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BIBLE READ-THROUGH: DAY 26 REFLECTION (JEREMIAH 50 – EZEKIEL 19:14)

“40 Days and 40 Nights of God’s Word”

DAY 26: AUGUST 17

JEREMIAH 50 – EZEKIEL 19:14

Today we say goodbye to Jeremiah and hello to Ezekiel. Theirs are thunderous voices. Both prophets lived during a time when God’s mercy came to an end and his judgement began. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, God is patient, but when time is up, it’s up. There’s no wiggle-room after that. God’s judgement is without mercy. We will not be standing before him on Judgement Day expecting mercy, because there will be none. The time for mercy will be over, just as it was for the children of Israel during the time of Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

  • The final chapters of Jeremiah talk about the prophecy against Babylon. Remember that Jeremiah had earlier prophesied that the Israelites should surrender to the Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, and live in Babylon as captives. Now we see the prophet foretelling the punishment that God will mete out to Babylon for destroying his people. God used the resources of Babylon to punish his people but also to care for them during their 70 years of exile; but that doesn’t mean that Babylon gets off the hook and is free to loot, sack and slaughter with impunity. Nor does it mean that Babylon can sin with impunity. All are punished according to the measure of their sins, even the people God uses to punish others.
  • So when God tells you to flee to Babylon, however morally repugnant it is to you, flee there. But when he tells you to get out of Babylon or get caught up in the punishment due it, get out. We’ll read more about Babylon in the books of Daniel and Revelation. For us born-agains living in the Kingdom, Babylon is the earthly realm of sin and plenty that sadly also includes churches. God will support us and sustain us with Babylon’s plenty for a time, but he expects us to keep ourselves separate from its sin and to flee before he finally destroys it.
  • The book of Lamentations was written during Jeremiah’s exile from the Promised Land. Remember that Jeremiah, too, was in exile. The whole remnant was in exile. Even so, God fed them and provided for them physically and spiritually, giving them hope of returning to their home if they turned back to him with their whole heart.

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  • Ezekiel picks up where Jeremiah leaves off. He is also in exile. But unlike Jeremiah, he is not embedded within the powers-that-be in Jerusalem, because the powers-that-be have all been slaughtered and Jerusalem has been all but destroyed. Instead, Ezekiel prophesizes through visions.
  • Ezekiel heard first-hand the horrors that were inflicted on the unrepentant Israelites, particularly during the siege of Jerusalem. Out of starvation, fathers ate their sons, sons ate their fathers, and mothers cooked their own babies. How far from God would you have to be to do those things? THESE WERE SUPPOSED TO BE GOD’S PEOPLE, and yet they were indistinguishable from the demon-worshipers around them; in fact, they did worse than them. When those who are genuinely God’s people are hungry, God provides for them, as he did for Jeremiah and Elijah and David. God always finds workarounds and resources for those who are genuinely his people. The rest are left to take matters into their own hands, and what we get are fathers eating their sons, sons eating their fathers, and mothers cooking their own babies.
  • How indistinguishable are Christians today from the demon-worshipers around them? All those who worship anything but God and follow anyone but Jesus are demon-worshipers. This is the world. How indistinguishable are most Christians today from the world? It’s hard not to see, in the description of the lead-up to the destruction of those who definitively turned from God, exactly what is happening in former Christian nations today: “Wherefore I will bring the worst of the heathen, and they shall possess their houses: I will also make the pomp of the strong to cease; and their holy places shall be defiled. Destruction cometh; and they shall seek peace, and there shall be none” (Ezekiel 7:24-25).
  • I met a man the other day who introduced himself as a born-again Christian. He then went on to say that God had asked him to preach but he had said no, and that he hadn’t read the Bible in years – HE’D DEFIED GOD AND HADN’T READ THE BIBLE IN YEARS, AND YET HAD NO PROBLEM INTRODUCING HIMSELF AS A BORN-AGAIN CHRISTIAN! This is the absolute state of where we are as a people – Christians today are no different than the Israelites just before the destruction of Jerusalem. They are indistinguishable from the heathens around them.
  • As Ezekiel repeats several times: “Neither shall mine eye spare, neither will I have pity.” God’s judgement is without mercy and perfect. During the time of mercy, God’s judgement is mitigated. That means he doesn’t give us the full measure of what we have coming; he softens it, taking into consideration all the factors that made us do what we did or say what we said. But at some point, time is up. And when time is up, mercy is removed from judgement; all that remains is an eye for an eye. May you never experience God’s judgement without mercy, because if you do, you are condemned. There is no longer any hope for you. There is no Paradise. There is only the hell of your own making, forever.
  • God doesn’t want us to end up in Hell. He wants us to go to Heaven. He takes no pleasure in punishing us or in our condemnation. In Ezekiel 18:32, God says: “I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth… wherefore turn, and live ye.” Until time is up, God is constantly extending his invitation to turn back to him and live. A few chapters earlier, God describes through the prophet how he will bring the dead back to life: “And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. And I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh; that they may walk in my statutes and keep mine ordinances, and do them; and they shall be my people, and I shall be their God” (Ezekiel 11:19-20).
  • I don’t know about you, but every time I read the words “and they shall be my people, and I shall be their God”, I hear such longing in God’s voice as well as a promise and a statement of fact. He wants to give us everything, if we would only do those things that are right in his eyes. He’s longing for us to do those things. He’s saying: Here, I have everything waiting for you. Everything that you’ve ever wanted. It’s all right here. All you have to do is say “yes” to me and then keep your promise, and I will keep my promise to you.

