Monday, January 14, 2013

Ezekiel 27

Ezekiel 27:3-4, 33-34 NIV84

Say to Tyre, situated at the gateway to the sea, merchant of peoples on many coasts, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says:

" 'You say, O Tyre,
"I am perfect in beauty."
Your domain was on the high seas;
your builders brought your beauty to perfection.

When your merchandise went out on the seas,
you satisfied many nations;
with your great wealth and your wares
you enriched the kings of the earth.
Now you are shattered by the sea
in the depths of the waters;
your wares and all your company
have gone down with you.

Ezekiel 27 is a lament over the fall of Tyre. This coastal town, that was partially built on an island, is likened to a beautifully built merchant ship. Everyone likes her. Everyone does business with her. She appears to have no enemies. Yet in her greatness she will fall like a ship in a storm.

One of the problems with Tyre was that she used the wrong metrics to determine her greatness and her glory. She was beautiful. She was wealthy. She was strong and protected. She was well liked. None of those things have anything to do with greatness in God's economy. Every one of those things are metrics we use today to measure greatness and security.

God honors, humility, faith and faithfulness, service, justice and love. We rarely measure those. Along with Tyre we continue to pursue beauty, wealth, power and popularity. We are shocked when those who have all those things end up with lives wrecked on the rocks like a broken ship. Maybe we should take note and realize we are pursuing the wrong things.

Father, forgive me for the many times I long for things that cannot make me happy, bring me peace, or make me a "somebody." Today may I pursue that which makes me great in your eyes.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Friday, January 11, 2013

Ezekiel 26

Ezekiel 26:17 ESV

And they will raise a lamentation over you and say to you,
"'How you have perished,
you who were inhabited from the seas,
O city renowned,
who was mighty on the sea;
she and her inhabitants imposed their terror
on all her inhabitants!

This is a lamentation over Tyre. Tyre was a beautiful and secure coastal city. They not only had strong walls with their back to the sea, they also had a backup plan. Part of Tyre was located on an island. If the main city fell they would retreat to the island where they could easily defend themselves. But when God declares judgment and destruction man's plans for survival and protection never stand. As described in this chapter, the main city was breached and destroyed. It was then torn down and thrown into the sea to build a causeway to the island. Proud, mighty, secure Tyre fell.

Pride often enables us to live in a world of unreality where we believe we are great; we believe we are secure; we believe that we cannot fail. It is at that point that often the fall comes. When it comes it is often a great fall. Proverbs says it like this:

Proverbs 16:18 ESV

Pride goes before destruction,
and a haughty spirit before a fall.

Father, forgive me for my own pride. Thank you for the assurance of security in you. I know that my own futile plans for security will fail, but you never fail. I rest in you.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Ezekiel 25

Ezekiel 25:11 ESV

and I will execute judgments upon Moab. Then they will know that I am the Lord.

In the previous chapter Ezekiel illustrated and described God's judgment against Jerusalem. Now, in chapter 25, the message of judgment is spoken against her enemies. Ammon, Moab, Seir, Edom, and Philistia will all experience judgment. Three truths stand out to me in this chapter. First, Israel, God's chosen people, will be judged because of her sin. It would be easy for them, as it is for us, to look at the nations or the people around them and say, "What about them?" People are really good at deflecting attention by calling someone or something else to mind. That does not work with God. His response is simply, "You'll face your judgment and they'll face theirs." We can never justify or excuse our sin because someone else is worse, or someone else is making fun of us, or someone else is to blame.

The second truth is that God will judge these nations because of their attitudes toward Israel. God has not made any particular promises to these nations, nor entered into covenant with them like he did with Israel. Yet, God is God of all creation, all peoples. He is King of kings, Lord of lords, God of gods. Because of that, all nations ultimately answer to him. Because of his special relationship with Israel, he is especially concerned when the actions of others affect his people. That is still true today. "Judgement is mine. I will repay." says the Lord. We don't need to seek revenge because God will take care of it.

The final truth that stands out in this chapter is that God is not concerned only for his chosen people. One of the reasons that he will judge these nations is so that "they will know that I am the Lord." We sometimes forget that the great commission of taking the "good news" to the ends of the earth was not a new concept in Jesus' day. That was God's plan from the beginning. Thus his words to Abram, "Through you all the nations of the earth will be blessed." Relationship with God is not something to hide and cherish. It is something to share with the world.

