Jehoshaphat was the fourth king of the Kingdom of Judah. We are told that he “sought the God of his father and followed his commands rather than the practices of Israel.” Jehoshaphat sent out leaders throughout Judah to teach the people from the Book of the Law of the LORD. He was a good king, but we are informed of a couple of mistakes he made in his life. In one instance, he allied himself with Ahab, the evil king of Israel. He even joined forces with Ahab to enter a war even though they were warned by God’s prophet that they would lose that battle. When he returns, he accepts the correction from Jehu the seer. We can learn so much from this.
When we find that we have sinned and realize that we have messed up in our spiritual lives, it is so important for us to repent and offer our situation up to God. He will forgive and restore us. Of course, no one wants to deal with the consequences of sin, but God will also give us the courage and strength to face the consequences as well. Paul assures us that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Let’s remember:
We are God’s children. (Romans 8:14-17)
God is for us. (Romans 8:31)
God gave up his own son for us so He will graciously give us all that we need. (Romans 8:32)
God has forgiven us. He justifies us, declares us righteous in Christ. Do not doubt, because no one condemns us. We are in Christ. (Romans 8:33)
Christ is interceding for us. (Romans 8:34)
Christ loves us and there is nothing that can separate us from His love. (Romans 8:35-39)
God and Christ will help you overcome. We are told that in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. What does it mean to you to be “more than a conqueror” through him who loves you? Trust Him to lead you to victory!
Yesterday we got to see the thrill of victory, even if it didn’t come as expected or immediately, an incredible victory was given to those who did it God’s way. And the walls came a-tumblin’ down at the battle of Jericho.
Today’s lesson is in the agony of defeat – and what happens when we don’t do it God’s way.
The story of Achan and Ai rarely makes it into anyone’s Top 10 stories of the Old Testament. I don’t believe it has a VeggieTales episode or children’s Sunday School song devoted to it. We much prefer talking about victory and Jericho than sin and Achan. But when we don’t talk about it, it’s so much easier to fall into the pit ourselves.
With their confidence bolstered from the impressive win at Jericho, the Israelites send a small delegation to bring down the little town of Ai. But, instead they are met with strong resistance and lose 36 men in their forced retreat.
Even strong and courageous Joshua crumbles at the news. Defeated, already. Why God? Where were you? Why were we even trying to follow you? What will people say of us now?
Doubting and blaming God comes so naturally. It’s often the first response to tragedy and difficulty. But, God was not impressed with Joshua’s line of thinking. I love God’s answer (perhaps I love it a little less when it is directed toward me, though).
Joshua 7:10-12 (NIV)
The Lord said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.
We were having such a good pity party while pointing the finger at God. But, He will have none of it. Israel has sinned. They have violated God’s covenant. They have brought this upon themselves. And they won’t see victory again unless they destroy what has led them into sinning against God.
It is powerful to remember how the sins of one affects so many. My sins have the power to destroy not just me. My sin has tentacles that reach out to negatively impact and harm and destroy those closest to me – my family, as well as my church and my community and even sometimes my nation.
So it was with Achan when his greed led him to steal a few of the treasures of Jericho, just for himself. But as he hid them in his family’s tent, he was utterly destroying their chance for blessing as well. Even the 36 Israelites who died fleeing from Ai would not have perished if God had been blessing their mission. The devastating effects of this sin could have continued to snowball if the sin and the sinner were not revealed and dealt with quickly.
Of course, every tragedy suffered in your country is not a direct result of your own personal sin. But when we turn to blaming God we would be wise to check ourselves first. Perhaps He would tell us, too – “Stand up! _________ has sinned.” Perhaps blessings and victory are being withheld because there is sin in your life, your family, your church, your community, your nation that must be dealt with. Can we trace the defeats of our nation to the sins of our nation? It is easy to think like Achan, that we can hide sin and it will only affect us. But, we are wrong. Sin is serious and it has serious long-reaching effects on many. What are we trying to hide that has led us into sin? It is time to dig it up and destroy it. When we deal with sin, we can have another chance at victory.
Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Joshua 7-8 and Psalm 59-61
In Genesis 29, Jacob arrived in Padan Aram and found his first cousin, Rachel, at a well. I’m immediately reminded of Genesis 24, where Abraham’s servant came to this same place, probably to this same well, and found Rebekah, the then-future wife of Isaac. We’re not told if Jacob had prayed for God’s direction like Abraham’s servant did in Genesis 24. But we do know Jacob went there not only to run away from his brother, whom he had cheated, but also to find a wife. And bonus, Rachel was a virgin and was gorgeous.
After spending a month working for Laban, Jacob’s uncle, and working hard the whole time, Laban asked what wages Jacob would like as he continued to work for Laban. In Genesis 29:18, we read, “Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.” He must have really been in love, because we’re told, “So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.” Wow, that sounds like a romance novel (although I haven’t actually ever read one).
At the end of seven years, there was a big wedding ceremony. When Jacob woke up the next morning, he woke up with Rachel’s older sister, Leah. Laban had tricked Jacob, and had him marry the wrong girl! Personally, I can’t imagine how this happened. Did Jacob celebrate a little too much to notice who he was marrying? Leah had to be complicit in this subterfuge. Did Leah keep her veil on until it was dark? Did she not talk, because presumably the two sisters’ voices sounded different. Where was Rachel while all this was happening?
Regardless of the answer to any of these questions, Jacob had been tricked into marrying the wrong sister. After complaining to Laban, he agreed to work another 7 years for the wife he really wanted, and married her a week later.
Polygamy may sound wrong to us, but there are several examples in the Old Testament of men marrying multiple women. Having said that, there are no examples of this working out well anywhere in the Bible. According to Jesus in Matthew 19:4-9, God intended from the beginning that one man would be married to one woman for life.
Anyway, Jacob had tricked his father, and had cheated his brother. Now, Jacob was tricked by his father-in-law, and (spoiler alert) he would be cheated by his father-in-law repeatedly for 20 years.
This is an example of a principle that we see demonstrated throughout scripture, and in our lives today. We read in Galatians 6:7, “Do not be deceived, God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” You may have heard the old axiom, “What goes around comes around.” Basically, these both mean the same thing – everyone eventually has to deal with the consequences of their actions.
But wait, God had promised rich blessings to Jacob. Shouldn’t God have prevented Jacob’s problems? Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. Followers of God are promised, in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” This takes away God’s punishment for our sins, but it doesn’t take away the natural consequences of our actions.
Despite this, we can still rely on another promise, found in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
In his early life, Jacob was opportunistic and deceitful – looking out for number one. After working for Laban for 20 years of hardships, Jacob grew to understand that God was looking out for him (See Genesis 31: 38-42).
I think this isn’t just the story of a historical character and his family. I think these truths still hold true for us today, and we can learn from them. God will forgive us if we confess and repent. But we will receive natural consequences for our actions. Despite this, if we are living in a right relationship with God, everything, even those natural consequences will turn out for our good.
There is an easier way. We can save ourselves a lot of pain and trouble by just following God from the start. But we each have to make that choice for ourselves. What’s your choice?
In Ezekiel 16 God is trying to explain his frustration with Israel to Ezekiel in a way they can understand. He describes them as a bride that God had cared for and loved and showed mercy to. A bride who then cheated on God with anybody around.
“14 Your fame soon spread throughout the world because of your beauty. I dressed you in my splendor and perfected your beauty, says the Sovereign Lord. 15 But you thought your fame and beauty were your own. So you gave yourself as a prostitute to every man who came along. Your beauty was theirs for the asking.”
Now in Israel a woman cheating on her husband was grounds for the death penalty, and everybody in Israel would take this very seriously. While God is referring to the people of Israel intermarrying with other nations he is mostly angry about how the Israelites have given themselves over to the gods of the other nations and have offered sacrifices, even human sacrifices, and have strayed away from God’s teaching. For this, his anger will burn against them, but there is hope…
59 “Now this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will give you what you deserve, for you have taken your solemn vows lightly by breaking your covenant. 60 Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you when you were young, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you.
62 And I will reaffirm my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the Lord. 63 You will remember your sins and cover your mouth in silent shame when I forgive you of all that you have done. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!”
