Did Ezekiel love music and poetry?

Moss, limb, leaves, lichen

3:45 p.m. Sunday November 21, 2021. 60F/16C.

The winter birds have come to the hollow! They were first spotted yesterday pecking in the leaves just west of the cabin. There were a whole flock of small brown-black birds with lovely yellow beaks. They seem to love a succulent small plant commonly called hens and chicks. The plants never grow large in the hollow. Out in the forest, the woodpecker lets out his odd clucking noise, a small flock of migrating birds honk excitedly, and all kinds of small brown birds chirp and flutter about. It is good to hear such abundance of life again in the hollow. The sky is a gray blanket over all the sky. Hail fell amid lightning and claps of thunder at noon, but now all the hail has melted into clear puddles. The aroma of the forest lacks the bitter scent of green leaves, and instead has a sweet, but very earthy aroma. Few leaves cling to a few branches. The sandy soil is somewhere beneath waves of brown leaves. Sweet warm nettle tea is ready in the cabin. It is sipped while gazing out the window at the network of branches that create lacy patterns in front of the clouds.

The book of Ezekiel, chapter nineteen

Abba Father, thank you. You have led me on a journey through discovery, repentance, creativity and joy. Please reveal who you are to all who seek you. In the name of your beloved son Jesus, I pray. Amen.

After listing all the sins of Judah in chapter eighteen, it ended with a marvelous word. God told Ezekiel that it was not his desire to see anyone die. He desired that everyone repent.

In chapter nineteen, God told a story from nature where the characters mimicked the royalty of Jerusalem. It was to be a lamentation.

Moreover take thou up a lamentation for the princes of Israel,

A lamentation was a poem or song that expressed grief. It is likely that in the original language, the words rhymed or had a rhythm so that it could be sung or spoken to a drumbeat or even to the rhythm of the singer beating on his own chest.

And say, What is thy mother? A lioness: she lay down among lions, she nourished her whelps among young lions.

“What is this?” Ezekiel was to ask. “A lioness crouches among young strong male lions. She brings up her cubs.”

Have you ever heard drums and singing of the native American Cree people? Several men gather around one large kettle-shaped drum and they all hit the drum in a rhythm and then sing along with the rhythm. Did God have something like that in mind when he wrote the lamentation? The people would listen and see in their imaginations a family of large muscular mountain lions, protecting the female who still nurses her young.

And she brought up one of her whelps: it became a young lion, and it learned to catch the prey; it devoured men.

With the drumbeat still pounding like a heartbeat, Ezekiel would continue. The first of her cubs became a strong lion, working alone, easily plucking off small animals for food, and destroying men as it lived.

The nations also heard of him; he was taken in their pit, and they brought him with chains unto the land of Egypt.

But as the nations of men heard of the fearless young lion, they set a trap for him. They seized the young lion and put a ring for chains through his snout and led him with chains. They pulled him with that chain all the way to Egypt.

Jehoahaz was the son of good king Josiah and Hamutal. He was raised in a family among strong sons and a very strong father. When good king Josiah died, Jehoahaz became king. But Jehoahaz reinstated some of the evil that his own father had removed from Jerusalem. God decided against Jehoahaz in 609 BC. Jehoahaz reigned only three months when Egyptian Pharaoh Necho put a chain through his nose and led him off to prison in Egypt.

Jehoahaz ruled just before the first wave of exiles went to Babylonia. So, at this point in history the Jewish people would have recognized who the lioness was and who the young cub became.

God portrayed the royalty of Judah as young strong lions who killed and ruled at will. He also made it clear that he made the decision of who would rule and who would not, regardless of how strong the lion was.

Life in the hollow, Sunday

The fierceness of a storm that hit about noon today matched the emotional state that I have been in.

I told the Lord last week that I was depleted that there was not a creative bone in my body. His Spirit instructed me to take three days to rest and I did.

Apparently, losing our creativity is equivalent to illness in his sight. I find that very interesting. In fact, I spent the three days watching youtube videos of speakers who carried on about how Christians need to use their God-given gifts to serve him!

I find that fascinating about God. Really! Our God-given gifts should be cultivated and grown. If we lose our love for our God-given gifts, it is of grave concern to him.

