Today’s Reading: Ezekiel 33:1-34:31(additional reading: Psalm 115:1-18 &Proverbs 27:21-22 )
There was a very popular movie series in the 1980’s was called “Back to the Future.” In it Marty McFly accidentally traveled back to his past. While he was there, he tried to make life a little better for his parents, so his life would be a little better. It made for an amusing and interesting story line – the idea that someone could go back in time and try to fix the past. That would be nice, wouldn’t it – to be able to go back and fix your past mistakes – so you could change your fate?
The fact is, however, that we can’t go back in time to change our fate. There’s nothing you can do about your past. Therefore, are we just doomed to a certain destiny because of mistakes from our past? Does that mean we should just throw our hands up and give up? Not at all.
We have a commission from God that can effect the future (Ezekiel 33:7-9). This was not just some exercise to test Ezekiel’s faithfulness. God told him to do this to hopefully change their fate – to save the Israelites. Just because it doesn’t happen every time, neither means that God’s way is wrong nor that God’s way should be ignored. Even though it didn’t work for the Israelites the first time around, God told Ezekiel, “stick to plan A! Don’t give up! It’s not too late! You could still have a part in changing their fate!” God says the same thing to us. You may not have trusted in God’s ways. But Jesus died for your sin, and God wants to involve you in changing lives! As long as they are alive, it’s not too late for a change fate!
Let’s stop and consider the effect that it has on the one who didn’t listen. Ezekiel had warned the Israelites to repent, but they wouldn’t listen. How did this effect their attitudes? “Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?”’ It felt as if a huge weight were on their shoulders, and there was no way they could get out from under them. They thought that God was holding a grudge against them – that they were forever enslaved to suffer for sins in Babylon, because they should have run from them and listened to Ezekiel in the first place – but they didn’t.
Martin Luther once said, It is much more difficult to console an afflicted conscience than to wake the dead. There is a difference, isn’t there? Have you ever decided to do something that you knew was wrong – in direct disobedience to what God and fellow Christians told you to do? How did you feel afterward? You feel like a traitor. You have a heavy amount of guilt. Why? Because you KNEW beforehand that it was wrong, but you did it anyway. You can’t help but feel angry at yourself and embarrassed over your behavior – like a complete failure. That’s what was happening to the Israelites.
How did God respond? Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! He was cheering for them – wanted them to come back.