Discover His heart: He is faithful to His everlasting covenant with us
Ohhh…some rough reading today. The Northern Kingdom had already fallen to Babylon, and now judgment was about to fall on the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The prophets had given warnings to no avail, and most of the Israelites remained in their idolatry and sinful ways even in captivity.
At the end of Chapter 12 we read, “You’ve heard that proverb they quote in Israel: ‘Time passes, and prophecies come to nothing.’ Tell the people, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will put an end to this proverb, and you will soon stop quoting it.’ Now give them this new proverb to replace the old one: ‘The time has come for every prophecy to be fulfilled.’”(12:22-23) And then the judgments began.
Judgment prophecies were given through Ezekiel regarding: 1) false prophets of the day who whitewashed the truth so that the Israelites would feel only good about themselves, 2) mediums who used magic and charms to ensnare the people away from God, and 3) leaders who set up idols in their hearts to worship instead of worshipping the true and living God. (14) The similarities today are remarkable.
The Babylonian captives believed that Jerusalem, the Holy City, would survive the siege, but God called Jerusalem and its people a useless vine. “The people of Jerusalem are like grapevines growing among the trees of the forest. Since they are useless, I have thrown them on the fire to be burned.” (15:6) Even more devastating was His charge that Jerusalem was His unfaithful wife, who, worse than a prostitute, had many lovers and didn’t even charge them because she so wanted to be with them. Jerusalem was filled with altars and shrines to the gods of neighboring countries, and final judgment was coming to Jerusalem.
The riddle of Chapter 17 speaks of the besieged Jerusalem attempting to make an alliance with Egypt to fight against Babylon, but both were crushed by the mighty Babylonian army. I’ve wondered if it was as perplexing to God as it was to me when I read of this alliance with Egypt, the very country that had enslaved the Israelites without mercy for so many centuries. Why would they seek to go back to the very ones who had bound them? It was as if they would do anything to keep from trusting God.
Early in our ministry, we had an evangelist friend that God had miraculously delivered from drugs and given a powerful ministry, but over time he slipped back into the bondage of drugs once again. I’ve never really understood how it happened, but I believe it had to do with pride in what he had accomplished, forgetting Who it was that had delivered him. Likewise, Israel, so proud of the nation they had become, trusted only in their own plans, rejecting both God and the warnings of Isaiah and the prophets against this alliance with Egypt. But then, wasn’t it pride that started the whole sin thing with Lucifer? Anytime we consider ourselves equal to God, we are headed for destruction as well.
Well, before we fall right through the floor in depression, let’s remember that Israel is alive and reasonably well on planet earth today. “Now this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will give you what you deserve, for you have taken your solemn vows lightly by breaking your covenant. Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you when you were young, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you.” (16:59-60)
God remembered His covenant with Abraham, and He would take the remnant that turned toward Him, the Daniels and Shadrachs, and build a nation. The everlasting covenant, Christ Jesus, is available to Israel today; and when we pray, let’s pray they will accept Him and escape final destruction. After all, hasn’t His Word asked us to pray for Israel?
Moving Forward: May I not take my solemn vows lightly to God’s everlasting covenant with me through Christ Jesus. I reject even the slightest bit of pride in anything I may accomplish. May it be He who sits on the throne of my heart today.
Tomorrow @ Luke 15-16