God is creative and creator. He gives gifts of song-writing and singing and painting and poetry and writing. All those creative arts are gifts that God can give. All those descriptions of lions crouched on a stony mountain, and while drums beat, pouncing and overcoming prey – those are from God.

He is creative, creator, beautiful. He is rhythm and tone. He is rhyme and meter.

He is.

About oppression

8:45 a.m. Saturday November 20, 2021. 50F/10C.

The breeze that reaches the ground sends a cold chill to the shoulders. The sandy soil feels solid and ice cold underfoot. With most leaves gone from the trees, there seems to be no barrier to protect man or animal from the storms that drift overhead. The western mountain is once again visible behind a net-like structure made of limbs and dry leaves. It reflects the slightly golden morning light.

The book of Ezekiel, chapter eighteen

Abba Father, I humbly beseech thee to protect your people from the attacks of our enemy. Grant us your mercy, your favor, and your peace. Grant us wisdom to apply your lessons to the ancients to us today. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Chapter eighteen of Ezekiel seemed to have multiple purposes. First was that of teaching the ancient people how each man was responsible for his own wickedness, his own repentance, or his own righteousness. Second was a list of sins that were apparently too common from God’s vantage point.

1. Do what is lawful and right – Obey the law.

2. Do not eat upon the mountains – Do not celebrate feasts for idols.

3. Do not lift up eyes to the idols of the house of Israel – Do not worship any idol, even if a priest or king declares it to be an official idol of the land.

4. Do not defile a neighbor’s wife – No man should force into sex or seduce someone else’s wife.

5. Do not go near a menstruous woman – No man was to have sex with a woman during her monthly period or have sex with a priestess, or have sex with his own daughter.

6. Do not oppress any – No man was to commit an act of violence or destruction for personal gain.

7. Restore to the debtor his pledge – If a another Jew was owed goods or money, some gave a pledge to assure the lender/worker that his word was good. In Genesis 38, the man Judah’s pledge to a fake prostitute was his signet ring, his bracelets and his staff. God instructed the Jews not to keep the pledge forever, but to give it back when the business transaction ended. Tamar, the fake prostitute, returned Judah’s pledge when he acknowledged that she had the right to bear a child.

8. Spoiled none by violence – Do not beat and rob anyone.

9. Gave his bread to the hungry – Fed a good meal to those who had no food. “Bread” meant nutritious food of any kind.

10. Covered the naked with a garment – Gave clothing, especially warm clothing, as needed.

11. Do not give forth upon usury – Jews were not to charge interest to other Jews on loans given. They were not to charge unusually high interest to non-Jews.

12. Do not take any increase – Jews were not to profit off of the poor who needed a loan or service.

13. Withdraw the hand from iniquity – Jews were not to give assistance to another person who was wicked.

14. Executed true judgment between man and man – Jews were to be fair and impartial when asked to be a judge in a dispute.

15. Walked in God’s statutes – Kept the laws of God.

16. Kept God’s judgments – Kept the judgments that were fairly delivered in disputes.

17. Deal truly – be honest in relationships with others.

That pretty much covers the sins God saw in ancient Judah during Ezekiel’s life. It seems odd that the God whom they had known all their lives had to list specifically what sins they could not commit if they were to be called righteous! They should have known. The sins God was seeing ranged from idolatry to shady business deals, but the biggest problem by far seemed to have been an oppression of the poor and disadvantaged – even to the point of doing physical harm to keep them oppressed.

It was not to prove a point to the sinners that God destroyed Jerusalem. It was to rescue the oppressed. However, something in their destruction would cause the wicked to know that our God is and was God.

Something in the peace God brought to the oppressed would cause them to know that the Almighty cared.

Life in the hollow, Saturday

With every release of information on the news, God’s Spirit speaks to me about the benefits of heaven or of his desire to see his people there.

Heaven. I’ve heard that everything man could want or dream about is there. Animals talk. The rivers are good for swimming, whether you know how to swim or not. You will live in a mansion. There is no discontent. Nothing dies.

Today there is a wind outdoors, but it is warm and peaceful in the cabin. The fat brown cat is perched next to me, concerning herself with whether her paws need to be licked some more. Those things seen on the news rarely touch us here.

