Daily Reflections September 1, 2017
The fourth chapter of Ezekiel is an awkward read.
In the first section, it is hard not to visualize something like a child playing with Legos. Ezekiel takes a block, paints on it, sets up rams, and acts like he is besieging it. Although it seems silly, it is a command from God which gives it significance. God is giving a visible symbol to illustrate what he has said concerning Jerusalem. God provides a sign that looks foolish but holds profound material and spiritual realities. This should cause us to ponder the other signs and symbols that we see throughout Scripture, particularly the two ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Baptism looks like a person is taking a bath in a church. The Lord’s Supper looks like a weird snack-time during the service. The appearance, as with Ezekiel, is silliness. But even though they are not signs of impending judgment, they are given by God and therefore we ought to hold them in high regard.
Then we see that Ezekiel is to lie on his left side for 390 days and his right for 40 days. For all the years that God’s people rebelled against him, Ezekiel would bear their punishment. He would feel a representation of the length and weight of God’s forbearance. The regular Bible reader cannot help but think of the prophet Isaiah when he says the Messiah would come to bear the full wrath of God for the iniquity of the people. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6). As Christians, Jesus has paid the price for us which is gloriously good news. But because we have not experienced it the weight of our iniquity, we must be more intentional about reminding ourselves the cost of our redemption. You may not need to lie on your side. But it may be helpful to take an honest look at the old person and sin that lingers in your life. Reflect on how grievous and abhorrent that is toward a holy God. And be reminded that Christ took every drop of wrath that you deserved for that.
Then God gives a recipe of making cake, baked over human dung. A devout Jew, as Ezekiel was, knew that cake was to be made of fine flour rather than barley. And baking over human feces would make the food unclean. It sounds as if God is telling them to sin. So what is God doing here? God is proclaiming that although they were to be a holy nation, they have become like the other nations. John Calvin describes it well when he says, “For under this figure a universal pollution is signified, as if he had said, nothing is any longer holy or sacred in Israel, because they are mixed up with the pollutions of all nations: finally, the impure bread embraces within itself all kinds of impiety.”1Israel could do what they nations do because they had become no different than them. We should hear this warning personally, we should hear this warning as a church, and we should hear this warning as God’s people.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Evan Webster
1John Calvin and Thomas Myers, Commentary on the First Twenty Chapters of the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel, vol. 1 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 185.
In Psalm 40 we read David’s account of the redemption he received by the hand of the Lord. A careful reading of this text teaches us some interesting things both about redemption, and also the appropriate response from the one who has been redeemed. Note the first three verses of this psalm.
“I waited patiently for the LORD; He inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth…” Psalm 40:1-3a
In this short introduction we are clearly shown that God is the one active in our redemption. David’s role was simply to cry out and wait. There was nothing further that he could do to save himself from his present circumstances. In contrast, note the action of God. It is God who inclines His ear to hear. It is God who draws us from the pit of destruction. It is God who sets our feet upon the rock. It is God who puts a new song in our mouth. God truly is our help and deliverer. Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust.
Also noteworthy is David’s response to the Lord’s redemption. Scattered throughout the remainder of the Psalm is David’s declaration that he will proclaim and tell the glad news of his deliverance (v. 5, 9-10). This is the appropriate response of all those who have been saved by God. We see this modelled throughout the entire Bible. Note, for example, the following Bible passages:
“And he [Jesus] did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” (Mark 5:19)
“But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20).
When God’s people have truly experienced His mercy and grace the abundance of gratitude bubbling up from within should pour forth in both our words and actions. One of the principle aims of this pouring forth is so that others will “see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord” (Ps. 40:3). A saved life should look so radically different from the world that people are drawn to it and can easily find Jesus as the source.
As you read this psalm today you must ask yourself, does this psalm speak true of your own experience of redemption? Have you yet come to a place of weakness where you can do nothing else but cry out and wait for the Lord? And if you have done this, are you now singing a new song of praise to our God?
Assistant Pastor of Youth Ministries Ryan Shevalier