Is God on your side? We’d all like to think so or hope so.
God’s presence is conditional
Israel was used to the idea of God being on their side. False prophets in the days Jeremiah’s ministry (contemporary with some of Ezekiel’s ministry) were prophesying essentially that Jerusalem would be unconquerable on the basis of “the Temple of the LORD, the Temple of the LORD, the Temple of the LORD” (Jer. 7:4). But God with them, the glory of the LORD in the Temple, the protection that all of that offered them was conditional. Israel had completely violated the conditions of God’s presence, glory, and protection, and in chapter 10 the glory of the LORD was officially vacating the premises of the Temple. How tragic; Israel had come a long way — the wrong way — from the heady days of Solomon’s building the Temple, when the LORD filled it with His glory. And there are important reminders here for us, too. Paul calls upon the Corinthians to keep themselves from sexual immorality, because as a vessel of the Holy Spirit, we would not want to join the Spirit with a prostitute. David cries out to God in His plea for forgiveness not to take His Holy Spirit from him (Psa. 51:11). You see, God will not be with us, if we decided to leave Him. There’s many a church that claims God’s presence and seal of approval — sometimes on the basis of historical links, or who they used to be. But as the saying goes: “that was then, this is now”. There’s many a person who claims God’s presence on the basis of what they used to do or what they used to be, but “that was then and this is now”. Live in such a way that God’s real presence never leaves you.
A heart of flesh must replace the heart of stone
God’s constant obstacle in getting through to Israel was their hardheartedness. Some of this hardheartedness had to do with being physically born into the covenant — no choice, whether you wanted to be in the covenant or not. Under the new covenant, a child of the covenant would be a child because of a choice they made of their own volition. This was intended to create a people with a “heart of flesh” (Ezek. 11:19,20). Young people who grow up in the church are faced with a similar choice as they leave home and can make their own choices. What choices are you making? Is yours a heart of stone or a heart of flesh?
God’s patience is often misunderstood to be failed prophecy
Some folks were misinterpreting God’s patience as a failed prophecy. Peter (2 Peter 3) tells us that there would be some in the Christian era, toward the last days, who would say the same thing — Jesus isn’t coming back, it’s been thousands of years, give it up! But Peter also tells us that we need to simply understand the extended wait as God’s patience, not as a failure to come as promised. Don’t get fooled.
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.