The Israelites had been involved in intense idol worship, they would not turn from their evil ways, and they had become like everyone around them and God needed to deal with them so He sent Ezekiel, a prophet to get their attention. Listen to how God described their behaviors:
“You shall speak my words to them, whether they hear or refuse to hear; for they are a rebellious house” (Ezek. 2:7).
“But the house of Israel will not listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to Me; because all the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart” (Ezekiel 3:7)
“Because you are more turbulent than the nations that are all around you, and have not followed my statutes or kept my ordinances, but have acted according to the ordinances of the nations that are all around you.” (Ezek. 4:7)
“…altars on every high hill, on all the mountain tops, under every green tree, and under every leafy oak, wherever they offered pleasing odor to all their idols” (Ezek. 6:13).
You see, as God’s chosen people, the Israelites were a symbol for the nations. They were like the lighthouse on the shore, showing the way home for the lost at sea. However, their sin kept them from being devoted to God. And therefore, kept them from being the beacon of light God called them to be.
“You have declared today that the Lord is your God, and that you will walk in his ways, and keep his statutes and his commandments and his rules, and will obey his voice. And the Lord has declared today that you are a people for his treasured possession, as he has promised you, and that you are to keep all his commandments, and that he will set you in praise and in fame and in honor high above all nations that he has made, and that you shall be a people holy to the Lord your God, as he promised.” -Deuteronomy 26:17-19, ESV
Of course, in Christ Jesus, a New Covenant was formed. Christ, the Messiah, is the only way. He is the fulfillment of Scripture. In Him we have the Good News, He is our beacon of hope, our lighthouse on the shore. To follow Him means to become a part of a holy nation, a city on a hill. In Christ there is a plan for redemption.
Read Ephesians 1-2:10
The Church, a grafted in merger of two holy nations that become one, has also had a time where God sent someone to speak with them about their sins, but also about the plan for redemption. Let’s look at Revelation. While exiled on the isle of Patmos, in the Aegean Sea, by Domitian, the Roman emperor John wrote down the apokalypsis, or revelation. This writing would give the Church correction and guidance for future events.
God always wants what any parent wants, connection with their children. Relationship. He wants to have time with us. Our lives without Him result in idol worship, which is a fancy way of saying loving anything other than God more than God. We can make idols out of just about anything. Before I got my Christmas present, a new and very large fish aquarium, I spent more time shopping for it than I did reading my Bible or praying.
Billy Graham said, “One of my great regrets is that I have not studied enough. I wish I had studied more and preached less. People have pressured me into speaking to groups when I should have been studying and preparing. Donald Barnhouse said that if he knew the Lord was coming in three years, he would spend two of them studying and one preaching. I’m trying to make it up. –Christianity Today, September 23, 1977
The beauty of God’s plan for us is how He always wants to redeem us. Always wants to give us hope and be in relationship with us. When the Church has behaved badly, or the Israelites did not do their job, God still sent someone to tell them to turn around before He rained fire on their heads. He is always about redemption always about us being with Him.
Right now with all that’s going on in the world, I think we have one of two courses. We can get all frazzled and worry, worry, worry or sit down, take a breath and seek the Lord.
Let’s look at one last story:
Now as they went on their way, Jesusentered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things,but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” -Luke 10:38-42
How does Martha deal with the stressful situation? What does Mary do?
Just like Billy Graham said Mary did. We can too. As we see the stressful world around us, consuming us, we can be separate from it. We can just sit at His feet.
Jesus said of the last days, “Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it. What can we learn from the churches in Revelation, and the Israelites about our time with Christ? What can we learn from Mary, who sat at Jesus’ feet?