Bible Reading Plan – July 2-8
Bible Project Reading Plan (July 2-8):
Lamentations 1-5; Ezekiel 1-15; Psalms 28-34
Many of the exilic prophets were called to do odd things. Ezekiel is no exception. He sees an exceedingly strange vision of God’s throne. He is told to eat the words of God in a scroll. God makes him mute, an odd quality in a prophet, and then calls him to vision-parables: he draws on a brick the city of Jerusalem and acts out siege on it, and then lays on his side and shows his separation from the city and its siege with an iron griddle. Ezekiel is to stay this way for some 390 days. Then, Ezekiel is to mercifully (?) switch sides, but only for 40 days. He was instructed to make his bread over burning human excrement, which God mercifully changes to animal dung. Whew! Dodged that bullet.
He is called to shave his head and beard, burn a third, strike a third of it with a sword around Jerusalem, and send a third of it to the wind, to demonstrate what God was going to do to the city.
All of this, and we are not even out of the 5th chapter yet! I ought to read these chapters when I feel the weight of another Sunday coming and give thanks to God that he allows me to speak and not act out his word.
The center of the beginning of Ezekiel is not just the oddity of what Ezekiel is called to do, but where the initial calling comes from. Ezekiel sees a grand and mesmerizing picture of the throne of God – in Babylon. Given the juxtaposition with the end of Jeremiah, it is important for God to show himself this way. In Jeremiah 52, we find out that Nebuzaradan burns to ashes the house of the Lord, the very place where God was to dwell. But Ezekiel’s vision is a reminder to the exiles in the foreign lands that God’s throne is not limited to the Temple, but as Lord over all the earth, his throne is mobile, and his rule is everywhere.
Therefore, when God gives judgment, it is sure. When God speaks of salvation, it is certain. God’s reign is not limited by democratic vote, geo-political positioning, the evil intentions of man, or chariot and horses. God condemns and God delivers. This is strongly implied by the vision of God leaving the Temple in Ezekiel 10. God may have left the Temple, but his rule is not therefore diminished. The destruction of the Temple was God’s sovereign decree. So, even in exile, there is hope, for the same God who decreed devastation decrees a great salvation to come:
And the word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, your brothers, even your brothers, your kinsmen, the whole house of Israel, all of them, are those of whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, ‘Go far from the LORD; to us this land is given for a possession.’ Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: Though I removed them far off among the nations, and though I scattered them among the countries, yet I have been a sanctuary to them for a while in the countries where they have gone.’ Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.’ And when they come there, they will remove from it all its detestable things and all its abominations. And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
Ezekiel 11:14-20 (ESV)