Daily Reflections September 20, 2017
This chapter reminds why in Jewish tradition the book of Ezekiel was not to be read by men under the age of 30. In addition to containing a fair bit of complicated imagery - too often the playground of fools - the book also contains an abundance of sexual metaphor. In several chapters idolatry is spoken of under the image of adultery. The relationship is fairly obvious. Unfaithfulness to God (our covenant partner) is akin to unfaithfulness to our spouse (our covenant partner). When the prophet speaks of it under those terms, the despicable nature of the act is all the more apparent.
This chapter reminds us that until the time after the exile, Israel was only “theoretically” monotheistic. In actual practice they were religiously eclectic. They worshipped the gods of Egypt, the gods of Canaan, the gods of Assyria and the gods of Babylon. The prophet makes the point that they were EAGER in their idolatry. Unlike an actual prostitute Israel sought out and paid for the privilege of whoring with the nations. She was absolutely infatuated with the gods of her neighbours.
God decides to cure Israel by giving her exactly what she wanted. He will give her over to her latest obsession. She will become the whore of Babylon - or better yet, the whore in Babylon. 70 years of living with those idols will finally cure her religious curiosity. When Israel returns from the Babylonian Exile, whatever other problems she has, idolatry is not one of them. She is finally and really monotheistic.
There are numerous lessons in this text for the modern reader, chief among them is the fact that sometimes God cures us by drowning us in our addictions. We can’t love God as we should until we hate sin as we should. Sometimes God gives us over in order to bring us home.
Pastor Paul Carter
Psalms 70 & 71
If Psalm 70 seems familiar, it is because it is a near duplicate of Psalm 40:13–17. David was pressed by his enemies, his life was hanging by a thread. Four times in five verses he used these words: make haste, hasten and, do not delay. He was crying out, NOW God!
But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay! (Psalm 70:5 ESV)
We can identify. We’ve been in situations where we needed God to step in right away and a cry of desperation was all we could utter. While we may face trials of many kinds, here’s great assurance - God is never in crisis. All things, at all times are fully under his control. God is near, God hears and God helps!
In crisis, even people without Jesus turn quickly to God in prayer. We’ve seen that recently in the storms that have hit the southern United States and the Caribbean. Crisis reveals our frailty. We need to pray for these people in their time of need, in hope that they will turn to the Lord and confess their need of the Saviour.
Thankfully, we are not always in a crisis situation. In seasons of “still waters” we should still pray, for “when at ease” we are as spiritually needy as we are when we are physically in crisis.
Psalm 71 is about faith’s activity in old age. It is the prayer of an aged believer (often attributed to King David) who had been strengthened by a long and remarkable experience of walking with God. David lived his life and approached his death secure in God’s hands.
For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth. Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother's womb. (Psalm 71:5-6 ESV)
Aging can be very difficult. Our bodies decay and our vigor fades. Our culture doesn’t cherish (to say the least) the idea of getting older and dying. We try to halt aging by our denial, our behavior, our attempts at healthy living and our cosmetic remedies. Staying healthy for as long as we can is good stewardship, but nothing will ultimately prevent our death, short of the Lord’s return.
In Christ, we can be honest about aging and still have a great hope! As the Lord helps us number our days, we will live with a focused purpose; that is, to glorify him in each stage of life. As we increase in age, by God’s grace we will increase in awe of the unsearchable riches of Christ.
Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16 ESV)
Regardless of your age, resolve to know Jesus better and better. Seek to be overwhelmed with his kindness, in awe of the riches of his grace, and humbled by his faithfulness.
As a younger person, love those who are aging. Honour the aged by giving your time, support and presence. Encourage the frail by reminding them of the great promises of a perfect eternity.
As an older person, like the Psalmist, live to pass on your witness to the next generation. Don’t merely coast in your retirement years. Use your senior years to declare God’s might to the next generation. Teach us how to pray, how to persevere under suffering, how to trust in the midst of pain, and how to die in the grace of God.
Associate Pastor Jody Cross