Open Your Bible
Ezekiel 20:1-31, Hebrews 3:7-12
I don’t know about you, but I’m not fond of being reminded of my shortcomings, especially throughout a forty day period like Lent. No doubt the elders sitting at Ezekiel’s feet squirmed as he launched into a history lecture that pretty much skewered Judah at every turn. Malfeasances, dull hearts, disobedience—it was all there. This dressing down in Ezekiel 20 follows chapter after chapter of accusation and judgment. Enough already! How about some encouraging tidbits?
Nevertheless, the Lord had every reason to say “enough already” to Judah, and He has every reason to say it to us. He blesses us; we turn around and complain. He rescues us from our stunning missteps; we forget those merciful deliverances. Idols, idols, idols—they are lodged insidiously in our wayward hearts.
It ought not surprise us that Israel was in trouble yet again. God’s memory first reached back to Egypt. As He brought them out of that living prison and gave them rest from the constant brutal grind, He did require them to get rid of all the trappings of the surrounding culture. Drop the idols of Egypt, the vile images that seized their attention and demanded allegiance. Imagine that; they were to be counter-cultural to the point where people living around them knew whose they were! They had trouble with that. So do we. We’d like to stay under the radar, be like everyone else, and maintain an acceptable cultural presence—whatever that means.
In the wilderness, the Lord gave Israel precious gifts—instructions designed for their flourishing; food and water to stay alive, guidance and protection, and that wonderful provision of Sabbath rest. The last was a holy sign that they were the Lord’s people. How perverse that they rejected the joy of the Sabbath that was intended to be restorative! Both generations, however, faltered seriously in the wilderness, succumbing to the tyranny of bondage to their own desires.
They forgot—we forget—that this is about the radiant pure glory and majesty of God’s Name. Once we get that—even if only fleetingly—we will guard our every choice of word and action, encouraging each other daily, and seeking to bring glory to the name that is above all other names.