When I read today’s Lectionary passages one struck me as profoundly relevant to what I have been studying in preparation.
Read Ezekiel 18:21-28
Ezekiel is one of those books that doesn’t make our top ten morning devotional reads- that is why we are grateful for the table of contents! Ezekiel was a prophet during the time that Israel was living in exile in Babylon.
Suffice it to say, they ended up in exile, because they ignored God over and over and over again…(been there… done that too) worshiping idols, choosing wickedness and basically every form of rebellion we can think of.
Not unlike us.. if we are really honest- especially once Jesus reclassified sin as a heart condition, not just actions!
Needless to say, Ezekiel witnessed a lot of sin, wickedness. God appointed him as “watchman over the House of Israel to warn that if they didn’t repent and turn back to God, they would experience His judgment.
Today I want to focus on three verses. (I encourage the other lectionary readings, especially Psalm 130).
Ezekiel 18:21- 23 This is a powerful passage on the choice we have to turn from wickedness and choose righteousness and the results of our choices.
While we are redeemed, saved, secure in Christ… clothed in His righteousness alone, living under the New Covenant, there is a message in this passage for us. We are still called to live a righteous life, while we wait for our Saviors return. Not to secure our salvation- Jesus did that…but to live as a child of God, submitted to His Lordship and live a life worthy of the gospel, pleasing to Him.
While we might not die an eternal death, our sin can does have impact on our lives here, as well as the lives of others. Wickedness results in death.
“Things that make me go Hmmmm…”
- Wickedness is a strong word. I don’t often think of myself as wicked. but when I look at the meaning of the work, I do have to check the yes box for quite a few of these definitions.
wicked/wickedness: “rasha” Hebrew for: criminal, law breaker, offender, ungodly, one who is guilty, hostile to God, sinner, one who is morally wrong
- Wickedness in 2014 that leads to death:
- inappropriate relationships-ones tainted by sinful choices (vs appropriate relationships, clean and Christ centered) can cause the death of marriages, ministries, even deliver a blow to those we are in ministry with.
- jealousy can kill a friendship
- addictions: can be a death nail on financial security, relationships, integrity can be death a death nail.
- gluttony: can kill our health and lead to earthly death
- idolatry can kill our peace and security in who we are in Christ as we pursue what will never fill us .. separating us from God… for the season we are harboring sin, actively engage in sin, our intimacy with God is dying…
- But if we turn from our wickedness, and do what is right… we will live!
live (chayah) Hebrew for: life, live, sustain life, cause to grow, restore to life, restore
- marriages are healed,
- our relationship will bloom and grow,
- life giving ministry that produces fruit,
- financial health and integrity takes root,
- our souls come alive with the fragrance of Christ- no long buried in the fifth we chose over righteousness
Then I opened the Message translation and read:
“But a wicked person who turns his back on that life of sin and keeps all my statutes, living a just and righteous life, he’ll live, really live. He won’t die. I won’t keep a list of all the things he did wrong. He will live. Do you think I take any pleasure in the death of wicked men and women? Isn’t it My pleasure that they turn around, no longer living wrong but living right—really living?? (MSG)
I love the last line… It is God’s pleasure that we turn around, no longer choosing to live wrong but choosing to live right! and thus …really living! This gives me hope. Add to that the fact that God will not keep a list of all of my wrongs… that give me comfort.
Comfort and Hope to accompany Forgiveness and LIFE- really living!! Why would I choose sin and wickedness when these are such a better option! PLUS… and this is a Big one…we have the Indwelling Holy Spirit to help us turn from sin and live righteously- so we have help in time of need!
Can you relate?
- Does wickedness seem like too strong a work, or do you have some boxes checked yes that need to be brought to the Lord in repentance so that you can move to really living?
- What fears keep you from doing so?
- Where have you done so and experience LIFE again?
Amazing what 3 little verses can do…
If you want to learn more about the prophet and the book of Ezekiel: here is the NIV Bible introduction and outline of the book.
Daily Lectionary Readings:
Ezekiel 18:21-28; Psalm 130:1-8; Matthew 5:43-48
If you want to read through the New Testament during Lent (about 1/2 hour a day)
Read on Day 10: Mark 12-14