Add to that, events like what happened in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday and recently in Las Vegas and it’s tempting to wonder, “Where is God?”
Ezekiel 5 & 6
Are People Getting Away with Murder?
Ezekiel 5 & 6:
God works hard to help us understand His truths. In the New Testament Jesus told parables, used illustrations from the agricultural world, and told stories like that of the prodigal son to help explain the Word.
Here God instructed the prophet Ezekiel to act out many of his prophecies. In these verses he was to cut his hair and use it as a picture of the nation of Israel: burning a portion of it, chopping a portion with the sword, scattering a portion to the wind, and binding a small “remnant” in his clothing to protect it. This was an illustrated warning of the coming judgment along with God’s promise to protect His faithful remnant.
God is good, but He is also holy and righteous, and although, His patience and mercy cause Him to hold back the hand of judgment, there will be a time when it must be carried out.
Why Doesn’t God Deal with That?
On a personal level, we often look at someone else’s life, especially if they’ve sinned against us, and ask “Why doesn’t God deal with that?”
But when it’s us, we want mercy and cry foul when we suffer the consequences of our actions.
The reality is, we must trust in the sovereignty and wisdom of God in every situation whether in our own lives or the lives of others, knowing that God is faithful to His Word in His own perfect timing.
If we’re experiencing God’s discipline, we need to know it’s because of His love for us. Hebrews 12.5b-6:
5 … “My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
6 For whom the LORD loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.”
And when we’re sinned against we need to remember Romans 12.17-21:
17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
And finally, Galatians 6.7-10 reminds us:
7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap,” and “’Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” In reality, no one “gets away with anything.” God knows everything that is going on both in our outward actions and in our hearts. There will be a day of accounting for those who never surrender to the Lord (Rom. 3.23, 6.23). Even with believers, God disciplines His children. God will not be mocked.
Are People Getting Away with Murder?
When it comes to men or women who carry out atrocities like those that have recently occurred in Texas and Las Vegas, I can’t imagine any scenario except one, where the perpetrators step out of this world into the horror that Jesus described this way:
Where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched” (Mk. 9.44).
They and others of their ilk will be joined there one day by two men called the beast and the false prophet.
Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone (Rev. 19.20).
But notice at the end of Christ’s 1,000-year millennial reign, we’re told:
The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever (Rev. 20.10).
One thousand years after they were thrown into hell, they are still there. The fires of hell are neither consuming (their worm does not die) nor purgatorial (the fire is not quenched). Instead, those who end up there face an eternity in a place of burning, thirst, and darkness, with no hope of it ever ending. A place full of terrorists and mass murderers.
But, sadly, it will also be full of people who looked pretty good on the outside but rejected their only hope of eternal salvation … the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Today’s Other Readings:
I Have Gone Astray
Verse 176 says, “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant, for I do not forget Your commandments.”
After extolling the wisdom and virtues of the Word and his love for it … for 176 verses … the psalmist still recognized his own sinful nature, “I have gone astray …” and understood that he needed God to keep seeking him!
Calamity & the Fear of the Lord
“Happy is the man who is always reverent, but he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.”
True happiness, peace, and joy come from a reverential fear of God, but when we harden our hearts and are determined to go our own way, we too will eventually reap the consequences of our own choices.
Warn, Encourage & Restore
Verse 13, “but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”
Galations 6.1, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”
God not only teaches His truths directly through the reading and preaching of His Word, but He also uses all of us to warn and encourage one another. In Hebrews 3.13 He commands us to exhort one another so that we won’t be hardened by sin. One definition of that word “exhort” is to beg or entreat. Galatians 6 takes it even further by commanding us to “restore.” That word means to fix or mend much like setting a bone.
So when we see a brother or sister who is caught up in sin, we should be willing to allow God to use us to warn, encourage, and restore, even when it is uncomfortable and inconvenient.
How has God spoken to you today? Did you see a passage in a new light? Did you see an area where you need to grow and change? Did you find a promise to hold on to? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
In the next few days, we’ll discuss the question, “Does Salvation + Time + Knowledge = Spiritual Maturity?,” whether we can be addicted to religion or if we could be worshiping idols? We’ll also talk about what it means to be children of light, generational sin, and a slippery spiritual path.
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Getting ready for 2018
The holidays are just around the corner and the new year will be on us before we know it. What will you do to make Bible reading an ongoing habit in the coming year? I’d like to encourage you to set a goal to read through the Bible.
And I hope you’ll sign up for my daily email. It can serve as a gentle reminder to stay on track. I try to make comments that are relevant to the daily struggles and questions that I hear in my counseling and discipleship ministries.
Start today so you can begin the habit and it will be a regular part of your day come January.
You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Google+. Just click on the social media icons. But nothing replaces having the daily devotion pop up in your inbox each day. It, usually (once in a while life gets in the way), goes out at 3 a.m. MST, so it’s there for early risers no matter what time zone you’re in.
So will you join me and, possibly, encourage someone else to do the same. (Why not email or call them right now?) Let’s get ready and grow in our relationship with Him together.