Thursday, November 27, 2008

*Mercy* in the Book of Ezekiel

I have been reading through Ezekiel recently and if you read it without the right perspective, through the eyes of the flesh, it may seem to portray God has very harsh and judging. There are so many seemingly "harsh" judgments in this book. Some may be tempted to say, like Israel, "The way of the Lord is not equal (just)." They may wonderful how a merciful God could do those sorts of things. However, that all comes from an earthly, clouded perspective. Ezekiel is actually a book about God's mercy and love.

"As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?" (Ezekiel 33:11)

The Psalmist describes Him as "merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy." He "is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." This is seen clearly in this verse from Ezekiel. Over and over again, He reached out in mercy, inviting the people of Israel to return to Him, to forsake their sin and cling to Him for salvation. Sin requires justice and judgment; God wanted His people to turn from it before it was too late. He pleaded with them, asking why they insisted on ways that would lead to their own destruction and death. Sadly, they continued to reject Him, bringing judgment on themselves.

"Yet the children of thy people say, They way of the Lord is not equal: but as for them, their way is not equal" (Ezekiel 33:17, emphasis mine).

We humans have (apart from God's Spirit dwelling in us) such a blinded and earthly perspective. We can only see the injustice to us, when it is really us who are being unjust and wrong. People often are resistant to the Gospel because they want the satisfaction of thinking they're right, and they think God is unjust for punishing anyone for their sin. Oh that people-- that we-- would see that God alone is entirely just and entirely merciful at the same time. That is why He "sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin" and "condemned sin in the flesh in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." He will accept us if we turn to Him in full dependence and faith, but if we reject Him to the end, He will have to reject us.

God's love and patience and mercy is so amazing; we should truly thank Him for it on this day of thanksgiving.

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