God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Friday, August 30, 2013

August 30 - Ezekiel 13-15: God vs. Israel's Prophets

Today’s Reading: Ezekiel 13-15

The Message

English Standard Version

Thought to Guide Your Reading

Judah would need to clear out their hearts and their houses to receive forgiveness.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

God told me Israel's prophets would be punished, "I'm dead set against them. These women prophets are especially bad. They kill souls to become rich and famous. They will know I am God.
"Israel's leaders have idols in their hearts. When they remove them I will listen to their prayers. Otherwise both idolaters and prophets will be punished.
"Even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were here they could not save this nation. Jerusalem will get four types of punishment—war, famine, wild animals, and disease. Then they will ask for salvation and you will understand why I allowed their punishment."

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

God will punish those who speak in His Name without consulting Him.

Israel loves prophets who speak only good things; therefore, these prophets knew their income depended on how positive they were. Consulting God would only lessen their income and ultimately cost their careers. Jeremiah did this and almost lost his life. God protected him, though, and would protect any prophet willing to consult Him, too. These prophets who told Judah to continue doing whatever they wanted, as long as they kept the contributions coming would be punished, thrown off their land, and shamed in public. Their advice would lead to death. God will not stand for people speaking for Him without first speaking with Him.

Israel has a heart problem.

God realizes the issue is not the physical idols set up in the city, the squares, and the Temple. The problem is that they have installed idols in their hearts. God will not listen to their prayers because they refuse to listen to His Command—be wholly God's. Our relationship with God is never severed because of a physical act. Our relationship with God is always severed by something becoming more important in our heart than God. The physical act comes as a result of the idol set up in our heart.

God wants everyone in the land to give up their gods.

God, though Ezekiel, while telling the leaders to take down the idols in their hearts He includes this:
To every last person from the house of Israel, including any of the resident aliens who live in Israel—all who turn their backs on me and embrace idols, who install the wickedness that will ruin them at the center of their lives and then have the gall to go to the prophet to ask me questions—I, God, will step in and give the answer myself. (14:7, The Message)
God's punishment would extend out to those who were not part of the Promise of Abraham. They were part of the punishment because God expects holiness from anyone who lives with His Chosen People. No one is excused.
What does this mean for today? If churches who have issues with holiness want to regain God's favor, they cannot allow people who are "living" with them to slide by. Everyone must be on the same page—even if they are not "members". What does "living" mean? It means anyone who wishes to be associated with them, even if they do not want to be affiliated with them.

No one could save Judah and Jerusalem—even Noah, Daniel, or Job.

What an interesting grouping. When you think of Old Testament stories of a person standing up to defend another I would think of Abraham or Moses, not Noah, Daniel, or Job. But these are the three God places together. What are they known for? I think they are known for steady, non-compromising faith. Because of their faith they prevented God from destroying their family, their people, or themselves. That is what makes this section so depressing—God's exclaims to Ezekiel that no single, steady, non-compromising faith could help Israel. They had gone so far away from God that they would be unwilling to learn from the example of a strong, faithful person. Beware idols which infiltrate the heart because they will eventually lead you past the point of no return.

God punishes with hopes of saving His Chosen People.

All along I have mentioned that God's Reputation is salvation and He punishes Israel to clean out bad influences from the land. In Ezekiel's vision God tells him,
When they come out to you and their salvation is right in your face, you’ll see for yourself the life they’ve been saved from. You’ll know that this severe judgment I brought on Jerusalem was worth it, that it had to be. (14:22, The Message)
God's punishment is meant to help us see how we can live better with God setting all things right.

Do you have idols installed on your heart?

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