Fr. James' Lectionary

The Lectionary is both a reading program for completing all of Holy Scripture on a one year schedule, and a daily comment on a portion of the day's reading wedded to a poem to give an added perspective on the theme.

Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Saturday, June 10, 2006

God's Veto: Bible Comment on Ezekiel 11 with poem by Thomas Curtis Clark, Ezekiel, Prophet of the Exile

Daily Readings
Psalm 84, Judges 6, Ezekiel 11, Tobit 5:1-6:1a

Daily Text: Ezekiel 11

“God’s Veto”
The crux of Ezekiel 11 is that of the Council of Officials, 25 men that meet under the joint presidency of Jaazanaiah son of Azzur and Pelataiah son of Benaiah. This Council has evidently been given the authority by the Babylonians to govern the city, and they have obviously done so with pride and treachery. They consider themselves to be the ‘meat in the pot, ’ that is, the pride of Israel, for meat was virtually non-existent in the besieged city. They needed no new housing because they were arrogating to themselves the property of the exiles (vs. 14 [502:203]) and possibly taking housing from their compatriots (500:160), as well, slaying them to make it available (3,6). The LORD twists their bragging parable into a new parable saying that those slain at their hands were the dead meat in the pot of the city. Their legislating might be for them a source of pride and pleasure, but God through the vision to Ezekiel, who has again been translocated to view the Council and all its members, men known to him, will bring their iniquitous and wicked counsel (vs. 2) to nought, through what Horst has dubbed, God’s Veto [503:139].

While Ezekiel looks on, prophecying what God has told him to say, Pelatiah expires in the middle of the Council! So terrible is this result that Ezekiel comes unglued, terrified at the result of God’s action through him (vs. 13). It is obvious from the text that Pelatiah actually died during a meeting of the Council. Ezekiel’s report of this to the exiles must have been later confirmed by official messenger. It brings together the metaphysical and the historical in a strange, amazing way. Ezekiel is obviously undone by it, to such an extent that God responds to him in a long section in our record (vss. 14-21) that is not a part of the vision proper. But Ezekiel needed God’s reassurance and he gets it. It is a promise that even though the Council has written off the exiles, it is the exiles who will in time become the possessors of the city and the country. It is the exiles who will once again be given the heart of God and who will be God’s people.

In the final section (22-25) the vision ends with the cherubim and the glory of the LORD leaving the city. Greenberg [502:200] wrote, “No temple was destroyed—so was the common belief in the ancient Near East—unless its god had abandoned it, whether reluctantly under coercion of a higher decree…or in anger because of the offenses of the worshipers….” As the glory of the LORD departs, Ezekiel is transported back to the river Chebar where he reports all that he has seen to the exiles there.

Ezekiel, Prophet of the Exile
Thomas Curtis Clark

And Jehovah spake unto Ezekiel:
I have set Jerusalem among the nations,
And she has rejected mine ordinances,
And is worse than Sodom and Gomorrah;
She is a useless vine.
Behold, I shall make her a desolation
And a reproach
Among the nations round about her.

Israel, my people, will not hearken;
They are a rebellious house.
I will bring a sword upon her
And will destroy her high places;
And her false prophets shall be slain.
For I am Jehovah.

Ammon, Moab, Edom and Philistia;
Tyre, that dwellest at the entry of the sea;
I will bring terrible nations upon them
And they shall bring them down to the pit.

Pharaoh of Eypt,
The monster in the midst of the rivers,
Hath said, I am god.
His land will I give unto Babylon;
And all the nations shall know
That I am Jehovah.

And Jehovah spake unto Ezekiel:
Yet will I leave a remnant of my people;
And they shall take away the abominations
From Jerusalem and Israel;
And I will give them a new heart.

I will search for my sheep
And I will bring them into their own land;
And I will feed them with good pasture.
My tabernacle shall be with them
And I will be their God;
And they shall be my people.
And all the nations shall know
That I am Jehovah.

Collect for the Day
God of pilgrims, teach us to recognize your dwelling-place in the love, generosity, and support of those with whom we share our journey, and help us to worship you in our response to those who need our care; for all the world is your temple and every human heart is a sign of your presence, made known to us in Jesus Christ our Lord.
[476:818:84 Psalm prayer]


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