The Pursuit of God

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Ezekiel 14: Yahweh Stands Alone

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In our lesson Ezekiel 13-14: Yahweh Condemns False Prophets, we made our way through all of Ezekiel 13 and the first half of Ezekiel 14.  In that passage, Yahweh was focused on the issue of Jewish false prophets and the folks who were keeping them in business.  As we learned in our previous lesson, it’s a very dangerous thing to turn the concept of Divine prophecy into a game.  When we misuse Yahweh’s Name and Authority, we end up on the wrong side of His wrath.

Now halfway through Ezekiel 14, Yahweh suddenly changes focus.  He stops talking about false prophets and He starts talking about His plans to destroy Jerusalem.  In our previous lesson, we learned about the historical context of this period.  We learned that Ezekiel and a bunch of other Jews were dragged off as slaves when their homeland was invaded by the mighty Babylonian army.  Now Ezekiel and his fellow Jews are living in the city of Babylon, which is the capital of the empire which is going to destroy their homeland.  Because ancient Jews were a fiercely patriotic people, they put far too much importance on the state of their homeland.  In the Bible, you’ll find a common mindset among Jews that if things aren’t going well in Israel, they can’t be happy personally.  Is this really the wise way to view things?  Today American society is a mess—does that mean all Americans should walk around in a depressed funk saying, “I can’t be happy unless my country is doing well?”  No, this is a very immature way to view life.  Patriotism has its place, but we should never let the state of some manmade country control our personal happiness (see God & Patriotism: Guarding Your Priorities).  As a Christian, you should be basing your joy on your current standing with God.  If you know that there is no unfinished business between you and Him, you have plenty of reasons to be joyful.  When we have our priorities right, we are focused on spiritual matters, and we aren’t letting our earthly circumstances define and control us.  But this is the mature way to view things, and maturity is a rare thing in the Bible. Most of the folks we read about are clinging to wrong priorities and rotten soul attitudes.  This was certainly the case with Ezekiel’s people: they were in a perpetual funk about being separated from their homeland.  Even Ezekiel had a crummy attitude about his situation, and once you understand how much internal grumbling was going on, Yahweh’s speech in the second half of Chapter 14 will make a lot more sense.

SIDING AGAINST GOD

Is God supposed to be your First Love in life?  Yes, He is.  But what does this look like in the day to day?  If God is really number one to you, then clearly you should be taking His side whenever a conflict arises between Him and other humans.  This is one of those ideas that should be super obvious to us, and yet it’s not.  If you watch Christians in action, you’ll find they do a very poor job of siding with God and they do a great job of turning against Him at every available opportunity.  We’re not talking about big moral crises here—that’s what people tend to think of when the topic of loyalty comes up.  But if you were to think about your relationships with other humans, you’d realize that loyalty in the little everyday things comes up far more often than big showdowns.

Suppose you have a best friend named Dave.  By calling Dave your best friend, you mean that he is your number one friend—he’s the friend that you care more about than all of your other friends.  Now if you’re a good friend to Dave, then what will you do when someone makes a joke at Dave’s expense?  Will you laugh?  No, you’ll glare at the guy who made the joke and say that it wasn’t funny.  What will you do if Dave is upset?  You’ll be concerned and ask him what’s wrong.  You’ll want to help.  What if Dave tells you that his wife is treating him terribly?  Are you going to side with the wife or with your best friend?  You’ll side with Dave, of course.  In our human relationships, loyalty is extremely important to us.  The opposite of loyalty is betrayal, and when we feel betrayed by someone who claimed to be our friend, we feel devastated.  In your relationship with Dave, no one has to tell you that you’re supposed to side with Dave when he’s being picked on.  It’s your gut instinct.  It’s super obvious to you that a good friend is one who is consistently loyal in the little everyday things, not just in the big things.

