Light in the Darkness
Would you take your Bibles please and turn to Ezekiel chapter 11:14-25...
>Now remember, since the beginning of chapter 8, we have been in a vision...
A vision that God allowed Ezekiel to see concerning Jerusalem and Judea.
But now the vision is coming to an end, and the last part of the vision is this cherubim bearing the glory of God.
It is the departure of the glory of God.
It had been predicted, and now in the vision itís coming about...
The departure of the glory of God from the land of Israel.
>Then did the cherubims, with the wheels beside them, spread their wings, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them.
(Verse 23) The glory of the Lord went up from within the city and stopped above the mountain east of it.
(Verse 24) The spirit lifted me up and brought me to the exiles in Babylonia in the vision given by the spirit of God. Then the vision I had seen went up from me.
Now thatís back where he was.
(Verse 25) And I told the exiles everything the Lord had shown me.
>Thus far in the book of Ezekiel, for 10Ĺ chapters...
We have seen the pronouncement of the judgment of God on the nation of Israel.
One might conclude that the book of Ezekiel is a book of judgment.
But in reality the book of Ezekiel is a book of the grace of God.
If you ever go to a really expensive jeweler to look at a fine diamond...
They will usually put the stone against the backdrop of a solid black piece of velvet...
Because the beauty of the stone is more readily seen when it is presented in front of a black backdrop.
Well may I say to you, friends, there is not any greater backdrop for the grace of God...
Than the judgment of God.
And even though much has been said about wrath and judgment...
The book of Ezekiel is primarily about grace.
God sets that gem of grace against a backdrop of judgment against sin.
What we find here is a picture in the book of Ezekiel of the grace of God.
As I said, for 10Ĺ chapters weíve seen judgment, judgment, judgment, judgment, judgment.
As a result of all that Ezekiel saw now in this vision...
He finally was forced to ask God a very important question.
>Look there in chapter 11 verse 13: Now as I was prophesying, Pelatiah son of Benarod, died. Then I fell face down and cried out in a loud voice, "Ah, Sovereign Lord! Will you completely destroy the remnant of Israel?"
>Can I paraphrase that for you?
Ezekiel was simply staggered at the picture, the scenes of the judgment of God.
He was overwhelmed.
God had shown him so much corruption and so much pollution of the people of Israel.
These were people that were supposed to be people of God.
These were people that were supposed to be in a covenant relationship with God.
But they had turned their backs on God.
They were living in total rebellion against God.
God had sent warnings to them.
The reason that Ezekiel and many others are living over in captivity in Babylon...
Was because God allowed Nebuchadnezzarís army to come in and take some of them captive...
Hoping to be a warning to the nation to repent and turn back to God.
But it was to no avail because the more that Nebuchadnezzar captured...
The harder the hearts of the people of Israel became.
As a matter of fact, according to verse 14 and following...
The people that were left over there in Israel...
They thought that they were the ones that were blessed of God...
Because the bad ones obviously were those taken captive...
"And since we were left, we must be doing something right."
But you see, they were wrong.
They werenít doing anything right.
They had turned their backs on God.
They were worshiping idols.
They were worshiping four-footed beasts.
They were doing anything and everything they could to insult the person of God.
And Ezekiel had seen all of that, and he had seen the judgment of God that was coming.
And finally he saw that they really did begin to die and he said...
"Oh Lord, is there anyone that can survive your wrath, your judgment, when it comes?
God will anybody be saved? Jew, Gentile, will anybody be saved?"
And God gives Ezekiel an answer to that question in the verses that Iíve read for you tonight.
>Have you ever wondered, "Does God really have an eternal purpose?"
Is he like that quilt maker who has a master design, a master plan from the start...
And every stitch he sews is moving toward that end purpose?
Or is he like a person who starts out to make a quilt and they donít have any design in mind?
They just get this piece of cloth and sew it to this piece...
And here they find a piece of cloth on the road and they sew it in.
They find another piece and sew it in...they find another piece in the garbage can and they sew it in.
And they end up with something that looks hideous.
Is that the way God is?
Is he like a quilt maker of a master design, or is he just doing the best he can with what heís got?
I mean, poor old God, is he just struggling along doing the best he can?
Is he like a baseball team manager?
Is he having to constantly change the play and change the picture?
Is God constantly having to go to plan B and plan C?
Does God really have an eternal purpose?"
>Well Iím glad to tell you that he does.
I want you to turn over to the book of Ephesians in the NT.
Ephesians chapter 3, and I want to share with you in verse 11 that Godís word teaches us...
That he really does have an eternal purpose, a master plan.
In Ephesians 3:11: According to his eternal purpose which he accepted in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Now that tells me two things.
>It tells me first of all that God really does and always has had an eternal purpose.
There was not a time when eternity began.
There is not a time when eternity shall end.
Thatís what eternity is.
It just has no beginning.
It has no ending.
It just always is.
And there has never been a time when God did not have an eternal purpose.
God does have an eternal purpose, and secondly, that eternal purpose is wrapped up in the person of JC.
Now whatever Godís eternal purpose is, you canít be a part of it if you donít know Jesus.
I mean, you just mark it down.
If you donít know him, you are going to be left out of whatever Godís eternal purpose is.
It doesnít matter how much money you make.
It doesnít matter how many fortunes you acquire.
It doesnít matter how many fine automobiles you drive.
Iím telling you that you cannot be a part of Godís eternal purpose...
If you do not have JC in your life, because Godís eternal purpose...
Is wrapped up in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
>Well what is his eternal purpose?
Well go back to Ephesians chapter 3 again.
Look there in verse 1...
Paul says: For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles...
(Verse 2) Surely you have heard about the administration of Godís grace that was given to me for you...
(Verse 3) That is, the mystery made known to me by revelation.
>Here Paul is saying that the eternal purpose of God was a mystery up until the time Paul wrote these words.
Now what is a mystery?
It is not some kind of a novel with twists and turns involving crooks and good guys.
A mystery is a revealed secret.
It is a secret of God that man would have never known, not intentionally nor accidentally.
Man would have never discovered this truth by study, and he would have never just accidentally stumbled across it.
Paul says, "Iím telling you a mystery of God that man would have never known except God has chosen to reveal it to me...
And heís told me now to reveal it to you.
This is the eternal purpose of God.
It has always been, but it has been a mystery in time past.
But now you are going to be able to see what it is."
>(Verse 5) Which was not made known to man in other generations as it has been revealed by the spirit to Godís holy apostles and prophets.
Here it is...
(Verse 6) This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and heirs together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
(Verse 7) I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of Godís grace given me through the working of his power.
(Verse 8) Although I am less than the least of all Godís people, this grace was given me to preach to the Gentiles and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.
>Do you know what the eternal purpose of God is?
It is the church of the living God.
The church...thatís the mystery.
Thatís the purpose.
What is the church?
Is the church brick and mortar and buildings and cement and carpet and pews and stained glass windows?
I want to tell you, thatís not the church.
The church is people.