Today’s Bible Reading: Ezekiel 3:16-6:14; Hebrews 4:1-16; Psalm 104:24-35; Proverbs 26:27
God is constantly sending us reminders of HIs presence along with instructions on how we get to spend eternity (i.e. forever) with Him. The main way God does this is through people who already know the truth (Ezekiel 3:17-21). God is all about relationships. Essentially, He is calling everyone into a permanent, eternal relationship with Him. And He does this through the relationships people have with each other.
Whether people believe or not is up to them. Everyone is responsible for their own salvation. But those who know how to be saved are responsible for sharing that knowledge so others can decide. (Ezekiel 3:18-22).
Humans are visual people. We can remember things we hear but are more likely to remember things we see. In Ezekiel 4 & 5 God has Ezekiel act-out warnings in front of the Jewish exiles. Each of these “performances” speaks of God’s pending destruction of Jerusalem.
Israel was created by God to shine for Him in a dark, pagan world. Yet they sinned so much that they actually behaved worse than those pagan nations (Ezekiel 5:7). The United States thinks we are so progressive and righteous in our promotion of abortion and same-sex marriage that we force other nations to act similarly. We think we are exporting morality. Hardly. Although they have their own issues I can respect other nations like Malaysia, for example, which try to uphold standards of decency knowing that society will crumble if they don’t. (They recently did just that with a concert by Ke$ha.)
Just like a parent would be extremely hurt if a child rejected them, God is hurt when He is rejected by His creation (Ezekiel 6:9). God gave each of us life. The breath each of us has in our lungs right now is a gift from Him as is everything we have: our talents, our family, our jobs, etc. When we take these things for granted or, worse, attribute them to ourselves, it hurts God and understandably so.
God’s whole purpose in disciplining Israel (or disciplining any of us) is to get them to realize that He is God (Ezekiel 6:14). He does this not for His ego – God is emotionally stable with or without us. He does this for our sake. He wants us to know the truth: that sex, money, power, sports, career… none of these things are god. They have their time and place but are ultimately worthless. God wants us to know – to really know – that He is what we are to spend our lives chasing after.
God has offered eternal “rest” (i.e. heaven) to the entire world. But that does not mean that everyone will experience it (Hebrews 4:1). Only those who believe can enter this rest (Hebrews 4:3). Without a doubt this is the overall message of the Bible. It has been clearly communicated in every book and oftentimes several times within a book. Regretfully, those who do not believe do not get to enter heaven (Hebrews 4:3).
God went through a lot of trouble to establish a universe for us and to then create us and place us in that universe. He has provided us with every possible thing we could ever need. He even lowered Himself by becoming one of us, living a perfect life for which He got arrested and nailed to a cross. He then descended into hell for 3 days to take on the punishment that each of us should have paid. It is not at all unreasonable for God to reward those people who appreciate what He did with eternal life in heaven. After all, if you went through a lot of trouble (not to mention pain) to make someone’s life better you’d expect some appreciation. There is no reason for us to expect God to behave differently.
Notice that we do not enter this “rest” passively (Hebrews 4:11). It takes action. Belief is an action. Many people think they are going to heaven because they were born into a certain religion or because they were baptized as an infant. None of this is true. Each person must decide for himself or herself is he/she is going to believe what God says. But therein lies the problem.
God’s word (the Bible) cuts through our egos. It exposes us for who we really are – and it ain’t pretty (Hebrews 4:12). What God has to say offends people. We don’t want to think we are sinners. We don’t want to hear that lying is a sin. Or selfishness is a sin. Or homosexuality is a sin. Or abortion is a sin. Or greed is a sin. Those who are willing to accept such truth, humble themselves, and believe God will enter heaven. Those who reject this truth will not. Everyone has to make a choice.
Years ago there was a book and movie called Sophie’s Choice in which the title character has to make a choice that she has to live with for the rest of her life. In a similar but infinitely more important way each of us has to make a choice too. We need to decide if we will believe God or not. Call it ______’s Choice (fill in the blank with your name). Choose wisely. You’ll have to live with your choice for all of eternity.
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