Take some time to really think about how important loyalty is to you in your human relationships.  You expect loyalty from the people you trust.  If they were to turn against you instead, you would feel very upset.  Once you admit that this is how you operate, take an honest look at how you manage loyalty in your relationship with God.  Is there even any loyalty happening on your side?  For many Christians, there’s not.  When it comes to God, Christians are great at being users, but they are pretty bad at being loyal.  Sure, we give God a bunch of lofty titles and claim to be oh so devoted to Him.  But how devoted can we really be if we are treating His feelings as irrelevant and constantly siding against Him in the little things?   When the worship leader fires up some song with lyrics that God is telling you He doesn’t like, how often do you just sing along because you don’t want to miss out on the emotional experience?  When you’re handed some Sunday School lesson that was written by some flesh pleasing dingdong and God tells you that He doesn’t want you passing that useless dribble on to the kids, who do you side with? If you just follow the church approved curriculum, everyone will gush over you for being such a great servant of God.  But are you?  No, you’re betraying God and because you and He are the only ones who know it, you figure it’s just fine.

You see, the little things aren’t little.  They’re huge.  It’s how you’re treating God in the privacy of your soul that tells the truth about your relationship with Him.  When she’s out on in public, it’s a cinch for Debbie to act like the devoted Christian wife.  But when she’s at home with her husband Tom and no one else is watching, she’s always taking cheap shots at him and treating him with disrespect.  Tom’s friends all envy his great marriage.  Debbie’s friends are always complimenting her for being a model wife.  Only Tom and Debbie know the truth about how crummy their relationship really is, and it’s the little things that have destroyed their bond.  No one has run out and had an affair, but those daily verbal insults quickly take their toll.  Debbie doesn’t scream or throw things—she just twists her lips in mocking sneers and rolls her eyes whenever Tom tries to express an opinion.  Little things matter.  Little things come up far more often than big things.

So how are you treating God in the little things?  Is there a big difference between the way you talk about Him to others versus the way you are treating Him on the inside?  Do you really think God is going to be pleased with some big public ministry effort or with you taking some public stand against immorality when you’re always giving Him ice and attitude in the day to day?  Maybe you were the pastor who refused to participate in some public event when you found out you wouldn’t be allowed to pray to Jesus out loud.  Now you’re getting a bunch of glory from your parishioners for your great loyalty to God, but what does Jesus think?  Jesus thinks your grand show isn’t worth a hill of beans when you’re blowing Him off in the day to day.  When you refuse to let Him write your sermons, when you ignore His directions for your Bible study classes, and when you don’t seek His wisdom in the management of your church, how can you claim to be loyal to Him?  You’re not loyal at all, you’re just a poser who selfishly leapt on an opportunity to show off just so you could earn a reputation that you so don’t deserve.  See how it works?  The little things are huge.

Loyalty is a very important issue to God.  He wants our sincere devotion—not just our lip service.  But when we look around the Church today, we realize that loyalty to God is a rare thing.  Then when we crack open our Bibles, we realize that loyalty to God has always been a rare thing.  The grim truth is that the people who claim to follow God have a long history of betraying Him and siding against Him in both the little things and the big things.  We’re used to thinking of God’s prophets as really good spiritual role models.  Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah—we assume that those guys were all hardcore devoted to God.  But were they really?  Devotion is a kind of loyalty.  If a guy was really devoted to God, he would be siding with God whenever sides were being drawn up.  And yet this isn’t what we see God’s prophets doing.  Over and over we find God’s prophets siding against Him when God is doing something they don’t like.  Often the thing that triggers the betrayal is God drawing some kind of boundary by saying “enough is enough.”  Oh sure, we’re quick to pile on the praises as long as God seems to be quietly eating all of our snark. But when He announces His patience with our shenanigans has come to an end, then we get out our claws and start accusing Him of being a big meanie.

As a modern day Christian, what’s your personal view of the end times?  Do you think God’s being a jerk to shut down Project Earth—a project which He started?  What if God wanted you to be alive on the planet during that shut down process (see Preparing for the End Times: Serving without Limits)?  Does the thought of this spark some attitudinal huff in you?  Does having your normal routine disrupted matter more to you than God’s feelings?  What if God is planning to kill scores of people—people who He created?  Does this idea get your hackles up?  What if God is planning to destroy your hometown during the end times?  Does this make you mad (see Destruction in the End Times: Respecting Ownership)?  You see, God has preferences, just like you do.  And if you never give a darn about His preferences, then you can hardly claim to be loyal to Him.  If seeing Him satisfied means nothing to you, and if you think your personal preferences should always be considered more important than His, than you can hardly claim to love Him.  Loving God and being loyal to God are inseparable concepts.  When you really love someone, you care about their feelings a lot.  If the person you love says that something is important to him, then you want that person to have whatever that is.

