Ezekiel 11:14-16: Spatially Challenged

“Are we on God’s side?”
has always been a better question than
“Is God on ours?”
— Jim Wallis (God’s Politics)

When Pelatiah died, as we read earlier, Ezekiel cried out in grief to God, “will you make a full end of the remnant of Israel” (11:13, NRSV)?

The last time Ezekiel blurted out his emotions before God, God reaffirmed his resolve to judge without mercy (9:8-10). Ezekiel had no reason to believe anything had changed, yet once more he dares to question God.  This time, God’s response was different. His resolve to judge those in Jerusalem had not changed one bit. Ezekiel made the mistake of assuming that the remnant of Israel were those still living in Jerusalem.

. . .

We already saw what had happened back in Jerusalem.  The powerful and affluent were taken into exile.  This left a bunch of underlings who lept up the social ladder to fill the vacuum. They saw themselves as the blessed of God: the choice cuts of meat, or in our parlance, the “cream of the crop”.

Their main problem was that they mistook silence and circumstance for divine favor.  They were no different from those who were deported, but pride led them to believe that God had chosen them to be the remnant of Israel.  After all, Yahweh lived in Jerusalem, right?

. . .

Ezekiel suffered from this same misunderstanding of God’s presence.  He would have formerly assumed that God lived in the temple.  Therefore, those still in physical proximity to the temple had to be the remnant of Israel.  God disagreed.

God told Ezekiel the truth: he was the sanctuary for the exiled Israelites.  Symbolically, God’s glory was in the process of leaving the ark of the covenant in Jerusalem.  In reality, God had already been with the exiles in the foreign lands.  The remnant of Israel were not those living in Jerusalem, they were those in exile—like Ezekiel.

. . .

There is so much truth here for us.  God lives where we are.  God lives within us.  Our heart is his temple.  We would also be right to say that he is our sanctuary wherever we are.  Physical proximity to a “place of worship” means little, if anything, to God.

So, do we act like God is with us always—or do we behave like we leave him behind every Sunday afternoon in the church building?  When we disobey God and receive no punishment, do we assume God didn’t see, or that somehow God just decided to overlook our sin?

. . .

Lord God, let us never mistake your silence for approval, or your patience for ignorance.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

< Ezekiel 11:1-13 | People Stew

Ezekiel 11:17-18 | Three Verbs >

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One Response to Ezekiel 11:14-16: Spatially Challenged

  1. Robin August 29, 2014 at 8:19 am #

    Jesus said, “Go” (Matthew 24:14; 28:19; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8)

    “With these words, Jesus made it clear exactly what His disciples were to do – they were to spread His teachings in His name, preaching salvation unto the ends of the earth (Romans 10:18). If you consider yourself a “believer,” then you must consider yourself a disciple of Jesus – no less called and chosen than the very first 12 Apostles.

    There are no “first class” Christians and “second class” Christians – every believer is called to spread the Good News about Jesus to those who have not yet heard. Jesus’ command is definite and clear – it is His great mandate, His “Great Commission” to the soldiers in His holy army. We must go, because our great General has commanded us to go” (from “Jesus Commands Us to Go” by Keith Green).

    Those of God’s people who have obeyed the commission of Christ are on the move. They are not entrenched in a comfortable routine of Sunday services and midweek Bible studies with the rest of their week devoted to the pursuits or entertainment of their flesh. Some have even been “exiled” from their church family because the holy fire that burns within them has made the comfortable uncomfortable (and the HVAC costs have consequently been shooting through the roof ;)). They may have been accused of disloyalty to the establishment or reprimanded for not warming a pew long enough to “be fed.”

    As a mom on the move, I can completely identify with the bumless pew concept. I used to associate chairs with, you know, sitting. Now, when I see a chair, I see potential for a precocious child to reach the knives I intentionally hid in the highest cupboard, I see a prop for a blanket fort, a hurdle for an obstacle course, or something Cheerios get stuck to when they go unnoticed and dry up. Besides, when do I really get the chance to sit down? There is always a hungry mouth, a scraped knee, an adventurer in search of a partner explorer, a bum to wipe, laundry to wash, a pencil sharpener and a phone to answer. Being a mom is a full-time commitment and these beautiful little souls who have been entrusted into my care will only be with me for a short while before they embark on lives largely independent of me. I only have this small window to be the biggest influence in their lives, to help (God does the real work) guide them in the development of the moral rudder that will steer them through the rest of their lives.

    How then shall a disciple of Christ sit still when there are so many spiritual mouths to feed, wounds to dress, thirsts to quench, sins to be washed as white as snow, and hearts to be rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought into the kingdom of Christ (Colossians 1:13)? And the time is so very short and the workers so few!

    There’s nothing wrong with sitting in a pew and “being fed” by the Word of God through our pastors. There is a time to sit, and there is a time to go. There is a time to fill up and there is a time to empty, then come back for more and repeat the cycle.

    Who is the real “remnant” in the Church today? Who is the “cream of the crop?” Truly, nobody but God really knows because only God knows us down to our core (1 Samuel 16:7), and those obedient to his call are so busy serving that they may spend a lot of time outside of the public eye, they may be largely absent from church social functions due to their serving schedule (unless that is their calling, of course), and true servants are not really good at “horn-tooting,” unless it’s to direct attention to the Lord.

    How wonderful it is to know that, wherever we go, the Spirit of the Lord goes with us. Better yet, where the Spirit of the Lord leads, we go with him.

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