Tag Archives: Ezekiel

Broken Princess

Read Colossians 3:12-13

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God” (1 John 3:18–19 NLT).

Again, I cannot even begin to put into words how amazing Season 11 of The Walking Dead was, not just in terms of entertainment value, but in terms of human and theological insight. The richness of the characters, the trials they have to endure, and the way faith guides them is just second to no other show I have seen. No, The Walking Dead is not a religious show. No, it is not a show centered on theology; however, it is a FAITH-BASED show in the sense that faith is one of the CENTRAL themes of the show.

Case in point, in Episode 19 of Season 11, at around 25 minutes give or take, we come across the character, Princess, talking with Ezekiel. Princess is a young woman who joined Alexandria, the community that the main characters of the show built up. She was found by herself, a sole-survivor, and was taken in by the Alexandrians. NOTE: Alexandria is called that because it is located in what used to be Alexandria, VA, outside of Washington, D.C., prior to the Zombie Apocalypse.

In this scene, Princess was trying to talk Ezekiel into leaving the Commonwealth, a community the Alexandrians left for thinking it would be a great place to live, as it was run much like the “old world” (aka the USA before the Zombie Apocalypse). The Commonwealth was well run, had a military force, and everyone within its walls seem happy, healthy, and oblivious to the world outside its walls. Yet, as Princess and the rest of the Alexandrians found out, there was more there than meets the eye.
Without spoiling anything, just like it was in the “old world”, the Commonwealth was nothing more than a ruse to keep the masses happy while those in power keep themselves wealthy and in control. There was corruption and there was a true lack of care for the lives of the common people. As is the case across the world, politics provide faux hope to the masses.

Princess, knowing this, was trying to talk Ezekiel into leaving; however, Ezekiel was a leader and an empath as well. He cared for the people he had come to know and he didn’t want to abandon them just because the world they lived in was corrupt. He felt they were worth fighting for and was willing to do what it took to make the Commonwealth better for all.

“How about Mercer, you think he’s a good man,” Ezekiel asked Princess, hoping that bringing her boyfriend up would make her reconsider leaving. “Yeah,” she responded while nodding hesitantly, “I think he is. But I’ve also known a lot of men I thought were good, and it doesn’t always turn out that way.”

“[Mercer] and I haven’t always seen eye to eye, but I will say this: Most folks are trying to make the best of what’s in front of them,” Ezekiel said. “It could be he’s trying to do the same.”

Princess looked up, broken and torn, tears in her eyes, “Yeah, well maybe this time I deserve more than the best of a bad situation.”

Ezekiel looked at her, “Yeah you do”, he said with empathy as he approached her and gently put his hand on her shoulder. “And whatever you decide, I’m here if you need me.” Ezekiel then walked away to leave her to have some alone time. In that situation, Ezekiel saw Princess through the eyes of God. He saw her pain, her suffering, her desire for more than “the best of a bad situation”, and he affirmed that, indeed, she was WORTH far more than that!

In that moment, the show taught us something that the Bible teaches us. It taught us that humans are broken and want to be UNBROKEN. We want an end to the suffering, the sadness, the pain, the turmoil, the politics, the greed, the bitterness, the hate. We want to live in a world where WE are included for who we are, as opposed to who someone else wants us to be. We want to live in a world where our pain is seen and CARED FOR, rather than ignored and invalidated.

The Bible, and this episode, show us the way to begin that kind of transformation in the world. In the show, it is shown through Ezekiel, who is the presence of God in that moment for broken Princess. And his message: people are worth fighting for…including you, Princess. And I am here if you need me! He heard her and LOVED her and opened his heart to her.

For us, as witnessed to in the Bible, that transformation happens when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. It is then that the Holy Spirit helps us to see people through Jesus Christ’s eyes, as well as guides us to follow his example in LOVING them through our presence and our ability to listen and hear where they are coming from. True healing can only come through humble listening and empathy. Jesus, of course, IS our perfect model for what being compassionate, humble, servants is all about. If we follow him, he will continually lead us to be more and more like him and we, too, can have the effect that Ezekiel has on people in the show.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Empathy begins with understanding life from another person’s perspective. Nobody has an objective experience of reality. It’s all through our own individual prisms.” – Sterling K. Brown

PRAYER
Lord, help me to grow in compassion, empathy, and in being present for those lost, the broken, and any who are in need. Amen.

