Ezekiel - Chapter 20

Ezekiel 20:1 - Hmm, Ezekiel 1:1 says "In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, ..." but here in chapter 20 is starts "In the seventh year, in the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month, ... ". The chapter is titled "Israel's Continuing Rebellion" so I'm confused, is this before chapters 1-19 or after? Guess I ought to get that commentary you folks told me was 'indispensable'. :-P

Ezekiel 20:5-8 - You can hear the anguish in God's tone here. He chose them, searched out the best land for them and set them in it. Don't look back, is all he said. I've picked you out from all other and provided the best there is for you, leave that inferior stuff behind. Instead they started looking around at what was out there, desiring something new and different. Perhaps there was something better than what God was offering ...

How are we any different? God's poured out his best for us and we give him scraps all too often. We're distracted by the good that this world offers us, not remembering how inferior it is to the best that God has. We think we can keep one hand on God and wander around with the other stretched out for whatever else might be out there.

Do we hear God crying out in anguish as we search for happiness elsewhere, "But I even gave you my Son ..."?

Ezekiel 20:11 - God gave the law, not to control but to educate. Act according to this and you will live. It was a gift, not a burden. After all, God created us and the world we live in, an instruction manual on how best to get along here is a wonderful thing.

Ezekiel 20:9-26 - God sums up Israel's history here. God gives, Israel rejects, god longs to wipe them out, God relents and then the cycle repeats. I like the picture, repeated in verses 13-14 and 21-22, where God says he will destroy them, but relents for the sake of His name. It's a picture of God wanting to let His emotions loose, but taking His own thoughts captive and submitting to what is better rather than what would feel good. He is like us (rather, we are like Him) in that His emotions and drive Him to hasty action, but, unlike us too many times, His reason prevails. He does not simply let His emotions rule.

He shows in this just how much different He is than we are. He feels emotion as, strong emotions, just as we do. But where we are often carried away by them and later, ashamed, wonder what we've done, God does not. His emotions are a part of Him and influence Him, but he controls them rather than the other way around. Perhaps I humanize God too much, but we are created in His image. He clearly is portrayed with emotions in the Bible - jealousy, anger, love, passion, sadness. He handles them perfectly and we can learn from watching Him.

"As I live, declares the Lord God, surely with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out I will be king over you. I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out. And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will enter into judgment with you face to face."
This is under the heading of "The Lord Will Restore Israel". Imagine, restoration "with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out". After that would you want to meet God face to face? He finishes in Ezekiel 20:38 "Then you will know that I am the Lord." Uh-huh.

But then ...

"For on my holy mountain, the mountain height of Israel, declares the Lord God, there all the house of Israel, all of them, shall serve me in the land. There I will accept them, and there I will require your contributions and the choicest of your gifts, with all your sacred offerings. As a pleasing aroma I will accept you, when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered. And I will manifest my holiness among you in the sight of the nations. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I bring you into the land of Israel, the country that I swore to give to your fathers. And there you shall remember your ways and all your deeds with which you have defiled yourselves, and you shall loathe yourselves for all the evils that you have committed. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I deal with you for my name's sake, not according to your evil ways, nor according to your corrupt deeds, O house of Israel, declares the Lord God."

What an amazing God we serve! In this chapter we see an anguished god, angry, ready to destroy, facing yet another generation in a long string of unfaithful Israelites. Yet here He is promising once again to lift them up, to restore them. Why? Because of what He is, not because (thankfully) of what they've done.

We see this in Jesus, the grace and forgiveness, but this s the God of the Old Testament. He is the same God, continually forgiving and continually calling His people back to Him - for His name sake.

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