Posts Tagged ‘Ezekiel’


“GOD IS LORD” – Oct 20

October 20, 2013

“It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord God; let that be known to you.  Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel.”  Ezekiel 36:32

I have been thinking about how we make our decisions and why those decisions can be so inconsistent with what we say that we believe.  I wrote about those thoughts in my last post, Acceptable Worship.  Inevitably, this line of thinking converges upon our perfect example, Jesus Christ.  I have inconsistent moral motivations because my beliefs are often unsound and my desires blemished.  However, Christ does not have those flaws.  He has perfect understanding of the world; therefore, unwavering belief.  He has a pure and sinless heart; therefore, perfect desires.

Christ had perfect moral motivation that resulted in action.  He came into this for a purpose.  He told us what that purpose was:

…I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  (John 10:10-11)

For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.  And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.  For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.  (John 6:38-40)

VinothChandar / Foter / CC BY

Jesus demonstrated his perfect moral motivation through His actions here on earth.  His desire was to do the will of the Father.  The will of the Father was for Him to lay down His life and then take it up again, so that we might have eternal life.  That is what He did.

However, why would the Father send His son, in the likeness of sinful flesh, into this world, to suffer and die on a cross so that we might have eternal life?

There is a common theme asserted for the motivation behind the Father sending Jesus.  I have heard this assertion made in many songs, books, and sermons.  The declarations are made of God’s motivation as being His love for you and me.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that however believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  (John 3:16-17)

God showed His love for this world by sending His son but why does He love us?

Does God love me because He knows my value and sees my potential?
Does God love me to confirm my value?
Does God show His love to me because I am His prized possession?

I do believe that it is important for us to understand God’s motivation.  It is important because God has told us the reason for His actions on many occasions.  I have been reading through Ezekiel.  From chapter 34 through 36, God makes clear that His actions have a motivation.  The prophecies of condemnation and blessings all end with a similar stated purpose;

You will know that I am the Lord. 

Ezekiel prophesied regarding the new covenant that be established through Christ.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.  And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezekiel 36:26-27)

That is a very loving act of God.  It is particularly loving when you consider that God condemned other nations for the same actions that the nation of Israel had been doing.  So, did God condemn the other nations and blessed Israel because He loved Israel more?  We don’t need to speculate since He tells why He acted:

Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came.  And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them.  And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. (Ezekiel 36:22-23 )

God did not promise to put a new heart into the people of Israel because they were inherently more valuable than the people of other nations.  He did not love them because they were His prized possession.

He set aside the nation of Israel because of His Great Name. 

God shows His incredible love not because of the value of the loved but due to the purpose of the loved.  To act based on the value of man is to deny what God knows to be true; that there is nothing more valuable than His name.  We are not God’s prized possession.  His name is His prized possession because there is nothing more prized then Him.

When we believe that redemptive history is based on God’s love for the value of man then we place man at the center of God’s purpose.  This has lead to so much confusion in our faith.

God did not create man to be glorified. 

God knows perfectly the value of creation.  There is nothing greater than the Father.

God created man to glorify Him.

God’s will, His desire, is that all of creation acknowledge what is of most value in the universe; to know that He is the Lord.  Therefore, God sent His son, Jesus Christ, in love, to save us and give us new hearts, so that all of mankind will know that He is the Lord when He vindicates His holiness before the world through us.

A Perfect Heart / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

God saved us for a purpose much greater than our personal value.  God saved us for the highest purpose.  It is through the redeemed that God’s holiness is made known to the world.  There is no higher purpose for mankind.

To think that I was saved because of my inherent value actually diminishes God’s love.  The love shown to me is so great because it not only redeemed my soul but also my purpose.  By God’s love, I have been brought into the anthem of all creation; that God is Lord.  I could not be a part of vindicating the holiness of God before the nations if it were not for this great love shown to me.

When we recognize God’s motivation in showing us love, we will understand the purpose behind the holiness to which we have been called.  Christ’s perfect example calls us to live not according to our own will but the will of Him who has shown us so much love.

