Lament, Rebellion and Renewal

Read: Ezekiel 19-21

Today we begin by reading a lament, a dirge of sorts, to help the people remember that what they once had is gone. Not so good. Then we follow up with clear examples of rebellion and God’s judgment against the people at that time, not some distant future. Lord, help us learn!

Chapter 19 provides a lament over Israel, once great, now sadly lost and confused.

“Take up a lament concerning the princes of Israel and say:
“‘What a lioness was your mother
among the lions!
She lay down among them
and reared her cubs.
She brought up one of her cubs,
and he became a strong lion.
He learned to tear the prey
and he became a man-eater.
Ezekiel 19:1-3

But it was uprooted in fury
and thrown to the ground.
The east wind made it shrivel,
it was stripped of its fruit;
its strong branches withered
and fire consumed them.
Now it is planted in the desert,
in a dry and thirsty land.
Fire spread from one of its main branches
and consumed its fruit.
No strong branch is left on it
fit for a ruler’s scepter.’
Ezekiel 19:12-14

Surely they could identify with this dirge at the time Ezekiel penned the lament. Sad history.

Chapter 20 provides a brief history of God’s desire to lead his people to a wonderful land, to a place where people could worship him freely in great comfort. But the people rebelled against the one who had provided everything for them.

But for the sake of my name I did what would keep it from being profaned in the eyes of the nations in whose sight I had brought them out. Ezekiel 20:14

Rebellion seems to be for the sake of rebellion:

“‘You say, “We want to be like the nations, like the peoples of the world, who serve wood and stone.” But what you have in mind will never happen. As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I will reign over you with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with outpoured wrath. Ezekiel 20:32-33

The Lord will not let his name be profaned, he will not allow such contentious activity continue without punishment.

“‘As for you, people of Israel, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Go and serve your idols, every one of you! But afterward you will surely listen to me and no longer profane my holy name with your gifts and idols. Ezekiel 20:39

We have been given free will, the freedom to choose poorly as well as wisely. We’ve also been given the ability to discern the difference and many, many examples of what a bad choice looks like and yet we tend to ignore the obvious and stray. No wonder Jesus compared us to sheep!

Even in those days, while history was unfolding upon them, they didn’t get what Ezekiel was telling them:  ‘Then I said, “Sovereign Lord, they are saying of me, ‘Isn’t he just telling parables?’” (Ezekiel 20:49).

Chapter 21 provides rationale for the Babylonian invasion and exile, God’s sword of judgment, say to her: ‘This is what the Lord says: I am against you. I will draw my sword from its sheath and cut off from you both the righteous and the wicked (Ezekiel 21:3). Groan Israel, wail loudly and wet yourself:

“Therefore groan, son of man! Groan before them with broken heart and bitter grief. And when they ask you, ‘Why are you groaning?’ you shall say, ‘Because of the news that is coming. Every heart will melt with fear and every hand go limp; every spirit will become faint and every leg will be wet with urine.’ It is coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign Lord.” Ezekiel 21:6-7

Once again the prophet speaks clearly and vividly against the people who have become so profane. When I wonder why the Old Testament contains all these details, I’m reminded of my need to learn from the past, to see the clear difference between right and wrong. Further, I think this affirms that God is not some lofty being that is not involved and does not care. All these words seem to demonstrate that he wants to have a relationship with those he created. It’s hard to understand the dance, but easy to hear the music.

Thoughts about serving others

This link includes a list of posts about Serving the Least, the Lost, and the Lonely.

My prayer is for you to join me on this journey. Subscribe to this blog below to get an email when a new post is available.

Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.

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