May God be praised in every forest. Yes the world is seeing a surge in evil. I worship the God who destroyed many to rescue the oppressed few. It is sad – that image of my nation that the news presents is very sad. May our God be praised in every city. May the oppressed find life for themselves in committing their lives to Jesus.

May our God be praised.

Rest day

I became ill while taking a walk this morning. UGH!

10:00 a.m. Thursday November 18, 2021. 48F/9C.

I am taking a day to re-read Ezekiel 18, to pray and to take a rest after a day of exertion and exposure to allergens yesterday.

God bless you all.

For nothing is concealed that will not become evident, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light.

So take care how you listen; for whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken away from him.

Luke 8:17,18 (NASB)

but what sayest thou?

trees and sky at dawn

6:30 a.m. Wednesday November 17, 2021. 68F/20C.

For three days the weather planes have been working during both day and night. But this morning, no roaring of engines may be heard. Clouds seem to pass rapidly from the south to the north-northeast. In the dim light of dawn, the clouds are deep blue, and mottled with light gray spots. The tree trunks are an even darker blue. The tree tops are mostly bare. Winds make the thin tall trees bend from west to east. The thicker the tree trunk, the less it sways. The turkey’s favorite roosting tree, off to the north is still covered with leaves. As more light fills the hollow, the turkey’s tree shows up as orange against the gray sky. No animals or birds can be heard. The hollow instead is filled with the roar of wind in the treetops. As is usual, little more than a breeze reaches the cabin porch. It is warm with a musty aroma coming from the piles of wind swept leaves on the ground. Plain tea is prepared indoors. It does not seem a day for sweetness, but for mourning the loss of green and for preparing against the cold to come.

The book of Ezekiel, chapter eighteen

Abba Father, I humbly beseech thee to open the meanings of words in your Bible, which is a record of your words to mankind. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Chapter eighteen contains at least two levels of information. The first is a basic message that God gave Ezekiel regarding the fact that God judges each person as an individual, not as a household unit.

This gave hope to the righteous who lived under a wicked government.

The second level of information can be found in the long list of behaviors that God considered to be sin. God desired for righteous men to be free of sin and live. God did accept an honest change of heart, repentance, as a way to be free of sin already committed.

From Ezekiel 18:6 – a righteous man did not defile his neighbor’s wife. In looking over the original text, this does actually appear to be God standing up for the woman in a marriage. Using John 8:3-11, as evidence, (the woman caught in adultery) the ancient Jewish culture made only the woman at fault if caught having sexual intercourse with a man who was not her husband. But way back in Ezekiel’s day, God declared that the man would die as a sinner. Did the scribes and pharisees of John 8 have selective memory about that teaching straight from almighty God?

From Ezekiel 18:6 – a righteous man never came near to a menstruous woman, or a woman during her monthly period. In this case, “came near to” must mean both “approached” and/or “had intercourse with”. Three things strike me about this standard of righteousness. One, it was a matter of cleanliness and healthier relationships for both the woman and the man. Two, it was a matter of continuing the human species! Ancient women enjoyed their pregnancies. Her monthly period was a nearly impossible time for a woman to become pregnant. Sexual intercourse during her period satisfied the man, but denied his wife the right to bear children. Three, the words used in the original text might NOT be specific to menstruous women, but could easily include women who were immoral or lived among immoral people, who were temple prostitutes, or women who were close blood relatives, especially daughters. All these would cause a man to die in his sin.

Women were not usually community leaders or even heads of a family in ancient Jewish culture. Ancient historians rarely remembered women as individuals. These two standards of righteousness showed God standing up for the righteous among ancient Jewish women.

Life in the hollow, Wednesday

It took several years for God’s Spirit to reveal to me the problems in modern acceptance of homosexual and lesbian relationships. I had to see first, the problems brought about by people with too much: too much time to burn, too much comfort in our homes, too much time to spend on electronics. Our attentions have turned to striving for personal satisfaction. And we began to oppress one another in order to be satisfied.

Oh! But my family and friends say that the world is overpopulated! We need fewer babies, they tell me, and why not encourage sexual deviations to that end? And so we suppress those family lines. That’s not what God wants.

Who says we are overpopulated? Some rich men who only want enough humans to serve their purposes? Why do we have to believe that? Why?

I watch the wind catch the dark tree branches and shake them! Brown leaves tremble where they hang off the branches. Some hang on. Some fall.

