Nice boats…….but you will be no more

Our readings today are Ezekiel 27 and James1:17-27

Are you getting tired of reading through Ezekiel? I know I am! Ezekiel was active as a prophet of the Lord for 22 years so I suppose 48 chapters to cover his ministry to Israel is really not that much – you could probably read it all in about 3 hours. I think why I’m over Ezekiel is that it is relentless – the first 24 chapters are about him delivering a word of divine judgement to Israel followed by chapters 25 – 32 are him pronouncing judgement on the 7 nations of Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia, Tyre, Sidon and Eygypt.

But wait a ray of hope: Chapters 33-48 “are about the nations revival, restoration and a glorious future as the redeemed and perfect kingdom of God” (NIV Study Bible)

Yesterday in the prophecy of Ezekiel 26 we see King Nebuchadnezzar – (yes that guy! -the sword of Gods Judgement against Jerusalem in Ch 24)  the pagan king now  being used by the Lord as an instrument of judgement against  Tyre – an important and wealthy sea trading port. He laid siege to it for 15 years (588ish BC?) but did not destroy it. It was not until Alexander the Great in 332 BC that Tyre was completely flattened. Here in Ch17 we have the lament for Tyre which is like a sort of funeral dirge that was chanted.

The first 25 verses speak of the proud  Tyre and her skill in being fine boat builders and very successful traders. Then verses 26 – 36 are all about her complete downfall ending in the happy verse 36

“The merchants among the nations hiss at you;You have come to a horrible end and will be no more”

Imagine living in Tyre and hearing this dirge sung to you by Ezekiel. But this lament was given before any of these events happened. Accordingly I imagine he was scoffed and laughed at by his hearers. Nonetheless I don’t think his lament got any airplay on Tyre radio stations!

How fearful it is for a nation to come under the heavy judgement of the Lord.

And now for something completely different – James 1:17-27

James is not one to mince his words and be vague in his application of the gospel to practical Christian living. The commands of vs 19, 21 are plain and clear. Yes by the prompting of the Spirit the Lord will transform you….but you better also be willing to take action – vs21 makes this clear as do the other “put on, put off” commands in scripture.

Vs22-25 are a helpful word picture of what it is like to be deceived by only listening to the word and not doing it. We all can listen to well prepared theologically perfect sermons, or personally study much scripture…but if we do not do (obey) what it says then we have deceived ourselves.The renewing of our minds can be tested by the renewing of our actions. It goes on to say then we will be blessed!

And now 3 nice action things to consider, tick them off as you read:

Control your tongue! (James gives special mention to this in Ch 4); Care for those who can’t; And watch out you are not corrupted by the world! How did you go? Easy eh? No? Yes I don’t think so either.

I think we all need to desire change though  – to daily ask the Lord to transform us by the power of the Spirit he has placed within us – to do the good works he has prepared in advance for us to do.

I’d like to finish with a  testimony and also a shameless plug. Some years ago Manna House is something I would never have been involved with. I thought “the church” should definitely “do” something like Manna. I had a warm feeling when FAC did start Manna because I now belonged to “a church that cared”. But the question I eventually had to ask was “Did I care?” For me it was pretty easy to see the alignment between James 1:27 and the kind of ministry that Manna is.

Now, for me, any church that has great teaching, great music, whatever, but if there is very little evidence of the sort of things we read of in James then then they are just talking, singing and maybe deceiving themselves?

What do you think?

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4 thoughts on “Nice boats…….but you will be no more

  1. Thanks Al. I like the bit about being slow to speak as well, not only to prevent angry outbursts, but I learn so much more when I just listen. Are we just talking and singing at FAC? Are we deceiving ourselves? Manna, KZone, Chn and youth programs, SRE, hospital visiting, sporting and craft groups, mission support and trips, life groups, just to name a few, are all flourishing. I think the Holy Spirit is moving at FAC, but there are always opportunities for more people to be reached. If we are quiet, don’t talk and listen for that small voice who knows what else we can do!

  2. AMEN Al. You have helpfully highlighted several important challenges in both passages. Thank you. Service before self – easy to say, important to do.

  3. Thx Iris. No I don’t think we are deceiving ourselves at FAC either – agreed we always can do better though. I’m thinking more of churches in general regardless of brand…….. It’s just that when I look at various church websites (which I do a little bit of) there is often no mention at all of these sorts of things…….it’s like everything else takes precedence. They will promote their sound theology, music, miracles, modernity or traditionalism etc…etc (all good by the way 🙂 ) but I find little mention of how all of that manifests itself in the community – compassion etc.

  4. Thank you Al.I think its more about the “why” than the “what we do”. Remembering that God looks upon the heart at our motives as to why we are doing something. Even if its to make myself ‘feel” good I would have to question the motive. This is where love – unconditional love – comes into play. If we are doing good works in love that is what is going to bear the most fruit. Acts of service with no strings attached. A new concept for some – maybe. But also very freeing, where you are not looking for the praise of man or the need to be appreciated by others but all that matters is that God sees what your are doing. And you know deep in your heart that He is pleased. I think the most powerful ministries are the ones that go unnoticed. Its just happening because that’s what we have been called to do. If you see a need and your in a position to do something about it well just do it!!It doesn’t need a ministry label.
    James is where the rubber hits the road for the Christian. May the Holy Spirit do His work where its needed.

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