RAF: This parable is most helpful. It is often the case that when we are being disciplined by God, we will leave off looking to Him as our help and supply. We imagine that if He is somehow displeased with us, He then wants nothing to do with us. But nothing could be further from the truth. As the parable unfolds – our condition is greatly compounded by our own responses. If, when disciplined, we run to other sources for the nourishment and provision we ought to be gaining from Him, we will bring ruin to our souls. Whereas, in His discipline, He is not after our ruin, but our recovery. If you are suffering under His chastening hand beloved, do run from Him, look to Him for the strength and blessing to sustain you even then. He loves you and seeks your good. Even in those hours, when you know you’ve sinned against Him and set hard and wicked things into motion – run to Him. He does not abandon His own. He will receive you and comfort you and supply your needs still. Our God is GOOD!
2 – Ezekiel 18:1-2 (ESV) The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’?
RAF: Chapter 18 dispels two very common but wrongheaded notions.
First, it deals with what is expressed in the proverb quoted in verse two. Suffering under the hand of seige from Nebuchadnezzar and his carrying them off into exile – many of those suffering then were accusing God of punishing them for sins their parents committed, but that they themselves were innocent and did not deserve such a thing. Such a mindset is common in our own day. People still want to avoid responsibility for their own sins by blaming it on their parents. But this will not wash with God. This is not to say we are altogether free from sharing some ill effects of our parent’s sin. We do. But this passage is dealing with final judgment for sin – being condemned by God as an unrepentant sinner. The passage goes on to show how God willingly, even joyfully forgives those who repent and grants a full and free forgiveness to them. No man is locked in some form of Karmic cycle which flows from generation to generation. If you sin, you will face judgment for YOUR sin. And if you repent, YOU’LL be forgiven and received. All this, irrespective of what external circumstances may or may not span all our generations. God deals with our souls – individually, even in the context of our shared sins and their results.
The second notion to be dispelled is that one can sort of save up good works, to be balanced off against sins later. Example: I’ve been a law abiding citizen for 50 years, so if I kill someone now, I shouldn’t be as guilty before God. Wrong. Obedience earns nothing, because it is only what is due. It isn’t some sort of treasury of merit we can draw against to excuse sin. That is not how God’s economy works. Our good works are to be done so that men honor our Father who is in Heaven, not as a form of capital to trade against wickedness. Such a notion led to the indulgences of the pre-Reformation era – and after. It is a twisted view of God’s notions of sin, guilt, punishment, judgment and forgiveness. And we need to understand how He works, not how we might like it to work when we want a break.
3 – Ezekiel 24:15-17 (ESV) 15 The word of the Lord came to me: 16 “Son of man, behold, I am about to take the delight of your eyes away from you at a stroke; yet you shall not mourn or weep, nor shall your tears run down. 17 Sigh, but not aloud; make no mourning for the dead. Bind on your turban, and put your shoes on your feet; do not cover your lips, nor eat the bread of men.”
RAF: By means of this startling example, God is about to show Judah how unnatural and unfitting sin makes us. This command to Ezekiel not to show any of the normal signs of mourning or loss over the sudden death of his wife – though warned ahead – is meant to be jarring. God had been warning Judah for decades upon decades of the coming judgment if they would not forsake their sin. And now, it has come. The Temple has been looted and burned, the worship of God as He proscribed it is wiped out, and the people are in bondage to their captors. Their response? They do not mourn the loss of God’s dearest gifts to them. They think only of their discomforts. Sin ought to make us grieve. Especially judgment for sin. It is as unnatural and unfitting not to grieve and mourn over God’s chastening hand for our sins, as for a man to lose the love of his life not to show any sadness. It is sick. It is the revealing of how desperately wicked their hearts had become.
1 Corinthians 5:2
Heavenly Father, please grant us hearts to rightly mourn and grieve over our sins. Do not leave us in our hardness.
4 – Ezekiel 25:1 (ESV) The word of the Lord came to me:
RAF: Chapters 25 & 26 run on one central theme: Do not rejoice over those, who God in His just anger chastens and brings down. If you find that tendency in your heart – run from it. Seek God’s deliverance from it. He will not treat it lightly. When God’s people fall, grief is our first and best response.