Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
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November 14 – God’s Grace And Punishment

“And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, like the vision that I saw in the valley. Then He said to me, ‘Son of man, lift up your eyes now toward the north.’ So I lifted up my eyes toward the north, and behold, north of the altar gate, in the entrance, was this image of jealousy. And He said to me, ‘Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations that the house of Israel are committing here, to drive Me far from My sanctuary? But you will see still greater abominations.'”  Ezekiel 8:4-6 

Devotional Thought For The Day

This is one of the visions imposed upon Ezekiel, the prophet of the LORD God, the God of Israel, the only True and Living God.  I say “imposed” because it was deeply offensive and troubling – visions of a number of “abominations” occurring in the land of Israel.  These were the people of God, who were charged with keeping the knowledge of the LORD alive in the world, His promises of salvation in Christ Jesus – and yet even after the Babylonian captivity they were engaging in the most coarse forms of idolatry.  It was shocking and sickening to Ezekiel, and must certainly have provoked great fear and dread in him.  At the end of this chapter the LORD announces His verdict:  “Therefore I will act in wrath. My eye will not spare, nor will I have pity. And though they cry in My ears with a loud voice, I will not hear them.” [Ezek. 8:18] This is a dismal and dreadful pronouncement.

It is interesting that God describes such activities as “driving” Him far from His sanctuary.  We know that God is present everywhere, at all times, in all places.  Yet here we see that great abominations can cause Him to remove His gracious and merciful presence from people.  This is what hell is – the absence of any of God’s grace, mercy, or love, the presence only of His punitive justice.  I would guess that this is as close as people can get to having “hell on earth,” when they drive God’s gracious love away from them with wicked abominations.  We tend to think of our sin as being small and relatively innocuous, as singular events that are quickly over, and that a dab of repentance and perhaps some pious “worship” or “service” will suffice to square things with God. This is not so – it required the shedding of Christ’s blood, the blood of the very Son of God, and His death, to take away the guilt and stain of our sin.  Such a sacrifice of love requires, compels, and enables a reorientation of our lives – away from such abominable wretchedness and toward God’s ways, the ways of true and genuine love.

So the contrast is poignant – the glory of the LORD God and His gracious mercy and love, OR abomination, idolatry, immorality, and God’s wrath and punishment.  There are many places in our own country where idolatry and abomination are practiced – in some bars, especially where immoral sexuality is the theme and purpose, in abortuaries, in gambling businesses, and worst of all in those religious gatherings which use Christ’s Name but teach falsely regarding God and His great gift of salvation, or in which immorality is considered and taught to be “good.”  The future for all of this, and those who practice these things, is quite dismal and dreadful.  It is the just consequence for driving God away and demanding His judgment.  Lord, have mercy!

It is of great comfort that even in the midst of such wretchedness and abomination there were still faithful people of God living and present – like Ezekiel.  It is the same in our day and time.  We often lament the encroaching darkness and wickedness, and recognize that God’s judgment is looming.  We must also rejoice in the miraculous work of God in calling a people to His salvation, who are enlightened with the knowledge of His gracious love, mercy, and forgiveness, and who have been “delivered from the power of darkness” and “translated into the kingdom of His dear Son.” [Col. 1:13] This is the preciousness of the church, God’s dear people of faith, and this is where we belong, where we take refuge, solace, and comfort, and where eternal hope resides.  Here, among true believers, the Light continues to reign supreme and the darkness is dispersed – thanks and praise be to God!

Prayer For The Day

Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for coming into this world of abomination, and for assuming the guilt and punishment for the sin of the world, so that we might be renewed in the knowledge of Your great love and freed from sin, darkness, death, and destruction.  Keep Your dear people from abomination, especially idolatry and moral perversion.  Call those caught in darkness to repentance and faith – and if possible restore them in Your salvation.  Without Your gracious presence and protection we have no hope, so continue to draw us closer to You.  Amen.