Joy
Posted By Nan

Ezekiel 7
This book was written at the same time as Jeremiah. Ezekiel, like Jeremiah had been sent by God to warn the people of Jerusalem about the coming judgement on them. The destruction of their city and their way of life.

It is apt that we come to this verse on Easter Saturday, the day between Friday and Sunday. 

For the people of Jerusalem the time for their joy was coming to an end. Instead of joyous celebrations, they were to become a people bowed low with suffering and grief. Everything they owned. The wealth they placed so much faith in. All was to become worthless. They would mourn, tear their clothes, shave their heads, wet themselves in sheer terror. They would know the day of judgement from God had come. And they would have to pay the price.

As we wait between the day of Jesus’ death on the cross and the day of his rising from the dead, we sit in a no man’s land of hopelessness. For the people of Ezekiel’s time, that type of day was coming. God was judging them and there was no one to pay the price. God expected them to pay the price for their sins.

The people were to be thrown into the despair and hopelessness of all they knew and loved being destroyed. Of an uncertain future. Of wondering if God would ever renew His relationship with them again.

In a similar way, the followers of Jesus spent they day between the crucifixion and the next day in a state of terror and fear. Everything they had come to believe in and hope for appeared to have been destroyed. They were not to know that the next day would bring Jesus’ resurrection. The next day would bring hope and so much more.

For the people of Jerusalem, whose hedonistic pursuits of self were to come crashing down in a total destruction of all they had, hope would be gone.

The people of Ezekiel’s time had no death on the cross to hold on to. That had not yet happened. They had nothing to atone for their sins. They had no hope.

They were to learn an important lesson. Obey God. Make Him the focus of your attention and hope. Put your trust in Him. Be patient. He will restore you in His time. In the case of the people of Jerusalem that was to be 70 years. So no impatience. 

We likewise must learn that important lesson.

When bad times come it will be confusing. It will seem hopeless. Joy may well seem a thing of the past. The joy we feel when all is going right and we can celebrate God’s abundant blessings and acknowledge Him as the one who blesses us. It is possible the people of Jerusalem felt that weaker secular ‘joy’ that was not true Joy. They weren’t going to feel that either once they faced God’s judgement.

For real joy we need to seek God. We need to acknowledge His control over our lives. We need to acknowledge all He has done for us. And we need to express our gratitude at all He has done. Then we can experience His Joy.

The people of Jerusalem were going to have to learn again how to know and worship God.

The Disciples cowering in fear were going to have to wake up to a new day and a risen Christ.

We have to hold fast to God’s promises and maintain our faith in Him and all Jesus did for us on the cross.


This blog will pause until April 17 while I attend a family function interstate. 

 
Joy
Posted By Nan

Lamentations 5

Just like the previous blog, the cry of Lamentations 5 echoes the cry of Lamentations 2.

The people are completely defeated. They are enslaved. Everything has been destroyed. Despair is everywhere.

The people realise it is their punishment.

In their despair they cry out to God. They acknowledge he is the Lord and He reigns forever. His throne endures from generation to generation. There is a recognition of God’s greatness. But there is also a recognition of the wrong they have done to earn this rejection.

The people are repentant, very repentant. They realise the punishment is for their sins. They ask for redemption but are not sure it will come. But they are willing to come back to God when He calls them back.

There are times in all lives when we face something terrible we have done. We are truly sorry. God forgives us. But we still have to face the consequences of our sin. Sometimes, like the Israelites, we need to be brought low before we are willing to acknowledge our sins and ask God for forgiveness.

The people of Israel needed a lot of time to learn better how to honour God. 

This is not to say that every bad thing is punishment from God. Far from it. But there are times when God does bring us low so that we may turn to Him for help.

It is fitting that a day away from the day we remember Jesus’ death on the cross we come to this chapter. We can remember the hopelessness of those watching Jesus die on the cross and wondering what happened to all their hopes and expectations. They were not to know then that Jesus was dying to give them the redemption they and we needed.

Let us never forget the gracious gift of forgiveness and payment of sin that Jesus won for us on the cross.

 
Joy
Posted By Nan

Lamentations 2

Lamentations is just that. A very sad, despairing lament. This chapter is no exception to that. It is a terribly sad piece about the terrible fate of God’s chosen people. The terrible fate of those who broke the covenant and suffered the consequences.

There have been many times in history when people have been devastated by foreign invaders and all has been destroyed. 

Even today, people find themselves in times of total despair and hopelessness.

Refugees in camps languishing while the world turns its back. Asylum seekers locked in offshore detention or in centres where they never even see the sun. People trapped in poverty living in the slums of cities. People in so called wealthy countries who work hard but do not earn enough money to live on and cannot get health care. Those who are ostracised by others. Those living in situations of abuse.

The list goes on.

Sometimes the joy in life is gone. There is only sadness and pleas to God that go unanswered. The one pleading to God feels He is not even listening.

That is the reality of life for many people.

So how do you find the joy in that situation? 

Maybe you don’t. 

