Hey Devotional Readers…

Thanks for following along as we make our way through the Bible.  I hope you’re enjoying the ride.  Going through the Prophets can seem a bit heavy at times, but is a very good reminder that we get to choose God’s ways or our own, and it really highlights the consequences of going our own way.  Hang in there, the New Testament is coming :-).
I have asked my friend Mike to join me in writing these daily entrees.  It will be good for you to hear from a broader variety of voices, and Mike is a very gifted writer and devoted follower of God with a solid devotional life.  I might include another writer or two as we go…  we’ll see.  Hope you enjoy!!!
Blessings,
Pastor Chris

Read:  Ezekiel 1:1 – 2:10

Focus:

4  They are a stubborn and hard-hearted people.  But I am sending you to say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says!’  5  And whether they listen or refuse to listen – for remember, they are rebels – at least they will know they have had a prophet among them.
6  Son of man, do not fear them or their words.  Don’t be afraid even though their threats surround you like nettles and briers and stinging scorpions.  Do not be dismayed by their dark scowls, even though they are rebels.  7  You must give them my messages whether they listen or not.  But they won’t listen, for they are completely rebellious!  8  Son of man, listen to what I say to you.  Do not join them in their rebellion.

Ezekiel can be a hard book.  Historically, it occurs during one of the most difficult times for the Jewish people.  Ezekiel, a Jewish priest, along with about 10,000 other Jews, have been exiled from their home to Babylon following the second invasion of the Jewish nation by the Babylonian Empire in 597 BC.  As a priest, Ezekiel’s life was serving God in the temple; however, as an exile over 1,000 miles from the temple, Ezekiel finds himself no longer able to serve God in the way he thought he would for life.  That is until God shows up in a BIG way.  As we read Ezekiel 1, we can start to see how Ezekiel doesn’t just use words to relay God’s messages, but he kind of paints a picture of what he is seeing and experiencing.

While the imagery given in Ezekiel 1 can be difficult to conceptualize (sometimes when I read verses like this, I will do a Google search to see an artist’s rendition to help me better picture it), the message in Ezekiel 2:1-10 is pretty straightforward.  I have read some accounts that paint Ezekiel as a book of doom (and admittedly, there is quite a bit of God’s judgement detailed throughout Ezekiel), but I also see it as a book of hope.  The Jews have been rebelling against God since the Exodus; however, God shows His patience in this second chapter of Ezekiel – God knows everything; he know His chosen people will continue to rebel against His plan, but he still loves them so much that He continues to send prophets (such as Ezekiel) to remind them that He loves them and that He is there.

Another lesson from this reading is that the more things change, the more they stay the same.  In today’s culture, everywhere we turn we are bombarded with messages calling us to think and act in ways that run counter to God’s way – on TV, popular music, movies, the Internet, books, etc.  How do we respond?  We are told again and again in the New Testament that while we are “in the world”, we are not to be “of the world” (see Romans 12:2 and 1John 2:15).  How do we do this?  Can God really expect that of us?  I think God begins to unveil His answers to these pressing questions in this passage when He tells Ezekiel to not be afraid or dismayed when he meets resistance for following the will of God and to guard himself from joining others in their rebellion against God.

Take a couple of minutes to prayerfully ask God to reveal to you the areas of your life that you have surrendered to the world instead of to God.  Make a note (written or mental) of what He reveals to you and ask Him what you can do to give your entire self over to Him.

Prayer:
Father, please forgive me when I rebel against You.  Thank You for sending Your Spirit to live in my heart and reveal Your will to me.  I pray that You search me, even the areas I hide from others that can’t be hidden from You.  Please reveal to me the areas in my life where I’m not thinking, living, and acting as You would have me to.  Please walk with me and give me the strength to surrender those areas of my life to You.  Thank You for the mercy, grace and forgiveness You offer me through Your Son, Jesus.  In His name . . . Amen.

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