1:30 pm Saturday October 16, 2021. 65F/18C.
A cool breeze blows across the property where the cabin sits. Every leaf of the forest is in motion. The meadow grasses are getting longer as they revive from their once a year mowing. They too bow and straighten ever so slightly in green waves. The trees in contrast are more yellow than they were this time last week. Last night was the first night of cold for the season. The air is still sweet, but not as sweet as it was in the summer. Back in the cabin, five nettle leaves are placed in a pan with water. As the room fills with the scent of tea, a vehicle can be heard to move slowly along the dirt road. Life in the hollow is slow today.
The book of Ezekiel, chapter fourteen
Abba Father, I humbly beseech thee to grant us your wisdom as we read your holy word, the Bible. Let me learn. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen
In chapter fourteen, some elders of the Jewish community sat before Ezekiel and asked him to inquire of the Lord on their behalves. But the Lord was not pleased with being just another god on their spiritual tour. The elders had worshiped idols before consulting Ezekiel and God knew it. He knew that they held onto idolatry at the core of their lives. Their days were scheduled around the needs of their idols, not around worship of God.
God instructed Ezekiel to let them know that each individual idol worshiper would be addressed by almighty God, and not by the prophet. If any man came to the prophet after worshiping idols, his name would become synonymous with idolatry and his life would end.
God was angry.
And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel.
It took a little while for that verse to make sense. I consulted a commentary because I just could not understand. My best guess is this: All prophets were to speak God’s words and only God’s words. If the person doing the inquiring some how managed to convince the prophet to negotiate with God so that he could continue in sin, then God would allow the negotiation and deal with them in a type of deceit that would match their deceit. Then he would destroy both prophet and inquirer. Both would suffer.
And they shall bear the punishment of their iniquity: the punishment of the prophet shall be even as the punishment of him that seeketh unto him.
That the house of Israel may go no more astray from me, neither be polluted any more with all their transgressions; but that they may be my people, and I may be their God, saith the Lord GOD.
Such an act of deceit against God would be sufficient to remove both from among God’s chosen people. One error could ruin a good thing for everybody. God seemed very jealous on behalf of his chosen people in the book of Ezekiel. He protected the people from the iniquity of the wicked, even at the expense of the life of the prophet.
Wow. God was extreme in his protection of a remnant of faithful people.
Life in the hollow, Saturday
When I began chapter fourteen, God gave me a short vision that I did not understand, and perhaps it is becoming more clear: A man guided me gently, kindly and graciously near a ravine full of trash. Then he callously pushed me in. He then turned and brushed the dust from himself and left.
I am a story teller at heart. I always have been. I have to check myself frequently to make sure I am not exaggerating the bad or making the good prettier than it really is.
And God has never asked me to be an evangelist or a prophet or a preacher or a teacher. He has only asked me to write.
And here comes the problem: I’m a story teller with a love for Jesus. If Ezekiel is an example, then exaggerations have no part in my relationship with Christ.
Ezekiel presents a picture of only one aspect of a very complex and beautiful God. But this seems consistent about him throughout the Bible: He wants honesty and faithfulness from those who wish to serve him. Don’t add society’s polite social morals to what he asked, and don’t leave any truth out of his word.