And God's still been speaking. I'm not sure of the practical application of it all, but He's speaking:
Friday, August 14, 2009:
Compared to Him, all people are foolish and have no knowledge at all! They make idols, but the idols will disgrace their makers, for they are frauds. (We will never be disgraced by Yahweh.) They have no life or power in them. Idols are worthless; they are lies! The time is coming when they will all be destroyed.
But the God of Israel is no idol! He is the Creator of everything that exists, including His people, His own special possession. The LORD Almighty is His name! (Jeremiah 51:17-19)
The LORD says: "Do not fool yourselves that the Babylonians are gone for good. They aren't!Even if you were to destroy the entire Babylonian army, leaving only a handful of wounded survivors, they would still stagger from their tents and burn this city to the ground!" (Jeremiah 37:9-10)
The LORD's plans and purposes
- will not be thwarted
- may not follow a predictable pattern
I started reading Ezekiel today!
Passages read: Jeremiah 37:11-21, 38:1-28; Ezekiel 1, 2, 3:1-15
Things that resonated:
*Four of Ezekiel's five senses were involved in this experience with God.
Oh, LORD, I want to know You like that!
*Three times in Ezekiel 1, the Word comments on the movement of the living beings:
v.9--"The living beings were able to turn in any direction without turning around."
v. 12--"They went in whatever direction the spirit (lower-cased 's') chose, and they moved straight forward in all directions without having to turn around."
v. 17--"The beings could move forward in any of the four directions they faced, without turning as they moved."
*Five times between Ezekiel 2:1 and 3:15, God tells Ezekiel that His people are rebellious:
v. 5-- And whether they listen or not – for remember, they are rebels – at least they will know they have had a prophet among them.
v. 6-- Son of man, do not fear them. Don't be afraid even though their threats are sharp as thorns and barbed like briers, and they sting like scorpions. Do not be dismayed by their dark scowls. For remember, they are rebels!
v. 7-- You must give them My messages whether they listen or not. But they won't listen, for they are completely rebellious!
v. 8-- Son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not join them in being a rebel. Open your mouth, and eat what I give you.
3:10-- So don't be afraid of them or fear their angry looks, even though they are such rebels.
*God gave Ezekiel a tough task, but He made him tough enough:
3:7-9--I am sending you to the people of Israel, but they won't listen to you any more than they listen to Me! For the whole lot of them are hard-hearted and stubborn. But look, I have made you as hard and stubborn as they are. I have made you as hard as rock! So don't be afraid of them or fear their angry looks, even though they are such rebels.
*God also provided for Ezekiel's understandable reaction to the task set before him:
3:14-15--The Spirit lifted me up and took me away. I went in bitterness and turmoil, but the LORD's hold on me was strong. Then I came to the colony of Judean exiles in Tel-abib, beside the Kebar River. I sat there among them for seven days, overwhelmed. (I'll bet!)
Sunday, August 16, 2009:
After Ezekiel's seven days of being overwhelmed, God gives him a title: watchman for Israel. This title comes with even tougher responsibilities, all the things involved in taking God's message to an unresponsive people (Ezekiel 3:16-21).
Then, almost as an infusion of purpose, God allows Ezekiel to again see all the Glory that's at stake:
Then the LORD took hold of me, and He said to me, "Go out into the valley,and I will talk to you there." So I got up and went, and there I saw the glory of the LORD, just as I had seen it in my first vision by the Kebar River. And I fell face down in the dust. (Ezekiel 3:22-23)
I love how the Holy Spirit ministers and strengthens Ezekiel for the task at hand, over and over: Then the Spirit came into me and set me on my feet. He talked to me and said, "Go, shut yourself up in your house." (v. 24)
And chapter 4, God gives Ezekiel the task of being a living metaphor. God ties him up in his house, tells him to use a brick to illustrate the coming siege of Jerusalem, lie on his side for over a year as he "bears" Israel's and Judah's sins, eat bread and water as if they're rationed (which they will be), baking the bread in front of everyone over dung (Ezekiel 4:1-17).
God asked a lot of Ezekiel. Too much, maybe. But Ezekiel did what God said. He'd seen Heaven, and the Throne, and the One who sits on it. Twice. Of course he did what God said.
He did negotiate on the dung issue: Then I said, "O Sovereign LORD, must I be defiled by using human dung?" (4:14). "Human poop, God? Seriously? But that's too much. . ."
Verse 15: "All right," the LORD said. "You may bake your bread with cow dung instead of human dung." Whewy.