A Text Worth Considering
Before you read this blog, invest five minutes in reading Ezekiel chapters four and five.
Does Unhitching from the Old Testament Ring True?
“Unhitch from the Old Testament,” declares a young evangelical pastor as he echoes the liberal theologians of the 1920s to 50s. When you read these chapters, at first glance, you might say, “Oh, yes, there is definitely a difference between the Old Testament “bully god” and the “loving” New Testament Jesus. However, to conclude this is to err on multiple levels.
First, these chapters portray the righteous God judging an unrighteous people. Another classic passage is the narrative of Nadab and Abihu offering strange fire in the tabernacle of God (Leviticus 8-9). Second, other passages portray God as a loving husband and father. In the abstract of his article, The Fatherhood of God in the Old Testament, Goran Medved writes,
The article provides an overview of the theme of God as father in the Old Testament and, briefly, its continuity in the New Testament. The author examines all of the texts where God is mentioned as father in the Old Testament as he relates to the nation of Israel. The article offers an analysis of God as father in the contexts in which this concept appears. God’s fatherly characteristics are exhibited through his self-revelation through Torah, writings and prophets, but also through his acts toward Israel and through his relationship with Israel. The theme of God’s fatherhood continues and expands in the New Testament, and comes to the center of New Testament theology. (https://hrcak.srce.hr/file/250901)
In the Old Testament, God’s love is demonstrated and declared. Nehemiah 9:17, Jonah 3:8-10, Is 43:1-3, 54:10, Jeremiah 17:9-10, Nahum 1:7, 54:10, Psalm 136:26, Psalm 86:15, Zephaniah 3:17. In the New Testament, God’s love is declared and demonstrated. John 3:16, I John 4:9-11, 4:16, Romans 8:37-39, 5:8, Galatians 2:20.
Jesus, according to the Liberals, is the New Testament God of love. He says I and the Father are One, John 10:30-38. His Jewish opponents did not miss his declaration. They were ready to stone him for blasphemy. They unmistakably knew he was claiming to be the Old Testament God of Abraham.
“Ok,” you concede, “so what does this have to do today with you and me living in America where we have printed on our money, ‘In God we trust?” We are not Israel. We are not His chosen nation. If you have studied accurate American History and if you have read our nation’s foundational documents interpreting them historically and grammatically in their context, it becomes very evident that while we are not parallel to Israel, a Covenant nation with the historical projection of delivering the redeemer, we are a nation birthed in God’s providence, committed to (granted, not perfectly) to establishing a nation that honors God in human dignity (created equal), honesty and justice (laws that emulate the laws that God authenticated as righteous), and with the freedom to respond to God (religious liberty).
Be Not Surprise and Do Take Note
Since the late 1800s, we have been “progressively” spurning these values and replacing them with human values that are in error and often depraved, compared to the values of God and our founding documents. Hence, the relevance of this passage (Ezekiel 4-5) for our nation, our culture, and our people.
We should expect the judgment of God. That judgment will come similarly as it did to Israel. Some years ago, S. I. McMillen wrote a book titled, None of These Diseases, in which he demonstrated how keeping Old Testament dietary, and health laws provided freedom from various diseases common in the rest of the nations. Today we willy-nilly violate various laws of God (dietary and moral), resulting in various plaguing diseases. Rather than repent, we utilize our God-given abilities to devise treatments that counter, at least to some extent, the results and encourage continued practicing of these deviant behaviors. In response to the devastation, we spend untold amounts of our tax dollars on research, treatment, and law enforcement to counter those who create illegal businesses to supply the demand. And, we modify culture to accommodate those who find God’s laws abhorrent.
What We Cannot Do; What We Can Do
You and I cannot wrap our minds around God to comprehend his infinite personality, his infinite being. But we can apprehend his character, which he reveals to us in His Word and through His Son. Hear the writer of Hebrews 1:1-3.
“In the past, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
We as individuals may not be able to stifle the flow of our nation towards evil as the values of life, but we can choose to love, honor, and obey God in our personal lives. In the providence of God, some of us may be caught up in the discipline that God brings upon the nation. For example, a draught may ruin our crops, or a bomb by the nation God uses as a hand of judgment may take out our home or even our lives. Nonetheless, if we are walking in the light as He is walking in the light, we will find ourselves in the eternal presence of God instantaneously in the latter case.
Given the death spiral of our culture (see Romans 1:18-32), let us focus on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2) and the blessed hope of His second coming (Titus 2:13) and live with confidence as did Paul residing in prison. He writes in Philippians 3:7-9,
If someone had reason to brag about their religious, devout life, it would be Paul. Yet he tells us, “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him”.
And he does that by putting on and, as it were, wearing the whole armor of God as a way of life (Ephesians 6:10-10). Peter echoes this manner of life but frames it in action terms (I Peter 5:6-10).
So, my friend, rejoice that you are loved by God and will experience the beatific vision (I John 3:2). Be encouraged; God, the judge, is on the throne. Be not discouraged by evil appearing to be winning. Rejoice in the Lord, always. Give thanks amid everything for His steadfast love endures forever (Psalm 100:5, 136:1-2)