In the span of just a few days, my 14-year-old grandson lost one of his best friends to suicide; my daughter fell ill and underwent emergency surgery; and my wife smashed three toes on a night table leg. Taken individually, these events represent typical life, in that we all have bad weeks.
But one look at my phone Wednesday afternoon and I was thrown down from Valentine love and family love into a cauldron, one I have been burned to ashes in before, through personal involvement in both Columbine in 1999 and two years later, September 11, 2001, in New York City.
Seventeen more innocent dead kids in Parkland, Florida, and hundreds more traumatized for life; the 25th time since our own journey began here in Littleton, Colorado at Columbine in 1999.
Today I am having trouble crawling out from under a cloud of involuntary depression once again; yet a blog deadline looms, and it too involves doom and destruction.
What can I possibly draw from Ezekiel this morning in five more chapters of prophecy concerning the impending massacre of God's children in Israel as a result of God’s judgment on their blatant disobedience and disunity?
God says: “Trust me, I will never leave you.” And I do.
Ezekiel 12 reminds me how times have changed, from my fourth grade teacher reading Scripture to us every morning, to the abject erasure of God from our schools, government, and culture:
“Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, who have eyes to see, but who see not, who have ears to hear, but hear not, for they are a rebellious house” (12:2, ESV).
So first, grab on to God’s never-ending love and pray for our nation to repent of what we have wrought since the 1954 decision to outlaw prayer in school:
“Perhaps they will understand, though they are a rebellious house” (12:3).
Chapter 13 reminds me of those of our leaders who reject God:
“Thus says the Lord God, Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit…Precisely because they have misled my people, saying, ’Peace,’ when there is no peace…” (13:3, 10).
So second, discern and reject the false prophets of our culture who open the door to evil by their lack of godliness. God knows them by name, and one day, perhaps very soon (see 12:22-24), he will say, “Enough.”
Chapter 14 reminds me that the faithful fail too, with cultural idols that stand in the way of perfect unity with God, some of which simply distract us from spending time with God and others which are truly evil:
“…Thus says the Lord God: Repent and turn away from your idols…” (14:6).
So third, repent sincerely to the extent that we are distracted truly studying God’s word, especially, the commands of Jesus, which are far more in number than ten!
Chapter 15 is very short and very hard to read:
“Therefore thus says the Lord God: Like the wood of the vine among the trees of the forest, which I have given to the fire as fuel, so I have given up the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (15:6).
Case closed? How could a loving God give up on his own children? But remember, God offered the inhabitants of Jerusalem a route to safety in exile for their safety, and they arrogantly refused.
So fourth, stay in close unity with God; neither doubt his sovereignty, nor overestimate your own powers of survival.
Chapter 16 is a metaphor of Israel as an orphan at birth, taken up and mercifully cared for by God, then married to God as his bride, followed by horrific unfaithfulness as a wife, suffering awesome judgment, and, when least expected, offered restoration because of his never-ending love:
“Yet I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish for you an everlasting covenant…and you shall know that I am the Lord” (16:60, 62).
So what positive can I draw from five more chapters of temptation, disobedience, and disunity this sad Thursday morning on blog deadline?
Oh, so very much!
Jesus is coming soon, to this blog, when Malachi is finished at last; but also to many hearts, opening to his never-ending love because his was the most brutal of deaths – and he did it voluntarily – for you and for me to rise from the ashes of rebellion.