Today’s readings: Ezekiel 39:1-40:27, James 2:18-3:18, Psalm 118:1-18, Proverbs 28:2
Ezekiel 39 contains the promise of restoration for Israel after their time of punishment and discipline was complete. God always had plans to continue walking with Israel.
25 “So now, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will end the captivity of my people; I will have mercy on all Israel, for I jealously guard my holy reputation! 26 They will accept responsibility for their past shame and unfaithfulness after they come home to live in peace in their own land, with no one to bother them. 27 When I bring them home from the lands of their enemies, I will display my holiness among them for all the nations to see. 28 Then my people will know that I am the Lord their God, because I sent them away to exile and brought them home again. I will leave none of my people behind. 29 And I will never again turn my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit upon the people of Israel. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!”
How would this happen? He expected them to repent (accept responsibility) and then He would bring them home to a peaceful land, in His role as the Lord their God. There’s a phrase in this chapter that I never noticed this before – “I will leave none of my people behind.” This reminds me of phrases I have heard from military people and also the “no child left behind” effort a couple decades ago.
The idea of discipline followed by restoration found in Ezekiel is also reflected in Psalm 118.
16 The strong right arm of the Lord is raised in triumph.
The strong right arm of the Lord has done glorious things!
17 I will not die; instead, I will live
to tell what the Lord has done.
18 The Lord has punished me severely,
but he did not let me die.
God’s discipline is not based on hatred or rejection of His followers. Rather He focuses on doing whatever it takes to bring people back to himself. That is not comfortable to me, as it requires me to set aside my view of the world and seek to fully embrace God’s view, which is based on His character. So if we are to walk with God, holiness must be a central theme of our lives.