I think God will stand up for those who believe on his son Jesus and who want to live. We may have to endure the mighty wind as his wrath covers our nations. We might have to repent of things we never knew were sins. But I think he will stand up for the righteous again. That’s what I think.

Lawlessness

Early morning wood smoke in the trees of the eastern ridge

10:30 a.m. Tuesday, November 16, 2021. 63F/17C.

Birds are active today. They caw and screech and cluck from all directions. Wood smoke rests in the trees. Leaves, golden brown and red, fall all around. A wormy apple is heaved in the direction of the wet meadow. Several crows caw in response to the thud of its landing. The birds will enjoy that more than any human would. Many apple cores have been tossed to the meadow. So far, none have grown into apple trees. The future may bring something different. The forest air is pleasantly cool today. Today is being spent tidying the property. Two stone walls on the property are inspected and pondered. The smokey air is losing some of its sweetness. The gum tree loses its leaves. Winter is coming.

The book of Ezekiel, chapter eighteen

Abba Father, I ask you to allow us to know you better through the words in the Bible. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

The purpose of my blog is changing. I no longer write to be a sought-after writer, but I write to hold myself accountable for reading daily in God’s word. Ezekiel eighteen was finished yesterday, however, I’d like to go into a deeper look at it, in order to have some understanding of the sins that so angered God.

God’s first purpose appeared to be to encourage each Jew to see himself as an individual, responsible for his own sins and his own righteousness. The sinner would not be riding the coattails of his family’s good reputation. There would be no despair of a righteous son in a wicked family. But in the listing of sins that God wanted his people to avoid, there is revelation of what the people were doing in that era.

From 18:6, a righteous man would not eat upon the mountains. Since the majority of sins of Ezekiel’s era had idolatry at their core, this seems to be a reference to celebrating feast days to idols. Obviously, people living on mountains were permitted to take meals in their homes (I would be doomed). On top of the mountains, idols were erected. Foods were laid in front of idols before they were eaten. So, a righteous man did not participate in feast days where idols were celebrated.

From 18:6, a righteous man would not lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel. I began researching this phrase while thinking I would find a multitude of insignificant idols. Unfortunately, many of the northern tribes of Israel took up the habit of worshiping both YHWH and idols at the same time. The city of Dan, in the northern kingdom also had a temple, patterned after the temple in Jerusalem. The tribe of Levi worked as the priests of the nations. Ezekiel would have been a Levite. They had no land assigned to them, so they moved about in the two kingdoms, as they were needed. In Judges 17, a story is told of Micah’s silver idol. Micah’s family had the habit of worshiping both idols and God at the same time. Micah built a household worship center dedicated to God and containing a silver idol. Micah hired a Levite to be priest in his household place of worship. He was pleased because he believed God would bless him for hiring a Levite. Now, when the tribe of Dan conquered the place where Micah lived, the tribe stole Micah’s idol and set it into a temple for God in the city that they renamed Dan. This was in direct rebellion against one of the ten commandments! This is where all the northern people worshiped!

I will stop there and continue tomorrow. But I am amazed at what happened to the people whom God chose. And I am amazed that God was as patient with them as he was. The prophets whose stories make up most of the Old Testament were the oddballs of their day. They were calling the people back to obedience with only a little success.

That little success became the remnant who lived and thrived through God’s wrath.

Life in the hollow, Tuesday

I listened to the news before reading the Bible today. It’s discouraging. Why does my nation even have laws? Our highest officials break the nation’s laws and bully those who do not break the laws! What?!?

But I take hope, even in the Old Testament stories. The remnant that survived and sometimes thrived, were the ones who obeyed God.

We just have to hold out and hold onto our hope, which is our savior Jesus.

… God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

1 John 5

God takes no pleasure in punishing mankind

I have a little more stinging nettle to harvest before winter

4:30 p.m. Monday November 15, 2021. 65F/18C.

Jet planes again roar over the hollow. Treetops are golden against the pale blue sky. The trees sparkle in the setting sun, as if coated by some metallic dust. Small birds have ventured out today. They chirp and flutter down to the grasses in the meadow. They always carry their findings back to the shrubby trees. A slight breeze flows through the trees and almost reaches the cabin porch. Small plants in the greenhouse seem to be growing well. The aroma of the forest is still sweet, this far into autumn. The air is not cold, but the sunshine that streams down in open places still feels welcome on well-covered shoulders. The season is changing.

