I don't know where to begin with this week's readings. (For more coherent thoughts, check out Bev's blog. There are lots of wonderful insights there.) Ezekiel absolutely fascinates me and I am sure that I am missing more than I am catching. However, let me share a little bit of what caught my heart these past few days.
Then the Glory of God left the Temple entrance and hovered over the cherubim. I watched as the cherubim spread their wings and left the ground, the wheels right with them. They stopped at the entrance of the east gate of the Temple. The Glory of the God of Israel was above them. Ezekiel 10:18
Then the cherubim spread their wings, with the wheels beside them and the Glory of the God of Israel hovering over them. The Glory of God ascended from within the city and rested on the mountain to the east of the city. Ezekiel 11:23
I have to wonder if they even noticed that the Glory of God had departed. I'm guessing not. Their hearts were so fixed on their idols. Are my eyes fixed on something other that God? Henrietta Mears says, "We grieve the Spirit when we do not allow ourselves time to read the Word or pray. We limit the Spirit when we refuse to be clean vessels through which He can work. We resist Him by allowing idols to be in our hearts. Remember, your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Does His presence glow in your life?" (p261 What the Bible is all about.) Or am I instead, "with my back toward the temple of the LORD and my face toward the east," bowing down to something other than Him? (Ezekiel 8:16)
After having finished up the NOG study this past week, I am somewhat sensitive to the mention of idols. (Praise God! May I not only stay sensitive, but work constantly to remove them from my path.) I thought these verses were very clear on what God thinks of idolatry.
'This is what the Lord God says: Change your hearts and lives, and stop worshiping idols. Stop doing all the things I hate. Any of the Israelites or foreigners in Israel can separate themselves from me by wanting to worship idols or by putting up the things that cause people to sin. Then if they come to the prophet to ask me questions, I, the Lord, will answer them myself. I will reject them. I will make them a sign and an example, and I will separate them from my people. Then you will know that I am the Lord. Ezekiel 14:6-8
Another thing that tugged at my heart was found in Ezekiel 20. This is something that I have caught in other places as we've read and I still have no real answers. Four different times God mentions Israel desecrating the Sabbath. He states, "and keep my Sabbath days holy, for they are a sign to remind you that I am the Lord your God.’ Ezekiel 20:20. He says in Ezekiel 20:16, "...they rejected My laws and did not follow My decrees and desecrated My Sabbaths. For their hearts were devoted to their idols." Warren Wiersbe says that desecrating the Sabbath would be the same as treating it as another other normal day. These scriptures rest heavy on my heart. I am afraid that I don't treat the Sabbath in a way that God would find pleasing. Too many times I wait until the end of the weekend to catch up on things that should have been done on Saturday. Too often, I let a lack of organization or just plain laziness stand in the way of getting things done Saturday. It has never been my intention to treat anything of the LORD's as "another normal thing." Something to think about.
There are many other things that I could ramble on about. The death of Ezekiel's "delight", his wife. Oh, how that struck me. Not just that he saw his wife as his "delight" (and he must have, because God recognized it as such) but that he continued on, in unrelenting obedience to God. I don't know if I could do the same. At the very least, I think I might have hesitated just a moment. Oh, to be such a person of God.
Then there was this.
'Your priests violated my law and desecrated my holy things. They can't tell the difference between sacred and secular. They tell people there's no difference between right and wrong. They're contemptuous of my holy Sabbaths, profaning me by trying to pull me down to their level. Your politicians are like wolves prowling and killing and rapaciously taking whatever they want. Your preachers cover up for the politicians by pretending to have received visions and special revelations. They say, "This is what God, the Master, says..." when God hasn't said so much as one word. Extortion is rife, robbery is epidemic, the poor and needy are abused, outsiders are kicked around at will, with no access to justice.'
"I looked for someone to stand up for me against all this, to repair the defenses of the city, to take a stand for me and stand in the gap to protect this land so I wouldn't have to destroy it. I couldn't find anyone. Not one. So I'll empty out my wrath on them, burn them to a crisp with my hot anger, serve them with the consequences of all they've done. Decree of God, the Master." Ezekiel 22:26-30
So much of this reminds me of the times in which we live today. I hope that there is someone to stand in the gap, to take a stand for Him. May we be that someone.