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Finding the Messiah- week 1

Whew! What a day!!! I'm finally sitting down at my desk to finish putting together today's post. My mind has been racing for days now as to how to piece this baby together. It's one of those posts where there is SO much to say but so little space to do it in. I'm gonna give it a whirl though, cause it's good, good stuff.

My sweet friend, Victoria of Let the Son Shine, is hosting a Bible Study every Tuesday during the month of December to help us focus our thoughts and activities on Christ this Christmas season.

Our study this past week involved us reading through several Scripture passages for the purpose of getting to know Jesus more through the circumstances that lead Him to earth. I spent some time reading through the list of passages Victoria shared. As I read them and then re-read them, there was one golden nugget of truth that out shone all the others.

It is a familiar "Christmas" passage; a passage that could easily be skimmed right over if one wasn't willing to pull up their shirt sleeves and do a little digging. Not being one who settles for the familiar, I push up my shirt sleeves and began digging and oh, the treasures I did find! I love it when the Lord takes those familiar passages and makes them come alive in my spirit; so alive that I can hardly contain my joy.

The golden nugget I am speaking of can be found in Isaiah 7:14.
"Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call Him name Immanuel."

Pretty self explanatory, huh? God's going to give a sign. A virgin will conceive a child. The child will be born. The child will be a Son. The Son is to be called Immanuel. The end. Period. Wrap that bad boy up and stick it under the tree.

Um...not so fast. How about let's, you and I, pull up our shirt sleeves and dig a little deeper into the significance of this beautiful promise. Sound like a winner? Good!

Let’s begin in the book of Ezekiel. The purpose of the book of Ezekiel is to announce God’s judgment on Israel and other nations and to foretell the eventual salvation of His people.

In Ezekiel chapter 8, we see that God has given Ezekiel a vision of what is going on in His temple. God's people have begun worshipping false gods and even bringing them into the Holy place. They were defiling His holy inhabitance by painting graffiti on the walls which pictured creatures who were associated with Egyptian animal cults. The leaders of the temple who should have been worshipping God and setting that example for others, were instead offering incense to these pagan idols in secret, thinking God could not see what they were doing.

Israel began worshipping Tammuz, the Babylonian god of spring vegetation. Women sat at the gate weeping over his demise and longing for his return. Men literally turned their backs to the temple of God while standing on the temple porch and began worshipping the sun in the east. Nothing of the temple, God’s dwelling place, was scared anymore. His people had completely defiled it.

In Ezekiel 8:18 God says...
"Therefore I also will act in fury. My eye will not spare nor will I have pity;
and though they cry in My ears with a loud voice, I will not hear them."
Ezekiel 8:18, NKJV

God had absolutely had enough. He would no longer hear the cries of His people nor pity them. He was tired of their disobedience and was about to unleash His wrath upon them. Can you even imagine? What would it be like to have God pour out His wrath on you? What would it be like to cry out to God and He not hear you? Not only that, what would it be like for God's presence to leave His dwelling place on earth; for His radiant glory to be gone?

Wow! The thought of it gives me chills. As harsh as it may seem to us, God did what He said He was going to do. Let's read on and as you read note the stages of God's glory leaving His dwelling place.

“9:3a) Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub,
where it had been, to the threshold of the temple.
10:4) Then the glory of the LORD went up from the cherub,
and paused over the threshold of the temple; and the house was filled with the cloud,
and the court was full of the brightness of the LORD’S glory.
10:18) Then the glory of the LORD departed from the threshold of the temple
and stood over the cherubim.
11:23) And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city
and stood on the mountain, which is on the east side of the city.
Ezekiel 9:3a; 10:4; 10:18; 11:23, NKJV

In the blink of an eye, God’s glory left the temple. The saddest part of it is, God’s people didn’t even notice He was gone. They were so consumed with themselves and their false gods, they had no idea the God of the universe had just depart from them. He slays the sinful and protects the few that remained faithful to Him. God rains fire over the city of Jerusalem as a sign of His wrath.

If God’s presence left His people, what about the promise of the Seed to come that would crush the head of Satan found in Genesis 3:15? What about the Kinsman Redeemer we find in the book of Ruth? What about the covenant He made with them? If He was gone, if His glory left the presence of His people, what would happen?

Read Ezekiel 11:14-21.
14) Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 15) “Son of man, your brethren, your relatives, your countrymen, and all the house of Israel in its entirety, are those about whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, ‘Get far away from the LORD; this land has been given to us as a possession.’ 16) Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Although I have cast them far off among the Gentiles, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet I shall be a little sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone.”’ 17) Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.”’ 18) And they will go there, and they will take away all its detestable things and all its abominations from there. 19) Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, 20) that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God. 21) But as for those whose hearts follow the desire for their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their deeds on their own heads,” says the Lord GOD.

Yes, God’s presence was leaving His people, but His covenant love and promise for them still remained. Why? Because He is a covenant keeping, always loving God. He will never go back on His word. He fully intended to return and restore His relationship with His people. And, He did exactly that!

God beautifully illustrates His coming back for His people in the book of Hosea. Tomorrow we will push up our shirt sleeves and dig in there. For now, though, I encourage you to take some time and think back through today's verses from the book of Ezekiel. What are your thoughts?

And, I invite you to visit with my sweet friend Victoria and join us as we "Find the Messiah" this Christmas.

See you tomorrow! Bring your shovels, we've got a lot of digging to do!


2 Lovely Thoughts Shared:

Victoria said...

Girl, this is awesome! I can't wait to learn more tomorrow! This, my sweet sister, is exactly what I had in mind when I started this series...all of us starting with the same Scriptures and seeing and sharing where God takes us from there! Exciting! Love and stuff!

Sanctified Together said...

This was awesome! I have learned so much from your words! I got chills just thinking about how it would feel if God gave me what I deserve and not His Grace! Yikes!