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)
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.
I hope you’ve enjoyed your trip through the book of Galatians. If there’s been one message you’ve taken away with you, I hope, it’s been the message to hold fast to Jesus. Regardless of what else the world, the church or other Christians may tell you never stop holding fast to Jesus, because it’s only Jesus ‘who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory, for ever and ever. Amen’ (Galatians 1:4)
This freedom from the law that we have in Christ in not a freedom we should use to simply do what we want, to satisfy the flesh as Paul said. Paul said we should use our freedom from the law to serve humbly in love. To love our neighbour as ourselves. To do otherwise is to bite and devour one another which only leads to destruction. (Galatians 5:15)
The church needs people of different gifts, it needs to have a diverse leadership. The church also needs that leadership to be working together and pulling in the same direction. The way to work together is to worship together.
The book of Acts is a story of how the church learnt how to be the church away from the building. It is a book of how to be the church in the community, in the towns, the workplaces and family environments. It is a book that has relevance for us today because of the situation we find ourselves in.