In the prophetic books of the Old Testament, we find a very consistent theme of Yahweh expressing strong preferences about something only to have His followers treat His feelings as irrelevant.  We find people who claim to care about God getting major attitudes whenever God says He’s going to do something that they don’t personally approve of.  In short, whenever God’s will conflicts with what humans want, the humans demand that God settle for not getting His way.  They always want God to shelve His preferences for the sake of giving them their way.  They’re always pushing the idea that their feelings are more important than God’s.  Is this an honoring way to treat God?  Not hardly, and yet you’ll find this foul attitude coming up among God’s prophets over and over again.

When Yahweh showed the prophet Amos two visions of Judah being destroyed, Amos didn’t stop to consider that Yahweh was well within His rights to be fed up with His chosen people treating Him like dirt.  Instead, Amos immediately protested.  Because Amos didn’t want his homeland destroyed, he told Yahweh not to do what Yahweh wanted to do.  Yahweh’s feeling didn’t matter at all to Amos in these moments—it was all about what Amos wanted.

The Lord Yahweh showed me this: The Lord Yahweh was calling for a judgment by fire. It consumed the great deep and devoured the land. Then I said, “Lord Yahweh, please stop! How will Jacob survive since he is so small?” (Amos 7:4-5)

Is it really appropriate for us to tell God to stop doing something He wants to do?  No, it’s not.  We can be honest with God without bossing Him around.  The honest truth is that we don’t like much of what God does.  But since when is this the only factor that matters?  What about God’s feelings?  What about the fact that people are treating God with disrespect?

At first glance, it’s easy to identify with Amos.  It’s easy to imagine how he felt horrified by the thought of his homeland being destroyed.  But this conversation happens in Amos 7, and once you read the six chapters that come before it—chapters in which Yahweh describes in detail how grossly disrespected He’s being by Amos’ fellow Jews—well, then Amos’ protests in Chapter 7 start sounding pretty obnoxious.

Today Jesus is the God who many Christians focus on.  We make movies about Jesus’ crucifixion in which we all grimace and squirm while we watch a reenactment of Him being flogged, beaten, and spit on prior to His execution.  Well, suppose in the midst of that mess, Jesus were to suddenly get angry and start causing His attackers to experience some horrible kind of bodily malfunction?  When everyone was falling to the ground writhing and gasping in pain, what would your attitude be?  Would you accuse Jesus of being an unreasonable Jerk for punishing those who were so intentionally disrespecting Him?  How much abuse does God need to endure before you will be willing to be inconvenienced by His retaliation methods?

What makes it so obnoxious for prophets like Ezekiel, Amos, and Jeremiah to complain about Yahweh’s methods is that they were well aware of how terribly Yahweh was being treated by their fellow Israelites.  This wasn’t a situation in which God was reacting to some secret, underground cult that was routinely spitting in His face.  At this point in Israel’s history, Jerusalem is up to her neck in the worship of demonic idols.  The Temple that was built to honor Yahweh has been turned into a center for worshiping every God except Yahweh.  In a valley just outside of Jerusalem, small infants are being regularly roasted alive in sacrifices to false gods (see Understanding Yahweh: “Child Sacrifice Never Entered My Mind” (Jeremiah 7)).  Everyone smells the stench of burning flesh.  Everyone hears the screaming and sees the smoke rising.  But does anyone put a stop to the horrific situation?  No, because the Israelites love what they’re doing.  These people hate Yahweh and they are intentionally flaunting their hatred of Him every chance they get.  In Jerusalem, the prophet Jeremiah is getting beat up, locked in stocks, and thrown into some dank prison just because he is passing on messages from Yahweh.

