Today’s chronological read took me back into Ezekiel. Remember, Ezekiel and Jeremiah are contemporaries. Ezekiel is already in exile in Babylon with the first “wave” of captives and Jeremiah is still in Jerusalem which is now under siege by Nebuchadnezzar and months away from its destruction.
Ezekiel’s messages in chapters 25,20,30 and 31 are against the enemy nations surrounding Israel who are watching the advancing Babylonian armies. Ezekiel foretells that in their pride, they will rejoice in Israel’s disgrace, and God will act against them for their pride.
It’s kind of like this. You have a child who has disobeyed you repeatedly and made terrible choices. They’ve broken your heart, but you still love them fiercely and are committed to seeing them come out on the other side of this time of rebellion. You do what is necessary to bend their stubborn will, even turning away from them to allow them to suffer the consequences of their behavior. Because you are the parent, you have the right and the responsibility to love them enough to let them suffer. BUT, wouldn’t your defensive mechanisms kick in if you saw or heard other people who did not love your child, or know your child, or care about your child, rejoicing and clapping their hands over your child’s misery! We have a God-given instinct to protect our family, especially our children.
In Ezekiel’s prophetic messages, we see God’s instinct to protect His own. Ammon will gloat over the destruction of the sanctuary. Moab will mock, saying Judah is just like all the other nations (and by inference, their God is just as weak as any other “god”). Edom and Philistia will take revenge on Judah (probably by plundering them while their defenses are down). Egypt will betray Judah; instead of helping, they will turn against them in their time of need. God says that when these nations turn against His child, Judah, He will step up and act. Like a mother hen protecting her chicks, or a mama bear defending her cubs, God defends His children.
Three lessons for us. First, when you suffer God’s discipline because of our foolish choices, and others delight in our disgrace, look to the Father for your defense. Don’t try to protect your own heart or take your own revenge. Let your Father deal with the bullies. Second, if you’re a parent and must deal with a rebellious child, trust God to protect them while He works on them. He loves them more than you do. And third, if you see someone suffering, even when you know full well it’s because of their own choices, show a little mercy. You may not be called to rescue them, because God is working on His timeline in their life. But you can still encourage and lift them up, knowing that only by the grace of God, it’s not you in God’s “timeout” chair!