Sunday, September 02, 2012

September 2, 2012 … God’s Stories In Life

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 246

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Ezekiel 23-24 To study these chapters, go to this link

 Highlight Passage: Ezekiel 23: 1-4; 11-13; 22-23; 36-39 : [NLT] … This message came to me from the LORD: 2 “Son of man, once there were two sisters who were daughters of the same mother. 3 They became prostitutes in Egypt. Even as young girls, they allowed themselves to be fondled and caressed. 4 The older girl was named Oholah, and her sister was Oholibah. I married them, and they bore me sons and daughters. I am speaking of Samaria and Jerusalem, for Oholah is Samaria and Oholibah is Jerusalem. … 
11 “Yet even though Oholibah saw what had happened to Oholah, her sister, she followed right in her footsteps. And she was even more depraved, abandoning herself to her lust and prostitution. 12 She fawned over her Assyrian neighbors, those handsome young men on fine horses, those captains and commanders in handsome uniforms—all of them desirable. 13 I saw the way she was going, defiling herself just like her older sister. … 
22 “Therefore, Oholibah, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will send your lovers against you—those very nations from which you turned away in disgust. 23 For the Babylonians will come with all the Chaldeans from Pekod and Shoa and Koa. And all the Assyrians will come with them—handsome young captains, commanders, chariot officers, and other high-ranking officers, riding their horses. … 
 36 The LORD said to me, “Son of man, you must accuse Oholah and Oholibah of all their awful deeds. 37 They have committed both adultery and murder—adultery by worshiping idols and murder by burning their children as sacrifices on their altars. 38 Then after doing these terrible things, they defiled my Temple and violated my Sabbath day! 39 On the very day that they murdered their children in front of their idols, they boldly came into my Temple to worship! They came in and defiled my house!  
Highlight Passage: Ezekiel 24: 1-8; 15-18; 25-28 : [NLT] … 1 On January 15,£ during the ninth year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity, this message came to me from the LORD: 2 “Son of man, write down today’s date, because on this very day the king of Babylon is beginning his attack against Jerusalem. 3 Then show these rebels an illustration; give them a message from the Sovereign LORD. Put a pot of water on the fire to boil. 4 Fill it with choice meat—the rump and the shoulder and all the most tender cuts. 5 Use only the best sheep from the flock and heap fuel on the fire beneath the pot. Bring the pot to a boil, and cook the bones along with the meat. 6 “Now this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Destruction is certain for Jerusalem, the city of murderers! She is a pot filled with corruption. So take the meat out chunk by chunk in whatever order it comes, 7 for her wickedness is evident to all. She murders boldly, leaving blood on the rocks for all to see. She doesn’t even try to cover it! 8 So I will splash her blood on a rock as an open expression of my anger and vengeance against her. … 
15 Then this message came to me from the LORD: 16 “Son of man, I am going to take away your dearest treasure. Suddenly she will die. Yet you must not show any sorrow. Do not weep; let there be no tears. 17 You may sigh but only quietly. Let there be no wailing at her grave. Do not uncover your head or take off your sandals. Do not perform the rituals of mourning or accept any food brought to you by consoling friends.” … 18 So I proclaimed this to the people the next morning, and in the evening my wife died. The next morning I did everything I had been told to do. 19 Then the people asked, “What does all this mean? What are you trying to tell us?” … 
25 Then the LORD said to me, “Son of man, on the day I take away their stronghold—their joy and glory, their heart’s desire, their dearest treasure—I will also take away their sons and daughters. 26 And on that day a refugee from Jerusalem will come to you in Babylon and tell you what has happened. 27 And when he arrives, your voice will suddenly return so you can talk to him, and you will be a symbol for these people. Then they will know that I am the LORD.”  

 Cross Reference Passage: Romans 8: 28 : [NLT] … And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. 

My Journal for Today: Two more chapters from the prophesies of Ezekiel to the children of God exiled to Babylon; and these stories use allegories to relate the reasons why God was going to bring judgment and destruction to Jerusalem, the city and the Temple, which were the crown jewels of Judah as a people.

First, there was the story of two sisters, one representing the northern kingdom in Israel, which had been lured as a prostitute into the arms of the Assyrians. Her sister, Judah, however, thought of herself as better and more righteous than Israel; but she also became a prostitute and was ultimately lured into the bed of destruction by Babylon. And as I read through this allegorical representation of God’s chosen people as the two sisters, I couldn’t help but think of how we, calling ourselves “christians,” so often think of ourselves as superior to other peoples such as Mormons, or new age followers of Oprah; and yet we allow ourselves, as the so-called “good sister” to get lured into such beds of destruction as allowing our “Temple” (i.e., our bodies) to be desecrated by pornography, substance abuse, or some other form of prostitution. And we’re suppose to be the “good sister” of Christ; and really we’re no better – as our lives tell the story – than our idol worshipping sisters, are we?

And so, God, using another word picture, tells the story of how the pot (of our life’s worship) becomes so encrusted (with dirty sin) that it finally must be cleansed by God, allowing for it to be swept clean to show who is LORD and how our lives must be totally cleansed to start again. And as I look about, I wonder what will be God’s cleansing agent, as Babylon was to be His in Ezekiel’s day, to wipe the pot of our life-worship clean so that God’s people will see and know that God will not allow His melting-pot of worship to be so mucked up by the dirtiness of sin.

Then there was, in Chapter 24 of Ezekiel, the curious true story of God allowing Ezekiel’s wife to die. And so what’s up with that life illustration? Why would a loving God allow the love of the life of his very messenger, Ezekiel, to die? And as I read through this story of life and death, I thought of Job and how God allowed his ten kids to die to show us all of the faith of Job. And here, Ezekiel, like Job, hating what God was doing, but he followed the Lord faithfully, doing exactly what God brought into his life as a message to God’s chosen people. Then, in meditating on this word picture from God in His word, God’s Spirit (I believe) brought the truth of Romans 8: 28 to my consciousness, which I’ve copied above as reference highlight above.

God not only relates “His Story” (i.e., history) through His word; but He also tells us about Himself and His truth by the unfolding realities of our life circumstances. And God even did this in the horrible reality of Ezekiel’s wife dying. And I remember a lot of other life stories in the Bible telling the story of God demanding faith from His followers in spite of horrid life circumstances … such as Job, again having to go through so much to learn about loyalty to God … and Moses not being able to go into the promised land because of one momentary lapse of obedience … and Hosea having to marry a prostitute and love her for a lifetime. God’s tells HIS-STORY through the lives of HIS faithful ones; and sometimes God’s real story is a tragedy in our own lives. But the ultimate story ends with the most wonderful ending to the Gospel, … “And they lived happily ever after.”

So, no matter what God is relating to us or through us via the circumstances of our lives, as His believing and faithful messengers, just know that ALL THINGS do work together for the ultimate good of those who are the called according to His purposes. Ezekiel had to learn that lesson in very tough ways; and so may we.

My Prayer Today: … Lord, thank You for giving me Your messages through the lives of Your stories in the Bible … but also through the life lessons of me living in faith by following You – no matter what may transpire. Amen

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