TODAY’S READING: Ezekiel 34–36
The prophetic voice is too often consigned to sounding harsh and jarring. That element is certainly present, and sometimes necessary, but prophecy ever issues from tender hearts, not mean-spirited ones. God’s message through Ezekiel is that He will seek what was lost, save His flock, and establish His Messiah over them, living among them and making them a blessing so there will be “showers of blessing” (Eze. 34:16, 22–23, 26). All these are tributaries of the meta-current of the Bible: God living with and loving His people and His people living holy lives that are used to bless all nations. This is the context of the hymn we love—not showers of personal dividends, but showers of God’s global glory on all peoples of earth.
We forget that Ezekiel was also a priest, that his priestly heart was pastoral, that he agonized over the bad news he must break to those he loved—the news of death and judgment—as necessarily antecedent to good news of God’s seeking and saving. We forgo the reality that God’s seeking and saving is never centered on us nor restricted to the small group of humans we are most comfortable to be around. God promises the renewal of His people on this striking premise: “I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went. And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord…when I am hallowed in you before their eyes” (36:22–23). The prophetic, pastoral, and missionary heart of God all converge in Ezekiel. Jesus does indeed save us from our sins. O, hallelujah! But shockingly He does not do this for our sake (alone). God saves for His holy name’s sake, for His glory among the nations. Ezekiel’s one string missionary banjo is strummed again—that the nations shall know Jehovah and that they will know Him when He is hallowed in us before their eyes.
How will the grand purposes of God be accomplished in our generation? When we leave all the conveniences of home and all the joys of family to hallow Jehovah in Afghanistan before the very eyes of three million-plus Hazara. What are the showers of blessing we seek after mercy drops have fallen around us? That the family of God would be increased by those who speak Hazaragi because through us the great Shepherd of their souls sought out what was lost, because through us He pastored them and invited them into Messiah’s benevolent rule. What is the prophetic, pastoral, missionary convergence? To be clear, as we cry about judgment and wrath, to be hopeful, as we cry out that all God’s lost are being sought by Him, and to be humble, as we cry up that God does all this for His sake among all peoples.