10 Therefore you, O son of man, say to the house of Israel: ‘Thus you say, “If our transgressions and our sins lie upon us, and we pine away in them, how can we then live?” ’ Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’ (Ezekiel 33:10–11, NKJV)
Without doubt, Israel had grievously sinned against the Lord God. From the depths of despair, with their sins bringing ruin to their nation, they wondered how they could survive. Although judgment was being exacted upon the sinful nation, it gave God no pleasure to see its demise. He is not a vindictive God, who delights in the destruction of those who sin against Him. Even when sin has separated sinners far from Him, God yearns for their life, not their death. For that reason, God pleaded with these souls to turn from their evil ways, and live. At this very moment, you may be weighed down by sin. If so, God wants you to have eternal life, not eternal death. Through the gospel of Christ, He calls you to turn away from every sin, and live. Godly sorrow produces repentance, that leads to salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10; Acts 2:37-38). Turn, and live.
1 Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples! 2 For His merciful kindness is great toward us, and the truth of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord! (Psalm 117:1–2, NKJV)
This brief psalm drives to the heart of why all people should triumphantly praise Jehovah. The stated reasons are, (1) Because of His mercy, and (2) Because of His truth. God’s mercy protected the nation of Israel over and over throughout their history. God’s truth denotes the integrity of His promises (especially those made to Abraham and David), as well as the revelation of His truth. God offers all sinners (whether Gentiles or Jews) His mercy and His truth in Jesus Christ (Rom. 15:8-9). Of all the reasons to praise God, His mercy toward sinners and His unwavering truth are at the heart of why we do so. Without God’s mercy, we would all perish in sin (Titus 3:4-5; Eph. 2:4-5). Without God’s truth, we would not know God’s purposes for us, nor could we be freed from our sins (John 8:31-32). Notably, mercy and truth go together; they are fully present and fully obtained in Jesus Christ (John 1:14-18).
31 O generation, see the word of the Lord! Have I been a wilderness to Israel, or a land of darkness? Why do My people say, ‘We are lords; We will come no more to You’? 32 Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet My people have forgotten Me days without number. (Jeremiah 2:31–32, NKJV)
God repeatedly disciplined the nation of Israel for her transgressions against Him. Yet, with the immorality of idolatry, Israel continued to rebel against Jehovah. The people elevated themselves about the Lord in their own eyes. Israel acted as if she did not need God. It was utterly astounding to the Lord how Israel forgot Him time, after time, after time. A bride does not forget her wedding dress, yet God’s bride “played the harlot with many lovers” (Jer. 3:1). Still, God pleaded with Israel to repent and return to Him (Jer. 3:1). But, Israel would not. She said, “I am innocent,” and, “I have not sinned” (Jer. 2:35). Consequently, God punished Israel for her sins (Jer. 4:27). Here is our lesson as Christians: God will not overlook our sins, either. God said of Israel, “Shall I not punish them for these things? says the Lord. And shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this?” (Jer. 5:9) We must get serious about sin and repent, for “how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation” (Heb. 2:3)? Will you “see the word of the Lord?”
7 Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.” (Galatians 3:7–9, NKJV)
The apostle boldly states that sons of Abraham are now identified based on faith, not flesh. This flies in the face of the belief that the nation of Israel continues to this day to be the people of God. The gospel teaches Christians are the sons of Abraham. Justification is reckoned on the basis of faith in Christ, not upon fleshly descent from Abraham. Paul later explained that “if you are Christ’s then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:29). Christians are “sons of God” (Gal. 3:26). You became a child of God and seed of Abraham when you were “baptized into Christ.” That is when you “put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27). Thank God today that your salvation does not depend on your physical pedigree. It depends on Christ, and your faith to believe and to His will. As Jesus said, “For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother” (Mk. 3:35).
42 For He remembered His holy promise, and Abraham His servant. 43 He brought out His people with joy, His chosen ones with gladness. 44 He gave them the lands of the Gentiles, and they inherited the labor of the nations, 45 That they might observe His statutes and keep His laws. Praise the Lord! (Psalm 105:42–45, NKJV)
God made a promise to Abraham to make a great nation of his descendants (Gen. 12:2). God kept His word when He brought Israel out of Egyptian bondage, making them “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exo. 19:6; Deut. 10:22). God also promised the land of Canaan to the descendants of Abraham (Gen. 12:7; Acts 7:5). God fulfilled that promise under the leadership of Joshua (Josh. 21:43; 23:14). There will not be a future claiming of the land of promise by the fleshly descendants of Abraham. The lesson for us today is that God fulfilled His promises to Abraham so that Israel would obey His laws and praise His great name. God is trustworthy. He demands and deserves the faithfulness of His people. He will not break His word to us. The crucial question is, will we choose to break God’s word by disobeying Him?