SSSSS….LOW….L…..Y….I have been working my way through Ezekiel; turtle-style. My intention is to camp out for long periods of time in one book of the Bible with the aim of understanding its themes and practical implications. The New Application Commentary by Iain M. Duguid and The Message of Ezekiel by Christopher J. H. Wright are major helps. Ezekiel has its fair share of depressing moments with God’s judgments and oracles against Israel. Yet there are many surprising encounters of encouragement and hope. Today’s reading of Ezekiel 17 provided many helpful warnings and loving correctives.
Enjoy these powerful excerpts from Duguid on Ezekiel 17’s contemporary significance:
“We should work for political change and we should plan for the future. Yet we can be so busy doing the good things that we miss out on the one insight that is really necessary, the best thing: maintaining our personal and corporate life with God. But as Jesus reminds us: “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” (Matt. 16:26).
“We want to think that God ought to be impressed, at least somewhat, by our goodness and righteous acts. We prefer not to remember that we are helpless sinners on a collision course with a God of absolute purity and holiness, in whose presence sin cannot be tolerated. But if we accept the fact that we are all covenant-breakers in Adam as well as covenant-breakers on our own account, how shall we stand on that day? The answer lies in the new chip off the old block, the sprig of the cedar tree that God will plant…The good news is that in spite of our weakness and folly, Christ’s kingdom continues to grow and develop, based on his goodness and covenant faithfulness, not ours. Our rebellion and failure may have negative consequences in our own lives, but it cannot prevent God from achieving his purposes in the world. He may work slowly, from our perspective, through imperceptible growth from small beginnings rather than radical revolution, but his work is nonetheless effective. His tree provides perfect shelter and security for all of his own people. As he has planned, he will bring men and women from every tribe and nation to know himself, justified in the perfect obedience of their true king, the shoot of David, Jesus Christ.”
After reading this, I had to ask myself these questions: How easily do I let my work and planning my schedule usurp time spent with my Creator? Do I really believe that I am helpless and a covenant-breaker? Do I find myself rejoicing in Christ’s perfect obedience and faithfulness? Do I live striving for my own righteousness, or do I rest in the shadow of his righteousness and the shade of his perfect shelter? Oh how I long to place my security in the one whose work is sure, effective, and completely good! Help me, O God. What about you, beloved?