Today’s Bible Reading: Ezekiel 20:1-49; Hebrews 9:11-28; Psalm 107:1-43; Proverbs 27:11
When God chose Israel to be His people He had made a promise to always be their God. He also promised that He would deliver them out of the oppression in Egypt and into a wonderfully vibrant land (Ezekiel 20:5-6). Of course, this happened just as God promised despite Israel’s continued rebellion en-route from Egypt to the Promised Land.
Israel’s idol worship must have begun in Egypt (Ezekiel 20:8). Yet God withheld His discipline not because Israel didn’t deserve it (they did) but because if He had disciplined Israel at that point it would have tarnished His name among the non-believing nations (Ezekiel 20:9). If He ruins His name then He hurts people’s chances for getting to know Him. God is constantly looking out for all people by carefully balancing His discipline and His reputation.
Notice that God’s decrees were given to mankind so that we could find life by keeping them (Ezekiel 20:11). God’s list of “do”s and “don’t”s are not arbitrary. They are not unreasonable. They give life. The more we follow them, the more life we will have (quality but also I think quantity). But the problem is we don’t follow them. We disregard them and make up our own rules.
God will let us do this, knowing that our rules are worthless and don’t lead to life (heaven). They lead to hell (Ezekiel 20:25). The reason God does this is in the hopes that we will sink so low and ruin our lives so much that we will come to recognize the error of our ways and return to Him (Ezekiel 20:26). After thousands of years of history we have been too blind and stubborn to get the message. We keep thinking things are “not so bad” and that we can keep digging our way out of the hole we’ve made.
Unlike a contract, a testament (such as a “last will and testament”) is unilateral – it only takes one person to agree to it to put in into effect. Additionally, a testament does not take effect until that person dies. The stipulations stated in it only go into effect upon death of the one who made it. Just like you or I can make a last will and testament that goes into effect upon our death without anyone else having to agree to it, God did the same thing.
God’s “new” testament offered permanent forgiveness of sin. But like any testament it could not take effect until the one who had made it died. Therefore God had to die. That is precisely why God had to come to earth in a human body (we know as Jesus). He came to die. Without His death, the new testament could never take effect. Without God’s death, no one could ever truly be forgiven (Hebrews 9:15).
Jesus died once and only once for the forgiveness of our sins. With His one selfless act He made it possible for us to have eternal life (Hebrews 9:25-26). This clearly disputes the teachings of the Catholic church who believe that Jesus is “sacrificed” every week in Mass. As we’ve learned throughout the year, the teachings of the Catholic church do not line up with what God tells us in the Bible.
Similarly, every person has but one death (Hebrews 9:27). I don’t think the author of Hebrews was intentionally addressing reincarnation here, but his comments clearly refute it. We do not come back in different life forms after we die based on our karma. We have one life, part of which we live in earthly bodies which will die one time. The rest of our life is spent living eternally in bodies that can never die.
When godly people see the work of God and hear His message they rejoice but those who are evil say nothing when confronted by the same truth (Psalm 107:42).
In 1994 the pastor of the church I attended in Virginia was invited to the National Prayer Breakfast at which Mother Teresa spoke. He told the story of how, in front of rabid-abortionists Bill and Hillary Clinton and Al and Tipper Gore, Mother Teresa condemned the abomination of abortion. She got a thunderous round of applause by everyone… except the Clintons and Gores who sat stoic and emotionless on the dais. They did not clap. They did not respond in any way. Just like Psalm 107:42 states, these evil people had no reaction at hearing His truth spoken.
“But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself.” – Mother Teresa
“Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love one another, but to use any violence to get what they want, this is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion” – Mother Teresa.
If you are interested, Mother Teresa’s speech can be viewed on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXn-wf5ylgo. At the 14:10 mark you can see the President, Vice President, and their wives refuse to applaud.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.