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Passage: Ezekiel 31-33

On Friday, September 18, 2015, Yujin wrote,

Yet your people say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ But it is their way that is not just. If a righteous person turns from their righteousness and does evil,they will die for it. And if a wicked person turns away from their wickedness and does what is just and right, they will live by doing so. Yet you Israelites say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ But I will judge each of you according to your own ways.” (Ezekiel 33:17-20).

The LORD tells Ezekiel that each person would be judged by their final moral position, regardless of what they have done or not done. If they were righteous all of their lives and turned wicked in the end, they would die for their wickedness, and none of their former righteousness will be even remembered. If they were wicked all their lives but repented in the end, none of their wickedness would be remembered, and they would live. 

Does this seem fair? Probably not. Most all of the other religions of the world judge by a moral scale, such that if a person's righteous deeds exceed their wicked deeds, they will live, but if not, they will die, or at least, they will have to pay for their excess evil. This sounds fair, right?

It may sound fair, but it is not just. What if a person lived like Mother Theresa all their lives and than murdered an innocent person in their old age, should that person be acquitted on account of their former righteousness? What if a person lived as a thief their entire life but in the end became an agent to catch other thieves and dissuade still others from becoming thieves. Should such a person be condemned? Even our human justice system is patterned after the way of the LORD. It is not how a person begins but how a person becomes, at any given point or in the end, that matters.

We do not judge God's justice by our human justice system. We're in no position to judge the Judge of the whole universe. For who defines our sense of justice if it is not the LORD Himself (James 4:12). It is before Him that everyone must give account (Ecclesiastes 12:14; Hebrews 4:13).

Friends, in the same way that God looks to the end more than the beginning, let us not only see one another by what we've done in the past but how we can become in the future. For ourselves and for each other, let us hope and pray for transformation (Romans 12:2), so that we may always become better than we've been and help others to become better than they were, just as God is working in us, so that we might become more like Christ (Romans 8:29).

Passage: Ezekiel 31-33

On Thursday, September 18, 2014, Yujin wrote,

They come to you as people come, and sit before you as My people and hear your words, but they do not do them, for they do the lustful desires expressed by their mouth, and their heart goes after their gain (Ezekiel 33:31 NASB).

As I survey the various translations of this verse, I notice that the last part can be taken in a couple of different ways. In the NASB two bad traits are described, namely, lustful talk and greedy intention; however, normally what is spoken by the mouth is contrasted with what is done in keeping with the intentions of the heart. This contrast is brought out in both the NIV and KJV translations:

My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to hear your words, but they do not put them into practice. Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain.

And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.


I think the NASB may have gotten it wrong here. The talk of love is not some lusty expression that is synonymous with the greedy intent of their hearts. No, the talk of love represents a false expression of selfless giving, which stands in contrast to the true intent of their hearts, which is greedy gain. 

The significant lesson here is that Israel gave lip service to justice and the consideration for the needs of the poor; however, they did not truly care anything about helping the poor. Isaiah prophesied about this lip service:

The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouthand honor me with their lips,  but their hearts are far from me (Isaiah 29:13).

Again, Isaiah rebuked the Israelites for going through the motions of worship in fasting but failing to truly promote justice:

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? (Isaiah 58:6-7)

Friends, do we merely go through the motions of church and give lip service to faith and love? If we believe, do we boldly and often proclaim our faith before others? What do we do to love and care for our brothers and sisters in Christ, by which the Bible says we demonstrate the love of Christ to unbelieving onlookers? (cf. John 13:34-35). 

Passage: Ezekiel 31-33

On Wednesday, September 18, 2013, Yujin wrote,

Now as for you, son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth and give them warning from Me (Ezekiel 33:7).

God made Ezekiel a watchman for Israel, so that he might give the people warning of impending judgment. While Israel was accountable for their own sins, Ezekiel was accountable to warn them. 

Friends, we have been entrusted with the Word of God and, therefore, have the responsibility not only to speak the Gospel to the lost but also to teach, rebuke, correct and train one another with the Word of God so that we might live in a way that pleases God (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17). So Paul advises his son in the faith, Timothy:

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths (2 Timothy 4:2-4).

As Paul passed the baton of ministry to Timothy at the end of his life, he was warning Timothy that the generations to come would be increasingly averse to sound teaching, preferring instead to hear things that affirm their own desires, ambitions and interests. 

Friends, we are commanded to speak the truth in love in order that we might become mature in Christ, not being shaken by unorthodox teaching, nor deceived by undocumented claims of divine revelations and superatural signs, nor moved by emotionally-charged appeals and clever rhetoric (cf. Ephesians 4:14-15).

We must not remain silent simply to keep the peace or to maintain some false unity. There can never be unity around false teaching or wrongful practices. In such occasions, the biblical command is "Be separate" (2 Corinthians 6:17) and "Do not go beyond what is written" (1 Corinthians 4:6).

