Day 190 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue in Ezekiel.
Ezekiel 16 – In light of God’s unrelenting indictment of the Israelites, verse 60 comes as a shock to the reader. Verse 59 sounds like a continuation of judgment, but then—completely unexpectedly—God declares, “yet I will remember My covenant with you . . . and I will establish for you an everlasting covenant.” Why does God show this grace to the Israelites, especially in light of their sin against Him? It is not because they deserve His kindness. Verse 61 makes that clear. No, it is simply because He loves them, and therefore He determines to maintain His faithfulness to His covenant by everlasting commitment to His people in spite of their faithlessness.
The word “yet” in verse 60 defibrillates our hearts with gospel grace. Following everything God has said to this point in the book, the word “yet” is not a rational word. It is not logical. It does not come because of a considered argument, but rather solely and completely because of love. There is no reason for God to save and restore Israel, no reason for Him to establish His covenant into eternity with them. And yet He does so anyway!
The same is true of the good news that Jesus saves sinners. Not one of us deserves God’s love. Rather, “God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Our entire eternity rests on the fact that God—in inexplicable and astonishing love for us—looked on our sin and said, “Yet!” (Romans 3:21; Ephesians 2:4; Titus 3:4).
What an incredible and powerful truth – how does this lead you to worship Jesus today?
Ezekiel 17 – In chapters 17-20, the falling of God’s judgment is looming very close and so the sense of drama in Ezekiel’s prophecy is heightening. Before the blow falls, however, the people of Israel try to find refuge in a series of self-assured lies. In these chapters, Ezekiel dismantles those lies one by one.
Ezekiel tells a parable of two eagles and a vine, which is meant to assault the lie that, “There is no need to worry! We have our alliances!” Israel had a long history of allying with pagan nations, even though God had told them from the beginning not to do so. Ezekiel therefore tells this parable to show the futility of looking for help from pagans. God asks a burning question: “Will it thrive?” That is, will Israel thrive under the protection of Egypt? And the answer is “No, it will not.”
God’s point to the Israelites is that they should not comfort themselves with the things of this world, and that message is important for us as well. Just as Israel trusted in her alliance with Egypt, we tend to trust in life’s comforts and convince ourselves that there is nothing to worry about. But just as it was folly for Israel to trust in Egypt, it is folly for us to think that we can trust in anyone or anything besides Jesus the Son of God for our salvation. “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
In the parable of the two eagles and the vine, David’s dynasty had been plucked up and planted in a foreign land. Here, however, God promises to take “a sprig” and plant it “on a high and lofty mountain,” where it will thrive and become a haven for every kind of bird.
Ezekiel prophesies here about the coming of the Messiah. Jesus perhaps alludes to this passage when He says that the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed which becomes a great tree in which all the birds of the air make their nests (Matthew 13:32). There is a principle at work here that lies close to the heart of the gospel itself—namely, that God works not through human cleverness or ingenuity but through small things, through insignificance, even through weakness (1 Corinthians 1:18–2:5; 2 Corinthians 12:9–10; 13:4). In Ezekiel 17:24 the Lord says, “I bring low the high tree, and make high the low tree.” This principle of inversion resounds through the teaching of Jesus, who drives home to His disciples that the way to greatness is through service (Matthew 20:26; Mark 10:43–44); the way to life is through death (Luke 9:24). This was true for Jesus (Mark 10:45). It is true for us as well.
How do you keep your trust in Jesus alone?
Ezekiel 18 – God takes aim at another lie: the Israelites’ assurance to themselves that “We don’t deserve this!” The proverb repeated by the people in verses 1–2 contains their challenge to God: “It was our forefathers who sinned,” they say, “and yet you are punishing us!”
So convinced are they of their own innocence, in fact, that in verse 25 the people of God actually accuse God of injustice. God takes the challenge head on. Yes, He tells them, their fathers sinned and deserved punishment for it, but the important point is that the current generation did not repent of those sinful ways but actually repeated them in even greater measure. Thus the punishment God is pouring out against them is unquestionably deserved. The judgment of the Lord is unassailably just.
Believers today inherit a sin nature and the righteous wrath of God due to their forefather, Adam. Some object that it is not fair that we, Adam’s children, should be affected by the failures of our forefather. Yet what is more astounding than our inheriting the consequences of sin committed by another is that we would inherit the eternal blessings of free grace earned by another, Jesus. If Adam’s curse is due to what he has done (and we, in him), how much more is Jesus’ blessing due not to what we have done but what He has done for us (Romans 5:15–19)!
For indeed, as just as He is, God has “no pleasure in the death of anyone . . . so turn, and live.” God must be just. But His heart is always bent toward expressing love and offering life. Turn to Him. He is not reluctant to shower His mercy upon you!
How will you enjoy the free grace you have been in Jesus?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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