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This hurts me more than it hurts you (Wk 9 Ezekiel)

A holy people
Ezekiel 24 is full of symbols of purification. God is clean; pure; holy.

And he wants his people to be holy, too. He’ll do whatever is necessary to get them that way, including painful things not just to them, but to him.

All parents are obliged to say at some point in their parenting careers: “This is gonna hurt me more than it hurts you.” To which all kids, in their wonderful juvenile logic, reply, “Then don’t do it!”

But the parents are wiser and know that the refining process, while painful, yields beautiful results.

So when God set out to purge the impurities from among his people, it was seige of Jerusalem painful to everybody. But the result would be worth it. At least for the survivors and those to follow (which is . . . us!). And definitely to God.

The fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonians in this third and final siege would be a cleansing like Jerusalem had never experienced before.

Here’s the story
On January 15, 588 BC, God gave this story to Ezekiel to pass along to his fellow exiles in Babylon:

Put on the cooking pot (Jerusalem). Pour in water, and fill it with the best chunks of meat and choice bones (corrupt Jewish leaders). Pile the wood (siege) high under the pot.

And bring it to a boil.

But the filthy scum (sin) on this pot can’t be cleaned just with water. So empty the pot (death or exile of the people), piece by piece. Put the empty pot on coals so hot that it melts.

I’m cleaning this mess up.

Then you will know that I am the Lord GOD (Ezekiel 24:24).

No mourning for the dead
As Jerusalem burned, Mrs. Ezekiel died. Another symbol. A costly one.

She was the delight of Ezekiel’s eyes. Jerusalem was the delight of the people’s eyes. God’s people were the delight of His eyes.

Ezekiel was to mourn his wife in quietness, demonstrating how the exiles were to mourn the loss of Jerusalem. And as God would mourn his people in kind. Forego normal rituals. The destruction of such filthiness surpassed all traditional expressions of grief.

The purification was tough. But the alternative would have been tougher. The unholy can never make themselves holy on their own. Only God can clean the pot.

And we should be thankful that he cares enough to do it. It really is for our own good.

. . . He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant,
but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness
to those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:10-11

[Jesus Christ] gave himself for us to redeem us
from all lawlessness and to purify for himself
a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
Titus 2:14

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NEXT: Week 10, Ezekiel and the Messiah  
          Ezekiel 1-3; 34

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