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This is Jerusalem

The prophet Jeremiah had accurately prophesied that unless his people repented and changed their ways, they would go into a 70 year captivity by the Babylonians (Jeremiah 25:11). In Ezekiel 5 verse 5 through 7, God summarizes the reasons why He was going to punish His people and destroy Jerusalem.

This says the lord God; This is Jerusalem: I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries that are round about her (verse 5).

God centered Jerusalem in the midst of the nations to be a witness of righteousness to the pagan nations around her, because no other nation had the moral laws that had been given by Moses.

And she has changed My judgments into wickedness more than the nations, and My statues more than the countries that are round about her: for they have refused My judgments and My statures, they have not walked in them (verse 6).

Instead of being the light God had intended her to be, reflecting her God as a witness to the pagan world around her, she instead had abandoned her separation and had adopted the ways of the pagans.

This principle is carried over into the New Covenant. Through Jesus, God has called His people to be lights for the Lord, reflecting His glory and the life changing message of the Gospel to the pagan world. We are called to be holy, even as God is holy. –

But as He which has called you is holy, so you be holy in all manner of conversation;
Because it is written, You be holy; for I am holy (I Peter 1:15,16).

The purpose is to be a witness and glorify God.

The purpose of the law was to be a God given guide to righteous living. Through faith in God’s plan of redemption, the atoning death of Jesus, the believer is indwelt with the Holy Spirit, resulting in a changed life, creating over time a new man, a new creature (II Corinthians 5:17).

In the new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31) God would put His laws in the heart (Jeremiah 31:33). Believers would be led into righteous living by the indwelling Spirit. God did not abolish His laws, His standard for living. What was abolished was justification by law, or self- justification. In other words, no one could be justified by keeping the law, only by grace in the New Covenant.The Apostle Paul puts it this way. –

For by grace you are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
not of works, lest any man should boast.
For we are His workmanship, created in Messiah Jesus to good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:8-10).

The grace we receive works in us to walk in the good works described in the moral law that we should emulate.

Let’s compare the similarity in the wording of Paul’s message to the prophecy God spoke to Ezekiel in chapter 5 verse 6. – for they have refused My judgments and My statures, they have not walked in them (verse 6).

God tells us that the judgment is coming to Jerusalem because the people did not walk in His law. Paul tells us that we are to “walk in them.”

We are not under the law, meaning we are not justified by law, we are not saved by keeping the law. We are to walk in the moral law as a witness for the Lord. Just as God desired Israel to be a witness for Him to the pagan world around them, so God wants those who have embraced the gospel, to validate that message with lifestyles that exemplify righteousness as a witness to an unbelieving world.

Unfortunately, as with ancient Israel, many Christians today are not following Jesus and His apostles’ instructions, and are allowing themselves to be influenced by the pagan culture that surrounds them.

Just as ancient Israel faced the destruction of Jerusalem and a seventy year captivity in Babylon, a similar threat looms before the apostate Christian church like a black, threatening storm cloud on the horizon of the near future. That approaching tempest is called, “The Great Tribulation.”

Jesus tells us to “Pray that you are worthy to escape” (Luke 21:36). It is expedient for all of us to come before the Lord in prayer and honestly repent and seek Him for new direction; the pathway that will lead us away from the coming storm and into the safety of God’s perfect will for our lives.

Copyright 2024 by H.D. Shively

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