Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode 577 · 9 months ago

God's Persevering Love (Ez 20:1-44)

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Ezekiel 20:1-44

Ezekiel Chapter Twenty. I'm going to read from the beginning through verse Forty Four. As I read, you can consider this passage in light of the Psalm we just saying and read these other things that I've mentioned. We get a sense, in among other things, a sense in Ezekiel twenty, of what happens when we don't praise God, when we instead turn our hopes, our fears are praises to idols. We see why we must give him our ourselves, are faith, our love and him completely in him alone. What happens when we don't, and what God has done, even in spite of our great sinfulness. So we come to a better understanding of both what God desires ourselves and our sin, and also his great mercy to us. So let's hear God's Word Now Ezekiel Chapter Twenty one through forty four. In the seventh year and the Fifth Month, on the Tenth Day of the month, certain of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the Lord and sat before me, and the word of the Lord came to me. Son Of man, speak to the elders of Israel and say to them, thus says the Lord God. Is it to inquire of me that you have come as I live, declares the Lord God. I will not be inquired of by you. Will you judge them, son of man? Will you judge them? Let them know the abominations of their fathers and say to them. Thus says the Lord God, on the day when I chose Israel, I swore to the...

...offspring of the House of Jacob, making myself known to them in the land of Egypt. I swore to them, saying I am the Lord your God. On that day, I swore to them that I would bring them out of the land of Egypt into the land that I had searched out for them, land flowing with milk and honey, the most glorious of all lands. And I said to them, cast away the detestable things your eyes feast on, every one of you, and do not defile yourself with the idols of Egypt. I am the Lord your God. But they rebelled against me and were not willing to listen to me. None of them cast away the detestable things their eyes feasted on, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt. Then I said I would pour out my wrath upon them and spend my anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt, but I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of those nations among whom they lived, in whose sight I made myself know own to them in bringing them out of the land of Egypt. So I led them out of the land of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness. I gave them my statutes and made known to them my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live. Moreover, I gave them my sabbaths as a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord who sacrifice, who sanctifies them. But the House of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness. They did not walk in my statutes, but rejected my rules by which if a person does shall if a person does them, he shall live, and my sabbaths. They greatly profaned. Then I said I would pour out my wrath upon them in the wilderness to make a full end of them, but I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations in whose sight I had brought them out. Moreover, I swore to them in the wilderness that I would not bring them into the land that I had given them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most glorious of...

...all lands, because they rejected my rules and did not walk in my statutes and profaned my sabbaths for their heart went after their idols. Nevertheless, my eye spared them and I did not destroy them or make a full end of them in the wilderness. And I said to their children in the wilderness, do not walk in the statutes of your father's, nor keep their rules, nor defile yourselves with their idols. I am the Lord, your God. Walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules and keep my sabbaths wholly, that they may be a sign between you and me, that you may know that I am the Lord, your God. But the children, but, but the children, rebelled against me. They did not walk in my statutes and were not careful to obey my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live. They profaned my sabbaths. Then I said I would pour out my wrath upon them and spend my anger against them in the wilderness. But I withheld my hand and acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations in whose hand or in whose sight I had brought them out. Moreover, I swore to them in the wilderness that I would scatter them among the nations and disperse them among the through the countries, because they had not obeyed my rules, but had rejected my statutes and profaned my Sabbaths, and their eyes were set on their father's idols. Moreover, I gave them statutes that were not good and rules by which they could not have life, and I defiled them through their very gifts, in their offering up all their first born that I might devastate them. I did it that they might know that I am the Lord. Therefore, son of men, speak to the House of Israel and say to them thus, as the Lord God, in this also your father's blasphemed me by dealing treacherously with me, for when I had brought...

...them into the land that I swore to give to them, then, wherever they saw any high hill or a leafy tree, there they offered their sacrifices and there they presented the provocation of their offering. There they sent up their pleasing aromas and they poured out their drink offerings. I said to them, what is the high place to which you go? So its name is called Bomba to this day. Therefore, say to the House of Israel, thus says the Lord God, will you defile yourselves after the manner of your fathers and go whorring after their detestable things? When you present your gifts and offer up your children and fire? You defile yourselves with all your idols to this day. And shall I be inquired of by you, O House of Israel, as I live, declares the Lord God. I will not be inquired of by you. What is in your mind shall never happen. The thought let us be like the nations, like the tribes of the countries, and worship Wood and stone, as I live, declares the Lord God. Surely, with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out, I will be king over you. I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out from the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand and an outstretched harm and with wrath I poured out, and I will bring you into the Wilderness of the peoples, and there I will enter into judgment with you, face to face, as I entered into judgment with your fathers and the Wilderness of the land of Egypt. So I will enter into judgment with you, declares the Lord God. I will make you pass under the Rod and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant. I will purge out the rebels from among you and those who transgress against me. I will bring them out of the land where they sojourn, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the...

