Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 17 November 18:
1. Ezekiel 32:3-9 – “Thus says the Lord God: I will throw my net over you with a host of many peoples, and they will haul you up in my dragnet. And I will cast you on the ground; on the open field I will fling you, and will cause all the birds of the heavens to settle on you, and I will gorge the beasts of the whole earth with you. I will strew your flesh upon the mountains and fill the valleys with your carcass. I will drench the land even to the mountains with your flowing blood, and the ravines will be full of you. When I blot you out, I will cover the heavens and make their stars dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give its light. All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over you, and put darkness on your land, declares the Lord God. “I will trouble the hearts of many peoples, when I bring your destruction among the nations, into the countries that you have not known.”
– Throughout the Bible we are warned that everyone will face God’s judgment. Christians approach the Judgment Seat clothed in the righteousness of Jesus.
– God uses both domestic and international politics to glorify Himself. God is currently setting the stage for what He will do in the future. To understand what might be coming about, you must first understand Him. However, deeper understanding can come only from the Holy Spirit revealing God’s will and the pattern of His ways through God’s word. Human intellect apart from revelation will always fall short. Only God knows what He is bringing about. Today, many are raging in the streets when they should be repenting.
– God knows a nation’s or person’s impact on people and generations far beyond the nation’s or person’s understanding of that impact. Sin has a ripple affect we cannot even imagine; God’s judgment on a nation or person is intended, in part, to send a message to an immeasurable number of other people who might hear and understand. When we spread the Gospel, we cannot imagine who might be impacted, people we will never meet.
2. Ezekiel 32:12 – “I will cause your multitude to fall by the swords of mighty ones, all of them most ruthless of nations. ‘They shall bring to ruin the pride of Egypt, and all its multitude shall perish.’”
– Again, God will eliminate human pride. Be on constant vigilance against pride in your heart.
– God’s will is to shatter human pride.
3. Ezekiel 32:17-19 – “In the twelfth year, in the twelfth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me: ‘Son of man, wail over the multitude of Egypt, and send them down, her and the daughters of majestic nations, to the world below, to those who have gone down to the pit: ‘Whom do you surpass in beauty? Go down and be laid to rest with the uncircumcised.’”
– God has one destination for those who oppose Him.
– God will judge all those who do not “know” and acknowledge that He is God so that His name will be glorified. A nation’s only hope is to acknowledge God.
– God has one destination for all those who oppose Him.
4. Ezekiel 33:1, 2 – “The word of the Lord came to me: ‘Son of man, speak to your people and say to them….’”
– The “word of the Lord,” includes a message of judgment against sin which is why Jesus’ first message was “Repent.” As Ambassadors for Christ, we must speak out against sin and point to the Savior who saves us, not from the consequences of our sin, but from the wrath of God.
– It is always good to notice in the Bible, take to heart, and remember that God’s worthy messengers did not speak their own words but only the words God gave them to speak. They were not offering others mere opinions, regurgitated interpretations of the Bible, or new ways of communicating old ideas. God’s messengers speak His word at the right time at the right place in the right way to the right people for the right reasons. As ambassadors for Christ, we must be guided by the Holy Spirit, informed by the word of God, and we must only speak on His behalf using His words, not ours.
5. Ezekiel 33:5 – “He heard the sound of the trumpet and did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But if he had taken warning, he would have saved his life.” You have to sound the trumpet; people have the responsibility to respond to your call for repentance. You are not responsible for how they respond.
6. Ezekiel 33:6 — “But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand…. And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have muddied with your feet?”
– Today’s readings in Ezekiel directly mirror what God said to Jeremiah about the messenger being held accountable for the delivery of the message. The word Apostle (apóstolos) means basically ‘commissioned and sent messenger’ with authority as a ‘delegate.’ Jesus gave his followers the ‘Great Commission’ – “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:18-20) The Bible says further, “We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.” (2 Corinthians 5:20) Under the authority and power of God, we have been commissioned to serve as His messengers and representatives on earth, to proclaim a message of eternal consequence. This is a TREMENDOUS responsibility that cannot be abrogated. God will hold us accountable for how we perform our mission. We must warn the iniquitous, and we must be very careful not to ‘muddy the waters’ by adding or taking away from God’s word. What we think about an issue matters little; what matters is what God’s word says. For example, God’s word forbids sex outside of a marriage between one man and one woman, period. God also demands that overseers, deacons, and elders be “men of one wife” with believing children. (1 Timothy 3:2; 1 Timothy 3:12; Titus 1:6) However, regularly the church disregards these commands and many others, muddying the waters of God’s word in the process in order to justify what they are doing. As a result, many churches have lost their holiness, power, saltiness, and luminance. While sin abounds, many Christians remain silent, contributing to the sin environment – “Qui tacet consentit”: “Silence gives consent.” What would Jesus say to the ‘consenting’ Christian? “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” (Mark 9:42) “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!” (Matthew 18:7) Are you warning those around you? Are you vocal?
