Kind of a mash-up this morning. Two very different readings coming together to help make some sense of what, on the surface, makes no sense. Not overly concerned about the context of the Word, but comforted this morning by its content. Let me try to explain.
First I read in Ezekiel:
The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, behold, I am about to take the delight of your eyes away from you at a stroke; yet you shall not mourn or weep, nor shall your tears run down. Sigh, but not aloud; make no mourning for the dead. Bind on your turban, and put your shoes on your feet; do not cover your lips, nor eat the bread of men.” So I spoke to the people in the morning, and at evening my wife died. And on the next morning I did as I was commanded.
(Ezekiel 24:15-16, 18 ESV)
Okay, I’ve been reading in the prophets for awhile now. Getting used to the death and destruction foretold because of sin and stubbornness. But to be honest, something about this death hits hard.
Ezekiel has had to endure a lot as the servant spokesman for God. Seen things in visions that have torn his heart out as he’s been brought into God’s confidence concerning the need to judge the rebellious house of Judah. Subject to spectacle and ridicule as he’s been asked to be a living object lesson indicating what God is about to do. So, you’d think that having someone at home to debrief with after a long day of prophesying would have been helpful for his ministry. That having someone sympathetic to his call would have provided some respite when everyone else rejected his message. That being able to go home, whenever he could, to someone whose arms would hold him when he just needed to be held would have been comforting. You could understand why that someone might be “the delight of your eyes.”
So to take her away from him “at a stroke”, regardless of the strong message it would convey to the people, just seems harsh and unfair. And while I have been reading for weeks about the impending judgment and destruction of thousands of people, both Judah and the nations surrounding her, the death of this one individual kind of gets stuck in my throat.
Cue another reading this morning . . .
This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. . . . If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
(1John 1:5, 9 ESV)
While the actions of God in my Ezekiel reading are still percolating in the background, what jumps off the page in my 1John reading are the attributes of God. While I struggle with what God has done, I am satisfied with who God is.
Though, in His sovereign purposes God determines to take away the delight of Ezekiel eyes, yet God is light. In Him is no darkness at all. He is faithful and just. So, though I wrestle, yet I worship.
God’s actions are not the basis for forming an opinion about God. But God’s attributes provide the greater context for all that He does.
What He does is informed by Who He is.
Who He is, not a result of my reflexive response to what I think is right and fair, but a reality founded on His revelation of Himself.
God is light, thus what He does is informed by light. There is no darkness in Him, thus nothing He does is dark. He is faithful and just and so all that He does is in line with His redemptive promises, founded upon His redemptive work, and advances His redemptive agenda. Whether I fully get it or not.
Something I read years ago by Swindoll comes to mind: He is God and nothing less. I am man and nothing more.
Or, as the God of Creation revealed to Isaiah:
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
(Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV)
Though I may sometimes wonder as I reflect on His actions, I worship as a I chew on His attributes.
By His grace. For His glory.