Behold, I have made thy face strong against their faces, and thy forehead strong against their foreheads. (Eze 3:8) I want God to strengthen me. I want to be able to carry out his work powerfully. It has come to that time of year when the momentum and excitement of the New Year and new start has faded, and I see all of the challenges around me. I want so much to have more strength.
I came to the exiles at Tel-abib by the Chebar River and sat down among them for seven days, appalled. (Ezek 3:15) I am appalled, I am astonished, at how Satan can take people out and mess with their lives. I am overwhelmed with the stubbornness of people’s hearts, and how to get through to them. I am disconcerted by my lack of gumption to say what needs to be said and my weakness to do what needs to be done.
I was reading a blog by Henry Kriete last night about how Jesus never got discouraged, and it listed all of the things he endured without losing heart. Kriete said, “Gethsemane was an overwhelming experience for Jesus, but never discouraging.” That certainly needs to be my model. Henry said two things kept Jesus strong: his deep conviction of the truth, and his deep conviction of his calling. The truth empowered Jesus and made his forehead hard, to use the illustration from Ezekiel. He found the truth to be all sufficient. He could fight off any temptation with it, answer any scheme of Satan with it. (Matt 4) The knowledge of his calling strengthened Jesus because he was certain that it was his purpose to die for mankind, to glorify God. He said in John 12, “The hour has come for the son of Man to be glorified.” One of his main prayers in John 17 was, “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.” I want God to give me strength so I can carry out His will. Jesus also came to God with the request to be fortified so he could carry out God’s will.
Yesterday I was texting back and forth with someone who is studying about the nature of evil. I read back to the stories of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and the Flood. “Sin is crouching at your door, but you must master it. (Gen ) “My spirit will not contend with man forever.” And I thought about how that describes evil — something that contends with God, that disrupts his harmony, that darkens his counsel. People from the very beginning have been hardhearted, blindly independent. We all struggle with conforming. The desire to do what we want is so strong.
So I got up and went, and there I saw the glory of the LORD, just as I had seen in my first vision by the Kebar River. And I fell face down on the ground. Eze 3:24
Seeing God and His glory is part of what enabled Ezekiel to carry out his mission. It also is the only thing that I can hold onto in the chaos swirling around me. My heart is pulled in so many directions. My thoughts are like a windstorm. Even in being a disciple, I have so many thoughts of what I should do. What saves me is thinking that it is just me and God. He is the only one I have room for. He is my comfort. He is my purpose, my inspiration. He is my lifeline, and I look to His glory.
When they heard this, the people in the synagogue were furious. Jumping up, they mobbed him and forced him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push him over the cliff, but he passed right through the crowd and went on his way. (Luke 4:28-30)
Jesus’ forehead was hard. He was unflappable. He was serene, even in the face of hostility and death. He knew what he was about, and that was what he lived by, every moment of every day. At the end of Luke 4, Jesus gets up early and goes out to pray. He comes back and is ready to go out to the neighboring towns. He spent time in God’s presence, and he was able to complete his mission and glorify God. I must spend time in God’s glory so I can do the same. I must see how awesome and amazing He is, and how utterly incredible are the miracles he has wrought in my life, and in the lives of those around me.
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (II Cor 3:18)