Today’s Reading – Ezekiel 5 – 7
And they that escape of you shall remember me among the nations whither they shall be carried captives, because I am broken with their whorish heart, which hath departed from me, and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols: and they shall lothe themselves for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations. (Ezekiel 6:9)
Ezekiel, like Jeremiah, is dealing with the children of Israel and Judah regarding their rebellion against God: their pride; their idols; and their immorality. Ezekiel has experienced already the beginning of the judgment, but he is sent to tell God’s people that the worst of the judgment is yet to come. He describes a horrible scene of famine and utter destruction. The saddest statement in these passages to me is when God says about his people in Ezekiel 5:8 that He is against them. God is fed up with the wickedness of His people and judgment has to come in order to get their attention. We tend to minimize or ignore our backsliding as long as our lives are prosperous; but when judgment comes it causes us to wake up and see ourselves as we really are.
In the verse above, God says that the people that survive this judgment will loathe themselves for their spiritual condition. This is the first step toward restoration. We have to be convinced that we have sinned against a Holy God. We have to understand that he is right and we are wrong. The next step is confession. Once we realize that we have done wrong, than we can confess it to God and ask for His forgiveness. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9) The third step is to make “an about-face” with our lives: repent and turn back to God, living our lives in obedience to Him. Now God can begin to bless our lives again. This doesn’t mean that all the affects of our punishment has been completely removed, but we can start seeing God’s favor again in our lives.
Let me give you a personal illustration. For the past year or so, our church has been experiencing a bit of a dry period. We haven’t seen much in the way of numeric growth, in fact we have lost some good families; we have been struggling financially; and we haven’t seen many saved or baptized. An older preacher once told me that when a church experiences times like this it is a divine indication that there is something somewhere in the church that is not right. Needless to say, I was very concerned about this as the pastor: I began to “loathe myself”. I even contemplated a few times leaving the ministry, reasoning that if I left the church, they could find somebody else that could fix things and cause God to once again bring His blessing. This time period of dryness caused me (and others) to really seek God’s direction regarding our ministry. We asked God to show us what we were doing wrong. We increased our time spent in prayer, and we increased our time out on the streets. I must confess, God never did reveal to me a big, specific thing that we were doing wrong; but He did convict us about a lack of zeal; a carelessness about His will; and certainly a laziness in fulfilling His commission. We are trying to get these areas corrected. Pray for us, we have a long way to go. But the good news is, God is beginning to bless this ministry again. Last Sunday, we had many visitors come; and many people saved and baptized. Praise the Lord! Now if we could just get the offerings up! (just kidding) The great Sunday would not have been possible without God first sending us a little wake up call. It brought us to our knees, and caused us to stop leaning unto our own understanding. Thank God for His loving correction.
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