Loaded for Bear

Ezekiel 20:1 “Now it came about in the seventh year, on the fifth month on the tenth of the month, some of the elders came to inquire of the Lord, and sat before me.” (NAS)

Observation: Ezekiel was Israel’s prophet-in-exile; he had been captured by Nebuchadnezzar’s army and been sent to Babylon along with the rest of the nation.

In coming to Ezekiel, Israel’s leaders may have gotten more than they bargained for, since God seems to have been loaded for bear. “As I live”, declares the Lord, “I will not be inquired of by you!” (v. 3) He goes on to remind them that He had chosen Israel and intended to bless them beyond all imagining if only they would “cast away . . . the detestable things of (their) eyes (v. 7) and not defile (themselves) with the idols of Egypt”. In this they had utterly failed, so God had “resolved to pour out (His) wrath upon them . . .” (v. 8)

Application: It is easy to read such passages and not fully appreciate the unique role of God’s prophet as the conduit for clear communication between God and His chosen ones. Whether conveying God’s fury or His tenderest promises, there were but a handful upon whom Israel’s leaders could depend, Ezekiel and Jeremiah chief among them during the Babylonian exile. But I wonder: where are God’s prophets today? Who in our midst can be relied upon to accurately hear God’s voice and convey His plans for His children? More to the point, when is the last that anyone came to my living room or office to inquire of the Lord?

Paul, that ever-faithful confronter, wrote in 1 Cor. 14: 5, 31 “I would rather have you prophesy . . . for you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.”

See how far short I have fallen! It seems that somewhere between Ezekiel and me God intended there to have been a genuine power-to-the-people revolution, a transference of the gifts of a few to the multitudes who claim today to follow Him. That revolution, traceable to one awful weekend on Golgotha, was intended to transform me into one through whom instruction and encouragement might come. But is that really how my friends experience me? And if not, could it be that I, like the Israelites of old, have been guilt of not fully casting detestable things away from my eyes?

I long to be like Christ in all things, yet God is showing me now idols I have not yet put away. It is by my own decision that I am not yet fully His, else the fruit would be far greater and more consistent.

Prayer: Lord, You are showing me once again that it’s my “chooser” that most needs to be brought into alignment with Your purposes for my life. I remain far too much like the Israelites who merited Babylon’s chains. Forgive me, Lord. Cause me today to turn from every thing, every habit, every aspiration in other than You.

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