If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 1 Samuel 27, 1 Corinthians 8, Ezekiel 6, Psalm 44. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read Ezekiel 6.
One of God’s greatest goals for Israel was to proclaim his glory through their greatness. If Israel had obeyed God’s laws and worshipped him wholeheartedly, God promised abundance to them—long lives, plenty of healthy children, bumper crops, and material prosperity. These promises had multiple purposes such as (a) to bless and benefit his people (b) to give them tangible incentives for doing what was right and (c) to demonstrate to the idolatrous nations around them that there is only one true God—YHWH, the God of Israel.
God knew well that humanity was infected with depravity and were incapable of keeping his laws without an infusion of new spiritual life that we call regeneration. In every generation God regenerated some Israelites. They loved him, obeyed his laws, worshipped him from the heart, and enjoyed some of the benefits of his promises, but most of the people lived in sinful rebellion against him. Although God sent judges and prophets and even some godly kings to provide them with spiritual leadership, most of Israel’s history was dominated by spiritual and moral failure generation after generation.
So what of God, then? If God’s goal was to make himself famous through the obedience of Israel and his consequent blessings to them, what did Israel’s failures teach about God?
Ezekiel 6 contains the answer. Remember that not only did God’s law (through Moses) spell out the blessings of obedience; it also spelled out the consequences of disobedience. Just as God promised blessing and prosperity to his people if they served him and obeyed him, he also promised judgment and exile to them if they rejected him and disobeyed him. In Ezekiel 6, the Lord’s word through the prophet explained to the people in exile all of the destruction and death that would happen in their beloved homeland (vv. 2-7a). The reason: “…you will know that I am the Lord.”
Yet God was never fully going to abandon his promises. In God’s grace, some would be saved from the destruction that their sins deserved. Verses 8-9 describe what will happen to them; namely, they will be taken captive and will suffer but in their suffering they “will remember me” (v. 9a), “…will loathe themselves for the evil they have done and for all their detestable practices. And they will know that I am the Lord” (vv. 9c-10).
Have you ever thought that the painful events in your life actually prove both the existence of God and of his love for you? If you’ve sinned and suffered the consequences for it (and who among us hasn’t?), then your own experience proves the teaching of God’s word that a person reaps what he sows. If you’ve ever experienced the Lord’s discipline in your life that corrected you from a sinful path and brought you back to obedience, then you know that the Lord loves you because “because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son” (Prov 3:11-12, Heb 12:6). God’s people needed a painful lesson in God’s faithfulness to prepare them to deliver Christ into the world. Though most of them were in unbelief when Christ came to the world, and most live in that unbelief even today, God will still make good on his promises for Israel in the kingdom of Christ. Until then, see how the struggles that Israel had historically were unprecedented and difficult, yet God did not allow his people to be permanently extinguished from the earth. All of this is a testimony to the existence and power of God. So, since we know him by faith and have the regeneration that most of Israel lacked, let’s take his word seriously and live obedient lives to it.
Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/calvarybiblechurch/. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.