You have to appreciate how blatant the spiritual rebellion is to properly interpret the prophetic books.  The prophets Yahweh speaks through are not heroes.  It’s more like they vacillate between standing for God and sticking it to Him.  Sure, it sounds like they’re fully devoted when you read through the messages they delivered—but then you have to remember that that’s Yahweh doing the talking, not the humans.  When the humans pipe up, it’s often a different story.  It’s when the humans share their own responses that we often start hearing the attitude.  Both Isaiah and Jeremiah record griping speeches towards Yahweh.  Moses is another famous complainer, and he even goes so far as to tell Yahweh that he’d rather be eternally damned with his fellow Israelites than side with Yahweh against them.

“Oh, these people have committed a grave sin; they have made a god of gold for themselves. Now if You would only forgive their sin. But if not, please erase me from the book You have written.” (Ex. 32:31-32)

This nasty bit of betrayal came right after the Israelites formed a golden cow god for themselves, and publicly credited that lifeless lump of metal for rescuing them from slavery in Egypt.  Does Moses side with Yahweh in this moment?  Nope, he sides with the Israelites.  He tells Yahweh that if Yahweh isn’t willing to forgive the little jerks, Moses doesn’t want any more to do with Yahweh.  Nice.  The apostle Paul later expresses the same sentiment when he declares that he’d gladly chuck his relationship with Christ and Yahweh in exchange for some rebellious Israelites acquiring salvation.

My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them. (Rom. 9:2-3)

Nice.  And these are the disloyal clowns who we’re all taught to admire today.  Well, no, there’s nothing admirable about a man declaring that he cares more about rebellious twits than he does about his own Creators.

The book of Ezekiel is laid out in a pretty nice, chronological order. We’re about to dive into the text of Ezekiel 14.  Back in Ezekiel 9, Yahweh showed the prophet a vision in which Ezekiel saw God dispatching angelic warriors to go slaughter everyone in Jerusalem.  This vision was a metaphorical image of the destruction that was soon going to happen in real life when Yahweh brought in the Babylonian army to sack Jerusalem.  Now in the vision that Ezekiel saw, the killing didn’t happen right off.  First, Yahweh demonstrated what an incredibly gracious Guy He is by sending an angel out to put a special mark on the foreheads of the few people in the city who still cared about pleasing God.  The angels were then commanded not to harm those people.  Such imagery clearly communicated that Yahweh is not some unreasonable Ogre who spins out of control when He’s angry.  Unlike humans, who are notorious for making unfair judgments when they are upset, Yahweh is always in control of Himself.  In the vision He gave Ezekiel—a vision which He certainly didn’t have to give the prophet—He intentionally included some very comforting imagery which should have inspired Ezekiel to praise Yahweh for being so good in Character.  But did he?  Of course not, because like Jeremiah, Moses, and Paul, Ezekiel’s loyalty to God was seriously lacking.  No matter how much evidence he saw of Yahweh being grossly disrespected and abused, Ezekiel’s loyalty remained on the side of God’s enemies.  So when he saw the angel warriors head out to kill only those who were guilty of hating Yahweh in their hearts, this is how he responded:

While they were out killing, I was all alone. I fell face down on the ground and cried out, “O Sovereign Yahweh! Will Your fury against Jerusalem wipe out everyone left in Israel?” (Eze. 9:8)

Really??  What kind of jerky response is this?  Talk about betrayal.  And yet this is the mindset Ezekiel stays stuck in during his prophetic career.  While he speaks Yahweh’s messages out loud, inwardly, he’s siding with his snarky countrymen.  He just can’t stand the idea of Yahweh destroying Jerusalem and slaughtering a bunch of Jews.  It doesn’t matter that Yahweh has already said He’s going to leave a remnant of survivors.  It doesn’t matter how many times Yahweh promises that the Jews will eventually be allowed to return to their homeland.  Ezekiel just won’t respect Yahweh’s right to have boundaries.  Instead, Ezekiel and his fellow Jews feel that Yahweh should be willing to let them wipe their feet all over Him without Him ever retaliating.

