Posts Tagged ‘purpose’

PurposeEzekiel was one far out dude.  I could focus on the wheels, sing about dem dry bones or wish that I could see the beasts of his prophecy in the zoo but I want to step away from the details of Ezekiel’s message.  Let’s focus on an aspect of Ezekiel’s life that make’s him another Hupomone Man.

Ezekiel was from a priestly family and like Daniel he was taken from his home in Israel and brought to Babylon.  His family was probably prominent and influential.  Ryrie places him among the many hostages that Nebuchadnezzar took to ensure the cooperation of his newly conquered land.  Unlike Isaiah and Jeremiah, Ezekiel prophesied to the Jews in Babylon.

As I read through Ezekiel this time around, I really tried to keep the words of the prophecies given to him by God out of focus.  I did not want to get caught up in the wonder and beautiful detail of Ezekiel’s dreams.  I really wanted to get a feel for Ezekiel the man.  This is perhaps most difficult to do with Ezekiel among those whom we term the Major Prophets as there is minimal historical detail.  With the details out of focus I began to notice a recurring phrase:  “Then you will know that I am the Lord”.  It takes some different forms, “and then you shall know that I am the Lord.”  The Holy Spirit whispered in my ear, “Hupomone Men have purpose.”.  Honestly it took me a bit to make the connection (I probably could have used Ezekiel’s help….connecting the bones of the thought together….ok ouch that was bad).

Ezekiel completely understood the purpose of everything that he said and did.  Speaking for God is not an abstract activity.  The life of the Hupomone Man is not an abstract activity.  It has purpose.  It really has one overarching purpose.  That purpose is to act, speak, write…to live in such a way that those around you can “know that He is the Lord.”  Peter put it this way, “Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies, sot that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” 1 Peter 4:11

As Hupomone Men we can be sure that everything that happens in our lives is some how contributing to this purpose, either for ourselves or for those around us.  Ezekiel deeply understood this even as his wife passed away, there was purpose. ( I deal more with this particular story here. ) This is all part of our great assurance that God is in control.  We cannot, we must not allow circumstances to impinge on this great Peace that we have as children of God.  Ezekiel never lost sight of his purpose through all of the turmoil, through all the circumstances of his life.  He demonstrated Major Endurance and certainly earned the title of Hupomone Man.

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“For you have need of endurance (hupomone) so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised”  Hebrews 10:36

 

Obedience is at the very core of perseverance.  Obedience springs from our true hope in God and in the fact that he will do what he says he will do.  Our hope springs from the obedience of our savior.

“For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One, the many will be made righteous.”  Romans 5:19

Daniel understood obedience as Paul did.  He saw it as more than just the sum of our earthly actions but as a spiritual principle.  In chapter 1 we see a three step process for biblical obedience.

 

Step 1:  Choose

” But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank…”

Daniel 1:8 

The first step is one of the heart and mind.  The King James states “Daniel purposed in his heart”, the English Standard Version, “Daniel resolved”.  The Hebrew here is significant.  “Leb Suwm” .  Leb indicates the inner being of man.  The root of this word is used of the people of Israel after the spies came back from the Promised Land. Ten delivered a report of fear while Caleb and Joshua delivered a report of God.  Moses states in Deuteronomy 1 “‘Where can we go up? Our brethren have made our hearts melt, saying, “The people are bigger and taller than we; the cities are large and fortified to heaven. And besides, we saw the sons of the Anakim there.”  Ever have that fear so intense that you feel like your inner most being is melting?  Sometimes we term it “having that sinking feeling”.  The reality is that Israel had  not yet sinned.  I have to believe that there were times in the experiences of this boy who watched his home decimated in a siege and then was ripped out of all he knew that his heart melted within him.  Moses goes on to say, “But for all this, you did not trust the LORD your God, who goes before you on your way, to seek out a place for you to encamp, in fire by night and cloud by day, to show you the way in which you should go.”  The resolve to be obedient for the Children of God (both New Testament and Old) is tied up in our Trust in the One True God and it is this resolve that translates into biblical perseverance.  Daniel directed his inner most core through all his circumstances not to defile himself before God.

2.  Share

The second step is one of relationship.  Everyone of us lives within a web of relationships that involve influence and authority. “so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself.” I think that too often the people of God pursue obedience in arrogance.  They use God as an excuse to ignore or defy authority in a disrespectful manner.  Paul makes it clear what the relationship of the Jesus Follower is to those in authority, “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.”  Romans 13:1-2  Even when our faith requires us to obey God rather than men it is done with respect and honor.  Consider Daniel’s three friends in the face of King Nebuchadnezzar’s rage, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”  This is another aspect of perseverance in obedience.  When it is shared it spreads.  Not only did Daniel share his perseverance with the commander of officials, he shared it with his friends.  I can only imagine that this is one of the things that the kings of Babylon appreciated in Daniel.  As he was obedient to God and persevered in his faith it multiplied itself in those around him and with that multiplication the blessings that come along with godly perseverance were multiplied too.  In this way Daniel experienced incredible favor in a pagan land.

3.  Follow Through

Once we have chosen and shared we need to trust God as we follow through in our obedience. This is the part of obedience in perseverance where the rubber meets the road.  It  led James to say, “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.”  James 2:17  You can purpose in your heart and then share that all day long but if your actions don’t follow through with that purpose and those around you cannot match up what you are representing to them with what you are doing then it is all a bunch of hooey.  Daniel and his friends engage their purpose and sharing with real action that results in miraculous favor.  I can only imagine that at first their actions were met with derision.  As the other boys ate their sumptuous meals and drank the wine of the kings table I am sure that the obedience to this foreign God seemed pretty silly.  When Daniel and his friends were elevated to high positions, it suddenly was not so funny.  When God’s people obey, the world notices.  Daniel’s follow through on his purpose and sharing was so consistent that his enemies knew that if they were going to bring him down it would have to be by compromising his obedience to God.  What they did not count on (or possibly believe in) was miraculous intervention of Jehovah-Sabaoth, God our protector.  Consider Jesus’ words to His disciples , ” He said to His disciples, “It is inevitable * that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble.” Luke 17:1-2  Daniel’s enemies found that messing with his obedience to God had real consequences.  Daniel portrays another aspect of persevering obedience in a story about his friends.  When their stance on worshipping Nebuchadnezzar’s golden idol on pain of death this is their answer:  “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  “But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”  Daniel 4:17-18  Persevering obedience does not require a positive earthly outcome.  The value of true obedience is spiritual and eternal.  It is this kind of obedience that Jesus demonstrated as he moved through His earthly ministry towards The Cross.  ” Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,  so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. “Philippians 2:8-11

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