Friday, October 22, 2010

Getting a good look

Through the Bible in 90 Days: Day 61

Read: Ezekiel 23:40-35:15

Verse that stood out:
My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to listen to your words, but they do not put them into practice. With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice - Ezekiel 33:31-32

It's difficult to believe that people would actually come and listen to the prophet Ezekiel just for fun. It's not like he's the most seeker-sensitive of prophets. I could see people coming to see him in the way people go to see the freak shows at the fair, but I'd hardly describe him as one who "sings love songs with a beautiful voice." Maybe people liked the sermons in which he declared God's judgment on Israel's enemies. That kind of talk always gets plenty of amens.

Or maybe, they liked the twinge of guilt they felt when he blasted Israel's sins. Paul told us that there is a sorrow that leads to repentance which seems to indicate there is also a sorrow that doesn't. Some sorrows only lead to feeling spiritual without compelling us to actually live spiritually. Such a sorrow lets off just enough guilty steam that we can keep on living in sin without being too bothered by our actions.

Or maybe it was just the nostalgia of it all. A prophet, especially an eccentric guy like Ezekiel, reminded them of home. Of course, back home they never actually did what the prophet said so why should life in exile be any different?

Whatever the reason, the result was the same, they came, they listened, they even delighted in God's word, but they did not obey. The book of James says of such folks, they're like people who walked up to a mirror, got a good look at themselves, and then as soon as they turned around forgot what they looked like. Perhaps they assumed the prophet's words were like the mirrors in the house of glass - mirrors that exaggerate and stretch our appearances and need not be taken seriously. God says, it's their self-image that's distorted.

If we're not careful, we do the same thing as the ancient Israelites. For sixty-one days we've been listening to God's word, now. Have you enjoyed it? Many have told me that they have. A better question, perhaps, have you obeyed? Have you changed? Have you put God's word into practice in your life today?

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