Even while God is as angry as he can be at them and is ready to hand the Israelites over to be killed and exiled and humiliated in front of the whole world for their sins he is calmed by the thought of his plan for Jesus to come and for his people to be reunited with him.
There is great comfort in this knowledge that God can always forgive, even if we are deserving of, or even in the middle of experiencing his anger and frustration. It also reminds us of how serious our sins are and how hurtful they are to God, and that there can be very real and painful consequences in life for those sins. We will continue to see in Ezekiel though that even in the middle of the pain and suffering we must have hope in God’s everlasting covenant.
Chris and Katie-Beth Mattison
Today’s Bible reading passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Ezekiel 16-17
According to chapter 1, God called Ezekiel on July 31, 593 BC (using our calendar). Jerusalem didn’t fall to Nebuchadnezzar until 586 BC. This means that the first 7 years of Ezekiel’s prophesying in Babylon overlapped the last 7 years of Jeremiah’s prophesying in Jerusalem.
In addition to foretelling Jerusalem’s destruction for her sin, Ezekiel adds another recurring theme – “then they will know that I am the Lord.” This phrase occurs 70 times in the book of Ezekiel, so it must be important. Ezekiel 6: 9b-10 is an example, “They will loathe themselves for the evil they have done and for all their detestable practices. And they will know that I am the Lord; I did not threaten in vain to bring this calamity on them.”
7:3-4 says, “The end is now upon you and I will unleash my anger against you. I will judge you according to your conduct and repay you for all your detestable practices. I will not look on you with pity or spare you; I will surely repay you for your conduct and the detestable practices among you. Then you will know that I am the Lord.”
And God pointed out through Ezekiel that He wouldn’t listen to their prayers, because of their sin. We see an example of this in 8:18, “Therefore I will deal with them in anger; I will not look on them with pity or spare them. Although they shout in my ears, I will not listen to them.”
As we read this, we may think, “They were sure idiots for not turning back to God.” But I wonder what truths might apply to us today?
Some of their sins were: idolatry, greed, arrogance, and lack of mercy – and these infuriated God. If we were compared with the ancient Israelites, how would we as a nation measure up? How would I as an individual measure up?
You may want to ask yourself a few questions:
Is God more important to me than anything and everything else? (If the answer is no, that sounds like idolatry). And to make sure we understand what it means to put God first, is He obvious in every area of life – including areas as diverse as finances, conversation, entertainment, and charity?
Am I merciful? If you answer yes, how are you demonstrating that? For example, how are you helping resolve the racial tensions that seem to be tearing our nation apart right now? How are you helping those less fortunate than yourself?
Am I greedy? If the answer is no, where and how are you giving your time and money to God’s work – and to others?
If I’m honest, I see that I may not be much more righteous than the ancient Israelites. And we as a nation don’t measure up well at all.
Romans 15:4 reminds us, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”
If these things were written to teach us, will we learn? What will it take for us to know that God is the Lord? Will we humble ourselves, confess our sins, repent, and turn to God wholeheartedly?
2 Corinthians 6:2 reminds us, “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”
Hebrews 3:15 says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”
What will you do?
Today’s Bible reading passage can be read or listened to here Ezekiel 5-8
The book of Zephaniah is quite short, but it is full of descriptive language. It recounts the vision given to Zephaniah in the time of King Josiah’s reign. This prophecy paints a colorful picture of the price that must be paid for sin.
Sin is not something that we can pretend has never happened. If we deliberately continue living a life filled with sin, it will eventually catch up with us. To maybe understand this a bit better, I was reminded of our physical wear and tear. For those that play sports or enjoy physical activity, you may know that these pastimes can result in injury. The injury may start out as a minor sprain or cut, but we keep going rather than caring for this injury. It is inconvenient to allow something that seems so minor to hold us back from doing what we want. So eventually this minor sprain gets worse or that unattended cut gets infected. Slowly something that was in our grasp to fix becomes a bigger problem.
Sin is also like this. At first, we may stray a bit as a mistake, but then we slowly get lured in. “What difference will it make if I do this one more time”, we may ask ourselves. But slowly the minor problem turns into something bigger as we continue to turn our backs on God. Slowly this sin, whatever it may be, will eat at us. We will have to face the consequences that sin has left in its wake.
