Ezek. 4-10 – What is it Going to Take?
In the reading this week we find the looking back to the destruction of Jerusalem through the eyes of the prophet. We must remember that Ezekiel wrote about the same time frame of events as Jeremiah, just from a different vantage point.
In chapter 4, the illustration of lying on either left or right side relates to the number of years that Israel and Judah were in rebellion against God. There is the repeated word of the “SIEGE” in our chapters. We probably do not understand this tactic in warfare, but it was the most effective way to raze a fortified city in ancient times.
While reading these chapters I had two thoughts that prevailed: first, what was it going to take for Judah to get the message of famine, sword, and pestilence at the hand of God? Second, was the thought by Jonathan Edwards – “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” sermon. While these two thoughts prevailed; I had a third thought of “what about the American Church?” I find that we are living in a very difficult time, politically, spiritually, mentally, and culturally. I have watched the news after there has been some natural or man-made disaster. I would listen to how people would say they would rebuild their homes and lives, calling on God for hope. But lately, I find that even though there is a world pandemic and millions of lives being lost, not to take into consideration all the residual issues, that people are not turning to God in heaven, but seem bent on solving the problem themselves. While this is admirable, we fail to realize that we are not in control.
In these chapters of Ezekiel God tells of the devastation and death that will occur, yet the people continue to rebel in their idolatry against God. Now we also must remember that Ezekiel is writing to the “People of God” not to the lost world. So, we cannot say they were ignorant of God – but we can say they were adamantly rejecting God in their life.
The graphic word picture of cannibalism, plagues, famines and the like made me cringe. Yet Israel and Judah continued their adulterous and idolatrous ways, having rejected the message from the prophets. When I read of their obstinate, arrogance, and violent ways, I cannot but help think that they deserve what they get.
Then I think of 2020 and all that America and the rest of the world has been through and ask the same question of us – What will it take for us to humble ourselves before God and repent of our own adulterous and arrogance?”
The condition of Judah was not confined to the people’s private lives but saturated their public and religious lives as well. In chapter 8 we have the abominations that were going on underground of the Temple. Up top in the “Sanctuary” everything looks correct and holy, even authentic. But below the surface, or better yet in the basement there was great idolatry going on. As I think of the situation I am thrust into my own world and how the “Church” is worshiping. Has the Church become hypocritical in its form and function? In other words, are we just going through the motions on the outside, but really living an abominable life on the inside?
Ezekiel 8:17/18 gives us the inside look into God’s mind, revealing the frustration of God with His people. “He said to me, “Do you see this, son of man? Is it too light a thing for the house of Judah to commit the abominations which they have committed here, that they have provoked Me repeatedly? For behold they are putting the twig to their nose. Therefore, I indeed will deal in wrath.”
So many of the words found in these chapters are filled with emotion and angst. Words like wrath, profane, iniquity, famine, pestilence, arrogance, abomination, tumult, doom, disaster, and desolation. These are not positive, hope filled words. Yet Judah refuses to acknowledge the message. What about my earlier question of the Church today? Where are we? Are we listening to the Word of God? Scripture tells us these things were written for our example. [1 Corinthians 10:6-11]
Have we heeded the warnings from scripture on what happens to idolatry and arrogance? Do we understand the wrath of God upon disobedience? And Judgment must begin at the House of God – the church! [1 Peter 4:17]
What will it take for us to capture the essence and spirit of 2 Chronicles 7:14? Or will we continue in our rebellion and reenact Romans 1:18-31? Our choice!!
Going Back Not an Option
Exodus 14:11-15; 15:22-25; 16:1-12 ; 17:1-3
Grumblings, fear, obstacles and impatience. As we come out of this pandemic, many are starting to devise “way forward” plans. When we read about Israel coming out of Egypt, we find that at every turn the people GRUMBLED at Moses – not the LORD GOD, but Moses. Leadership must always be on display during and after a crisis. As Pastors, State and country leaders all across the globe look to move past the quarantine orders and try to move their respective areas back to a “Normalcy,” there will be must scrutiny about plans and progress.
I have written a couple Facebook entries that expressed the concern that people, institutions, churches and governments will try to “Go Back” to what life was like before. To me that is like trying to put the genie back into the bottle after it has been let out. Israel always wanted to GO BACK to Egypt when something became inconvenient or uncomfortable. Even when they were on the cusp of going into the Promise Land the first time, many let their fears and anxieties rule the day. Something that Israel never did learn the during the 40 years of “Wilderness Wanderings” was that GOING BACKWARDS was not an OPTION. No matter the problem they faced going forward [armies in pursuit, no water, no food, or giants in the Land] going back to what Egypt offered was never considered by GOD. It was HIS plan that Israel should always live in the Promise Land. He made this known to Abram, Isaac and Jacob multiple times.
Now, as Christianity has stepped up during this pandemic to make sure that services and care for their congregations took place; the NEXT STEP is a vital one. Will Churches and Believers move forward? During this critical time, there has been great outpouring of people providing humanitarian relief and support – AMEN. But we must remember that the CHURCH must be the Light in the World not Government bail outs and stimulus packages. I laud the great benevolence and care provided by the masses – But I know they are looking to get past this time and return to their normally comfortable life.
This begs the question: what have we learned from all of this?
These are just some thoughts I have about this phase of the pandemic we are experiencing. The bold question to be answered by all of us; believers and non-believers alike: WHAT DID THIS PANDEMIC DO TO ME? WHAT DID I LEARN ABOUT MYSELF? God has provided this time for a reason. If we only look at the minute details of the pandemic, which I am sure many books will be written about- then we have missed this ETERNAL MOMENT!
I think this pandemic is a wake up call to the Church to get busy with God’s mission of saving the Lost through the Gospel and charity. In that this is a global problem I also believe it is a warning to mankind to become human again. Mankind had gotten to a point of such myopic living the reins had to be pulled back. A third thing I think should be that we learn what is essential and what is luxury. I had hoped we would stay in this until Christians become unified and collaborative – my fear is we haven’t learned anything.
So Going Forward, not Backward what is it that the LORD GOD wants you to learn and do?
Leave a comment
Filed under Misc. commentary
Tagged as complaining, covid-19, fears and anxiety, going backward, grumbling, leadership under the mircoscope, lessons learned, No going back to Egypt, pandemic