Daily Reflections September 27, 2017
The sovereignty of God is on full display in Ezekiel 30. As I reflect on this text I am reminded of Daniel’s description of God:
“He changes times and seasons;
he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.” (Dan. 2:21 ESV)
In the preceding chapter, Ezekiel 29, we are provided a glimpse into God’s purposes for destroying Egypt. God’s people had continuously gone back to their Egyptian neighbors looking for defense and provision. When they should have been looking to God, they instead leaned on Egypt and, like a staff made of flimsy material (29:6-7), Egypt consistently proved to be unable to support Israel. It is understandable that God would finally proclaim judgement on Egypt.
Perhaps the challenging detail in this story is the means by which God brings about His purposes. He chooses to use a strange instrument for that objective. He raises up the nation of Babylon to humble the Egyptians. An Israelite listening to Ezekiel’s prophecy might find the whole situation a little perplexing.
Why would God use Babylon? Remember, Ezekiel is prophesying while living in Babylonian captivity. The Babylonians would not be perceived by any stretch of the imagination to be “the good guys” in this scenario. And yet, they are the weapon that God yields to bring about His purposes. Do the Babylonians hold a favoured position with God? Over a generation before Ezekiel’s ministry, Isaiah prophesied that God would raise up a King named Cyrus from the North to destroy the Babylonians. Babylon is neither guiltless, nor favored by God and yet He uses them.
I suspect that part of the reason why new Bible readers struggle with reading the prophets is because it’s difficult to keep straight all the various world powers that arise. The Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Babylonians and the Persians are just a few of the nations mentioned. How and when do these nations arise to power? And what is their relation to one another? Those details become more and more clear with each passing year of faithful study, but you don’t need to understand those details to understand this lesson in today’s text: God rules the nations.
Every power that arises in this world does so only at the permission of God. The nations rise and fall according to His purposes. As we read the prophets, we are reminded that God’s people frequently forget who is truly in control. Let’s not prove ourselves to be guilty of the same mistake. No matter the election results, and no matter who possesses the biggest weapons, no nation is anything more than God’s instrument for His perfect purposes.
God is on His throne. There is no one over Him. This was true in the days of Ezekiel and it remains true today; He rules the world by His word of power. The more we come to know about our God, the more we understand and acknowledge that this is comforting truth.
Pastor Levi denBok
Spiritually speaking we are no different than those who lived millennia before us. God’s Word is a gift that enables us to look back and learn. It is an ancient book with present wisdom for a future hope. It warns of dangers and offers a path of safety. It shows the human condition and testifies of the mercy of God.
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Romans 15:4 ESV)
Psalm 78 reviews Israel’s history; in it we are to learn lessons from the past. Careful Bible readers will note the “sin, repent” cycle that characterized God’s Old Testament people: that is, God’s people were favoured and delivered by God, experienced blessings, became comfortable, drifted, embraced idols, forsook God, came under judgment, experienced crisis, cried out to God, and once again experienced God’s deliverance.
How many times does this cycle need to happen before God’s people learn? How many times does this happen before God’s patience runs out? The opening lines of this section of Psalm 78 set before us the amazingly gracious forbearance of our God:
Yet he, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath. (Psalm 78:38 ESV)
We have every reason to bow before God and worship Him. He is God and he is good. We have every reason to remain faithful to God, yet, prone to wander, our hearts prefer other gods. Sadly we are no different than those in Psalm 78 who often,
…rebelled against him in the wilderness and grieved him in the desert! They tested God again and again and provoked the Holy One of Israel. (Psalm 78:40-41 ESV)
We wander not because God is unjust or unloving; we wander and provoke the Most High God to anger because our hearts are sin sick. This is our human condition.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9 ESV)
But God, who is rich in mercy, yet again delivered his people by raising up his faithful shepherd David. God sent them a man after his own heart to lead them and give them rest from their enemies.
With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand. (Psalm 78:72 ESV)
However, this man of integrity was deeply flawed and unable to be the saviour we need. But God, who is rich in mercy, yet again delivered his people by raising up his faithful Shepherd and Servant, the Son of David, the Lord Jesus Christ.
I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep. And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. (Ezekiel 34:22-23 ESV)
D.A. Carson writes, “Christians know how the storyline of Psalm 78 develops. David’s dynasty descends into corruption; God’s wrath is greater yet, and the Exile ensues. But worse wrath, and more glorious love, were yet to be displayed in the cross.” 
We the offending rebels don’t deserve God’s mercy. There is nothing good in us that merits any standing before God. We simply stand in awe of our loving Saviour Jesus, give him our wayward hearts and ask him to shepherd us in his paths of righteousness, for his glory.
Associate Pastor Jody Cross
 For The Love of God, May 25, D.A. Carson, s3.amazonaws.com/tgc-documents/carson/1998_for_the_love_of_God.pdf