Just like in Zephaniah, one day, the LORD will eradicate the sin of this world. It will be good to one day be in a world without sin or pain. And thankfully, God has given us the possibility to be reconciled to him. We do not have to allow sin to rule our life. We can turn to God and he will help us fight temptation. We just must trust in him. In chapter 2 of Zephaniah, God summoned Judah to repent. He did not want these people to be lost to their sin. He wanted them to turn to him, so that they could be sheltered. He gave them a chance as he has given us one. He wants us to take refuge in the shelter he has lovingly offered.
Just as a government wishes for its citizens to abide by the law, the LORD wishes for us to turn to him. However, when those citizens rebel against those guiding principles, they must face the consequences of their actions. We, however, must make the choice to live for him. We must enter that shelter that our heavenly Father provides.
These three chapters make up the entire book of Nahum. At the beginning of this book we are told that it is the vision Nahum was given. This vision prophesied the downfall of the wicked city of Nineveh. The language in this book is very vivid and paints a terrifying picture of the price that those in Nineveh were to pay.
God had been patient with Nineveh, but as Chapter 1 (v.3) reads, “The LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished.” The people of Nineveh had for too long relished in the ways of the flesh. The LORD could no longer tolerate the filth that they spread.
If you may recall, this is not the first time that we are introduced to the people of Nineveh in the Old Testament. A previous book, Jonah, describes how the people of Nineveh had before turned against the LORD. Eventually Jonah made it to Nineveh and told them of what God planned to do because of their wickedness. The people of Nineveh repented of their ways and the LORD preserved them. However, in Nahum, we learn that the people of Nineveh had again turned from the LORD.
An interesting part of this event is how it would have been in the grasp of the people of Nineveh to avoid such a fate. Chapter 1 even talks of how we can look to the LORD in times of trouble. It tells of his goodness and his care for those that trust in him. If only the people of Nineveh had continued to turn to the LORD rather than to sin.
Sometimes, though, it can be easier to turn away from the LORD. When we turn toward him, there are many tempting things of the flesh that we have to turn away from. Taking part in these sinful acts is not usually difficult on our part. It is easy to sin. However, the consequences that follow that sin are usually never easy. Our sin creates many issues for us in life.
This can be paralleled to how we use our time on a daily basis. Watching another episode of our favorite show on Netflix may be easier than getting work done, but in the long run, which one counts? Watching tv may feel good in the moment, but as we look back on our day, we will feel less accomplished and possibly even stressed because we may feel behind on our work. If we had worked hard at the start, we would have avoided the stress and been left with a feeling of accomplishment.
So, if we initially put in the effort to turn to the Lord and trust in him, he will be our refuge. We will be able to avoid some of the heartache and discipline that would have followed us if we took the easy way out and fell into temptation. That does not mean, though, that if we follow the Lord, we will avoid all kinds of trouble. On the contrary, there will always be storms that we face in this life. If we turn to the Lord, though, we will have a rock to stand firm on during these storms. We will not be blown away by the heavy winds.
When we began 1st Chronicles two days ago we likened the beginning of this book to a family reunion. It was written for the people of God who were returning to the Holy Land after years of captivity and living amongst foreign people who did not worship God (which had been their punishment for forsaking God). Now, they were returning and receiving a history lesson on what it means to be God’s people. If we listen in, I believe we can also benefit greatly from this lesson.
In today’s reading our list of genealogies is broken up in chapter 4 with a passage about Jabez. In two short verses we learn: “he was more honorable than his brothers”, “his mother had named him” – PAIN (in Hebrew Jabez sounds like pain), he prayed to be blessed, “and God granted his request.” (1 Chronicles 4:9,10). Makes you wonder why we don’t have any babies today named Epidural?
Seriously though, I hurt for this man Jabez. It doesn’t seem very nice of his momma to pass along the brief pain she felt at childbirth (I know, in the midst of it, it doesn’t feel brief) to her son to bear the name PAIN the rest of his life. Can you imagine the jokes he heard from the neighborhood boys? We also know it can be very painful growing up with less than honorable brothers.
