Daily Reflections September 8, 2017
God reveals that the judgment of Jerusalem would be the cause of perverse leaders. He knew both what the leaders were saying and what they were thinking. Although they thought the city’s fortification and army would be able to save them from the wrath of God, the city would actually be their place of execution. These leaders would see that when they try and rule like other nations, outside of the blessing of God, they lead people into destruction. They would reap the consequence of their petition in 1 Samuel 8:5 that God relented to. With strong language, Ezekiel was told to prophesy against them. This is a sobering message to all who hold positions of influence and lead other. God knows what you do and also what you think. If you rule like the world, then you are like a blind person leading the blind. You will find yourself with your people in a pit (Matthew 15:14).
Ezekiel knew that God’s promises were not empty and with such vivid displays of God’s wrath, it is natural that he should ask if God was going to destroy all of Israel. But we see in this chapter a foretaste of Ezekiel 36:24-28, one of the brightest lights of hope in all of the Bible. God had promised that although Israel had been taken captive, a remnant would return and once again possess the land. Not only would the people who have been scattered by exile come back to the land but he promises a supernatural, spiritual revival. Verse 19-20 says,
“And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.”
With a new spirit and heart, they would be united in destroying every idol and avenue of adultery. They would serve in joyful obedience with a singlehearted devotion to God. That was the wondrous promise given to Ezekiel but it was not immediately fulfilled. One can imagine the gut-wrenching feeling of this promise and then seeing the glory of God departing. The delay and anticipation would be unbearably heavy to the soul. When would the Messiah come? When would this Spirit come to make a new people? Thank the Lord for the New Testament.
Yours in Christ,
Associate Pastor Evan Webster
Much of the Psalter contains the personal reflections of man’s relationship with God. We read psalms of thanksgiving, psalms of lament, and even imprecatory psalms. While the variety of psalms extends even further than these three mentioned types, there is no doubt that Psalm 50 stands out as breaking the regular mold of the Psalter. Psalm 50 is remarkably prophetic in its warnings against coming judgement. The author of the psalm does not record any of his personal reflections, but instead focuses only on the words of the Lord.
The first six verses of this psalm serve as an introduction. Immediately all attention is drawn to God by the double proclamation of His name at the very start of the psalm. It is then made clear that what is to follow are not words of comfort or praise, but words of judgement. Note the presentation of God in verse 3:
“Our God comes; He does not keep silence; before him is a devouring fire, around him a mighty tempest.”
This is not God approaching His people meek and mild, nor is it the imagery of the gentle shepherd in Psalm 23. This is God coming in His full glory to call His people to account. He will no longer stand by silently, but will instead demand covenant fidelity from His people.
Verses 7-15 contain the first rebuke from the Lord. God makes clear that on the exterior His people appear to be doing the right thing. The burnt offerings of the people are continually before Him (v. 8). What is wrong, however, is the attitude of the people making these offerings. It would appear that the people began to see the Lord as no different than the pagan gods of the nations. They began to think that God was actually in need of something that only they could provide, and that if they provided it, God would be in their debt and reward them with blessing. God scoffs at this idea.
“If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine.” (Psalm 50:12)
The second rebuke from the Lord is addressed to the wicked. God condemns these people for saying one thing, but acting in a contrary manner. These people put on a show of holiness by declaring the statutes of the Lord with their lips, but at the same time give those very lips free reign for evil. These people have mistaken God’s silence as His commendation, but God appears now to hold them accountable to His written word.
What is perhaps most remarkable about this psalm is the offer of deliverance and forgiveness at the end of both rebukes (vv. 14-15, 22-23). God truly reveals Himself to be “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness…” (Exodus 34:6). As God was then, so is He now. Hear this and be glad. If this psalm describes you, call out to the Lord and receive His free forgiveness. Put aside your religious manipulation and hypocrisy and cast yourself at the feet of the One who offers salvation.
Director of Youth Ministries Ryan Shevalier