Cover-to-Cover – Ezekiel (2)

We are still churning through Ezekiel, and by all accounts it is a tough read.  Not exactly sure what exactly Ezekiel was like as a person, but I’ve got a pretty good mental picture going.  A couple quick thoughts about what we’ve been reading this week…

First, lots of comparing Israel to a prostitute.  And not just subtle hints either.  Full on graphic descriptions of their “unfaithfulness” that make me cringe a bit as I read.

Which is exactly the point.

Idolatry is no light issue for God.  It is number one in God’s top ten.  Apparently, it isn’t something God shrugs his shoulders at or turns a blind eye from.  He knows that it not only robs Him of honor and glory, but it always leads to the de-humanizing of the people whom he loves.

I know that the last few words might seem out of place in our discussion of Ezekiel.  Almost as out of place as a verse read earlier this week…

“As surely as I live,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “I take no delight in the death of the wicked, but rather they they turn from their ways and live.  Turn!  Turn from your evil ways!  Why will you die, O house of Israel?”

Ezekiel 33:11

A couple days ago, while reading from Scot McKnight’s A Community Called Atonement, I was reminded that God’s holiness and his love are not in opposition to one another.  Rather, they are meant to be held together.  They are connected.  Forgive me for quoting at length:

Herein lies the danger of bipolarizing God … God is either loving holiness or holy love, but God is not dualistic in attributes.  If one plays this dualistic game very often, one courts the danger of turning God into a confused being who struggles over what to do with sinners.

God’s wrath – and we’ll leave its meaning open for now – springs as much from God’s love as it does from his holiness.  As Miraslov Volf puts it so well, “God isn’t wrathful in spite of being love.  God is wrathful because God is love … The world is sinful.  That’s why God doesn’t affirm it indiscriminately.  God loves the world.  That’s why he doesn’t punish it in justice.”

Ok.  I guess that’s enough for now.  I’ve got the all important Four for Friday to get to.

Cover-to-Cover – Ezekiel (1)

There is no way around it.  Ezekiel is one strange dude.  The whole lying on his side for over a year.  Nuts.  Cooking food over cow manure, which is apparently an upgrade over human waste.  Equally loco.  In conversations with my partner-in-crime today, he verified my suspicion that if Ezekiel were running around today, he’d be institutionalized. 

Ok.  So I don’t really have anything to say about the book, so I thought I’d point you to some helpful resources.  Here’s one…  maybe you’ve heard of it.

There is one thing I’d add.  Prophets were often engaged in something known as prophetic drama.  Both of the crazy activities I mentioned in opening are examples of it.  I tried to find something on the internet that explained it well, but I was surprised to find next to nothing.  So basically it works like this, God calls certain people to not just speak his message, but to enact it.  The ones from above are pretty clear because it is spelled out.  The laying on his side for a prescribed length of time is symbolic of the years that Israel and Judah were unfaithful.  Cooking over poop was meant to symbolize their impurity.

Not so pleasant for the prophet, but I imagine it gets its point across.  A little later, a guy named Hosea is going to have his whole life lived out as one long prophetic drama.  Then there’s this guy Jesus.  More than a little drama going on there too.