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.
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...
Ezekiel 8:18, NKJV
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.
10:4) Then the glory of the LORD went up from the cherub,
10:18) Then the glory of the LORD departed from the threshold of the temple
11:23) And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city
Ezekiel 9:3a; 10:4; 10:18; 11:23, NKJV
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.
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!