I just finished studying Ezekiel 16, and I just wanted to share a few thoughts that somewhat overwhelmed me as I was studying and praying through the chapter. You might want to take a moment to read before continuing on this post:
When we think about the context of Ezekiel’s writing – of all that he had witnessed with his eyes, and more dramatically – the amazing visions and experiences God had placed before him… is it any wonder many thought of Ezekiel as somewhat “odd”? But the message God had for His people was incredibly clear. God was fed up with the unfaithfulness of His people. He had brought (and was continuing to bring) judgment on the Jewish people because of their unfaithfulness.
I find it interesting how many of us like to point fingers at outside forces – from government to a corrupt and godless society, schools, and so much more – yet we utterly fail to look in the mirror. The people Ezekiel was called to minister to – a job that would have been utterly overwhelming for anyone – were hard hearted – they wanted to point fingers and blame others. They cried yet didn’t cry for the right reasons. They refused to recognize the “why” of their suffering. But God, through chapter 16, points to the very core of the “why”. This chapter also reveals the “why” of our cultural ministry troubles today, the decline of Christianity in the United States (the US is statistically the only nation in the world where Christianity is in decline). God opens the curtain of confusion to reveal the real cause of it all – and it wasn’t the idolatry the people and the priests played (though those were key symptoms – and itself was worthy of utter death and destruction). The core of the matter is found in the last verse 22:
“And in all your abominations and your shorings you did not remember the days of your youth, when you were naked and bare, wallowing in your blood.”
The people of Ezekiel’s time had forgotten all that God had done for them from the very beginning. They had become, in their minds, self-sufficient. They had no further need for God. So they became just like the rest of the ungodly world around them.
We believer often fall into the same trap, a trap of our own making. When things get hard, when trials come, where do we turn? Do we turn to God and His people, or do we turn from God and the church and pursue the world’s “answers”? When things are going well, and blessings are in abundance, do we rejoice in the Lord, but actually dive head-first into the world?
I’m sure many readers of this blog have encountered people who only seem interested in “church” when they have a specific need – they are sick, they have money problems, they have other issues – but let them have a few dollars in their pocket and a reasonable amount of health, and they disappear – until they need something.
On the flip-side, we also know people who, when things are well, they are a relatively happy and regular part of the local church, but let things get a little tough – let their financial house start to falter, or their family situation get disrupted, and suddenly God and His church falls way down the priority list.
What is the cause? One could easily and accurately apply Ezekiel 16. Let us not lose track of WHY God brought (or better – allowed) the horrible judgments to come to His people – with so many slaughtered, still countless more dead due to disease and famine, and a remnant carried into captivity – it wasn’t because God is unrighteous – it is because He expects better from His people. He expected the Hebrew people to remember Him, to be faithful to Him – who is the only truly 100% faithful one. He wanted them to remember all He had done for them – and remember that any and all good that the people had ever experienced was from Him.
God just wants people to be FAITHFUL…
So while we may point fingers of blame everywhere (except in the mirror), lets stop and pray – Dear Lord, there is a reason that so much seems to come against me. Lord – I hate to see the ugliness that seems to be so big a part of this world and culture we live in. But God – I also understand that some of it may very well be because I have failed to be faithful – faithful in all things. Lord, I know that I often forget to be thankful for all that you have done for me – and all that you continue to do on my behalf that I may not (in this life) even recognize. And Lord – I need to remember what I was before you drew me near, opened my eyes, and granted me, through your Grace, the faith to believe – to trust in the shed blood of Jesus Christ to cleanse me of all unrighteousness. I need to remember the great price you paid for me – a price I could not pay. Lord, I need to remember the consequences you redeemed me from. And Lord, I need to recognize that often – my problems are the result of my own unfaithfulness, my own pride, my own unwillingness to do things YOUR way. Lord – in Jesus Name, I pray that you will help me to overcome my unfaithfulness and to be true to You in all parts of my life. Amen.