Alright, I promised you all a reflection on the book of Ezekiel. Here goes. This was a really challenging book for me, probably the toughest book I’ve ever read in the Bible (even harder than Revelation…and that’s saying something). It is hard to follow what God tells Ezekiel. One moment, He seems to condemn the Israelites and tell them that they will be destroyed forever, and the next moment, He says, “You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God” (Ezekiel 36:28). I am going to post two reflections on this book. Today I’ll attempt to explain God’s intentions for the Israelites.
Ezekiel - Sistine Chapel
God wants to punish the Israelites. However He has a reason for this. It can be summed up in one verse that appears slightly differently in numerous places in the book of Ezekiel. “You will suffer the penalty for your lewdness and bear the consequences of your sins of idolatry. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign LORD” (23:49). Thus, God, once again, wants to wake the Israelites up to the Truth. Unfortunately, it is not in the good times that people remember the Lord but in the bad ones. By punishing the Israelites through captivity by the Babylonians and Egyptians, God reminds the Jews that He cares about His people, that He desires a relationship with His people and is angered when He is forgotten and even insulted. Ezekiel’s message to Judah is shocking. Yes. But God has plans for the Jewish people and even the Gentiles. God’s anger does not last forever. “For I am God, and not man – the Holy One among you” (Hosea 11:9b). God wants to unite all people. “I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David; he will tend them and be their shepherd. I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the LORD have spoken” (Ezekiel 34:23-24). And we all know who this new David is. Jesus Christ. In Ezekiel, God compares himself to a shepherd who is in charge of a flock of sheep. “I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice” (34:15-16). Elsewhere God proclaims to the “wicked prince of Israel,” “Take off the turban, remove the crown. It will not be as it was: The lowly will be exalted and the exalted will be brought low (21:26). This proclamation is echoed in many places in the scriptures. Hannah sings, “[The LORD] raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor” (1 Samuel 2:8). Mary echoes Hannah in her Magnificat: “He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty” (Luke 1:52-53). God wants to show the Israelites the Truth. He wants them to see that life is a gift, a sacred gift. He is the Father, the One who gives the gifts, but He wants respect. Will we love God as He loves us? Or will we only recognize Him when it is too late?