By Benjamin H. Liles
I know we tend to do things out of character when we say we love God. But what does it say to Him when we forget who He is, what He's done for us, and His promises towards us? Do we actually have faith enough to lean on Him and His word? Or do we either forget His word and also Him altogether for things that are temporary?
Before I get straight into Ezekiel 8 here, I am asking for prayers for my wife and I. This past Saturday I was getting sick and couldn't see my doctor until Monday of this week. While I am getting over having sinusitis as well as strep throat, my wife has gotten sick on top of that. I am still under the weather, but my lovely wife is truly sick. So, lift her up in your prayers when you can.
This isn't going to be like my typical article I post up. Yes, it will still be my words and what I understand God is saying, but God is angry with our sinfulness and our sinful behavior. And while He is angry toward us, it's mostly due to the fact we don't take Him at His word. Which words are we to listen to? If we go by the Law of Moses and the words of the prophets we are condemned to death and separation from Him and His love. As Paul said, "What then shall we say? Is the Law sin? Never may it be! But I have not known sin, if not by Law. And indeed, I had not been conscious of covetousness if the Law had not said, "You shall not covet" (Romans 7:7, Berean Literal).
Since I always show the way of salvation by the gospel of Christ in every post, I want to do so here and now. Since we have God's law by obeying it are we not also saying we are under condemnation for not keeping it? Paul says this as well, "For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, because it is written: Everyone who does not continue doing everything written in the book of the law is cursed" (Galatians 3:10, Holman Christian Standard). But we have also a new relationship we can have with the Father.
When we are brought up by the rules of society, which God gave us (the Law of Moses is the basis for the basic laws of humanity), breaking any law is considered punishable. If you drive a car and the speed limit is 55 and yet you do 75, you risk not only other people's lives, but you're thumbing your nose at authority overall. In the same way we do this toward God when we disobey Him and His word. When we're told by the law, "Do not steal, for when you do you will by fined and possibly thrown in jail," it means any kind of theft will be punished. Makes sense right? What about murder? Jesus said by hating someone you commit murder. Have any of us ever hated someone else? And along those lines, besides that of actually murdering someone, those who take another's life by suicide bomb is still murder; so is taking an unborn babies life. Murder is murder and it is punishable. Maybe you will get away with it in this life, but God keeps a record of it.
So, we read in Ezekiel 8 that the people of Israel are facing God's wrath as they believe they are simply doing things in private that He will overlook. Things like worshiping idols. Worshiping carved images on the walls of the Temple. Worshiping the sun god of Babylon. worshiping the creatures of the earth. I know. We think it's funny and it does sound funny. But with God these are serious crimes. This is the sad part, however. What if you were called out straight to your face you are nothing more than a hypocrite? A white-washed tomb, not caring to take care of your inner life?
Jesus countered the scribes and Pharisees with those very words. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness" (Matthew 23:27-28, New American Standard).
Paul leveled the same charge to those just as disobedient: "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures" (Romans 1:18-23, New American Standard).
I want to make this clear, though. the people Jesus and Paul are talking to are those who hold a form of religiosity. If they had faith, they would lay down their pride and come to Jesus willingly. No. These men are teachers of the Law. They say over and over again, with Paul correcting them every step of the way in the books he wrote by the Spirit of God, "You have to obey the Law! You need to be circumcised! You need to worship God! You need to not eat meat!" Over and over the list goes. And I have this to ask just as Paul and Jesus did, can anyone keep the Law of Moses perfectly except for Jesus Christ of Nazareth?
No one can. No one is perfect. "What then? Are we any better? Not at all. For we have already made the charge that Jews and Greeks alike are all under sin. As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; There is no one who understands; no one who seeks God. All have turned away; they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit; the venom of vipers is on their lips; their mouths are full of cursing and of bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery lie in their wake; and the way of peace they have not known; there is no fear of God before their eyes.” Now we know that whatever the Law says, it says to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be justified in His sight by works of the Law. For the Law merely brings awareness of sin" (Romans 3:9-20, Berean Study, I have bolded the main points of Paul's argument).
We can have a healthy and reverential fear of God. It is the kind that has faith God can renew, He can restore, and have the kind of life so many have received from God the Father. It means we need to seek Him. It means we need to see through eyes of faith, to obey, to trust in Him and His word. Jesus Christ came, not just to make us right with God, but to heal us from those things we formerly held on to. We wise up. We get older and we are convicted by our conscience that says, "I've done wrong. I want more in this life. I may not know if there is eternal life, but I'd like to know."
