Monday, August 30, 2010

God Chooses Exile

The Temple represented God's presence with Israel.  It was God's house.  It was the place where Yahweh's glory dwelt.  And yet, from before the Temple's existence, God had promised/warned David that he would not be bound to a building.  In Ezekiel 10, God makes good on that promise.  

Ezekiel 10 is just part of a whole vision that is recorded in chapters 8-11.  That vision begins with the tour of Israel's idolatry which we saw in last week's sermon text.  It is those idolatries and abominations which drive Yahweh out of the Temple.  Ezekiel essentially paints a picture for us of God stepping out of his house and into his chariot.  It is the same chariot which Ezekiel saw in the opening vision of his book on the Chebar canal in Babylon.  In this vision, God is communicating to Ezekiel that he is leaving Jerusalem in order to be with the captives in Babylon.  

Here is a God who would rather dwell in exile than be surrounded by sin, a God who would rather be homeless than have his house filled with idols.  Of course, this should come as no surprise for us who believe that this God is revealed in Jesus Christ; the one who said "foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."  In Jesus is the God who chooses the exile of crucifixion over the comforts of earthly power and bondage to sin.  

Are we a church that chooses exile over sin, homelessness over idolatry?  Of course, we would like to succumb to the happy delusion that we don't have to make this choice, that we can have the kingdom without the cross.  But for us to identify sin in all of its ugliness and refuse to participate in it will almost certainly mark us out as an odd sort of people, a people whom the dominant culture will quickly disown just as our savior was despised and rejected.  To choose the way of Jesus in this world is almost certainly to choose an exilic existence...but one which leads to true freedom for it is an exile in which God dwells.  

No comments: