The Before and After Story…

Christ has paid

Hosea 1-4 Hosea’s marriage to the prostitute Gomer is a real-life picture of how God feels about His people’s rejection of Him. He is an example of what an obedient child of the living God does— even when he does not understand—therefore, we must take note.

Hosea was to find a prostitute and marry her. So, he went to the dump and found Gomer gathering garbage; he redeemed her and married her lavishing upon her riches untold, just as God did for us.

Yet, even with all those precious gifts, Gomer, walked away from Hosea and returned to the dump where the   “pimp”/Satan found her and promised what he could not deliver. Gomer/Israel saw with her eyes but not her heart. She heard with her ears but failed to recall:  “I chose you out of many peoples and redeemed you for one reason: I loved you.

The Living God has a message for us in this story. Just as God promised restoration to Gomer and Israel, He promises restoration to us. God wants a people to be a sweet aroma of Christ to the lost and dying world.  As Hosea paid the price for her redemption,  Christ paid our redemption price willingly out of love. 

God has paid the price for your redemption because He wants you to know He loves you and has redeemed you with the blood of Christ.   Will you be like Gomer or Hosea?

0

“Faithfulness in an Ungodly World”

Faithfulness

Daniel 1 to 3 In our study of Ezekiel, we were challenged to live righteously in an unrighteous world. Ezekiel persevered for over 25 yrs. Daniel will do the same for over 70 +/- yrs. Both were models of what it means to be faithful and steadfast in challenging circumstances. Whereas Ezekiel faced his alone, Daniel had three friends to walk with him. All four were nobles or part of the upper class in Jerusalem, yet in Babylon, Ezekiel lived in a refugee camp by the river. Daniel and his three friends lived in somewhat luxurious quarters in the King’s palace. All were used by God to show the other captives and the wicked King that there is only one God, Yahweh.

God allowed Nebuchadnezzar to take the ripe and full-fleshed figs in the first wave and the treasures of the Temple. [see Jer 24]  He would protect them by placing the captives in quarantine and the Temple treasures in his god’s treasury. There they would lay protected until the 70 yr. captivity drew to a conclusion.

God allowed all of them to face tests to prove to the Judahites, the King, and us, that God alone is supreme. Daniel and his three friends would face the test of purity vs. defilement and faithfulness vs. unfaithfulness. God blessed them and allowed them to live and work in ungodly environments where they became role models of righteousness.

Today we live and move in a world that is more and more ungodly. We will be presented with tests to prove to others that God is God.

Will we pass or fail the tests?

0

“Jesus in Ezekiel”

Jesus is shepherd Jesus is Lion of Judah

Ezekiel 34 From Genesis to Revelation, each author presents Jesus. He is sometimes seen as a teacher or a mentor, but in Ezekiel, he is the Good Shepherd in contrast to the bad shepherds who did not care for the sheep. Ezekiel receives a message from the Lord God to prophesy against the false shepherds of Israel. They plundered the weak sheep, which were scattered and became food for every wild beast. But, the Good Shepherd will search for His sheep and gather them from their distant places to feed on the rich grass of the mountains of Israel.

Later when Jesus came, he saw Israel once again floundering and the sheep wandering because of the bad shepherds. He pronounced judgment on them and reminded them that they would have repented long ago if they had seen the same miracles that Chorazin saw. Even though the bad shepherds refused to yield to God, one day the Good Shepherd would come, and He would lay down his life for them. Ezekiel’s message to the exiles was that the Sovereign Lord knew what was happening. He will seek the lost and bring back the strays, bandage the injured, and strengthen the sick while the bad shepherds would be judged. “And then you shall know that I am the Lord” for He is the Good Shepherd and the Lion of Judah. God sees and He will judge all sin.  [Num 32:23]

Trust God; He is Sovereign, He is the Good Shepherd and the Lion of Judah

0

We have no excuse

No excuse

Ezekiel 33 We have become a culture in which blameshifting and judging are as commonplace as yesterday’s news.