It could have been a rough life for poor PAIN/Jabez. BUT – it wasn’t. Even though he had a few strikes against him in his early years, he knew to cry out to God. And, perhaps because of Jabez’s honor, and I am guessing his heart was in the right place, God was ready, willing and able to fulfill his request.
Just what was his request? “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me and keep me from harm so that I will be free from PAIN.” It is a touching prayer knowing his background. Other versions have slightly different interpretations – I especially love the NKJV, “Keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain.” It sounds so much more noble. But, either way, he cried out to God and God “granted his request”.
Does anyone else get a vision of a genie, or is it just me? Jabez cried out (with a list of 4-5 wishes) and his wishes were granted. Poof. Who wouldn’t take a God like that! I can fill a whole book with my wishes and cry out to God and all my wishes will be met. Never mind what God requires of His children. Never mind the timeline and big picture that God is working with in His infinite wisdom. Never mind the growth, compassion and character that develops in the midst of trials. I want no pain. I want it now. Give it to me, God.
I would love to read the rest of Jabez’ story – the daily details, his life’s timeline. I highly doubt that he never felt ANY more pain – never stubbed his toe, never lost a friend or family member, never needed to cry out to God again. But, we know that God was faithful. He blessed Jabez and He answered his prayer.
God wanted the returning Israelites to know the story of Jabez. He wanted them to know of God’s faithfulness and the good gifts that He brings to His children who are honorable and cry out to Him. Likewise, God wants you and me and the world today to know the story of Jabez. God takes us in our pain and gives us blessings. God is good. God is powerful. God is love. God is faithful.
BUT don’t be fooled. God is no magic genie. In fact, He is so much more.
Our history lesson continues. Keep reading, in chapter 5 (verses 23-26) we meet the half-tribe of Manasseh. They were God’s people. God had already fought their battles and given them land. They had prospered and become numerous. Their leaders were “brave warriors, famous men, and heads of their families” (1 Chronicles 5:24). It sounds so good. It looks like they were leading a charmed life. God’s goodness and power have provided for these people. We see God’s blessings – but do they? NO! “But they were unfaithful to the God of their fathers and prostituted themselves to the gods of the peoples of the land” (1 Chronicles 5:25). In their pampered state they turn from the One who has blessed them. They leave their Provider and Protector to run after false gods. They chase what the ungodly society calls good – rather than clinging to their Creator, the God of their fathers.
And, their foolishness comes with consequences. They don’t get more wishes granted. What they have is taken away. God uses the Assyrians to remove them – to place them into exile in a foreign land. They have earned themselves a Big Time-Out which will last several years, until God prepares the way for the exiles to return.
God wanted the returning Israelites to know the story of the half-tribe of Manasseh. He wanted them to know of the serious consequences that He puts into action when His children flaunt their waywardness. Likewise, God wants you and me and the world today to know the story of the half-tribe of Manasseh. God has given blessings, how will we respond? God is just. God is powerful. God is faithful. His loving kindness requires our faithfulness, too.
If Judges 19-21 were made into a movie, I would not go and see it. It’s too gruesome. It’s too graphic.
And yet, it’s recorded within the Word of God.
Why did all these terrible and awful things happen? We’re told at the beginning of Judges 19 and it’s stated again at the end of Judges 21, as well as recorded multiple times throughout the book of Judges: “In those days, Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.”
When societies and individuals do nothing to invest in a relationship with God, our moral compasses become messed up, our values and priorities get out of alignment, our behavior goes out of control.
Let’s not sugar coat this – this passage of Scripture certainly doesn’t – our actions have consequences. What may seem like something small and innocent can end up wrecking havoc on not just your life, but the lives of others.
Twenty years ago I was rear-ended by a drunk driver. I was stopped at a red light and I heard screeching tires behind me and suddenly my car lurched forward hitting the car in front of me. I had a cassette tape (Google it) sitting half-way in the tape deck. Thanks to Newton’s First Law of Inertia, it ended up in my back seat. And I ended up with whiplash. My neck and back have never quite been the same.
