When we say, “God’s not dead,” we mean…

brown concrete cathedral

Photo by Robert Stokoe on

… that He has not died, that He has not forgotten us, and that He has not turned against us.

Ezekiel was born to be a priest. He was in the right family, and was destined to minister in the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. However, a Babylonian invasion ended that dream, as he was one of thousands taken into captivity and led as slaves into a foreign land. There, Ezekiel dwelt with the captives by the Chebar river. Through no fault of his own, he had lost everything.

So it was, living in Israel’s twilight years prior to the Babylonian captivity. The nation slipped further and further into sin and idolatry, behaving so reprehensibly that even the heathen nations surrounding it were repulsed. As Israel rebelled and reveled, God withdrew His protection, allowing Babylon to continue to conquer the nation. The southern kingdom continued to lose province after province, and city after city, all the while continuing in the sin and idolatry that was bringing on their demise. This continued until the Babylonian troops had laid siege to the capital city of Jerusalem.

The tragedy of a lifestyle of sin is that you often don’t realize what it’s cost you until you are about to lose what little you have left. So it was that Israel was down to defending Jerusalem, and any hope of maintaining the kingdom rested in their ability to fend off the Babylonians.

Meanwhile, back in Babylon, the captives awaited news from back home. Was Jerusalem successfully defended, or did she fall. The anticipation touched off a firestorm of debate. Some believed that God could not allow Jerusalem to be conquered, for doing so would violate the promise He made to Abraham back in Genesis. False prophets had even gone among the people, promising that God would deliver them. Others had concluded that God’s providence was not needed, that the walls of Jerusalem would protect her from her enemies.

Jerusalem had to be saved, for anything else would represent God’s total abandonment of Israel. Some had even believed that God had divorced Himself from His chosen people, a belief that God Himself refuted in Isaiah 50:1. With those questions swirling, God began to speak to His people.

In Ezekiel 1, the former priest, soon to be prophet, Ezekiel, is by the Chebar River when God speaks to Him.

The prophecies recorded in Ezekiel show God’s plan for Israel. In the early part of the book, God tells the people that Jerusalem would fall. That prophecy caused many to reject the legitimacy of Ezekiel’s ministry, but once Jerusalem fell, the people listened.

Through Ezekiel’s prophecies, God told the people that Jerusalem would fall, and that they would spend their 70 years in captivity, but that God would use that time to transform them, and would bring them back into their homeland when the process was finished.

This concept goes right along with Jeremiah 29:11-12, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.”

In that prophecy, Jeremiah told the people that God was not allowing the captivity to come upon Israel out of wrath, or a desire to see them destroyed. Rather, the captivity was going to transform them to a point where they would trust in the Lord and call upon Him, and He would hear and respond.

Some in Israel may have felt that God abandoned them. The Babylonians might have thought they conquered the Israelites’ God. The question circulating may have been, “Is God dead? Why doesn’t He hear?”

However, the truth was that God was working through the situation the whole time.

So, when you are going through trials and tribulations, or when others mock your faith, do not fear. God is not dead. He did not abandon you. He hasn’t forgotten you. He is still with you, and is working through the situations you face to refine you into a glorious child of His. Trust the process, and thank God for the progress.

How God sees you

IMG_0774The Bible tells the story of a rich man who traveled into a foreign country and released his wife into the harem of a pagan king on two separate occasions. This same man fathered children with multiple wives, as well as one of his wife’s handmaids. What do you think God did with this man?

In two short sentences, I described to you Abraham, father of the Jewish nation, and the prime Biblical example of faith. In all fairness to Abraham, the two sentences I used to introduce him captured the worst moments of his life. In the opening paragraph of this post, I unfairly defined him by his sin, and his failures.

While I may seem like a dirty dog for doing that, the truth is we do this to ourselves and each other on a daily basis. We tend to define ourselves by our worst moments, which leads to discouragement, which leads to depression, which leads to anger and estrangement.

You may see yourself as a failure. You may see others around you as failures. However, that does not mean that’s how God sees you, nor does it mean that’s how God sees others.

How can God honor a man who sinned as grievously as Abraham? Simple. Romans 4:3 says “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.”

Abraham believed God. He trusted God. He took God at His word. Therefore, God regarded Abraham as righteous and saved his soul.

Furthermore, God looked at Abraham, not as the adulterous man who violated His plan for marriage, but rather as a work in progress that God refined until he was ready to receive His blessings.

You see this concept at work with Joshua the high priest in Zechariah 3. Joshua the high priest stood before God wearing filthy garments, a sign of his sin, and a sign of the sin of his people. Satan stood beside Joshua, “resisting,” or accusing him, but God responded, “The LORD rebuke thee, Satan, even the LORD who hath chosen Israel rebuke thee, is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?”

Joshua stood before God as a mess, but God saw Joshua for the man whom he was transforming him to be.

Your life may be a mess right now. You may be fearful to enter God’s presence. Perhaps that is why you haven’t been to church in a while. You want to at least be able to put your best foot forward, and right now, you don’t have a shoe to fit.

If you trust God, He regards that as righteousness, and He will save your soul. Furthermore, His view of you has less to do with what you are, and more to do with what He will transform you to be. He sees the best in you, and He will bring it out.

And just as scripture gives glowing praise of Abraham, if you trust God to do this work in you, you, too, will hear God’s praise on the day of judgment, when He says, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

If you don’t know the Jesus Christ as your savior, trust Him to save you today. If you know the Lord, trust Him to transform you. Then, return to His presence.

I’ll see you Sunday morning.