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Are We Listening?
Brett Anderson ©2005

I know that some of the stuff from last week's thort was not easy for us to hear, but this week as I've been reading through Ezekiel in my quiet times, I have just been challenged to not move on from this theme too quickly and leave the danger of us missing the point. The hard messages of Christianity we often tend to skim over and the danger is they can get lost amongst the feel-good areas of which there are a lot. It is definitely not all doom and gloom, but at the same time, when we are living in a world that has largely turned its back on God, we can not expect Him to sit back and act as if everything is fine. His honour and holiness and very being has been challenged in the most ruthless and hardcore of ways by His creation. We need to pay attention to what the Word teaches and what He is wanting to say about all this.

The one quote I used at the end of last week's thort hit me again this week as I read the Max Headroom section in the local Argus newspaper where again someone was challenging the idea of God being loving and allowing such devastation as this:

"When we treat God as if He does not exist, how can He then be held responsible when something goes wrong?" [Len de Beer]

This is just another illustration of the hypocracy and self- righteousness of the world - live as if God doesn't exist and pay no heed to Him, until something goes wrong and then call His very being and love into question.

So this week I was reading a passage in Ezekiel that I'm sure I have read before, but never really noticed before until this week and its appropriateness and relevance to what has been happening in the world.

[Ezekiel 14:12-23]

"The word of the Lord came to me: "Son of Man, if a country sins against Me by being unfaithful and I stretch out my hand against it to cut off its food supply and send famine upon it and kill its men and their animals, even if these three men - Noah, Daniel and Job - were in it, they could only save themselves by their righteousness, declares the Sovereign Lord.

Or if I send wild beasts through that country and they leave it childless and it becomes desolate so that no one can pass through it because of the beasts, as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, even if these three men were in it, they could not save their own sons or daughters. They alone would be saved, but the land wouldbe desolate.

Or if I bring a sword against that country and say, "Let the sword pass throughout the land," and kill its men and their animals, as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, even if these three men were in it, they could not save their own sons or daughters. They alone would be saved.

Or if I send a plague into that land and pour out my wrath upon it through bloodshed, killing its men and their animals, as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, even if Noah, Daniel and Job were in it, they could save neither son nor daughter. They would only save themselves by their righteousness.

For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: How much worse will it be when I send against Jerusalem my four dreadful judgements - sword and famine and wild beasts and plague - to kill its men and their animals! Yet there will be some survivors - sons and daughters who will be brought out of it. They will come to you, and when you see their conduct and their actions, you will be consoled regarding the disaster I have brought upon Jerusalem - every disaster I have brought upon it. You will be consoled when you see their conduct and their actions, for you will know that I have done nothing in it without cause, declares the Sovereign Lord."

I think that passage will probably make a bunch of us sit up and take notice and possibly have to re-evaluate our theology (understanding of God) because surely God is not capable of doing 'bad stuff?' But I think the phrase at the end 'I have done nothing in it without cause' is the key to this passage and our understanding of calamity in the world. A reminder that God often sees things very differently from the way we do - disaster, priority, meaning of life...and so on...

So this passage got me thinking and if you look through the Old Testament there are stories like the flood (Genesis 6), the story of Achan (Joshua 7), Uzzah being struck down for touching the ark of the covenant (2 Samuel 6) and the Israelites being taken into captivity in Babylon; then if you read the New Testament there is the story of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5) and Herod being struck down (Acts 12) - a number of stories and others like them where God directly or indirectly brings punishment or calamity or death upon His created people.

God will not be taken lightly!

I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it again a lot this year, but I really feel quite strongly that one of the messages God is really wanting to bring across to His people this year is a wake-up call. I believe the tsunami could have been a part of that and I suspect there will be other events happening in the near future that will back that up as well.

The question is really about how we respond to the call. Continue in our complacency or lukewarmness...? or really allow the firecracker to be lit under out butts and be inspired to action. To living a life that is ALL about loving God and loving people. A life spent hungering for more of God - full of prayer and reading and learning His Word and applying it to our lives. A life that focuses on sharing Jesus with people who don't know Him. On reaching out to the least of these with encouragement and practical assistance. A time of getting our hands dirty.

And I guess that's something only you can answer for yourself.

May God bless you as you respond to His call.