Ezekiel 28:20- Ezekiel 29
I would venture to say that if God were to inflict judgment on most of our immediate neighbors we might not ever know it unless it was on the news or if God did it with a meteor or some type of explosion. One reason for this is we don’t actually know our neighbors and the second reason for this is most of us I am convinced don’t believe God executes judgment. See in Ezekiel 28 and 29 the result of judgment was “then they will know that I am the Lord.” Someone, specifically God, is calling people to account and punishing them, thus the conclusion is God must be real because of the punishment.
In the New Testament Jesus says something similar when He says, “If you do not believe in me for who I am, at least believe in the works that I do because they testify of me (paraphrase).” Herein lies the second problem: I’m not sure I see God or His people doing that much that I can tangibly point to and say, “Hey, look what God just did. God made something out of nothing. God made this new. God miraculously transformed this thing that looked really bleak.”
To counter-balance my typically pessimistic disposition and also to not point the finger at God and say, “you’re not doing something,” I will admit I probably doubt too much, I probably don’t look for Him enough, and I don’t praise Him enough for the good things He does. All of that contributes to the inability to see. On top of it all, I am guilty of treating God like I am bigger than Him.
How do I know this? Because life on paper is good again and I’m still bad. I live in a nice home with roommates so I’m not as lonely. I have a stable job and am in line for a promotion after only working here for 4 months. I’ve come out looking pretty good in several recent photographs, I can lift more weights than I have ever been able to lift. The office fish almost died on Monday and by Wednesday, he was swimming around again.
God makes some interesting promises to His people in Ezekiel 28:24-26. “There shall be no more a brier to prick or a thorn to hurt them among all their neighbors who have treated them with contempt… And they shall dwell securely in it, and they shall build houses and plant vineyards. They shall dwell securely when I execute judgment upon all their neighbors who have treated them with contempt. Then the will know that I am the Lord their God.” In chapter 29 his promise is to destroy Egypt, a neighbor that enslaved Israel but also was a nation that Israel sought protection from when Babylon invaded.
I find it interesting that God reveals His love through the promise of protection and through the encouragement to create. He protects so build your houses and plant your vineyards. Creativity spurs a sense of familiar and a sense of home. Building a nest allows you to say, that’s my nest and this is my God who has protected it. Furthermore, this is my God who deals with my enemies (those trying to stifle my creativity or those trying to hurt me). In the meantime God says, “Love your enemies.”
I have good things, yet there is still so much I want for myself. I am selfish. I want to share what I have and who I am with one specific person but also the world. I am self-giving. I am want to know I’m fully loved, accepted and protected. I can be selfless. I can see my neighbor and meet their need through the riches of Christ. You can do these things because God said and believed we could and because my neighbor is God’s neighbor and he wants to show them mercy without judgment.