Making a conscious decision to go wherever the Lord takes me is risky! Particularly, if I am actually going to do it. I made a decision to write a blog post for wherever I opened my Bible.
Well, I opened my Bible at Ezekiel 21. As I read it I said, “But, that’s too hard Lord!” I was protesting because this passage is rather gruesome. It focuses on God’s wrath and punishment. Abba gently replied, with a smile and in His soft and gentle tone, “I’m not calling you to do what is easy, I’m calling you to do what is right.”
Feeling willing to give it a go, I carried on reading the chapter. I paused at verse 26, which says, ‘this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Take off the turban, remove the crown. It will not be as it was: the lowly will be exalted and the exalted will be brought low.’ At that very moment I glimpsed Jesus – baby Jesus in a manger, wrapped in linen, smelly, cold, damp.
Growing up I justified a lot of the Old Testament. It made sense to me that God was God and therefore punishment and wrath was justified. I saw Him as a mean, distant, father, who would punish me if I were naughty. This made sense to me, so I accepted it as truth. I’m now starting to build up a new picture, based on experience and relationship, that knows Abba to be loving, kind, just, gentle and a (very) good Father. So, as I was reading Ezekiel 21, there was dissonance (basically, two things that are out of tune with each other). There was dissonance between what I was reading and what I now know of Abba. It’s hard to portray Abba as loving when so much of the Old Testament seems to portray Him as the opposite. That makes it ‘too hard’. It means that there are some tough questions to answer. It means that it’s not all rosy and beautiful. There are some really ugly bits in the Bible.
I’m not going to ignore the difficult bits because it’s too hard. They are still there. I’m not glossing over them. No, I’m accepting them. I’m accepting that I don’t understand it all yet. I’m accepting that I struggle with the Old Testament wrath and punishment passages. But, I’m doing what Abba does. I’m pointing to Jesus and saying, ‘look, here He is. The most low, is exalted. Jesus is the hope we find. Jesus re-tunes the dissonance. Jesus shows us the true character of God. Whenever there is dissonace in the Bible – look for Jesus. He is the Word, so you will find Him. He is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6).’
Jesus brought beauty into a bleak chapter. Jesus brings beauty out of the bleakness in our lives too. I pray that you discover Him in whatever bleakness you find yourself in.