Ezekiel 22 and Psalm 69

Ezekiel 22 is an indictment against Israel for the horrible sins she has committed. Ezekiel 22:7-12 lists a few of the many violations against God that Israel committed. Fraud, murder, rape, assault, cheating, and extortion are just a few of the crimes and if you take the time to consider each of these horrible transgressions in the list and compare them to the pervasive wickedness of today, it gives you great pause to regard how wicked the heart of man is. By nature, that same evil would control me if not for the grace of God.

Exekiel closes the chapter with perhaps the worst indictment of all. He states in Ezekiel 22:30 that he looked for a man who would “stand in the gap” but He could find no one. I have heard many sermons from this passage, but this morning this verse hits closer to home. Not only is God calling me to share the gospel message of salvation, He is calling me to address the issue of sin, first in my own heart and then in the culture around me. God is looking for someone like me to “stand in the gap” and not be ashamed of the gospel!

D. A. Carson gives context to Ezekiel 22,

We should first reflect on this passage in its own textual and historical context. Ezekiel 22 condemns the sins of Jerusalem, this “infamous city, full of turmoil” (Ezekiel 22:5). In particular, it focuses on the sins of the leaders—the kings and princes, the priests, the prophets—and shows the ways in which their sins have brought ruin to the people as a whole. In any declining culture much of the declension comes about by leaders and preachers who are self–serving or even rapacious, corrupt, and perhaps vicious, people who are far more interested in retaining power than in serving, people who devote more attention to the “spin” they will give to public answers than to the truthfulness of their answers. Pretty soon the entire fabric of the culture unravels. Corruption is soon tolerated, then expected. Cynicism becomes the order of the day. More and more people do more and more of what they think they can get away with. Integrity becomes so rare it is newsworthy.1

In Psalm 69:1, the psalmist pleads to God for deliverance. He is near the end of his rope and needs rescue immediately. When I read this verse, it resonated with me. I need God to intervene, to show Himself mighty in my life and my circumstances.

He goes on in Psalm 69:3 to share the effects that his suffering has had on himself. He also confesses in Psalm 69:5 that he is culpable for his own sinful folly and asks for God’s forgiveness. In Psalm 69:13, he reveals that he is ultimately trusting in the sovereign hands of God for deliverance. The often repeated phrase “the steadfast love of God” it’s found both in Psalm 69:13 and in Psalm 69:16.

The last verse that I highlighted this morning is Psalm 69:29,

But I am afflicted and in pain; let your salvation, O God, set me on high!

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.

Ezekiel 15 and Psalm 56-57

Ezekiel 15 is a short chapter of only 8 verses. The metaphor that Ezekiel uses is that of a dead vine (Ezekiel 15:2). He states that it is basically good for nothing but to be tossed into a fire and used as fuel (Ezek. 15:3-4). Even the remaining charred middle part of the vine that is pulled from the ashes is worthless (Ezek. 15:4-5). Likewise, the judgment on those in Jerusalem will be complete and there will be nothing left of any redeeming value.

It is worth noting that even though God is patient and withholds immediate judgment on our sin by His mercy, His judgment will come and it will be thorough. When I ponder that fact, I am comforted by the truth of the gospel and its effectiveness against the truth of Hebrews 9:27. I am deserving of the same judgment that the people of Jerusalem faced. I too have been guilty of idolatry and I have turned my back on God. Though there is no doubt that I was guilty and facing judgment before Christ redeemed me, I have also sinned against God since becoming a believer. Oh, what a wonderful work of grace the gospel is. Jesus has paid the penalty for my sin. The lyrics from the chorus of the song, Jesus Paid It All express this truth:

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow. 1

Psalm 56 is rich for the believer who is burdened by fear and/or anxiety. Once of the most precious verses is Ps. 56:3, “When I am afraid I will trust in you.” (emphasis mine). It would be a good practice for every believer, myself included, to wake up each morning and quote that verse as a statement of our will!

Ps. 56:8 is a reminder that God does care about every pain we experience whether is is physical or emotional. Certainly the psalmist, David, experience physically pain while he and his men were on the run from King Saul, but the pain he speaks of in these psalms is likely emotional suffering. There is a great value in pairing Ps. 56:8 with Ps. 56:3.