God’s People, part 99: Ezekiel

Read Ezekiel 2

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Timothy‬ ‭4:3‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

img_1078Part 99: Ezekiel. The prophet Ezekiel is one of the most influential prophets in the Old Testament, especially in Christian Theology. All that we know about the prophet comes from what what was written of himself in his eponymous book of prophecy, which records six of his prophetic visions.The prophet in the book is identified as Ezekiel, son of Buzi, a priest. Thus, Ezekiel was born into a priestly lineage. His visions began when he was 30 years old.

In his visions, Ezekiel is referred to as “son of man” and he is in direct dialog with God, who “appeared like a man” and was seated on a throne. Recognizing it was the LORD, Ezekiel fell prostrate, face down to the floor. Then the voice of the LORD spoke out to him and told him that he was to go to the people of Israel and warn them of all that God was going to show him. The reason he had to “go” to the people of Israel was because he was the first wave of exiles that were taken when Babylon deposed Jehoiachin as king and replaced by Zedekiah. Thus, at the time of his visions, Ezekiel was living in exile in Babylon on the bank of the Kebar River.

In his visions, he is shown the destruction of Jerusalem and the destruction of God’s Holy Temple. He is shown many of the inhabitants of the city and surrounding area being destroyed by a foreign invader. There was much bloodshed and much horror throughout the city. On top of that, Ezekiel also prophesied that the surrounding nations that had tormented Israel throughout the centuries would also be destroyed. Those nations included the Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites, Philistines, the Phoenecian cities of Tyre and Sidon, as well as Egypt.

Of course, Ezekiel’s prophecy also had a promise of redemption as well. God was allowing these things to happen to a wicked people who had long forgot their God, evidenced by their corruption, oppressive regimes, and execution of injustice. God promised that, one day, Jerusalem and the Temple would be rebuilt and the glory of the LORD would return to be with God’s people forever.

As is usually the case, the people were too outraged at Ezekiel’s message despite the hopeful message. God warned him of this, “You must give them my messages whether they listen or not. But they won’t listen, for they are completely rebellious!” (Ezekiel‬ ‭2:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬) Indeed, God was right, the did not listen. Ezekiel spent his prophetic career incessantly prophesying and acting out the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple; however, the rulers and leaders ignored his warning and opposed him for speaking out.

The truth is that people in power don’t like to be told that what they are doing is wrong. Instead of listening to God’s prophets and messengers, they tend to put forth their own prophets and messengers who falsely counter the truth in order to maintain the status quo. To people in power, the truth of God’s Kingdom is inconvenient because it means that they no longer get to be on top. In the Kingdom of God, all people will be on equal footing and a level playing field, for all people were created equally and are loved equally by God.

We see this resistance to truth in our own day and age. Just recently, the United States of America’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, used the Apostle Paul’s words in Romans 13:1 to justify the enactment and enforcement of the evil, cruel, and harmful policy of separating children from their parents. These people are not only immigrants crossing our borders illegally; rather, many of them have legal asylum status. With the Church (e.g. Roman Catholics, United Methodists, Presbyterians (PCUSA), Southern Baptists, and even the Rev. Franklin Graham) rising up against this policy, Sessions misused Scripture to justify what he and the adminstration are doing. This not the first time politicians have wrongly quoted that Scripture to justify their evil, for it was that Scripture and others that long kepts black people enslaved.

Let us, right now, remember that God sends prophets for a reason. The prophets’ words may be harsh sounding, they may pierce like daggers and feel ungracious; however, they are absolutely words of grace meant to give us pause and guide us to repentance when we are wrong. If we humble ourselves and heed the warnings given to us, we will avert many of the destructive consequences of our sins; however, if we don’t repent and give our lives over to God through Jesus Christ our Savior, we are destined to face an eternal God who knows our hearts and knows the vastness of our sins. Let us, in the name of Jesus Christ, repent and stand up for justice so that all may know the glory of the LORD.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” —Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

PRAYER

Lord, help me to be humble and honest about my sins. Forgive me, in Jesus name, and strengthen me to stand up for righteousness and justice. Amen.