Jeremiah and Ezekiel really have hung me up on my 90 day read through the Bible. I am well past 90 days and am just getting to Daniel.
Essentially what has happened is that I found Jeremiah to be extremely depressing, reading about what happened to Israel because they would not turn back to God. In some ways I think I see so many correlations between modern western society and Israel that I am also saddened by the state of society today. In addition to how difficult Jeremiah was the first 24 chapters of Ezekiel relive these events in Israel’s history once again. God really wants to make it clear that the destruction of Israel and Jerusalem were very intentional. They turned away from Him, so he turned away from them so that they would turn back to Him again. So it has been hard to pick up and keep reading. So hard that it has taken me almost 2 months to get through these two books. Sorry for the excuses, I need to get back on track with the reading plan.
So what have I learned during my time in the book of Ezekiel?
There is an early call to missions found in Ezekiel. The following verse is God explaining to Ezekiel why he has been commissioned to share God’s messages to the people of Israel.
If righteous people turn away from their righteous behavior and ignore the obstacles I put in their way, they will die. And if you do not warn them, they will die in their sins. None of their righteous acts will be remembered, and I will hold you responsible for their deaths. But if you warn righteous people not to sin and they listen to you and do not sin, they will live, and you will have saved yourself, too. — Ezekiel 3:20-21
It is for this very same reason that I believe God calls modern day ministers and missionaries. If people don’t hear the message they can’t accept it. So we are called to be messengers. And all God asks for is obedience to relaying His message. So it is very cool to see this concept in Ezekiel.
I also noticed that Ezekiel makes it clear that Yahweh (Jehovah) is not only the God of Israel but the God of all nations. Chapters 25-39 are messages to foreign nations. Essentially they are messages calling for other nations to repent and prophecies of a similar fate of Israel’s if they do not. Up til this point in the Old Testament it seemed plausible that you could conclude that Yahweh (Jehovah) was Israel’s God and that other nations had different God’s. But Ezekiel clears this up and it becomes clear that other nations simply have other gods ( notice the little g). Meaning false gods made of wood and stone. Essentially idols. And through Ezekiel God reached out to the gentiles many generations before Paul was ever called to do this.
The biggest lesson is simply. Follow God. If you turn away from Him, He may very well allow you to walk into the hands of your enemies so that in your desperation you just might turn back to Him. So sometimes when we may look at life and say ‘This stinks.’ It could be God calling you back to himself. Maybe you have strayed away from Him and you need to turn around and return to God. Granted it could be a ‘Job‘ situation. So just because things are hard don’t immediately question your relationship with God, but you shouldn’t rule this out either.
So now I continue my journey through the Bible and enter the book of Daniel…