Folks, where do we find meaning? There has been a lot of talk this week about exam results. Young people not getting the results they expected, worrying they won’t have the future they hoped for. Do we place to much meaning in exams? Do we try to find meaning in the freedoms we fight for? Freedom to march; to marry; live as we want. What have these freedoms cost us? Do these freedoms help us to find meaning in life? Jesus said he is the vine. Apart from him we can do nothing. (John 15:5) The only place we can find meaning for life is in Jesus Christ, everything else is ultimately useless, fit for burning.
As we read chapters 12, 13 and 14 it isn’t a new vision we’re presented with but a play for Ezekiel to act out. Ezekiel’s play was for the benefit of those already exiled in Babylon with him. It was a play about the fate of Jerusalem and its people, from the king, to the lowliest servant. The exiles were being told what would happen in Jerusalem so as they would get into their head that God was serious about the punishment he was promising to bring forward.
This Sunday our Minister Stuart is on holiday. We are recommending that you attend either Templepatrick Presbyterian Church which will be live at 11 am or the Moderators service which is available now.
As Ezekiel cried out to God so he heard something wonderful. God promised that even for those in Exile; even in his anger; in his perfect justice and judgement, God would still care for his people. He would be a sanctuary. God promised Ezekiel that he would bring his people back not only to Jerusalem, but to that special covenantal relationship with God. ‘They will be my people, and I will be their God.’ (11:20)
This morning we welcome Rev Richard Gregg from Burnside Presbyterian Church as our guest speaker. Richard will be speaking on Psalm 84.
This morning we welcome Rev John Coulter, minister in Ballysally Presbyterian Church. John and Stuart are taking part in a virtual pulpit swap.
Ezekiel’s vision wasn’t so much against what was happening in the temple, but what was happening in people’s lives. Israel’s idolatry may not have been obvious, it’s more likely to have been hidden. If we were sitting with Ezekiel in that house in Babylon, hoping to hear from God. What would he be saying to us? Certainly, on the face of it everything may look OK. Our temple: our life may be good on the surface, no problems; no issues. What lies beneath?
We are incredibly good at quoting Psalm 46:10, ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ What are expecting when we know God. Are we expecting God to make us feel better, a warm pleasant reassurance? Certainly, we know God through his love and compassion. We also know God through the pain we inflict on him because of our sin. We know God because of his judgement. How often do we feel the injustice of hunger, poverty, inequality, sectarianism, racism, sexism? Do we feel the pain of war, terror or bullying? Do we feel it enough to act? Do we feel it as God feels it?
When God told Ezekiel to stand, it wasn’t the same as us being told to please be seated. This wasn’t humility on God’s part. This was an invitation for Ezekiel to be a conscious participant in God’s concern for his people; a call to be ready to act on God’s behalf. God doesn’t call us to be spectators in his plan. He calls us to action; to stand and be counted. To understand how God is concerned for his people and to share that concern in a way that moves us to action.
Ezekiel tells a simple story. He begins with the glory of God in the first vision of chapter 1. The story goes on to tell of Jerusalem and Judah’s sinfulness and rejection of God; the resulting judgement God brings on Jerusalem, Judah and indeed the nations.