Welcome to Palmerston EMC!

Palmerston EMC is made up of people from various walks of life.  A somewhat traditional church, we reflect a small town personality with strong family ties.  Agriculture and agricultural related business employ a large portion of our congregation, while some of our people are self-employed or work in industry, service or government.  We are a practical, service oriented congregation with a heart to see God’s work in Palmerston move ahead. We have a strong desire to worship and serve God, to reach out to our community, to grow spiritually and to see new people come to faith in Jesus Christ.

You are welcome to join us!

Canadian Bible Engagement Study

read bibleIn 2013, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, in partnership with the Bible League of Canada, the Canadian Bible Society, The Gideons, Open Doors, Wycliffe and a few others, released the results of a survey that asked Canadians about their engagement with and belief in the Bible.

It is important for Canadian Christians to understand the results of this survey as it applies to our culture. But the results of this survey are also a wake-up call for Canadian Christians.

One line stood out above all of the others in the report of the survey. It is this line: “The Bible engagement of self-identified Christians as a whole is not very different from Bible engagement of Canadians generally.”

Brothers and sisters, this should not be so!

There are positives. People who read the Bible regularly are 6 times more likely to attend church regularly, and 10 times more likely to consider the Bible God’s Word.

13% of Canadians and 23% of Canadian Christians agree that the Bible is relevant to daily life.  That is encouraging! Those who believe that the Bible is relevant to daily life are over 10 times more likely to read the Bible frequently and are four times more likely to attend church weekly.

The Bible engages and changes lives! But we as Canadian Christians need to be setting the example and leading the conversation.

For more information about the survey, please go to: http://www.bibleengagementstudy.ca/

Here are the survey result files:
CBES Executive Summary
CBES Full Report

Let me encourage you my friends: be engaged with the Living and Active Word of God!

Ezra 4-6; Psalm 137: Opposition

oppositionWhen was the last time you faced opposition in some part of your life? Maybe a co-worker had it out for you. Perhaps your spouse was not very supportive in an endeavor or dream that you have/had. Perhaps a teacher at school seemed to give you a harder time than other students. Maybe you were involved with a community project or group that was getting caught up in red tape or politics.

I would say that very few of us glide through life without experiencing opposition in some way at some time. Granted, some opposition we are glad to hit head on, glad for the opportunity to prove ourselves or our cause as worthy. But even opposition that begins by lighting our fire to fight harder can, over time, become a weight that drags us down and steals our motivation.

That is what happens in these chapters of Ezra. The temple foundation is laid, the people are moving on in the project, and some unsavory characters are beginning to display their dislike for the Israelite presence in Jerusalem and their determination to rebuild their former capital.

You might say; “But they brought the opposition onto themselves because they refused the help of the people living in the land.” Ezra 4:1-3 outline this. But you have to remember that this offer to help with the temple was not out of devotion to God. In the culture of the time, gods were seen as territorial and geographic. So when Babylon imported these people to inhabit Israel, they adopted the worship of Yahweh from the Hebrews and simply added him to their list of deities. 2 Kings 17:33 explains this reality.

Remember that part of God’s covenant with Israel was exclusivity, they were to be set apart solely to God with not influence from their neighbours. If these “helpers” had been allowed to participate in the rebuilding, they would have brought their own religious influence into the picture, something that Israel had already fallen prey to in the past.

You might get a bit confused reading chapter four and five. Think of chapter 4:6-4:23 as having giant parenthesis around them. The author interrupts his chronological narrative to explain that opposition to the rebuilding of the Temple started with this incident during King Cyrus’ reign and continued all the way through the reigns of the kings that followed him. The chronological narrative continues in chapter 4 verse 24.

The main thing I would like you to consider as you read these chapters is how the Israelites dealt with the opposition. They stuck firmly to their beliefs (4:4), they believed God when he told them that he would protect them (5:1-2) and they continued with the work even in the face of opposition.

That is really the key. There is the tendency, the leaning, the pressure to throw in the towel when opposition arises. The real question you have to ask yourself is: do I really believe in what I’m doing/saying? The Israelites really believed that God had directed them to rebuild the temple and Jerusalem, they really believed that he would protect them and see the project through, and so they continued even in the face of opposition.

If you don’t really believe in something, you will throw in the towel at the first sign of pressure to abandon it. That is actually one of the logic proofs that is used to defend Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. The disciples DIED proclaiming that Jesus had physically been raised from the dead. If they really didn’t believe that or if they had made it up, there is no way they would have endured torture, exile and death (horrible death in some cases) defending it as true.

But they had seen him, touched him, heard him, ate with him, and so were confident to speak the truth even when opposition was life-threatening.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: Haggai

Ezra 1-3: Restoration

“In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, the word of the Lord spoken through Jeremiah was fulfilled.”

Don’t you wish all of the fulfillment God’s promises were that clearly pointed out for us? Big neon sign in the sky with a big arrow: God’s promise for you fulfilled here! It is certainly what I want from time to time, just a little reminder of the way in which God is working around us to fulfill his good plans and purposes. I’m certain that if someone were writing a book looking back into our time, as the author of Ezra was, I’m sure that he or she would be able to make a statement similar to what appears in the first line of Ezra.

That thought aside Ezra is a book all about restoration, not just of the Temple and Jerusalem, although they are the main focus of the work of the returning Israelites; but it most importantly about the restoration of Israel as a nation and more specifically, it is about the restoration of relationship between God and his people.

The thought that occurred to me as I was reading these chapters is that there is a broad-stroke message in Ezra for all of us who call ourselves Jesus-followers. I haven’t met a Christian yet who has not gone through a period of time in their lives when they feel like they are in exile. Either because they feel like God is miles away, or because God is disciplining them (yes this does happen my friends!) or because they have chosen to walk a path for a period of time that is away from God. The amazing truth that comes through Ezra is that God’s desire is to be restored to his people. He wants us to be in his presence, the whole focus of his plan since the fall is the restoration of humanity to himself.

As you read Ezra and Nehemiah and Esther, let that thought percolate in your mind and consider how God desires to bring you into a fuller restoration with him.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: Ezra 4-6; Psalm 137

Daniel 10-12: TOO MUCH

Man oh man there is too much to talk about from today’s reading! There’s a year of sermons in these three chapters…OK, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but there is so much we could talk about. Let me make a couple of quick bullet points instead of one long post.

1) Chapter 10 contains perhaps one of the most detailed descriptions of actual heavenly conflict in the entire Bible. Daniel is given details by “a glorious one” about the conflict happening between heavenly angels and other “princes” of the spiritual realm. Paul refers to these same entities in Ephesians 6:12. It is amazing that these details are revealed to us through Daniel

2) The Kingdoms of the North and South in chapter 11 can be confusing, because there is a mixture of prophesies here, some that have been fulfilled already and some that have not. As a guidepost, I would recommend seeing verse 36 of chapter 11 as the turning point between history past and history present. The verses of chapter 11 before verse 36 deal with history that is traceable and identifiable (even though Daniel was written much before the events predicted) and the verses after 36 deal with the future rise and reign of the figure identified in Revelation at the Antichrist, and then his fall through the appearance of God as judge at the beginning of chapter 12.

3) Finally, let me draw attention to verses 5-13 of chapter 12. Daniel receives this massive vision, a huge download of spiritual information and prophesy, which leaves him confused and full of questions. His first question: how long? To this question he receives a cryptic answer: “a time, times and half a time” which is really no discernible answer at all as a “time” is not defined for us. Many are the attempts to interpret this passage of time, but none have proven correct. What I find interesting is that Daniel asks a second question that he receives absolutely no answer to at all. He asks: “What will be the outcome of these things?” He is told, essentially, not to worry about such things but to continue on the journey God had laid out for him and trust that he will “rise to your destiny at the end of the days.” Talk about cryptic! But it reminds us that even those who received these visions were not privy to a full understanding of them, their timing or how they will full play out.

This does not end our exploration through prophetic scripture, in fact there are some incredible things still for us to read in Zechariah and then of course as we begin our journey into the New Testament early next month. Prophesy gives us proof of God’s control of history (in that some of it can be verified as completed) but it also assures us that God is in control and will fulfill his purposes in time.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: Ezra 1-3

Daniel 7-9: Foretelling

We are entering into the second half of Daniel today, a section that is full of prophetic visions of the future. Some of Daniel’s visions have come to pass already and can be verified in history, and some are yet to happen. Let me be clear about one thing as we enter into this section: Daniel is a clear revelation of the meaning of history. The book of Daniel is not a puzzle for us to figure out or try to unravel. Certainly there are places where conclusive explanations are lacking, and as we read these chapters together we will find that Daniel himself is puzzled about some things.

But Daniel makes clear to us the fact that it is God who is in control of history and his purposes are being accomplished; including the future establishment of God’s eternal Kingdom.

If you want a rough overview of these visions here it is (taken from Boice in his commentary on Daniel): “These visions vary in important details, but they are overlapping and make roughly the same point. They tell us that God is in control of history, that human kingdom will succeed human kingdoms until the coming of the Lord’s Anointed, the Messiah, but that in the end it is his kingdom that will fill the whole earth.”

There is so much to unpack in these verses that I can’t possibly accomplish it in a short blog post. In fact, I’ve been thinking that a sermon series through Daniel is on the docket for this coming year. I would encourage you to find a good commentary if you are interested in delving further into the meaning of the visions Daniel has from this point forward. Certainly J.M. Boice’s commentary is excellent. He writes clearly and simply for those who do not want a deep theological treatise of the book, but he writes in a very instructive and clarifying manner.

The nice thing about Daniel is that there are clarifying statements made throughout the book to help us understand what Daniel is seeing. Again, Daniel himself doesn’t understand fully everything that is going on, so he asks for clarification on a number of occasions and receives it.

Here’s some insight into chapter 7. Daniel’s vision of the animals corresponds with Nebuchadnezzar’s vision of the statue in chapter 2. The Lion is the head of gold, which is Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian Kingdom. The Bear is the chest of silver and represents the Medeo-Persian empire. The Leopard corresponds with the middle of bronze in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and relates to the Greek empire of Alexander the Great. Finally, the fourth beast, the terrible beast, relates to the legs, feet and toes of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and speaks of the kingdom of Rome. The 10 horns and the 10 toes on the statue presumably represent 10 confederate Kingdoms that make up this final Kingdom, three of which will be uprooted and replaced by one individual ruler. This would seem to be the first Biblical reference to the one that is later referred to as the Antichrist in 2 Thessalonians 2 and Revelation.

Understand, what I have laid out for you is one interpretation of these beasts/Kingdoms. There are others, particularly among the moral liberal theologians who would disagree with this explanation. But I am not liberal and neither are my sources!

One thing that continually amazes me is how these visions given to Daniel are fulfilled through history and can be traced by their particular characteristics to different Kingdoms. Certainly I would love to get into those detailed characteristics, but there isn’t space enough. But it all goes back to the main thrust of all of these visions: God is in control of history and his purposes will and are being accomplished.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: Daniel 10-12

Ezekiel 46-48: Keyhole

keyholeAs we come to the end of the book of Ezekiel, it is important for us to be reminded about the purpose of this book. Ezekiel was an exiled priest that God called to be a prophet among the exiled Jewish nation. He was called to pronounce God’s judgement on Jerusalem because of their refusal to follow God wholeheartedly. Ezekiel’s message changes after the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon and he begins to paint for the exiles a picture of what will happen to them as a nation during two time frames: first after their exile is over and then looking further into the future to when God’s millenial Kingdom will be established on the earth. That is where we are as we finish the book today.

God gives Ezekiel a glimpse into how the nation will be established during the reign of the Messiah on earth.

Before I go any further, you might be wondering who this “prince” guy is that Ezekiel keeps mentioning. The truth of the matter is that we don’t really know. We are given no indication that he is of David’s line, or that he is a priest or a Levite; in fact we are not given any indication of what tribe he will be from. He will be married and have children who will inherit the land set aside for him (Ezekiel 46:16-18). This would indicate that this prince is not the Messiah, but some sort of civil ruler or vice-regent of some sort under the Kingship of the Messiah.

This leads me to my main point for today’s reading, a point that I will reiterate when we come across other images of the future in scripture. There are times in scripture when God gives us glimpses into what is to come, they are almost like God leads us to an old fashioned door with an old fashioned keyhole in it and permits us to have a glance through the keyhole. We have old doors with old keyholes in our house, and if anyone has ever tried to look through one, you will find that you don’t see much. The field of vision is very limited.

Such is the way with the glimpses God gives us of the times to come. We are often given a very small glimpse that can leave us with more questions than answers. But God, in his wisdom, has decided that the glimpse is enough. Otherwise he would have thrown open the door and shown us the whole picture.

So in this section of Ezekiel that talks about a mysterious prince and a glorious river flowing from the alter and bringing life wherever it goes and the allotment of the land to the tribes, we are given glimpses of what is to come, but not the whole picture. Will the river be literal of simply an image of a spiritual reality? We don’t know. Some scriptures that talk about the river make it seem very literal (like Joel and sections of Zechariah), while other scriptures reference the river in a way that makes it seem more of an image; like Jesus picturing the Holy Spirit as a stream of living water in John 7:37-39.

The important thing for us to realize is that God has given us these glimpses of the future for our benefit, to encourage us and keep us moving toward the goal of our faith: namely that day when God promises “My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Sometimes we get too caught up in trying to figure all of the details for that future out, that is not why God gives us these glimpses. They are his promise to us that something amazing is coming. We have to it look forward to it, even as we do the work of the gospel that he has called us to here and now.

So have a glimpse through the keyhole and marvel at what God has ahead for his people.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: Joel

Ezekiel 44-45: Possession

Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants. ~ Epictetus
Treasure your relationships, not your possessions. ~ Anthony D’Angelo
Of all possessions a friend is the most precious. ~ Herodotus
It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly. ~ Bertrand Russell
When I was in college, my parents’ house burned down, and took a lot of the possessions I’d grown up with. That’s probably one thing that made me realize material stuff is not really that important. ~ Rick Riordan

If you spend some time Googling statements about possessions, you will find pages and pages of them. If you take time to read some of them, you will find that many of the quotes compiled over the past 2,000 years of written history have to do with the human obsession with possessions and the ultimate failure of that obsession to bring meaning or value to our lives.

Jesus himself echoed this thought when he said: “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”

Fulfillment, happiness, contentment and joy are never linked with possessions, either in scripture or among philosophers throughout the ages. In fact, the opposite truth has often be argued: that possession and material stuff work against fulfillment, happiness, contentment and joy. One of the reasons this proves true is that when we try to find those things among the material, we are basing our fulfillment on what will inevitably pass away, break or be destroyed. That is why Jesus encourages us to give away what we possess and instead centre our lives on things that are eternal and have eternal consequences.

How does this apply to today’s reading? This is one of those instances where a wonderful little tidbit from God is buried among some rather plain details. We have in these chapters a discussion of what the “prince” is privileged to have and do and what the responsibilities of the priests will be in the new Temple. Ezekiel 44:28 says: “This will be their inheritance (speaking of the priests here): I am their inheritance. You are to give them no possessions in Israel: I am their possession.”

It is easy to skip over this little scripture without thinking about it. But it is so profound, especially when you consider that the role of “priest” has been extended beyond the Levites of the Old Testament to include all believers in Jesus Christ! 1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” What is true of the priests in this little verse is true of us. Our only true possession, the only inheritance that matters is God himself. Our only hope, our only trust, our only aspiration should be in him.

The other thing that is interesting that comes with this statement from God is a promise of provision. No where in scripture where we are commanded to let go of our possessions does God say that we will be without because of it. Will we have guaranteed success and gain because we let go of our possessions, no. That’s prosperity gospel mumbo-jumbo. God commands us to let go of possessions because he knows that our material stuff can and do become idols in our lives, things that distract our hearts from following fully after God. That is why the priests are mentioned specifically not to have possessions here, because nothing was to distract them from God’s service.

What possessions have hold of your heart or are a distraction for following fully after God? Is God calling you to let them go? Some things to consider.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: Ezekiel 46-48

Ezekiel 40-41: The final piece

If you will recall, the main theme of Ezekiel is a call to renewed reverence toward God from his people and Ezekiel supports this theme by explaining God’s glory, God’s holiness and God’s sovereignty all through the book. The book itself was split into two parts: the first from chapters 1-32 which talk about God’s judgement against not just Israel but other nations as well, and the second part (33-48) which describe the restoration and reunion of God’s people in the land of Israel and the rebuilding of the Kingdom.

The turning point between the two parts of the book is the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon in 586 B.C.

So far in the second half of the book God has given Ezekiel visions of the people’s return to their land, the cleansing of the nation from the abominations and idolatry that had been practiced there and the restoring of the land to productivity and security. But if Israel is to be a whole nation again, one key element is missing, the cornerstone piece really; that is the temple. If that nation of Israel is truly to be restored again, then the Temple and God’s presence in it must be renewed.

So we begin our journey through the last section of Ezekiel, which sees God once again transporting Ezekiel in a vision to Jerusalem to display to him the new Temple, in great detail, measurements and all. This may cause some of you to have flashbacks to our journey through Deuteronomy or Leviticus, but let me remind you of what I said at that point. Some things recorded in scripture were extremely relevant to the original audience, but may not be particularly relevant to us now. As we get toward the end of this section the land allotments for the tribes will be explained, something that probably has little to do with us in the practical sense.

But, there are truths and principles included in these sections that do indeed mean something to us. Take this section on the Temple. The whole point of having the Temple was as a constant reminder of God’s presence with the nation, something we can all relate to. We also need reminders of God’s presence with us. This is one of the greatest promises that God gives to us, that at the end of time he will personally dwell with us, He as our God and we as his people.

This image that Ezekiel relates to his readers is widely understood to be a vision of the Temple that will exist during Jesus’ Millennial reign, when the literal Kingdom of God will be on earth. It is the picture of the place where all peoples and nations will come to worship. A kingdom temple and kingdom worship are mention in several places in scripture (Isaiah 2:1-5, 60:7, 13; Jeremiah 33:18; Joel 3:18, Micah 4:2; Haggai 2:7-9; and Zechariah 6:12-15, 14:16, 20-21). It makes sense that God would paint an image of this Temple and the worship that will take place in it.

So as we read through these chapters, let me encourage you not to get lost in the details, but instead be willing to be transported with Ezekiel into the Temple that will serve as the centre of worship after Jesus returns.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: 42-43

Ezekiel 24-27: Judgement

Ezekiel 24 covers the destruction of Jerusalem. The way the author mentions the specific date of this communication from God, saying that the final siege of Jerusalem has begun and God mourns this loss to Ezekiel even as he proclaims the judgement against them.

But notice that God’s judgement is not only for Jerusalem in these chapters. God’s judgement will also fall on the other nations surrounding Jerusalem, nations that very much had it in for God’s chosen people.

Remember when we started Ezekiel I mentioned that the whole point of the book was to remind the exiles of the need to revere God. One of the ways that Ezekiel teaches them (and us) this lesson is through the understanding that all peoples, all nations in all times are responsible to God and that he alone will judge the nations at the appointed time.

There is no one who has any excuse or will have any excuse when God sets up his throne to judge the living and the dead. As Christians, this should motivate us to be sure to be living in the way that the Spirit calls us to live, but it also reminds us that we are responsible for letting other people know of the coming judgement and the freedom offered to us by God through Jesus.

This was one of Israel’s sins for which God was punishing them. They were supposed to be bearers of God’s glory to the nations, a set apart people who would show the nations who God was. Instead they abandoned God and joined the other nations in their idolatry. Let us be careful not to follow their example.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: Ezekiel 28-31

Ezekiel 22-23: Mirror, mirror…

Mirror_2James 1:22-24 says: Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.

In a lot of ways, God’s Word is a mirror for us, reflecting back at us a picture of who we are on the inside. That is why the book of Hebrews describes God’s Word as penetrating, even to dividing soul and spirit, bone and marrow. God’s Word cuts through the masks and the pretenses that we display to the world and exposes us. Admittedly this process can be kind of uncomfortable and many of us avoid God’s Word, or sections of it, because we won’t like what it shows us.

But as James points out, if we are to be truly transformed into the kind of “religious” person that God wants, then we must be willing to allow God’s Word to change us from the inside out.

These chapters from Ezekiel, I think, are God holding a mirror up for the Jewish people. He is exposing their sin for what it is, in all of its messy reality. Because they refused to learn from that picture punishment is on the horizon. God has the right to judge because of the promiscuous acts of the two immoral sisters described in Ezekiel 23.

Notice that the descriptions of Israel’s sin in these two chapters describe their sin a willing and rampant. These were not sins of happenstance or mistake, they were sins that were pursued and reveled in.

Also notice that their sins occurred on two fronts: first socially, sins committed against humanity (Ezekiel 22:1-4 a city that sheds blood) and, second cultic sins which are sins against God. Social sin leads to guilt and cultic sin leads to defilement.

The last thing to point out is that these chapters mark the beginning of the actual destruction of Jerusalem. Because of the sins of the nation, God has set his judgement in motion. Jerusalem will be destroyed and the Kingdom of Judah will be no more. These chapters, along with chapter 24, mark the final statements of judgement against the southern Kingdom of Judah. Most scholars agree that it was during the time of these statements by Ezekiel that Jerusalem fell to Babylon in 586 B.C. and began it’s exile in full.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: Ezekiel 24-27

Ezekiel 18-21: Responsibility

These four chapters deal with a theme that many of us are not very comfortable talking about. The theme is responsibility. Here’s some background that might help you understand the phrase from the beginning of chapter 18 “The fathers eat sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.”

Basically, God is asking why the people of Israel in exile in Babylon were blaming their ancestors for their current predicament. That is what the proverb was spoken to mean. In response to that thought, God uses Ezekiel to explain to the people that God judges each person for their own sin and not for someone else’s. That is chapter 18 in a nutshell.

Chapter 19 talks about the foolish decisions of the Jewish leaders and that they were responsible for their own foolishness.

Chapter 20 points out the long history of irresponsibility of the nation itself.

Chapter 21 is where Ezekiel reminds the people that the Lord Jehovah had a responsibility to be faithful to Himself and His covenant with the Jews, and this was why He had chastened them (paraphrasing Warren Wiersbe here).

The people failed to recognize that the privilege of being God’s chosen people comes with a deep responsibility.

Here is what Warren Wiersbe has to say: “They had the greatest law ever given to a nation, bu they disobeyed it. The Lord gave them a wonderful land for their home, but they defiled it with idolatry. They violated the terms of the divine covenant and then were shocked when the Lord obeyed the covenant and chastened them.”

So many in our day and age want to shift responsibility away from themselves and onto the shoulders of someone or something else. God, fate, fortune, luck, a neighbour, they all become the burden bearers for our responsibility. If you think that I’m off my rocker here are three examples of what I mean. First, when was the last time you heard of a student failing a grade? In fact, if you talk to teachers you will learn that it is pretty much impossible to fail a student. They are not taught to be responsible for their learning. Second take a look at the employment situation in our day and age. It is nearly impossible to fire someone from a job. They can be a poor worker, disrespectful to leadership, lazy, foul-mouthed and there is almost nothing an employer can do about it. Or how about the inability of property owners to evict renters, even after the renters have caused damage or failed to pay their rent.

Responsibility is not harmful, it makes us mature, it makes us wise, it makes us grow into better people with better character.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: Ezekiel 22-23

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