So I gave them other statutes that were not good and laws through which they could not live; I defiled them through their gifts—the sacrifice of every firstborn—that I might fill them with horror so they would know that I am the Lord’

Ezekiel 20:25-26 (NIV)

Whenever we read or listen to the Bible we need to do so attentively. If we don’t then we risk misunderstanding what we’ve just taken in, and if we misunderstand something from the Bible then we might also misapply it. This is one reason to use a highlighter when you study your Bible. This is also why, in this season, I listen to the word first and then read it later. Another reason why we need to be attentive is that the Bible is one way that God speaks to us. If we’re not listening then how will we hear what He’s saying to us? Jesus tells us that His sheep know His voice and we get to know His voice by taking in His word (John 10:27).

When I first heard these verses today from Ezekiel they didn’t sound right. Later on, when I read them they still weren’t right in my head. Therefore, I went back over the context. Briefly, Ezekiel is listening to the Lord who is telling the elders of Israel, who came to inquire of Him, why it’s pointless for them to be coming to Him asking Him what to do. You know, sometimes we go to God and ask Him what to do in our lives and when we don’t get a response we might complain or think that He’s not listening. We might even think that He’s turned His face from us. I can tell you that He’s listening, He loves you, and He’s not turned His face from you. We have this confidence from His word that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). However, He very well might be leaving you to your devices if you’ve not been listening to Him.

Have you ever had someone ask for your advice and then go off and do their own thing anyway? Have you ever raised children? In either case, you are likely to feel about the same. That person who asks you what to do all the time and then does their own thing isn’t the same as your kids though. However, there does come a time in everyone’s life where we need to suffer the negative consequences of our actions. You may tell someone the right way to go over and over until they discover that going their way, instead of listening to you, isn’t the best choice. If this sounds familiar to you then you might have an inkling of how God feels when He tells us the way to go and we do our own thing.

This is where we come back to Ezekiel 20. God is telling the elders that He’s told them the right way to go all their lives and they’ve ignored Him. He emphasizes to them three times that the person who obeys His laws with live by them (Ezekiel 20:11,13,21). To live here doesn’t just mean to follow them. It also means to have life eternally. It’s not just a command, it’s also a promise. Therefore, He “gave them over to worthless decrees and regulations that would not lead to life” (Ezekiel 20:25 NLT). Notice here the difference between this verse from the NLT and the verse from the NIV.

So I gave them other statutes that were not good and laws through which they could not live (NIV).
I gave them over to worthless decrees and regulations that would not lead to life (NLT).

The NLT tells us that God “gave them over to worthless decrees and regulations” while the NIV tells us that God “gave them other statues that were not good.” Twenty-two of the twenty-seven translations that I typically review all infer that God gave them statutes that weren’t good. As if God was now going against everything He’s said about His law being something that brings life to those who follow it. This is another reason we must study attentively and use different translations.

(The NIV has been the most popular translation of the Bible in English for the last 10 years. There’s a good chance that you’re reading the NIV or King James, the second most popular version. The NLT comes in at third and is the winner here for clarity. This is why I suggest using the “compare” option if you’re using YouVersion to easily compare different versions or look it up online. I almost always use in my citations and you will always find at least 20 different versions there. If you like reading from a physical printed Bible then there are many parallel Bibles out there that will suffice.)

Therefore, what God is telling the elders of Israel is, “I’ve told you over and over the way that you should go and you didn’t listen to me. I allowed you to go your own way. To suffer through the consequences of your choices so that when you realized the error of your ways you would then come back to Me.”

This is the way of the world and each one of us. All of us were going our own way because of God’s grace to do so. When we turned away from the world to follow Him we chose the best way and sometimes we still don’t listen to Him and do our own thing. However, my brothers and sisters, we can go to Him, right now, confess our sins knowing He is faithful and just, for He will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

Do you know God? God knows you and He loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, right now, and He wants you to know Him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so that we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.