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The Only Thing That Counts

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Today’s Bible Reading: Ezekiel 1-3:15; Hebrews 3:1-19; Psalm 104:1-23; Proverbs 26:24-26

Old Testament

Today we begin the prophetic book of Ezekiel. This book was written by a prophet named Ezekiel who was taken captive from Jerusalem to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar when he (Ezekiel) was approximately 25 years old. The book of Ezekiel is one of my favorite books in the Bible mainly because of its famous prophecies about the end-times, including the future war on Israel by Persia (now called Iran).

In chapter 1 we read the very interesting circumstances under which Ezekiel was called by God to be a prophet. Ezekiel was 30 years old and in exile in Babylon (Ezekiel 1:1) when he has very strange vision of 4 living beings that looked human but had four faces and four wings (Ezekiel 1:4).

In the midst of these beings Ezekiel encounters God Himself, or perhaps the Son, before He became Jesus (Ezekiel 1:28). Notice that this manifestation of God was for Ezekiel only (Ezekiel 1:28). God appeared to Moses as a burning bush. He appeared to other people in other ways. God is unseeable except as He reveals Himself to people.

Ezekiel’s reaction is appropriate: he falls face down on the ground in a position of humility. There is no other reaction one could have to being in the presence of God.

The Holy Spirit – the 3rd “person” of God – did not permanently indwell believers until New Testament times (moment of Pentecost, to be exact). But the Spirit did temporarily come into the lives of certain people in the Old Testament to help them at certain times in their lives and here we see one of them (Ezekiel 2:2).

God chose Ezekiel to deliver a message to the nation of Israel. Notice how God is always trying to communicate with us. He is always taking the initiative for the sake of our welfare. But its up to us to listen to him or not (Ezekiel 2:5). God will not force us to obey Him.

God is going to be up-front with Israel as He always has been. But notice that God is also up-front with Ezekiel (Ezekiel 2:3-8) when He tells him that the task won’t be easy. He (Ezekiel) will even be threatened. But God isn’t going to withhold His message – that would be the same as withholding His love. Sometimes the most loving thing you can do for someone is to tell them something they don’t want to hear but which they need to hear.


New Testament

The book of Hebrews was written to Jewish believers and, as such, has its purpose in conveying the superiority of Jesus to the previous servants of God. Jews would have (and still do) revere Moses and David, et. al. God used all these men in a very special way to further His purposes on the earth. But Jesus was even more special (Hebrews 3:3-6).

Notice that the status of our hearts is our responsibility (Hebrews 3:12). Our belief (or lack thereof) is up to us. No one will be able to blame their parents for not teaching them about God. No one will be able to point to a government that has removed all evidence of Jesus. Everyone will have to give an account of themselves and take responsibility for themselves when they come face-to-face with Jesus after death.

While that is true, it does not mean that we have to go it alone through life. Christians are commanded to walk with each other so that none of us become deceived and harden our hearts towards God (Hebrews 3:13).

Just like the Israelites could not enter the Promised Land because of their unbelief, it is also unbelief that keeps people out of heaven (Hebrews 3:19). Obviously, therefore, the opposite of this is true as well: belief is how people get to heaven. Here again we see that good works have nothing to do with getting into heaven. The only thing that counts is belief (John 3:16).


Psalms

Yesterday Psalm 103 told us to praise God for the way He deals with people. Today Psalm 104 commands us to praise God for the way He handles creation. It is God who provides for our needs through nature. He causes streams and rivers to flow with fresh water (Psalm 104:10). He is the reason we have rain (Psalm 104:13). Plants grow and are available for our use because God makes them available (Psalm 104:14). He even provides food for the wild animals (Psalm 104:21).

Considering that hell is the complete absence of God I wonder where fresh water, rain, and food will come from in hell.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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