October 18, 2015

Holding His hand in the darkness

Ezekiel 36:1–37:28, Revelation 18:1–24, Job 38:1–11

God calls me to live my life distinguished by His light, clearly separate from my old way of being. I am a new creation because He separated the light from the darkness within my heart. Yet sometimes it is a struggle to live according to this high calling, to live in the light and be separate from that darkness.

In ancient times, God gave His people up to their enemies in order to chasten and correct their sinful ways. Even though they suffered His reproach, eventually He said to them, “Behold, I have spoken in my jealous wrath, because you have suffered the reproach of the nations. Therefore  . . . I swear that the nations that are all around you shall themselves suffer reproach. But you, O mountains of Israel, shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to my people Israel, for they will soon come home. For behold, I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you shall be tilled and sown. And I will multiply people on you, the whole house of Israel, all of it. The cities shall be inhabited and the waste places rebuilt. And I will multiply on you man and beast, and they shall multiply and be fruitful. And I will cause you to be inhabited as in your former times, and will do more good to you than ever before. Then you will know that I am the Lord.” (Ezekiel 36:5–11)

Even though His promises were in pity for them, God also said this, “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord . . .  when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses.” (Ezekiel 36:22–30)

This speaks to me also. When I wander off and God disciplines and restores me, He does it for His name’s sake. He gave me new life in Christ so that my life would honor Him. Being holy is not about me. It is about living in His light and giving Him glory.

After the accusations of Job’s friends and their assumptions, and the self-defending of Job who knew he was not being punished, God finally burst through the silence. He spoke to Job saying, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” (Job 38:2)

This also speaks to me. How often have I thought that I have figured out what God is doing, particularly when He has not revealed anything to me? How many times have I “darkened counsel” by not listening to it and replying without knowing what I was talking about. Human ignorance is obvious in others, yet too often I’m ignorant of my own lack of understanding, still in darkness and thinking I am not.

In that final book of the Bible describing God’s wrath against sin, a voice from heaven cries out saying, “Come out of her (Babylon), my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues.” (Revelation 18:4)

The city of Babylon personifies evil from which God calls His people, for this “great city be thrown down with violence, and will be found no more . . . .” No more music, craftsmanship, industry, light, or love, for in all those seemingly good things were lies. God says the people “were deceived by” the sorcery in this city, and in this place were “found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on earth.” (Revelation 18:21–24)

What do I know about evil, or about what God is doing? I might think I know, but deception is entirely possible. Job was a righteous man, yet he assumed knowledge when he actually was in the dark. The people of Babylon looked as if they were doing well, but God said they were evil.

As for me, walking by faith does not exclude following the light and leading of God, nor does it exclude glimpses of His plans and His will, but it does exclude thinking that I know everything when God has told me absolutely nothing.

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