Thursday, August 18, 2016

"A warning from God ..."

Day #232

Scripture Reading:  Ezekiel 1 - 6 …

God says to Ezekiel, "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from ME!" (3:17). Throughout His Word God sends a warning to people just like you and me … a warning of coming judgment.  As it was in the days of Noah, before God sent the flood, so it is today before the coming "day of the Lord."  The judgment of God upon this world and all people in it is certain; it is only a question of when.  And God has provided an escape for those who have been given "ears to hear":  "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31).

Every person who has ever lived, from Adam and Eve to those who are alive to hear the trumpet of the archangel, will stand before the throne of Almighty God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father … … … but for many, it will be too late.  For all who have died in their unbelief and for those who have faced the wrath of the Lamb when He returns there will be only judgment.  God tells Ezekiel that the people will KNOW that He is the LORD when they see their people lying slain among their idols.  Such is the judgment of those who reject God's revelation of Himself and who worship themselves and the idols they have made in their own image.

Ezekiel is given a message for the exiles who have been taken from Judah and Jerusalem to Babylon.  He received his message in the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin (1:2).  Some people get stuck in the first chapter of Ezekiel and some have imagined that Ezekiel is describing extra-terrestrial visitors from outer space!  What he describes, however, coincides with Isaiah's vision in Isaiah 6:1-3 and John's vision in Revelation 4:6-8.  Ezekiel sees a cloud and lightning and brilliant light, beyond the possibility of description by the words of men.  The Spirit of God guided the movements of the living creatures and the "wheels," that were also "full of eyes all around" (1:18).

It is not until verse 22 of chapter 1 that Ezekiel begins to describe an "expanse" that is "above the heads of the living creatures."  "Then there came a voice from ABOVE the expanse …" and "ABOVE the expanse … was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man" (1:25-26).  Brilliant light surrounded Him … "THIS was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD.  When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of the One speaking" (1:28).  Was Ezekiel seeing the pre-incarnate Son of God, seated on His throne?  To attempt to fully understand this vision would be the height of arrogance.  It is enough to know that God Himself spoke to Ezekiel and sent him to speak to the Israelites:  "… the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet and I heard Him speaking to me" (2:2).

In Chapters 2 and 3 God makes it clear to Ezekiel that he must speak God's Words, "whether they listen or fail to listen" (2:7).  God told Ezekiel ahead of time something that he probably already knew:  he was being sent to a stubborn and rebellious people!  They were like the people in Moses' day whom God said would not listen to him.  And they are like those without the Spirit of God today who refuse to listen to God's Word.  That's why Jesus and the writers of the New Testament tell us that only those who are GIVEN "ears to hear" will listen and believe.  "Go now to your countrymen in exile and speak to them.  Say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says,' whether they listen or fail to listen" (2:11).

The responsibility of a "watchman" is to sound the warning, not to make people listen and take action (II Corinthians 2:15-16).  That is in the hands of the Sovereign God!  If we do not sound the warning, we are accountable for the death of the wicked, but if we are faithful to declare God's warning to the world around us we are not responsible for their rejection of God's offer of salvation and life through faith in Jesus Christ (3:16-21).  "When I speak to you, I will open your mouth and you shall say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says. 'Whoever will listen let him listen, and whoever will refuse let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house’" (3:27).

What was true of the house of Israel is true of all people today without the Spirit of God.  They cannot and will not listen to the voice of God as He speaks through His Word.  Their eyes are blind, their ears are deaf and their minds are dull.  God went on to describe what was going to happen to Jerusalem and the suffering of those who would face God's judgment.  In his "Revelation" John writes of the coming judgment of God upon our world today and Peter and the other writers of Scripture testify to the same.  Jesus speaks of a future destruction of Jerusalem and Isaiah and the prophets speak of the end of this world and of this planet as we know it.

As disciples of Jesus we are called to sound the warning and to offer God's gift of life through faith in Jesus Christ.  Jesus said, "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life.  No one comes to the Father except through ME!" (John 14:6).  Everything that God said would happen to Israel either HAS happened or WILL happen in the near future.  God says repeatedly throughout the book of Ezekiel, "Then they will know that I am the LORD!” YET, there is hope even in this word of judgment:  "BUT I will spare some ...” (6:8).  In this brief phrase is found the promise of God's mercy and grace to those whom He chooses.  For these God sent His Son and for these He pours out His Spirit to change their hearts and minds and to move them to receive Jesus Christ as their Savior and to acknowledge Him as Lord over all.

Hear God's warning and flee to the cross of Christ, for in HIM you will find forgiveness and LIFE!!

"Almighty God, by whom, in whom and for whom we all exist … open the blind eyes and unlock the deaf ears, that those whom You have chosen might hear Your voice and respond by placing their faith in Your Son Jesus Christ.  I rejoice in Your salvation and thank You for Your amazing grace.  Make me a faithful watchman to declare Your warning to those around me and to offer them the way of life through Your Son Jesus Christ, my Savior and my Lord.  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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