12 August 2010

Ezekiel 10:1-22

"Fill your hands with burning coals ... and scatter them over the city." (v.2)


In the opening chapter of the book of Ezekiel the prophet has avision of the majesty of God. Like a recurring dream Ezekiel sees it all again: the cherubim, the wheels, the throne, the glory of the Lord.

Now the vision takes a severe turn for the worse. Jerusalem, the city that meant so much to the life of the people of Israel, is to be destroyed. The devastation starts in the Temple. The man in the linen cloth - the priest - is handed the burning coals that are scattered over the city. Then it gets even worse. The glory of the Lord, the very presence, is leaving the Temple. Not even the house of worship will remain and the Lord will depart the holy city. All is lost and all because of Israel's disobedience.

You cannot mess with the holy God. You are playing with fire - in Ezekiel's vision literally! There is a tendency to think of the 'holy' as just the splendid and wholesome, but it also has a cutting edge to it. The awe and the fear of the holy means you have to take your obedience to the Lord seriously.

But Israel failed to learn the lesson the first time round and continued their bad ways after the first conquest and exile in 597 BC. They are going to suffer again and this time for good. Eight years after the first deportation that took Ezekiel to Babylon, Jerusalem was in fact totally destroyed, Temple and all. Ezekiel's vision came true.

To Ponder

What does the word 'holy' mean to you? Does it bring comfort or challenge?

How attached are you to your place of worship? How would you feel if it was burnt down or destroyed?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr John CA Emmett

John worked as a research physicist in the nuclear power industry before ordination and circuit appointments in Swindon and Bath. He is currently director of programmes and research at Wesley College, Bristol.