Today’s readings.. (1 Chronicles 1), (Ezekiel 14), (Luke 10)

Ezekiel is recognised as a man in touch with God, as a true prophet, by the “elders of Israel” [14 v.1], they are all together in captivity.  They had been taken into captivity because of their godlessness. Note God’s attitude about those who came to listen to Ezekiel for God knew their hearts.  He writes, “the word of the LORD came to me: ‘Son of man, these men have taken their idols into their hearts, and have set the stumbling block of their iniquity before their faces.  Should I indeed let myself be consulted by them?” [v.3]
Then the LORD says, “Anyone … who takes his idols into his heart and sets up a stumbling block of his iniquity before his face, and yet comes to the prophet, I the LORD will answer him … that I may lay hold of the hearts … who are estranged from me through their idols.” [v.4,5]
Let us be clear about the principle here.  In believing and seeking to serve God, it must be with our whole heart.  Other prophets had the same message, Hosea said, “Their heart is false; now they must bear their guilt.” [10 v.2] There is a song that is popular among many, “’Lord, give me an undivided heart.’ – but the onus is on us to put out of our minds any ‘idols’ that attract and distract our thinking.  This had been the case in previous generations; in the reign of good king Asa, people came to worship “And all Judah rejoiced  … for they had sworn with all their heart and had sought him with their whole desire, and he was found by them …” [2 Chron. 15 v.15]
Our song and prayer should be for help to develop undivided hearts.  We do not have prophets today, instead we have God’s word.  But those with “divided” hearts very easily misunderstand it as they try to find proof of what they want to believe – and also justify their way of life.
Verse 9 is a challenge to understand, “if the prophet is deceived , I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand against him and will destroy him … they shall bear their punishment – the punishment of the prophet and the punishment of the inquirer alike – that the house of Israel may no more go astray from me, nor defile themselves … ”    The purpose of God’s action is clear, to correct the straying ways of his people, “that they may be my people and I may be their God …” [v.11] But ‘prophets’ ancient and modern, with divided hearts, are allowed to tread the path they have chosen.
Here are lessons for us today that we may “not be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” [2 Tim. 2 v.5] Sadly, many do not and God allows them to be deceived, let us seek him ‘with our whole desire’ then he will be “found” by us in a wondrous relationship founded on a prayerful meditation on his word.

 

* Click verse text to see cross references.
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