For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel,
“Seek Me that you may live,” (5:4).
They smugly sat in the lap of luxury. Of course they did; they were God’s chosen people after all. And while they indulgently spent their life on the pleasures of the world at the expense of the needy, they remained convinced that the day of the Lord would usher in a celebration of their life as God’s chosen people.
But God was not sharing in their delusion as He called His prophet to take up a dirge for the house of Israel; for what He had spoken would surely come to pass.
Hear this word which I take up for you as a dirge, O house of Israel:
2 She has fallen, she will not rise again—
The virgin Israel.
She lies neglected on her land;
There is none to raise her up, (5:1-2).
And the message came to His rebellious people of what they were to expect on the day of the Lord, and it is a message of darkness and gloom.
Will not the day of the Lord be darkness instead of light,
Even gloom with no brightness in it? (5:20).
Hope is past and His patience has been exhausted for the northern kingdom; no one wants to hear the truth; no one wants to acknowledge their guilt; and the evil that so permeated their society has silenced the voice of wisdom.
They hate him who reproves in the gate,
And they abhor him who speaks with integrity.
11 Therefore because you impose heavy rent on the poor
And exact a tribute of grain from them,
Though you have built houses of well-hewn stone,
Yet you will not live in them;
You have planted pleasant vineyards, yet you will not drink their wine.
12 For I know your transgressions are many and your sins are great,
You who distress the righteous and accept bribes
And turn aside the poor in the gate.
13 Therefore at such a time the prudent person keeps silent, for it is an evil time, (5:10-13).
But even in such a time as this, when all seems lost, His grace is extended to any who will accept His Offer to Escape Death and Live.
Consider His Offer to Escape Death and Live
Because He alone is the Omnipotent Creator, Sovereign over all His creation, He alone has the power over life and death.
He who made the Pleiades and Orion
And changes deep darkness into morning,
Who also darkens day into night,
Who calls for the waters of the sea
And pours them out on the surface of the earth,
The Lord is His name.
9 It is He who flashes forth with destruction upon the strong,
So that destruction comes upon the fortress, (5:8-9).
‘See now that I, I am He,
And there is no god besides Me;
It is I who put to death and give life.
I have wounded and it is I who heal,
And there is no one who can deliver from My hand, (Deuteronomy 32:39).
And there is none who can deliver out of His hand. But in His Offer to Escape Death, He Himself extends His hand to give Life.
Three times the Lord repeats His call to seek Him and His ways that His people would Escape Death and Live. Three times, He Offers. But Offers must be accepted.
His first call simply states the obvious. Seeking Him is to accept His Offer to Escape Death in order to Live.
For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel,
“Seek Me that you may live. (5:4).
The second time, the Lord adds the consequence of not seeking Him. Making the choice to refuse His Offer is to accept the alternative of destruction and Death.
“Seek the Lord that you may live,
Or He will break forth like a fire, O house of Joseph, (5:6).
And in His third call, He reveals that seeking Him is accepting His Offer to Escape Death in order to Live in a way that pleases Him. For in the seeking, He radically alters the priorities and desires for this life. And because He is the Lord of Hosts, He is able to ensure that accepting His Offer to Escape Death and Live will not be like the empty claims of the past but will become the undeniable and certain reality of those who accept His Offer.
Seek good and not evil, that you may live;
And thus may the Lord God of hosts be with you,
Just as you have said! (5:14).
What the Lord continues to make abundantly clear is His utter disdain for mere adherence to religious ritual as if that was synonymous with seeking Him. The one who accepts His Offer to Escape Death and Live accepts His Offer by faith resulting in qualities that resemble Him. When seeking the Lord becomes the way of life, the ensuing behaviors will be characterized by His justice and righteousness.
“I hate, I reject your festivals,
Nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies.
22 “Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings,
I will not accept them;
And I will not even look at the peace offerings of your fatlings.
23 “Take away from Me the noise of your songs;
I will not even listen to the sound of your harps.
24 “But let justice roll down like waters
And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream, (5:21-24).
His Offer to Escape Death and Live is a call to seek Him, not a call to find solutions; a call to believe, not a call to do; a call to become, not a call to perform; it is His call to faith, not a call to works; it is His call to seek Him by faith.
And all who accept His Offer to Escape Death will Live in the confident assurance of His promises for this life and forever.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen, (Hebrews 11:1).
How do we respond to His Offer to Escape Death and Live?
Three times the Lord repeated the need to seek Him. Repeated because we are so prone to wander.
May it be our daily prayer to seek Him that we would daily accept His Offer to Escape Death and Live by faith as we obey His God-Breathed Word.
With all my heart I have sought You;
Do not let me wander from Your commandments, (Psalm 119:10).
Oh, that we would live as those who have Escaped Death by faith in the Resurrected Life of our Savior Who Lives His Life through us.
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me, (Galatians 2:20).
Lord Jesus, please live Your Life through us, that we would have Your heart for the needy. Lord, please grow us as we seek You in faith to become an overflowing vessel of Your justice and righteousness to those in need, that they too would accept Your Offer to Escape Death and Live.
“But let justice roll down like waters
And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream, (5:24).
And Lord, please grow us in our faith to desire Your Presence more than the passing pleasures of this life, that we would seek above all else to Live in Your Beautiful Presence all the days of our life as we daily accept Your Offer to Escape Death and Live.
One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord
And to meditate in His temple, (Psalm 27:4).