Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | December 17, 2015

“His lovingkindness is upon Israel forever.”

Today’s devotion comes from Ezra chapter 3.  Here is a link to this chapter – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezra+3&version=NASB

I quote only the following verses.

“1 Now when the seventh month came, and the sons of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered together as one man to Jerusalem.  2 Then Jeshua the son of Jozadak and his brothers the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and his brothers arose and built the altar of the God of Israel to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written in the law of Moses, the man of God.  3 So they set up the altar on its foundation, for they were terrified because of the peoples of the lands;  and they offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord, burnt offerings morning and evening.

“10 Now when the builders had laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests stood in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the Lord according to the directions of King David of Israel.  11 They sang, praising and giving thanks to the Lord, saying, “For He is good, for His lovingkindness is upon Israel forever.”  And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.”  Ezra Chapter 3:  Verses 1-3 and 10-11.

———————–

Some teach or imply that everyone is good.  But, the sons of Israel did not think so:  “for they were terrified because of the peoples of the lands”.  Verse 3.

In sharpest contrast, the sons of Israel attributed goodness only to the LORD:  “For He is good”.  Verse 11.

Jesus said:  “There is only One who is good”.  Matthew 19:17.

And, we also notice that the sons of Israel did not state that God’s lovingkindness was upon everyone, but rather “His lovingkindness is upon Israel forever.”  Verse 11.

We live in a time and age that pressures us to believe that basically everyone is good and that God’s lovingkindess is upon everyone.

While it is true that everyone receives good gifts from God like sunshine and rain, God does not cause these good gifts to be a blessing upon the wicked.

“18 Surely You set them in slippery places;
You cast them down to destruction.
19 How they are destroyed in a moment!
They are utterly swept away by sudden terrors!”  Psalm 73:18-19.

But, God’s lovingkindness is only upon His people, the true Israel.

“Surely God is good to Israel,
To those who are pure in heart!”  Psalm 73:1.

If a wife asked her husband if he loved her and the husband replied:  “Yes.  I love everyone.”, we know the wife would not be pleased.

Likewise, Christ has a peculiar love, a special love just for His church.  Just as a husband should not love and give himself up for all women, but only his own wife, Christ only loved His church and gave Himself up only for His church, not for everyone in the world.  “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,”  Ephesians 5:25.

 
In Christ’s intercessory prayer in John 17:9, we see Christ praying for only those whom God gave Him, not for the world:  “I ask on their behalf;  I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine;”

Christ laid down his life for only His sheep.  “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. ”  John 10:14-15.

When we believe that Christ died only for us, His elect, not for the world, His love and substitutionary sacrifice is appreciated more by us.  We appreciate all the more His passion, suffering, and death, because it literally took away our sins, not for the world, not just possibly took away our sins depending on our free will or depending on whether or not we get and keep faith till our death:  “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities;  The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.” Isaiah 53: 5.

This is summarized by “Limited Atonement”, the “L” of “TULIP”, the Five Points of Calvinism, the Reformed Doctrine of Salvation.

This special love for us, His chosen people, this special goodness, for us, His chosen people, is true reason for us to shout for joy.

So, let us not try to be like everyone else, but instead take comfort and joy in the fact that we are chosen by God for that special love and special goodness.

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;”  1 Peter 2:9.


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