The saved of God are a peculiar people in this world. The possessions they have are seen through a different light than those who live in, and love, the world. Christians should think of the possessions they have as gifts and blessings, albeit temporary. The people we love, our friends, family, even husband or wife, each is temporary, for the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. (Job 1:21)
Spoiled Because of Gifts
There is a time when the child becomes spoiled with the gifts. The child takes the gift for granted, when the gift is simply a show of love, but not the love itself. Yet the children can grow to love the Father’s display of love more than they love the Father. This is what has happened to American Christians. We have had blessings in abundance, so we have grown to love the blessings more than we love the Father.
Effect of Spoilage
What happens when the blessing becomes hardness of heart in a Christian? Chastisement, or discipline comes next. This is correction because of the Father’s love for us, as the Scripture says in Hebrews 12:6, “Whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth.” If we despise his chastening, we are none of his. Some will despise, and they have either fallen away, or were never saved.
A Good Man Is Made An Example
The prophet Ezekiel was made an example to all of Israel of this chastening. The LORD told him, “I take away from thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke” (Ezekiel 24:10). Ezekiel spoke to the Israelites in the morning, and his wife died in the evening. The example was that Ezekiel was told not to mourn. Ezekiel obeyed.
This may come as a shock to many readers. Why would Ezekiel not mourn even if commanded to by God? Many reasons come to mind, that include Ezekiel’s obedience to the God that gave him his wife. Also, Ezekiel was not ignorant concerning the dead, and he had hope in sorrow that his wife was with the LORD, as the Apostle Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 4:13.
The Importance of Ezekiel’s Example
But Ezekiel’s example was important, because when he did not follow the Jewish mourning traditions, the people asked him why. Ezekiel told them, “Thus saith the LORD God; Behold, I will profane my sanctuary, the excellency of your strength, the desire of your eyes…ye shall not mourn nor weep, but ye shall pine away for your iniquities” (Ezekiel 24:21, 23). Ezekiel goes on to repeat that the LORD will take away that thing that they set their minds on, for they had grown to take glory in the things God had given them, and did not glory in the LORD. In other words, the gifts of God became idols to them.
The Effect of Loss
What happens when the gifts of God are taken away? Well, we are left with the works of man. The works of man are dismal, they bring no joy, they only bring pain, suffering, and death. Death in itself does not mean loss, for when Christ died and rose again he defeated death, and by his death he gave us the New Testament in his blood. This came with the promise that any that call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13).
Loss also does not mean defeat. Although God may take away the desire of our eyes, sometimes this is to create a chain reaction in the life of someone to hopefully turn them back to God. When God promised to take all the good things away from the land of Israel, such as the life of fruit in the land, Isaiah was told to clarify the purpose: “At that day shall a man look to his maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel. And he shall not look to the altars, the work of his hands, neither shall respect that which his fingers have made” (Isaiah 17:7-8). Perhaps the desire of our eyes must be taken away, that we may desire that the idols may be taken away, and that our own works may be taken away. Then when all of these things are gone, we will look unto the LORD for his love once more.
The Effect of the Obedience of Christians
The world does not understand these things, for they cannot understand that which can only come by the knowledge that the Holy Ghost gives Christians. That is why the LORD will use us as examples, so that by our reaction of hope in sorrow, perhaps the world will behold our good works, and glorify God by receiving Christ. Never underestimate the power of God through the obedience of his peculiar children.
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