Archive for January 12th, 2017

We are told at the get go in The Book of Ezekiel, chapter 1, verse 1 and following:

Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.

In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin’s captivity,

The word of the Lord came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the Lord was there upon him. (KJV)

Ezekiel is currently the Old Testament readings in the daily prayer. Ezekiel was in exile in Babylon, a great superpower at that time.  The prophet was part of captive Israel a long way from home and the Temple. The major deportation of Israelites had occurred in 586 BC. The Word of the Lord came to Ezekiel in exile.  Ezekiel received visions and he was unrelenting in preaching God’s Word to a people in exile. The feeling of exiled Israel is expressed in this Psalm 137, after an elegant lament and sorrow, the Psalm concludes:

O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed,
    blessed shall he be who repays you
    with what you have done to us!
Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones
    and dashes them against the rock!

There were no ‘support groups’ in exile.  Babylon was not a ‘safe place’. Ezekiel did no ‘hand-holding’ with his brothers in exile.  He preached the unvarnished Word of God and he was, by our soft 21st century philosophies and theologies, hard on them:

And he said to me, “Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak with you.” And as he spoke to me, the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and I heard him speaking to me. And he said to me, “Son of man, I send you to the people of Israel, to nations of rebels, who have rebelled against me. They and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day. The descendants also are impudent and stubborn: I send you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that a prophet has been among them.

And yet after the Word of judgment there is the hope of grace.  For instance, in chapter 34, after Ezekiel denounces the “shepherd” who only fed themselves and not the people the pasture of God’s Word, it is written:

And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd.

This is the hope of the Messiah.

By God’s Word, faithfully and forcefully preached, the people of Israel survived for the return from exile.  No human centered therapies can do this.  

I read recently an evangelical write that Jeremiah 29, and Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles is much discussed in evangelical circles on the way to remain faithful in a strange land.  The author then went on to wonder how many evangelicals will become “Babylonians”. We walk in danger all the way. Our land is becoming increasingly strange to many and no amount of Congressional, Presidential and judicial activism will stop the decline.  No amount of therapuetic and cultural wisdom and twaddle will save the Church. We have more than one Christian inspired ‘awakenings’ that promise hope and only give a fleeting feeling.  Ezekiel was given  the answer that he faithfully preached:

“Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: Repent and turn away from your idols, and turn away your faces from all your abominations. (Ezekiel 14: 6)

“Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. (Ezekiel 18: 30)

And another prophet preached to a wayward Israel, and still does to and for us:

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.(St. Matthew 3:2)

Formed and conformed (Romans 12: 1ff) by the Lord in His Church we can take our stand in a weary land. The world will not take a stand except with the devil.  For the promise is the Lord washes us,as Ezekiel foretold of Baptism:

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. (Ezekiel 36: 25)

In joyful repentance, day by day, we walk clean in our Baptism and lead the parched, the thirsty, the dying to the waters of eternal life in Jesus the Christ as He leads us (cf. St. John 4Ezekiel 47:12) .




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