Maybe you just keep laying your fears and distress at the cross and hoping that maybe God really is listening.

No matter how bleak things seem we can see from the Bible that these terrible times come. They don’t go away instantly. But reading through the Bible we can see that at the end, the very end, it all works out for those who believe and follow Jesus. 

When you are in those bad times you must cling to the promise of eventual Joy. Because some day it will come.

 
Joy
Posted By Nan

Jeremiah 51

This last chapter of Jeremiah contains a prophesy about Babylon.

God has used Babylon to carry out His punishment on his chosen people.

In its day Babylon was like Rome was later to become. It was a terrible nation that devoured lesser nations. The Babylonian armies murdered the people of the lands they invaded. Those that were spared were carried off into exile. 
Babylon did not care who was destroyed. There was no concern about the people of the lands. All Babylon cared about was itself.

Yet in this chapter God speaks of how He used Babylon to punish the tribes of Israel. It is a timely reminder that we see terrible rulers, ones who are ungodly. We see them succeed. We wonder why God allows it. We don’t always know the answer but we do know that God raises up nations and their leaders and He brings them down again. So in the time of Jeremiah Babylon was used to fulfil God’s purpose.

But we all face judgement. And there would come a time when Babylon would be destroyed.

Then, the people could truly feel Joy in God’s deliverance.

We face times in life that are hard. We do not always know why we face those times. But we face them. We are often at the mercy of terrible people. This may be on an individual level with a person who is making your life hell. Or it may be on a national level with a leader who is causing deep harm to the people.

The comfort here, the cause for joy, is that God will punish and bring down the tyrant. It may not be for a long time. It may not be until long after we have moved away from the situation. It may not be in our lifetime. But all face God’s judgement. 

For that we can feel great Joy.

 
Joy
Posted By Nan

Jeremiah 48

This is the story of Moab. An arrogant people. Looking down at those individuals without money and those nations who are poor. Never lifting a finger to help. Full of sense and self need. Totally lacking in humility.

The people of Moab worship their false gods and place their faith in buildings they build. Their homes, their investment properties, large scale developments, they have faith in them all. 

Sounds familiar.

They worship money. They have never had to struggle against impossible odds to succeed in life. They have never faced terrible trouble. They have never had to flee their homes. They believe they can defeat anyone who comes against them. They have their networks of politicians they make donations to so they will support them. They are comfortable in their power and very, very secure.

Sounds familiar.

The people of Moab are not that unusual. In every generation of this world there have been people like that. 

To a lesser extent we all fall for this trap. 

I work in a building with limited parking and many practitioners. Most of the practitioners take the parking spots for themselves so clients have to struggle to find parking on the streets. Recently a fellow practitioner and I suggested we park on the streets and leave the car parks free for the clients. There was a horrified response and many practitioners came up with excuses as to why they couldn’t possibly do that.

Disheartening as it was, this is how so many of us act and feel.

We live in our comfortable homes that we own, and criticise those who struggle to find a home to rent in an undersupplied market, claiming they aren’t trying hard enough.

We look at those less fortunate than us, and nations less fortunate, and begrudge any money allocated to support them.

We occupy ourselves with buying a home, and maybe an investment property and don’t care what happens to others whose struggle is greater.

We support political parties who do not support those in need and support instead their political donors. Politicians whose god is power. And we don’t speak out against their policies.

What happened to Moab?

God destroyed them.

All their cities, their homes and investment portfolios. They were all destroyed. The politicians were destroyed. Their economy was destroyed. 

Instead of thriving, wealthy cities, there were instead ghost towns of destroyed buildings. Piles of rubble for future inhabitants to raid in order to build their own buildings. Building their new cities on the rubble of Moab’s bricks and mortar. 

Moab’s selfishness and greed, their easy lives and arrogance, were destroyed. In their place was a struggle to survive, a place where their wealth was worthless, where the easy life was extinguished. Instead of an easy, hedonistic, Me, Me life there was struggle and hard labour simply to survive. All joy ceased.

For the people, the land was covered in salt so nothing would grow. I don’t know if you have ever seen the impact salt has on the ground. In my western side yard there are only weeds. Nothing grows due to the heat and narrowness of the yard. So I use salt to kill the weeds. It is amazing to watch these plants shrivel as the salt is sprinkled on the ground. Nothing survives salt. 

We can take an important lesson from the people of Moab. Our turn to face this judgement will come. It may not come in our generation, but it will come.

You may not care about what happens to future generations. One thing to remember though. God punished all Moab. Sometimes He punishes nations. Sometimes He punishes individuals.

In your lifetime He may not punish your nation. He may punish you. And never forget. You will stand in front of God to be judged, either in life or in death. Be grateful if it happens in life and you have the opportunity to repent and change. Because if it happens in death there is no opportunity to make good.

God punishes. But God also restores, once the lesson has been learned.

It is time we stopped thinking about our own comfortable, self concerned lives and started asking God if this is how He wants us to lead our lives.

 

 

 

 
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Nan
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