The book of Ezekiel, chapter eighteen

Abba Father, Let us be excited as we invite you to be a part of our Bible study. Grant us your mercy, your wisdom, your peace, for yours is greater than any other. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Chapter eighteen was a word to encourage the exiles to depart from the folk wisdom of their culture. Fathers were expected to be righteous, otherwise their children would be disciplined for the fathers’ sins. But God wanted that changed. Each individual would pay for his own sin. Each individual would reap the rewards of his own righteousness.

But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.

Now when a good person stopped doing good, and became wicked, he would die in his sin. Here, the people murmured against God, saying, “God’s not being fair!”

Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? Are not your ways unequal?

The Jewish people of Ezekiel’s day apparently believed that if they did good things at the beginning of their lives, then they could live out their elder years in any kind of sin they chose!

When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die.

Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.

So, if a man began his life with sinning, and then repented as an old man, and began following God’s law, he would be saved. Because he stopped and thought about it and repented, the sinner would be saved.

Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.

The people could not agree with God on that.

Yet saith the house of Israel, The way of the Lord is not equal. O house of Israel, are not my ways equal? Are not your ways unequal?

Again, God heard the people complain, “God’s not fair.” And he judged them.

Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.

It was doing the people no good to go to the temple on holy days and then go back to being wicked as soon as the holy day ended. God suggested they repent before he sent them all to their deaths.

Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

Here comes the reason why God desired their repentance:

For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.

God does not take pleasure in hurting or killing mankind. He wants to see man turn from wickedness and live.

May we all turn from wickedness and live.

Life in the hollow, Monday

It’s been a day of emotional turmoil. I’ve spent a good deal of it pleading the blood of Jesus and feverishly cleaning and putting things in order.

The Holy Spirit spoke to me a few days ago, in the afternoon on November 9, something odd. He said, “Donald Trump is back in power.” I do not know what was meant by that. Because, from my perspective, Trump has always wielded great power in the USA and really, worldwide. Whether he was president or not. And of course, God sees things that never show up on the news.

So, I’ve been checking the news outlets. They have the same concerns they always have. So, I will wait and see what was meant by that.

In the meantime, God still does not take pleasure in any deaths. We have ample opportunity to give our lives to him by believing in Jesus and turning from our worldly ways. And this is indeed life! Life in joy. Life in abundance. This is so much life!

Who owes the sin debt

1:30 p.m. Sunday November 14, 2021. 62F/17C.

The jet planes have moved south of the hollow. Their cloudy streaks expand and rapidly turn into clouds that obscure the southern sky. The sun glares. Its rays are dispersed across the sky, making it impossible to look up for more than a few seconds. The forest is turning brown, golden and red. A few song birds are back, fluttering down to the wet meadow for only a moment and back up to the shrubby trees near the creek. The air is cool and its aroma somewhat sweet. Back in the cabin, the fat brown cat sleeps in a warm chair. A deep sorrow and intense struggle resides in the forest today. Its presence is not easily shaken.

The book of Ezekiel, chapter eighteen

Abba Father, I request the presence of your Holy Spirit while we read the Bible. Keep us in your will Father. In the name of your beloved son Jesus, I pray. Amen.

God made clear to Ezekiel all the ways a man could be forgiven or condemned. If a man sinned against God and did not repent, he would die. If the man’s son was righteous the son would live, and not have to pay for the father’s sins. If the righteous son had a son who sinned against God and did not repent, the son would die. The son would not be righteous just because his father was righteous.

This caused the people to exclaim, “God’s not fair!”. It was their culture to believe that children paid for the father’s sins.

Yet say ye, Why? Doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live.

The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.

God was setting an alternate standard to the one they had known. And God was actually being more fair than they. The sinner paid for his own sins.

A part of me, today, still struggles to understand. I will pray over it. Exodus 20:5 addresses a people who knew God, but still bowed down before an idol, an empty graven image. God would punish them that hated him to the third and fourth generation. That stands. However, if a son could repent of his sinful father’s ways, he would be forgiven. A son, most any son, learns his father’s ways. So repenting meant turning back from every idol worshiping habit the son learned from the father.

