“As for you, son of man, your people who talk together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, say to one another, each to his brother, ‘Come, and hear what the word is that comes from the LORD.’ And they come to you as people come, and they sit before you as my people, and they hear what you say but they will not do it; for with lustful talk in their mouths they act; their heart is set on their gain. And behold, you are to them like one who sings lustful songs with a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument, for they hear what you say, but they will not do it. (Ezekiel 33:30-32)
Then he led me to the gate, the gate facing east. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east. And the sound of his coming was like the sound of many waters, and the earth shone with his glory. And the vision I saw was just like the vision that I had seen when he came to destroy the city, and just like the vision that I had seen by the Chebar canal. And I fell on my face. As the glory of the LORD entered the temple by the gate facing east, the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the temple. (Ezekiel 43:1-5)
“The people would simultaneously sit, hear, and enjoy God’s Word and then ignore it! They would go through all the motions of worshiping God, but their hearts were devoted to idols. In short, the people of Israel were tempted to trust the wealth of their land, the political stability of David’s line, and even the temple itself, all the while ignoring God’s Word. So none of these things would save God’s people… None of these things will work as objects of our trust today either. Not wealth, not political stability, not religiousness, not even sitting and enjoying the preaching of God’s Word. We do not just need “religion”; we need a real and exclusive devotion to the one true God…” (Mark Dever, Promises Made: The Message of the Old Testament. Wheaton: Crossway, 2006, p. 646)
What is Paradise? What is our Hope? A nation? A place? A feeling? A comfort? What do we spend our time thinking about, working for, trying to create or recreate?
We can easily fall into the same idolatry as the people of God did… we may not set up shrines to idols, or bow down to worship them… but we worry about them, think about them often, love them too much, base relationships around them… even hope and wish for them…
Paradise is not found in America, a certain church, a comfortable wealth, a perfect relationship with someone… the hope of heaven is not just that we will be in a perfect place… that place is made perfect because of the glorious presence of God. So many people talk about going to a better place… but if we don’t desire the glorious, transforming, life-giving, life-altering presence of God now… heaven wouldn’t be much fun for those who don’t long for and enjoy the presence of God… that is the hope and the glory of heaven… Is it your hope?
Do we want to experience the presence of God today? There are one obvious way that can happen today… we experience the presence of God through obedience by faith…
TWO areas of obedience that we must consider if we want to know the presence of God…
- Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
- Don’t love money and comfort… but be content in trusting the Lord who never leaves you or forsakes you. Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”(Hebrews 13:5-6)
THIS CAN ONLY HAPPEN BY FAITH: Obedience without faith is fruitless and fatal, Faith without obedience is dead.