Week 27: With A Mighty Hand

Today’s Text: Ezekiel 19-24

Key Text: Ezekiel 20:33

“As I live, says the Lord God, surely with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out, I will be king over you.”

The prophet Ezekiel’s writings are not for the faint of heart.

Chapter after chapter, it is fire and brimstone all the way. Judgement is soundly pronounced on idolatry and rebellion of every form – individual and communal. It’s not the calm, soothing voice calling us to return to the Lord, but the pounding demand of an angry prophet.

So, we aren’t exactly inclined to read it as our bedtime devotional. Give me the 23rd Psalm, “the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want,” any time.

But we must not do that.

We must not turn away from the harsh, but potentially life-saving words, of the prophet.

Idols demand everything – body, mind, soul – just ask the heroin addict struggling to find recovery. Just ask the alcoholic or someone struggling with an addiction to pornography.

We must recognize that idols are not just small, harmless, shiny little objects.

Given an opportunity they will demand your soul.

No wonder then that Ezekiel and those like him told it like it was – like it is.

No wonder, before they offered some easy form of grace, they spoke of an almighty, powerful, even wrathful God who reaches out to us “with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm,” in order to be king over us.

It is only God Almighty who can rule over all the other idols out there clamoring for our attention and our devotion.

On the one hand, we may find ourselves trembling before such and awesome and powerful deity.

On the other hand, in the end, it is only such a powerful God as this who can offer the salvation we so desperately need.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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