Scripture Focus: Ezekiel 20.44
You will know that I am the Lord, when I deal with you for my name’s sake and not according to your evil ways and your corrupt practices.
Reflection: Denying our Exile
By John Tillman
The elders of Israel came to Ezekiel to inquire of God—to seek something from him. What they got instead was a list of reasons that God had no intention of hearing their requests.
God instructed Ezekiel to launch into a litany of Israel’s idolatry and failures. This was not a history that his audience would have been unaware of. They were living in exile, suffering from what was being described. The problem was, they were continually in denial about their judgment and exile. They thought they deserved to go back.
Israel thought it was God’s nation. They had a son of David on the throne. They had their founding documents. They had God’s Temple. They listened to false prophets of God, who taught that God would miraculously bless them with deliverance, wealth, and freedom. They confronted anyone who questioned their narrative as unpatriotic.
Much of Ezekiel’s ministry was attempting to convince the already exiled, that there was not going to be a miraculous return to Israel’s glory days in their lifetimes. Over and over in many ways, he tells them,
“No. The king won’t save you.”
“No. The city will fall.”
“No. God’s Temple will be destroyed.”
“No. You will never go back.”
Normalcy was dead.
Because to God, Israel had already ceased to be his people by breaking his covenant. They worshiped God in name only. Their true worship was dedicated to gods of financial blessing and prosperity, such as Ba’al. They profaned God’s name when they claimed to worship him.
So, for the sake of God’s name they were exiled. But also for the sake of God’s name, he promised to restore them. Not on their timetable. Not like they wanted. Not like before. But through the suffering and purifying heat of exile, eventually, they would be redeemed.
We should not deny our exile. We should confess it. When we do, our redemption is certain because it relies on God, not us, being true to his name.
In these times of exile, we can cling to his promise that he will deal with us for his name’s sake and not according to our evil ways or corrupt practices. Then we will know and confess that he is the Lord.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
My eyes are upon the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me… — Psalm 101.6
– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle
Ezekiel 20 (Listen – 9:25)
Psalm 66-67 (Listen – 2:42)
Read more about Treasuring Our Temples
Judah treasured the Temple’s importance but not its inhabitant. They treasured the regalia, not the relationship…May we take warning.
Read more about The Mingled Prayers of Exiles
We pray today as the exiles prayed, with mingled sorrow and joy.
We weep for losses, sins, error, and struggle. We shout for mercy, comfort, redemption, and aid.