– You are responsible and held accountable for delivering the message to all; how people respond is their responsibility, not yours. However, their response to you is not an opportunity for you to quit proclaiming Christ. Your life mission is to proclaim Jesus and represent Him on earth. How are you doing?
7. Ezekiel 33:7-9 — “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved.” God holds His people accountable for testifying to the truth and warning the wicked, whether they choose to hear or not. Why does God give us this burden of responsibility? “Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die?’” (Ezekiel 33:11) God has called us on a challenging mission of love. What could be more unloving than watching people head down the path of ruin and death while saying nothing? In an effort to appease sinful society, some Christians have accepted cleaver, sophisticated arguments which seek to nullify God’s Laws, though the Bible makes them very clear and easy to understand. In this way, some Christians have sought to abrogate their eternal responsibility and life purpose as Christ’s Ambassadors. However, God is against those who muddy the clear waters of His unchanging word to suit their own fears, desires or self-righteous egos.
8. Ezekiel 33:11 – “Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die…?” God loves all people and does not want any to die in sin. Is this hard to understand? God does not want to see anyone perish. So He tells his ambassadors (true Christians) to “Say to them” that they need to repent.
9. Ezekiel 33:12 – “And you, son of man, say to your people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him when he transgresses, and as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall by it when he turns from his wickedness, and the righteous shall not be able to live by his righteousness when he sins.” Your good deeds don’t make up for you bad deeds. Righteous can only come from Jesus Christ. Trusting in human goodness is an illusion that leads to death (v13).
10. Ezekiel 33:14-16 – “Again, though I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ yet if he turns from his sin and does what is just and right, if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has taken by robbery, and walks in the statutes of life, not doing injustice, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the sins that he has committed shall be remembered against him. He has done what is just and right; he shall surely live.”
– Grace is given with the expectation of genuine repentance, restitution when possible, and continued obedience. Grace is not an opportunity to continue to freely dishonor God and hurt people without consequences to you. On the contrary, grace raises the standard for and expectation of love and faithfulness to God.
– Repentance results in a changed life.
11. Ezekiel 33:30-33 — “As for you, son of man, your people who talk together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, say to one another, each to his brother, ‘Come, and hear what the word is that comes from the Lord.’ And they come to you as people come, and they sit before you as my people, and they hear what you say but they will not do it; for with lustful talk in their mouths they act; their heart is set on their gain. And behold, you are to them like one who sings lustful songs with a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument, for they hear what you say, but they will not do it. When this comes—and come it will! — then they will know that a prophet has been among them.”
– God judges those who enjoy hearing His word but never practice it.
– The people did not want to obey God, they just wanted blessings from God – “their heart is set on their grain.” When people approach God and His word in a self-centered way, treating God as their genie in a bottle, they will be judged by God. We serve God; He doesn’t serve us.
– A love relationship with God is more than loving His word; it is obedience to His word.
12. Ezekiel 34:2-10 – God expects leaders of His people to sacrifice personal needs for the good of the people.
13. Ezekiel 34:4 – “The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them.” God’s expectations for religious leaders are described here – it requires much, much more than an inspirational sermon.
14. Ezekiel 34:15, 16 – “I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.” Jesus said, He is the Good Shephard. Follow Jesus, and lead others to Jesus. He is the only Shephard we should follow.
15. Ezekiel 34:17-19 — “As for you, my flock, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will judge between one sheep and another, and between rams and goats. Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet? Is it not enough for you to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet? Must my flock feed on what you have trampled and drink what you have muddied with your feet?” Again, when we put our spin on God’s word, adding to it, taking away from it, misinterpreting it, misapplying it, or distorting it in order to make it more appealing, we are muddying the waters, we ruin the terrain and muddy the waters. In a court of law, a witness takes an oath to tell the truth, the WHOLE truth, and NOTHING but the truth – anything else is a lie. I’m afraid we are all guilty of muddying the waters, justifying it as wisdom and tact in our relationships with others.
16. Ezekiel 34:30 – “And they shall know that I am the Lord their God with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are my people, declares the Lord God.” God’s presence with His people is the primary mark of His love relations with them.
17. Proverbs 17:3 – “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.” The Lord uses circumstances to test your heart. How has God tested your heart?
18. Proverbs 17:6 — “Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers.” Christian parents should have a plan for generations of faithfulness.
19. Psalm 134:1 – “Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who stand by night in the house of the Lord!”
– God seeks worshippers whose worship never stops, who worship in spirit and in truth 34/7, 365.
– Make sure you go to church tomorrow.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 17 Nov 18: Today, take some time to evaluate your success in your life’s mission of serving as Jesus ambassador — proclaiming Jesus, representing Him, and leading others to Him. Have you warned everyone who needs to be warned? Have you ministered to everyone God has placed in your life who need ministry? Recommit today to greater fidelity in service to God. Seek today to represent only Him and not yourself. (Ezekiel 33)