May we live so that the holiness of God can be seen in our lives as a billboard to the most valuable reality in the universe, that God is the Lord.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for loving me to a degree that is beyond myself.  Thank you for showing me the greatest love that is possible.  Thank you for redeeming my soul and my purpose.  May your name be vindicated through me.  May the nations see your holiness through me.  Help me to live in holiness through the power of your Spirit for your glory.   I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.



September 27, 2013

“But you trusted in your beauty and played the whore because of your renown and lavished your whoring on any passerby; your beauty became his.”  Ezekiel 16:15

When do our actions correlate more with the street corner than the pew?
When does one become a harlot? 

Consumerism characterizes my world.  We buy goods and services every day.  However, there is a demarcation where consumerism becomes unacceptable.  There is a level of consumerism that is completely expected and even encouraged:

English: A picture of the inside of a remodele...

English: A picture of the inside of a remodeled Walmart in Miami, Florida. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We do our grocery shopping in a variety of locations.  No one has ever accused me of being unfaithful for shopping at Wal-mart and not Fred Meyer.

I buy gasoline on regular basis.  No one has ever accused me of infidelity for stopping at a gas station that is conveniently located along my travel route.

I like to try new restaurants.  My wife has never felt betrayed by my desire to eat someplace other than our dinner table.

This level of consumerism is acceptable because there is no expectation of faithfulness.  Costco was not offended when I tried Wal-mart toilet paper and returned after discovering that their quality did not satisfy.  I did not have to sulk back into their warehouse and offer an apology.  Trying different toilet paper didn’t make me a toilet paper whore.  Consumerism is acceptable when there is no expectation of faithfulness.

However, a person will encounter chastisement once they proclaim their faithfulness but still continue to practice consumerism.


Chevrolet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For years, I endured all of my cousin’s jokes about the superiority of southern California in comparison to Idaho.  I have had a lot of fun reminding him of his unfaithfulness now that he has moved to Idaho.

This sort of consumerism is still socially acceptable.  A person can move to another state without the fear of being stigmatized as a whore.  They may not be liked, particularly if they are from California, but they won’t be thought of as a harlot.  Other than a period of good-hearted ribbing, no one takes offense to a person seeking a new favorite.  Consumerism is acceptable when there is no expectation of faithfulness and a personal relationship is not involved.

Our society begins to apply a social stigma when there is an expectation of faithfulness in an intimate personal relationship.  We risk the whore label when we continue with attitude of a consumer in search of satisfaction from any person or thing, in violation of a commitment to faithfulness.  This is most evident in our views of marriage.

English: A Catholic wedding ceremony in Milwau...I have committed to be one with my wife physically, emotionally, and relationally.  When I married my wife, I made a vow to her and entered into a covenant with her and she with me.  I became hers and she became mine.  We committed to each other that we would seek our relational satisfaction only in each other as we became one before the Lord.  Consumerism has no place in marriage.  The search for someone better ended when we said, “I do”.

Therefore, I violate my promise to her when I seek to have my relational desires satisfied outside of our marriage.

I will clearly play the whore if I were to go sleep with someone else.  However, our commitment to physical fidelity can also be violated via pornography, romance novels, and the relational ideal.

I can play the whore through a platonic relationship by desiring an intimacy that was intended to be with my wife.  Our commitment to emotional fidelity can be given away through family, kids, buddies, hobbies, work, and the general chaos of life.

God describes our relationship with Him as a marriage.  He has established a covenant relationship with us.  Interpersonal faithfulness is the fundamental characteristic of this covenant relationship .  There is no place for divine consumerism after we have said “I’m yours” to God.

God said to Israel:

I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord God, and you became mine.  (Ezekiel 16:8b)

This is how God viewed Israel following the gods of other nations:

You played the whore also with the Assyrians, because you were not satisfied; yes, you played the whore with them, and still you were not satisfied.  You multiplied your whoring also with the trading land of Chaldea, and even with this you were not satisfied.  (Ezekiel 16:28-29)

God viewed Israel’s search for satisfaction outside of His covenant relationship as adultery.  I doubt if the Israelites considered their actions as adulterous.  They were just practicing consumerism.

