Day 231

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Ezekiel 10:1-13:23 (NLT)

Bobbe Pennington, Grades 4-5 Fusion Small Group Leader

I will confess that it is difficult for me to read the messages of the prophets. I prefer to focus on God’s love and mercy rather than His judgment. I know I am not alone in this. The fact is, though, that God’s word is God’s word. I can’t pick and choose only the parts I like.

Ezekiel announced judgment, God’s judgment against idolatrous Israel, to those who were captives in Babylon. He warned them that judgment and punishment were certain because of their sins. He announced that God was purifying his people. The phrase, “then they will know that I am the LORD,” or some variation of this phrase occurs 65 times in the book of Ezekiel. God wasn’t seeking revenge. He was impressing upon the people that only He is the true and living God.

In these chapters, Ezekiel has a vision that focuses on Jerusalem. He sees God’s glory depart from the Temple because it has been defiled by His people who are worshipping idols. The images in these chapters reminded me of similar images in Revelation. When God reveals Himself to humans, it is remarkable what those visions entail. I am reminded again that our God is a wondrous, Holy, mysterious, awesome Father.

I was especially struck by two verses in these chapters. One was in chapter 13, verse 10. Speaking of lying prophets, God says, “These evil prophets deceive my people by saying, ‘All is peaceful!’ when there is no peace at all. It’s as if the people have built a flimsy wall, and these prophets are trying to hold it together by covering it with whitewash!” When I focus only on one aspect of God–His love, His mercy, His kindness–I run the risk of building a flimsy wall of faith, one that says that I am free to do anything I want because God loves me. Paul speaks of this: “Should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more kindness and forgiveness? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?” (Romans 6:1-2) “So since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does this mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! Don’t you realize that whatever you choose to obey becomes your master? You can choose sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God and receive his approval.” (Romans 6: 15&16) God brings his discipline “so that we will know that He is the LORD.”

This also raises a question: How do we discern truth? There are many mixed messages that we hear, all in the guise of Christianity. I believe we need to stay in God’s word to seek His truth. Being part of a small group where trust is built and questions can be asked about the Bible is also important to me. The Holy Spirit wants to teach us. We need to be willing to learn.

I was also struck by Ezekiel 11:18-21: “’When the people return to their homeland, they will remove every trace of their detestable idol worship. And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their hearts of stone and give them tender hearts instead, so they will obey my laws and regulations. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God. But as for those who long for idols, I will repay them fully for their sins,’ says the Sovereign Lord.” God’s mercy AND justice are shown here. He desires us to have tender hearts, teachable hearts. What idols claim our affections and attentions? To walk with God means we need to be willing to surrender as He reveals areas of sin and idolatry in our own lives.

I am grateful that Jesus Christ, God in man, came to the earth to save us. I am grateful for His love, mercy, and amazing kindness. I am grateful that he took on Himself the punishment for my sins. The more I am willing to surrender to His discipline and His will for my life, the more I will gain a tender heart that longs to obey.
Lord, I long for singleness of heart, a heart that is set on you, a heart that is tender, a heart that surrenders without so much rebellion. By your Holy Spirit, change me, and grow your people so that our lives are pleasing to you.

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4 responses »

  1. It’s interesting how often God has His prophets physically act out a message. Ezekiel seems to have had more “acting” assignments than most: he lay on one side for 390 days, then on the other side for 40 days, being unable to talk except when God spoke through him, making a model of Jerusalem and then besieging it. In this chapter he packs up some stuff, digs a hole through the city wall (I wonder what the city officials thought of that!), and leaves town. From this I get a couple of thoughts: 1. God goes to GREAT lengths to communicate with people, and 2. God can use our lives to speak to people. May our lives give a clear message from God.

  2. When I was young in the church there was an older couple that I was close to, who I watched carefully. She was a devout Christian and abstained from the earthly things that can lead you astray and for him it was quite clear that he didn’t buy in to the church thing and he was clearly going just to please her. With all the hell fire and condemnation, I chose to leave the church. If I was going to live a life sentence, then I was going to live it my way. He had to continue going to please his wife.

    As time went by there were changes in the man, he grew softer, kinder, gentler and more compassionate. I remember that there came a time that he would cry at sentimental times.
    There were times that he would cry when I came to visit and cry when he hugged me goodbye.
    I didn’t know what to make of this, I figured that this is what happens to tough guys when they get older, they just get more sentimental.

    I later returned to the church to attend the man’s funeral. Many people spoke to what a Godly man he was and how he had touched their lives and it hit me. The man had turned a corner and I had missed it. He surrendered and God had softened his heart. Looking in retrospect it was so clear to me. Another thing became clear to me that day, it was the fact that I too needed to surrender and give my heart to Christ. Not as a child like I had done when I was 6 years old but as an adult who had gone the other way and experienced all the emptiness that came with it.

    I made a commitment to Christ that day and never looked back. God has welcomed me with open arms like the father of the prodigal son. I can imagine that some of you have figured out by now that the “older couple” was my parents. Because of my decision I was able to spend the next 2 years of my life in fellowship with my mom, with her sharing her favorite verses, stories of faith and how the Lord had worked in their lives. It was such a blessing for me and a comfort to her to know that her wild one had given himself to the Lord before she too passed.

    I totally get it now, my heart has become so tender, longing for Him and to do His will. I spend many days mopping tears as I listen to songs and stories on K-Love on my daily commute. The Lord has filled me with so much compassion that it can’t help but spill over. Tears are flowing even now as I write this. They are not tears of sadness, they seem to be cleansing tears that wash away the hardened parts of me.

  3. Excellent commentary Bobbe, how shall we escape if we neglect such great salvation! Trust and Obey 🙂 Powerful testimony “rsburns” ~ “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” 3 John 1:4

  4. Thanks for the great devotion, Bobbe. And yeah, our relationship with God isn’t a “salad bar” where we pick the bits we like and leave the others. We need to come to God’s table and let Him serve us the whole dinner of HIS choosing, not ours. And, by the way, we need to notice our Host and relate to Him (not the table or the meal).

    And … on the random thought side … I wonder how odd we look to the cherubim?

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