Ezekiel 38:10-13: Seek First

The problem of evil as we face it today on our streets and in our world
won’t wait for clever metaphysicians to solve it.
— N. T. Wright, Evil and the Justice of God

The plan is born.

Gog looks at unfortified Israel and a thought enters: “Think of the booty I could have if I attacked an undefended nation!”

When you look at the text in detail, there are two words used to describe Gog’s plan. The first is morally neutral: “thoughts will come into your mind.” The second is sinister: “You will devise an evil scheme” (v. 10, NRSV, emphasis mine).

This passage reminds me of James:

One is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it; then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death. (1:14-15, NRSV)

. . .

I love the way Ezekiel describes Israel in v. 11:

  • the land of unwalled villages
  • quiet people who live in safety
  • living without walls
  • having no bars or gates

Ezekiel saw a day when God’s people finally realize that God is there security. There are no walled cities and standing armies. There is no defense budget or fear-mongering. They have simply learned to trust God for their security. The assault on Jerusalem taught them that no matter how well defended they are, God is the only one who can offer them safety.

Gog will come lumbering up to Israel. Gog’s desires are motivated purely by lust for wealth. Still, God presides over the fickle motives. God will use Gog’s greed and Israel’s peace to demonstrate his power in a climactic way.

. . .

How do we live today?

I once had a professor who lived in a city but never locked his doors. He commented to his class: “What if someone came by when I wasn’t home and needed something but couldn’t get in?” When God is our security, we can live free from locks and alarms.

When we “seek first” . . .

. . .

Omnipotent God, help me to continually seek your kingdom first. My motivations get all mixed up with greed and temporality: you know the big picture. Keep me close to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Ezekiel 38:14-16 | End of Days >

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