Re: Verse reading–Ezekiel 18 (Day Three)
“I will judge each of you according to your own ways.” If that is so, are we off the hook for the kind of society we live in? Does the prophet’s declaration of the Lord’s word in fact create a public/private divide so that as long as I remain pure in my behavior, I bear no responsibility addressing what goes on around me? The Pharisees thought so. In truth, though, Ezekiel’s words do nothing of the sort. Because we are responsible for our own sin, the question is not, “Why did my ancestors get us here?” Rather, the question becomes: “What am I going to do about the world in which I live?”
Re: Verse reading–Ezekiel 18:1-18 (day two)
Each year when I was in the classroom I would meet young people with varying degrees of baggage (spiritual, physical, emotional, etc.). And the more I got to know each of them and their personal stories, I realized much of what they brought to the table was somehow inherited. Like it or not the consequences of our sin will impact our children. It was always disheartening to see the damage parental choices cause their children. But there is another side to that story. I would often see children who were not encumbered by those choices. Young men and women who realized the folly of their parent’s decision and pledged to take a different path. Their journeys were often more difficult than others, but they understood the reward more clearly than anyone else. This is the promise in Ezekiel and thanks be to God that we are no longer condemned by the sins of our parents. God has given each of us a place to stand and choose which path we will take.
Re: Verse reading–Ezekiel 18:1-18 (day one)
” ‘The fathers eat the sour grapes, but the children’s teeth are set on edge’. . . you are not going to use this proverb in Israel anymore.” (v 2-3) It was radical thinking! After Jerusalem was destroyed, the people of Judah began to drift into despondent “national fatalism”. They felt helpless and hopeless because God was judging them for the sins of their parents. There was no way out! Very similar to a modern mistake. Many feel trapped by the mistakes their parents made, wounded, helpless to do anything about it. Ezekiel saw a different day coming. (He saw the day we live in now.) He saw a day when people could know the empowering presence of God through a personal relationship with Him by faith in His Son. We are not victims now! What our parents did or didn’t do, what our circumstances gave or didn’t give does not limit who we can be in Christ.
Re: Verse reading–Ezekiel 1:28; 2:1-10; 3:1-4 (day seven)
“Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.” (2:1) We are not helpless, not without strength or duty. God instructs us to stand up. Makes it a condition for further communication with us. It requires courage. Large challenges are ahead. The Holiness of God and our consequent fear of failure will discourage us from trying. Even so, God does not want us to cower or retreat from Him or His holy assignment. He wants us to stand at attention and accept His commission. It was true for Ezekiel and Joshua and true for us. “Be strong and courageous. . .only be strong and courageous. . .Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:6-7.9) Most of us would rather take a nap. God commands us to stand and face a holy and demanding vision.
Re: Verse reading–Ezekiel 1:28; 2:1-10; 3:1-4 (day six)
“I am sending you to. . . stubborn and obstinate children.” (2:4) It was more verdict than compliment. When God described the people of Judah, He focused on their pride, their resistance to change. I have recently become aware of this same stubbornness in my own life. I am slow to respond to the voice of the Spirit if the direction is not what I want. Unconsciously, habitually, I prefer my will over His, turning to Him as a “last resort”, only when I have tried everything else. Dangerous! The human heart is not naturally soft to the Spirit. Unless I HUMBLE MYSELF, my ego will stay unchallenged and in charge. James describes the painful process. “Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (James 4:9-10) Repentance from self is the painful grace of God.
Re: Verse reading – Ezekiel 1:28-3:4 (day five)
God begins to call/commission Ezekiel into service and ministry. In chapter 1, He “reveals” to Ezekiel His character and nature.
Windstorm (1:4) – Power – God is never helpless.
Throne (1:26) Sovereignty – God always is in control (even in difficult circumstances).
Fire (1:27) Holiness- God judges and punishes sin and disobedience.
Rainbow (1:28) Kindness and Mercy. Even in judgment, God remembers mercy.
Scripture is full of pictures, accounts, and experiences that, if we look and listen, can help us discover and understand more about the character and nature of God. Often times, God will “reveal” parts of His nature and character that will be of great value and insight to the heart of each believer in the midst of circumstances and preceding the future. Looking back, can you see how each one of these pictures Ezekiel sees, encourages and prepares him for the task that lies ahead?
May we be willing to ask God do the same in our hearts. (Scripture, Sermons, Prayer, Worship, Service, and Fellowship) What are you learning about the Lord?
Re: Verse reading – Ezekiel 1:28-3:4 (day four)
The call of God is unmistakable! Verse 2 says, “As He spoke to me the Spirit entered me and set me on my feet; and I heard Him speaking to me.” Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, David, Habakkuk, Paul…the list goes on. When God spoke to one of His servants, things happened. Ezekiel heard from God and his life was set…he would be a spokesman for God. God expected obedience from Ezekiel. He said whether they listen to you or not…they are stubborn and obstinate and rebellious…they will know that a prophet has been among them. That is God’s command to us…we are to go and make disciples. (Matthew 28:19-20) We are not responsible for people’s response to our evangelistic efforts, we are only responsible for being obedient to go and tell. Just like He promised to protect Ezekiel, He will protect us when we are obedient. So what is keeping us from going?
Re: Verse reading–Ezekiel 1-3 (Day Three)
“Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.” God concerns himself with the likes of you and me; there are things that he wants us to know. That is evidence for love. When someone dear to us dies, we often think: Did he or she know what I thought or how I felt? We care about what our loved one knew or did not know. And so we determine to speak something to those loved ones still with us—something that will make life better. That is like God. And what we know from God not only makes life better, it makes life possible. There is something he wants you to know. Are you paying attention?
Re: Verse reading–Ezekiel 1:28-3:4 (day two)
Now as I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the earth beside the living creatures, one for each of the four of them. As for the appearance of the wheels and their construction: their appearance was like the gleaming of beryl. And the four had the same likeness, their appearance and construction being as it were a wheel within a wheel. (Ezekiel 1:15, 16 ESV)
Ezekiel saw de wheel, way up in the middle of the air
In the next few weeks will encounter the ministry of the Prophet Ezekiel and you will quickly recognize some of the texts as being the inspiration for African American Spirituals. As we conclude our journey through Jeremiah you might think this a curious choice for inspiration. Exile, suffering, dark chapters, but then again what better place to find hope. Slaves who had been removed from all they knew and loved, treated with contempt and lower than animals found solace in the words of these prophets. They saw how God, though having a hard word for the Israelites, always watched over them.
If a people with such a bleak and tragic worldview could find hope in these stories, can’t we?
Re: Verse reading – Ezekiel 1:28-3:4 (day one)
“As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day. . .so was the glory of the Lord.” (1:28) Was Ezekiel surprised to see it? Maybe. The previous few years had been very discouraging for the people of Judah. They had been conquered and captured and carried away into exile. Ezekiel, himself, had experienced the loss of his youthful dreams. Did he ever ask, “God where are you?” The vision that God gave him provided the answer. God was still sovereign. Nothing had changed. He was seated on the throne, His glorious radiance forming a rainbow of hope. Does God shine this confidence in your heart today? No matter what you are facing, or what disappointments you are called to bear, can you see the Faithful and Glorious One sitting high above your circumstances, His promises still intact? On this morning after Easter, sing with me, “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow!”