Stewardship In the Place of Delight and Pleasure









Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Ezekiel, and more specifically, is found in the first nineteen verses of the seventh chapter. When this chapter begins, it begins with the prophet Ezekiel receiving a very specific word concerning the land of Israel. “Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Also, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord God unto the land of Israel; An end, the end is come upon the four corners of the land. Now is the end come upon thee, and I will send mine anger upon thee, and will judge thee according to thy ways, and will recompense upon thee all thine abominations. And mine eye shall not spare thee, neither will I have pity: but I will recompense thy ways upon thee, and thine abominations shall be in the midst of the He: and ye shall know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 7:1-4). It is this last phrase—“and ye shall know that I am the Lord”—that I find to be absolutely incredible, for this phrase speaks very clearly concerning a knowledge of the Lord. KNOWLEDGE OF THE LORD IN THE MIDST OF JUDGMENT! KNOWLEDGE OF THE LORD THROUGH JUDGMENT! KNOWLEDGE OF THE HOLY IN THE PLACE OF JUDGMENT! When you read and consider the words in this particular phrase, you find something absolutely incredible that is present within them. These words seem to speak of and seem to suggest the reality and possibility that knowledge of the Lord can indeed and can in fact come through the judgment(s) which He executes within and upon the earth. I wholeheartedly believe that we can indeed know the Lord through intimate times of prayer, devotion, worship, reflection, meditation and Scripture reading, but I believe the Lord reveals a knowledge of who He is in other ways. In fact, if you journey to the New Testament book of Romans—the epistle the apostle Paul wrote to the Roman congregation—you will discover that he speaks of man knowing the Lord through and by His creation. The apostle Paul writes how man can indeed know and even understand the Lord when looking upon and admiring His creation. Consider the words which the apostle Paul writes beginning with the eighteenth verse of the first chapter of the epistle to the Romans—“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; because that which may. E known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, Dan creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves” (Romans 1:19-24).

 The apostle Paul makes it very clear that “the invisible things of Him [the Lord of hosts] from the creation of the world” are and can be clearly seen by all who observe and watch. The apostle Paul doesn’t simply speak of the invisible things of Him [the Lord of hosts] in this passage, but He also speaks of His eternal power, as well as His Godhead. It’s worth noting that with these words the apostle Paul makes it very clear that the invisible things of the Lord which are from the creation of the world are clearly seen, and that such are understood and being understood by the things that are made. Tell me—when was the last time you paused and considered the fact that you can know and understand the Lord as a result of looking upon and beholding His creation? When was the last time you immersed yourself in creation in order that you might come to a better understand and knowledge of the Lord of hosts? I am convinced that there is a prominent place for seeking to understand the Lord of hosts through, by and according to His Word, but I am equally convinced that there must be a place within our lives to seek to understand the Lord through His creation. Consider the words of David which are recorded in the eighth chapter of the book of Psalms—words which are quoted in the New Testament epistle to the Hebrews. David begins this particular Psalm with these words—“O Lord our Lord, who excellent is thy name in all the earth! Who hast set thy glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger” (Psalm 8:1-2). It is absolutely incredible how David begins and opens this particular chapter, but what I would like to point out and draw your attention to is what we find beginning with the third verse of this chapter—“When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the on and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that thou viistest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field” (Psalm 8:3-7). With these particular words David expresses a profound sense of awe and wonder that envelops him when he considers the heavens which are the work of the Lord’s fingers, as well as the moon and the stars, which the Lord has ordained. It is from this place of considering the heavens, as well as the moon and the stars that David seems to turn his attention inward toward man. It is from this place of awe and wonder that David looks upon himself and stands in utter amazement at what the Lord sees in man.

