James 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.
- 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