All judgment seems to have hinged on an individual’s readiness to repent, to turn back from wickedness.

But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.

All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live.

Even if a man is downright wicked, God will forgive he who repents and does what is right. All those evil people whom the Jews wished to see destroyed – God would accept their repentance. That had to be a tough one to learn.

Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? Saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?

It is NOT God’s pleasure to destroy the wicked. Rather God wishes to see the wicked turn to righteousness.

The sin debt… I thank God that Jesus paid my sin debt and I can live.

Life in the hollow, Sunday

This reading from the book of Ezekiel comes on a day that I am really angry about all the offenses against the environment being done by jet planes that are likely either hired or owned by our government. They began a massive weather modification operation in January immediately after Biden took the White House. That cannot be Biden in charge. No man who knows what he is doing goes to a press conference to announce that he remembered to wipe his butt. Yes, he did that. That’s dementia.

And even if all these evil people who are pouring chemicals into the clouds, killing birds and small animals, causing crops to fail, blocking out the sun. Even all the pilots and officials and weather company owners, even they can repent in the name of Jesus and be with us in heaven.

Lord Jesus, give me patience so that I may also rejoice should they choose to repent and believe on you.

The sins of the fathers

It’s afternoon in the hollow

2:30 p.m. Saturday November 13, 2021. 53F/12C.

With few leaves left on trees, gunshots ring out much more loudly in the hollow. Most residents of these parts own and use guns. The afternoon sun causes something in the golden treetops to sparkle. No birds are cawing. No songbirds chirp. The wind in the dry treetops makes a loud rustling sound. The aroma of the trees still lingers into autumn. But it is sweeter than before. In the cabin, the fat brown cat waits near the heater, no longer eager to go on every walk. Preparations for winter must soon begin.

The book of Ezekiel, chapter eighteen

Abba Father, I humbly beseech thee to open the meanings in your word, the Bible. And use our study of your word. Prompt us as you need. I pray in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.

In chapter eighteen, God sets out to correct the way the people expect God to act. The people used a proverb that said something like the following: The father ate a sour grape and his children reacted to the sour taste.

I believe the proverb was prompted by Exodus 20, where God commands his people not to create or worship graven images. God promised that he would “visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me”. In that commandment, God spoke of entire families that hated him. He wasn’t speaking of a single sin or a difficult situation.

He sets out in Ezekiel to set the record straight. First, God spoke of the righteous man, with a long list of what righteousness demands.

…the soul that sinneth, it shall die.

But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right,

And hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, neither hath defiled his neighbour’s wife, nether hath come near to a menstruous woman,

And hath not oppressed any, but hath restored to the debtor his pledge, hath spoiled none by violence, hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment;

He that hath not given forth upon usury, neither hath taken any increase, that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity, hath executed true judgment between man and man,

Hath walked in my statutes, and hath kept my judgments, to deal truly;

And here it comes…

he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord GOD.

God was judging Judah. He made it clear who was a sinner and who was not. The righteous would live through God’s judgment.

BUT, what if the righteous man has a son who is a sinner?

If he beget a son that is a robber, a shedder of blood, and that doeth the like to any one of these things,

God here listed all the things the son of the righteous man might do to be labeled a sinner.

And that doeth not any of those duties, but even hath eaten upon the mountains, and defiled his neighbour’s wife,

Hath oppressed the poor and needy, hath spoiled by violence, hath not restored the pledge, and hath lifted up his eyes to the idols, hath committed abomination,

Hath given forth upon usury, and hath taken increase: shall he then live?

And next is the fate of the sinning son of the righteous man.

He shall not live: he hath done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him.

But what about the third generation? What IF, the righteous man has a sinner for a son and the sinner of a son has a righteous son? What about that? Will the third generation be punished for the sins of the second generation? God covered all the possibilities.

Now, lo, if he beget a son, that seeth all his father’s sins which he hath done, and considereth, and doeth not such like,

That hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, hath not defiled his neighbour’s wife,

Neither hath oppressed any, hath not withholden the pledge, neither hath spoiled by violence, but hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment,

That hath taken off his hand from the poor, that hath not received usury nor increase, hath executed my judgments, hath walked in my statutes;

And here comes God’s judgment on that third generation who is righteous, but has a sinner for a father:

he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live.

