The Importance of Being An Earnest Reader

Ezekiel contains some greatly unpleasant but undeniably present prophecies. ‘The prophets of doom and gloom.’ My whole Old Testament reading venture has been sobering, and perhaps not helping with the February blues.

Still, read this:

26 Calamity upon calamity will come,
and rumor upon rumor.
They will go searching for a vision from the prophet,
priestly instruction in the law will cease,
the counsel of the elders will come to an end.
27 The king will mourn,
the prince will be clothed with despair,
and the hands of the people of the land will tremble.
I will deal with them according to their conduct,
and by their own standards I will judge them.

“‘Then they will know that I am the LORD.’”

I first noticed that “by their own standards,” God will judge them. A good Biblical reference to support that God is fair to those who don’t know him. And that is not to say that in some cases, God’s standards don’t matter; only that these people do not even pass their own standards, let alone God’s.

But that was all I really noticed, until a Bible commentary pointed at me and said, “read earnestly!” The (Matthew Henry) commentary had this sentence written on it: “They would not hear what God had to say to them by ways of conviction, and therefore he has nothing to say to them by way of encouragement.” At a basic level, you can see that they asked the prophet for visions after ‘calamity’ and ‘rumours.’ Thinking critically, what are they expecting of the prophet? Is it to say, “yea, it sucks but that’s life – it’ll get much better for you soon,” or to say “you’ve done rather badly for yourself; change your ways or you haven’t got a hope?”

If the Old Testament is indeed full of doom and gloom, what a picture it is of a very human disinclination to be moved about our need to change our ways. A badly behaving child does not need encouragement, but a fitting reprimand. It is soy good.


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