Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wednesday, January 22nd

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Genesis 39-40, Psalm 17, Matthew 17
Today's scripture focus is Ezekiel 24

Ezekiel 24

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Siege of Jerusalem

24 In the ninth year, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, write down the name of this day, this very day. The king of Babylon has laid siege to Jerusalem this very day. And utter a parable to the rebellious house and say to them, Thus says the Lord God:
“Set on the pot, set it on;
    pour in water also;
put in it the pieces of meat,
    all the good pieces, the thigh and the shoulder;
    fill it with choice bones.
Take the choicest one of the flock;
    pile the logs under it;
boil it well;
    seethe also its bones in it.
“Therefore thus says the Lord GodWoe to the bloody city, to the pot whose corrosion is in it, and whose corrosion has not gone out of it! Take out of it piece after piece, without making any choice. For the blood she has shed is in her midst; she put it on the bare rock; she did not pour it out on the ground to cover it with dust. To rouse my wrath, to take vengeance, I have set on the bare rock the blood she has shed, that it may not be covered. Therefore thus says the Lord God: Woe to the bloody city! I also will make the pile great. 10 Heap on the logs, kindle the fire, boil the meat well, mix in the spices, and let the bones be burned up. 11 Then set it empty upon the coals, that it may become hot, and its copper may burn, that its uncleanness may be melted in it, its corrosion consumed. 12 She has wearied herself with toil; its abundant corrosion does not go out of it. Into the fire with its corrosion! 13 On account of your unclean lewdness, because I would have cleansed you and you were not cleansed from your uncleanness, you shall not be cleansed anymore till I have satisfied my fury upon you. 14 I am the Lord. I have spoken; it shall come to pass; I will do it. I will not go back; I will not spare; I will not relent; according to your ways and your deeds you will be judged, declares the Lord God.”

Ezekiel's Wife Dies

15 The word of the Lord came to me: 16 “Son of man, behold, I am about to take the delight of your eyes away from you at a stroke; yet you shall not mourn or weep, nor shall your tears run down. 17 Sigh, but not aloud; make no mourning for the dead. Bind on your turban, and put your shoes on your feet; do not cover your lips, nor eat the bread of men.” 18 So I spoke to the people in the morning, and at evening my wife died. And on the next morning I did as I was commanded.
19 And the people said to me, “Will you not tell us what these things mean for us, that you are acting thus?” 20 Then I said to them, “The word of the Lord came to me: 21 ‘Say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GodBehold, I will profane my sanctuary, the pride of your power, the delight of your eyes, and the yearning of your soul, and your sons and your daughters whom you left behind shall fall by the sword. 22 And you shall do as I have done; you shall not cover your lips, nor eat the bread of men. 23 Your turbans shall be on your heads and your shoes on your feet; you shall not mourn or weep, butyou shall rot away in your iniquities and groan to one another. 24 Thus shall Ezekiel be to you a sign; according to all that he has done you shall do. When this comes, then you will know that I am the Lord God.’
25 “As for you, son of man, surely on the day when I take from them their stronghold, their joy and glory, the delight of their eyes and their soul's desire, and also their sons and daughters, 26 on that day a fugitive will come to you to report to you the news. 27 On that day your mouth will be opened to the fugitive, and you shall speak and be no longer mute. So you will be a sign to them, and they will know that I am the Lord.”

Accompanying Robert Rayburn sermon
Accompanying David Legge sermon: When the Cost Comes Home

Just as Ezekiel was to warn the people of the coming judgment and destruction of Jerusalem, so are we to warn people today about the coming final judgment that awaits us all after our physical death.

In our passage today, Ezekiel first communicated this message of a specific date (that very day!) of judgment, in fact the very fulfillment of the judgment Ezekiel has spent 23 chapters preaching about, with a parable about a boiling pot.  The choice meat was God's people, they were in a pot (that was Jerusalem), and they were about to be boiled (come under siege) and until everything was destroyed.

In the next part of the passage we see the huge price of following God that Ezekiel was required to pay.  Already, we've seen that Ezekiel has paid a price as he's walked in obedience to God's call on his life, but this passage takes that to a whole new level with the death of his wife - the delight of his eyes.  He was going to lose his wife at the hand of God as a preaching illustration to a people who he knew were not going to repent!

Legge points out that in the church today we give to the Lord of that which costs us nothing

When is the last time following God in obedience caused us pain?  That it cost us something?

Pain, you know, is a signal to beware, to take action, to realize the presence of danger. Lepers cannot feel pain and the consequence of their inability to feel pain is that they burn themselves without realizing it, stub and batter their fingers and toes. But Judah had taken no warning from her pain and so Ezekiel suffered for her. His heartbreak was an act of substitution, suffering for Israel’s benefit. His pain was for the sake of her taking warning. That it had no such happy effect is tragic; that the Lord required his prophet to endure it for the people’s sake is the measure of his love and of the greatness of the consequence, how much was at stake. (Rayburn)

Was it worth it?

The answer to that totally depends on your perspective.  From a human standpoint, if this physical life was our only life - then the answer would be a resounding no!

But this physical life is not all there is.  And from an eternal perspective, yes, it was worth it.

The truth is that there are many things that are more important than our personal happiness and fulfillment.  Our holiness.  Our witness.  Our obedience to God.  God's broader plan.  The eternal life of even one person.  All of these are more important than our personal happiness.

Everything God does is for a purpose.  He is not capricious, He does not throw temper tantrums, He does not inflict pain on us just to watch us suffer.  He has a purpose.  And His purpose is for His glory and for our ultimate good.  The fact that we cannot always see that unfold does not make it less true.

There was a cost for God, never forget that! When there is pain, when there is sorrow, when there is sickness, when Ezekiel loses his wife, remember: He spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all! There was a cost for God, shall there not be a cost for us? (Legge)

There is a cost to God, there is a cost to our loved ones, there is a cost to ourselves. But when we keep our eyes focused on an eternal perspective - it. is. worth. it.

Ezekiel’s response to sorrow, in obedience to God’s commandment, and ours in faithfulness to the gospel and to the Word of God, are signs and some of the most important signs of truth and reality that unbelievers will ever see. We should not respond to suffering as others do, to disappointment, to loss, to pain, and especially to death. Knowing what we know of God and his Word, of the gospel and the soon-coming future, knowing what we know of the sovereignty of God and the goodness of all his ways, it ought to be as obvious to those who observe our lives as it was to Ezekiel’s contemporaries that he did not think about life and the world in the same way that they did. Nothing reveals the power of the truth of God and his grace as the response, the very different response to heartbreak, of those who know that truth and have embraced it for themselves. (Rayburn)
Indeed, oftentimes, it is precisely our faithful response to suffering that is the greatest witness, and brings God the greatest glory.

Are we willing to pay whatever price God may require of us?

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Ezekiel 25
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Genesis 41-42, Psalm 18, Matthew 18

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