Ezekiel 22 – 24 If you are an enthusiast of old English movies, you know that servants obey without question. Ezekiel is known as the servant who obeys whether he understands or not. Are we? The Lord graciously prepared Ezekiel to be a sign to the exiles through his response to his wife’s untimely death. God told him, “I am about to take the delight of your eyes away from you with a jolt, but you must not mourn or weep or shed tears.” And it happened just as the Lord had said. In the evening, his wife died, and Ezekiel did just as the Lord commanded. Ezekiel did not question: “why, Lord?”
“The death of Ezekiel’s wife prefigured the loss of the temple, which was “the delight of [the Jews’] eyes.” God strove to make His intent clear so that the people would have no excuse. Despite the hardship in the loss of Ezekiel’s wife and Temple, all would be for Israel’s good (vv. 19–27). Through the trouble, the people would come to know that He is the Lord.” (Ligonier ministries)Li
Like the English servants, Ezekiel obeyed and did not mourn, and the exiles as well were not to mourn the tragic news of the loss of their Temple. Ezekiel trusted God’s purpose even as he experienced this tragedy.
How about us? Do we trust God enough to be obedient even when we don’t understand all of the reasons behind His request?
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.
Do you recall reciting this in your
earlier years in a sing-song voice? We remember it when we see a daisy because
of the rhythm. God has a sing-song pattern for us to remember what He says. It
goes like this “you must worship Me, you must not worship other gods; you must
worship Me, you must not worship other gods.” We don’t want to lessen God’s
Word to a sing-song pattern but wonder if we said this over and over; it would
remind us of what God’s Word says to do and not do.
One wonders if the children had that
pattern would they have refrained from worshiping those idols from other pagan
nations. They paid no attention to Yahweh; instead, they observed their earlier
practices. They worshiped the Lord, and for an added benefit, they served their
idols just as their fathers had done. It is no wonder then that God allowed the
pagan Assyrians to conquer Israel, and soon the Babylonians will do this to
There is a lesson for us. We need to be
in the Word daily. We need strong biblical leaders that will guide us and teach
us. Unfortunately, today we see that we are just like the nation of Israel.
Remember these words: “For a person will
reap what he sows because the person who sows to his own flesh will reap
corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal
life from the Spirit.” [Gal 6]
After Paul left Galatia, grievous wolves had entered and
taken captive their hearts. Paul said to them, “I am astonished that you are so
quickly deserting…” The author of 1Kings has recorded the story of the
disobedient unnamed prophet sent to the wicked king Jeroboam. Before we judge
this prophet harshly, we need to stop and see ourselves in this tale.
The prophet had stood tall and strong in the face of
Jeroboam to warn him! God had sent a sign by Jeroboam’s shriveled hand and the
broken altar. He had refused Jeroboam’s gracious gift of a meal and rest. YET—on
his way home, he stopped to rest. God had said not to eat or drink or return
the same way, but not about resting. An old man approached him, saying he too
was a prophet with an angelic message. Was the old man a true prophet? This is
when we let our guard down! We wonder why the prophet did not ask God for confirmation.
But…why do we not ask God when we hear someone say, God has told me to tell you
this or that? Beware of contradicting messages; if it sounds too good to be
true, it probably isn’t. God is not a man that changes his mind. If we want to
know, pray and ask for discernment. Be forewarned; the adversary can use even
what seems like righteous words.
Stay alert! Be on your guard. Check the source; be like the Bereans in Acts 17. Check to see if it is true.
2Samuel 22:29/Psalm 18 “Indeed, you are my lamp, Lord. The Lord illumines the darkness around me.” The scriptures are filled with verses that teach us about the benefit of light. Science has proven that plants lean toward the light, and if you want them to grow straight, you must rotate them each day. The Israelites were used to the Lamp of God, a.k.a. the pillar of fire, leading them in the desert. Jesus called himself the “Light of the World.” He illumines our soul with truth because, as he said: “I am the Truth.”
When God instructed the Israelites to build the Tabernacle,
he chose the Menorah to illumine the Holy Place. It was to be made of beaten
gold and exhibited seven branches. It was to be placed on the south side
opposite the table of shewbread and illumined this place for the priests to do
their work. The wicks were to be trimmed each week—what a beautiful picture of
the Light illumining our work for Him.
Jesus illumines our soul with truth and is a guide out of
the darkness of the sin-filled world in which we live and move and have our
being. “Only bats, and owls, and unclean and ravenous things are fond of the
night. Children of light walk in the light and reflect the light.” [Spurgeon]
Where are you reflecting the Light to others in this time of uncertainty?
We are told to shelter in place as this
Corona Virus slithers into our communities. We often think of the word “shelter”
as a structure where we can be safe from intruders or marauders but listen to
David “My God is
my rocky summit where I take shelter.” [vs3] If we look closely we see that
David wasn’t talking about a permanent structure but God Himself. He was
talking about confiding his hope in God.
David notes there is a greater shelter that is not tangible but is spiritual. In the OT, the Israelites were given a shelter of fire by night and a cloud by day to protect them. It provided shade from the desert heat and protection from the desert freezing temperatures at night. However, we are not in the desert and yet we still need that shelter’s presence. We find it in the scriptures, in prayer, and in community, therefore constantly pray.
