TODAY’S READING: Ezekiel 43–45
The primary ministry of the Christian is to the Lord Himself (Eze. 44:15–16). The primary inheritance and possession of the minister, missionary, or disciple is the Lord Himself (v. 28). If we flag or fail in this primary understanding, if we do not focus on Him, we lose us and ultimately we lose the nations. As Adolf Schlatter wrote in 1938, “Do we know Jesus? If we do not know Him, we no longer know ourselves.” We can only stay true to ourselves and our missionary calling as the Church if we truly know the Lord and stay true to Him. Ezekiel was so struck by the glories of God that he couldn’t really explain or articulate what he saw and experienced (43:1–5), but he knew he met Jehovah and that Jehovah was not to be trifled with.
Jehovah sternly reminded Ezekiel: “Let Us have no more of your abominations. When you brought in foreigners… No foreigner, uncircumcised in heart…shall enter My Sanctuary, including any foreigner who is among the children of Israel” (44:6–7, 9). We are not “more good” than God. We err in both our exclusion and our inclusion. If we don’t really understand God’s missionary rules, we pervert our missionary assignment. We did not create the terms for inclusion in God’s family and access into His house, nor can we change them. Universalism is an insult and affront to the God who sacrificed His own Son, who is more holy than we could ever be and more merciful than we will ever understand. Any thinking regarding the salvation of man which explicitly or implicitly denies the necessity of Christ’s brutal death on the cross is an evil and monstrous insult to the Godhead. In fact, it says the Father needlessly killed His own Son.
We are gatekeepers of God’s house tasked with the fearful responsibility of stewarding who comes in and who stays out (v. 11). We do the nations no favors (and give our glorious God no respect) when we pervert His eternal laws regarding salvation, the gospel, the cross, and the realities of hell and heaven. The flipside of the inclusive heart of God to include all peoples around His eternal throne is that there is only one way to enter—through the atoning work of Jesus on the cross, all through the blood.
I assume Israel thought they were loving and generous when they found a place for the nations in the temple contrary to God’s proscribed way. In reality, that act was heinous and offensive, and they were punished for it with disaster and exile. Because our primary ministry is to Jesus Himself, we must know Him first, best, and accurately. If we don’t know how holy He is, we don’t know how depraved we are. If we don’t know how depraved we are, we won’t think clearly about how depraved the nations are. If we don’t think clearly about how depraved the nations are, we will try and argue or rationalize them into God’s family which ends in disaster for them and us. To attempt to usher a friend or the Cham of Cambodia into heaven contrary to the way God demands is to hate them—and worse to hate Him. If we know Jesus, we know that He is gloriously the only means by which all peoples may be saved.