Ezekiel 5-8, Psalm 32
God being 100% just and fair will judge all nations. Many who question God insinuate that God's judgment is angry and haphazard, with no rhyme or reason. As we have spent time reading numerous prophets we see that the people of Judah at the time of Ezekiel were certainly deserving of judgment being guilty of a number of egregious sins. Yet in the midst of all of this judgment and carnage, we see in it God's mercy to those who still loved Him. We see that God not only judges the nation, but also the individual.
We read in Ezekiel 6:8, "Yet I will leave a remnant, so that you may have some who escape the sword among the nations, when you are scattered through the countries." We see that there is always a remnant who choose to serve God under wayward times. When Elijah cried out to God feeling that he was the only one left who trusted in Him, God pointed out in 1 Kings 19:18, "Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal...". We get a beautiful picture of how God preserves those individuals in chapter 9 of Ezekiel (part of tomorrow's reading in the One Year Bible Challenge). Ezezkiel has a vision of 7 men entering the city of Jerusalem, 6 armed for destruction, but one wearing linen with a writer's inkhorn at his side. In Ez. 9:4 we read, "and the Lord said to him" (the one in the linen),"Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it." In Ez.9:6, the other six were told to slay all of Jerusalem, "but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark..." The word "mark" is tav, the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. In ancient Hebrew, tav was written in the form of a cross, so these individuals were marked on their foreheads with a small cross. We know from the book of Daniel who was taken in the first wave from the Babylonians that he and his 3 friends remained dedicated to God and were preserved. We also know this from Ezekiel who was taken in the 2nd wave in 597 BC.
We read that this mark will also be placed on the forehead of 144,000 servants of the children of Israel, who will be sealed and protected during the Tribulation in Revelation 7:2-4. We, too, who belong to Christ are also sealed, as Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, "Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee." We who are now sealed may not escape trials and persecution on earth, but we know that we are forever His in eternity. That we live in evil times should surprise none of us, in 2 Timothy 3:1 Paul warns us, "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come." Though we should all pray for revival for our nation as a whole, revival starts with the individual. As we walk through our own mission fields which God has placed us in, who, today, can we make a difference for and allow ourselves to be used by God to plant the seed of the Gospel message so that they too might be sealed and preserved by God. As we read today, God will judge, but is mercifully, graciously and lovingly seeking who might be saved from the coming wrath.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: