Thursday, September 13, 2012
Welcome to Day 256 of our Life Journal!
Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?
S.O.A.P = Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer
Ezekiel 33:7, “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel…”
11 “Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.”
Ezekiel 34, “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? 3 You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. 4 You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. 5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd…”
31 “You my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, are people, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign Lord.’”
Ezekiel 35 is a prophecy against Edom.
What is this chapter describing? If the date of the book suggested in the introduction is correct (spring, 70 A.D.) , and Jerusalem is indeed the “harlot”, then this chapter likely refers to the destruction by the Romans in August, 70 A.D. This would be in harmony with 17:16, where those who first supported the harlot eventually turned on her. So it was with Jerusalem, who depended upon the approval of the Roman authorities to persecute the church, and later became the object of Roman persecution herself. Very fitting is the depiction of Jerusalem as a harlot, for she who should have been a great spiritual city had become a great commercial center by virtue of the roads that passed through her between Europe, Asia and Africa. Her spiritual adultery was also manifested by rejecting the many prophets and apostles sent to her (cf. Mt 23:31-39 with Re 17:6; 18:20,24; 19:2). Mark A. Copeland.
17 “In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!”
In today’s readings, there is a very clear warning to leaders about how to care for the people they are shepherding, preceded by a very clear warning to leaders about being faithful to the word God has given them.
Then, in Revelation we witness, in heaven, the demise of “Babylon,” whether past or future.
I have been a student of Ezekiel 34 for more than 20 years. Doug has used this passage to exhort our pastoral staff to be vigilant in caring for the people God has entrusted to us.
We give it our best shot… while realizing we are still human.
I understand in some regard, I am a watchman in some regard… There can be a lot of pressure that goes with that.
I try to take my “calling” seriously, while not taking myself too seriously.
One of the standout verses (amongst the several passages above) is, “You have ruled them harshly and brutally.” I find that kindness and gentleness go a long way in caring for people.
I don’t think I have ever been brutal… But harsh? Occasionally… I have worked hard to take the sharp edges off of my words… but at times, especially when I am tired or angry, I know I can come across as harsh.
Along with that, I know I can be a little… “direct” at times, too. Ask me a direct question, you are likely to get a direct answer.
But I like what Doug says… “The truth was never meant to be a club.”
During this political season that is heating up, I see this all around me. Frankly, I’m tired of it already. Both sides fire missiles at each other… bending the truth to suit their message. My inbox fills with spam from both sides.
I recently had someone tell me that someone told them, “Scott’s too liberal.”
I literally laughed out loud! (So did they…)
I am about as conservative as anyone I know, but you may not know it because I am often silent on such matters. I have strong opinions on most things, but just because you give yours doesn’t mean I’m going to give you mine. I rarely feel obligated to say what I am thinking. (But silence may be perceived as agreement?)
1 Thessalonians 4:11 says, “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders…”
And, Romans 14, in talking about a whole list of issues from eating meat sacrificed to idols to drinking wine, to which festivals to observe, Paul wrote, “So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God.”
I have friends on both sides of the aisle… and I don’t like the propaganda on either side.
It really bothers me when I hear people slam the president. I once heard someone say, “I don’t want that evil man coming to our city.” I was like, “Seriously??”
In yesterday’s reading from Daniel we saw how God removed Nebuchadnezzar’s power from him. I believe God puts people in their positions.
I often hear people say, “I respect the position, but not the person.”
But I don’t see a lot of respect in our society today. I see a lot of walls being built.
I believe I can disagree with you and still be respectful.
I would rather build bridges than walls…
Lord help me to not be brutal and harsh with those around me. Give me your heart, the heart of the Good Shepherd!