me is to truly live, drawing from His abundance. He provides for me beyond what I can ask or imagine. So why do I sometimes live from scarcity? When he has more than enough to give?
Thank you Father for sending your son to give me eternal life. And for the gift of your Holy Spirit. I want to overflow with gratitude for your faithfulness. Thank you for who you are. Forgive me for when I turn to other things. Thank you that you waste nothing when I surrender it to you. Amen.
Then this message came to me from the Lord: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the false prophets of Israel who are inventing their own prophecies. Say to them, ‘Listen to the word of the Lord. 3 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: What sorrow awaits the false prophets who are following their own imaginations and have seen nothing at all!’ (Ezekiel 13:1-3, NLT)
What did the Lord say?
“Therefore, tell the people of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Repent and turn away from your idols, and stop all your detestable sins. 7 I, the Lord, will answer all those, both Israelites and foreigners, who reject me and set up idols in their hearts and so fall into sin, and who then come to a prophet asking for my advice. 8 I will turn against such people and make a terrible example of them, eliminating them from among my people. Then you will know that I am the Lord.” (Ezekiel 14:6-8, NLT)
What did the Lord say?
5 One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?”
7 “I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.”
8 Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!”
9 Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! But this miracle happened on the Sabbath, 10 so the Jewish leaders objected. They said to the man who was cured, “You can’t work on the Sabbath! The law doesn’t allow you to carry that sleeping mat!”
11 But he replied, “The man who healed me told me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’”
12 “Who said such a thing as that?” they demanded.
13 The man didn’t know, for Jesus had disappeared into the crowd. 14 But afterward Jesus found him in the Temple and told him, “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.”15 Then the man went and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had healed him. (John 5:5-15, NLT, emphasis added)
When there’s so much to take in in the story, it’s easy to miss the message by considering the setting, interpreting a message, looking at the Pharisees. What did the Lord say? If I look past the descriptive sentences and focus on the dialogue, what did the Lord say? What if he said those words to me? Just these words: “Would you like to get well? Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk! Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.”
Something even worse than being hindered and ineffective for 38 years. Something even worse than watching everyone else take action and rise victorious. Something even worse than blaming others, feeling abandoned, being stuck, or feeling self pity.
Lord, you’ve not been silent. You speak your word to people who may not want to hear or listen. This reading today (beyond what I’ve selected) tells me so much that you’ve said–about truth, accountability, error, sin, forgiveness, judgment, and more. You didn’t tell that man at Bethesda, “Ah, you’re a sinner so you’re just going to keep on sinning. It’s ok. Stay where you are.” You offered him a choice, told him to take action, and reminded him about who he is: NOW YOU ARE WELL. SO STOP SINNING. Oh, if I would just keep your words high above all the other distractions–a setting, a message, a body of people and their judgment. If I just kept your word as my focus–to choose you, to take action, to remember who I am in you. Could it be that simple? To lay down my excuses and my feelings, and just follow you to freedom and victory?
The chapter of Ezekiel 12 leaves me with a relevant message for my life today. Sometimes I think that God allows me to continue in a certain direction that I know does not glorify Him. Yet, I have to remember while He is merciful and patient, He always hates evil. And therefore, He will not allow me, one of His children, to sin and sin forever. His hand will move in my life and encourage me to stop sinning. God wants a relationship with me, a holy one centred in love.
It is why I try to encourage those who read Psalm 83 to keep it as a prayer. It is so easy to judge and much harder to love. I have begun to pray that God’s enemies will start to love Him. I am constantly reminded to do so every time they do something contrary to who God is.
I also pray that I might bring a message of hope even when there might not be one. The woman at the well inspires me on so many fronts. I realize that I must bring so much of Jesus to the table when I engage with those who do not know Him.
“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could this be the Messiah?” – John 4:29 HCSB
I know that love was in His eyes, I know that He outed sin and yet left no shame in His manner of speech, and I know that this woman did not want to run away but knew that He had what she was looking for her whole life – love, security and safety. How do I relate to others? Can they see love in my voice and the words I choose to use? Is there a sense of security or are they looking for the trap door to escape? Am I a safe place for them to share their guilt and shame while their sin is exposed? I need to make that a priority today – give people a safe place to confess their sin, repent and put their trust in Jesus.
