Day 17

Israel’s Rebellion

from the Ezekiel: Come to Life (Lent 2022) reading plan

​​Ezekiel 20:1-31, Hebrews 3:7-12

BY Elaine Phillips

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. 

Post Comments (78)

78 thoughts on "Israel’s Rebellion"

  1. Stacy Smith-Fulia says:

    How did the Sabbath serve as a sign to them? I didn’t understand that…

  2. Melanie Helms says:

    How fitting for the passage we’re memorizing about God replacing our heart of stone with one of flesh! Hebrews 3:8 “do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness,” and 12 “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God”. We don’t have to be like Israel, with hearts of stone, unbelieving. God is giving us new soft hearts that long to know and follow him. God please keep making my heart soft and drawing me to know you, and keep me from rebelling and turning from you in the shame of my sin

  3. K Swenson says:

    Congratulations!! Such a miracle and a blessing! Praying for you- that you will be able to experience the beauty of this stage in the weeks ahead and that God would bond you together!

  4. Alexis Baumgardner says:

    In response to Lisa.

  5. Alexis Baumgardner says:

    Just want you to know that I feel the same way. I have had to change the way I look it though. I try to look at it as God’s protection instead of God isolating me. It does feel as though the circle of true believers is shrinking. Those who truly seek to follow Christ. Hope this makes sense. You are not alone! ☺️

  6. Lisa * says:

    This is my second SRT study. It has helped me dig deeper into Gods word. My family and I are walking through an isolated desert season and it is starting to wear me down. I feel closer to God then ever but farther away from community. I have no close confidants at the time and even though I know God has spoken things clearly to me I begin to doubt why if I am following after God do I feel so alone. Just asking for prayer and wisdom in this time. I have read your comments often and I know you are a genuine group. Happy to be a part of this group

  7. Maria Baer says:

    @HOPE— thank you! And I will do more research on that area you mentioned. I appreciate it!

  8. Maria Baer says:

    @HEIDI— thank you for the explanation. I appreciate it.

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