Did the righteous son save the sinning father then?

As for his father, because he cruelly oppressed, spoiled his brother by violence, and did that which is not good among his people, lo, even he shall die in his iniquity.

No, the righteous son could not save his sinning father by his righteousness. The father paid for his own sins. The son was rewarded for his righteousness. The list of what was righteous and what was not, while lengthy, gives us some insight into how the Jewish community was sinning against God.

The whole grandfather-father-son story contained such a new concept to the Jewish people, that of each man paying for his own sins, that the people would cry out, “God’s not fair!” Man’s wisdom of the day was that every child had to pay for the sins of his father.

They could not conceive of fairness in any other way.

Life in the hollow, Saturday

We live in such a false world. Fake news. False government. Printed money. Fake weather. Processed food. False trust in man’s wisdom.

I can see what is happening from here in the wilderness, but I am not everyone. Much like the Jews in Ezekiel’s day, a portion of our society cannot even understand logic since our culture is so grounded in falsehoods! (CO2 is bad? Why? It’s just a component of air that makes our gardens grow. Ozone is bad? That’s another component of air that gives us the scent of rain. It’s people, not gaseous molecules, who sin.) That portion of our society, which is grounded in falsehoods, happens to include my family and friends. I love them, even as they believe I’m the enemy.

But I do not often feel alone, here with God’s Spirit.

I don’t know if I want the tribulation to start so I can see Jesus sooner or if I want it to be delayed for the sake of everyone who might accept Jesus. That’s all up to God anyway. However, I’ve been voicing my wishes toward him. Would more people seek God if he exposed the massive corruption and deception?

If God does expose massive deception, will I be ready to speak to others of his wisdom and his plan of redemption? Will I have the courage and ability to tell others, even mean people, about Jesus?

Abba Father, make us ready, I ask. Make us ready to act when you present opportunities. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Sour grapes

Another day. Another trip to town.

4:45 p.m. Thursday November 11, 2021. 60F/15C.

Another trip to town is done. Just as the truck turned onto the narrow dirt road, the load needed further securing. Just as the load got secure, the school bus turned onto the road. It is best to let the school bus have the entire road. He’ll be five minutes and then he’ll return. There is no reason to hurry in the hollow. A dozen pine trees are noted at the road’s entry way. The closest house has thick gray smoke billowing from the stove pipe. Many along here do not cure their firewood nearly long enough. The sun glares as it reaches the top of the western mountain. The old truck retains some of the scent of mothballs. The bus is later than usual, but it does return. As soon as the bus returns, the old green pickup labors and groans as it travels the rough road to home.

The book of Ezekiel, chapter eighteen

Abba Father, sometimes the events of life confuse us, sometimes they humble us. Sometimes they create overwhelming joy in your presence. But your word is always the same. We praise you for that. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

In chapter eighteen, Ezekiel goes about telling of the next message he received from God for the people.

The word of the LORD came unto me again, saying,

What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge?

What does that proverb mean? The father ate sour grapes and it made the son dull his tooth! (or made the son taste sourness).

In Exodus 20, the ten commandments, one of the commandments had to do with bowing down to graven images. It was as follows:

You shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them. For I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons to the third and fourth generation of those that hate me, and showing mercy to thousands of those that love Me and keep My commandments.

The children would pay for the father’s sins, to the third and fourth generation of any who hated God. The people sort of embellished on that thought when they used the proverb in question. But God did not say that every little sin would be taken out on children. He said that his anger at the sin would be directed toward those who HATED him and their families. Even the righteous sometimes sin, but anyone can also repent. Hate is something else.

It’s really amazing how we humans take something God said and exaggerate it. God didn’t need man to fix what he said. He surely wanted man to hear him.

As I live, saith the Lord GOD, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel.

Well, God wanted that proverb to stop being used.

Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine:

All of mankind belong to God. He wanted them to know that he saw each one as an individual.

This was not the first time God presented such a notion to Ezekiel. God also presented the same notion to Jeremiah in chapter 31. AND it was STILL a belief in the days of Jesus’ ministry on earth. The people pointed out a blind man and asked Jesus about sin. Did the blind man’s mother or father sin? Did the man himself sin in the womb that he should be born blind? That is in the gospel of John, chapter nine. But Jesus answered in a manner that told of God’s concern for each individual.

