Have I taken the time today to thank God? Now I tend to take things for granted…my health, safety, material needs. And it’s not until I have some kind of close call or problem that I suddenly stop and thank God for watching out over me! This verse illustrates how God’s great love for us was revealed in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, Who came to break the chains of sin…the sacrifice of His blood making our atonement. And after accomplishing this miraculous feat, now lives in our hearts. (Luke 17:21) Yes, I have so much to thank God for…His love, grace, mercy, and the very breath in my body.
You may not know Him…but He still knows you. In fact, He’s known every intimate detail about you before you were even born. You may not believe in Him…but He’s been faithfully sharing the beauty of the world He created with you every day. You may think you don’t need the “spiritual crutch” of religion, and that you can make it on your own…but the harsh reality is, you can’t…for no one can. That’s because we’re all sinners living in a very wicked and broken world…none of us with the ability to save ourselves. You may have never thought about Him…but He cares about you so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die in your place on that Cross.
In these Scriptures Paul is speaking to Gentile Christians…then and now. For in this man-centered world we are cut-off from the promises of God…or as Paul wrote, “without hope and without God.” But we have been brought near to God by the sacrificial death of His Son, Jesus Christ…who gave His life as a atonement so we may have the gift of eternal life. God’s compassion was evident to fallen man when we read Isaiah 65:1 which says, “I revealed Myself to those who didn’t ask for Me; I was found by those who didn’t seek Me.” We were once expelled from the dominion of God, banished and living in exile when Jesus came and paid the price…reconciling us back to God and destroying the barrier that sin had created.
It was not unusual for God to speak to Old Testament prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, or Ezekiel… by beginning His warning with, ” Stand up and speak to the people.” That’s what the job of the watchmen was all about…to keep guard and then to lift their voices when danger approached. Fast forward to today. As a follower of Christ, do you realize you too are a watchman to this broken world? The Lord has called you to stand up and speak to the lost, warning them of the impending danger if they continue to ignore Jesus Christ and the gift of salvation.
The angel was asking, who is worthy? Who is deserving enough, with the power and capability to loosen the seals of the scroll? And it says… there was no one. Certainly it couldn’t be sinful man, for like Isaiah when he saw the Lord, we’d all have to exclaim, “Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips.” But there is One that is worthy of opening the scroll. Only one that lived a perfect and sinless life here on earth. His name is Jesus Christ, the Worthy One.
All of mankind can agree….”I have strayed like a lost sheep.” (Psalm 119:176) But the wonderful thing about these verses in Ezekiel is how proactive the Lord is. It’s Him that is searching us out, looking after us, and rescuing us from the thick darkness of sin. Jesus is called the Good Shepherd who gathers and watches over His flock and tells us in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” And like the parable of the lost sheep, Jesus will leave the 99 on the hillside to go looking for the one that has wandered off. (Matthew 18:10-14) Have you strayed away from the Lord? Know that Jesus is actively looking for you today.
I had the “Rules of the Road” booklet for the State of Illinois out the other day when I thought to myself, “My goodness! Driving a car sure has lots of rules and regulations tied to it!” The same goes for the Old Testament Laws spoken of here…all 613 of them. In this verse Paul was quoting Deuteronomy 27:26 and basically telling us that it’s impossible to keep all 613 Laws perfectly. So what are we to do? We’re doomed before we even try. Enter Jesus Christ, who came to redeem us from the judgement and punishment of this curse, for it tells us in Galatians 3:13 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us…” In other words, our inability to keep all the Laws was overcome by the blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross.
Jesus Christ took on flesh and walked among us…fully man, yet fully God. For death is the destiny of every man. (Ecclesiastes 7:2) Yet Jesus came to earth to give us freedom and victory over death. “Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (Hosea 13:14) So we no longer need to fear death…for Jesus came to set us free.
During His ministry here on earth, Jesus often sought out quiet places to pray. But why? It tells us in Mark 1:35, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed.” The answer to “why He did this” is in what happened the night before. The town of Capernaum had witnessed Jesus healing someone in the Synagogue…and so later that night the entire town converged at the house where Jesus was staying…bringing in tow every sick and demon-possessed person they could find. And it says Jesus healed them. When we give much, our emotional gas tanks gets low. And the only way to fill them is to find a place of quiet reflection so that God can renew us . Jesus was practicing the discipline of silence in order to replenish, restore, refresh, and revive His soul…and it’s something we could do well to imitate.