Week 5: Lessons from the Prophets Cont’d
Day 4 – Ezekiel and the Stranger: Ezekiel 14:6-8; 44:6-9; 47:23
The book of Ezekiel is an amazing book. If you have never taken the time to read through it carefully – do it. Choosing how and where to start for today’s post is not easy!
The ministries of Jeremiah and Ezekiel over-lapped. Ezekiel, however, was taken to Babylon in the second deportation under the reign of Jehoiachin. It was from there that he prophesied.
Although they were in the midst of this great judgment from God, Ezekiel’s prophesies still involved Israel’s sin and God’s punishment. God’s people had still not come to a place of full repentance. In chapter two, God addresses their rebellion. In fact, He encourages Ezekiel more than once not to be like them, but to be obedient. We find out in the very next chapter that they were unwilling, they would not listen. It is in that same chapter that God tells Ezekiel that He has called him to be a watchman. He is to bring them warning and if he does not the blood of those who are punished for their wickedness and iniquity will be upon his hands. After this follows a series of what we would probably find to be strange events, all designed to communicate to God’s people the coming fall of Jerusalem.
The fatherless are mentioned only once in the book of Ezekiel, their counterpart groups however, are mentioned in several passages, especially, the poor and needy and the strangers. Some of these passages are very revealing as to the importance of how we are to deal with these people.
It is often easy to say, Oh, well we are to love the stranger, therefore we have to give them everything they need (or want, in some cases) regardless of who they are or what they are doing. This is not Biblical. Ezekiel gives us three examples of the proper treatment of strangers. First, They were to be held to the same spiritual standard as everyone else:
“Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations. For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel which separateth himself from me, and setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to a prophet to inquire of him concerning me: I the Lord will answer him by myself: And I will set my face against that man, and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of my people; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.” Ezekiel 14:6-8
Secondly, the strangers were held to the same standard in religious practice:
“And thou shalt say to the rebellious, even to the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; O ye house of Israel, let it suffice you of all your abominations, In that ye have brought into my sanctuary strangers, uncircumcised in heart, and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in my sanctuary, to pollute it, even my house, when ye offer my bread, the fat and the blood, and they have broken my covenant because of all your abominations. And ye have not kept the charge of mine holy things: but ye have set keepers of my charge in my sanctuary for yourselves. Thus saith the Lord God; No stranger, uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary, of any stranger that is among the children of Israel.” Ezekiel 44:6-9
Thirdly, the strangers were not to be excluded from the inheritance, they were to be allowed a place among the people in the tribe with which they dwelt:
“And it shall come to pass, that in what tribe the stranger sojourneth, there shall ye give him his inheritance, saith the Lord.” Ezekiel 47:23
God is no respecter of persons. His standard is His standard. It does not apply to one person, but not another. We are, as we saw in the books of the Law, to love the stranger in providing food and clothing. But this does not mean that we are to disregard the conduct of the person toward God and the people around them. God’s love is not a blanket cover-all to cloak the seriousness of man’s sin. God’s love provided the perfect Lamb for a price we could not pay, but the price still had to be paid by that Lamb. At the same time, we are not to withold the blessings that God has prepared for them.
What does this all mean? What do you think?
Up Next: Day 5: Sodom’s Other Sins
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