Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Book of Ezekiel

The Life Project: Ezekiel
Candice Roberts

I am thankful to be living as a New Testament Christian. I am thankful for the grace I
have received through Jesus Christ. I am thankful for the unmerited mercy that God
has lavished upon me. But sometimes, as a recipient of grace, I forget about the
unrelenting standards of God’s law. I forget that the penalty for breaking this law is
ultimately death. Jesus paid my penalty, so sometimes I forget that there is a penalty
at all to my sins. Ezekiel is a reminder that God has a standard and when we fail to
live up to this standard, there is judgment. Ezekiel is chock full of God’s anger at
Israel’s disobedience and promises of the discipline they would receive. Just take
these two passages for example.

4:16-17 He then said to me: “Son of man, I am about to cut off the food supply in
Jerusalem. The people will eat rationed food in anxiety and drink rationed water in
despair, for food and water will be scarce. They will be appalled at the sight of each
other and will waste away because of their sin.

5: 8-12 Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself am against you,
Jerusalem, and I will inflict punishment on you in the sight of the nations. Because of
all your detestable idols, I will do to you what I have never done before and will never
do again. Therefore in your midst parents will eat their children, and children will eat
their parents. I will inflict punishment on you and will scatter all your survivors to the
winds. Therefore as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, because you have
defiled my sanctuary with all your vile images and detestable practices, I myself will
shave you; I will not look on you with pity or spare you. A third of your people will die
of the plague or perish by famine inside you; a third will fall by the sword outside your
walls; and a third I will scatter to the winds and pursue with drawn sword.

Despite the chastisement they recieved, even in the Old Testament, God’s mercy was
available to those who had a heart of true repentance. Ezekiel 33:14-16 states, “And if
I say to a wicked person ‘you will surely die’ but they then turn away from their sin and
do what is just and right- if they give back what they took in pledge for a loan, return
what they have stolen, follow the decrees that give life and do no evil- that person will
surely live; they will not die. None of the sins the person has committed will be
remembered against them. They have done what is just and right; they will surely
live.” In other words, though the people were evil, if they would truly repent, they
would be forgiven.

In our age of grace, I think we often forget that God still expects repentance from
those that follow Him. We believe that mere confession of sin is enough. We think,
“Well, I confessed my sins. I haven’t really changed my ways but God will forgive me.”
We are forgetting what Paul said in Romans 6:1-2 “What shall we say, then? Shall we go
on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live
in it any longer?” God does forgive us, because Jesus has paid the penalty for our sin,
but that doesn’t give us a free license to keep on sinning. God does expect repentance
from us. 2nd Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some
understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but
everyone to come to repentance.”

So if God expects repentance from us, we should probably understand what it is. First
what it is not. It is not, as referenced earlier, merely confessing our sins. Confessing
our sins is important but it is not complete. I think of my 2 year old who draws all over
my wall with a Sharpee. He does it and when I catch him, I say “what did you do?”
“Marker” he says, “sorry, mommy.”. But then he continues to draw on the wall. My son
is not repentant. He confesses to the wrong that he did, but he has no desire to
change his ways.

Repentance is not feeling guilty. Surely when do wrong, we should feel remorse. We
should feel sorrowful over our sin, but again this is not a complete picture. You can
feel sorry that you have done something, truly sorry, and then go out and do it again.
Check this scripture out! “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and
leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” 2 Corinthians 7:10. Godly sorrow
results in repentance.

Repentance is not the desire to do the right thing. How many New Year’s resolutions
have you made? How many have you kept? We, as human beings, are nearly incapable
of doing the right thing. We desire to do it. But we fail miserably. Even the Apostle
Paul tells us that when he wants to do the right thing, he can’t do it, and when he
doesn’t want to sin, he finds himself sinning.

Repentance is not confession; it is not remorse; it is not desire. Repentance is a
turning. It is a turning away from sin and a turning towards God. It is putting forth
our best effort to quit the sin that we have been entangled with. It is a resolution that
with everything in us, we will run from that sin. But turning from sin is incomplete
also. We must also turn towards God. We have to turn to God. Without Him and His
grace, repentance will be impossible for us. It is by His power that we are able to
overcome. Romans 7:24-25, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this
body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ
our Lord!”

Ezekiel Suggested Reading:
Monday- Ezekiel 1-8
Tuesday- Ezekiel 9-16
Wednesday- Ezekiel 17-24
Thursday- Ezekiel 25-32
Friday- Ezekiel 33-40
Saturday- Ezekiel 41-48

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