A God That Moves (By Chris Barnes)
Text: Ezekiel (Chapters 1-8)
OBSERVE: Several of the Old Testament prophets were given the privilege of seeing beyond this world in the very throne room of God. In the first chapter of the book of Ezekiel, we see that Ezekiel saw a vision of his glorious God who resembled a man:
Above the surface was something that looked like a throne made of blue lapis lazuli. And on this throne high above was a figure whose appearance resembled a man. From what appeared to be his waist up, he looked like a gleaming amber, flickering like a fire. And from his waist down, he looked like a burning flame, shining with splendor. All around him was a glowing halo, like a rainbow shining in the clouds on a rainy day. This is that the glory of the Lord looked like to me. (Ezekiel 1: 26-28)
INTERPRET: The prophet Ezekiel was a part of the 2nd wave of exiles to Babylon in 597 BC. This vision was five years after his exile which would have been 5 years before the final destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC. Chapters 2-8 are full of accusations against Israel, tells of more exile to come and predicts the worst possible outcome; the destruction of the temple.
All of this would have been difficult for the prophet Ezekiel to comprehend. Ezekiel would have had a tough time understanding why God was on the move. To see God moving to be with the exiles in Babylon would have been hard for Ezekiel to comprehend. In this, God was making it clear to his prophet that the exile was part of God’s plan and that He had majesty, power and glory over all deities and territories.
APPLICATION: During the time leading up to the exile, there was a prominent held belief system called ‘Zion Theology”. The central tenets of this belief system were a combination of three interrelated ideas that included the election of Zion, the Davidic promise to David and that Zion was God’s dwelling place. Although all three ideas were true, this theology mistakenly led many to think that Jerusalem was invincible and this ultimately contributed to spiritual complacency. It was this way of thinking that the prophet Jeremiah was constantly reacting against. The eventual fall of Jerusalem in 587 BC would have spurred some profound reflection upon the meaning of God’s promises, the meaning of the covenant(s), and the very nature of God himself. In light of Zion Theology and its central tenets, it is not hard to see how the exile would have shaken the faith of many.
For us today, it is common to have pre-conceived notions to what God will do next. We need to be careful that we do not limit God’s sovereignty or hinder ourselves from recognizing where God is moving. As His church, we need to be open to what He is doing and not allow our own desires or comfort to blind us. We have a responsibility to follow God in the ways and directions that He is moving.
REFLECTION: Are you open and willing to follow God wherever he is going to lead you?
PRAYER: Holy, Holy, Holy are you, who sits on the throne! Blessings and honor and glory and power belong to the One sitting on the throne! Open my eyes and heart so that I do not limit or miss your purposes. Remove all barriers within me so that I may faithfully follow you. AMEN.
SONG: I Will Follow (By Chris Tomlin)
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In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.