Once you understand that this is the core soul attitude of the Jews, you can understand why Yahweh spends so much time explaining and justifying His decision to flatten Jerusalem and the Temple.  It’s not that He owes anyone an explanation—as God, Yahweh can do whatever He wants whenever He wants.  As God, Yahweh has every right to damn us forever the first time we side against Him.  So why doesn’t He?  Why does Yahweh spend so much time reviewing the spiritual rebellion in Israel and defending His decision to discipline people?  The answer is that He’s graciously giving all of these little jerks time to repent out of their rotten soul attitudes and remember where their loyalties are supposed to lie.

It’s a huge deal that Yahweh spends years warning people of what’s coming and explaining why He is so justified in trashing them.  The fact that He does this gives rebellious twerps a precious window of opportunity in which they can repent out of their terrible soul attitudes and thus save themselves from spending eternity in Hell.  You see, despite the way Christians today make Yahweh out to be some short-tempered Meanie, the truth is that Yahweh demonstrates mind-blowing grace all throughout the Old Testament.  You don’t know what mercy, compassion, and patience are until you see Yahweh in action with the snarky Israelites.  For all of the whining atheists do today over the few plagues that Yahweh rained down on people’s heads, no one ever talks about all the stuff He didn’t do.  And while Christians today trip over themselves in their efforts to suck up to the political nation of Israel and act like ethnic Jews are the cream of humanity, no one talks about how abominably the Jews treat Yahweh throughout the Old Testament.  So if there’s any part of your mind that thinks that Jesus is nicer than Yahweh, you need to ask Yahweh to help you know Him better.  Yahweh is incredible.  No human on the planet would put up with a fraction of what Yahweh put up with from Old Testament Israel.  And when everyone was turning on Him and His own prophets were siding with His enemies, how did He respond?  By reviewing time and time again why He was angry, and why His punishments were more than justified.

EZEKIEL 14

Now as we begin the second half of Ezekiel 14, we find Yahweh suddenly turning the focus off of false prophets so that He can once again address the ongoing issue of Jews griping against Him for having boundaries.  As time passes and the Jews see that Yahweh isn’t swooping in to rescue Israel from oppression, they’re getting more and more angry with Him.  In response to this incessant soul griping, Yahweh now reminds all of these little jerks that His patience has limits, and He makes no apology for punishing those who push Him too far.

Then this message came to me from Yahweh: “Son of man, suppose the people of a country were to sin against Me, and I lifted My fist to crush them, cutting off their food supply and sending a famine to destroy both people and animals. Even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were there, their righteousness would save no one but themselves, says the Sovereign Yahweh.” (Eze. 14:12-14)

Like Christians today, the Jews had their spiritual heroes—guys who they viewed as being favorites of Yahweh.  Ark building Noah was the one man who stayed faithful to God when the whole world turned against Him.  Job was famous for not cursing God even when God filled Job’s life with epic misery.  And then there’s Daniel.  For the Jews this message is directed at, Daniel is a modern day hero.  Daniel is living in the same city that they are—only he’s working in the royal palace as an advisor to the king, while Ezekiel and his fellow Jews are clustered together in a low ranking colony.  To the Babylonians, Ezekiel’s people are low class foreigners.  They’re rejects.  They’re slaves of Babylon.  But Daniel—well, he was the favored one.  Yahweh has elevated Daniel to the top of Babylonian society.  Naturally the rest of the Jews both admire and envy Daniel’s sweet situation.

Now Yahweh knows all about how individual humans perceive each other.  So when He mentions Noah, Daniel, and Job, He is intentionally picking people who His immediate audience views as icons of righteousness.  Then He says, “Even if those three spiritual superstars were living in a country I had determined to destroy, they couldn’t save that country by pleading with Me to be merciful.  That’s not how it works.  When I say My patience has come to an end, that’s how it is.  When I say I’m taking a place down, that’s what I’m going to do.  So you people need to accept My decision to destroy your homeland, because at this point, nothing you do or say will change My mind about this.”

