Do you ever get stuck thinking that God has a great big hammer in His hand and He’s just waiting for an opportunity to whack you with it? I know life can make us feel that way sometimes, but it’s not true. The Bible is full of instances where God demonstrates just how merciful He is.
Ezekiel isn’t exactly the book I would first go to in looking for verses about God’s mercy. Ezekiel is pretty hard core, actually. So when I was looking for a verse about second chances, I was surprised to find this passage.
Today’s verses are Ezekiel 18:30-32.
Therefore, I will judge each of you, O people of Israel, according to your actions, says the Sovereign Lord. Repent, and turn from your sins. Don’t let them destroy you! Put all your rebellion behind you, and find yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O people of Israel? I don’t want you to die, says the Sovereign Lord. Turn back and live!
Repent is one of those religious words that can be scary. But there’s really nothing religious about it. Repenting simply means that you change your mind. It means that you change your mind about the way you’re living, that you let go of your rebellion and live the way God wants.
God wants everyone to repent because everyone is freakin’ screwed up.
A little earlier in the same text, God says that He finds no pleasure when wicked people die. God doesn’t want anyone to die. I don’t know if we can wrap our heads around that, but that’s who He is.
This passage has so many applications, but the one I need this morning is that God is truly a God of second chances. He is a God who freely allows anyone to turn away from a lifestyle of rotten choices and turn to Him for salvation.
Anyone. Freely. And all we have to do is to accept His free gift — Christ’s sacrifice for us — and we don’t have to be judged on our actions. But if we don’t accept Christ as Lord, then all we have are our actions. But that’s a topic for another day.
Today, Election Day 2012, I needed to remember that God is merciful. And that He listens. And that He cares. And that He’s got everything under control, even when nothing seems like it’s going the way it should. By tonight, we should know who the president for the next four years will be, but whoever that is, I’m honestly not holding out a lot of hope.
No matter who wins, America is in very grave danger. Not from the economy. Not from our aging Baby Boomer generation. Not from our dependence on foreign oil. Not from terrorists. The greatest danger America faces today is America. We are slowly but surely destroying ourselves with double-mindedness, self-entitlement, and rebellion.
No matter who assumes the chair in the Oval Office in January 2013, he cannot fix our greatest problems, he cannot answer our greatest questions, he cannot give us what we need. And the plain and simple reason why? We already know how to fix our greatest problems. We already know the answer to our greatest questions. We already know what we need. And we have rejected all of it.
And if you think I’m talking to non-believers, Christians, think again.
Ezekiel was a prophet sent to Israel, the chosen people of God. God’s own people who had turned against Him. These weren’t heathen nations. These weren’t people who didn’t believe in God. These were the descendants of the ones God rescued from Egypt with His own hand.
So let Ezekiel’s message resonate with us today.
Let’s set our rebellion aside. Let’s do what we have been called to do, and that is to follow Christ. Let’s turn away from the choices we know contradict God’s Word. And let’s get down on our knees and our faces and beg God for another chance. He’s not done with us yet because we’re still here, but the time is coming when His patience is going to run out. And there are still so many people who haven’t heard the truth, who would accept it if they heard.
2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.”
God wants everyone to repent. He doesn’t want to lose one person. He’s giving everybody space and time to change, and He’s giving 21st Century American Christians the opportunity to get their heads on straight.
Obey Scripture. Do what’s right. And if you don’t know what’s right, look it up. And while you won’t be judged on your actions if you truly know Christ, when all is said and done you won’t be able to ignore Truth anymore.