Saturday, August 14, 2010

Moving Forward by Jan Darnell

Week 33--August 15-21
Scripture Reading: Ezekiel 1-22; Psalm 114-116; Key passage for devotion: Ezekiel 1:12

(picture on left is "Ezekiel's Vision" by Raphael, c. 1518-click to enlarge)

The visions of Ezekiel propel any who dare to read about them into a prophetic drama of dazzling proportions. It’s like studying sections of science fiction writing. Most sci-fi scripts however introduce their cast of characters with words that solicit clear mental images. Ezekiel’s scenes and characters are described through similes and metaphors that remain dark and difficult to visualize.

After Jerusalem was captured and the inhabitants scattered, many of the Hebrew exiles settled along the Babylonian banks of the Chebar River. Among them was the author of the book, Ezekiel.

The people of God desired to return to Jerusalem but without regret over the sins that displaced them. They waited for restoration apart from repentance. Have you ever done that? I have. It doesn’t fly very far with God. In fact, an unrepentant heart leaves one “grounded.” Then pending judgment ensues.

Ezekiel received a scroll with a bitter sweet message (2:6-3:3). The message highlighted their sins, i.e. “violence had grown into a rod of wickedness” (7:11). Judah brought worldly abominations into the temple (7:20) and chose to walk according to the laws of ungodly nations rather than the holy laws of God (11:12). Additionally, the religious hierarchy tolerated false prophets who propagated divinations (prophecies) (13:9) by their own inspiration (13:17). This all sounds so familiar, much like today!

The only option God gave them was one of repentance. God urged them all to repent of these sins, move forward and be restored. But, as a “rebellious” house and hardhearted, they refused.

“This is what the Lord GOD says: I have set this Jerusalem in the center of the nations, with countries all around her. But she has rebelled against My ordinances with more wickedness than the nations, and against My statutes more than the countries that surround her. For her people have rejected My ordinances and have not walked in My statutes” (Ezk. 5:5-6).

Are God’s people not to live by the Word of God? Of course they are.

God’s people should abide by the righteous laws of His Kingdom. Every kingdom has laws, including those of godless nations which Judah had diverted to. How can a people belong to God if they are unwilling to embrace His righteousness? They can’t which is why God called them to repentance.

A place in the holy Kingdom of God will not be granted to the unrepentant heart, unyielded and unwilling to turn from sin. Jesus died to save us from our sins, not that we continue in them but that we might have the power through His Spirit to overcome them. His death to sin was the example for us to follow and a call to live righteously by picking up our own cross. (Mt. 10:38-39)

Truth revealed:
“The four living creatures that Ezekiel saw moved only forward. Wherever the Spirit wanted to go, they went without turning as they moved (Ezk. 1:12).” In Ezekiel, chapter 1, the spirit of the heavenly creatures was in their wheels. Therefore, the spirit of the heavenly creatures and the Spirit of God moved together…always. Such should also be true of the people of God. We move forward with the Spirit of God (Rom. 8), turning only from sin and always towards the righteousness of God.

Such forward movement is called “repentance,” choosing His way over ours, His will over ours and submitting to the authority of His Word. When the Spirit moves, we move. When the Spirit stays still, we stay still (Ezk. 1:21). Is it that easy? Faith is never easy but faith in God through Jesus Christ is Christianity. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and God’s provision that empowers us to forsake sin and move forward! (John 14:6)

See Jan's bio and her other articles on the WOW blog by putting her name in the search box in the upper left of the blog. 

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