Editor’s Note: Thanks to guest blogger David Hundert for continuing the Ezekiel series this week.
I want to talk with you about “teachable moments.”
What are teachable moments? Teachable moments are an event or experience which gives a good opportunity to learn something about life.
Now, at the this time, because Joel isn’t blogging, I’m going to commit the unpardonable sin, and talk about politics…
You see, there were two mothers in a grocery store, one was a Democrat and the other a Republican. The Democrat had her 6 year old daughter with her and the two women were catching up with each other as they hadn’t seen each other in quite a while. The Republican was commenting that the last time they spoke, the little girl was just a baby. Speaking to the little girl, the Republican asked the little girl what she wanted to be when she grew up. The little girl mentioned that she wanted to be President of the United States one day! Her mom couldn’t be more proud. The woman asked the little girl, “If you were President, what’s the first thing that she would do when she was in office?” The little girl replied, “I’d give food and homes to all of the homeless people.” The woman replied, “Wow! What a worthy goal! She said, “you don’t have to wait until you’re President to do that. You can come over to my house and mow my lawn, pull my weeds, and sweep my sidewalks and driveway. For that I’ll pay you $50. Then I’ll take you over to the grocery store where the homeless guy hangs out and you can give him the $50 to use toward food or housing.” The little girl, again, 6 years old thought about it for a minute, looked the woman in the eye and asked, “Why doesn’t the homeless guy come over and do the work, and then you can just pay him the $50?” The woman replied, “Welcome to the Republican Party sweetheart…”
You see, there can be teachable moments everywhere…
This morning, we are going to take a look at Ezekiel chapter 20, where the Lord uses Ezekiel speaking to the elders of Israel as a teachable moment for the leaders of his people.
The elders of the people of Israel living in Babylon come back at Ezekiel’s house. In our study of Ezekiel, this is the third time that the elders have approached Ezekiel for some sort of message from the Lord. In chapter 8, verse 1, we read: “In the sixth year, in the sixth month on the fifth day, while I was sitting in my house and the elders of Judah were sitting before me, the hand of the Sovereign Lord came on me there.”
Moving on to chapter 14, verse 1, we read, “Some of the elders of Israel came to me and sat down in front of me.”
Now in chapter 20, verse 1, we read again, “In the seventh year, in the fifth month on the tenth day, some of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the Lord, and they sat down in front of me.”
Did they expect a different message? It didn’t work out to well for them the first two times that they approached Ezekiel for a message from God. In chapter 8, the Lord confronts Israel for its idolatry. In chapter 14, guess what they were confronted for? Yup! Their idolatry. Any guesses as to what they are going to be confronted about again? How far have they fallen? At this point in Ezekiel, you would think that the elders would have learned, right?
Turn to Numbers 11:24-25, where we read,
“So Moses went out and told the people what the Lord had said. He brought together seventy of their elders and had them stand around the tent. Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke with him, and he took some of the power of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders. When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied—but did not do so again.”
The very ones who once led the people in receiving a foretaste of the pouring out of the Spirit, now lead the people in their spiritual adultery. Normally, seeking the Lord would be a good thing, right? After all, Amos 5:4 states, “This is what the Lord says to Israel: ‘Seek me and live.’”
The problem is, they are involved in the idolatrous practices of their fathers. So turn back to Ezekiel 20, and we can see how the Lord responds to their efforts. Read verses 1-4.
It’s an interesting point that Ezekiel never records what it was that they were there to inquire about. They were rejected out of hand. Did they even have the opportunity to mention why they were there? It wasn’t what they were there for that was the cause of their rejection, it was who they are. They were the lay leaders of an adulterous generation. Yet surprisingly, it doesn’t stop there! Even though the Lord isn’t going to address their issue, the Lord has a message for them addressed directly at their sin. Ezekiel is to present to them a history of Israel from God’s perspective. That is, it is a history that focuses not on Israel’s history of cultural and political achievements but rather on their history of idolatry.
In the next post, we’ll learn why! It is a teachable moment.