One of the early chapters in Ezekiel describes a mark that is given to those who are horrified by the rampant sin they see around them. The mark identifies them as God’s people. All those who don’t have the mark are later slaughtered without pity.

Do you think you have that mark? Do you think that God identifies you as one of his, or is the identification only coming from you? Do you claim to be a Christian but live indistinguishable from the world? Do you claim the blood of Jesus as your justification, even while you continue to do what you know isn’t right in God’s eyes? There are many such Christians, even self-professed born-again Christians, just as there were many such Israelites who considered themselves God’s people simply because they were Israelites.

A label is just a label. You can call yourself whatever you want. But a mark is a mark. Better pray that you have God’s.

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The schedule for the BIBLE READ-THROUGH is directly below.

GOD’S JUDGEMENT IS NOT A MOVIE

One of the more disturbing trends that’s emerging in mainstream Christianity is the eagerness of some Christians to witness firsthand the destruction of God’s enemies. They try to smooth it over by saying they’re looking forward to “Jesus coming back”, but they can barely contain their glee when they talk about how all those condemned souls will finally ‘see the light’, though too late to do anything about it. It’s as if these Christians want to feel vindicated and have their I-told-you-so moment, or they’re channeling demonically-inspired schadenfreude. But this is obviously not what God wants.

When God makes his final move to deliver his judgement collectively during the tribulation, he doesn’t want us to watch. God’s judgement is not a movie. He doesn’t want us munching popcorn and peeking out from between the blinds while doing a play-by-play commentary and keeping a body count. He wants us to go into hiding, pray, stay away from windows, pray, and not come out until he gives us the all-clear.

There are many reasons for this, but the three main ones are that he doesn’t want us to rejoice over the execution of his justice, he doesn’t want us to try to intervene, and he doesn’t want us to get swept up in the ensuing chaos.

The slaughter of millions over a relatively short period of time will not be pretty. We are not supposed to be joyful about the dispatching of so many condemned souls to hell. Even if we believe they had it coming (and we should believe they had it coming), we still need to grasp the solemnity of the event. This is not a time for celebrating. This is a time for mourning, fasting, praying, and laying low.

God’s justice is perfect. As born-agains, we know that. Even so, we’re compassionate by nature, and if we see people suffering when we know we can do something to alleviate their suffering, we may be tempted to intervene and try to help them at the same time as God is delivering their punishment. This would obviously lead to all kinds of problems, mainly for us. There is a time for mercy and a time for judgement. God is able to make the switch, but we might not be as able to, which means we would be better off staying far far away from wherever the judgement is taking place.

Lot was hurried out of Sodom by the angels and told not to look back; Noah was kept holed up in the ark for half a year; and the Hebrews at the first Passover were warned not to go out of their houses when all the first-borns in Egypt were being killed. When it’s time for God to deliver his justice in the form of collective judgement, we shouldn’t be anywhere near where it’s happening, or if we are near, we need to hide and pray. The farther away we are from the destruction the better, as the less likely we’ll be to get involved.

Vengeance is God’s job. He’s not asking us to hold his beer while he takes care of business and to cheer him on from the sidelines; he’s warning us to make ourselves scarce. We are to hide our eyes from the execution of God’s judgement so that we don’t gloat over our enemies, don’t try to save them, and don’t get caught up in the confusion. God warns us outright in scripture: “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” In telling us that vengeance belongs to him, God is essentially telling us to stay out of it. We shouldn’t even have an opinion on the matter, other than, like the angels in Revelation, to affirm that God’s judgement is true and just.

So the next time you come across a discussion about how Jesus is coming back soon and his enemies are going to be destroyed, remind the people that if Jesus does come back when we’re still here, we won’t be watching the destruction from front-row seats. If we’ve endured to the end (as Jesus says we must as a condition of salvation), we’ll be in the process of being gathered together by the holy angels and whisked off to Heaven before the destruction starts. And If we’re still around when some form of collective judgement is rendered before Jesus gets back, we need to hide and stay hidden for the duration. No watching, no attempting a rescue of the condemned, and definitely no gloating.

When it’s time for God to collectively take care of business, it’s time for us to collectively mind ours.

   “Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.”

Isaiah 26:20