“I gave them my Sabbaths as a sign between us, so they would know that I the Lord made them holy.” Ezekiel 20:1–44 (NIV)
We might read the Old Testament despairing that God’s people turn from him again and again. They follow the desires of their own hearts instead of aligning themselves with his plans; they lust after other gods, seeking fleeting pleasures; they lack the faith and belief that the Lord will follow through on his word.
This passage in Ezekiel outlines three generations of God’s people rebelling against him – those who lived in Egypt in the time of the exodus from Pharaoh, those who wandered in the desert with Moses, and their children. Each generation followed their own ways, turning from the Lord, and in each case, the Lord saves them – for the glory of his name amongst their neighbors. Ezekiel cites these generations as he speaks to the current generation of God’s people, asking them if they too will follow the detestable practices of their ancestors, or if they will turn to the Lord in purity and holiness.
The Lord through Ezekiel highlights again and again how the generations ignored the Sabbath. Instead of keeping the day holy and being an example to those around them, they acquiesced to the culture. No longer were they set apart, following the wisdom of God’s cycle of time and rest, as they blended in with those who followed pagan practices.
We too often fail the Lord, getting wrapped up in our lives and ignoring his gentle prompts and prods. But unlike the Israelites as a whole, we have the gift of the Holy Spirit living in us, helping us to repent and softening our hard hearts. If we ask the Lord to turn our minds, hearts and actions to him as we bring him glory, I believe that’s a prayer he delights to answer.
Prayer: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I feel I fail you often. And yet you run toward me with open arms. Help me to love and serve you this day. Amen.