In these ancient times, Yahweh had four common methods which He used to bring about mass discipline.  Those four methods were famine, wild animals, war, and disease.  We’re familiar with famine, war, and disease today.  The wild animal thing is a foreign concept in many modern day cities.  But in the Old Testament world, the land was much more open and nature wasn’t confined to public parks and national landmarks.  Some well-developed cities had fortress like walls protecting them, but there were many smaller towns and a bunch of family farms which were just sitting out in the middle of wild, untamed nature.  In this situation, getting attacked by wild animals was a very real problem.  When someone died, it didn’t take long at all for scavenging beasts and birds to show up for the feast.  If you wanted to keep a corpse in good condition, you had to guard it.  If you were to just throw it out in a field, it would soon become someone’s snack.

Wild animals roaming the streets was a common problem in these times.  Lions, wild dogs, bears—we find reports of people being attacked by all of these creatures in the Old Testament records.  When evil Queen Jezebel was shoved off a balcony, wild dogs had devoured everything but her skull, feet, and hands by the time her human killers had finished lunch.  When King Ahab died in a wooden cart, wild dogs were licking up his blood from the cart before the thing could be washed out.  When the prophet Elisha was being mocked by a gang of mouthy youths, he called two bears out of the woods to maul the boys.  In the poetic book of Psalms, we find many Jewish men likening their personal human enemies to wild animals, and in the book of Proverbs we find more references to the wild animal problem.

The lazy person claims, “There’s a lion out there! If I go outside, I might be killed!” (Prov. 22:13)

While this proverb has a humorous sound to it, the fact that this excuse was being used demonstrates that aggressive wild animals randomly showing up in public streets was a real problem.

In Ezekiel 14, Yahweh is moving through His four famous destruction methods.  He’s already talked about famine.  Now He talks about His famous method of stirring up large numbers of wild animals who come and take back territory which humans have settled in.

“Or suppose I were to send wild animals to invade the country, kill the people, and make the land too desolate and dangerous to pass through. As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Yahweh, even if those three men were there, they wouldn’t be able to save their own sons or daughters. They alone would be saved, but the land would be made desolate.” (Eze. 14:15-16)

Once again Yahweh is underscoring the point that when He makes up His mind to do something, no human is going to talk Him out of it.  But notice how He says that He would spare souls who sincerely care about pleasing Him—souls which are being represented by Job, Daniel and Noah.  But no matter how zealous for God someone is, that person won’t be able to save anyone else.

This business about each soul being judged individually by God is a critical point to grasp.  Today Christians completely reject this principle.  We tell ourselves that we can have a powerful influence on how God judges other souls, and this is why we make such a big fuss about praying for the lost and about lifting each other up in prayer.  And yet if it’s really true that God doesn’t let us control the way He handles other souls—if it’s true that He won’t dole out extra grace, help, and mercy to others based on our pleading—then praying for others becomes a colossal waste of time.  Not only is it a waste of time, but it’s insulting to God, because we’re essentially trying to dominate Him when we sit around telling Him to save Mary or help Fred or be with Joe.  We’re also claiming to be wiser than God is—we have to be if we’re going to say it makes sense for us to act as His advisers.  And yet can anything be more obnoxious than humans claiming to have more wisdom than the God who created their brains?

What Yahweh is saying here in Ezekiel 14 about the righteous not having the power to change the way He treats anyone else raises up some very important questions about the way we are praying.  Are we really honoring God when we sit around bombarding Him with instruction and telling Him how He ought to distribute His grace?  No, we’re not.  And yet do we care enough about God’s feelings to improve our treatment of Him?  Or are we so married to our prayer warrior culture and prayer groups that we can’t be bothered with putting God first?

“Or suppose I were to bring war against the land, and I sent enemy armies to destroy both people and animals. As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Yahweh, even if those three men were there, they wouldn’t be able to save their own sons or daughters. They alone would be saved.

Or suppose I were to pour out My fury by sending an epidemic into the land, and the disease killed people and animals alike. As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Yahweh, even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were there, they wouldn’t be able to save their own sons or daughters. They alone would be saved by their righteousness.” (Eze. 14:17-20)

When God is talking to Jews, He talks like a Jew.  Repetition was a critical way of emphasizing the importance of a point.  Here Yahweh is being very repetitive on purpose as He keeps hammering the point that people can’t save each other.  Everyone is going to be judged individually by God, and when God decides to dole out the discipline, no human is going to be capable of stopping Him.