God viewed their actions as adultery.

We live under the new covenant.  We are new creations in Christ.  We no longer need animal sacrifices for our sins because there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  However, I  cannot find anywhere in the scriptures where the new covenant changed how God views sin.

I may not face the condemnation for my sin but my sin still has the stench of adultery.  Thankfully, I have never experienced the unfaithfulness of my spouse.  However, I can imagine the feelings of betrayal if my wife were to be unfaithful to me.

I hate the thought of my actions conveying that type of unfaithfulness to Christ.

Yet, I know that I have been unfaithful to my Lord.  I despise the fact that I have played the whore to the One who saved me.  I hate my unfaithfulness not because I am afraid that God is going to whack me.  I hate my unfaithfulness because it is such unloving behavior to show toward the One who has shown such great love to me .  Jesus said:

If you love me, you will keep my commandments.  (John 14:15)

Let’s abandon our lives of divine consumerism.

May the actions of our lives communicate our love for God and not the desires of an unsatisfied whore.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for being faithful even in my unfaithfulness.  Thank you for forgiving me for seeking my satisfaction in the most unsatisfying places.  Lord, I want my actions to declare my love for you.  I want you to be glorified in all that I do and say.   Help me to be faithful to you in all of my thoughts, desires, hopes, and dreams.   I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.


“TOUGH CROWDS” – Sept. 19

September 20, 2013

“Be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house.” Ezekiel 2:6b

Imagine if I came to you and described the new calling of my life:

I am a little apprehensive but God has clearly told me what the next year, actually 430 days, of my life will be like. 

I have to camp out in the Church foyer while I build a little LEGOS replica of the City with tiny siege towers and mounds against the walls.  That will pretty cool.  Then, I need to get my Cabela’ iron griddle and put it up on edge, between me and my little City and stare at it.

All day long, I am going to lie on my side and stare at that griddle.  I get to switch it up; 390 days on my left side and then 40 days on my right side.  I wish it was equal so that my arms won’t shrivel up disproportionately.  Did I mention that I have to be tied up while I am lying on my side?  That will not be comfortable since my arms have to be bare.  

Meals will be a little complicated.  Prisoners get to eat better than me.  Bread and water is all I  will get to eat but at least it will be organic and Kosher.  God gave me a special recipe that uses wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and emmer.  I won’t win any culinary awards but it is the only recipe I’ve got.

The key will be how it is cooked.  I have it all figured out.  The Church ladies don’t need to worry about me messing up the kitchen.  I’ve been instructed to cook my bread over a campfire; hopefully the foyer has good ventilation.  I still need to work on getting enough fuel to keep a campfire going for over a year. 

Did I mention that I don’t get to use wood?

Yeah, I have to use dung.  You know, poop.  It might sound a little gross but at least I get to use cow dung.  That is so much better than my first option.  God initially told me to use people dung.  I wasn’t really sure how I was going to gather that and I am sure the health department was going to have a problem with any method that I worked out.

Anyways, I have already started collecting cow-pies.  They are not that bad once they’re dried out.  It is the fresh ones you have to watch out for.  You really don’t want your cow-pies medium-rare.

Also, I am probably going to be pretty dehydrated by the end of all of this.  Do you have access to an I-V? I can only have  about a pint, 0.6 liters to be exact, of drinking water a day.  I know that is not the three litters that my doctor recommends but what am I supposed to do.  A good rationing plan should work.  I will need some of that water to get my dung-cooked bread down.  Well, I have plenty of time to figure that out.

As you can see, I am going to be booked for the next 430 days staring at that griddle, so don’t bother inviting me to anything.  What do you think?  Are you going to come stare at the griddle with me?

