Chapter 14 gives us a picture of the heart of God. Elsewhere in the Bible it says that God is a jealous God. God loves His people Israel as a husband loves his bride. Israel turned away from God’s love, their hearts were no longer given to God. God wants more than anything else to recapture the hearts of His people who deserted him to pursue idols. God wants them to repent and turn back to Him.
God wants to have His people love Him exclusively. He will not let them worship idols, yet still come to him for prophecy. This would be similar to a woman who both goes to her lover but then comes to her husband as well. God will have none of this, no two timing wife. Israel must have a change of heart and that will only happen through judgment. The prophets were not permitted to prophesy for people who were also consulting idols. If the prophets did prophesy to those seeking idols, they too would be punished.
God tells Ezekiel that His judgment is certain and that no human being, no matter how righteous or faithful can stop that judgment. He warns that even if such great men of faith as Noah, Daniel or Job sought to keep Israel from judgment that their righteousness would not be able to save Israel.
In Chapter 15 God promises to make Jerusalem as desolate and useless as a dried up vine that has been thrown into a fire. Just as the vine will be totally consumed by the fire, so too, will Jerusalem be consumed by the fire of God’s judgment.
Chapter 16 is one of the most graphic passages in all of the Bible. If the Song of Solomon was rated PG-13, Ezekiel 16 would probably be rated R or NC-17. It is extremely disturbing to read. God compares Israel to an unwanted, discarded child whom God rescued from its disgrace. God later came along when Israel was old enough to be married, but she was naked and dirty. God cleaned her up, covered over her nakedness, dressed her up like a princess and made her his bride. Israel was blessed beyond imagination by God her husband. But then, tragically, Israel turned to prostitution. Here Idolatry is likened to a form of spiritual adultery. Israel had brought great shame upon her husband. In fact, she was worse than a prostitute in that she paid others her gold and silver to sleep with her. It’s such a disturbing picture. And it’s designed to give us a visceral reaction. It’s a gut punch.
The fact that God must punish Israel for her spiritual adultery is not surprising. Israel is only getting what they deserve. What is surprising is that God is going to restore Israel. Not because Israel deserves it now any more than it deserved it when God first cleaned her up and made her His bride. God is doing it because God is faithful to His Covenant promises. God made a promise to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their descendants, Israel. God does not forget His covenant or break his promises. God is filled with steadfast love for His people.
After punishing Israel, God will then make atonement for them. He will cover over their sin and guilt and forgive them and take them back. Then they will remember their vows and be ashamed of their guilt and will become a faithful wife and turn away from idols.
As Christians, we have been grafted into God’s family and we are now included as God’s bride. Through Jesus Christ God has found us in our sin, cleaned us up and made us His own. Are we sometimes guilty of idolatry? Do we ever act unfaithfully toward God and give our hearts to someone or something else instead of God? Remember, Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to Love God with all your heart. God wants All your heart. God is jealous when we give our hearts to another. May Israel’s spiritual adultery remind us that we must give our hearts fully only to God and no one else. Otherwise, God may have to win our hearts back the way he did Israel, and we can see how unpleasant that process was for them. Let’s always keep our hearts faithful to God alone.
Chapter 9 is moping about how things are. Jeremiah 9:12 And who is he to whom the mouth of the Lord has spoken, that he may declare it? Why is the land ruined, laid waste like a desert, so that no one passes through?
Chapter 10 is about recognition that they were wrong. Jeremiah 10:23
Chapter 11 How do you handle being wrong? What do you do when you hurt someone? This chapter is about their covenant being broken and the plot to hurt Jeremiah.
The question for these chapters should be how do you handle things?
For many its lying, anger, resentment and shame. But God has been very clear in spite of how we act, He will not break His covenant. How you handle that is the real question.
Tuesday, September 20
By Jill McClain
Moses had previously told the people all of God’s directions and commands. He gave them very detailed instructions about what type of behavior God expects. Next Moses lays out the consequences for either following or disobeying God’s rules. God has created all humans with a free will. We are free to walk in his ways or to defy his directions. However, there are definite consequences for the choices we make. Chapter 28 first lists a series of blessings that the people will receive if they observe God’s decrees. There are blessings for individuals and the entire nation. Crops, livestock and children will all flourish, enemies will be defeated, and the people will be granted “abundant prosperity” (verse 11). Conversely, there is also a list of curses that the people will face if they are disobedient. Diseases, plagues, famine, and the loss of their land are just some of the curses listed. Ultimately, God’s people are always free to choose if they will follow in his ways, but there will be consequences for their actions.
Forty years earlier God and his people had made a covenant. God promised to bless the Israelites, and they in turn, vowed to love and obey God. In Chapter 29, Moses once again urges the people to honor their commitment. The chapter concludes with verse 29, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” There are some secrets that God has not revealed to us. However, he has shared with us all that we need to know to have eternal life. It is up to us to diligently study the Bible and apply all we have learned to our own lives.
Monday, September 19
By Jill McClain
Moses gives more instructions to the Israelites about what they should and should not do to please God in Deuteronomy 24-25. He gives some clear directives about what should be done under some specific situations. Then in chapter 26 the people are instructed to give a special tithe to the Lord when they enter into the Promised Land.
Following many chapters of instructions and laws, the people are explicitly reminded that they must follow all of these laws.
“The LORD your God commands you this day to follow these decrees and laws; carefully observe them with all your heart and with all your soul. You have declared this day that the LORD is your God and that you will walk in his ways, that you will keep his decrees, commands and laws, and that you will obey him. And the LORD has declared this day that you are his people, his treasured possession as he promised, and that you are to keep all his commands. He has declared that he will set you in praise, fame and honor high above all the nations he has made and that you will be a people holy to the LORD your God, as he promised.” (Deuteronomy 2:16-19)
When God had initially led his people out of Egypt he had set up a special covenant with them. There were vows taken by both God and his people that must be kept by both sides. The LORD promised that if he was their God and they walked in his ways, then they would be his special people. Now in this passage the next generation of God’s chosen people were again repeating the promises of their covenant relationship before they entered the Promised Land. Humans are extremely forgetful. By nature we often forget about the important commitments that we make to others, even important commitments to those we care deeply about. On occasion, married couples will choose to renew their marriage vows. The renewal of vows by a married couple do not make them “more married”, but it can serve as an important reminder of their commitment to each other. In Deuteronomy 26 God’s chosen people are remembering the special commitment they have to God. God is a promise keeper. He will always be true to the promises he has made. Are you keeping your commitments to God? Are you following his decrees and walking in his ways?