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Friday, August 12, 2016

Be Different! (Ezekiel 11:12)

 "And you will know that I am the LORD, for you have not followed my decrees or kept my laws but have conformed to the standards of the nations around you."

Paul's admonition "not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your minds" follows his teaching on justification and sanctification. The relationship offered by God through the saving and sanctifying work of Christ demands a new way of thinking that results in a new way of living. Paul's instruction, however, wasn't a new teaching.

God's relationship with Israel was based on the Abrahamic covenant. God promised to make Abraham and his descendants a great nation so that they would, in turn, be a blessing to the nations around them. God gave the children of Israel rules and regulations through Moses that would guide their behavior with one another and with God; this "code of ethics" would distinguish them from the nations around them. Such a radical relationship with the Living God would re-define everything about who they were as a people.

This core truth constantly eluded Israel. Because they never really saw themselves as God's chosen people they didn't act as God's chosen people. They acted just like the nations around them. God promises, however, to change that by giving them "an undivided heart" and by putting in them "a new spirit" (verse 19), to "remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh."

Conformity to the world results from having a poor understanding of your relationship with God. Paul believed that readers who truly understood justification and sanctification would progress naturally to his instruction "not to be conformed to this world". The world has nothing to offer those who know whose they are and why they are here. Israel never got that. I wonder if God's children get that today?

Questions for today's Chronological reading: Ezekiel 10:1-13:23 - Keep track of the movement of the cloud of the glory of the Lord as you read today's reading. Where does the cloud begin and where does it end?
  • Who are the twenty-five men in chapter eleven? What are they doing?
  • Do they know that they are being observed? What does this tell you about the Lord? About man?
  • Review Jeremiah 24. What had Jeremiah promised concerning the basket of bad figs remaining in Jerusalem?
  • What two reasons are given that will cause the Lord to drive the inhabitants out of Jerusalem?
  • What does Paul command believers in Romans 12:2 and how does this instruction apply to Israel?
  • How does Ezekiel respond to Pelatiah's death?
It is important to understand that the people thought that God would overlook their wicked behavior because God had made them a promise regarding the land when He had promised Abraham the land for his descendants.
  • What does God promise He will do in the hearts of the people?
  • What does Ezekiel do with the information gleaned from his vision?
  • What does the Lord have Ezekiel do to open the eyes of the people?
  • What is the Lord's goal for Ezekiel's strange behavior?
  • What proverb is widely spoken by the people? What does this tell you about how people respond to messages of judgment?
  • What does the Lord compare the false prophets to?
  • What consequences do the righteous and the wicked experience as a result of the lies told by the false prophets?
Turning truth into prayer
Pray that you God will give you ears to hear and a heart of discernment. Pray that God will expose false teachers/preachers. Pray for your pastor today: that he will seek the Lord with all of his heart and that he will be unafraid to preach the Word of God with boldness. Pray that God will raise up men like Ezekiel today who will warn the people of impending judgment. Pray that God's people will be just that: God's people.