Lords for you, a house of Israel, thus says the Lord God. Go serve every one of you his idols, now and hereafter, if you will not listen to me, but my holy name, you shall no more profane with your gifts and your idols, for on my Holy Mountain, the mountain height of Israel, declares the Lord God. They're all the house of Israel. All of them shall serve me in the land. There I will accept them, and there I will require of your contributions and the choicest of your gifts, with all your sacred offerings, as a pleasing aroma. I will accept you. When I bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will manifest my holiness among you in the sight of the nations, and you shall know that I am the Lord when I bring you into the land of Israel, the country that I swore to give to your father's and there you shall remember your ways and all your deeds with which you have defiled yourselves, and you shall loathe yourselves for all the evils that you have committed, and you shall know that I am the Lord when I deal with you for my namesake, not according to your evil ways nor according to your corrupt deeds. O House of Israel, declares the Lord. Men, in the back of your hymnals, a few turned to the shorter catechism. I'm going to do this now, and you find that question which I am looking for, because I don't remember the exact number here. It is twenty six. How does Christ execute the Office of a King? This is on page nine hundred and sixty nine. Nine hundred and sixty nine. How does Christ, Howeth Christ execute the office of a King? The answers this Christ execute the office of a king in...

...subduing us to himself, in ruling and defending US and in restraining and conquering all of his and our enemies. This question an answer is on full display here. In Ezekiel, Chapter Twenty, you see and hear the mighty power and words of God as he speaks with great authority over his people. He's very clear about this point. You are my people. And for the person who's rebelling against God, for who hates God, who loves the idols, this is constantly frustrating because he keeps bringing them in and giving them laws and giving commandments and they want to do other things. Those who rebel against God do not want to be under his kingship. And the fact of the matter is he's unrelenting. He doesn't just say lest forget about it, never mind, I don't want you anyway, or this is too much trouble, or I'll go find some other people. He just continually goes after them, again and again and again. We have at the end, another expression of that kingship of Great Power and glory, as he conquers us for himself, as he subdues us to himself, but does it in a gracious way, no less powerful, no less strong, no less full of majesty and might, but coming not according to our corruptees, coming not according to our evil ways, but according to his own perfect will and as well, of grace. It's really amazing, it's outstanding. It gives us a sense, as I...

...mentioned earlier, very specific sense of God, a God who is big, a God who is not small, a God who is bigger than we imagine agin gives us better than we deserve. To review just a little bit of ezechiel twenty, I won't go verse by verse or will be here a little while, but very simply, we have there's a repetition, right, you notice that there's three generations. God deals with those in Egypt, those who were brought out of Egypt, those of their children, and with each generation God sees them and commands them don't go after the idols, don't defile yourselves, don't do to detestable things like sacrificing your children, burning them on the altars to this or to that God. And in each of these generations, what happens? They do exactly what he has commanded them not to do, and he gives them very he's he, as he speaks to is equel. He recounts specific ways in which they do that, you know, in different times and in different ways. One of them is a refusal to obey his laws and statutes. Another the sacrifice of children, another refusal to repent. He called alls them and he passes them under judgment. This image of the Rod and each of these instances. The Sabbath is another example. He he has created these institutions as a sign of the Covenant, a marker in time, and their weekly rhythms, on which he himself defines, is something that sets them apart and they don't care about it, they don't observe it, they don't remember it and ensuing so they fail to remember him as their king.

And all these things. God prosecutes the Covenant. It's one of the things you can think of. Is Ekiel's kind of like a lawyer standing up in the courtroom on behalf of the one who has been harmed, on the behalf of the king who has not been given his dues, and he says the law was clear, the expectations were clear. The gifts that he gave you are innumerable and many. He called you out for these specific purposes and again you failed and you disobeyed. Next part of the cycle that we see with each of these generations, as after the after, God brings the accusation. He says, I'm going to be done with you, and then he relents. Did you notice that you're kind of expecting it all over, be over, because he says it's all over, I'm going to put an end to you, this is all the defilement and corruptions will stop. And then he doesn't. He relents from the disaster. He stops short of destroying his people, in removing them all from the face of the earth. And there's a specific reason he gives. Do you remember what it was? The specific reason he gives several times over, and it's it's because of his name, because of the watching nations, that he will not do this thing. We have to ask yourself, what is it about God's name? What is it about his honor that he wants to uphold? And the answer is his promises. He made a promise to Abraham to make him the father of many people, a blessed father, an exalted father, one through whom all the nations of the Earth would be blessed. And if God blots out his people from the earth, if he takes his thumb and just says never mind on Abraham and that family over, then he has failed to fulfill the covenant that he...

