This post by kathylarkman was originally published at GRACE PLACE
Isn’t it an incredible feeling when you start to see connections in the Bible that you’ve never noticed before? I was searching for an adjective to adequately encapsulate my experience – and, instead, I just sighed and scrunched up my brow in exhaustion! I think language is overrated! (That’s probably why my mom says I wear my heart on my sleeve!)
Anyhow, back to the Bible – and this morning, I was captivated by my time with Ezekiel. His ministry starts when’s he about the same age as Daniel, but he comes a decade later. His entire ministry is to a community of exiled Jews living in the burbs of Babylonia.
And I started to think, ‘I wonder what he’d look like in today’s world…’ After all, not only would his year of nakedness and yelling have caused a stir, but he spends over 20 years trying to get through to the people with his message – but their hearts are stone dead.
In my work, we regularly engage a contributor who’s referred to as a ‘critical friend’. It’s very important, throughout some of the more contentious issues, to remember that the person is not a foe – we’re on the same team and they actually want what’s best.
Zek is like the ultimate critical friend. The exiles waited out five years of silence before the Lord gave them Ezekiel, but when the prophet gave them God’s message – they plugged up their ears and turned up their noses! It’s hard to take it when the darkness in our hearts is laid bare. Yet, when it’s a friend, a true friend, doesn’t that make a difference?
Ezekiel’s message was this: God is Lord of heaven and earth, and what you’re experiencing, this judgment, is a result of your own rebellious hearts.
Wow. That’s heavy. But I thought God wasn’t interested in punishment? And, if he’s ‘love’, how do I reconcile this?
Well, as a very good friend has pointed out to me on several occasions, when the ‘em-phás-sis’ (go on, say it wrong!) is on the wrong ‘sy-llá-ble’, we’re not going to hear God’s heart correctly!
The suffering in Ezekiel’s day was meant to bring God’s people to their knees in repentance and humility before him. He wanted nothing more than to fix the severed strands that once connected his heart to theirs, but he wasn’t going to force himself on them.
They were so content in their sin (and disillusioned by their perceived strength) that the exiles could not bear to admit that their present misery revealed what their hearts most wanted: to rule themselves and decide right and wrong. More than they wanted the Lord, they wanted to be in charge. They wanted their way.
What darkness. None of us are ignorant to it. We face the same darkness in the world around us and – in our own hearts. (And if you just read that and thought, ‘not me’, RightMove.co.uk has a couple beautiful houses in Tel-abib that are up for sale…)
What startled me this morning was the reference to the rainbow in Ezekiel 1.28 “All around him was a glowing halo, like a rainbow shining in the clouds on a rainy day. This is what the glory of the LORD looked like to me. When I saw it, I fell face down on the ground, and I heard someone’s voice speaking to me.”
Oh, my heart!! Immediately my mind went to Noah! I wondered whether Zek made the connection to the flood on purpose? I wondered what Noah would have thought about Ezekiel getting to see the glory of the Lord! I wondered if the darkness that would have shown up the rainbow halo, might have been the backdrop of the Jews living for their own reckless love of the world.
When we look at rainbows, it’s easy to see yellow, orange, green, blue, violet, red and pink – but there are really just three colours: yellow, red and blue. The others are the result of the light being blended and warped.
The three primary colours are hugely significant throughout the Bible and in Ezekiel: Blue signifies the throne and God’s righteousness (Ps 89.14); Red signifies the fire of God’s holiness that sanctifies and separates; and yellow signifies God’s glory.
Together – that’s holiness, righteousness and glory; the three very things that would keep us from the Lord. Yet, because Jesus gave up his life and covered me with his holiness, his righteousness and his glory – I have direct access to the Father, and he to me.
Let that sink in.