THEIR HEARTS ARE GREEDY…"When Christmas is over, when you have had all your presents and food, Jesus is all we have left”. Yes, after we’ve had all the things we thought we needed, what we really needed was a Middle Eastern refugee in a tent, who didn’t have presents and food, to remind us that all we ever really needed, WE ALREADY HAD.
The Almighty certainly nailed it when He gave us this lesson on His calendar to start the first day on our calendar for 2020. It's an ancient lesson about another nation who focused on their needs, and how it ended for them. New Year's Day, 2020 on our Gregorian calendar, is the 5th day of the 10th month on God's calendar, the anniversary of the fall of the mighty city of Jerusalem, capital of the nation God called "the apple of His eye".
“In the twelfth year of our exile, in the tenth month on the fifth day, a man who had escaped from Jerusalem came to me and said, "The city has fallen!" Ezekiel 33:21. This 10th month on God’s calendar is the fateful month that King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon marched against Jerusalem. The once great, grand glorious, nation of Judah, the remaining remnant of Israel, fell, and fell hard.
Ezekiel 33:22-26 begins as a Word from the Lord to the prophet Ezekiel about the murmuring people, who felt that God should restore their nation to them because it was rightfully theirs. “...Then the word of the LORD came to me: 'Son of man, the people living in those ruins in the land of Israel are saying, "Abraham was only one man, yet he possessed the land. But we are many; surely the land has been given to us as our possession." 'Therefore say to them, "This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Since you eat meat with the blood still in it and look to your idols and shed blood, should you then possess the land? You rely on your sword, you do detestable things, and each of you defiles his neighbor's wife. Should you then possess the land?"
The entire chapter of 2 Peter 2 in the New Testament talks about "Christian" leaders and teachers who are caught up in this kind of idolatry. Peter even goes so far as to say some are “experts in greed, an accursed brood” and “the blackest darkness is reserved for them”. He ends the chapter with a couple of colorful proverbs that he says define them. "A dog returns to it's vomit" and "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud."
When we pridefully glorify the religious concept of ourselves, instead of the Risen Savior. this is idolatry. Indeed, "pride" is defined as "a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired." God's Word speaks further by saying that God opposes the prideful, but lifts up the humbled, James 4:6.
In Colossians 3:5, Paul even places greed in the same sentence with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires, calling it "idolatry", and admonishing that “it must be put to death”. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and Ephesians 5:5, when he also warns that the greedy will not inherit the kingdom of God, he's concluding that those whose lives are characterized by greed are really not true believers after all.
You'd think the people in Jerusalem wouldn't have fallen into that sinful mindset, since they had an awesome house of worship, the magnificent Temple of Solomon. Everyone went to worship on Sabbath, and many other holy days. They even worshiped for whole weeks at a time, and prayed and fasted together as a nation and called upon the Name of the Lord.
But they had also cultivated in their hearts the belief that their nation and place of worship had become their legacy, to do with as they needed. They greedily brought the world into God’s house, and bowed to its traditions, justifying it because they also continued to worship God on His appointed days. The real truth was that their daily lives were full of religious hypocrisy and disrespect for the Almighty’s Word. And now, their expectation, indeed their self-righteous prayer, was that God would look favorably on them and restore their nation?
This is God’s reply in Ezekiel 33:27-29: "Say this to them: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: As surely as I live, those who are left in the ruins will fall by the sword, those out in the country I will give to the wild animals to be devoured, and those in strongholds and caves will die of a plague. I will make the land a desolate waste, and her proud strength will come to an end, and the mountains of Israel will become desolate so that no one will cross them. Then they will know that I am the LORD, when I have made the land a desolate waste because of all the detestable things they have done.'’
Finally, God sums it all up as He speaks these words to in Ezekiel 33:31-33 “My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to listen to your words, but they do not put them into practice. With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice. When all this comes true--and it surely will--then they will know that a prophet has been among them."
"Their mouths express devotion, but their hearts are greedy...”