Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sunday, September 20th: Ezekiel 1-2, John 8:28-59 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Ezekiel 1-2; John 8:28-59

The first few verses of Ezekiel introduce us to the man chosen by God to proclaim His message to His people, and to write this book named for its author.

It is widely agreed that the thirtieth year (in v1) refers to Ezekiel's age when he received his prophetic call. He would have been 25 when taken captive during the second of three deportations of Jews from Judea to Babylon (v2). The first deportation occurred in 605BC when Babylon deported the most gifted of Judean's population, including Daniel, in order to ensure their loyalty. The second deportation occurred in 597BC when King Jehoiakim foolishly went against the council of Jeremiah and rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar. The King had Jehoiakim dragged to Babylon and executed, then set up his son Jehoiachim as King. Jehoiachim, along with the royal family, was brought to Babylon in the second deportation along with 10,000 captives from the upper levels of society, leaving only the poorest behind (2 Kings 24:14). Ezekiel and his wife were included in these 10,000 captives.


Ezekiel tells us that his prophetic call came to him in his 30th year....Ezekiel was 30 years of age when this happened. That means he would have been born just a year or so before the law book was discovered in the temple during Josiah’s reforms. As the son of a priest, he would have been an eyewitness of those reforms and of King Josiah’s piety and his support for the renewal of Israel’s faith and worship. When he was barely a teenager Josiah was killed in battle and the reforming movement was abandoned. As he grew up and prepared through his 20s for his calling as a priest, he was probably one of very few who took that calling seriously.

The fact that he was 30 when God called him would have had for him a melancholy significance, easily recognized by any Jewish reader, because it was at 30 years of age that a priest would undertake his formal duties (Num. 4:3). It was then that Ezekiel, as his father before him, would have entered into his service at the temple – service for which he had been preparing himself since the time he was a young man – but, of course, he wasn’t any longer in Jerusalem and could not and would never serve as a priest there. All the preparations of his life would have seemed for naught, until suddenly the Lord revealed different plans for this man.

Ezekiel the priest reluctantly became Ezekiel the prophet.

Most of Judea dragged their spiritual baggage along with them to Babylon. Years of idolatry and apostasy had brought her to ruin, yet they could not recognize that they were responsible for their own demise. They were thrilled to claim the promises of God, but they would not recognize their own sin, or the terrible holiness of God.  And that's precisely why Ezekiel's message would be so unpopular - his message of hope was dependent on the people's willingness to repent.

The description of Ezekiel's vision is incredible and truly only a glimpse of God's glory.

We see Ezekiel's reaction to seeing a glimpse of God's holiness - he fell flat on his face in fear and trembling.  (I find it interesting that though this is exactly how the Bible describes the few human encounters with glimpses of God's glory, none of the people in the "heaven tourism" books ever describe this as their own experience.  But I digress...)

To be honest - Ezekiel's message is the same for us today.  Our hope is dependent on our repentance, and generally that's not a message most people want to hear.

This passage causes us to ask some tough questions....
Have we deluded ourselves?
Have we taken our status as God's children for granted and presumed upon His grace?
Have we lost sight of the holiness of God?
Have we lost sight of the awfulness of our sin?
Have we lost the desire to see God's glory?
Are we willing to live for God even when it's hard?
Are we willing to go against the flow?
Are we willing to be holy no matter the cost?
Are we self aware of our spiritual condition?

In our John passage the people are still confused about Jesus' identity, but Jesus makes it clear that He in the Truth, and the only One that can free us from our bondage to sin.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Ezekiel 3-4; John 9:1-23


Nathan Reimer said...

What an awesome experience that must be to naturally just fall on your face and remain there, in reverence to God's holiness. This wouldn't be pre planned, but would be a natural reaction. I look forward to experiencing this.

Pamela said...

In awe of God's glory, Ezekiel hears:

And he said to me, “Son of man,[i] stand on your feet, and I will speak with you.”

Even though God is worthy of our face down, flat on the ground, head bowed adoration, God wants us to stand and be with Him....even as unworthy as we are.

I thought this was interesting:

58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

In Sunday school today, the message we heard was that a good sermon should not be a peaceful easy feeling but should convict us, should agitate us, should motivate us, challenge us and make us uncomfortable. It is only when we are moved by the message that we begin to change to be more like God.