Today’s Bible Reading: Ezekiel 24-26:21; Hebrews 11:1-16; Psalm 110:1-7; Proverbs 27:14
God had been patient with Jerusalem for hundreds of years and had sent many warnings over that time. But their sin did not abate and finally on January 15, 586 BC the Babylonians started their attack on the city (Ezekiel 24:1-2). One of the many sins of Jerusalem (and Israel and Judah before it) was murder (Ezekiel 24:7).
Over time the Jews had adopted the horrific practice of child-sacrifice from their pagan neighbors. Throughout the Bible we see that God opposes those who use their strength to take advantage of the weak. Nothing could be more weak than a child, including an unborn one. Our practice of abortion is the modern-day equivalent despite our euphemizing it as a “woman’s choice” or a “woman’s health issue” (both nothing but arrogant, selfish claims). With 27% of all US pregnancies being aborted (a percentage that is rising each year) we cannot expect to escape God’s judgement any more than Jerusalem did.
God tried to steer Jerusalem in the right direction but they refused (Ezekiel 24:13). By doing so the situation had become hopeless (Ezekiel 24:12). The only choice God had was to destroy them. Another trait of God that we have seen repeatedly this year is His deep desire to avoid having to discipline people. He continuously offers to lead us in the way that is best for us but we continuously refuse to follow. Someday it will become hopeless for the United States too. I fear that day is not too far off.
In the next few chapters of Ezekiel, God records prophecies of destruction against Israel’s neighbors and enemies. These people rejoiced at the downfall of Jerusalem. However, God would judge them for their attitude toward and treatment of His people. All nations will answer for their sins, not just Israel. This whole section is a testimony to the faithfulness of God who promised to curse nations that cursed Israel (Genesis 12:3).
I truly believe that the only reason God has not yet sent destruction upon the United States is because of the support for Israel we have shown to-date. Our sins are many. We kill over 1,300,000 unborn babies a year. We are incredibly greedy. We are addicted to sex. We pursue our own selfish interests at the expense of the less fortunate. We bully other countries with our enormous wealth and power. We are rapidly jettisoning God from every part of our society. All of these sins (to name just a very few) warrant discipline. But God made a promise to bless those who bless Israel and God doesn’t go back on His promises.This has spared us… so far. But Bible prophecy predicts that someday all nations will turn against Israel. We’ll read this prophecy later in Ezekiel.
In just the past few years the United States’ attitude toward Israel has turned very cold. It is not out of the question that we could officially abandon our friend in the upcoming months. When (not if) the United States drops its support of Israel, watch out. There will be nothing to hold back God’s justifiable wrath against our country for our atrocious behavior.
God wants us to trust Him. Another word for trust is “faith”. Faith is confidence in the certainty of the future even though we may not be able to see exactly how that future will happen (Hebrews 11:1). The author of this letter is writing to a group of Jewish Christians who were losing confidence in their new beliefs. The author reminds them that we don’t always have all the details we need in life. In fact, we rarely do.
Getting on a airplane requires faith in your pilot, air traffic control and mechanics. Undergoing anesthesia requires faith in your anesthesiologist (and a lot of it, if you realized just how close you are taken to death in this process). Having a child requires faith in yourself and your spouse. We live by faith in everything we do. Every step in life requires taking a chance into the unknown. Without faith a person wouldn’t move a muscle.
Likewise, God calls us into a relationship with Him through faith. He doesn’t give us all the answers. We don’t know exactly how it will all pan out (although reading the Bible will give us some idea). But just like we put our faith in other people, God asks us to put our faith in Him. After reading for almost 11 months about God’s trustworthiness, this shouldn’t be hard to understand.
A great example is Noah who was asked by God to build a huge boat because He was going to send rain and cause a flood. The problem was that it had never rained before and there had never been a flood before. Not to mention God told Noah this 100 years before it happened. Noah had to take what God said on faith (Hebrews 11:7). His faith paid off big-time for him and his family of 8. Everyone else on the planet doubted and perished.
As nomads on this earth, believers are looking forward – by faith – to an eternity in heaven (Hebrews 11:13-16). This makes going through all the “stuff” we go through in this life easier. We know, even though we cannot see, that God has a better place in store for us. We know this because He has told us so – in the Bible and when He was here on earth (as Jesus).
The New Testament refers to Psalm 110 more than any other chapter of the Old Testament. This psalm is a prophecy about the coming Messiah. In Psalm 110:1 God (LORD) speaks to the Messiah (Lord). Jesus referred to this verse when speaking about Himself in Matthew 22:44-45 (also recorded in Mark 12 and Luke 20). This Psalm points to a still-future date when Jesus will physically return to earth, reign from Jerusalem (Psalm 110:2) and wage a one-sided war against His enemies here on earth (Psalm 110:3, 6). I can’t wait to see that.
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