As a young child in Sunday School, we were taught a little song complete with hand motions simply titled “Deep and Wide.” It begins: Deep and Wide; Deep and Wide; there is a fountain flowing deep and wide. It is a picture of the believer’s faith.
Ezekiel saw a trickling stream flowing from under the new Temple’s threshold. It began as a trickle and then it grew until it was a mighty river. It was a river with healing powers and provided nourishment for the trees along its bank. Truly it was a fountain flowing deep and wide and along the river bank were trees with healing powers! In Psalm 1 the author likens a man to a tree planted by a flowing stream. Because of its healing power, the tree is able to produce fruit and healing leaves much like the ones Ezekiel saw. The gospel message heals and adds to the present trickling stream until it becomes a river; a river of men and women healed by its message.
When the Holy Spirit indwells us, our faith starts as a little trickle but then it expands and seeks to heal those waiting to hear the gospel message of healing. We can stop at the threshold of the Temple or we can let our love overflow and heal the “Dead Sea” filled with dead men with the gospel message.
Is your fountain deep and wide or still just a trickle?
People are waiting for the movie Downton Abbey to be released. People already have purchased tickets and are counting down the days. Why are people drawn to this fictitious story? One reason may be that one character, the stuffy butler, captures our heart. Like in feudal times the butler understood his role as servant and he obeyed. In the NT Peter has a vision in which he is told to rise up and kill but he responded: “Surely not, Lord!” How often are we like Peter and not like the butler when we say “but Lord?” or “why me Lord.” Could it be that we don’t understand our role as a servant?
The Lord prepared Ezekiel for the death of his wife. He told him:
“I am about to take the delight of your eyes away from you with a jolt, but you must not mourn or weep or shed tears.”
And it happened just as the Lord had said; in the evening his wife died and Ezekiel did just as the Lord commanded. Ezekiel did not question: “but why Lord?” or as Peter said, “Surely not, Lord!” Ezekiel, like the stuffy butler, obeyed without question because he knew his position as servant and he trusted the Lord to take care of the details.
How about us? Do we trust God enough to be obedient even when we don’t understand the reasons behind his request?
Ezekiel 1 – 3 Ezekiel found himself celebrating his 30th birthday in Babylon having been recruited by Nebuchadnezzar’s squad of thugs. So goes the birthday! No more being a priest because there is no more temple, no more Jerusalem. Just when life couldn’t get any lower, God steps in and says I am calling you to be my prophet/watchman to your people. God revealed His glory and Ezekiel fell on his face in adoration. Yet when God laid out his plan, filled him with His Spirit, fed him the Word, like Moses, Ezekiel says “why me?”
We fall into the same pattern. God reveals His glory and we are in awe. But then reality steps in and God says I want you to “go and make disciples”–beginning at home. You know the people, you know the language. After traveling over 900 miles with this crew, Ezekiel knew their behavior, attitude, and grumbling. No wonder Ezekiel said, “why me?” No wonder Moses said, “why me?” No wonder we say the exact same words because familiarity breeds contempt. We know their shortcomings. We know their attitudes. We know that they didn’t listen before so why would they listen now?
Do you say “why me?” when God calls you to a ministry? If God fills you with His Spirit, feeds you with His Word, you are ready. Welcome to the Watchman on the Wall Club.
Jeremiah 29 Mail call has to be the very best time in a college student or a service man’s life. It is sweet to get that snail mail that has been lovingly sent with thoughts of news of home and family. Parents and friends want us to remember that whether life is good or bad, these two important principles must be on your mind always: “don’t forget who you are and don’t forget whose you are.” Don’t bring shame upon the family name and on the name of Jehovah. Remain faithful to both.
Jeremiah was trying to instill those principles in the lives of the Judahites in Jerusalem but his words fell on deaf ears. Even hundreds of miles away the exiles were hearing—don’t worry, it will end soon. Our wealth will be returned to the Temple and our kings will rise again. Instead, life dragged on day after day after day. Lovingly, God sent them Ezekiel to explain it all and then out of the blue, the exiles received this love letter from Jeremiah.
The news here is the same; King Zedekiah is stubborn. But you can know this; you are loved. So, don’t listen to the false reports of this ending! They are not from me! I want you to remain faithful. and live as if you were in Jerusalem. The Lord told me that He has “plans to prosper you, not to harm you. [He has] plans to give you a future filled with hope.” God will take care of you each day.
Loving you, Jeremiah.
PS don’t forget to pray for the Babylonians.
PPS: Don’t forget who you are; you are an Isaac, or a Joshua or a Rahab.
Don’t forget whose you are, you are a child of the Most High God.
What would you do with that letter; save it or toss it?