It means laying down pride. Let me relate this to you so you can understand. Every month my wife and I struggle to make ends meet. We live on very little, and we don't always have the means to have food on our table. All our bills are paid, but once we get the things we need, hardly any money is left to feed us. And not only that clothes wear out, especially my wife's clothes. We rely on food pantries for food. As it concerns clothes, that's like a luxury item. So, I admit I think about money a great deal. On one hand I can't say I'm greedy for it; "For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs" (1 Timothy 6:10, New American Standard). Greed is having a lust, a strong desire to obtain by any means necessary; not to benefit anyone but self. I want money to take care of needs, not wants, not desires, but provisions such as food and clothing. It shouldn't be too much to ask for. In that extent I do have to lay down my pride.
I remember Christ's words to not "be anxious for anything." I know God will provide, but I struggle with faith in His provision. Is His grace enough to satisfy? Actually, yes, it is. But I struggle daily in maintaining my faith He will come through in His time. In that sense I admit I am like King Saul. I admit, even though I am blood bought by Jesus, I am still a hypocrite at times.
"The men of Israel saw that they were in trouble because the troops were in a difficult situation. They hid in caves, thickets, among rocks, and in holes and cisterns. Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul, however, was still at Gilgal, and all his troops were gripped with fear. He waited seven days for the appointed time that Samuel had set, but Samuel didn’t come to Gilgal, and the troops were deserting him. So Saul said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” Then he offered the burnt offering. Just as he finished offering the burnt offering, Samuel arrived. So Saul went out to greet him, and Samuel asked, “What have you done?” Saul answered, “When I saw that the troops were deserting me and you didn’t come within the appointed days and the Philistines were gathering at Michmash, I thought: The Philistines will now descend on me at Gilgal, and I haven’t sought the Lord’s favor. So I forced myself to offer the burnt offering" (1 Samuel 13:6-12, Holman Christian Standard)."
We need to remember those times God kept his word toward us in our lives. It's like we use Him like a contract; we only need Him when the going gets tough, but we put Him away when things are going right. No, we need Him at all times. I need Christ daily. And i want everyone else to see their need for Him as well. Is it that hard to believe God parted the sea for Israel to cross over when they were delivered by His strong hand? Is it a hard thing to remember God destroyed Israel's enemies so they could inherit a promise He made to Abraham in regards to the land of Canaan? It isn't. But as the writer of the proverb said, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding" (Proverbs 9:10, New American Standard, bold for emphasis).
By God's strong hand, He kept His word towards the Son, Jesus Christ, in bringing Him back from the dead. Christ is the firstborn among many. It is why Jesus could say, "For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from My Father" (John 10:17-18, Berean Study). I truly believe this is a huge point to make.
We have life through Jesus if we believe in Him and confess with our mouth He is God's Son. "One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation" (Romans 10:10, Holman Christian Standard). But we can't lay a hold of this if we sear our minds and hearts from listening to God. It's like Jesus told Nicodemus, "I assure you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again. The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. If I have told you about things that happen on earth and you don’t believe, how will you believe if I tell you about things of heaven? No one has ascended into heaven except the One who descended from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life. For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him" (John 3:5-8, 12-17, (Holman Christian Standard, bold is for emphasis).
We can't forget the wonderful and wondrous things God has done on our behalf. He brought Israel out of bondage from Egypt (the Book of Exodus). He destroyed Israel's enemies as He said He would (the Book of Joshua). He gave us His Son so we can have life with Him (the Gospel of John). What more do we need to know God doesn't condemn us? It simply means we need to acknowledge Him. It means we ought to be thankful for and to Him. Above all we need to have faith He will keep His word in His time. Some will scoff and mock saying He won't come back. But He said He'd come back and God is no liar. Scripture has been given through many to show God reveals Himself to mankind. But many claim it was simply written by men as a work of fiction to "get our hopes up."
Here's some food for thought: What is faith but "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony" (Hebrews 11:1-2, New King James, emphasis in bold). If the Bible was fictionalized, and God is a liar, we have no hope, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ means nothing, we aren't reconciled to Him through faith, and above all our minds cannot be renewed by the Spirit of God. Unbelief, being unthankful towards God, and forgetting about Him is the hallmark of God's wrath. If you don't believe that, read both Ezekiel 8 and then read Romans 1. "You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder" (James 2:19, New American Standard). "
"When Jesus arrived on the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met Him on their way from the tombs. They were so violent that no one could pass that way.
“What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have You come here to torture us before the proper time?”
In the distance a large herd of pigs was feeding. So the demons begged Jesus, “If You drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.”
“Go!” He told them. So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the waters" (Matthew 8:28-32, Berean Study).
If the demons flee from Jesus as He is the Son of God, then surely we will bend our knee when He comes back. So be sure the Bible is purely fiction. If it is all a lie why would I even keep putting the gospel of Jesus Christ up in every article God reveals to me? He reveals Himself to ALL people through nature, in and by His word (scripture from the Bible), our conscience bears witness for or against us, and Jesus Christ reveals God (I base this sentence through an article online titled How Has God Revealed Himself to Humanity?). We have full evidence. We just either choose to accept or reject. Don't reject Him. It's not too late yet.