I gave them my statutes and made known to them my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live. Moreover, I gave them my Sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them.
Ezekiel Chapter 20 begins with the elders of Israel coming to the prophet Ezekiel to inquire of the Lord. It’s doesn’t tells us their question but I’m reasonably sure it’s that age old question we all ask when things go bad, “God, why did you let this happen?”
If you read the entire chapter you will learn that God, through Ezekiel, lets the elders of Israel know exactly why they have been carried off to Babylon. God has Ezekiel give a full accounting of the history and of the relationship between God and the Israelites, and their constant rebellion against God.
Ezekiel advises the elders that they are suffering the consequences of their actions.
In verses 11 and 12, he tells them just how simple it is to live a righteous life and yet the nature of man does not allow man to abide by these simple rules.
“I gave them my statutes and made known to them my rules.”
“My statutes”, the ten basic, simple, rules, the Ten Commandments of God. Ezekiel follows this statement with a statement about the consequences of following these statutes.
“…if a person does them he shall live.”
There it is, in a nut shell. Thousands of years of writings and studies, reflection and philosophy, boiled down to one verse. Here are ten simple rules. Follow them and you will live life as intended by God. You don’t need four or eight years of higher education to figure this out. But, understanding is the easy part. The hard part that requires work and diligence throughout your life, is living and abiding by these ten simple rules.
Life and the world get in the way. Pride, lust, greed and selfishness cloud the mind and fill the heart. The simple becomes complicated and the rational becomes irrational. The flesh is placed before the spirit. This is why verse 12 follows verse 11.
Moreover, I gave them my Sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them.
The Sabbath was God telling us that we need to, in the words of Stephen Covey, sharpen the saw on a regular basis.
“Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.”
Keep it holy. Remember your spirit and your soul, the greatest gifts given to you by God. To keep it holy means to put aside all worldly objects, thoughts and desires, and reflect, learn and build the strength of righteousness in your soul. It doesn’t mean to labor over clothing, appearances, rituals, tithes, or ranking in the congregation. It doesn’t mean to stress over corporate church etiquette. It doesn’t mean to concern yourself over what fellow parishioners are saying, doing or thinking. And it doesn’t mean make sure you have a stellar attendance record.
Christ said in Matthew 2:27:
The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
In Ezekiel 20:11-12, the simple manual of life has been laid out. Follow the rules and take time to review and re-calibrate each week and each day, to stay on track.
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