30 “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,” says the Lord God. “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. 31 Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 18:30–31, NKJV)
We all need to learn to apologize when we have been wrong. The simple truth is that we have all sinned (Romans 3:23). We need to seek forgiveness for our sins against God and against others. To accomplish this we must learn to repent of our sins. Only by genuine repentance will we turn from our transgressions and avoid the ruin sin causes. God told the house of Israel to throw away their sins by changing their hearts. That is what repentance is all about – changing the heart. We must get a “new heart and a new spirit” – one that turns away from all our sins. Do more than say you are sorry for your sins. Repent and turn from your sins so that you can be forgiven and escape eternal death.
6 who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: 7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; (Romans 2:6–7, NKJV)
God’s judgments are just. The Old Testament law and prophets relied on this basic truth when they said, “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself” (Ezekiel 18:20; see Deuteronomy 24:16). Despite this, many still believe men and women are born sinners (born with a sin nature), inheriting the guilt and depravity of Adam’s sin. Yet, today’s passage assures eternal life to those who continue doing what is good because they are seeking “glory, honor, and immortality.” What is the good we must patiently continue to do to receive eternal life? The apostle John said it is practicing righteousness: “My little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous” (1 John 3:7). The “doing good” that will be rewarded with eternal life is faithful obedience to God (Ephesians 2:10). Today’s question is this: Are you seeking heaven? If so, do you have faith that God will render to you according to your deeds? If so, then do the will of God and be blessed with eternal life. God will keep His word and deliver you a just judgment according to your deeds.
5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who “will render to each one according to his deeds” (Romans 2:5–6, NKJV)
The mantra of this present age is not to judge any belief, any action, any person – ever. The charge that “you are judging me” is often designed to shut down investigation, not lead to insight and clarity. Why is it we do not want to be judged? One reason is because we do not wish to be held accountable for our words and deeds. Yet, it is better to be judged by divine truth, so we can correct ourselves now, than it is to ignore God’s judgments until that fateful day when we stand before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10). Hard hearts that refuse to repent prepare a person for God’s wrath instead of mercy when that day comes. It will be a day of wrath and just condemnation of sin (Romans 1:18). God has revealed His judgments to us – we have an open book to use in preparing for the day of judgment. The judgment of God is righteous. The judgment of God is real. The judgment of God is ready. He will give to each one a reward that corresponds with our deeds in this life. Are you treasuring up for an eternal day, or for eternal death? Don’t just say you are living for heaven – actually do it.
2 And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” 3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” 4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.” (Matthew 24:2–4, NKJV)
The magnificence of the Jerusalem temple impressed the disciples as they showed its buildings to Jesus (Matthew 24:1). But, divine judgment was set to destroy it all (Matthew 23:37-39; 24:2). Back on the Mount of Olives they ask Him for signs of the calamity of which He spoke, concluding it to be His coming and the end of the present order (v. 3). It would indeed be a coming of the Son of Man in judgment against the faithless city (Matthew 23:38; 24:27-28). Jesus gave them signs of the approaching judgment that happened in A.D. 70 when the Roman army destroyed the temple and the city. Believers would escape when they believed and responded to these signs (Matthew 24:15-26). Christ’s warning to avoid deception about His coming remain pertinent (v. 4, 11-13). Claims of when Jesus will return continue to be made. Such predictions are vain and false. The final great day of the Lord will come “as a thief in the night” without predictive signs (2 Peter 3:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11). Always be ready for His return and do not be deceived (Matthew 24:44; 25:13).
A righteous man regards the life of his animal, But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel. (Proverbs 12:10, NKJV)
Every beast belongs to God, who created and who sustains them (Psalm 50:10; Matthew 6:26). A man’s animals were beasts of burden, beasts of labor and sources of food and clothing. While the Law of Moses had many animal sacrifices, it also commanded consideration toward animals. Domesticated animals were not to work on the Sabbath (Exodus 20:10); a person was to help an over-burdened animal, even an enemy’s (Exodus 23:4-5); one was not to unequally yoke an ox and a donkey (Deuteronomy 22:10); one was not to muzzle the ox when it was treading out the corn (Deuteronomy 25:45); they were not to disturb a bird sitting on its nest of young (Deuteronomy 22:6); and a young goat was not to be cooked in its mother’s milk (Exodus 23:19). While the upright person considers the welfare of his animals, the wicked have no such thoughts. Cruelty is their compassion. One can learn some things about a person’s character by how they treat animals. What are people learning about you?
