This message was preached by Colin D' Cruz at Word of Grace Church on the 27th of Jan 2013. You can listen / download the audio file by clicking here.
Last week we looked at Hab 2:14 where God’s ultimate purpose and plan is the whole earth be covered with His glory as the waters cover the sea.
God’s plan right from Genesis is to fill the earth with His glory. We see God’s glory in creation as well. Redeemed men are bearers of God’s glory as well and God wants to fill the earth with people He has redeemed so that Hid glory will fill the earth.
The new wine skin for this to happen is the start of many, many, house gatherings that are reaching out to their communities.
In U.P 50,000 people in the villages have come to know Jesus through this method. This is happening in the hardest of places viz. Bihar, M. P both which were formally known as the graveyard of the missionaries.
The gospel is the only hope for the nations. Last week we gave a call and 25 responded to start house groups.
How will God use us, weak vessels to spread His glory?
Ezekiel was a trainee priest who lived during a very tragic period in Israel’s history during the reign of King Josiah. They had lost all the scrolls. This went on for generations. All they had was what the prophets taught them. Then one day on 622 B C they found the scrolls. This is when Ezekiel is born on the cusp of the rise of one power and the fall of another.
Ezekiel’s time saw the Assyrian empire crumbling and the Egyptian and Babylon jostling for power.
Israel was split into North ( the 11 tribes) and South ( Judah). North Israel was in captivity.
Josiah removed idolatry in Israel. The Bible speaks over and over again against Idolatry. Josiah dies in battle and Judah goes into captivity. Ezekiel was about 25 when he was taken in to captivity. He was trained to be a priest but he becomes a prophet.
Ezekiel was shocked that God revealed himself to him in an ungodly nation i. e Babylon. God was at work in the most unlikely places. This is pre picture of John 14:4 . The Samaritan woman though God could only speak to her in a particular place. Ezekiel’s experience is a shadow of what is to come where God could be encountered and worshiped anywhere.
God gave Ezekiel revelation and vision of what was happening in Jerusalem. God gives him hope of a new thing happening. The book of Ezekiel has more visions than any other Old Testament book.
He has a vision of a new city and a new temple. An angel was showing him around. At one of the side gates there was a trickle of water. The angel takes him 450 meters away from the gate and it gets ankle deep, then knee deep and then waist deep and the too deep.
The irony is the further away they went from the temple the river got deeper and wider. Then the angel took Ezekiel to the banks of the river where there were fruit bearing trees and then the river reaches the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea as the name suggests does not support any life. But in this vision the river flows into the Dead Sea and the water begins to get fresh and there is life.
How does this story fit in with the whole story of the Word of God.
The Temple – a place of worship where God and man meet. The first temple was in the Garden of Eden. It’s a source of blessing. The people are blessed there s that they can be a blessing o others. In Israel the temples ha plants and fruits ( Gen 2:8) and animals engraved on the pillars because it reminded them of Eden.
Gen 2: 10 A river watering the garden flowed out of Eden and split into 4. Along that garden are trees. God placed Adam and Eve there and the plan was that the entire earth would be blessed. Today’s temple is the church. Eph 2:22 – you are the temple.
We think that God’s blessing was in the temple. But in the temple the water was only a trickle but as you went further away it got deeper. In the same way as we go further into the mission field, barren situations God’s power and presence increases.
Evangelical and Charismatic churches stress being in God’s presence. That’s good but not enough. Some people just go from one meeting to another, one conference to another seeking blessing and it can be like the Dead Sea where there is resistance to anything fresh.
John 7:37 One the last day of the feast they would have large water jars. Jesus says “ If anyone is thirsty… “
Ezekiel had a vision of a river. In was symbolic of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and streams of living water flowing out of us.
As we believe in Jesus – streams of living water will flow out of us and into dead situations to bring life.
Jesus promised us his presence in the context of going. Matt 28:18-20 “… I will be with you always… “
Acts 1:8 a promise to receive the Holy Spirit so that we will be witnesses to the ends of the earth.
Pentecost – was a movement – it was a declaration that every language group would receive the gospel.
Rev 22:1 “ River of water of life” Revelation is where the curtain is pulled back and we see the fulfillment of Genesis, John and Ezekiel coming to pass.
Genesis and Revelation- the Tree of Life is mentioned. How does this apply to us?
You are the river of God- for you are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Take the river of God to a thirsty and dying nation. God’s words will come as we go into different situations. So this year as we start the 30 house gatherings remember his grace is sufficient – his presence is with you.
Mak 16: 19-20 This is God’s promise to us
Are you ready to take that step of faith Jesus is with us as we go and in the going? AS we go His presence will increase. As we make disciples and take steps of faith His presence will increase.