I WILL NOT LISTEN TO YOU… This is the phrase God uses as He teaches us ALL through the lamentations of Israel. On July 23, the 9th of Av on God’s calendar, memorialized as a day of tragedies for Israel, a 220 lb. rock fell from the Wailing Wall, narrowly missing a worshipper in prayer. Archaeologist Zachi Dvira, head of the Temple Mountain Project, believes the whole area is a 'danger zone'.
Danger zone, indeed. In last week’s lesson, we reviewed 12 national calamities that have fallen on the nation of Israel on the 9th day of Av, 2 of which included the breeched walls of Jerusalem, and the Temple itself, on the same date 70 years apart. There are 365 days in a year, so the chance that just a second tragedy would strike on the same anniversary day are 1 in 365. The chances for a third event would rise to 1 times 365 times 365 which is 1 in 133,225. The odds on these twelve events happening to the same people, on the same day is 1 chance in 15.318 billion times a billion times or 1 chance in 15 with 27 zeroes after it which is called an octillion, 1 in 15,318,685,820,000,000,000,000,000,000!!!!! (15 Octillion, 318 septillion, 685 sextillion, 820 quintillion) Read more in last week's lesson: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1792237944189720&id=394745103939018
The calendar of Israel was originally set by observation of the heavens. In the early centuries following Jesus, it was replaced by calculation of a fixed calendar, which placed the historic 9th day of Av on the day before the rock fell, July 22. So July 23rd, the 10th day of Av, is reckoned on the Hebrew calendar as the day the rock fell.
Either way you look at it, both days are certainly marked by the Almighty with a great deal of significance. The original observed calendar marks July 23rd as the EXACT 9th day of historic lamentations. The next day, July 24th (July 23rd on Hebrew calendar) is the very day God made this earth-shattering statement to His chosen people through the prophet Ezekiel: “This is what the Lord God says: ‘Have you come to ask me what you should do? I, the Lord God, tell you that, as surely as I live, I will not listen to you.’ ” Ezekiel 20:1-3.
Notice that God does NOT say He doesn't hear the prayers of His people. He says that He chooses NOT to listen. 10,000 exiles in Babylon, all longing for home, quickly added up to a lot of self-centered needs and expectations. One of Ezekiel’s most used phrases was “in the midst of". He used it 116 times.
So when the Jewish leaders of Judah came to Ezekiel seeking God’s wisdom for their nation, Ezekiel probably wasn’t surprised by what happened next. God’s reply was to give them an invaluable history lesson. He reminded them of their rebellion in Egypt, in the wilderness, in the Promised Land, and in their present-day Babylon. Each and every time they doubted God and decided to wave other gods in His face, He convicted them of their sin by simply removing His protective hand of covering and allowing their enemies to teach them a lesson they would never forget.
Perhaps we need a history lesson, too. There are many striking similarities between America and Israel that are brought out in Ezekiel 20. Just like our country, God delivered Israel from another land where they were in bondage and led them to a new world, full of promise. “It was the most beautiful of all countries…I gave them my laws and told them my rules… They did not keep my commands—even though people who obey my laws live because of them. They treated my special days of rest as though they were not important.”
It is no coincidence that in Hebrew, the phrase “United States” means “lands of the covenant”. Indeed, the Puritans referred to their Plymouth Colony as “Little Israel”. We would do well to remember God’s response to ancient Israel who called on His name, built their government on His covenant, but then attempted to control their national destiny by placing their faith in other avenues for deliverance. “I promised to scatter them among the nations, to send them to many different countries…I also gave them over to statutes that were not good and laws they could not live by." Ezekiel 20: 21, 23, 25.
God has plenty more to say in Ezekiel 20:30-31. “Since Israel did those things, speak to them and tell them, ‘This is what the Lord God says: You people have made yourselves filthy by doing the things your ancestors did. You have acted like a prostitute…Do you really think that I should let you come to me and ask me for advice? I am the Lord God. By my life, I swear that I will not answer your questions or give you advice.’”
So, God expresses Himself very simply here. Listening to Him means He will listen to you. Not listening to Him means He may not listen to you.
"'…I scattered you among many nations, but I will gather you together and make you my special people again. And all the nations will see it. Then you will know that I am the Lord...Family of Israel, you did many evil things, and you should be destroyed because of them. But to protect my good name, I will not give you the punishment you really deserve. Then you will know that I am the Lord.' This is what the Lord God said." Ezekiel 20: 41, 44.
It appears that if a nation finds favor in the eyes of the Lord, it might not get the punishment it truly deserves-- even when that nation strays from His word and His anointed Holy Days, appointed to reveal the glory of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Contrary to popular Christian thought, we have learned through today’s lesson that God does not listen to all prayer petitions. There is also plenty more we have yet to learn. “If I had known of any sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened to me.” Psalm 66:18. “We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will.” John 9:31. In Mark 11:25, Jesus says, “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven my forgive your transgressions.” 1 Peter 3:7 even tells us that lack of respect for a wife by her husband will hinder his prayers.
1 Timothy 2:5 tells us there is only one way to a relationship with God. “There is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.” And God DOES listen to the prayers of Jesus. “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” Hebrews 5:7.
We close today's lesson with a prayer voiced by Jesus himself on our behalf. We Americans DESPARATELY need Jesus interceding for us. “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their (the disciples) message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them." John 17:20-26