I just started teaching through the book of Ezra, and though I have studied this book before it always amazes me that each time we open a book there are new things that the Lord teaches us.
The southern Kingdom of Judah had watched as her sister Israel refuse to heed the warnings of the prophets that God had sent warning them to turn away from the worship of pagan Gods and immoral practices that went along with that worship. Judah would slip into the same pattern of harlotry and would also be exiled because of their sins. The problem was simple as the prophet Jeremiah details in chapter 25:
“Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: Because you have not obeyed my words,” (Jeremiah 25:8, ESV)
But the Lord has a plan and in Chapter 29 we see a wonderful hope:
“For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.” (Jeremiah 29:10–14, ESV)
They had learned a great lesson and must have had a change of heart for the promise above had a condition…”You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”
I love the word picture that we get from the word Heart. The root Hebrew word for heart is “lev” and in the word picture that we get from the letters of the word form a picture of “that which controls the inside”. Everything about them emotion, thought, and will, which combined, control all that we are and do. These all need to be seeking after the Lord. When our desire is that strong, then we will find Him!
This should not have been new to them or a surprise, for if they had truly desired a relationship with the Lord then His words would have been a great treasure and they all would have a heart like that described in Psalm 119…
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes! With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.” (Psalm 119:9–16, ESV)
Do we love His word that much, how does it compare to the many other things that control our lives like TV, Internet, games etc.. What things in our lives consume our time? It is not that we can’t do those things that are a blessing in our lives to have, but what is the priority, what CONTROL my inside? Do I truly desire to follow our Lord in obedience? Here is the simple plan that God outlined for us..
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:4–9, ESV)
This passage is very clear…the Word of God should be the priority in our lives, unfortunately I believe many of us make it a short hobby that we occasionally make time for.
So I ask myself – how can I make God’s word a higher priority in my life…How can I worship more!!! Maybe it’s time to really talk about repentance.