The exiles hear Ezekiel’s preaching but then behind his back, they gossip about his words—and who knows what else. Like many today, they go to “church” and say what a great message–but then tear the preacher apart. The preacher’s message was clear; “Turn back, turn back from your evil deeds!” Instead, we say:  It’s not my fault we are in this fix. If it isn’t your fault, whose fault is it? Or, we say: God isn’t fair. Really? How about your fairness to God when you hear what to do and don’t do it? James says if you know what to do and don’t do it, it is sin.  And then there is this argument: See, I told you, there is no hope, what’s done is done. Are you deaf? God is not willing any should perish; the answer is to turn and repent of your sin.

All of this sounds so familiar. What goes around, comes around. Pilate heard Jesus say I am the truth and scoffed: what is truth? Instead of listening, he turned and walked away, thinking he could wash his hands, and all would be well. The exiles were like Pilate.

Dr. Constable is right: When we are relatively comfortable, it is easy to listen to preaching and critique the preacher but do nothing in response to what he said.

0

“What Are You Doing?”

The Cross

Ezekiel 12-14 Marcel Marceau was arguably the most famous mime artist of the century. Using white face and dramatic eyes, he referred to mime as the “art of silence.”  Hundreds of years before he stepped on the stage, God had Ezekiel pantomime the end of Zedekiah’s reign and the end of Jerusalem. Instead of watching and learning, the hardhearted exiles just wanted to know what he was doing. Jeremiah’s words should have been ringing in their ears, but they didn’t want to hear that God would allow the destruction of His Temple!  So God opened Ezekiel’s mouth to declare: I am an object lesson for you about your king and Jerusalem. They charged him with lying because they only wanted to have their ears tickled. So they left and went to hear the false prophets telling them that all would be over in two years.  Today the world is living through a pandemic but men only want to hear false teachers who say all will be well.

Years later, God used both words and mime to tell about His plan for our salvation. He sent His Son with parables, miracles, and sermonettes because He doesn’t tickle our ears with false prophecy. His message is that we are all sinners; none is righteous, no, not one!  There is a judgment coming. Choose Jesus for He is the Way, The Truth, and the Life. Come be saved today. Are you heeding His message?     

0

What Do You Want to Hear from Jesus?

The words of Jesus

Jeremiah 50 to 52 The tale of Zedekiah and Jehoiachin reveals a pointed lesson for us.  When God tells us what to do, there is a choice; surrender and live or reject and die. God says, surrender your life to me, and you will have everlasting life. But, just as then, many still think they can save themselves or wait or do many works in God’s Name. 

Both kings sought Jeremiah’s advice as the Babylonians were crouching at their doorstep.   Jehoiachin believed Jeremiah; surrendered and saved his family. Zedekiah tried to escape through a tunnel at night time but was captured and taken to King Nebuchadnezzar. In Riblah, he lost his family, the royal household, and his eyes. Both ended up in a Babylonian prison. But, after 37 yrs., Jehoiachin was released to sit at the king’s table. Blind Zedekiah would die in his bronze chains with the vision of his children’s faces as they were slaughtered. Neither would have a descendant to take their place on the throne.

What are the takeaways from these two men and their end?  One accepted God’s way and was released. The other rejected God’s way, and these words will ring in his ears: “I never knew you.” Remember these words from Jesus: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me.” [Jn 14:6]

The lesson is clear: Surrender to God and be saved; reject and enter a Christ-less eternity.

0

The Heart of God

God loves

Jeremiah 5/Gen 18 Have you ever felt your heart so sad that you thought it would break? That is why, like Jeremiah, we begin to wonder, is there any good news? Is it all bad news? And there right front and center in chapter five, we see the heart of God. 

God tells Jeremiah, “See if you can find a single person who deals honestly and tries to be truthful. If you can, then I will not punish this city.” [Jer 5:1] Flashback: Return to Gen 18, where we encounter Abraham and the Lord God as they converse about Sodom and Gomorrah. In His mercy, God had quietly shared with Abraham: “I must go down and see if they are as wicked as the outcry suggests. If NOT, I want to know.” [Gen 18:1]

Even though God is omniscient, He still “wants to know.” And that is because God is a personal God, not an arbitrary idol god. One of the marvelous things we can count on is that God always thoroughly investigates a situation before passing judgment. He cannot nor will He arbitrarily destroy because He is a fair and judge. As He did with Sodom, He does with us.

