My continuing Ezekiel blog – thanks for dropping in.
There is an interesting note in 2nd Chronicles that refers indirectly to Ezekiel – or at least the experiences of the people at the end of the rule of Jerusalem. In short, the verses talk about the end of the destruction of Jerusalem and the invasion of the land. It talks of the people being carried away from their homeland and that all the houses of worship had been destroyed. And then, at the very end of the narrative, the verse says something to the effect that the land finally observed the sabbath and could rest.
So often we get caught up in the human story, and forget that God is indeed concerned with all his creation, including the very land, the very earth, and the sabbath. It seems that the only way God could give the place an insured rest was to usher all of Israel off to another land.
So it begs the question, “Rest from what??” Good question. It seems that God was being an advocate for the land walked upon by the prophets, a land who was a victim of the capricious religious patronage of its population. So from the Land’s point of view, here are a bunch of people walking around demanding food, water, resources, etc. and then crafting Idols and adopting every stray religious cult that happened to swing through the neighborhood. What happened to the simplicity of faith in a God who walked every step of the way with them in the wilderness?
So the land achieves silence, rest from this behavior and returns to an undisturbed state for 70 years. Remember that throughout this book, there is representation of time by days. 70 years of rest, 7 days of silence from Ezekiel to whom the exiled people turned. And God uses the adjective “rebellious” 7 times when describing the state of Israel during Ezekiel’s calling.
God tells Ezekiel that he will bind up Ezekiel’s tongue, and that he shall not speak until God is ready. And God will be ready when the time of rest, the sabbath has been observed. God has much to say to the people of Israel, but not until Jerusalem has been cleared of the presence of His fallen people, of Idol worship, of plain old fashioned lip service to the law. And we see here that God is plainly willing to wait, even in the face of the impatience of the people of Israel in captivity.
That of course, is my read into these things. But I find that the message resonates with me on many levels. This idea of rest – not just because of exhaustion, but to take time to consider the works of God. And this idea of Sabbath being applied to the land, to Mother Earth. She is a sacred gift and participant in the whole of creation. The patience of God when dealing with humans. I know it seems that this book is about judgement and condemnation, but there is also a very strong thread of patience, that long has God allowed things to continue in error. Long has God observed the pain of his creation. And, though destruction is at hand, long will be the patience of God with His people in exile, those that complied with His judgment and accepted the new condition as Jeremiah advised. God will be patient with Ezekiel as he struggles to wrap his mind around some of these totally new concepts about spirituality and the definition of sacred spaces. And God asks the people to be patient – though He knows that will fall on deaf ears.
Perhaps it’s time to observe the works of the Lord, and have the patience to watch carefully as God is at work in his creation.