Ezekiel blog: Last installment for chapter 33

Today’s naughty word: Entitlement.

Ezekiel has lead us, the questing reader, through a series of concepts in chapter 33.  These themes addressed taking responsibility for one’s situation, recognizing God’s view of justice, and owning the task of making choices that affect our lives and the lives of everyone in the community.  Now, finally, Ezekiel addresses another one of his recurring themes throughout the book:  having an inappropriate sense of entitlement.   As in, “I deserve this, because I am {insert self-justification here}”, or “This is mine because I claimed it in the name of…myself”,  or more simply Might-makes-right.  God, through Ezekiel takes this head on.

The sword had come through and devestated the entire area, but there were many who survived. It seems that those people who were left living in the hills surrounding Jerusalem, following its conquest by Babylon, were carried away by a sense of having survived the worst automatically entitled them to the spoils of defaulted property rights of those that didn’t, or who were in no position to stand up for their rights.    And they gathered together and reasoned together, as reasonable human beings do.

This is what they came up with.  Since Abraham, our father possessed this land All By Himself – ’cause he was just one man – How much more right is it to possess all of this land, divided amongst those of us who are left remaining.  For our numbers are so much more than one, so that makes us approved to just appropriate the holdings of those less fortunate.

Ezekiel’s stance was firm as he voiced God’s disapproval of this social / mental framework. This was a bad attitude to take in the face of the mercy recently shown by being spared. To receive mercy and patience, but not to share it on with neighbors, friends, relatives?  That doesn’t fly.

To believe that because of a relatively high headcount you have strength to make a claim, and might makes right?  Ezekiel, one of the Four Great Prophets of the Bible, he says No. That is not right, not ethically, not morally, not spiritually.

And where was the gratitude to God for being spared? Hmmm.  Where were the burnt offerings, where were the peace offerings, where were the sin offerings?  Why was no one fasting and kneeling down in what remained of their fields to offer humble prayers of thanks.

God speaks out here, at the end of Chapter 33, because the focus of the community was on the gain of the individual at the expense of the victims.  That is a way of life that is not consistent with any of Ezekiel’s teachings. It is not the way of a people of true faith or true Humility.  Entitlement is not a value that God looked upon with favor.  See my earlier posts on Ezekiel regarding ‘Jerusalem is the pot, and we are the meat’.

I saw an image with a quote, which I’ll include here.  To summarize, it may be human to look for opportunities of entitlement, but that is not the path to healthy relationships, or to healthy community. It certainly does not draw the soul into appreciation, nor does it work in any way to strengthen, defend or purify the spirit.

Ezekiel’s messages? We can do better.