 David asks the first question—“What is man, that thou art mindful of him?—and then proceeds to ask a secondary question—“and the son of man, that thou visitest him.” With these two questions David not only speaks of the Lord’s thoughts toward man, but also the Lord’s presence and activity within the realm of man. David speaks of considering the heavens and the works of the Lord’s fingers, and it brought him to an absolute place of humility before the Lord of hosts. David looked upon the moon and the stars which the Lord had ordained, and David could not help but find himself in a very deep and profound place of awe and wonder—not only concerning the Lord of hosts, but also concerning who man is in direct connection and relation to Him. David first asked what is man that the Lord is and would be mindful of him, but David also speaks of the son of man, and the Lord visiting him. Please don’t miss the tremendous significance and importance of these two concepts, for the one speaks of the Lord’s thoughts toward us, while the other speaks of the Lord’s presence, activity and involvement within our lives. When seeking to understand the Lord, it is imperative that we not only consider the Lord’s thoughts toward us, but that we also consider the Lord’s involvement and activity within our lives. Concerning the thoughts the Lord has toward us, it is necessary to turn our attention to a very familiar passage found in the Old Testament book of Psalms—specifically, the one-hundred and thirty-ninth chapter. “O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my though afar off. Thou compasses my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast best me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? IF I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. How prescious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee” (Psalm 139:1-18).

 In the eighth chapter of the book of the Psalms, David not only speaks of the Lord’s presence, activity and involvement within the life of an individual, but David also recognized and understood the Lord’s thoughts toward and concerning man. What’s more, is that this knowledge and this awareness came as a result of considering the heavens, the work of his fingers, and the stars and the moon which he ordained. It was from that place of awe and wonder that David found himself unable to look upon and look within himself and wonder why the Lord of hosts would be mindful of man, and why the Lord would visit him. I recently purchased a new CD from OneThing Live, and in one of the songs, the artist speaks of the reality that before God was creator, He was Father. Within this same song the artist speaks of how even more than creation, that which the Father desires and yearns for more than anything is family. Consider the fact that even before the heavens and the earth was made the Father dwelt in glorious unity and harmony with the Spirit and the Son. Before the foundations of the earth were even laid, the Father existed with the Word and the Spirit, and the three enjoyed unhindered and unbroken fellowship with each other. At some point—although it is certainly not clear when—the Father created all the angels in heaven with the cherubim and seraphim. Before the foundations of the earth were laid the Father lived in complete unity and harmony with the Word and the Spirit as they were surrounded by myriads times myriads and ten thousands times ten thousands of angels in heaven. When you read the first chapter of the book of Genesis, you will discover that the Father took five days to create the heavens and the earth and everything that was contained within them. The Father, the Spirit and the Word worked in glorious unity with each other to create the heavens and the earth, and they did so within the first five days of creation. Now, one would wonder why the Lord waited until the sixth day to form, fashion and create man—especially considering that man was His ultimate creation. If man was going to be so important and so valuable and precious in the sight of the Lord, why then wouldn’t the Lord create man first? The truth of the matter is that the heavens and the earth were created—not for the enjoyment of the Father, although He did indeed look upon everything He had created and saw that it was good. The heavens and the earth were created for man—the heavens to be watched and observed, and the earth to exercise dominion upon and to subdue. One part of creation was to be carefully observed by man—the sun, the moon, and the stars—while the other part of the creation was to be subdued by man as he exercised dominion upon the earth. When considering the creation of the heavens and the earth, we must recognize and understand that both were created for the observation and enjoyment of man.