Now so far Yahweh’s been talking theoretically.  He keeps saying, “Suppose I were to do such-and-such against some place.”  Now that He’s hammered the critical points about His judgment and discipline four times, He suddenly gets specific.  Jerusalem is going to be the specific place which gets hammered by all four of these dreaded disasters.  No amount of pleading, begging, or praying can change Yahweh’s mind about flattening Israel’s pride and joy.  So these Jews need to give it up with their incessant whining and hoping that somehow, someway, Yahweh will get over Himself and spare their homeland.

“Now this is what the Sovereign Yahweh says: How terrible it will be when all four of these dreadful punishments fall upon Jerusalem—war, famine, wild animals, and disease—destroying all her people and animals. Yet there will be survivors, and they will come here to join you as exiles in Babylon. You will see with your own eyes how wicked they are, and then you will feel better about what I have done to Jerusalem. When you meet them and see their behavior, you will understand that these things are not being done to Israel without cause. I, the Sovereign Yahweh, have spoken!” (Eze. 14:21-23)

In real life, when the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem, they ended up hauling another batch of Jews away as slaves.  Some of those new prisoners ended up joining the community that Ezekiel is living in.  When those survivors arrived, they were full of snarky attitude, just as Yahweh prophesied they would be.  No one was driven to repentance by seeing God burn Jerusalem to the ground. Everyone just viewed that whole epic disaster as giving them new reasons to gripe.

Notice how Yahweh tells Ezekiel and his fellow Jews that when the snarky survivors show up flaunting their God-hating attitudes, people will feel better about Yahweh’s decision to so brutally spank His chosen people for their terrible soul choices.  And yet will they?  As we explained earlier, Yahweh’s already shown Ezekiel many visions about how bad things are in Jerusalem.  Plus Ezekiel grew up in Judah, so it’s not like he’s an ignoramus on the subject of how attitudinal his people are.  And yet no matter how much evidence Yahweh sets in front of these people, no one is siding with Him.  All of the Jews—including Ezekiel—are throwing all of their sympathy on the side of spiritual rebels and acting like Yahweh’s feelings don’t matter at all.  This is an abominable way to treat our glorious Lord.

CONCLUSION

The Old Testament prophetic books are brimming with valuable insights about how we can improve our treatment of our three glorious Gods.  Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit deserve our best—not our least.  We should be asking Them to help us treat Them with the highest honor, and we should be ever eager to learn how we can love Them even better.  It is pleasing our Creators which makes life worth living.  When we chuck Them aside to go chase after the fickle approval of other humans, it’s like we’re throwing diamonds into the ocean so that we can free ourselves up to hug armloads of garbage.  What we throw away can’t always be retrieved, and the day comes when our Gods refuse to invite us any closer to Them.  It is right now that we need to realize what is truly important.  It is today that we need to decide to pursue our Gods with all that we are and let nothing take Their place in our lives.  We can do better than the ancient Jews.  We can do better than Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Moses, Paul, and Amos.  We don’t have to settle for stagnating in immaturity—not when our Gods are calling us to follow Them to a higher plane.  You don’t know what satisfaction is until pleasing God truly is your all-consuming passion in life.  We were designed to revolve around our Creators: to obsess over Them, adore Them, honor Them, and cherish Them.  Refuse to settle for anything less than becoming all that They want you to be.

FURTHER READING:
Enhancing Our Love for God
The Enemies of God
Jeremiah 2-3: Yahweh Justifies His Wrath
Parables of Yahweh: The Valley of Dry Bones
Psalm 90: Moses Gripes at Yahweh
The Snarky Prophet: Lessons Learned from Jeremiah 14-15
Psalm 74: Asaph Flaunts His Contempt for Yahweh
Treating God Like God: Simple Steps to Improving the Way that We Pray
Better than Heaven: Pursuing What Really Matters
Choosing the Right Priorities: How does God want us to treat our brothers?
The End Time Prophet: Driving Us Closer to God

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