The meaning of the Hebrew names for these four men all affirmed God’s sovereignty, mercy, and grace for His people. But the new names they were given by the Babylonian chief official sought to undermine and degrade this. For their new names were deliberately drawn from the Babylonian false religions, gods and idols, and erased any trace of God from them. Even today we have the challenge of believing what God calls us vs what the world calls us. The world will call us fat, dumb, ugly, stupid and old….while the Lord will call us loved, free, healed, whole, and His. The world is all about demeaning and humiliating…while God is all about lifting us up. So just remember this…no matter what the world calls you…the Lord named you first, and that name is all that matters.
Within this verse is a perfectly simple but totally effective description of the Trinity. The Trinity being three persons in one Godhead… Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. First, we are called or summoned to salvation through the the Gospel Message by the Holy Spirit as we are wooed or drawn in. For the Holy Spirit shows us very plainly our shortcomings and convicts us… so that we may be saved. Next, we need to grasp just how greatly valued, esteemed, and loved we are by God the Father. For who else would give His only Son to die on a cross for all that we might have eternal life? (John 3:16) Finally, know you belong to Jesus who watches over you to keep you safe. (John 17:12) So just think of it…we are His and He is ours, and no one can ever snatch us out of His hand. (John 10:28)
Earlier in the Book of Hebrews, the author quotes Psalm 102 when he writes, “But You remain the same, and Your years will never end.” There in Psalm 102 it goes on to say that everything as we know it will eventually wear out like clothing, be discarded and perish…except the Lord, for He will continue unchanged to all eternity. I don’t know about you, but the last few months have seemed like a roller-coaster ride of ups and downs, so the quiet comfort and security of placing my trust in a everlasting Savior quiets my soul and gives me peace and hope.
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.
Jesus used parables often…comparing spiritual things with things found in nature. Now for the attentive ear of the Believer, the parable gave better understanding and a deeper meaning to His message. But to the unbeliever, it was just a story about a barren tree. Our lives here on earth are like that fig tree, effective and producing good fruit or desolate. So the central theme of this parable Jesus wants us to remember is…repent or perish. “For trees not producing good fruit will be cut down.” (Matthew 3:10)
These verses are comparing eternal life to eternal punishment, the corrupt nature of sinful man, and the decision all of us have to make. On one side, we have the world telling us that’s it’s all about what we want and desire…while on the other side, Galatians 5:24 tells us, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature…” But what does that mean and how do we go about it? To crucify our sinful nature we must put to death our worldly affections and lusts…but how? Through our daily increasing love and faith in Jesus Christ, the things of the world will start to no longer hold their allure over us.
So, I’ll ask you this question today…When was the last time you were calm and totally at peace, without a care in the world? For the vast majority of us, it’s been quite a while. This Corona virus has managed to disrupt our routines, throw our home life into confusion, and leave us feeling like we have no control. That’s because when disorder with all its turmoil and instability takes up residency either within us or our home…all peace fades away. But there is a answer for this and His Name is Jesus…for the Gospel of Jesus Christ is called the Gospel of Peace. Now it doesn’t mean you will never have to experience disorder in your life, but it does mean that by having a relationship with Jesus you can be set free from the distress brought about by it.
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.