 The Lord of hosts waited until the sixth day before He took the dust of the earth and formed man from it, and then proceeded to breathe the breath of life into his nostrils. The formation and creation of man had to wait until the sixth day, for the Lord had to finish creating the heavens and the earth. The Lord had to finish creating the heavens to be observed by man, the earth to be enjoyed by him. In the process of enjoying all that the Lord of hosts created upon the earth, man was to also exercise dominion upon the earth. The heavens and the earth were created for the Lord needed a place where He could take man whom He had created. When you read the first chapter of the book of Genesis you will read all about the Lord creating the heavens and the earth, however, when you come to the second chapter, you notice something completely and entirely different taking place. In the seventh verse of the second chapter we read of the Lord “forming” man of the dust of the ground, and “breathing” into His nostrils the great of life, thus causing man to become a living soul. In the eighth verse of the same chapter we read of how the Lord God “planted” a garden eastward in Eden. Within this same verse, we not only read of the Lord “planting” a garden, but we also find the Lord God “putting” or “placing” man in the midst of the Garden. Within these two verses we find the Lord God “forming,” we find the Lord “breathing,” we find the Lord “planting,” and we find the Lord God “placing.” When it came to man, the Lord formed and breathed, and when it came to the garden we find the Lord planting. It’s worth noting and pointing out the fact that the Lord planted the garden, for the Lord didn’t plant the garden for Himself. THE GARDEN OF EDEN WASN’T PLANTED FOR THE LORD’S OWN ENJOYMENT! THE GARDEN WASN’T PLANTED FOR THE LORD’S OWN DELIGHT AND PLEASURE! As you continue reading this passage, you will find that the garden was planted for the enjoyment, the delight and the pleasures of man whom He had placed in the midst of it. It was there within the garden the Lord caused to grow every tree that was pleasant to the sight, and good for food. In the fifteenth verse of this chapter we read how the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. It is perfectly clear from this passage that the garden was planted for the enjoyment, the delight, the pleasure, and even the assignment of man, while man was formed for the delight, the pleasure and the enjoyment of the Lord. One thing that is quite interesting to note is that the very same thing which was planted for man’s enjoyment, delight and pleasure was also to be man’s assignment. We cannot merely look upon and think of the garden of Eden as being something which is enjoyed without also looking at the garden as something which needed to be dressed and kept. In other words, there was a responsibility of stewardship that was directly connected to that which man was created to enjoy.

 THE RESPONSIBILITY OF STEWARDSHIP DIRECTLY CONNECTED WITH THAT WHICH MAN WAS CREATED TO ENJOY! While it is true the garden was created for the enjoyment and pleasure of man, it is also true that in and from that place of enjoyment, man also had a responsibility that was entrusted into his care. It was there from and there in the midst of that place of enjoyment where man would be given stewardship over the entire garden itself, while also exercising dominion over and dominion upon the earth. Man was placed in the garden to enjoy and steward it, while man was placed upon the earth for the enjoyment, the delight, and the pleasure of the Lord. Did you know that you were created for the enjoyment, the delight and the pleasures of the Lord? Did you know that from the moment you were knit together in your mother’s womb you were intended on being enjoyed by the Father? Before the Lord was ever Creator, He was Father in heaven, for He had dwelling and existing with Him in eternity the eternal Son in whom He was, is and has always been pleased. After the first five days of creation were completed the Lord would then turn and direct His attention to the single greatest piece and part of it all—man whom He would form from the dust of the earth, and man whom He would breath His own breath of life into. One of the single greatest things we must understand concerning man is that man was and still is to this very day the only creation which has received the very breath of the Almighty within his nostrils. Man is and always has been the only piece in all of creation that bears the divine essence and the divine nature within himself, for not only was man formed of the dust of the ground, but man also received the very breath of the Lord of hosts into his nostrils. The heavens and the earth were created in order that the Lord hosts might have a place where He could place man in order that He might enjoy intimate fellowship and communion with. It was there in the midst of the garden the Lord would come down and walk and talk with Him. The Lord created in order that that which He created might be enjoyed by man, and in order that from that place of creation the Lord might have a place whereby He might interact, visit, and fellowship with man. The heavens were created to be watched and observed—a reality that is aptly revealed through the words of David in the eighth chapter of the book of the Psalms—while the earth was created as that place whereby the Lord might interact with man. Earth was created for man—both for his enjoyment, as well as his assignment, for it would be within and upon the earth that man would be given everything he would need for enjoyment and assignment. What’s more, is that the Lord even added to and aided in man’s assignment upon the earth by creating from him and for him an help mate who would walk alongside him in that which he had been called to do.

