Kicking off Fall

As we kick off our series on Ezekiel, I want to share a few thoughts that I think will be helpful for you in understanding the role of a prophet. Before I do that, however, I want to first invite you to stay up with the sermons by following along in your own Bible reading. Pick up a reading plan at the Hub (or check it out on the Bailey app!). It covers Ezekiel and will help you feel more familiar with the passages as we dive deeper into them. Also, plan to join a Care Group this fall! In Care Groups we further discuss the passages and implications of the sermon from that Sunday. Care Group sign-ups are going on throughout September, and Care Groups will begin meeting the first of October.

Now, about prophets. Often when people think of prophets and prophecy, they assume the focus is primarily on telling the future. However, if you have ever read any of the Old Testament prophets, you will quickly notice that the future is only a small part of the text. More often than foretelling, prophets focus on forthtelling. That is, they bring forth the word of God about the current situation of his people, Israel; or other nations, as well. That word is most often a call to repent of idolatry and wickedness associated with following pagan gods or injustices toward the poor, and foreigners in their midst. Thus, prophets are primarily God's agents to wake up sinful people to their wandering from God and call them to return to him.

Of course, warnings are included. If God's people do not listen, he will bring judgment and consequences for their evil. However, if they repent, there is hope and forgiveness. Sometimes, when Israel's sin has reached a point of no return, prophets, like Ezekiel, are tasked with giving the bad news of God's impending judgment and explaining how this will come about. However, as you read Ezekiel to the end, you will also find the word of hope. God's end game isn't to punish, but to restore, and it will be through Israel's trials that a remnant of faithful will be raised who want to live holy and pleasing to God.

Amid Ezekiel's writings, there will also be prophecies about other nations and future events. As we study this book together, we will seek to understand what Ezekiel is trying to convey. But a word of warning. Too often, today's readers want to scour books like Ezekiel for prophecies about modern-day events, while missing the calls to justice and holiness and right living before an all-powerful God. So, as you are reading Ezekiel this fall, be careful to ask these two questions: 1. What did this mean to the initial audience to whom Ezekiel was writing? and 2. How do we apply this passage today in our own lives and church? Thus, before we focus on what Ezekiel might tell us about the end times--which can sometimes keep us from taking his word to heart personally--let's seek to hear what God is calling us to do in our day.

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