Father, thank you that whatever happens in my life I am assured that you are working through me to bring glory to your name. Through me may the world know that you are the Lord.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Ezekiel 24

Ezekiel 24:13-14 ESV

On account of your unclean lewdness, because I would have cleansed you and you were not cleansed from your uncleanness, you shall not be cleansed anymore till I have satisfied my fury upon you. I am the Lord. I have spoken; it shall come to pass; I will do it. I will not go back; I will not spare; I will not relent; according to your ways and your deeds you will be judged, declares the Lord God."

The judgment of God is not about an angry, vengeful God lashing out at anyone in sight. It is about a patient, gracious, just God who has given people time to repent and they have insisted on their own way. We tend to think of ourselves as good. When bad things happen we blame it on God. We somehow feel that by allowing bad things to happen to us God's character is questionable. But the truth is that there is no one righteous.

There is no one good. There is no one that deserves better treatment from God than they have received. Bad things happen because people are bad. Bad things happen because "good" people fail to do anything about it. Bad things happen because we took God's world and turned it upside down. Everything is out of order.

I'm not saying that we can directly trace the sin of an individual or a city to the destruction of a particular hurricane or a tornado. I am saying that those things are destructive because mankind messed up God's world. I am saying that God's judgment, when it comes, is always deserved. I am saying that we cannot point to God and say that he is unjust.

God says to us, as he said to Israel, "I would have cleansed you and you were not cleansed from your uncleanness." She was not cleansed because she did not allow God to cleanse her. God is not unjust. We are unclean. But that leaves us with one question: Will we allow God to cleanse us?

We are like children insisting that we cleanse ourselves in the mud while Mom is offering to clean us up with soap and water. We want to be clean. We just don't want it that badly. We need to stop trying to justify our bad behavior, stop trying to clean ourselves up and make ourselves presentable, and let God do his work.

He can take uncleanness and make it clean. He can turn ashes into beauty. We may deserve his judgment, but he loves us and has provided a way of escape. Unlike Israel, who knew better and had run out of time, God says to us, "Now is the time." Trust him.

Father, thank you for your patience and grace.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Ezekiel 23

Ezekiel 23:11, 35, 39, 49 ESV

"Her sister Oholibah saw this, and she became more corrupt than her sister in her lust and in her whoring, which was worse than that of her sister.

Therefore thus says the Lord God: Because you have forgotten me and cast me behind your back, you yourself must bear the consequences of your lewdness and whoring.

" For when they had slaughtered their children in sacrifice to their idols, on the same day they came into my sanctuary to profane it. And behold, this is what they did in my house.

And they shall return your lewdness upon you, and you shall bear the penalty for your sinful idolatry, and you shall know that I am the Lord God."

Israel and Judah had been called out and rescued by God, blessed, protected and given a special covenant relationship with him. Yet, like sisters who preferred prostitution over marriage, they ran after everyone except God. Judah saw the downfall of her sister Israel, and yet she rushed headlong into even greater despicable corruption than Israel.

Two principles stand out to me in this chapter. First, we have an amazing ability to see the sin in others and ignore it in ourselves. Judah should have learned from the downfall of Israel, but she didn't. How often we can so clearly see the sin and destruction in a brother or sister, but be totally blind to it in our own lives. How often we can see the destruction that sin brings into the lives of a brother or sister, but somehow convince ourselves that won't happen to us.

That brings us to the second principle. Sin brings it's own judgment. In this chapter it was the lovers that the sisters ran after that ended up destroying them. Most often that is true in our lives as well. The very sin that we think will somehow bring us security ends up destroying us. The very sin that we think will somehow make us happy results in brokenness and bondage. The very people or things that we think will somehow make us significant end up trampling us into the dust. Sin brings it's own judgment.

Father, you have poured out your grace and mercy on my life. Today may I walk in that freedom, that joy, that acceptance and stop looking elsewhere for what I already possess in you.

By His grace,
Rick Weinert

Reflections on Psalms 77-78

Psalms 77:7 (ESV) [7] “Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable?   The first nine verses of this psalm express abso...