One of the reasonsfor coming to the table of the Lord is to prepare ourselves for the great day that is ahead for all of us, our judgment day, when we will all give account of ourselves to God (Rom. 14:12; Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 4:5).
This idea of preparing for a great judgment day, a ‘defining day’ as the media like to call it, on which the righteous are justified and saved and the wicked are destroyed, is a constantly recurring theme in the Bible. The great flood, the crossing of the Red Sea, the Babylonian exile, the Roman destruction of Jerusalem, and the day of the return in glory of Jesus Christ, are all presented in Scripture as defining days of judgment.
There are three features about all the judgment days described or prophesied in the Bible. The first is that because God is long-suffering and merciful, the judgment day is long delayed and frequently postponed. The second is that before the fateful day God sends specially chosen individuals to warn everyone of the coming judgment. The third is that, however drastic and severe the judgment, some are always spared from it or through it. And the wonderful thing, the good news, is that we can belong to this remnant if we so desire.
But why would a God of love want to bring judgment, anyway? It is the fashion nowadays to say that it is not nice of God to be hard and judgmental. The Bible goes out of its way to correct this distorted man-centred outlook.
The prophet Ezekiel is an example of one of those specially chosen individuals sent to warn of a judgment day. The Bible tells us clearly that “God sent His word to them again and again, because He had pity on His people,” and the crushing of Israel, the burning of the holy temple, and the scattering of the Jews finally came only because “there was no remedy” (2 Chr. 36:15,16).
No remedy for what? What was the problem? Ezekiel was told exactly what the problem was: “The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn… rebellious… hardened” (Ezek. 2:4,5; 3:7).
Ezekiel was told: “Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions” (Ezek. 2:6). I often feel like Ezekiel. At my workplace, those same ‘briers and thorns’ are all around, scoffing at my faith and love for my family, and mercilessly mocking any slip-up. Many of us here live among scorpions. We in this country are familiar with scorpions. They hide away in our clothes closet, in our shoes, and in dark corners of every house. Their tails have little bulbs full of deadly venom. A little scorpion can sometimes kill a grown man. They deliver a nasty sting when you least expect it.
Ezekiel found it difficult to get hard-minded, obstinate people to change. But God understood. He gave him the strength he needed for the task. “Listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you” (Ezek. 2:8). ‘Ezekiel, consume my words! Receive life from those words! Don’t be like those rebellious people!’
It’s a tough life, for sure, brothers and sisters, as we await our great day, the day of the Lord, the great day of judgment, when our Lord will arise to shake terribly the earth (Isa. 2:19,21). We need to be prepared, and to prepare ourselves.
“Open your mouth and eat what I give you,” Ezekiel was told. The scroll he was given to eat was, of course, symbolic of the words of God that could change the heart and remove the stubborn spirit, so that he might be spared from, or saved through, the coming judgment.
We are given a similar commandment: “Take and eat, this is my body” (Matt. 26:26). “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53). Of course, it is bread — not actual flesh. Both bread and flesh are symbolic of the words of Jesus Christ, words that can change the heart, and remove the stubborn spirit, so that we might be spared from, or saved through, the coming judgment day.
“I will spare some of you” (Ezek. 6:8). Through every judgment God has always spared a remnant. It will be the same when Jesus comes again. “I will spare them,” declares the Almighty. Whom? Those who fear the Lord, talk with each other, and honor His name (Mal. 3:16,17).
The hard, stubborn and obstinate have no place at this table. It is a table for the gentle in spirit, for the soft in heart. It is for those who love the Lord, and love His appearing, and are preparing themselves earnestly for our longed-for judgment day.