Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Ezekiel 18-20

Daily Reading
Ezekiel 18-20

Daily Thought

The people of Israel complained that God punished them for the sins of their fathers, "the fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge" (Ezekiel 18:2). God's reply is blunt, "the soul who sins shall die" (Ezekiel 18:4). Do good, live and be blessed; do bad, be cursed and die. God's justice is fair, and sin is plain to see. Ezekiel began listing Israel's, "defiles his neighbor's wife, oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, does not restore the pledge, lifts up his eyes to the idols, commits abomination, lends at interest, and takes profit" (Ezekiel 18:11-13). He could keep going, but the question became obvious, and Ezekiel asks it, "Why will you die, O house of Israel?" (Ezekiel 18:31). The choice is yours.  

The irony is, God is not fair. He appraised Israel's sin and ruled rightly, "I would pour out my wrath upon them and spend my anger against them" (Ezekiel 20:8, 13, 21), yet repeatedly lifted his hand, "but I withheld my hand and acted for the sake of my name" (Ezekiel 20:22). Fairness gives way to grace and mercy.  

In Victor Hugo's Les Miserables, Jean Valjean took shelter in the Bishop's home. He also took the silver. When he was caught by the Constable, Valjean was returned to the Bishop. "He claimed that you gave the silver to him," mocked the Constable. "Yes, of course I gave him the silverware," replied the Bishop. "Thank you for bringing him back. Release him." Then turning to Valjean, the Bishop handed him more, "You forgot the candlesticks, Jean Valjean. They are worth 2,000 francs. Why did you leave them?"

"You shall know that I am the Lord, when I deal with you for my name's sake, not according to your evil ways, nor according to your corrupt deeds, O house of Israel, declares the Lord God" (Ezekiel 20:44).

The Bishop glared with terrifying love, "Jean Valjean, you no longer belong to evil. With this silver I've bought your soul. I've ransomed you from fear and hatred. Now I give you back to God."

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body" (1Corinthians 6:19-20). The people of Israel complained that God is not fair; they should have been celebrating... "while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

Daily Prayer

My Lord, my God, You have shown a love unimaginable. You bought me with Your love, a love that sacrificed what is most precious to You. You made Your Son sin. Not sin of His own doing, but my sin and the world's sin. He bore it all, sin and the just consequence. He died, separated and forsaken by You, because You cannot look upon sin. But sin could not hold Him, and He rose again, the first of more to come, of which I am one.

I am Yours, God, bought fully by the blood of Your Son, my Savior, Jesus Christ. I am, therefore, a living sacrifice to You, showing the world Your good, pleasing and perfect will.


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