Father, may my voice become Your voice in the ears of those I talk to today. May it be filled with words and expressions of Your love, grace and mercy. May I remember to apply those same thoughts into my own life as I remember that You want to walk with me in Your holiness – may I receive Your love today too. I know that You know me better than anyone else. Even so, Your love for me calls me right into Your arms. I know what it means to be loved, to have a place where I run to for security and I know what it means to be in a safe place. May I be put into situations where I can share these precious moments with others so that that they too may know You. Thank You.
“Your doom has come to you, O inhabitant of the land. The time has come; the day is near, a day of tumult, and not a joyful shouting to the mountains. Now I will soon pour out my wrath upon you, and spend my anger against you, ,and judge you according to your ways, and I will punish you for all your abominations. And my eye will not spare you, nor will I have pity. I will punish you according to your ways, while your abominations are in your midst. Then you will know that I am the Lord, who strikes.” (Ezekiel 7:7-9 ESV)
The problem. God is a just God. He has the right to create and the right to destroy. We all fall short of His standard.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgement: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:16-21 ESV)
The solution. God punished His innocent Son for our sins. We will have eternal life with Him if we simply believe. Do you believe?
This phrase repeats again and again throughout these chapters of Ezekiel. It brought to mind this completely opposite clip from the Wizard of Oz . . .
When the Lord speaks, it is not as some charlatan from behind the curtain. His promises will be kept. His judgements will be carried out. His people will be protected or chastened as appropriate. What he has said he will do.
When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
John 2:9-11 ESV
And, when Jesus steps foot on this earth, we find these same attributes as well. The powerful God, in human form, is not bound by the laws of science (although He created those, too, and as a general rule works within them) and can make water into wine, the best wine, with no effort.
And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
John 2:15-17 ESV
He of course has no tolerance for those that ignore His law, or deface His house. Jesus is wholly God, the same from before the beginning of time.
But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.
John 2:24-25 ESV
The evil hidden away in the heart of man was all too familiar to Jesus. He had watched the people of Israel vacillate between following and ignoring the law for thousands of years at this point.
2 “Son of man, set your face toward the mountains of Israel, and prophesy against them, 3 and say, You mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord God! Thus says the Lord God to the mountains and the hills, to the ravines and the valleys: Behold, I, even I, will bring a sword upon you, and I will destroy your high places. 4 Your altars shall become desolate, and your incense altars shall be broken, and I will cast down your slain before your idols. 5 And I will lay the dead bodies of the people of Israel before their idols, and I will scatter your bones around your altars. 6 Wherever you dwell, the cities shall be waste and the high places ruined, so that your altars will be waste and ruined, your idols broken and destroyed, your incense altars cut down, and your works wiped out. 7 And the slain shall fall in your midst, and you shall know that I am the Lord.
Ezekiel 6:2-7 ESV
The destruction prophesied in Ezekiel seems so harsh, and critics show no surprise at the fire and brimstone God of the Old Testament. However, He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The condemnation He gave out to Canaan, to Babylon, to Assyria, and ultimately to Jerusalem was all in response to their gross sins and their rejection of Him. People like to portray Jesus as loving and a “fresh” view of God. Just because He came with a different focus (to serve, not be served, to sacrifice Himself for all mankind), does not mean that He was any softer on sin. In fact, He was coming to take all that judgment on Himself. He knew the full power of God’s wrath, as only a person can truly know Himself. These chapters of John open our eyes to who this God-man is, and prepare us for the momentous occasion when God will both pour out and be the recipient of His great wrath. Not until we have a clearer understanding of the intensity of God’s incredible wrath toward sin, can we begin to understand the enormity of what Christ bore and satisfied on the cross.
And, when those dark hours hang over the earth, people would again know that He is the Lord, for He has spoken.
Lord, you are powerful! You are steady,constant. And, You stepped in the way of Your own wrath to save my life. When You speak, help me to listen and act. Help me to hate my sin as much as You do, and to hold tightly to Your hand and Your perfect way. Help me to trust the power of Your words. In Jesus name, Amen.
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