We can count on the fact that the God we serve is “compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and truth.” It is because His “lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail.” [Lam 3:22] 

Do we have these same character qualities? Do we judge before we have evidence? God’s heart is clear: He is fair and just and He expects us to be the same.

0

“Fake vs Fact”

Fake or Real

Jeremiah 2 and 3 Have you ever heard these words: I don’t want you and I don’t need you?” These are heart-wrenching words that creep into our souls. God asks; what have I done that you have chosen to dismiss Me out of your life? You were once devoted to Me and loved Me just like a bride loves her new husband. Yet, now you find more pleasure in foreign gods and want to pursue them.

God reminds His people that they no longer even ask where God is. If they had asked God would have told them, as He did for the Church at Ephesus, you have lost your first love. “Remember from what high state you have fallen and repent.” [Rev 2:5] God is calling today just as He did then. We say we are Christians, but our walk and talk do not match. Instead, we are like broken cisterns. The true Living Water is available, but we say I have my shovel and will dig my own. The sin of pride is ever before us. Audaciously and coyly, we say:  isn’t it right that you are a forgiver of sins and gracious beyond all that we can understand? And yet, our words are words of a faithless child because we go our wayward ways. We were only pretending.

As then so today, God is pleading; return to me. Break your rebellious ways, and I will be a Father to you once again. Is your faith real or fake? Are you just pretending or are you for real?

0

Jeremiah 1 “What’s Your Excuse?”

There are no imperfections in God's family

God, the Master Potter, forms and uses the imperfect clay to form perfect vessels. Satan desires that we see our imperfections as God’s mistake. If you notice, Isaiah, Moses, and Jeremiah saw their flaw as lips contaminated by sin or “I can’t speak eloquently.” Yet God never makes mistakes. He will equip men for the task of reaching the lost.

God doesn’t bless the eloquent orator. He does bless the tongue that has been touched by the coals of the fire of His kiln. Again, Satan tells us that we are too young or too old, and we could offer that same excuse. God promises, “I will most assuredly give you the words you are to speak for me.” (2 Tim 3:17) Again Satan says this is too fearful. Yet God has not given us a spirit of fear but of love, power, and a sound mind. (2 Tim 1:7)

The real question is: Is this world more dangerous, or is Hell waiting for the lost a more compelling reason to step out? God has bestowed on us everything necessary for life and godliness to those who come to the well seeking to alleviate their thirst.

Our archenemy has one last excuse in his arsenal. He asks, surely you don’t have to do it “now? God doesn’t care if you delay. If you are listening to his voice, then you are not asking; Am I God’s choice to go into a lost world?  But, if you can answer, today is the day of salvation, then why are you waiting?

0

What do you choose: Faith or Fear?

Which do you choose?

Isaiah 7:9b and 26:3 Have you ever asked someone what or whom do they fear? What would they be willing to forfeit? Jesus told the disciples that He would always be with them and if that is true why then do we fear? The principle is found in Is 7: “If your faith does not remain firm, then you will not remain secure.” In other words, if your faith is not enough to face the dangers of others or circumstances your faith is not faith at all.

Let me give you an illustration. There was a woman to whom I was speaking and presenting the gospel. Our conversation began with this question: what do you put your faith in? She nodded through it all but when I came to the question about surrendering her life to Jesus she balked—no, in fact she said she would NOT trust Christ. Her reasoning was that she would have to give up her immoral relationship to follow Christ. She was more fearful of losing the man with whom she was now living than spending eternity in hell. Unlike the Samaritan woman at the well, she turned away from salvation.

Perhaps that is you. God is asking you to put your faith in Him. He asks that question so that you would know He will keep you in perfect peace because your faith is holding firm on God and because you chose to trust in Him.  

Joshua asked the Israelites to choose whom they would worship, God or the gods of their ancestors. They had to choose between faith or fear. Where are you today?

Photo: Sincerely Media on Unsplash

0