In the previous post, we talked about how frustrating it can feel waiting on God. Maybe you know the feeling. You want to be faithful to God, but you are waiting and waiting, and it doesn’t seem like God is keeping his promises.
God has been telling the people in Ezekiel’s day that destruction is coming to their precious city of Jerusalem if the people don’t change their ways and return to him. But after numerous such prophecies, and after the people did not change their ways, nothing happened. Were the prophecies false? Were the prophets fake? Maybe they didn’t hear God right. Maybe they didn’t hear God at all. The result was that the people just kept living unfaithfully, turning away from God, and following false gods. And why not? Nothing happened.
God doesn’t give up on them, though. He keeps reaching out to them through his prophets. Finally, in Ezekiel chapter 12, the people who have been giving God the cold shoulder and the silent treatment respond to him. Read Ezekiel 12, verses 21-28, to hear what they say.
Woah. The people are bold. They look at God in face and say they don’t believe in the prophecies and visions! They had been hearing these prophecies and visions for a really long time, not just from Ezekiel but also from other prophets, even when they still lived in Israel, and they say that the prophecies don’t matter. They even made up a little saying about it, “The days go by and every vision comes to nothing.” Imagine that! They have not only covered their ears and closed their eyes to God (as we studied here), but also they so deeply disbelieved God that they created a proverb about it! They lack faith in God, and they are talking back to God! They are basically saying, “Yeah, right, God, these visions of death and destruction are empty threats.” They are not hearing it anymore. They have created a belief about God that is not like God.
So how does God respond? God says, “I’m about to crush that proverb. The visions are about to come to pass.” No more empty threats. No more false pretenses. Just as he attempted to pry open their eyes so they could see, he now says, I so badly want you to hear that I am going to pull your hands from your ears so you will hear and know the truth.
But in verse 27 the people of Israel respond again, “The visions are for many years from now, the distant future.” That sounds familiar! Have you ever wondered about Jesus’ promise to come again? That’s a major belief for Christians, that Jesus will return. He talked about it a lot, perhaps most famously in John 14:3, where he said, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me.”
Then in Acts 1:11, after Jesus ascended back to his father in heaven, angels appeared and said to the disciples, “This same Jesus will come back.” That promise stuck in the forefront of the disciples’ hearts and minds. They wrote about it. Paul often wrote about it. Jesus is coming back. When you read their writings in the New Testament, it seems they believed that Jesus would return in their lifetime. Then he didn’t come back in their lifetime.
Now 2000 years have gone by. Have you ever wondered if Jesus is really coming back? If so, then you know the feeling of the Israelites in Ezekiel’s era who said, “Days go by and every vision comes to nothing,” or “the vision is for many years from now and prophesies about the distant future.”
How does God respond to the people and their lack of faith? God says in verse 28, “Tell them Ezekiel. Tell them there is no more delay. My word will be fulfilled.” And it will. Jerusalem’s days are numbered. As we continue studying Ezekiel, we’ll learn about how and when it happens, and it will happen in Ezekiel’s lifetime. But until it happens, the people of Israel could always wonder. They could always think, “Nah…that won’t happen. God wouldn’t let that happen.”
Have you ever thought like the Israelites thought, that this future that God has promised is too long in coming? If I’m honest, I kinda get it. It can seem like it is taking too long for Jesus to return! What’s he waiting for? Is he really returning?
I’m thankful he waited at least until I was born. I’m also glad he waited until my wife was born. The more I think about it, the more I’m glad he waited. I could keep thinking about loved one, as could many of you. In 1997, our first son was born. The next in 1998, the third in 2003, and finally our daughter in 2005. I’m really glad that Jesus waited to return, so my family could be born. Am I ready for him to return today? Yes…and no, if I’m honest. I want to meet and get to know my grandchild due later this year. And I hope there are many other grandbabies!
So am I saying I don’t want Jesus to return? No, I’m not saying that. I do want Jesus to return. I just want him to return on my timetable! But Jesus clearly said that we should not focus on a timetable. He said that no one knows the day, time or hour, and because there is no timetable, we should be ready at all times. I get that, but if I’m honest again, it can be difficult to be ready at all times.
Maybe you know the feeling. Check back to the next post as we talk about what it could mean to be ready for Jesus to return.