Ps. 56:9-11 is an echo of Ps. 56:3. Since it is repeated again, it makes me pause to contemplate its importance. When I fear or when anxiety is crippling my life, I must trust in God even though I don’t see His hand. John Piper writes about anxiety in the blog at Desiring God:

Jesus must mean that God’s knowing is accompanied by his desiring to meet our need. He is emphasizing we have a Father. And this Father is better than an earthly father.

…He knows everything about them now and tomorrow, inside and out. He sees every need.

Add to that, his huge eagerness to meet their needs (the “much more” of Matt. 6:30). Add to that his complete ability to do what he is eager to do (he feeds billions of birds hourly, Matt. 6:26).…2

D.A. Carson gives a wonderful explanation of the anguish that David felt in Ps. 57:2

Certainly David does not think that somehow circumstances have slipped away from such a God. He begs for mercy, but he recognizes that God, the powerful God, fulfills his purposes in him. This mixture of humble pleading and quiet trust in God’s sovereign power recurs in Scripture again and again. Nowhere does it reach a higher plane than in the prayer of the Lord Jesus in the garden: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matt. 26:39). In some measure or another, every follower of Jesus Christ will want to learn the anguish and the joy of that sort of praying.3

My prayer this morning is that I can redeem the burden that I carry by the power of the Holy Spirit for His glory and for my good.

1 Faith Publishing House, Evening Light Songs, 1949, edited 1987 (466); All to Christ I Owe

2 John Piper, “Your Father Knows What You Need,” Desiring God (blog), February 9, 2009, http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/your-father-knows-what-you-need.

3 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.

Ezekiel 14 and Psalm 55

Today’s reading from Ezekiel 14 is particularly critical of the idolatry that lives in a person’s heart. It is evil to put on a facade of obeying God on the outside and loving something else more on the inside. D.A. Carson identifies this in the following paragraph:

…the peculiar expression “set up idols in their hearts,” repeated several times with minor variations in 14:1-8, reeks of duplicity. Publicly there may be a fair bit of covenantal allegiance, but heart loyalty simply isn’t there. To set up idols in the heart is to separate oneself from the living God (14:7).1

That is a harsh indictment from Ezek. 14:8 and it cause me to take inventory of my own heart. Carson goes on to say,

That danger is no less treacherous today than in Ezekiel’s time. Somehow we manage to adhere to our creedal profession, but if anything goes wrong our undisciplined rage shows that we maintain little real trust in the living God: our secret idol is comfort and physical well-being. We attend church, but rarely do we pray in private or thoughtfully read the Word of God. We sing lustily at missionary conventions, but have not shared the Gospel with anyone for years. And deep down we are more interested in our reputation, or in sex, or in holidays, than we are in basking in the awesome radiance and majesty of God. 2

I found the last section of Ezekiel 14 particularly interesting. God tells Ezekiel that even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were present in Jerusalem, judgment would still take place. (Ezek. 14:12-23)

The reasoning presupposes the theology of Genesis 18: God may spare a wicked city or nation for the sake of the just who reside there. But where wickedness overflows, not even the presence of Noah (spared from the Flood), Job (declared “blameless” and “upright,” Job 1:1), and Daniel (Ezekiel’s contemporary, serving in the Babylonian courts, renowned for his piety) will stay the disaster that God ordains.3

Psalm 55 is a beautiful and timely psalm for me this morning. Ps.55:1-3 is an expression of my heart. In my case, the enemy is Satan and his desire for my destruction.

Ps. 55:4-5 express the spiritual/emotional pain of the psalmist and Ps. 55:6-8 defines the panic of his heart. In spite of the pain and fear, the psalmist responds in faith in Ps. 55:16—“But I call to God, and the Lord will save me” and the last part of Ps. 55:23—“…But I will trust in you.”

The verse that I will carry with me today is from Psalm 55:22:

Cast your burden on the Lord
  and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
  the righteous to be moved.

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.

2 Ibid.,

3 Ibid.,