 With all of this being said and stated, it’s necessary that we recognize that even though the Lord can be known through, according to, and by His creation, the Lord can also be known by His judgments. The Lord can be known by His judgments which He executes upon the earth. This is a reality that we encounter within the first four verses of the seventh chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel, for the Lord is and can be known by the judgments He executes upon the earth. If we want to have a true understanding and a true knowledge concerning the Lord of hosts, it is necessary that we also examine His judgments which He executes upon the earth. In fact, I would dare say there are men and women who have only a partial, and perhaps even an incomplete knowledge of the Lord of hosts because they are unwilling to know Him according to and by His judgments. Please do not misunderstand what I am seeking to convey here, for I agree with Scripture when it states that mercy triumphs over judgment. I believe the Lord can be known according to and by his mercy and His grace, but the Lord can also be known by His judgments. Read the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ and you will find how the Lord would and will be known by the judgments He executes upon the earth. The Lord states through the prophet Ezekiel that the house of Israel shall know that He is the Lord, and this knowledge will come as the Lord sends His anger upon them, and as the Lord judges them according to their ways. Through the prophet Ezekiel the Lord declares that He would recompense upon the house of Israel all the abominations, and that he would recompense their ways upon them. The Lord declares that their abominations shall be in the midst of them, and that the Lord has decreed an end for all manner of evil and all abominations. Please don’t miss the phrase “Now is the end come upon thee,” for these words speak something incredibly powerful which we must recognize and understand. With these words the Lord was making it perfectly clear that He was going to indeed bring an end upon all the abominations and all the evil which the house of Israel had committed within and upon the earth. Despite the fact that evil seemed to have been so prevalent and pervasive upon the earth, the Lord of hosts would indeed and would in fact bring an end to it. In fact, it is in the divine nature of the Lord of hosts to bring an end to all the evil and abominations which we see and even experience within and upon the earth.

 There is and there has been much talk about why and how if the Lord is a good and gracious God, why does He allow evil to persist and remain upon the earth. As I proceed to read the words of the prophet Ezekiel in this passage, I can’t help but be consumed with the thought that even though the Lord may tolerate evil to persist and remain upon the earth, the Lord will eventually bring it to an end. We may view all the evil that has taken place upon the earth, and even the evil that continues to take place upon the earth, and we may grow impatient, irritated, and perhaps even angry with the Lord because He seems to allow and permit it to remain upon the earth. The truth of the matter is that despite the fact the Lord tolerates and permits evil to take place upon the earth, it is His divine nature, and it is of necessity and urgency that He deal with evil once and for all. The very fact that the prophet of the Lord speaks of an end coming upon the four corners of the land speaks to the fact that the Lord was going to bring an end to all the evil which had been so pervasive in the midst of it. THE LORD WILL JUDGE EVIL—EVEN THE EVIL THAT EXISTS WITHIN HIS OWN PEOPLE! THE LORD WILL BRING AN END TO ALL EVIL—EVEN THE EVIL THAT IS PRESENT WITHIN AND AMONG HIS OWN PEOPLE! As I read the words of the prophet Ezekiel in this passage of Scripture, I can’t help but find a tremendous encouragement and source of hope in the judgment of the Lord, for not only does the Lord have to judge evil out of necessity, but the Lord must also bring an end to evil. There is coming a day when the Lord of hosts will indeed and will in fact bring an end to all evil that exists within and upon the face of the earth. The Lord cannot and will not allow evil to triumph and remain upon the earth forever, and there is coming a day when the Lord can and will bring a complete and full end to it. I am convinced that one of the greatest ways we can know and understand the Lord is according to His bringing and end to and bringing an end upon evil—both the evil that exists within the earth, and even the evil that exists within our own hearts and lives. The Lord cannot and the Lord will not allow evil to persist and remain in the earth forever, and out of divine necessity will He rise up and judge it. While we may persist in asking the question why the Lord tolerates and permits evil to remain upon the earth, it’s necessary that we understand the Lord has to, and the Lord will bring a complete and total end to it. There is coming a day when the Lord will not only judge, but will also bring a complete and full end to all the evil that has ever existed upon the face of the earth. Pause and consider each and every evil you have ever encountered and know that there is coming a day when the Lord will bring to an end all the evil that exists upon the earth.

