Updated: Dec 23, 2020
I’m listening through the book of Ezekial these days. There’s a lot of God’s anger and conviction in it. It’s difficult to hear. Breaks are necessary between chapters because of the heaviness of the material. Chapter 30, verse 13 literally stopped me in my tracks today.
“I’ll smash all the no-god idols;
I’ll topple all those huge statues in Memphis.
The prince of Egypt will be gone for good,
and in his place, I’ll put fear—fear throughout Egypt!”
I struggle with the idea of God spreading fear. Smashing idols, toppling statues, and unseating authority are violent actions. When I first became a Christian, “fear” for me was equated with “respect”. But the further I walk with Jesus, the more I realize the anger of the Lord is very real. I see a lot of parallels between what’s happening in the world now and what’s happened to the world in the past. It’s a never-ending cycle.
The ways of the world are spelled out in the old testament, explicitly. None of it is new. Slavery, poverty, racism, infidelity, power struggles, it’s all there. Most of these stories were never taught to me as a child. But it’s those stories that have significantly changed the way I see God.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the new testament. It’s where we see the cycle is broken! Humanity is freed! We have a new life! Without Jesus we would still be trying, and failing, to break the cycle ourselves. But I think in order to understand the significance of the new covenant, we need to understand the origins of the old covenant. The world of the old covenant is still the one we live in today. The world of the new covenant, is in the hearts of the believers for the time being.
With this new covenant, we are freed not only from the ways of the world but also the punishments God executes. There’s no way around it. Death and destruction eventually come for those who don’t fear it. In Ezekial 33:11, God says “As sure as I am the living God, I take no pleasure from the death of the wicked. I want the wicked to change their ways and live.” But in verses 12-16, the wicked still die.
The people who live, are the ones who embrace a new way of life. This new way of life is described at the end of verse 16, “being generous to the down-and-out, restoring what he had stolen, cultivating life-nourishing ways that don’t hurt others”. This is the exact message that Jesus preached. How our lives look, is insignificant compared to how we treat people.
This truth flows through the entire story of the bible, old and new testament. The purpose of both covenants was to address the problem of sin. Sacrifices were offered for both, because the consequence of sin is death. Not a slap on the wrist, a fine to be paid, or community service, but death. It’s easy to understand in our heads, but have we felt the severity of it in our hearts? I didn’t until I started reading the prophetic books of the old testament.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. – Proverbs 9:10
Fear of the Lord brings us to grips with the reality of our situation. It brings us to a place of humility and obedience. It is in that place that we truly get to know God. As our knowledge of God grows, our understanding of life flourishes. The bible, as a whole, is a testament to who God is. The more we read it, the closer we get to knowing Him, and the closer we are to living in the world of the new covenant.
-This post was originally from the author's personal blog-https://strengthmadeperfectinweaknessblog.wordpress.com