This morning I was reading my portion of Ezekiel, chapters 20-21. I must confess that as I have been reading Ezekiel this past week or more I have been skimming it more than reading it. It clearly announces God's impending judgement of Israel over and over and I began to tune out. Not right, but truth.
Then this morning I asked the Lord to help me concentrate. (I know He has a message for me no matter where I'm reading if I will ask Him to reveal it.) So, I was reading along and BANG!
"I seriously considered inflicting My anger on them in force right there....Then I thought better of it. I acted out of Who I was, NOT by how I felt. And I acted in a way that would evoke honor, not blasphemy..." (20:8b-9, 13b-14, 21b-22 The Message)
("But for the sake of My Name..." NIV)
What a clear revelation of how God acts in the face of strong emotion!!! A hard act to follow, but isn't He always?
I have been learning a lot about how to walk by fact and God's Word, not by how I feel, over the past several years. So it was great to see that laid out. Plus that was attached to the idea of acting out of who I am in Christ, which is another thing I have been trying to grasp. So often I act out of how I feel which doesn't look a thing like who I am in Christ. In Ephesians 1, it says I am beloved, accepted, forgiven, adopted, favored, blessed, redeemed, holy, blameless, etc. If I can get to where THAT is my guideline for behavior instead of my feelings or my false self-concepts or others opinions, WOW!!!
These two ideas are further clarified in these verses by making me think of the end result of my actions/thoughts/words-- honor or blasphemy. That really stops me in my tracks! That my behavior has that kind of weighty outcome is constraining. It makes me want to be more intentional and less impulsive. It brings to mind 1Corinthians 10:31: "So whether you eat or drink or WHATEVER you do, do it all for the glory of God." (NIV)
In addition to being a great summary of what God has already been teaching me and making me want to be more intentional in my actions, these verses are such an AWESOME picture of parenting! I have felt just that way about my kids. "I seriously considered inflicting my anger on them in FORCE right there....Then I thought better of it." What a hoot! What a GREAT comfort to me to see that the LORD God Almighty Himself has felt that way too!!!
Other tidbits from Ezekiel 20:
In addition to repeating the verses above 3 times, the LORD:
Proclaims He is Sovereign 13 times.
Declares "I AM the LORD your God." 3 times.
And says, "Then you will KNOW that I AM the LORD." 5 times.
And finally, once, in response to the People wanting Him to let them go be like everyone else, He says, "What you have in mind will never happen. As surely as I live...I will rule over you." Even when they thought they knew what was best for them and were faithless, He was determined to be faithful, first in discipline, then in redemption.