Shame on You

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When you read through the Bible in a year for multiple years, there are many times when you look at that day’s passage and think, "Oh no. Well, I guess I gotta read it. I mean, it is part of the Bible." Ezekiel 40–50 stands out as one of those sections. I recently reread the passage and was struck by something I hadn't noticed before. There was a reason why God gave this vision to Ezekiel, and we can clearly see it in our reading.

He spoke to me: “Son of man, look with your eyes, listen with your ears, and pay attention to everything I am going to show you, for you have been brought here so that I might show it to you. Report everything you see to the house of Israel” (Ezek 40:4 CSB).

“As for you, son of man, describe the temple to the house of Israel, so that they may be ashamed of their iniquities. Let them measure its pattern, and they will be ashamed of all that they have done" (Ezek 43:10-11 CSB).

The big question that comes to mind is, why is it important to describe in detail the temple to Israel? How will this make them ashamed of their iniquities? The description of the temple is not exactly riveting material to read or listen to. We have to remember that Ezekiel was a prophet during the time of the Babylonian captivity and was sent there 11 years prior to the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. When Ezekiel has this vision in chapter 40, it's around 14 years after the fall of Jerusalem when the remainder of the captives have been sent to Babylon. Fourteen years is a long time. Can you think of where you were 14 years ago? Exactly.

The people in captivity could still remember the temple that Solomon had built. They had witnessed its destruction. Why would God be gracious to the people after they sinned against him, incurred his judgment, and caused the land to be vacated and the temple destroyed?

And here, we get our answer to the big question: God's graciousness makes us ashamed of our iniquities. Why? Because his kindness is meant to lead us to repentance. People don't repent unless they first feel ashamed. God was using Ezekiel to describe the grandeur of a future temple, a place where God would dwell with his people. The intricate detail shows the care that God has about both the temple and his people, and through this detail, God was showing his kindness through the provision of a future temple. The people were supposed to hear about it and feel ashamed and unworthy at such a provision because of their great sin.

This can be applied to us as well. Think back to the ways you were selfish today, yesterday, last week. Notice any unkind, unloving thoughts, words, or behaviors that you had toward people. If you start down this path of considering the depth of your sin, it is tremendously deep, too deep to fathom in ten life times, let alone one. But God has forgiven you in Christ; he loves you infinitely. 

And therein lies the point for us of Ezekiel describing the temple. God has provided such a great future salvation in Christ. When we reflect upon it, we feel ashamed of the ways we don't honor his name, and we feel unworthy of such grace. But God has given it, and we are humbled at his gracious provision. 

Reflect today upon the magnificence of our salvation in Christ. If you begin to feel ashamed of the ways you've dishonored his name, repent. God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.

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