If you are reading this book a chapter at a time, this is where it might be important to remember that chapters and verses are editorial editions added much later to Scripture. This is important to note, because normally when we see chapters in our contemporary reading, that means we are on a whole new topic. Often within Scripture that is not the case. In this week’s chapter, we see a continuation of the vision that started in the previous chapter. Without that information, you may be prone to ask a lot of wrong questions about what is happening in chapter 9.Continue reading “The Book of Ezekiel: Ezekiel 9”
Six years into his ministry, Ezekiel is shown another vision of the Lord. This vision is of the same awe inspiring glory that Ezekiel has now already seen twice (in chapters 1 and 6). God picks him up and carries him to various places in Jerusalem, so he can see the terrible things being done by God’s people. God asks the prophet, “Young man, do you see what they’re doing, great offensive things that Yisra’el’s household are doing here, so that I shall go far from my sanctuary?” (Ezekiel 8:6, Goldingay). These things are mostly forms of idol worship: images and professing other gods. Yet after showing him the “inflammatory image, at the entrance” (Ezekiel 8:5, Goldingay), God invites Ezekiel to come in, even deeper, to see more of the evil being done.
“As the world is weary of me so am I of it”John Knox
Six times in this chapter, God asks Ezekiel if he has seen or invites him to see the evils that are in the Temple. Unfortunately, we cannot truly know or understand the problems that exist in our world without seeing them. This is not because we are unaware of the issues, but without seeing them, we have no real way of feeling them. In this chapter, Ezekiel has been on his mission for six years. I imagine that he was beginning to get weary, so God chooses to show him the evils that he and God are fighting against. God invites Ezekiel to actually look at these people. Does he see what they are doing? After he sees, what is it that he does?
In Steven Garber’s book Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good, he asks a question over and over again “Knowing what I now know about the way the world is, what am I going to do?” This is the same question that God is asking of Ezekiel in this chapter. It is far to easy for us (the Church) to only be looking into our Bibles and thinking about God theologically. We often miss what is happening just down the street. I often find people within my own church that do not know of ways that we can interact with the world to show God’s love to it, when there is a strip club just a block away from the building. My church is even situated in an area that as one of the highest proportions of drug use in the state! Is it spiritual blindness that causes people to not see the evils of the world, or is it apatheia? When God shows you the evil things happening around you, how are you going to act? Jesus got into the mud, and walked into the most sinful places in order to love people. If we are seeking to be true disciples of Jesus, ought we do the same thing?
The last couple of chapters have been discussing the oncoming punishment that the people of Israel are to recieve. This week is no different. It is rough to read about this because it seems that we may have no hope. Chapter 4-24 of Ezekiel are all about the terrible sin of the people and the punishment that is coming because of it. However, in chapter 25 hope does come. Just like our own lives, we do not know what to do when it is bad, then we find hope. This week further’s the conversation about the punishment of sin, but I think there may be a deeper lesson in this section. Continue reading “The Book of Ezekiel: Ezekiel 7”
Continuing on the same theme as the last chapter, God is declaring punishment to Israel in the week’s chapter. It’s hard to imagine why God is spending so much time on the idea of punishment for sin, but how often do we consider what sin is? Many people may feel that because of Jesus, there is no need to dwell on sin any longer. Maybe, sin is far more damaging than we really think it is. Continue reading “The Book of Ezekiel: Ezekiel 6”
In the last chapter of Ezekiel, we saw how God had him begin his ministry. Ezekiel stood before the people of Jerusalem and behaved rather oddly, to show how God was going to punish them for their rebellious behavior. In this chapter Ezekiel gets to continue his odd behavior, but it comes with continued warning of wrath against the people of Israel. Continue reading “The Book of Ezekiel: Ezekiel 5”
In the last post in this series, we saw how Ezekiel was called by God, and what the call actually meant for him. In this week’s chapter, God continues his commands for Ezekiel’s ministry, but it does not go the way many people might expect. Rather than yelling into the void, Ezekiel is called to adopt some extreme behavior in order to show case the behaviors of God and His people. Continue reading “The Book of Ezekiel: Ezekiel 4”
The first few chapters of the Book of Ezekiel describe his being called by God to be a prophet. So far, it has been mostly focused on God’s revealing His glory to Ezekiel. This would not be much of a call story without God giving Ezekiel instruction on the path that lies ahead of him. This week we see God give those instructions, and how Ezekiel reacts. Continue reading “The Book of Ezekiel: Ezekiel 3”
As I said last week, we are now starting a study over the book of Ezekiel. Most of the books of the major prophets (Isaiah-Daniel) begin with a call from God for their ministry. These first few chapters deal with that very call upon Ezekiel. God shows up in all his glory by a river to inform Ezekiel, he is meant for a greater purpose. Ezekiel’s life changes forever next to that river. I guess that’s what happens when you answer the call. Continue reading “The Book of Ezekiel: Ezekiel 1”
Since the Heart Man Blog started back up, we have now finished our first study. Since our first study was on the Gospel of John, I thought it would be great to go to a book of the Bible that is in the Old Testament. Beginning this week we will begin to study the book of Ezekiel. This will be slightly different from the Gospel of John, as the genre of this writing is different. Ezekiel is a piece of prophetic literature, which means that we will see passages containing cosmic visions and other things that we will need God’s help to truly understand. Continue reading “Intro to the Book of Ezekiel”
There is a Scripture that I’ve been wrestling with this week. It all started while I was preparing my heart for worship on Sunday, and watching a sermon video. I think I’ve gotten what it has been saying to me, so I thought I would share. The passage is found in Ezekiel, right before one of my favorite stories in the Bible (the Valley of Dry Bones). God is talking to the people of Israel, for after they have been exiled from the Promised Land:
“For I will gather you up from all the nations and bring you home again to your land. The I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.” –Ezekiel 36:24-27, NLT
This passage floored me when I read it that morning! I couldn’t believe I had ever missed this section before (during the other times I’ve read through Ezekiel).
As I was saying yesterday, sin makes us dirty and filthy. It’s not a place you, or God, want to find yourself in. So God is saying to the people of Israel that He knows what they have gone through, but He wants to make them clean. He will take their sin from them, so that they may learn to live a clean life. This new life that He wants to give them is by taking away their selfish desires and giving them a heart to care for others. He then says that He will put His own spirit within them so they will know what it means to follow God.
God makes this same offer to you and me. The difference between them and us is that we understand God fulfilling this promise through Jesus Christ. While he was on earth, Jesus taught us what it meant to follow God and live godly lives. It wasn’t all about the religiosity of the Pharisees (and even the same as many Christians today), instead it was about loving God and loving one another. To love God means to help others and love them. John writes this, “But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 John 3:17, NASB). So knowing the love of God, compels us to love and care for others. This is the problem that the ancient Israelites were facing. They knew God, but they cared more about the rules then what it meant to be the Children of God.
The Spirit of God lives within us. This means God lives within us. He is not some bearded man in the clouds watching the world from his throne. He lives within you and I, by our acceptance of Christ’s saving death. The Cross not only saved us from our sins, but allowed us to have the closest relationship with God no one before him was able to have. We are able to know God in this way because of the Spirit. Paul writes, “For to us God revealed [the things of God] through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depth of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by humans wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.” (1 Corinthians 2:10-13, NASB). This knowledge of God helps us to see and know what it means to follow him!