Ezekiel 32 is God’s message through Ezekiel about the coming fate of Pharaoh and Egypt. They are going “down to the grave” and will be slain. They “once terrorized the land of the living” and were the powerful on this earth. But now, God is ready to put them in the grave. They have totally missed the fact that God is in control and is who He says He is. So…..God’s response is pretty straight forward. “When I strike dead all who live there, then they’ll realize that I am GOD”. It is easy to sit here in my office and wonder how they can be so darn stupid. But when I really ask that question, I have to answer the same for me – how can I miss God so often day after day. Because I don’t focus on Him. I allow the circumstances and activity of the day to get my attention and I just totally tune out my focus on God. That is not only wrong, it is dangerous. I miss my chance to join God in what He is up to and to minister to those He brings across my path if I am focused on me and what I need to do. Each day God has a number of divine appointments for my life. He brings many people across my path through face to face interaction, the phone, email or any other number of means. I miss so many blessings because I am too distracted by my own agenda to get in on His. It is high time for me to “realize that He is God” and that my life is all about serving Him. It is not about me, it is about a relationship with the God who created the universe and His Son who paid the ultimate price for my sin on the cross. I have to be careful I don’t get the attitude of Pharaoh and become a “pompous old goat” that God has to deal with. God is in control, and He demands my understanding and right response. I do realize that He is God. How about you?
Archive for April, 2008
Ezekiel has a picture of the coming destruction of Pharaoh and Egypt. God is not happy with them and as I read this chapter – a number of words jump off the pages at me about what God will do. Check out what God describes as ways He will deal with this disobedient and proud man and nation: “smash… topple…demolish…burn…punish…pour my wrath…knock…set on fire…writhe in pain…blown away…raped…killed…exiled…shatter…break…put an end…disappear… hauled off…scatter”. Things are not going to go well for the Egyptians. What occurs to me is that God is a God of action. He does not just sit by and idly watch someone thumb their nose at Him. He will take action to bring people into right relationship and reinforce the fact that He alone is God. As God ends His list of actions here in Ezekiel 30, He says this: “That’s how I’ll punish Egypt, and that’s how she’ll realize that I am GOD”. The point of the lesson for Pharoah and his people – to know who God is and recognize that He alone is in control. Sometimes we tend to forget that God is God and we start to take on the role of being in charge and believing that somehow life is about us. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Life is all about God and recognizing Him for who He is. It is about relating to a loving Father who wants the best for us and has made provision for our pathetic human sinfulness through Jesus. We have to realize that God is who He says and that means He is God of my life and yours. The sooner we figure it out and live that way, the better for us. It isn’t optional. He will help us get there if we don’t chose it on our own.
Ezekiel 29 begins with God’s directive to confront Pharoah, king of Egypt. Now that is some pretty bold orders. Here is the most powerful man in the world being told by a prophet that God is against him. That wasn’t exactly how it looked at the time. Pharoah was on top of the world. But the issue at hand was how Pharoah was viewing all that God had created. Two things jump out at me as God talks about the destruction that is to come. Pharoah has a problem recongnizing who is in control. God says: “I made it. It’s all mine”. We best remember that too. God made everything in this world and He alone owns it. At best we are given the opportunity to use it as stewards of what belongs to God. Secondly, God says destruction is coming so “they’ll realize that I am GOD”. We need to understand that God is who He is and we need to treat Him as such. Not because He has an inferiority complex, but because He is God. Scripture teaches us we need to “fear the Lord”. That is not about being afraid – but rather holding Him in His rightful place of high esteem and honor in our lives. We need to not only realize He is God, but confess and live like that in front of others. What we have is not ours, from the car in the driveway to the roof over our head to the paycheck we got last. It ALL belongs to God. The message Ezekiel was given to proclaim was to “stir up fresh hope” among the people. We are hearing a lot about hope in this political campaign. Unfortunately the source is very wrong – people can’t give hope. Only God can deliver on that promise. But along with the message, and the directive to Ezekiel to confront Pharoah, God says he will give “bold and confident words to speak”. Did you get that? God has a plan for Ezekiel to do what seems to be suicidal in many ways – to confront the most powerful man in the world and tell him destruction is coming – but when God directs us He always empowers us as well. God promises to give Ezekiel the words he needs. He will do the same for us if we open our mouth.
Ezekiel 28 brings a couple of key lessons to light. The first is the impact of beginning to think more highly of ourselves than we ought. It grabs us and our “heart is proud” and soon we believe “I’m a god”. Probably not in a literal sense, at least not most of us. But we treat ourselves like a god. We believe the world revolves around us and that we can do whatever we want whenever we want it. I love what scripture says “you’re not even close to being a god”. That about sums it up folks. We are pathetic mere specs in comparison to the Creator of the universe. We are nothing when held up against our God. Yet we insist that life is about us – we selfishly look at ourselves as the center. We get a glimpse at some of the problem: “made a lot of money. But the money has gone to your head”. It goes on to say “you had everything going for you” and that is so true for us as Christ followers, yet we want to stray away from God and put self on the throne. We turn to the sin of self and then God has to respond. He says “So I set a fire around and within you”. We will battle on the inside and outside when we get our priorities messed up. God will be God. We can never have that place. We need to learn that fast.
Ezekiel talks about the city of Tyre and it glory as a merchant city where stuff happened. The ships came in, there was much business done, and people knew this place. Scipture says that because of the elite soldiers stationed there and all the city was it “put you on the map”. Everyone knew Tyre. The chapter describes all about that, and I saw the city Tarshish in this chapter – remember that one – where Jonah was trying to flee. But the question God asked me, and I ask you is this – what is it about your life that will put you on the map? What are you allowing God to do in and through you that people will notice. Too many of us want to live life under the radar. We don’t want anyone to know that we are a Christ follower. No questions to ask, no confrontations about belief, no world view discussions to have. But is that really how God wants us to live. I heard a statistic this week – not sure exactly how accurate – but that members of one particularly mainline church share their faith on an average of once every 16 years. Oh how sad that is. Even if it is off by a factor of 10, it is very sad indeed. God wants us to be a place on the map where people see Him at work in our lives. Where is your dot?
Ezekiel 26 is the warning to Tyre, a city that has been overjoyed by the demise of Jerusalem. Not a good decision to be happy about the fall of God’s people. Ezekiel paints the picture of how God will turn loose those around Tyre to come and destroy them – to reduce them to mere rocks. He is pretty clear about it – check this out: “When I turn you into a wasted city, a city empty of people, a ghost town, and when I bring up the great ocean deeps and cover you, then I’ll push you down among those who go to the grave”. We need to realize that God demands our love and does not look highly on us when we are joyous about the fall of another, particularly His chosen. But the thing that continues to hit me over and over in Ezekiel is this statement: “Then they’ll realize that I am GOD”. God is doing the things He does to get people’s attention. It is the 2X4 method here. I see that in scripture and I see it in my own life today. So many times it takes a big whack to wake me up. We can read scripture and wonder why these people make the same mistakes over and over. They walk with God, they fall away, they turn completely against Him, and then He has to whack them to wake them up and start the cycle all over again. Hello – there is a better way. This happens because people take their eye off the ball – they lose the connection with the Father and let self begin to rule. We don’t have to make those same mistakes, although many of us do. It is prevented by building Godly spiritual habits we are disciplined to exercise every day, and surrounding ourselves with people who will help keep us accountable and on track. If we try to live the Christian life alone, it will be a very tough road. Build habits, good ones, and find at least one person you can ask to keep you accountable. And of course, write down what God is doing in and through you. We serve a risen Savior and a loving God. He doesn’t get joy from whacking us!