Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
For those who have accepted Christ into your lives: you have God watching over you all the time; whether you like it or not. And, whether you like it or not, in the end God will win in any situation; with or without your help. Our Lord will prepare you to enter into heaven no matter what it takes.
Many generations after the original handing down of the Law at Mt. Sinai and after the Israelites had been living in the Promised Land for a long time, the people felt that the commands given to them by Moses were too restrictive, so they began to rebel. The Lord understood their plight, and responded through his prophet Ezekiel. The Bible records God’s answer to his people,
You say, “We want to be like the nations, like the peoples of the world, who serve wood and stone.” But what you have in mind will never happen. As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I will rule over you with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with outpoured wrath (Ezekiel 20:32-33).
The people wanted to be free from God, and to follow after their own devices without having to think about the Lord watching them over their shoulders. However, God’s response was basically, “Yeah, no, that’s not gonna happen.” He makes it clear that he isn’t going to sit idly by and let his people worship other gods, and then he reminds them that he is God; and that whether they like it or not, he’s going to keep watching over his people. You have to remember that when you pray the prayer and give your life to Jesus that you’re making a non-revocable covenant between yourself and the Lord. Those of us in Christ are on the highway to heaven and cannot change that should we try to find a new religion.
But you can run, sure. If you don’t like the life of a believer and want to run after worldly desires, go right ahead. However, the Lord won’t let you run forever. He continues,
I will bring you from the nations and gather you from the countries where you have been scattered- with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with outpoured wrath. I will bring you into the desert of the nations and there, face to face, I will execute judgment upon you. As I judged your fathers in the desert of the land of Egypt, so I will judge you, declares the Sovereign Lord (Ezekiel 20:34-36).
If we get away from God he will bring us back. It matters not who or what else we may have tried to have sold our lives to. And why wouldn’t he? Our bodies no longer belong to us; therefore it’s not our right to sell them into sin or idolatry. Paul reminds us,
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
Through his death on a cross, the sinless Lord Jesus paid the price for our souls, and when we give ourselves to Jesus the transaction is finalized. You no longer are your own person, but rather you now belong to God, and are furnished with the Holy Spirit, the very Spirit of Christ. Since this is the case and there is often some urgency to getting you to return to the fold, the Lord will come down hard when you run from him and you might see some painful experiences. When we’re tested in such ways, the Lord isn’t meaning to hurt us, but to turn us back to him so that once again we shall find the miraculous at work. This is exactly what the Israelites experienced in their time in the desert after leaving Egypt. Moses records,
Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord (Deuteronomy 8:2-3).
First the Lord will let you strand yourself in the desert of sin, and let you back yourself into a corner and be in need, but then he’ll show himself faithful to you, his child, and deliver you from your troubles. God does this so that you will follow his decrees rather than your desires so as to prepare you for heaven (which, as a believer, you’re already going to).
As you return to him, the Lord will make preparations for you. In speaking to the Israelites, the Lord said,
I will take note of you as you pass under my rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant. I will purge you of those who revolt and rebel against me. Although they are living, yet they will not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord (Ezekiel 20:37-38).
When you run from God, or are led away by the world, he will come and he will find you with more ferocity than Liam Neeson in a Taken-esque movie. All that has captured you through the lies and temptations of the world will be taken away (and possibly even destroyed). God won’t leave you alone, but will come and will hunt down you and your “captors” (be those sins you’ve stumbled into or some sort of willful rebellion on your part) in order to liberate you and return you to his care. God will never forget you nor will he ever leave you alone. You might think that the Lord is too busy to watch you all the time, but Scripture suggests otherwise. Check out what the Lord says to Ezekiel,
He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the darkness, each at the shrine of his own idol? They say, ‘The Lord does not see us; the Lord has forsaken the land.’” Again, he said, “You will see them doing things that are even more detestable” (Ezekiel 8:12-13).
God not only watched the people sinning against him, but he showed Ezekiel and then casually noted, “Oh, this isn’t anything, they’ll sin more later.” Job realized that God’s never too busy to watch each person, carefully following our every move while we’re here on earth. He ponders this in Job 7:17-19,
What is man that you make so much of him,
That you give him so much attention,
That you examine him every morning
And test him every moment?
Will you never look away from me,
Or let me alone for even an instant?
The Bible tells us that the Lord is fascinated by us, and watches us intently, every moment; and he’s constantly involved in our lives. Will God ever look away from a believer or let him alone for a moment? No, no he won’t; even if you want him to. There’s no “private browsing” mode with God.
You can run though, go ahead and try. The Lord is quite confident in his ability to bring you back. Check out what he said to the Israelites,
As for you, O house of Israel, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Go and serve your idols, everyone one of you! But afterward you will surely listen to me and no longer profane my holy name with your gifts and idols. For on my holy mountain, the high mountain of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord, there in the land the entire house of Israel will serve me, and there I will accept them. There I will require your offerings and your choice gifts, along with all your holy sacrifices (Ezekiel 20:39-40).
“Go ahead,” says the Lord, “but you’ll be back.” You can try to get away from the Lord, but in the end he’ll make sure that you come back to him, no matter how much pressure he has to apply to get that to happen. However, when you do come back, the Lord will welcome you with open arms. He continues,
I will accept you as fragrant incense when I bring you out from the nations and gather you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will show myself holy among you in the sight of the nations. Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I bring you into the land of Israel, the land I had sworn with uplifted hand to give to your fathers (Ezekiel 20:41-42).
No matter what you’ve done to separate yourself from the Lord, when you repent and return to him (which the Lord is fairly confident you will), he’ll welcome you and continue to uphold his end of the covenant of love and forgiveness that was made through the death of Jesus in your stead. When you return to the Lord, the Holy Spirit will light up again in your heart and you’ll experience God’s presence once more. God finishes with this,
There you will remember your conduct and all the actions by which you have defiled yourselves, and you will loath yourselves for all the evil you have done. You will know that I am the Lord, when I deal with you for my name’s sake and not according to your evil ways and your corrupt practices, O house of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord (Ezekiel 20:43-44).
Will you feel guilty when the fire of the Spirit comes back to full force? Sure you will; it’s part of the Holy Spirit’s job. You’ll get that, “Oh man, I really messed up” feeling. But remember, God doesn’t act in accordance with our sins. Rather, he follows his ways, and grants mercy to those who stray from the flock. That’s not to say you won’t receive some chastisement; but it probably won’t be what you deserve. And even if it’s unpleasant at the time, remember that the Lord has not revoked your access to eternal life and the treasures that you can build up for yourself there.
You can run, you can try to hide, but there is no escaping the love of God. David noted,
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
If I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
If I settle on the far side of the sea,
Even there your hand will guide me,
You right hand will hold me fast (Psalms 139:7-10).
When you give yourself to Christ, you’re forever joined to the Lord; he’ll never leave you alone- whether you like it or not.