Wednesday, February 13, 2019

When Sadness Becomes a Prayer

Ohhh, this study of Ezekiel is doing things to my heart.
My Precept class began Ezekiel - Part 1 in January, and we'll be going into May to complete Part 2. The lessons cover two or three chapters each week, and I honestly wasn't prepared for what God was going to be doing in me when we set out to do this study.
That is to say, I have read Ezekiel several times - whenever I have done a read-through-the-Bible-in-a year program. But in that case I was going through two or three chapters a day. And I was just reading. Those experiences are a far cry from the inductive study you find in a program like Precept.
(Please don't get me wrong. I think there is great value in reading through the Bible. But there is greater value in studying. We ought not rest in one and pass on the other.)

That said, chapter 16 of Ezekiel nearly wrecked me.
This chapter starts out with God describing His grace and care for Jerusalem, through the image of a baby who was left to die.
But God spoke life to this infant.
God made her grow.
He entered into a covenant with her.
He bathed her, washed off her blood, anointed her with oil, clothed her with embroidered cloth, wrapped her in fine linen and covered her with silk. He adorned her with ornaments, bracelets, necklaces, rings, earrings, and a crown. So she was adorned with gold and silver, dressed in fine linen, eating fine foods, exceeding in beauty, and advancing to royalty.

"Then your fame went forth among the nations on account of your beauty, for it was perfect because of My splendor which I bestowed on you," declares the Lord GOD.

Ezekiel 16:14
Can't you just hear His tenderness, His love, His grace in those words??? It is such a beautiful picture of God's compassion, and as I underlined and marked His merciful actions toward His beloved I felt exceeding gratitude for God's care for me.
For fourteen verses I had been reading about God's loving care for Jerusalem - contemplating His goodness to me, too - and I was truly feeling all the feels.

How good is our God!

But then I came to verse 15, and my heart sank. "But you trusted in your beauty and played the harlot because of your fame, and you poured out your harlotries on every passer-by who might be willing."
The next six verses detail how Jerusalem took the beautiful gifts which God had bestowed upon her in verses 10-13 and used them for wickedness and sin.
And verse 22 sums it up, "Besides all your abominations and harlotries you did not remember the days of your youth, when you were naked and bare and squirming in your blood." (i.e. When you were left to die, and nobody cared for you - except the LORD, when He passed by.)

How this picture breaks my heart!
And simultaneously forces me to my knees in introspection, confession, and repentence.
Because I am not so naive that I am unaware of how easy it would be to start trusting in myself. Of the temptation to see all the good things God has bestowed on my life - and begin to think it's all about me. Oh, how quickly I could forget from whence I came.
And so I pray.
LORD, please keep me faithful to YOU. Please keep me from ever trusting in my beauty, or playing the harlot with anything.
I just want to honor YOU. I want to be faithful.
You have saved and rescued me. You have grown me, and adorned me with Jesus.
I want to remain righteous before You with the righteousnesss You gave me in Him.
Please keep me, LORD. Please keep me!

What is your response to this message from Ezekiel?


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