The Lord is our shelter: Psa 91:1 As for you, the one who lives in the
shelter of the Most High, and resides in the protective shadow of the Sovereign
God’s chosen leaders: Isa 32:2 Each
of them will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from a rainstorm; like
streams of water in a dry region and like the shade of a large cliff in a
parched land, therefore pray for them.
The world would have us
fearful, but God is our shelter in times like this. Where do you go to shelter?
2 Samuel 16-18 Proverbs 22:6 wisely admonishes parents to “Train a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” David was a man after God’s own heart yet he failed Parenting 101 class as well as the one man-one woman rule. He was a dysfunctional parent and husband to his many children of many wives. His first child, Absalom, was the first child with honors awaiting him to rule after his father passed off the scene but as we read this story we see that Absalom was foolish, prideful, arrogant, bitter and lacked respect for his father and the role he should inherit. And so now he seeks to usurp the king’s position all because David indulged him. Spoiled children do make a king or queen as we can ascertain from history, not just here.
And all of this began one night long ago when David allowed
lust to rule rather than God.
We can learn a lot from this story if we are willing to
look. Look at the fruit of indulgence. Look at the fruit of not being
discerning. David fits all categories. If we read Psalm 55 along with today’s passage
we see the heart of David. We wish we could undo life but we can’t. It is wiser
to learn from our mistakes and seek the heart of God.
1Samuel 4 to 7 The whole nation noted that God had raised Samuel as a prophet in their midst. But, just because there is a godly man in our midst, however, does not mean men have changed their ways. The Israelites went out to fight against the Philistines and were defeated and returned, asking: “why did the Lord let us be defeated?” Instead of waiting on God’s answer, they decided to remove the Ark of the Covenant from its place and take it with them into battle, much like a lucky charm.
There is a principle here:
Right questions do not have the right answers when we do not seek his face.
Israelites were not only defeated again, but this time, the Philistines
captured the Ark. God will not be mocked! Eli’s sons died in battle; the Ark
was captured, and now God would prove He was the greater God.
Philistines knew that the Hebrews God had struck down the Egyptians with all sorts
of plagues, but like men today, they refused to yield to him. “Although they
knew God, they did not glorify him as God…they exchanged the glory of the
immortal God for an image…and served the creation rather than the Creator.”
[Rom 1 selected verses]
is God, and He will not share His glory with a stone god or any god. Do you
have a stone idol in your life that you are trusting in? Listen to the
psalmist? “Some trust in chariots and others in horses, but we trust in the
name of the Lord our God.” [Psa 20:7 ]
Ruth 1-4 In Judges, the people ignored and rebelled against God, and every man did what was right in his own heart. Yet God can and will direct our steps, whether we can see it or not. The time frame is the same, but the responses are 180 degrees apart. One Levite left us with a sour taste, but in Ruth, the sweetness of His aroma draws us to Him.
A famine is a test; will you
trust God or self? Elimelech, from
Bethlehem, chose to trust in his ways, not God’s. He moved his family to Moab,
the country that lived, breathed, and worshiped the idols of wood and stone. Yet,
God was at work to change the heart of one woman that we might know the truth
of Isaiah 55, “my ways are higher than yours.”
In Moab, Elimelech and his
two sons passed away, leaving Naomi destitute. The rumor mills are busy, and
Naomi hears that there is food in Israel now. Deciding to return to her roots
in Bethlehem, she begged her daughters-in-law to return to Moab. But God had
other plans for God is a promise keeper and He is in the business of preparing
the Messianic line through one submissive daughter-in-law, Ruth, who chooses to
accompany Naomi with these famous words: “your God will be my God.”
God can and will work even if
we fail to trust Him. He has his people ready to complete his promise and bring
them to Jesus.
Judges 18-19 As the Israelites moved farther and farther away from Yahweh, people began to look for other means to bring them success. Unfortunately, the principle of pursuing God’s kingdom and his righteousness has taken a back seat. Meet Micah, whose name means “who is like God” as an example. He lived in the time when Israel had no king, and each man did what he considered right. He lived just a stone’s throw from the tent of God in Shiloh, but God’s word and principles were far from his memories of a holy lifestyle. Instead, if someone stole from you and you had the opportunity to steal back, it was rewarded with words of affirmation. How far they have fallen to have forgotten the Commandment: “Thou shalt not steal.” Micah steals, but instead of correcting him, his own mother “blesses” and has an idol made to honor his treachery. Then Micah bribed the Levite to stay with him offering ten pieces of silver per year. That loyalty lasted until a better offer came to the Levite. Micah then met his match in the Danites, who plundered an innocent town “just because” they were little and peaceful and when he faced them was told to “back off,” or he would face the same consequences.
These stories remind us of gang wars and the memory of Al
Capone; bribery, murder, payoffs, and more. When God is absent, men’s hearts
are evil continually as they look for prosperity, and the wealth and prosperity
gospel takes precedence. We read about it in Noah’s day and now again here in
Micah’s day and fast forward to today.
It is stories like this that should drive us back to God and
His word. Proverbs 3: do not let mercy and truth leave you; bind them around
your neck. Acknowledge God and follow Him in all your ways, and he will make
your paths straight.