WHERE DID YOU GO?
Ezekiel, chapter 16 is a fascinating chapter of the defined love God had bestowed upon the nation Israel. God had entered into a covenant with the young nation at Mt. Sinai. This covenant was described in terms of marriage. The nation was a banner of God’s grace. There was nothing that Israel had done to earn God’s special favor; rather, God extended His splendor to them as a testimony, not only to them, but also as a witness to all the world. Over and over again He showered His love upon them in demonstrations of His great power and glory.
But alas, Ezekiel reminds this nation of how they had played the harlot with the Lord by following the idolatry and religious practices of the Canaanites. And every gracious gift from God was devoted to idols.
In addition to these atrocities, they sacrificed their children to those pagan gods. God had strictly forbidden that. Yet still the children were killed and then burned until King Josiah put an end to it. Tragically, this abomination had been reinstated in Ezekiel’s day.
In fulfillment of God’s warning to His people, He unleashed His judgment upon them through the pagan nation of Babylon and its king, Nebuchadnezzar. In vs. 23 of chapter 18, the Lord proclaims that He takes no pleasure in the death of the unrighteous. And He pleads with them in vs. 32, to “turn and live.”
In the Book of Revelation, chapters 2 and 3, the Lord’s great love and concern for all His church is addressed in 7 letters which He has the Apostle John deliver to them. The first of these seven is the church in the city of Ephesus. He commends them for their works and labor and patience and their discernment in evaluating errant spiritual leadership. Yet, like Israel, as described in the Old Testament, Jesus tells them that they had “left their first love”.
What had happened? Where did they go? The Ephesians’ fervor and passion for the Lord had become cold, perhaps mechanical in their orthodoxy. All their religious zeal was no replacement for the love of Christ which they had left behind.
Again, dear church, may it never be said of us, “Where did you go?” Remember the Lord is always near with outstretched arms of love to those who diligently seek Him.
CHEATERS NEVER PROSPER
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron.” 1 Timothy 4:1,2
“Cheaters never prosper!” Oh, that was an axiom our parents taught us. It was a truth that was reinforced in kindergarten. Some have lived their lives knowing this to be true. Others, having their conscience seared, as with a hot iron, have never lived their lives accordingly. Thus, there will always be “givers, takers, and other kinds of losers.”
Paul, in writing to the church in Corinth, a city of Olympic style athletic competition, reminded them that an athlete does not win the crown unless he competes according to the rules. He was giving them a word picture of their walk of faith with the Lord.
The people, in those ancient of days, knew the premise that “cheaters never prosper”.
Even Solomon, in his wise sayings recorded in the Book of Proverbs stated that there may be a way that seems right to a man, but its end is death. (Proverbs 14:12)
Dear church, there are those who will use every deceptive and lying means available to them, to promote themselves, at the expense of any and everyone. And sadly, they have no feelings of remorse or conviction that they have done anything wrong. You see, rules and regulations mean nothing to them. If they should gain a position of authority or power, they will merely adjust the rules, or ignore them completely. They will assure their exalted, elite position by positioning men and women in positions to protect their dishonesty and flagrant lies.
Paul describes them as having their conscience seared, as with a hot iron. He describes them as hypocritical lie speakers. They are of those who propagate false teaching, lies and mistruths of all sorts, because they are harbingers of demonic doctrine. They are over-confident in living and modeling their lies because their consciences have been desensitized. And Paul uses the medical term of “searing as with a hot iron,” to denote cauterization, a means of desensitizing nerve endings. Oh, but let me assure you, cheaters will never prosper, and in the end….. they will be found out and judged accordingly.