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casket in cemetary August 31 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Ezekiel 32:1- 33:20

How Will We End?

It’s a morbid thought but one worthy of consideration, for at a funeral we all consider our lives. What is the purpose of our life? How are we spending it? What will people say about us? Will they say that he was a good neighbor, husband, wife, son or daughter? Or, will there be a mixed review of our life? “He was a good businessman, but he was too busy for his family.” “She was very talented and offered her services at charitable and community based organizations, but she was never home for her kids.” Would there even be a bad report? “Good riddance! He was a troublemaker!” “She was a wretch!” What will be our end?

Israel, at this time, was in exile. Many nations rejoiced at her fall to Assyria, and now they rejoiced at Judah’s fall to Babylon. They even plundered her land and city. They had no remorse until Babylon came and destroyed them as well. Now Egypt, a very powerful foe of Babylon, remained to be conquered. In poetical fashion God said she had the strength of a lion or a crocodile. Leftover Jewish remnants of the city of Jerusalem sought refuge in Egypt. Though God told them not to go to there, they went anyway, believing they would be safe from Babylonian revenge for the murder of Governor Gedaliah (Jeremiah 41-44). Egypt thought she was invincible until she, too, was destroyed by Babylon in 585 B.C.. Egypt did not lament over the evil she did, yet in this fourth proclamation of judgment, Ezekiel wrote a lament for her. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked but wishes for their repentance (Ezekiel 33:11). At her destruction (her funeral), like the other nations around Israel, there were words of judgment spoken against her. Hopefully, at our funeral we will not have words of judgment spoken about us.

When much of Judah was exiled in Babylon, God assigned Ezekiel as a watchman over her. Like a watchman in a tower looking for enemy attacks to come upon a city, Ezekiel was to warn Israelites of coming judgment because of their idolatrous and wicked behavior. What about us? God has assigned parents to be watchmen over their children, employers to be watchmen over their employees, pastors to be watchmen over their flock, the leaders of our military to be watchmen over their troops, and even our government to be watchmen over its citizens. Are we faithfully fulfilling our responsibilities as watchmen? Are we warning them of judgment that will come upon them if they make bad, evil, or even poor decisions?

Ezekiel had been bringing messages of judgment against Judah and the other nations. Now, in Ezekiel 33-48 he brings messages of hope for all Israel. All surviving Israelites from Judah and her sister nation, were now in exile. After the destruction of their land, their temple, and their people, they needed some hope. Leaders should not just be watching over their charges for evil, but when possible they should also inspire hope. God said to Ezekiel,

“Now as for you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus you have spoken, saying, ‘Surely our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we are rotting away in them; how then can we survive?’” [Israel was lamenting her sins. Weeping over our sins is the first step to repentance.]

“Say to them [God continues], ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back; turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’” (Ezekiel 33:10 –11).

The answer to judgment was and still is repentance. In repentance there is hope. God is a just and righteous God, but he is also merciful and gracious. If Israel would repent, God would be merciful and save her from total destruction. He would eventually even restore her land, people, and blessings. But genuine repentance was and is required. When is the last time we have ever wept over our sins?

Lessons to live by:

  • We reap what we sow in this life, so let us do good and end well.
  • There is hope for us, even for the wicked. Though we are not Israel and do not inherit her promises, we know the principles are the same. If we genuinely repent of the sin and evil we have done, and seek the LORD to walk in his ways, he will also forgive us and restore us (1John 1:9). God takes no pleasure over the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11); God is good (more...).
  • Most Christians have some responsibility over the watching of souls. Let us be concerned for them enough to warn them if they stray. Let us help them find their path to eternal life and end well.

Today’s Bible memory verse: James 5:19-20 says, “My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” (NIV)

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