Did you just hear that sigh of relief?
That was me as I finished Ezekiel and moved into Daniel this morning.
If you ever read through the Bible in a year from Genesis to Revelation, you are well aware that many of the books are difficult to get through. It is as much a discipline to stay tuned in each day as it is to just show up and read it.
Some books are full of narrative that catches the interest and is the fodder for much of childhood Sunday School and VBS material.
But rarely if ever would you sit the little ones down on carpet squares and do a puppet show of Jeremiah or Ezekiel. The words they were given to speak were harsh words of the coming judgment.
Jeremiah’s object lessons are strange and Ezekiel’s visions so unlike anything of this world; it is hard to make concrete connections with the message as it moves along.
But every word of Scripture is God-breathed and so I have approached both of these books asking the basic questions you, too, may have learned in some Bible study somewhere.
What do these passages teach me about who God is and who we are, and how do I respond to this knowledge?
Well, I can tell you that in both Jeremiah and Ezekiel, I know that God is holy and we, on the other hand, are not.
We seem bent on trying to skirt around acknowledging Him as Sovereign over the universe and take any easier route to what we think is good for us and will make us happy.
We tend to whine and complain about everything and it is a cycle for us to realize how empty we are without Him, look at the pit we have landed in, cry for help and reach up for the hand that is always extended.
Until we have gone too far.
And then there is some serious discipline that is done out of a supreme love that none of us can fully understand but we get a glimpse of when our toddler is having a temper tantrum over our refusal to buy some useless trinket and we hold fast in our “no’.
So today, I finished Ezekiel with all the question marks in the margins that I have left behind on this year’s read through, and I moved into the book of Daniel.
And once again I am struck by the contrast between Daniel and his three friends and the rest of the young men who were taken into captivity to serve in the courts of the King of Babylon.
I heard a wonderful sermon about this once and the pastor pointed out that Daniel didn’t determine in his heart to not be defiled when he walked into the palace and saw the table they had set for them.
He must have decided this stance on the long road between his origin of birth and the place where he would spend most of his life and eventually die.
Daniel would never return to Jerusalem.
But he never became a Babylonian.
In the Bible and in our own human history, as we read accounts of the men and women who chose God in whatever culture they were living in, we see not only who God is, and who we are, but who we can be when we determine in our hearts to remain faithful.