24 February 2017Ezekiel 20:33-44
“I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out” (v. 34)
Psalm: Psalm 114
The Bible often contains threads that weave through the many different books of scripture. They are picked up by different authors who use them as images to expand their meaning. Within these verses found in chapter 20 we see God referring back to Israel's most profound and import story, the exodus, in speaking to the people in exile.
In the first few verses there are see numerous references to the exodus story as God speaks to Ezekiel. The phrase "a mighty hand and an outstretched arm" can also be found in Deuteronomy 4:34; 5:15; 7:19; 11:2 all in reference to the rescue of the people out of Egypt. And "I will bring you out" also echoes the rescuing of the people from under Pharaoh's rule. Verses 35-36 continue the exodus motif in more blatant terms as God tells the people that they will be brought to a wilderness like as God did with their forefathers. All of this reminds the people of what God has done for them in the past, how they were liberated and brought to the promised land.
The final verses are set as a promise to the people of what God will do for them. Having rescued them God will bring them back to the promised land and they will again offer gifts to the living God. God also promises to "manifest my holiness among you",which again is a reminder first to the exodus and then to God's dwelling in the temple that had been destroyed at the beginning of the exile. All of this does not come without a cost, the people will remember what they have done, they will remember how they failed and caused the troubles that came upon them. But God will be faithful and deal with them according to their evil ways but in line with God's own grace. This is an encouragement for us all.
- We are often warned to learn the lessons of the past. What lessons have you learnt from a past mistake or success?