Today’s Reading: Ezekiel 15-18
Can’t say that this has been one of the easiest posts to write! Faithfulness, dependability etc has always been something extremely important to me. Not that I could boast of perfection in this area, still it is a very precious characteristic in relationship! Can you feel the hurt of God’s big loving heart in the allegory of the wood of a vine, never being useful for anything, so the people of Israel, even in being put thorough hurtful pain, never produced an Israel in its own merits which is of any worth to God! It’s almost like hearing God moaning to Himself in an earlier reading in Isaiah 5:4, “What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it?”
The last few days have become more and more graphic in their description of Judah’s unfaithfulness to the Lord! Couched in such terms, doesn’t seem to be so bad. The illustration of how good God had been to Judah in choosing her in her completely hopeless condition is a fairy tale of beauty. And then the downward turn of Judah forsaking the Lord being compared to an unfaithful adulterous wife in such grafted description is for me, painful beyond words! And then the feeling of deep uneasy dawns on me – am I in some way chasing a dream, something I can’t live without (perhaps unknowingly like at times for Judah?) to find satisfaction in life! Because it is put in such real terms, do you cringe like I do at such unfaithfulness and ungratefulness! But when the truth hits home, do we pray the earnest prayer of Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Or David’s wistful plead after sinning, in Psalms 51:10-12 “Make a clean heart in me, O God. Give me a new spirit that will not be moved. Do not throw me away from where You are. And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Let the joy of Your saving power return to me. And give me a willing spirit to obey you.” (Although we can’t lose our salvation, the loss of His closeness, or losing the joy of sensing His nearness can be tarnished by our coldness of heart or sin!)
How is it possible that Judah is even worse than the ten tribes, and the other enemy nations about them – astonishingly – even Sodom! I am moved to tears by the rage of His loving heart and that He is so deeply wounded by unfaithfulness! (both ours and Judah!).
And so there is no way that King Zedekiah will be able to escape God’s judgment, His discipline! Scheme as you like, you can’t escape! But in the end the Lord will bless Judah and Israel again! If we and Israel are unfaithful, that will not stop God’s faithfulness! 2 Tim. 2:13 is a favourite comforting verse of mine “if we are faithless, He REMAINS faithful, for He can’t DENY HIMSELF! – but not a verse to be taken lightly or presumptuously! Thank you, thank you, Lord for YOUR faithfulness – that’s what You are and how incredibly beautiful You are!!!
Probably what rises to mind in the last section is somewhat like Judah’s reaction – “That’s not fair, surely I can build up some credit by the good I do?! But God holds each of us accountable for what we do PERSONALLY and when I find myself trying to force God into recognize MY goodness, I know I’m in trouble, because He’s not in debt to me! And when I say, “What about this fellow believer,” I hear His gentle voice saying as He did to Peter, “What is that to you, you follow Me!”