We are all called to be watchmen over one another, a kind of brother's keeper if you will, to carry each other's burdens (cf. Galatians 6:1-2), always ready and willing to help each other get back on the right path (cf. James 5:19-20). In our generation and for the next, let us not be lax in this responsibility. We are accountable to God.

Passage: Ezekiel 31-33

On Monday, September 24, 2012, Fernando wrote,


Ezekiel 33
26 You rely on the sword, you commit abominations, and each of you defiles his neighbor's wife; shall you then possess the land?

I overheard on the radio that there are wall street executives looking to astrology for financial guidance. The reporter actually said 'they are seeking that edge to better control their financial outcomes.' What idolatry!

How much things have not changed! But why would they, the problem has not changed. Right before this report a lady was complaining 'money corrupts people.' Money does not corrupt; it reveals the corruption already there.

What hope can you have when you rely on unicorns and wishful thinking? What control do gaseous balls thousands of light years away have over financial confidence of other investors – actually, since it is largely based on their confidence it is as fickle as a fluttering light traveling in the cosmos. What does one woman offer that another woman could not?

If the company relies on weak principles like you may, then both will fail. If your women keep dealing with the same man, you, then why do you expect to have different results? The change must come from you if you will see different results. You are the variable that can change by God. Don't rely on your sword but His and know the peace and security the markets and all relationships seek. Even when things go south you will not break as you would without that as your confidence.

Our ability to be confident may be weak in and of itself. How much more when the object of our confidence, the source of our energies and motivation, is as reliable as an obfuscation of light, or relying on another such person. It is as effective as gauging how far you’ve travelled by looking at other moving objects, instead of the firm immovables available.

Passage: Ezekiel 31-33

On Tuesday, September 18, 2012, Yujin wrote,

"As for you, son of man, your people are talking together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, saying to each other, 'Come and hear the message that has come from the Lord.' My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to hear your words, but they do not put them into practice. Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice. "When all this comes true—and it surely will—then they will know that a prophet has been among them." (Ezekiel 33:30-33 NIV)

In the twelveth year of their exile in Babylon, a message came from Jerusalem that the city had fallen. Then Ezekiel's mouth was opened to explain that God would even judge the survivors because of their misguided confidence. The survivors thought that they would now have the whole land to themselves even while they continued to neglect God's Law. This was not to be.

Meanwhile, the people in exile needed to get a clue. Ezekiel was not simply telling interesting stories. All of what he prophesied would come to pass. The problem with the exiles was that while they listened to God with their ears, they did not follow Him with their hearts and lives. Jesus also spoke of people like this in the Sermon on the Mount:

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash." (Matthew 7:24-27 NIV)

James also touches on this message in his epistle:

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. (James 1:22-25 NIV)

Both in the Old Testament and the New Testament people will be judged by their deeds. The only difference in the New Testament is that every good deed must arise from the one foundational deed, namely, believing in Jesus Christ:

Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent." (John 6:28, 29 NIV)

It is upon this foundation every good work must arise. We are saved through faith. But faith is not an end for the truly believing. It is the beginning. As Peter writes to believers in his letter:

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-11 NIV)

Even though good deeds do not justify, they are a part of God's saving work in a believer, and these good deeds serve to assure and confirm the reality of a person's salvation, even their calling and election by God. As Jesus also taught, "You shall know them by their fruits." While he spoke this of false prophets, he also made application of this principle to believers, who profess Christ but show no fruit. As James also wrote, "Faith without works is dead (faith)." Paul also wrote, "Faith works through love." And Jesus taught,

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:35 NIV)

Friends, let us not merely profess our faith in Christ, let us order our lives around that profession. Let us not merely listen to God's Word or read God's Word but also put it into practice. Let us not merely believe in Christ but also proclaim Him and validate our faith and proclamation by following in His example of love. As Peter wrote, let us add to our faith "goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love." Not only will this give us the assurance of our salvation and election, it will also "keep us from being ineffective and unproductive in our knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Every Sunday after you hear the sermon, I would encourage you to find an hour or two to sit down and review what was preached. Once you have personally vaidated that what was preached is true from the Scriptures, you should do your best to order your thinking and behaving in such a way that you apply the principles preached to your life. 

Every day, after you read the daily Scripture reading, you ought to ask yourself three questions: (1) What did I see? (i.e. try to understand what you just read in context), then (2) What does it mean? (i.e. try to discover the principles the writer is trying to convey through the text to his audience), then (3) What can I apply to myself? (i.e. are there truths, whether specific or general that I can apply to deepen my understanding or strengthen my spiritual walk?).

The exiles listened but did not put what they heard from Ezekiel into practice. Let us not make the same mistake. I encourage you, my friends, do your best to proactively consider how you might make God's Word the guiding influence in your lives.