By Benjamin H. Liles
"Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: 'Son of man, how is the wood of the vine better than any other wood, the vine branch which is among the trees of the forest? Indeed, when it was whole, no object could be made from it. How much less will it be useful for any work when the fire has devoured it, and it is burned?'" (Ezekiel 15:1-2, 5, New King James).
A large amount of God's charge against Israel for being unfaithful and turning away from Him has to do simply with the fact they were turning to the gods of nations around them than relying on their God: the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Recall that one of the commands of the covenant between God and His people: "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image...For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments" (Exodus 20:1-6).
It is why Jesus, when summarizing the greatest commandments, said: "'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment" (Matthew 22:37-38, New King James). Why is it we say we can abide when we turn away to our own paths? Is it that hard to love God with all of who we are? Or is it we see the grass on the other side, thinking it's greener when it's actually just dead grass?
Jesus told his disciples, "Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself unless it remains in the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you" (John 15:4, 7, Berean Study). So, when we serve God, remembering Him and His promises towards us can we hope to have any kind of chance in remaining in Him, to abide in Him. It's when we forget who He is, the things He's done on our behalf, that we go our own way.
We read, from David's journal, "How often they rebelled against Him in the wilderness and grieved Him in the desert! They constantly tested God and provoked the Holy One of Israel. they did not remember His power, the day when He redeemed them from the adversary" (Psalm 78:40-42). Even the same thing is written in Judges: "Thus the sons of Israel did not remember the LORD their God, who had delivered them from the hands of their enemies on every side" (Judges 8:34, New American Standard).
- By forgetting God and going our own way we call down destruction on our own heads (see Ezekiel 15:6-8).
- Abiding in God means we not only show Him we love and respect Him, but it means we grow as His people (John 15:4).
- When we remember God and all He's done on our behalf we can sit in victory over our enemies (Judges 8:34, Matthew 22:37-38).
Don't get me wrong, there are scores of things we continue to glean from all of this, but suffice it to say God desires us to desire Him just as much as He loves us. John Mark McMillan wrote one of the best songs in recent history. His song "How He Loves" has been recorded by many artists, of which one is David Crowder. Part of the song is this: "He is jealous for me, loves like a hurricane, I am a tree. Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy. When all of a sudden I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory, and I realize how beautiful You are, and how great your affections are for me." God loves you so much He can't let you go. Your heart tells you He doesn't exist, but He does, child.
You're hurting at this moment? Come back to the One who not only made you but who also carved out the oceans to share with you. The beauty and splendor of the morning rising and setting? He desires to delight with you in those moments. I know you hurt. So do I. But God loves you so much than to leave you alone. Don't simply go your own way, to destruction and death. Come to God. Come to Him with those things that burden you down. Talk to God. Tell Him your deepest fears, your regrets, your pains. Let Him take over all of who you are. Allow Him to fill in that "God-shaped hole in all of us."
It is always my prayer, my hope that I share those things God deeply cares for with you, my reader. I hope the words I share show you the depth of His love and mercy. I ask that God shines His face and favor on you. He loves you so much that He can;t leave you alone, ever. If you have a problem, find a reliable pastor, a man of God who can help you in and through your pain. Allow the love God has to be yours and for you to become His. Most of all I hope it shows my love for Him is due to Him loving me. I pray all of this in Jesus Christ's lovely name. Amen.
Latest article - Sincere Love.
Latest article - Sincere Love.