I can only imagine the responses that Ezekiel got when it became apparent what he was doing.  I am afraid that I might not have been very kind and maybe rolled my eyes at Ezekiel’s interpretive presentation. I have always found interpretive theater to be a little weird.  I doubt if my appreciation would grow after 430 consecutive days of watching the same sleeveless, bound guy lying on his side, staring at a griddle. I am probably not alone in my lack of appreciation.

English: Angry woman.

English: Angry woman. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ezekiel must have gotten sneers, eye-rolls, ridicule, and the deep exhales that power the fluttering lips of disapproval. It seems likely that God reminded Ezekiel not to be afraid of what the crowds where going to say to him and not to become discouraged by their arrogant looks because he was going to need that encouragement.  He was going to face an audience that would not understand the illustration.  He was going to have to face the critical reviews of those who simply rejected the message.

I have never been called to do anything like Ezekiel’s calling but God’s encouragement to Ezekiel is a lesson that most of us can learn from.

Consider the source of criticism.

It was a rebellious house that spoke words to make Ezekiel afraid.  Hard hearts contorted the faces which caused him to dismay.  Ezekiel was being obedient to what he knew God had called him to do.  The opinions of a rebellious house should not matter to him.

The spirit of that rebellious house is still alive and well.

We are all called to some form of obedience in our lives.  We are people of the word of the cross.  We will eventually run into people who do not understand our actions.  There will be people who reject what we believe.  Their disapproval of our faith will be very evident.

Consider the source of criticism.

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Cor. 1:18

The criticism of those who are perishing should not matter to us.  They are from a house that is in rebellion to the King of kings.  We live for the One who has called us.  His opinion is the one that matters.  That is what we should remember when the discouragement of disapproving looks and words are sent our way.

PRAYER: Lord, you know that I have often modified my actions, changed my words, closed my mouth due to a fear of the opinion of man.  I have been discouraged by the words of those who hate you.  I have desired to be included when my beliefs have put me on the outside.   Thank you for reminding me of whose opinion really matters.  Father, I pray for those of that rebellious house.  I pray for those who think that I am foolish for what I believe.  Open the eyes of those who are perishing.  Use me to draw them to your Son.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.



September 18, 2013

“And above the expanse over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire, and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance.  And upward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were gleaming metal, like the appearance of fire enclosed all around.  And downward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness around him.  Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around.  Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.  And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.”  Ezekiel 1:26-28

My knowledge of God is merely an introductory paragraph to depths beyond the Library of Congress’ content.
My experience of God is a single grain of salt in comparison to the seasoning of a gourmet meal.
My faith is a mole hill in the presence of Mount Everest.

I am astounded by the reality of Ezekiel’s theophany, as God appeared to him in a visionary form.  I am reminded that our eyes behold a world but there lies a reality beyond this veil.  God reigns to an extent that is beyond my knowledge, experience, and faith.

At this moment, His glory is radiating forth.
At this moment, His Spirit goes where He wills.
At this moment, the sound of the Almighty is thundering.
At this moment, His presence has the appearance of fire enclosed all around.


At this moment, He knows my name.
At this moment, He knows the hairs on my head.
At this moment, He cares for me.
At this moment, He calls me friend.
At this moment, I am His child.
At this moment, He loves me.

I am a man of such little faith.  I have eyes but I do not see.  I have ears but I do not hear.  Muted is my existence in the presence of the divine.  My Lord is all around me but I walk mostly ignorant of His reality.

How can I worry about tomorrow, when I am His?

How can I live prayerlessly, when I am awash in His love?

How can I doubt, when He is directing my steps?

My God reigns and I am His.
My hope is in the reality of the Almighty.
My faith is in what I cannot see but I know to be.

Lord, help me in my unbelief.

PRAYER: Lord, you are great and greatly to be praised.  You are higher than I can understand.  You are deeper than I can comprehend.  Thank you for showing me grace and mercy.  Thank you for saving me.  Thank you for showing me your steadfast love when I have been unloving.  Thank you for being faithful when I have been faithless.  Thank you for keeping me when I wander.  Help me Lord to live in your reality.  Help to live beyond my eyes and ears.  Help me to live by faith.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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