Thy Kingdom Come Part 1
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
And I will give you a new heart with new and right desires, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony heart of sin and give you a new, obedient heart. (
Monday, June 26, 2006
"The Kingdom of Heaven”
Lesson #4: "Thy Kingdom Come"
Ezekiel 36:16-36 (NRSV)
Those that are citizens of the kingdom of God should honor God and give Him credit for all that we are and all that we have been given.
Our Nation was originally founded upon the principles and teachings of Almighty God that’s found in the Holy Bible, but now it finds itself in desperate times.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, just watch Good Morning America, the nightly news or some of the talk shows.
These are dangerous times, and there’s something that’s making it worse.
It’s that People still believe in God, but they ignore Him and He is of no importance to them; He isn’t even part of their life.
But how did we get to this point?
We got here by emphasizing material things, and by de-emphasizing spiritual things and by allowing a minority who hate God to have their way.
People didn’t stand-up for what they believed, and so the result was—
In 1962 and in 1963 our Supreme Court ruled that prayer, Bible reading, and reciting the Lord's Prayer were in direct opposition to our constitution—now our school children can’t pray in their class room.
Later, in 1973, there was the case of Roe vs. Wade, where the same court decided that life was neither valuable nor important, by ruling that a woman could choose to kill the life inside of her if she so desired.
From here it was down hill.
Our nation now allows its filth to penetrate the entire world, through TV and the internet.
When other nations see our movies and TV shows, no wonder they call us evil.
It was a great deal like this in the days of Ezekiel.
In today's text we discover some interesting, but sad events that deal with the nation of Israel.
I’ll read our text now: Ezekiel 36:16-36.
16 Then this further message came to me from the Lord:
17 “Son of man, when the people of Israel were living in their own land, they defiled it by their evil deeds. To me, their conduct was as filthy as a bloody rag.
18 They polluted the land with murder and by worshiping idols, so I poured out my fury on them.
19 I scattered them to many lands to punish them for the evil way they had lived.
20 But when they were scattered among the nations, they brought dishonor to my holy name. For the nations said, ‘These are the people of the Lord, and he couldn’t keep them safe in his own land!’
21 Then I was concerned for my holy name, which had been dishonored by my people throughout the world.
22 “Therefore, give the people of Israel this message from the Sovereign Lord: I am bringing you back again but not because you deserve it. I am doing it to protect my holy name, which you dishonored while you were scattered among the nations.
23 I will show how holy my great name is—the name you dishonored among the nations. And when I reveal my holiness through you before their very eyes, says the Sovereign Lord, then the nations will know that I am the Lord.
24 For I will gather you up from all the nations and bring you home again to your land.
25 “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols.
26 And I will give you a new heart with new and right desires, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony heart of sin and give you a new, obedient heart.
27 And I will put my Spirit in you so you will obey my laws and do whatever I command.
28 “And you will live in Israel, the land I gave your ancestors long ago. You will be my people, and I will be your God.
29 I will cleanse you of your filthy behavior. I will give you good crops, and I will abolish famine in the land.
30 I will give you great harvests from your fruit trees and fields, and never again will the surrounding nations be able to scoff at your land for its famines.
31 Then you will remember your past sins and hate yourselves for all the evil things you did.
32 But remember, says the Sovereign Lord, I am not doing this because you deserve it. O, my people of Israel, you should be utterly ashamed of all you have done!
33 “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: When I cleanse you from your sins, I will bring people to live in your cities, and the ruins will be rebuilt.
34 The fields that used to lie empty and desolate—a shock to all who passed by—will again be farmed.
35 And when I bring you back, people will say, ‘This god forsaken land is now like Eden’s garden! The ruined cities now have strong walls, and they are filled with people!’
36 Then the nations all around—all those still left—will know that I, the Lord, rebuilt the ruins and planted lush crops in the wilderness. For I, the Lord, have promised this, and I will do it.
Israel had been blessed by God and given all they ever needed, but they begin to become prideful and snobbish.
Remember that God had called these people for several reasons:
• First, to Embody His name.
He wanted them to be His representatives on earth, and to tell all the other nations about Him.
But if they’re going to represent God, they must live godly lives, and they must give themselves to Him as living sacrifices.
And there are other things involved, such as obedience, commitment, and trust in God.
Israel couldn’t do any of those things, but the worst part was that they didn’t evangelize; they kept God to themselves.
We are His representatives today, but nothing has changed.
He told us, just before He returned to heaven, to take the gospel to the whole world, and that leads us to the second reason.
He wanted Israel to—
• Embrace His mission.
Jesus completed His mission of reconciling man to God when He died on the Cross.
And then He went back to heaven, and set down at the Father’s right side, and there He continues to work for us by being our mediator with God.
He doesn’t audibly talk directly to people anymore, instead, He uses His children—men and women just like you and me.
In a certain sense we are continuing His mission to the world by telling others His story—the gospel of Jesus Christ.
• Finally, He wanted His people to Obey His Word.
They were especially blessed by God.
They were chosen by God and they enjoyed a special relationship with Him that no other nation had or have had since then.
God even made a covenant with them.
He said, “I’ll be your God and you will be My people.”
But they were to do certain things, one of which was to obey Him.
But, unfortunately, they couldn’t do it, and the result was that God turned them over to their enemies.
Throughout their history as a nation there was this cycle that was repeated over-and-over again.
They would turn away from God to worship other Gods.
God would punish them by giving them over to their enemies.
They would cry out to God, who would send a deliverer such as Moses, Samson, and Deborah.
He wanted them to embody His name, embrace His mission, and obey His word.
But Israel refused to follow God, which brought dire consequences upon them.
In 587 BC God allowed the sinful nation of Babylon to invade, overwhelm, and take captive the people of Israel.
They were removed from their land and exiled to Babylon.
The nation of Israel was judged for its life of sin and disobedience and found guilty.
Their guilt was not only because of sin’s effect on them, and they were not judged because of their sin’s effect on the nations around them.
They were found guilty because of what their sin had done to the name of Yahweh.
Yahweh’s name had been profaned in the nation and in other nations as well.
The Lord tells how His name was profaned in Amos 2:6-8.
This is what the Lord said just before they were taken captive to Babylonia:
6 The Lord says, “The people of Israel have sinned again and again, and I will not forget it. I will not leave them unpunished anymore. For they have perverted justice by accepting bribes and sold into slavery the poor who can’t repay their debts; they trade them for a pair of shoes. 7 They trample the poor in the dust and kick aside the meek. “And a man and his father defile the same temple girl, corrupting my holy name.
8 At their religious feasts they lounge in clothing stolen from their debtors, and in my own Temple they offer sacrifices of wine they purchased with stolen money.
These verses tell what God’s response was to their misdirected worship.
Since He was not pleased, He sent various forms of punishment designed to bring them to repentance and a proper worship of Him, but to no avail.
God’s chastening had been in the form of famine, drought, a scorching east wind that resulted in mildew, and palmerworms (that would be caterpillars or creeping locusts).
In His punishment of Israel, He devoured the gardens, vineyards, fig trees, and olive trees; it was a plague like those He put on Egypt.
And there was military defeat in which many of their young men were killed or taken captive.
Any one of these catastrophes should have had the effect of causing them to return to God; but the hardness of their hearts kept them from doing it, and we constantly hear God say, “yet they have…not returned unto me.”