...promised to fulfill. Yes, is people under Moses have failed to fulfill the covenant that God brought them out and told them do this and you will live. He says two three times in this passage. This is the law, that you may live by it. And they are not living by it and they are dying by it. So the question is is that, how come they don't die? How come he keeps relenting? Well, it's because there was an earlier covenant, because this covenant that God made with Moses was attached to another covenant, promise to Abraham, by which he walked through these animals and animals cut in half and said, essentially, may these thing, this death that has come upon these animals, happen to me if I don't fulfill my promise to you, Abraham. He says to Abraham, I will do this period, I will fulfill my promise, I will do these things for you. And so if God blots out his people, then we have to ask, and the nations of the world will ask, well, what was that Abraham thing all about? Yes, the people disobeyed, but how did God fulfill his promises? How did he keep his word? Over and over in the psalms right we read about his steadfast love, his loving kindness that never fails, his promises that never fail. If God were to blot out his people, what would that say about his name? When he says to Abraham, I will be your God, to his children, you will be my people, God has sworn by his own name. Hebrews says, to keep the oath, to keep the promise, and so he relents once,...

...twice, three times. He relents over and over again. And of course we know that these summaries, if you know a little bit about the Old Testament, our summaries, we could pile up the examples, over and over and over again, of the even more specific ways in which God relents from disaster, in which God saves his people and Pours Out His grace even as he judges them and disciplines them for his sin. He keeps these promises to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, to Israel, his people. He holds a remnant, he presses them on, he gives the next generation another chance and he doesn't blot them out from the face of the earth. One of the things this teaches us is exactly what our sins deserve. The Lord is very clear about this. When we refuse him, when we cast him off as our king, we deserve death, not only because the evil of our sins, but let us remember, he is the God of life. If you take a plant that needs daily full sun and yes, get under the kitchen cabinet, it's going to die right. It's just what happens when you get away from the light. Nature runs its course and we, by nature, made in the image of God, are made to be dependent on him. We are made our chief end is to glorify him and enjoy him forever. That's what we were designed by God himself to do. And so when we reject him, when we turn away from him, when we say to the king, I'm not going to obey your laws, not only do we receive the just penalty for that death and his wrath, his curse,...

...but it's natural consequences too. You get out from under the light, you escape into the darkness, you believe the lies of the evil one and you will experience those consequences, like the plant under the counter that needs full sun. We die. This passage and the idolatry and the rebellion that it's found in it reminds us of what our sins deserve. Where they lead, as the Lord says, the law. Those who keep the law live. What happens when we don't keep the law? We die. That's what our sins deserve. They deserve punishment, they deserve death. Another thing they is. Our sins bring us is at I shouldn't put it. PUT THEM IN THE POST wave of I'll just keep going. Another thing our sins bring us is a separation between us and God. Right, this is restating in a way what I just said, but I want you to see it through another Lens, the Lens through which this chapter begins and ends. The elders of Israel do what. They go to inquire of the Lord. What does he say? No, I'm not talking to you. There is a separation between them. Now the Lord tells us to inquire of him all the time. Ask and you will receive. Go to your father, who loves to give to you, and on and on and on. So why here a separation? Why is here here? Why here is he saying no, I will not let you inquire of me. I will not speak to you except this word of judgment, because this is another thing our sins do. They separate us from him. God offers us, over and over and over again, opportunities...

...to repent, opportunities to serve him. But there comes a time when judgment comes, when those opportunities are no more, when God turns his ear against us and will not hear. Now, in this life we are promised, we are promised every opportunity to turn and save. Even at the very last hour of our lives, the very last minute, the very last second, God offers to us an opportunity to cling to him, to find forgiveness for our sins and in in repentance. But whatever that next second is, whatever that next minute is, and we don't always know when it be, when we die, that's it. There comes a day, God says, when he will judge all of us. We will raise up us out of the dead and judge us either according to our sins or according to the forgiveness of our sins that we have in Christ. There is a separation between us and him. That happens and we cannot, we must not take that for granted. God speak to us in his mercy, is loving kindness. He comes to us in his gentleness. Over and over and over again, hear him, receive him, listen to him, inquire of him, while he yets, still offers himself to you. There are a lot of other things we could talk about, to other things with this patch. That was which this passage points us to that we can't take for granted. But let's turn now to the end of the chapter and the way that God responds to this continuing idolatry, the continuing rebellion. He says in verse thirty three, with great...

