Ezekiel 12:21-28: Time Trials

The healthy Christian is not necessarily the extrovert, ebullient Christian,
but the Christian
who has a sense of God’s presence stamped deep on his soul,
who trembles at God’s word,
who lets it dwell in him richly by constant meditation upon it,
and who tests and reforms his life daily in response to it.
— J. I. Packer (A Quest for Godliness)

“The days are prolonged and every vision comes to nothing” (Ezekiel 12:22, NRSV). This bold statement had been spoken so often by the Israelites, it was known as a proverb. We have an adage that expresses the same idea: “He’s all talk, no action”.

Can you imagine the nerve of the Israelites from God’s perspective? They were essentially saying that God never follows through on his promises. They have heard words of doom and gloom from the prophets—along with plenty of false-hope from the soothsayers—but nothing was happening.

True, many of the Israelites were now in exile, but that didn’t seem to dampen their cynicism. In their spiritually inept state, they probably assumed that their God was just not powerful enough to save them.

. . .

As absurd as this situation sounds, it happened often in scripture and is still happening today.  Listen to what people said in Malachi’s day:

You have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet you say, “How have we wearied him?” By saying, “All who do evil are good in the sight of the LORD, and he delights in them.” Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice?” (Malachi 2:17, NRSV)

The post-exilic Israelites saw wicked people prospering, and assumed that God was pleased with wickedness, or at least impotent to stop it.

In the early church, Peter had to address a similar situation. When Jesus ascended after the resurrection, two men in white promised the Galileans that he would return. A couple decades later, people began to wonder where he was. Peter advised:

The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9, NRSV).

. . .

We have this same disease today. Wicked people become rich and famous by trampling on the poor. We wonder if God even notices. Jesus has not returned to earth (yet), and we wonder if he ever plans on showing up.

In our defense, we are creatures of time.  It’s terribly difficult to understand how God paints his justice on the canvas of history—while we measure time in seconds.

. . .

Eternal God, help us to tremble at your word and to never take it for granted. Remind us again that your time is not ours.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

< Ezekiel 12:17-20 | Fearful Feeding

Ezekiel 13:1-16 | False Prophets >

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One Response to Ezekiel 12:21-28: Time Trials

  1. Robin September 2, 2014 at 7:34 am #

    Thomas Watson wrote, “Eternity is to the godly a day that has no sunset; to the godless a night that has no sunrise.”

    On his deathbed, Voltaire, the French atheist, cried out, ““I am abandoned by God and man! I will give you half of what I am worth if you will give me six months’ life.”

    Our reaction to God’s promises depends on which side of the Sun/Son we’re on.

    As someone who can’t wait to see the face of the One whose Spirit lives within me, I say “bring it on!” when I read “The days are near when every vision will be fulfilled. For there will be no more false visions or flattering divinations among the people of Israel. But I the LORD will speak what I will, and it shall be fulfilled without delay” (Ez. 12:23b-25a).

    As it happens, at this very moment I am undergoing trial by, well, I’m not sure – not fire, exactly – but, whatever it is, it hurts. The cool thing is that I expected this because God said this kind of stuff would happen in the life of the believer. Paul wrote:

    “And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Rom. 5:2b-5).

    Bring on the perseverance and that sweet, sweet hope!

    I rejoice that, whether God is being patient (2 Peter 3:9; uncanny how often this verse has been popping up of late), or fulfilling promises without delay (Ez. 12:25a), his will is always being accomplished (Is. 55:8-11) and, because I am his child and, ultimately, because it brings him glory, it is all working together for my good (Rom. 8:28).

    Again, bring it on! 🙂

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