Friday, November 2, 2012

Daily Bible Reading: Ezekiel 21-22 and John 17

Ezekiel 21 – The same prophesy of destruction is directed to the people of the Negeb. The King of Babylon will stop at the crossroads that lead either to Jerusalem or to Rabbah of the Ammonites, and there he will conduct all kids of magic to see which one he is meant to attack. It will be Jerusalem. But the Ammonites too, practitioners of all kinds of “lying omens,” will be slaughtered.

The prophet here seems to wander away from the revolutionary idea he expressed earlier in chapters 14 and 18 about the upright man being able to count on his “works” to save him from God’s wrath. He returns to the more communal understanding here. “Now I set myself against you; I am about to unsheathe my sword and to kill both upright man and sinner. My sword will leave its sheath to kill upright and sinful alike and turn against all mankind from the Negeb to the North. All mankind is going to learn that I, Yahweh, am the one who has drawn the sword from its sheath; it will not go back again” (21:2-3).

The Lord “will exhaust [His] wrath” (21:17). Both the Ammonites and Jerusalem will suffer this wrath. Jerusalem will be next.

Ezekiel 22 – The Lord asks Ezekiel if he is prepared to confront Jerusalem with “all her filthy crimes” (22:2). They shed blood, set up idols; the princes have made themselves tyrants; parents are not respected; widow and orphans are not cared for. God means to disperse them and dishonor them in the opinion of the nations.

The Lord means to disperse them to foreign countries, a process that will “take your foulness from you” (22:15). As “base metal” is melted in the melting pot to make something useful, the House of Israel will be melted down by the fire of God’s fury; and in this way they will learn that God’s anger has to be dealt with. “I have made their conduct recoil on their own heads—it is the Lord Yahweh who speaks” (22:31).

John 17 – Now Jesus speaks to his Father in the presence of his disciples. The hour has come for the son to glorify his Father. Jesus has authority to give eternal life to those whom God has given him, “And eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (17:3). I love these words, and they mean to me that “eternal life” is not necessarily living through all time in some heaven in the clouds but “seeing” into that realm which transcends AND penetrates all the moments in time we are given: “the still point of the turning world.” 

He has done what he was to do—made God’s name known to those whom God gave him. He asks his Father to protect them, “so that they may be one, as we are one” (17:11). “I am not asking you to remove them from the world, but to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth; your word is truth” (17:16-18). “I have sent them into the world, and for their sake I consecrate myself so that they too may be consecrated in truth” (17:19).

Jerusalem Bible use of the word “consecrated” here in verses 18 and 19 is so important to me. It is this sense of consecration that I seek in my spiritual life.

Jesus continues his prayer. “I pray not only for these, but for those also who through their words will believe in me. May they all be one. Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me . . .With me in them and you in me, may they be so completely one that the world will realize that it was you who sent me and that I have loved them as much as you loved me.” (20-23) “I have made your name known to them and will continue to make it known, so that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and so that I may be in them” (17:26).

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