...power and strength, as I live, declares the Lord. Surely, with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out, I will be king over you. He is not going to let this people go, is he? He is even going to pour out his wrath and all of his strength and his might to subdue them to himself. I will bring you out from the People's and gather you out of the countries where you scattered, with a mighty hand in an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out. I love at the beginning of this chapter and and are at the beginning of this section and throughout, as we move towards verse forty four, there's this question in our mind, is like, what's going on here? He sounds like he's about to destroy them completely, as have we've seen before, right mighty hand, outstretched arm, pouring out wrath. And yet the result of these things is a gathering in a nations from the nation's and establishing them on his holy mountain, as we read in Verse Forty on my Holy Mountain, the mountain height of Israel, declares the Lord. They're all the house of the House of Israel. All of them shall serve me in the land. There I will accept them, and there I will require your gifts and offerings, he says, as a pleasing aroma, I will accept you. Do you feel the tension there a little bit? What is going on? How does this idolatrous, evil, corrupt people becoming, all of a sudden, this great nation, this wonderful holy cities set on mountain tops, being a pleasing aroma acceptable in the side of the Lord, even as he's pouring out his...

...wrath upon them? I will manifest my holiness among you, Verse Forty One, in the sight of the nation's and now they're all going to see. They will be a light to the world. In Verse Forty Two, you shall know that I am the Lord your the Lord God, when I bring you into the land of Israel, the country that I swore to give to your father's and there you shall remember your ways, in your deeds, which you defiled yourselves, and you shall loathe yourselves for all the evils that you have committed, and you shall know that I am the Lord. Let Read Question Twenty six again. Christ executes the Office of a King in subduing us to himself. Doesn't that sound an awful lot like Ezekiel? Twenty Jesus, of course, in fights us. Jesus woos us, Jesus is gentle with us, but he also subdues us. He also is a king who says no more sin, I'm done with it, it's over. You will worship me and you will worship me from the heart. He rules US and he subdues us, he strains and conquers us. The big question, then, is, how are we still standing here? How do we live when the Almighty God of all the world is pouring out his wrath upon us? How do you end up after that, with a city of light. How do you end up after that, with people who are praising the Lord, who are acceptable to the Lord? How is it that he deals with us? For his namesake? And he does it not according to our evil ways,...

...not according to our corruptees, when we have broken the law, when we have died in our sins. Was Because of Christ, of course, because of the promised one who comes, because Yah way come ums into the world and manifests his name into the world, in the world, in Jesus, Christ executes the Office of a King and subduing us to himself and ruling and defending US and restraining and conquering all of his and our enemies. How does Christ do that? He does it by going to the cross for us and exercising for us and in the name of God, his kingly power. there. Now, the world, of course, laughs and mocks and does not see a great God and great power ruling and subduing all the nations. In fact, they nail a funny sign up above the Cross and King of the Jews, isn't he spectacular? And they laugh at him and they mock him, they strip him naked and they beat him and he dies. What the Bible tells us is that when Jesus went to the Cross and this wrath of God that has talked about here, this wrath of God that will be poured out to subdues people to himself, is poured out not on the people so that they die, but he takes on himself, the wrath of God, poured out on Christ, so that we can live, that he leads the devil and all his minions in a prate of shame. He embarrasses them,...

...he shows himself to be the victorious and the powerful one as he takes on all of our sins, all these the separation, the death, the punishment, the misery, all of it, and he takes it on himself. How is it, going back to Ezekiel Twenty and that question, how is it that God will pour his wrath out and save his people? The answer is because he pours it out on himself and he removes our sins from US and he puts a spirit in us that wants to obey from the heart. When Christ executes the Office of a King and he rules and subdues us to himself, we're not kicking and screaming, we're not saying I don't want to do it anymore. We're saying thank you, Lord. He moves his Holy Spirit in us so that we, from the heart, say I love you, Lord, and we cling to him with everything that is in us. We become that people that he is promised that we would become. When we think about the sins that we deserve because of our idolatry, you can see why we come to this place whereas is Echiel puts it, we remember our ways, we remember our deeds and we loathe ourselves for all the evils we have committed. What else can we do? It's why we say, and you know in our membership vows, that we abhor and humble ourselves. And yet, though we are greatly saddened at the defilement that we have put on ourselves, that we loathe ourselves and the evils that we have committed, nevertheless...

...we also know ourselves to be the very people of God, people who have been rescued, redeemed and, by the power of His grace and the work of the cross, subdued. Oh, subdue my heart, Lord, subdue me, subdue us, not by your wrath but by your grace. Give us the power of the Cross. That we might no longer disobey, but that we might be conformed more and more to the image of Christ and shine with his light and reign with him forever. That's our prayer.

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