Sinners would not be able to hide within a righteous man’s household. The righteous would not pay for the sins of their fathers.

Life in the hollow, Thursday

Thursday is my day to prepare for a Sabbath, a rest on Friday night and Saturday. I love my day of rest! And instead of getting ready, I took the cat to the vet, and will only have a half day tomorrow to prepare.

Here is what I do not understand:

I can pray, repent, and plead the blood of Jesus over myself. That sincere prayer will heal me. Now, it has not healed my lungs, but it has stopped certain lung related symptoms. Such a prayer has healed burns and cuts and chigger bites and nettle stings.

But the cat just got worse.

So, I guessed the Lord wanted me to meet a vet. I doubt the vet, or any of his staff, are Christian. That even makes it more odd. I cannot get them to understand me. So why is the Lord nudging me toward them?

Today, I started just telling the staff that I can usually pray an illness or injury away, but that the cat’s illness would not budge. They kind of ignored me, as a babbling old person, but I insisted they hear me when I said, “Prayer has more practical, everyday uses, than what most people think.”

Well, I planted a seed. And the cat is resting better tonight. If I could only repent for the cat, she might have been healed without a vet, but that isn’t going to happen, because after all, she’s a cat.

God looks into each human heart and makes an agreement with each one individually. I’m not done with praying for the vet’s office. I don’t think God’s done with them either.

A prophetic riddle

The porch light came on. Now I can see the leaves stacking up on the porch.

5:45 a.m. Wednesday November 10, 2021. 50F/10C

Darkness lingers in the hollow this morning. The winter sun is in no hurry to rise above the eastern ridge. The high pitched siren of the coyote’s song rings above the blackened landscape. The scent of woodsmoke is strong. In another half hour, the first rays of the sun will lighten the sky and send long shadows over the hollow. In another half hour, the coyote will retreat to their dens in the dense brush. The autumn air is cold on bare arms. The porch is quiet. The greenhouse is secure. Warm tea steams into rising clouds above its ceramic cup. The cabin is inviting.

The book of Ezekiel, chapter seventeen

Abba Father, I humbly beseech thee to reveal your intentions in your words as recorded in the book of Ezekiel. Lead us to a greater understanding of who you are. And I thank you Lord, for all you reveal in the Bible. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

The book of Ezekiel has become a fascinating read. It begins with the prophet’s personal testimony of how he first saw the glory of God. Then it progresses through prophecies that were acted out and messages that were given. The bulk of the book appears to be messages from God. The messages appear to be in the order Ezekiel received them.

These next few verses contain a prophecy, and I am uncertain of the meaning. May God’s Spirit enlighten me!

Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will also take of the highest branch of the high cedar, and will set it; I will crop off from the top of his young twigs a tender one, and will plant it upon an high mountain and eminent:

In this case, what is the high cedar? From the high cedar, God will strip a branch off. He will use it to propagate a new tree. He will cause the twig to root and grow tall over a high and powerful mountain. In other places in the Bible, a cedar is an Assyrian and an Amorite. Otherwise it is a tree prized for its wood (in construction) and its fragrance.

In the mountain of the height of Israel will I plant it: and it shall bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a goodly cedar: and under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing; in the shadow of the branches thereof shall thy dwell.

God will plant the young cedar on the highest mountain of Israel. The young cedar will grow, bring shade, bear fruit, provide for all kinds of birds.

And all the trees of the field shall know that I the LORD have brought down the high tree, have exalted the low tree, have dried up the green tree, and have made the dry tree to flourish: I the LORD have spoken and have done it.

The original tree will fail. The new tree will be exalted. I suspect the tree is a symbol of a nation.

And whatever nation the tree is, it will prove to the world that our God is God.

Life in the hollow, Wednesday

The sun is finally up. A chorus of gruff-voiced birds can be heard. I imagine they are cleaning up scraps left by the coyote.

God is very good at riddles. I considered breaking my promise to not look at commentaries for Ezekiel, but I did not.

Who is the cedar?

Whenever I am stumped by a meaning in the Bible, I pray and leave it up to God. In a few days or weeks, the answer will come.

Of this I am certain: Our God is God. He has proved it many times over.

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