God is God and we are not. God’s ways are not our ways. God sees the whole picture, we live with tunnel vision, seeing only a small part of life.
What has happened on the Gulf Coast is horrible. However, the devastation of these hurricanes is not nearly as bad as what happened to Jerusalem in 586 B.C.
Ezekiel lived through that time. God commanded Ezekiel to warn His people to repent and turn to Him. When they didn’t, devastation came, and only a remnant of people were left. Ezekiel spent 15 years encouraging them of God’s desire to rebuild and restore them.
Ezekiel told the people for seven years they needed to repent. They wanted to copy the sins of the other nations and were in over their heads in idol worship. The love of money also plagued them. Their problems started when they chose not to listen to God and lived life their way.
Since the time of Moses God’s people have fallen away from their faith and turned to idol worship. After patiently waiting for over 900 years God punished his people. The destruction was absolutely devastating. The prophet Jeremiah, records what Jerusalem looked like after the destruction in Lamentations 1 and 2. We have never seen anything like it!
The first 32 chapters of Ezekiel are warnings to people to turn back to God. They didn’t listen. Jerusalem is destroyed, and now comes Ezekiel 33. Come hell or high water these people weren’t going to change, but God is God and God did what God can do, and He got their attention. The people left were wondering how they were going to survive; their sins were heavy upon them and they were wasting away. They were captives in Babylon, no longer free in Jerusalem, and their lives were drastically changed.
The first words that God told these devastated people was, “I take no pleasure in the death of wicked people. I only want them to turn from their wicked ways so they can live.” (Ezekiel 33:11)
Take a moment to take that in. God is not sitting in heaven with a big stick waiting to hit us when we get out of line. It is much the opposite. God is so patient with us. In Romans 2:4 it tells us that God’s kindness leads us to repentance. He continually blesses us and lets us do our own thing hoping we will repent. That’s why we think we are getting away with our sin.
God wants all of us to live! He wants our lives on earth to be abundant and He wants to give us eternal life. But when we continue to go and do our own thing, hardening our hearts year after year, then God’s punishment will come.
God knows, and history bears witness, that left to ourselves, we become lovers of money, willing to kill and destroy others to have what we want! Our sins are destroying us and our children, God wants better for all of us. He wants to give us life. Jesus said, “I have come to give you life, life abundantly.” (John 10:10)
In Ezekiel 33:11 try to feel the emotion of God pleading with us, his people, “Turn! Turn from your wickedness, O people of Israel! Why should you die?”
Read thru Ezekiel 33:10-20, in these verses God explains that it is never too late for a wicked person to turn to God. It pleases Him greatly to give us life.
These verses also explain that a righteous person can’t live doing the right thing for awhile and then turn to a sinful lifestyle and expect to receive the blessings of God. It won’t happen. God will destroy those people for their sins. Guess what, playing at church and then doing wrong may fool some people, but God is not fooled. He sees it all and anyone living that way will be destroyed. Several places in Ezekiel God points out that the love of money caused the people to loose their way. The Bible has many verses telling us how to handle money. God wants to use money to get us into shape, but many of us are letting money shape us into something very ugly and very wrong.
God is the God of second, third, and an infinite number of chances. The thief on the cross next to Jesus received eternal life moments before he died. He never had a chance to prove he meant what he said, but Jesus wanted to be in paradise with him. (Luke23:43) God wants the wicked to repent; to turn to Him.
In Ezekiel 33:15-16 God gives some guidelines for how the wicked person’s life will change when he truly turns to God. “For instance, they might give back a borrower’s pledge, return what they have stolen, and obey my life giving laws, no longer doing what is evil. If they do this then they will surely live and not die.”
And read this verse in Ezekiel 33:16, “None of their past sins will be brought up again, for they have done what is just and right, and they will surely live.” It is said many times in many ways throughout the Bible but Paul says it this way in Romans 8:1-2, “So now there is no condemnation of those who belong to Christ Jesus. For the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you through Christ Jesus from the power of sin that leads to death.” When we truly repent, God doesn’t hold our sins against us. We have to live through the consequences and watch as God works them out for good, but they aren’t held against us, ever again! We are free to live the abundant life God wants to give each of us.
God wants to be our Heavenly Father! He wants to give us the Holy Spirit! God wants to lavish us with His love! He wants to bless us!
Perhaps some of the people reading this have gone through a devastating time. Just like the people in Ezekiel 33 you may be wondering how you are going to survive?
If you are a Christian, the answer to your problems is Jesus Christ.
Psalm 34 says:
In my suffering I cried out to the Lord, and He heard me.
He set me free from all my fears.
For the angel of the Lord guards all who fear him, and he rescues them.(6-7)
The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right;
his ears are open to their cries for help.
But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil;
he will erase their memory from the earth. (15-16)
The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help.
He rescues them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those who are crushed in spirit.
The righteous face many trouble,
but the Lord rescues them from each and every one. (17-19)
If you are not a Christian, the answer to your problems is Jesus Christ. It only takes a moment and a humble heart to become one.
Maybe you have accepted Christ into your heart in the past, but you didn’t really mean it. Take time now, to pray again. Say it with all of your heart.
Maybe you have accepted Christ in the past and really meant it but fell away from the Lord and have been living a sinful lifestyle. Take time now, to renew your desire to have Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
Jesus; I come to you.
I accept you as Lord and Savior of my life.
I believe in you.
I believe that you are God,
that you were born of a virgin,
and came in the flesh and walked on earth,
that you died for my sins on the cross,
and on the third day you rose from the dead.
I believe that you died for my sins,
and because you died I can live with you for all eternity.
I repent of my sins. Forgive my unbelief.
Forgive me for not loving you or others.
Forgive my anger, my lust, my greed, my laziness, and my pride.
Cleanse me and wash me clean.
Restore and renew my life.
Make a new creature of me.
Show me your ways.
Fill me with your love.
Fill me with your Holy Spirit.
Open my eyes and ears that I might see and hear You.
In Jesus name,
Now that you are a Christian, you can go back and claim the promises found in Psalm 34, because they are for you, too! God will hear your prayers, He will set you free from fear. He will help you and rescue you from all your troubles.
Our God is an awesome God. He does whatever pleases Him—and it pleases Him to save us and lavish us with love!
God Wants To Give Us Life!