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News for Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Sunday School Lesson: Explore the Bible – June 22
Jun. 22 - When Tragedy Hits Home
By Shawn Allred

Focal Passage: Ezekiel 20:1 – 24:27

I have a friend who recently received a serious diagnosis of cancer. Through it all he has been resilient in his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I have other friends who recently lost their infant son and grandson to an illness that took his life at the tender age of six weeks. They, too, relied on their faith in Christ to sustain them through an almost incomprehensible tragedy. Whether in life or in death, tragedy will ultimately hit close to home. God’s Word gives us the tools to trust Him when tragedies of life come our way.

In Ezekiel 24:15-27, Ezekiel finds tragedy coming home both on a national level and a personal level. God prescribes a personal tragedy for Ezekiel that would become a message for the people of Israel. The people had come to a place where they had forgotten God and the tragedy that came to Ezekiel would be a sign for the future of their nation. The people had continuously rebelled against God and had placed idols in the place of Holy God. Now God’s wrath was about to be poured out against God’s chosen people. In Ezekiel 23:35, the Lord God makes this declaration, “… Because you have forgotten Me and cast Me behind your back, you must bear the consequences of your indecency and promiscuity” (HCSB). God’s patience had waned because of the rebellious hearts of the people and now His wrath would come and purge the land of idolatry.

Those committed to Christ are not immune to the tragedies that this world affords. Ezekiel was the prophet of God and had been faithful to deliver the Word of the Lord to the people, but now a personal tragedy would become a public testimony. The Lord spoke to Ezekiel and told him that he was about to remove “the delight of your eyes” and he was going to do it with a “fatal blow” (ch. 24:15). This is referring to Ezekiel’s bride, the love of his life. Though we are not even given her name, we are invited to understand the closeness that existed between Ezekiel and his bride through the expression “delight of your eyes.”

The Lord continued in His Word to Ezekiel by instructing him not to grieve in the way that would have been customary during that time. The grieving process of that day was public, yet God told Ezekiel to “groan quietly” in verse 17. Through loss and uncertainty, we find Ezekiel faithful to the Lord and the call He had placed on his life.

The absence of public grief in Ezekiel’s tragedy would also be imposed upon the Israelites as they too would lose the “pride of their power, the delight of your eyes, and the desire of your heart” (ch. 24:21). The Israelites had misplaced their love and allegiance and had placed national pride and their pursuit to be like other nations on the altar of their hearts. God’s promised judgment was accomplished in 586 B.C. when Jerusalem fell to Nebuchadnezzar and his armies.

Ezekiel’s testimony was that he was able to turn to God in the midst of personal tragedy and remain faithful to his relationship with the Lord and the call of the Lord on his life. This was God’s desire for the entire nation of Israel. He wanted to bring them to a place where they would once again recognize that “I am the Lord Yahweh” (ch. 24:24). Yahweh means the “One Who is.” The Lord desires for us to recognize Him that way in our lives just as He desired the same of the nation of Israel. Even in the midst of tragedy, may we know that God is the “One Who is” in control, worthy of our praise, and given first place in our lives.

— Allred is pastor of First Baptist Church, Bruceton.

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