LANCELOT: We were in the nick of time. You were in great peril.
GALAHAD: I don’t think I was.
LANCELOT: Yes you were. You were in terrible peril.
GALAHAD: Look, let me go back in there and face the peril.
LANCELOT: No, it’s too perilous.
— Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
In the scene I just quoted from the Holy Grail, Galahad was being tempted—and had given himself away to the temptation (mentally) when Launcelot and company burst in to rescue him. By this time, of course, Galahad “the chaste” had no desire to be rescued. Israel was in the same situation. Helplessly mired in sin, she had no desire to be rescued.
Have you ever tried to rescue a kid from a destructive addiction to chocolate bars? An alcoholic from his alcohol? Let’s use biblical terms: a dog from his vomit?
. . .
God knows that Israel will keep falling into her old sinful habits, and he is determined to rescue her despite her sinfulness. Listen to this:
“They shall never again defile themselves with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions. I will save them from all the apostasies into which they have fallen” (v. 23, NRSV).
Daniel Block translates that verse literally, and it drives the point home even stronger:
“Never again will they defile themselves with their pellets of dung, with their disgusting practices, or with their rebellious actions. I will rescue them from all their apostasies, by which they sinned” (Ezekiel 25-48, 407)
Yep, the literal term for idols in this chapter is gillûlîm: “pieces of . . .” well, you get the picture.
Let’s take an honest look at our lives: there are some temptations that we enjoy. Most of us have our fair share of destructive habits that taste so sweet in the moment of temptation. Ezekiel calls them what they are, gillûlîm, not what they appear to be.
God knows that our will power can only take us so far. There comes a time when God simply declares that he will rescue us. We protest: “let me go back in there and face the peril”. God’s answer: “No, it’s too perilous.”
. . .
Many of the themes in this passage echo topics we have looked at earlier, so I’m not going to delve into them in painstaking detail. The one thing I wanted to point out is the semantic climax of the paragraph: “My dwelling place shall be with them” (v. 27, NRSV).
In Jesus, God rescued us from our destructive, soul-crushing habits, and made his home within us. God lives in us. When we extricate that truth from the clichés that help us to ignore it, the depth and profundity strikes home. Once we’ve been rescued, God can live with us.
You could almost call us God’s motor-homes.
. . .
Lord God, thank you for rescuing my life, and settling down in my heart. Help be to live in an awareness of your imminent presence. In Jesus’ name, Amen.