Posts Tagged ‘New Testament’

“Son of man, with one blow I am about to take away from you the delight of your eyes. Yet do not lament or weep or shed any tears.

Ezekiel 24:16

(I do want to start this with a disclaimer: While I do believe that God has called us to walk this difficult road for His purposes and have already seen incredible fruit from our experiences both within us and around us, I have no reason to believe that Allana is going to be taken from us any time soon.)

Serving God can at times be overwhelming.  We are not told a lot about Ezekiel’s wife, just that she was “the delight” of his eyes.  Ezekiel loved her.  She was perhaps, next to God, the most important thing in Ezekiel’s life.  I have heard it taught that Ezekiel somehow sinned in his desire for his wife, that he had placed her above his devotion to God.  This is simply not in the text and perhaps arises from the desire to believe that God is here to serve us instead of the other way around.  We serve a God who loves us immensely.  We also serve a God who commands ultimate obedience, honor and trust.  The circumstances surrounding this loss are not known to us.  It can be supposed that Ezekiel’s wife succumbed to a fatal illness, a much more common occurrence in the those days than living a long and healthy life.  I can easily imagine Ezekiel crying out to God in prayer over her having been there many times for Allana.  I cannot but believe that Ezekiel’s wife was a godly woman, the respected and honored wife of a priest.  Why O lord does she have to go through this?  And the answer comes,” “For my purposes”

Paul understood service to God when he wrote to the Philippians, “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, ” (Philippians 1:29)  Carizomai does not mean imposed upon or required.  It carries the sense of a pleasant task, a favor, something given benevolently.  As His servants, suffering for His name and for His purposes is part of the gift, but in the same book we find that this gift is paired with something else.  “ Rejoice in the Lord always ; again I will say, rejoice !  Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will  guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)  This does not mean that everything is going to go the way that we desire it to, it means that through the storm we will be able to say, “It is well with my soul”.

God called Ezekiel to more than just losing the love of his life.  He is called to contravene the social norms of the day and to not enter into what was the common practice of very public and very loud mourning.  God calls him to “groan silently”.  Paul says, “Let your gentle spirit be known to all men.”  We are called to a holy standard not only in the gift of suffering for His name, but in the Holy Spirit empowered ability to break the customs of this world in our reaction to that suffering and show the very nature of God in our actions.  When we do that the world takes notice!   “and in the evening my wife died. And in the morning I did as I was commanded. The people said to me, “Will you not tell us what these things that you are doing mean for us?” (Ezekiel 24:18-19)  It is in the very city of Philippi that we get the story of the Philippian Jailer.  After being beaten and praising God through a night of imprisonment Paul and Silas are able to lead their captive audience, the jailer, and his whole family to Jesus.  “Sirs, What must I do to be saved” (Acts 16:30)

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I am reading the Pentateuch.  I started Deuteronomy last night.  As I read, I have noticed a few things.  The first one is that God has not changed!  His methods have not changed.  His requirements have not changed.  I never realized how many Old Testament characters believed in and served God outside of Israel and God’s covenant with Abraham.  Melchizidek, Job, even Balaam who fell prey to his own sinful desires.  As I recognize a separation between God’s dealings with mankind and God’s covenant with Abraham, Isaac and their descendants, I recognize a great harmony between the Old and New Testaments.  As I read Genesis, Exodus, (OK Leviticus creeped me out just a little, skin diseases, hair falling out, discharges….), Numbers and Deuteronomy I sensed the same God, the same message as Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts or any of the epistles. 

One of the other, and more pertinent things to my current life was God’s dealings with Israel in the wilderness.  They were given the end of the story, but the path to get there was a moment by moment thing.  When the cloud/fire lifted they went.  When the cloud/fire settled they stayed put.  God was “a lamp unto their feet”.  He only provided enough information to get them to the next stop on the journey to the promised land.  It was enough to fray even Moses staunch faith in The Lord, just enough to cause him to strike a rock instead of speaking to it, just enough to keep him out of the promised land.  For the people it was too much.  They couldn’t wrap their minds around Hebrews 11:1

Now Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Of course they didn’t have that scripture but it was certainly what God was calling them to.  So every step of the way, they whined, they cried and when push came to shove and they faced the giants they failed.  Then they tried to fix it themselves and they failed again.  I can’t avoid the “Just In Time” information flow of the Holy Spirit but I pray that I can avoid the outcome that Israel experienced.  I have already spent enough time in the wilderness!  I have already felt the sting when I have stepped out of God’s timing.  I stand at the base of Mt. Horeb.  He has given me a vision of the promised land but the landscape between Horeb and Canaan is cluttered.  There are too many paths.  I am in a hurry.  I want the Trip-Tik or to have the Map Quest  page that gives me the route, ETA and potential tie ups along the way.  With each new development my mind races to figure out all the possible scenarios.  Sometimes it seems like the way gets foggier and foggier, until that moment when he parts the Red Sea or the walls of Jericho fall.  So here I wait for the cloud to lift and lead.  The camp is uncomfortable.  The enviroment stressful.  I am ready for the promised land but..

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.  My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning. Psalm 130:5-6

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