45 Now when the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He was speaking of them. 46 But when they sought to lay hands on Him, they feared the multitudes, because they took Him for a prophet. (Matthew 21:45–46, NKJV)
How do you react when the Scriptures pierce through to your heart and you know they are addressing your life? Are you receptive and humbly responsive to God’s call of repentance, redemption and spiritual renewal in Jesus Christ? Or, do you castoff its rebukes and promptings like these priests and Pharisees did? They knew Jesus had been addressing their rejection of Him and God’s punishment for doing so (Matthew 21:42-44). But, they obstinately tried to silence God’s Son instead of accepting His message of truth. And, so it goes today. The truth of God’s word melts the tender heart even as it hardens the prideful heart of unbelief. Receive its indictments of sin and offerings of redemption. God’s warnings and rebukes bring life in the Son to those who are corrected by them. Those who oppose the word of Christ will be ground to powder (Matthew 21:44). Those whose hearts are broken by it will not be put to shame (Romans 9:33).
5 A wise man is strong, yes, a man of knowledge increases strength; 6 For by wise counsel you will wage your own war, and in a multitude of counselors there is safety. (Proverbs 24:5–6, NKJV)
The strength of godly wisdom is mightier that muscle and sinew. By wisdom God powerfully created the world (Prov. 8:22-31; Jeremiah 10:12). Wisdom prompts us to fear the Lord and turn away from evil (Job 28:28; Proverbs 9:10). We are wise to seek counsel from those who fear God, who hate evil, and who have our best interests at heart. Multiply such counselors and you will find safety in their guidance. The wisdom of the world is empty and foolish and gives no thought to the will of the Lord (1 Corinthians 2:6; 3:19). When faced with decisions that affect your life and eternally, whose advice do you trust? Those who live for the world and hold its values and goals, or those who fear God and value the blessings that come from following His word? Choose your counselors wisely.
12 Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. (Hebrews 12:12–13, NKJV)
Isaiah described Zion (Messiah’s kingdom) as a time when weak hands are strengthened, and feeble knees made strong (Isaiah 35:3). In Zion, straight paths for our feet are established by God’s word, from which we must not to turn to the right or to the left to do evil (Proverbs 4:26-27). Since we have come to Mount Zion and are redeemed by the blood of the reigning Lamb of God, it is no wonder Christians are now exhorted to do these very things (Hebrews 12:22-24; Revelation 5:8-10). Let us lift a discouraged Christian by bearing his or her burden (Galatians 6:1-2). Let us exhort a disciple who has stumbled along the path to repent and return to the right way of truth (Acts 8:18-24). Let us refuse to compromise with sin by warning those who stray into paths of error and immorality (Revelation 2:20-23). Strength in the kingdom of Christ is measured by service, not by being served (Mark 10:42-45). So, commit yourself to strengthening your fellow Christians and being a blessing in their lives. “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all” (1 Thessalonians 5:14).
So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. (Joshua 6:20, NKJV)
God gave Jericho to Israel by His grace (Joshua 6:2, 16). Yet, it was necessary that Israel obey in faith for the city walls to collapse (Joshua 6:3-5). Please notice that while the walls fell by God’s grace, the army of Israel still had to take the city. The edge of the sword was applied to this godless city after the walls fell (Joshua 6:21). Spiritual victories require us to fight to possess the Lord’s victories (Ephesians 6:10-13). We must be militant against the forces of evil to gain the victory of faith (2 Corinthians 10:3-5; 1 John 5:3-4). Today’s passage also reminds us our spiritual battle is right in front of us. We fight the good fight of faith alongside fellow Christians, exhorting and helping one another each day (Hebrews 12:12-13). We do this even as we engage in our own battles against temptation, trials and trouble. By grace through faith, victory in Christ is assured.
13 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, the prophets say to them, ‘You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.’” 14 And the Lord said to me, “The prophets prophesy lies in My name. I have not sent them, commanded them, nor spoken to them; they prophesy to you a false vision, divination, a worthless thing, and the deceit of their heart.” (Jeremiah 14:13–14, NKJV)
Many prophets were telling Judah, “Peace, peace” (Jeremiah 6:14). Jeremiah was telling them destruction was on the way (Jeremiah 6:22-30). How was Israel to know the difference between a false prophet and a true prophet? “If the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously” (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). Jeremiah was the true prophet; the others were false because their prophecies failed. False prophets are deceived and speak from hearts of deception, not from divine revelation. Even today some claim to be prophets of God. But, like the lying prophets of old, their words are false because they do not conform to the Scriptures (the revealed mind of God, 1 Corinthians 2:6-13; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Revelation is now complete (John 16:13). Today, we know whether a message is from God or from the heart of man by comparing it to the words of Christ’s apostles (1 John 4:1, 6). They wrote the commandments of the Lord (1 Corinthians 14:37).