Thursday, April 10, 2008

Grace Upon Grace-reflecting on Ezekiel 20:1-32

Several things are striking about Ezekiel 20:1-32. The first is God’s response via Ezekiel when the elders of the people came to “inquire of the Lord” (Ezek 20:1). It sounds like a good thing that they would want to seek God’s will. We are not told what they wanted to ask and “guesswork is pointless in view of Yahweh’s total repudiation of any right or privilege … to inquire of him about his designs.”[1]He responds with a detailed, painful history of disobedience despite God’s mercy and blessing. Things are not always, as they seem because “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Sam 16:7). Personally, to discern and not take things at face value is something perhaps we all need to work on.

Repeatedly God blesses his ancient people and bestows grace upon grace, yet they spurn his overtures and rebel against him. He does not let go, however. This is even hinted at after the litany of disobedience and rebellion. “You say, ‘We want to be like the nations, like the peoples of the world, who serve wood and stone.’ But what you have in mind will never happen” (Ezek 20:32). Like a besotted lover, though they are punished, he will not let go, like the old hymn, “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go.”

How patient is God? Can we walk in our ways rather than his enough that he will let us go? Do we underestimate the depth and desperation of his love for us? Jesus said, “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand” (John 10:29). Does the “no one” include us?

[1] Bruce Vawter and Leslie J. Hoppe, a New Heart: A Commentary on the Book of Ezekiel, International Theological Commentary, ed. Fredrick Carlson Holmgren and George A. F. Knight (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1991), 102.

The Bible. New International Version.

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