I’m sure that the driver had no intention of getting into a car wreck as he consumed his alcohol and then decided to get behind the wheel, but it happened. I certainly had no realization that when I got in my car to head home from a friend’s house, that my life would change due to someone else’s reckless choices, but it happened.
Whether it’s drinking and driving, or telling a “small lie”, or cheating on a test, or being unfaithful in a relationship these behaviors have consequences. When we start to do our own thing rather than submit to God, life gets messed up and people get hurt.
Thankfully, God sees fit to forgive and redeem. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” How awesome is it that God longs to still want to have a relationship with messed up people?!?! This includes you and me.
We have a King – will you acknowledge Him? Instead of letting your passions and desires rule your heart, will you humble yourself and submit to Him? Let the love of God cover you today.
Tomorrow we will be reading the book of Ruth as we continue (or begin) our Bible reading plan. Print your own copy here 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan and mark off each day’s reading. What is God wanting to tell you in your waiting – open His book and find out!
This portion of Ezekiel is, admittedly, difficult to read. It’s a pretty graphic account of God impending judgment against the city of Jerusalem and his people, Israel. God tells Ezekiel to shave his head and beard. This would have been an act of mourning for most people, but it was double disturbing for Ezekiel, since he was a priest and normally forbidden from shaving his head or beard. Ezekiel was told to burn, take a sword to, and scatter his cut hair. This was to symbolize what was to happen to Israel. A few hairs were kept back, symbolic of the remnant who would not be destroyed.
God accuses his people, Israel, the chosen nation, of being worse than the other nations. They broke the law more than the nations that did not have the law. God was bringing his judgment against His own people. The description of the siege almost defies comprehension, including cannibalism of both parents and children. This was to serve as a warning to the other nations: if this is how God treats his own people for their idolatry, beware of what he will do to you.
In Ezekiel six God makes it clear that their judgement is upon them because of their idolatry. However, there is a remnant that will be spared and live in captivity and will come to repentance.
In Ezekiel seven, a special emphasis is made regarding their idolatrous attachment to gold and silver. This wealth that they turned to and fashioned into idols will be unable to save them from the coming judgment. All the money in the world can’t save you from judgment.
In Chapter eight Ezekiel has a vision of the temple in Jerusalem. This includes the “Idol of jealousy” which we discover is the pagan god Tammuz. Tammuz was the Sumerian god of food and vegetation. At the summer solstice there was a period of mourning as the people saw the shortening of days and the approaching drought. Sacrifices were made to Tammuz at the door of the Jerusalem Temple. This was an absolute abomination to Israel’s God, YHWH as He made it clear that He alone was to be worshipped as God (see Deuteronomy 6:4-5).
In Chapter Nine an angel is sent out to put a mark on all of the people of the city who did not commit idolatry and worship Tammuz. They would be spared. But then all those who did not receive a mark would be destroyed. This is reminiscent of the story of Exodus, when the doorposts of the Israelites were to be marked with the blood of the sacrificial lamb, and those with the mark were spared their firstborn sons dying when the Angel of Death passed over their houses. It also points to the future (See Revelation 13) when the beast will cause people to have a mark on their forehead or they would not be able to buy or sell. This is contrasted with those in Revelation 14 who have the name of God and of the lamb on their foreheads.
God is a God of love and mercy. God has provided a means for us to be rescued from the consequences of sin. There is a way for each of us to be spared the final judgment of God that is coming. Jesus Christ, the lamb of God is the only means by which we can escape judgment. Along with God’s mercy is His holiness. God will not allow sin and rebellion to continue on earth forever. A day of judgment is coming for all the earth just as it did for the nation of Israel. God tolerated their sin for only so long, and then came the time for judgment. Mercifully, God spared those who repented by placing His mark upon them. God has been tolerating sinful rebellion on earth, but a day is coming when He will destroy sin and sinners who have not repented and turned away from their sins and turned to him through Jesus Christ. Ezekiel’s harsh imagery should remind us that we must not forget that God’s wrath is coming from which we all need to escape, and we need to warn others. This won’t make us popular, but doing God’s will is seldom popular among the rebellious.