Posted by: jamesnrachel | 13 November, 2009

The God of Judgement

Ezekiel 4-24
In this second session on the book of Ezekiel, we tackled a pretty large portion of scripture, which spoke of God’s coming judgement on Israel, His chosen people, because of their idolatry and their many sins – their unfaithfulness to God.

We started by brainstorming what kind of picture the word ‘judgement’ creates in our minds – thoughts such as ‘fear’ and ‘punishment’ were raised.

We then looked at chapter 16 of Ezekiel to set the scene, which likens Israel as God’s wife.  God found her, lifted her out of the dirt, and clothed her with dignity – in fine linen and jewels.  She was resplendant with beauty!  But then beautiful Israel, God’s precious, chosen bride, decides that she no longer needs God and can manage on her own, prosituting herself with the other nations (not even living up to their standards), sacrificing her children to idols and in effect completely soiling her beauty and purity with sin.  The passage then goes on to talk about how God punishes or disciplines his wayward wife for this.

Ezekiel 18v25 is a real key verse in explaining why God punishes/disciplines his people – “I don’t want you to die, but to turn back and live!” This was in response to God’s people criticising and blaming God for being ‘Unjust’, when in fact it was the people  being unjust, in being unfaithful to God and their covenant with Him.

Hebrews 12v1-13 also helped put things into context, as it explains that God’s discipline proves His love – He disciplines those He loves – His children  ” God’s discipline is always right and good for us because it means we will share in His holiness.  No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening – it is painful!  But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.” v10b-11

Launching into the study from there we looked at how God’s people, as are we, were called to be a light or a beacon to the nations/people around them.  However they were not even living up to the standards of those surrounding nations.

The hopes of the people of Israel were for peace, and these was being reinforced by the false prophets of the day, when actually certain disaster was coming their way and fast, but they did not want to hear what God was saying!

In application we began to look at some of the hopes that people have around us, and going further still, false hopes that even we as Christians have and need to ‘tear down’.  We concluded that we cannot necessarily ‘tear down’ the false hopes of others but rather to simply ‘trust and obey’ the Lord’s leading, to lead exemplary lives  and to keep God as number one in EVERY area.

So..as we came to the close of our 2nd session on this blockbusting book of weird and wonderful symbols and terrifying judgements to come upon God’s people, we came back to foundation of the Good News of the Gospel that we have, to identify once again our one True hope – Jesus Christ, the Pefect One, who came and took God’s punishment for OUR sin in OUR place, so that we can come and stand before God – clothed in HIS righteousness, not based on our own striving.

So in conclusion,  we do not need to live in ‘fear’ of God’s punishment as such, but rather take courage and recognise God’s incredible holiness and awesome power and so be spurred on to live lives that keep Him enthroned as number one as we live to be light in this dark world!

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