Through the Word in 2020 #156 – Nov. 17 / Bad news and good news


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By the time you get to today’s portion in Ezekiel 34:11-36:21, the book has been through several phases. The first 6 chapters contain prophecies against Judah and Jerusalem. 7-11 ramp that up with more specifics of Israel’s sins – but then a glimmer of hope. 12-17 are a further series of indictments, ending with the death of Ezekiel’s wife and how publicly he is not to mourn for her as a parable of how God will not mourn for the loss of Israel. 25-32 are God’s oracles against 7 other nations. Then beginning at 33, God begins to tell them that given all of His judgments, His people still have hope in repentance and promises in the coming Messiah. And that trend will continue to the end with an amazing vision of some sort of renewed Temple.

But one thing stands out to me I do not want to overlook. Coinciding with seeing Jesus in the midst of a very corrupt Jewish leadership in John 7:25-36 as well as under Roman occupation; and trouble already brewing in the Church in Jude’s letter- though ending with its wonderful doxology in 24-25: When God judges people and nations, the righteous endure those judgments along with the unrighteous.

You’re listening to Through the Word in 2020. And I’m your host, Reid Ferguson.

Now I want to be careful here, because there is a tendency in American Christianity to think of us as “God’s people” nationally. And while we can discern some unique blessings we have enjoyed, we have no reason Biblically to think of ourselves – as a nation – as God’s people. But this tendency is not unique to us. Other nations have done it historically. But in fact, Biblically, God has only ever set one national group aside as uniquely His and that is Israel.

Nonetheless, as we saw in the oracles of Ezekiel against the 7 other nations, God judges sins nationally even among the pagans. And there is no reason to believe our nation is exempt from that pattern.

Some of the ways God demonstrates His judgments against nations are contained in Ezekiel and other places. Bloated governments (Prov. 28:2); Corrupt, self-serving leadership both inside and outside of the Church (Ezek. 34:1-10); abandonment to sexual sin, homosexuality and sexual perversion (Rom. 1:24-27; and in the broader culture being given up by God to covetousness, malice, envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness, gossip, being slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless and ruthless. (Rom. 1:29-31).

Now my point in terms of the bad news is this: These things are not what we need to repent of to avert judgment – they ARE judgments. We are being judged as we speak. That the things above characterize our culture demonstrate beyond any shadow of a doubt that we are under judgment. This, the Church, desperately needs to wake up to. And unless there is great, national repentance, these judgments will continue. Let me be plain – the reason why our government and political chaos is what it is – is because we are being judged. And as I noted above, when this happens, the righteous endure the culture-disintegrating reality along with the lost.

But!

There is One who is able to keep Christians and the Church from irrecoverably stumbling into apostacy, and to present us blameless before the very throne of God – so that we stand under the blistering, all consuming blaze of His un-shielded holiness- with absolute joy: The Only God, our Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord.

So that in the midst of these very things – our hearts may freely give Him unrestrained praise for His glory, majesty, dominion and authority over it all even now, as has been before all time and will be forever.

Praise Jesus!

God willing, we’ll be back tomorrow.

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