Today‘s readings are from Ezekiel 11 and Psalm 50. Ezekiel 11 is a continuation of the vision of Ezekiel that began in Ezek. 8. In Ezekiel 11, the prophet sees 25 men in Jerusalem who are deciding on a course of action as a result of the pending oppression by Babylon. It also marks the change of location for the glory of God. D. A. Carson writes,
…this glory, once associated with the temple—especially with the Most Holy Place and the ark of the covenant over which the cherubim stretched their wings—abandons the temple and hovers over the mobile throne. The same mobile throne Ezekiel had seen in Babylon is now parked by the south entrance to the temple.1
There was a false sense of security for these people, because they lived in the city of Jerusalem. They thought that God would never destroy the city and fulfill His judgment. They used the metaphor of a cauldron as the wall of protection around the city and that they were like the meat inside, safe. Instead, God would take them out of safety and put them in a place where they would face judgment.
There is a ray of hope in Ezek. 11 that begins to dimly shine. Ezek. 11:14-21, God speaks through the prophet to tell of the remnant that He would restore. He would begin by giving them a new heart of flesh after removing their hearts of stone (Ezek. 11:19). This would result in a new relationship with Him (Ezek. 11:20). Carson points out the irony of the relationship of the exiles to the Jerusalemites,
The vision of chapters 8–11 ends with Ezekiel transported back to Babylon, telling the people everything he has seen and heard. The first strands of hope in this book have been laid out, but not in the categories expected. Jerusalem will be destroyed, and God’s purposes for the future center on the exiles themselves. How often in Scripture does God effect his rescue, his salvation, through the weak and the despised!2
Psalm 50 begins with the announcement that God has come to speak. He warns His people that He doesn‘t require animals sacrifices from them. He owns everything and they cannot give Him anything that He does not already have. Instead, rather, He requires their sacrifice of faithfulness and obedience.
Faithfulness and obedience – they are two of the most basic things that I can give to God yet many times I resist. If He required something more complex, I might excuse myself by noting that those things were too difficult for me to offer or accomplish. Instead, He asks for my obedience to His Word and my faithfulness – both of these are within my ability to give every day. But in a very real sense, I am unable to be obedient and I am unable to be faithful without the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. It is the Spirit Who gives me the power to obey and to remain faithful each day.
1 D. A. Carson, For the Love of God: a Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word., vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998), 25.