Because an author referred to a passage from Ezekiel mentioning how poorly we understand the sin for which Sodom was judged, I started reading the Old Testament prophet. (In Our Lives First, by Diane Langberg, p.122)
Sodom's sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door. (Ezekiel 16:49)
Dr. Langberg’s comments on this verse redirected my priorities in the current battle to redefine marriage, permitting men to marry men, and women, women. Unwise as this course seems to me, a deeper and more deadly spiritual threat continues in the church. That is what Ezekiel hammers on – Sodom, and her neighbors did bad things, things that God hated, and for which He acted (Ezekiel 16:50) But, for all their debaucheries, they did not commit half the sins Israel was committing. (Ezekiel 16:51)
Reading Ezekiel has been like hearing an annoying alarm clock clanking right beside my ear. (Remember Marley’s ghost in A Christmas Carol?)
I can read Ezekiel as history – seeing what happened to the nations around Israel; what was coming to the unfaithful in Israel, and what the promises were for the faithful, the remnant. He had to carry a message of judgment that is no fun to read. Yes, he offered cups of comfort, that He would preserve a remnant. But, the message given to Ezekiel stressed that God sees beneath the façade of His people’s religion, and hates what He sees. God sees His priests worshiping the sun -- bowing their backsides to Him! (Ezekiel 8:16)
To whom or what do I bow?
Trust me, I am having a hard time with all this . . . because deep down inside, I know God has my number, too. When He lays out His case against Israel, I can see myself. Oh, I am not as bad as I could be – but Israel wasn’t always as bad as her neighbors. She was bad enough – and so am I. I go to church, read my Bible, as one of God’s people; I hear His word – read His word – but do not do it. (Ezekiel 33:31)
It wasn’t only the overt sins – like sodomy -- that tipped over the cup of God’s wrath – it was what was underneath – God’s shepherds who wound up calling evil good, and good evil, and starving His people. (Ezekiel 34) And they stiffed the poor in their midst! So, here I am this morning, reading God’s promise of one shepherd. As Israel would know there had been a prophet in their midst, she will know the Lord their God is with them.
My country is having a rough time – we are struggling to do the right thing for our citizens. People should be able to marry whomever they love, we say, overturning conventions. But the bigger problem is when a growing number in the church bow to “the new wisdom,” forgetting what He says about His holiness and His peoples’. For me, reading Ezekiel, the problem is that we both know that God my Judge sees through my pontificating about same-sex marriages, abortion, ignoring the poor, being self-absorbed, or whatever. (Ezekiel 14)
I need a lawyer – One whose “birthday” the church is preparing to celebrate. (1 John 1:9-2:1)
If some in the church are hungry, hurting, and hopeless, how many more in our world have some needs we can meet? (Matthew 25:31-46) Whose name is first on our gift list this year, whose stocking will we fill first? *
*from The Bishop’s Wife, David Niven's Sermon