 WHEN THE LORD POURS TROUBLE OUT UPON ALL MANNER OF EVIL! In the seventh and eighth verses of this chapter we read these words—“the time is come, the day of trouble is near, and not the sounding again of the mountains. Now will I shortly pour out my fury upon thee, and accomplish mine anger upon thee: and I will judge thee according to thy ways, and will recompense thee for all thine abominations” (Ezekiel 7:7-8). With these words the Lord decrees a day of trouble, and even speaks of pouring out His fury and accomplishing His anger. When I read the words of the prophet in this passage of Scripture, I not only see a powerful picture of how the Lord was going to bring an end to all the evil that was being committed by His people within the earth, the the Lord can and will bring an end to all evil that is being and has ever been committed upon the earth. The Lord cannot and will not permit evil to remain within and upon the earth, and the Lord will ultimately bring judgment upon it. When we read this passage of Scripture we may view the sword, the pestilence, and the famine as being great evils which the Lord Himself committed within the earth and upon His people, yet the truth of the matter is that it was these three realities which were used as instruments in the hand of the Lord to bring about an end to the evil that was being committed upon the earth. It was the Lord’s mercy that spared a remnant of His people by bringing them into the land of the Chaldeans, and it would be the Lord’s judgment that would use famine, the sword, and pestilence to bring to an end all the abominations, evil and wickedness that was being and had been committed in the land. Babylon was the rod and instrument of the Lord’s anger—an instrument the Lord would use to bring to an end all the abominations, all the wickedness, all the evil that had been committed in the land by His people. When we seek to understand the invasion of Babylon and the captivity of the people of God, we must understand that there were two distinct and divine dynamics working in unity with each other. While on the one hand we do indeed see the judgment of the Lord as being manifested and evident through the sword in the field, as well as pestilence and famine w I think the city, we also see the mercy of the Lord in sparing a remnant of His people by removing them from the land. We have spent so much time thinking and believing that the removal of the people from the land was indeed a great tragedy, yet the truth of the matter is that their removal from the land was actually a divine act and a divine show of mercy toward His people. I do believe that one of the greatest demonstrations of mercy displayed by the Lord was the destruction of His Temple by fire rather than utterly and completely destroying His people. It is true the Lord did cause some to fall by the sword, some to fall by the famine, and some to fall by the pestilence, but the Lord never brought a complete end to His people. The Lord allowed His Temple to be destroyed by Babylon as a substitute and sort of sacrifice in their place. The Temple would lie in ruins for seventy years while the people would not only be preserved, but also protected and prospered in the land of their captivity and exile.

The Lord’s mercy was manifested, and continues to be manifested—even in the midst of judgment. Of necessity the Lord must judge and bring an end to evil, yet even while He is bringing an end to evil, He still exercises mercy toward and on behalf of those who will position themselves to receive it. This passage speaks of famine, pestilence and the sword striking down and overtaking those in the land of Israel, yet we must recognize the Lord never brought a complete end to His people. The Lord spared a remnant of His people and allowed them to escape the sword and remain on the mountains, and the Lord spared a remnant by bringing them into the land of the Chaldeans. The ultimate and underlying reality that must be understood from and by this passage is our knowledge and understanding of the Lord. Perhaps the single greatest question that must be asked is—Do you know the Lord? If you do know the Lord, how well do you know Him? What are you doing to obtain an intimate knowledge of the Lord? What are you doing to maintain relationship, communion and fellowship with the Lord in this generation? It is the Lord’s will and the Lord’s desire that all men know that He is indeed and is in fact the Lord. Even through and even in the midst of His judgments the Lord is being known and is being manifested within and upon the earth. Let us read this passage and ask ourselves what we are doing in order that we might truly, deeply, intimately know and understand the Lord of hosts. We can and must know the Lord according to His mercies which are new every morning, but we must also know the Lord according to the judgments He executes upon the earth. There is coming a day when the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth like the waters of the sea, and there is coming a day when every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is in fact Lord. Let us this day rise up and pursue knowledge, fellowship and communion with the Lord of hosts, and let us pursue it with absolutely everything we have within us.  

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