WEEK 59: Ezekiel 18-28; Psalm 59
“THE PARENTS HAVE EATEN SOUR GRAPES…and the children’s teeth are set on edge,” was obviously one way that the exiles were explaining their terrible state (Ch. 18). It was all their ancestors’ fault. But in a watershed passage, God calls them, and us, to take responsibility for the here and now, in the hope that, just as our own sins have led to current misery, our own repentance and reformation can lead to hope. This, however, is not to mean that all misery and suffering are only and always the result of one’s sin.
A SECOND EXODUS is effectively what God promises in Ez. 20, when God promises that, “As I judged your ancestors in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will judge you, declares the Sovereign LORD. I will take note of you as you pass under my rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant.”
THE ROOTS OF SOME NEW TESTAMENT teachings and images reach back into Ezekiel. Compare Ezekiel 15 and John 15, as well as Ezekiel 21: 26 and Matthew 23: 12. Remembering these things when we read the Gospels, we see how Jesus’ ministry was prophetic, like that of Ezekiel, even, how Jesus saw parallels between his time and ministry, and that of Israel’s previous prophets, even as he built upon, fulfilled and transcended, the ministry of Israel’s previous prophets.
TYRE: the prosperous, proud but doomed mercantile city-state on the coast of modern-day Lebanon, figured greatly in the prophecies of these chapters of Ezekiel, meriting even a dirge (chs. 26-28). This formed the basis for the dirge of Rev. 18, for Babylon the Great.
MORE THOUGHTS ON PROPHETS TODAY: Ezekiel, Isaiah and Jeremiah saw and described the hand of God at work in world events of the day. They all saw Babylon and its emperor, Nebuchadnezzar, as a key instrument in the hand of God.
Today, with modern media, we know even more about the doings, comings and goings of world governments and other major entities, like global corporations. Yet that does not qualify us to give a definite “Thus saith the Lord…..” about any headline events. As stated in last week’s entry, by reading the prophets we imbibe a prophetic viewpoint about God’s faithfulness and human unfaithfulness, and that is all we need in order to be God’s faithful people whatever the time or the situation. That, and the fruits of the Spirit of the prophets for our characters, and the gifts of the Spirit of the prophets for our ministries.
As for biblical timelines and the meanings of current events, one particular fruit of the Spirit comes in handy: self-control (Gal. 5:22). Let’s not get swept up in the obscurantism and enthusiasm of those who are quick to interpret the times and are sure that the end is near. If we are ready for the long haul, then we’ll be ready for the immediate.
..is an individual’s lament, with the structure of: 1) the complaint (injustice and violence); 2) imprecations against the offenders; 3) confessions of trust in God to deliver.
Its not hard to identify with the complaint: the divisive and destructive effect of those who speak lies, spread slander and sow division within communities. Too often the market and politics encourage and reward socially divisive and destructive behavior, from the highest levels of government down to the level of families.
Of special note in this psalm are the names for God: my fortress (v. 2, 9, 16 & 17); Lord God Almighty (5); the God of Israel (5); my God, on whom I can rely (9 & 17); our shield (11); my refuge in times of trouble (16); my strength (17). Invoking God by such names, and meditating on them, are ancient and worthwhile spiritual practices.