AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH
August 12, 2012
A Presbyterian body committed to Christ without Qualification and
The Bible without Compromise
EZEKIEL 18:19-31 and 33:11
JUSTICE DOES NOT EVACUATE FROM TRUTH
NOR MERCY FROM MAN
WHEN HE IS PREPARED TO RECEIVE IT
I THE CONTROVERSY
There was a strange controversy between God and many in Israel. Oddly, they seemed to feel that there was too much mercy. GOD for His part, was prepared to pardon the sinner when he turned back in repentance and faith, to do otherwise; but man felt this unfair. Moreover, God would not endorse punishing the son for the father, or the father for the son. The soul that sins shall die: unless mercy is sought and obtained where it MAY be found (Isaiah 55).
The divine message, at this point, is clear: There is a gap of grace. The term transliterated agape in New Testament relates vitally. God WILL NOT EXACT the past of the returning sinner, but pardons; and He will not exact on one family member because of another. Man is made in the divine image, and each is to be so treated. Not fair! said the controversialists in Israel. Why not ? Can God not do with His own what He will ? Moreover WHAT is He doing but pardoning, so that He is not trying to exact, like a flinty usurer, what He can get, but is interested in gaining the soul and spirit in loving obedience and wise living, where He may without violence, achieve this. It is a matter of a better perspective for a better result than mere judicial penny-pinching. Far more, life itself is the exaction that COULD be made of one as of all, if you are going to despise divine grace: the soul that sins shall die (Ezekiel18:20).
Having made such things clear, God then shows them a deeper heart, a more profound love, a mercy that delights to operate (as in Micah 7:19-20). one that both would cast all their sins into the sea, and subdues their iniquities, casting aside payments, swallowing up errors and strengthening with self-discipline and desire, to serve Him in fruitfulness of function and peace of heart.
2 THE RECOMMENDED REALISM
There is then a series of prescriptions for pardon and peace.
THE CALL TO REPENT
TURNING FROM TRANSGRESSIONS - ALL OF THEM
SO AVOIDING INIQUITY AS RUIN
CAST AWAY THE BREACHES
GET A NEW HEART AND SPIRIT
DO NOT DIE, WHAT'S IN IT!
GOD IS NOT HE WHO DESIRES IT
Jeremiah in 31:31, dealing with the virgin birth (a woman in an entire novelty encompassing a man with divine intent), deals also with the New Covenant, in Ezekiel 16:60 called the everlasting covenant; and likewise he indicates in 16:19-21, that the revelation of God is to come to the Gentiles, who will cast away their pallid substitutes for truth, their vacuities, emptinesses, seeing them now as lies. Indeed, Isaiah in 45 appeals to the "ends of the earth" to look to the Lord and be saved, just as 49-55 tells of the basis of the new and everlasting covenant. The justice judgment of the Lord in His equity, is for one and for all, essentialised in Christ. It does not grow old, even though the theocratic State of Israel would cease to be its mode of exposition (Isaiah 65:13-15).
That State had its own place in His plan (Isaiah 42,49), the blind to be brought back to their land, the very opposite of the spiritual, those who had been near and were now far from the Lord, those the Lord's servants specialising in blindness! God is deep as Paul points out in Romans 11, and has many plans; but only one Gospel. His witness is in all things, both small and great; but His focus is on salvation.
The place of grace and equity, pardon and peace, it is in the Gospel for Jew and Gentile alike, so let us learn from Ezekiel 18. Bear your own sins, do not seek to export. Find your own regeneration from the regal pardoning power of Christ. Do not try to have it by proxy. Repent in your own heart, do not participate in a group mood instead.
3 THE PASSIONATE PRONOUNCEMENT
Here the prelude to the announcement is the need to be faithful in warning, and it deals with watchmen. If you speak and they do not hear, you are clear. But SPEAK! Do other souls not matter to you ? They matter to God. How much do they matter to Him ?
In 33:11, we find these components, in theme as in 18, but in this place with individuality.
THE DIVINE DECLARATION IS AS DEEP AS HIS VERY LIFE.
NO KINK CALLS FOR DIVINE PLEASURE IN DEATH, HOWEVER WICKED THE ONE.
THE DESIRE IS TO REPEL IT AND TURNING TO THE CREATOR, TO LIVE.
THE CALL IS REPETITIVE, EXTREME IN PATHOS, DEEP IN INTENSITY,
'TURN', FOR WHY PUT IN A TENDER FOR DEATH.
On this occasion, passion and depth conspire to produce an infinitely clear depiction of divine love. There is nothing hidden; there are no mysteries. God is open. With ALL His being to the life itself, He has one desire for man, even for the expressly wicked. It is that they live, that they do not suffer ruin, and He calls repeatedly as in Matthew 23:37, with an insistence unmistakeable, to one as to all. There are no aristocratic chambers: God wants ALL as in John 3, where His mission in Christ was NOT condemnation but salvation, the world into which He came (which is one) being the object likewise of His desire, and that, for its salvation.
Whoever you are and wherever you are fallen, this is His desire, unmistakeable, unshakeable, implacable, otherwise specifiable only by the most profound contradiction. If you hear it, respond. If you want it, let no theological anodyne or addition confound you. Come and get it!