“And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me…” (Ezekiel 20)
The Lord has just finished warning Israel, through the prophet Ezekiel, that He would wipe out the very land because of their sin. It’s some serious reading. They professed to worship the God of heaven, but they worshiped like pagans, enforced some arbitrary traditions and ignored other laws altogether, were eager to impress surrounding godless nations, oppressed the poor, sacrificed their children on their own altars to idols. Sure, there were individuals scattered throughout the nation that did sincerely seek the Lord, who were doubtless horrified at the way things were – but the vast majority paid them no heed.
Ezekiel delivers this dire rebuke to the elders, but he returns to the Lord fuming, “Ah, Lord GOD! they say of me, Doth he not speak parables?” “They nod their heads and holler Amen at everything I say because they think I’m being figurative!”
Read the news. Listen to the powerful warnings from the pulpit. Hear the concerned voices of government watchdogs, law enforcement, and Christian legal groups. What they are saying is getting tangled up in the threads of what we’re hearing – not what the media is twisting, not what news outlets choose to release, but in how we choose to hear the message. We shake our heads at the state of the nation, but we get up the next morning and live precisely the same way with the same worldview and the same level of spiritual detachment that we did the day before.
Ezekiel’s message hit the ball out of the park while Israel nodded and clapped politely and watched it sail right over their heads. What he said was very little like what they heard. They stood for truth, all right! – and did absolutely nothing about it.
Take the message literally. Be hyper-specific. Apply it to YOU.
– I am a wimpy, inconsistent witness to my coworkers.
– My unproductive and worldly browser history is destroying the nation.
– My soulwinning efforts are the hope of America.
– I’m bringing my country closer to judgment because I’m a prayer slacker.
– My failure to voluntarily help with others’ needs is a reproach to my God.
It’s not enough to say that someone else is responsible for what goes on; I have to do all I can in my own sphere of influence to prevent it. It’s not Facebook politics where talk is cheap, it’s not what I say I believe, it’s not comparative morality, “us vs. them”. It’s my own practical, lived-out-in-realtime actions – and changes – that make a difference.
It’s time I read the Bible asking the Holy Spirit to show me – not what “the church” needs – but what I need… and take it literally enough to yield, instead of holler “Amen” and walk away unchanged.