This was the painful state of affairs for the Israelites. Overcome by the Babylonians, they had been led away from their precious land, and into virtual slavery under a foreign and oppressive ruler, Nebuchadnezzar (the Biblical account can be found in 2 Kings 24:8-25:30).
Their story isn't one of conquering freedom, or resounding independence.
It's just the opposite.
And yet, into this despairing and seemingly hopeless situation, God raised up a messenger – his chosen prophet, Ezekiel.
Ezekiel gave God's message of judgment on Israel and other nations to the captives in Babylon. And yet, he also brought God's message of hope, salvation, and future restoration. Ezekiel painted a vivid picture of the unchangeable holiness of God.
Today's "Bible Pick 'Ems" is an excerpt of that uplifting message:
"This is what the Sovereign LORD says: 'The people of Israel will again live in their own land, the land I gave my servant Jacob. For I will gather them from the distant lands where I have scattered them. I will reveal to the nations of the world my holiness among my people. They will live safely…they will know that I am the LORD their God.'" (Ezekiel 28:25-26)
There was partial fulfillment of this promise when many Israelites were allowed to return from exile under the leadership of Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. And then, in 1948, the political nation of Israel was re-established as they gained their independence.
However, this promise will have its ultimate fulfillment when Jesus Christ returns to set up His eternal Kingdom. Then, all people who have been faithful to God will dwell together in harmony and complete safety.
These passages brought many thoughts to ponder on the eve of America's Independence Day.
What is the state of our nation?
Are we individually, and as a country, being faithful to God? Are we trusting Him to lead us, to be our moral and spiritual compass?
Are we truly a people, a nation UNDER GOD?
Sometimes we take our freedom for granted. We forget that it was purchased at a great price. Many people have sacrificed their very lives for the privilege of living in a country that declares itself the "land of the free and the home of the brave."
Are we in danger of being blind like the Israelites?
I asked before – what is the state of our nation? But, the more important question is this –
What is the state of our hearts?
Our personal, spiritual, soul salvation was purchased at a great price. There is One who sacrificed His very life for us – to give us the privilege of living in a state of freedom from the slavery to sin.
Are we excusing ourselves from our responsibilities before God? Are we being accountable to God for our choices?
Are we being faithful to the Faithful One?
All of God's promises will be ultimately fulfilled under the rule of the Messiah. He will reveal Himself to the nations of the world. He will gather His faithful ones, the ones He has redeemed, from distant lands. And we will live safely in His glorious presence forever – restored to perfect fellowship with Him.
And every knee shall bow, every tongue confess – He is the LORD, the Almighty God.
Let us never take our freedom for granted – and may we take the occasion of Independence Day to once again focus on the values that make America a country that honors "liberty and justice for all."
But let's also examine our hearts – and single-mindedly pursue the One who possesses unchangeable holiness.
Let us re-gain a vision of His glory, a fresh sense of His greatness, and a renewed spirit of devotion and love for Him.
"For I will gather you up from all the nations and bring you home again…Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away…And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart, and give you a tender, responsive heart." (Ezekiel 36:24-26)
(You might also enjoy last year's post - Independence Day!)
"When in doubt, search God out!"