Summary: I don’t know where you are in your relationship with Jesus this morning, but, God demands exclusive worship. A person can say they are a Christian and even claim to worship Jesus but only a genuine follower understands the sacrifice, to be in over their
I saw on Facebook last week that Dean went scuba diving. His status update reminded me that learning to scuba dive is on my bucket list. Kristi and I went on a cruise about 10 years ago and one of our excursions on that cruise was scuba diving. We maxed out at about 35 feet. I know that’s not very deep for seasoned divers like Dean, but, for me it was an experience I’ll never forget. This experience rates as one of my favorite, weirdest and most magnificent adventures of my life. I remember taking my first breath underwater, the sensation of that moment will stay with me the rest of my life. But I also remember as I followed our guide into deeper water, still only about 35 feet, the pressure I felt on my body. The deeper a diver goes under the surface of water the more pressure per square inch the body experiences. But the real danger is the pressure on the oxygen tanks and equipment the diver uses to breathe under water.
What does any of this have to do with Ezekiel? For the last three weeks we have been talking about Jesus. We talked about Jesus the person, the Redeemer and last week, Jesus as the Boss of everything. We talked about Jesus because the prophets we are reading through prophesied about Him. Much of the Old Testament points to Jesus, and then in the New Testament, Jesus points us back to the Father. Now that the Father has our attention, what does He want from us? It just so happens that the book we will be exploring for the next few weeks has the answer to that question.
We are all in different places in our walk with God today. Some of us have yet to make a decision to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. If this is you, think of yourself on the shoreline. You haven’t made the dive into the waters of faith because you have yet to believe. Then there are those of us who maybe have recently come to the conclusion that Jesus is the Son of God and we are in the water. Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 that there are tools or resources provided by the Holy Spirit that enable and empower us on our journey. In a modern context think of these tools or resources as your scuba diving equipment, and just as a diver could not sustain a dive without his equipment, it’s impossible to sustain a life of faith without truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and the Bible. So some of us have put on the gear and we’re ready for the dive but we’ve just started getting used to the idea of breathing under water, the whole experience is new and a little uncomfortable. And then there are those who have been diving for awhile. They are used to the experience, the equipment, and they understand the pressure that comes from going deeper in their faith. And then there are some of us who even though we’ve been in the water for a long time just can’t seem to sustain a dive for very long. Maybe the pressure becomes too much, but, with people who have been in the water of faith for a long time but can’t sustain deep dives, my experience tells me it’s because they don’t trust the equipment. They have issues completely trusting truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and the Bible.
And this is what God, keeping in mind that this is His Old Testament, directs Ezekiel to talk about. In the Scripture we are looking at today God is absolutely livid that His people are at His temple but worshiping something else other than Him. God uses the subject of His temple throughout the book of Ezekiel and this subject is what we are going to focus on today. For the ancient Jew the temple was the spiritual nerve center of their faith. For over 1,300 years the Jews have been unable to completely obey their own Scriptures, the Torah, because they lost the place in Jerusalem the temple was purposed to be to the Arabians, and they have never controlled that place again. Today, where the temple should stand in the city of Jerusalem, for the Jew to worship according to the Torah, belongs to the Muslim section of the city.
But when Jesus Christ died and resurrected himself from the grave He initiated a New Testament between those who choose to worship Him. Hebrews 10:11-18 says, “Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins. But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. There he waits until his enemies are humbled and made a footstool under his feet. For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy. And the Holy Spirit also testifies that this is so. For he says, “This is the new covenant I will make with my people on that day, says the LORD: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” Then he says, “I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.” And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices.”