KNOWING GOD IN HIS GLORY
God Is Gone
Jerry A Collins
® What is the reason for Gods departure?
® What happens to those whom God leaves?
® How does this happen to us in our relationship with God today?
Back in my college days I worked for Norton Surgical Supply delivering surgical and hospital equipment to peoples homes. One of my most frequent deliveries was oxygen tanks to people who had emphysema usually from excessive smoking. Amazingly most of these people when I showed up were continuing to smoke as they lived with the extra oxygen I delivered. Even the life threatening consequences were not enough to keep them from that which delivered the consequences. Ezekiel similarly is being used of God to pronounce final judgment on rebellious Israelites who refused in face of consequences of their rebellion to change their lives and obey God. God now prepares to leave the people in anticipation of the devastating judgment they will bring upon themselves because of their sinful rebellion.
1. GOD IS PREPARING TO LEAVE HIS PEOPLE
God had originally come to live with His people nearly 1000 yrs earlier. In Exodus 40:34-35 a cloud full of the glory of the Lord descended from heaven and filled the tabernacle, the temporary facility used by the Israelites as they wandered in the wilderness 40 yrs. Nearly 500 yrs later in 1 kings 8:10-11 Gods glory and presence entered into the holy of holies in the newly constructed temple a permanent facility of worship in the nation. Some 500 years later Gods presence is now preparing to leave. God could not stay with His people any longer. It was time to leave people who no longer regarded His presence as significant or meaningful. God departs in stages (1) to the front door of the Temple (9:3; 10:4), (2) to the East gate by the outer wall overlooking the Kidron Valley (10:18-19). God was mounting his throne chariot to ride out of the temple and city (3) across the valley to the Mt of Olives from where Godís presence will leave His people. (11:22-23). He will not return until the Millennial Kingdom (43:2-7) even though the some Jews return to Jerusalem and partially rebuild the temple about 500BC and again during the tribulation. This departure signals the cities doom. It is no coincidence that Christ ascended to heaven from this same Mt in Acts 1:9-12 and promised to return to the same Acts 1:11, Zech 14:4.
Today God has promised to never leave us or forsake us. He has placed His HS in our lives when we believe. He remains with us all the days of our lives. He is always available to us and we even have access into His presence every time we pray. However, there are a number of warnings about our leaving God. James for instance, gives 11 commands in 4:7-11 that when we obey will keep us from wandering away from God. One of those is Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. When we ask ourselves what it is we can get away with and still have Gods blessing verses what is closest to the heart of God we have two completely different answers that takes our lives in two completely different directions. The problem today is that God is always available but we are no longer become available to Him. When we are no longer available to God we make ourselves available to the world, the flesh and the devil and the consequences associated with that contact.
2. GOD IS LEAVING BECAUSE OF UNRESOLVED SIN IN LIVES
Before leaving God pauses at the East gate while sitting on His throne-chariot. This purpose of this pause is to give Ezekiel another glimpse of the sins of the people of Jerusalem. (1) Sin of deception 11:1-3. These men were civil leaders of the people purposely deceiving the people to turn away from prophets warnings and build houses instead because they were going to be here a long time. Building houses was sign of safety and security nothing was going to happen they were saying. Like meat in a kettle the people were safe in the city. Then God commands Ezekiel to prophesy against this false optimism because God knows what these are really thinking behind their deception 4-5. These statements only masked their underlying fears of attack and destruction for† they† really† feared the sword vs 8. So Ezekiel alters the imagery of the meat/pot. He does this by reminding these that they had murdered the righteous men in the city, probably those who had objected to their sins. These righteous had been the cities only hope for they could have rescued it. It is these dead righteous ones who are the meat not the present living inhabitants. Now this pot, Jerusalem, will be shattered in judgment and though these elders felt secure in the pot of Jerusalem God would drive them out, giving them to foreigners smashing the pot dragging the people away. Since they feared the sword, God will use the sword to execute their judgment. They should have feared God as their source of power. Unless a person is forgiven of God there is no way to avoid His judgment. They have no idea God is even leaving. So much of what they are doing and living for has had nothing to do with God so His leaving is not even noticed! But His judgment will be. However, the purpose of the judgment of God is to promote the knowledge of God (11:10, 12). Judgment is always designed to promote knowledge whether civil, academic, military, relational or spiritual. The message for the exiles back in Babylon is that Gods judgment is designed to turn them away from their sin in confession and repentance and back to God in obedience and fellowship. That is still Gods design today. Hebrews 12 says God disciplines believers for our good that we may share in his holiness. God disciplines and judges not because He does not love us but because He does. It is designed to get us back on the correct path. By the way, we practice exiling in our relationships with willfully sinning Christians for the same reason, namely because we want them to own up to their sin before God so we can continue to have a relationship with them. Another reason for this judgment was compromising morally and spiritually with the nations surrounding them. These nations had an ungodly influence upon Gods people and they compromised themselves with God vs 12. Today in the church the sin of acting like the nation we are living in in America is adopting a doctrine of tolerance, homosexuality, materialism, women leadership, divorce & remarriage, corporate vs family structure for† local church. We have to constantly ask selves & asking others to help us evaluate how are we allowing the world to compromise Gods word in our lives. We will not persevere because we love sin too much.
3. GODS LEAVING PAVES WAY FOR JUDGMENT THO REMNANT PRESERVE
As Ezekiel prophesied Pelatiah dies vs 13 confirming message of judgment foreshadowing its coming. Ezekielís understanding of this responds by pleading to God for mercy as in 9:8. God responds with a message of hope for the remnant in exile 14-20 for the future. They, many his blood relatives, in exile are the true remnant not the ones still left in Jerusalem who had assumed that these exiles were far away from the Lord being dispossessed from the land vs 15. Isnít it amazing how we are blind to our own sin but can point out yours. Take care of the speck of dust in your own eye before trying to help with the log in anothers. Proof of Gods blessing for these is (a) what he has already done by not abandoning them 16 and (b) what he will do when he regathers them nationally and blesses them with a new heart and relationship in the Millenium 17-20. However, the only thing the rebellious will have is judgment vs 21.