Read: Ezekiel 12:1-28
26 Then this message came to me from the Lord: 27 “Son of man, the people of Israel are saying, ‘He’s talking about the distant future. His visions won’t come true for a long, long time.’ 28 Therefore, tell them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: No more delay! I will now do everything I have threatened. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!’”
In verse 9, God tells Ezekiel something that I often need to hear – “ .. [t]he people of Israel, have asked you what all this means.” As I read the books of prophecy in the Bible, I sometimes find myself scratching my head and asking this very question – what does this mean?
I love to read. One thing I have discovered by regularly reading the Bible is that the Bible is unlike any other book I have ever encountered. While I love reading certain genres of books and there are some books that I revisit regularly like an old friend because they hold a special place in my heart, the Bible is the only book that actually seems to speak to me in an interactive way. I have heard the Bible described as the “living Word of God”. I think the adjective living is a particularly apt descriptor. The Bible truly is living; by this, I mean there are times I can read a particular passage and say to myself “what does that mean? I have no idea how that applies”. If I come back to that passage a year or two later, that same passage can jump off the page and come to life as a direct answer to prayer. I think that’s part of what Paul means in Timothy 3:16 when he writes “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful…”
Today’s reading is one that jumps off the page to me. In the focus passage, God is telling the Jewish people through Ezekiel to not take God lightly. The Jewish people had begun to view God’s revelations through the prophets with such disdain that they developed a proverb – “Time passes and prophecies come to nothing”, which basically meant that while we may believe God, whatever He says will happen is only going to happen at some distant point in the future and doesn’t apply to us.
While God’s response through Ezekiel was a direct response to the Jewish people over 1400 years ago, it also has meaning to us. In Matthew 24 and 25, Jesus tells us that we need to actively prepare and keep watch for His second coming – that no one will know the hour of His return, but we must live our lives in intentional anticipation and preparation of His return. This is echoed throughout the New Testament by various authors such as Peter and Paul who both tell us the return of the Lord will come unexpectedly like a “thief in the night” (2 Peter 3:10 and 1 Thessalonians 5:2).
I believe that one reason God didn’t reveal the hour of Jesus’ return was because He wanted us to live our lives as if Jesus were returning at any minute. God’s love and mercy for humanity, which He created, are more than I can even begin to grasp. Because of that, He desires everyone to turn from their sin and come to Him; He doesn’t want anyone to be lost. However, at the same time, He wants His children, who have come to Him through Christ, to live our lives as if Christ were coming back this very minute. If we live our lives in a way that anticipates and is prepared for Jesus’ return as imminent, we will be living and acting in such a way that only leaves room for reflecting His light, grace, and love to everyone we meet. That’s a tall order, and one that I fail to meet far too often, but I know Jesus offers forgiveness when I fail, and He gives me the strength to pick myself back up again and try harder to live in anticipation of His return.
I once heard of a wise mother who gave her son the advice that whenever he’s in a situation to ask himself “is this something I want to be doing if Jesus were to return at this minute”. How about you? Are you living your life in anticipation that Jesus could return at any minute? Ask God to help you actively prepare your life for His return and live in anticipation of when we will see Jesus.
Prayer: Lord, I thank You that You give us Your Word as a living guide to navigate through life. I’m sorry when I am disobedient to You; when I put anxiety, fears, or pleasures of the moment, none of which are lasting, ahead of You. Please help me to live my life in a way that shines Your light, serves You and others, and brings glory to Your name, so I can be prepared for Your return. In Jesus’ name, Amen.