Ezekiel 15 to 18 In the NT, Jesus told three parables about things or people. Ezekiel’s four parables, earthly stories with a heavenly purpose, mirrored these stories in many ways.
Parable: #1 In the branch parable, we see a branch full of life thrown into the fire. Life without God is like the fires of hell. #2 In the unfaithful bride parable, we see a rags to riches story. God takes us from the gutter and bestows his blessings, yet the world’s lure is always at the doorstep of our heart. Be on guard! #3 In the parable about the eagle, we see that God raised up Nebuchadnezzar, who deported the people to Babylon, leaving a vassal king who swore to honor the king in charge. Yet the vassal grew impatient and soon rebelled against the king. Solomon wrote: when you make a vow, do not delay in paying it. #4 In the parable of the two sons, we see a family whose lives mirrored the NT story. The younger was restless and disrespectful of his father. Seeking his inheritance, he left and walked the world. The older son served his father but with an ungrateful heart. The younger returned and sought reconciliation, but the older remained unforgiving.
Israel had been blessed by God but was unfaithful and ungrateful. Yet, like the prodigal’s father, God was always waiting to restore the relationship. She would need to return to the father in confession and repentance. What would she do? What would you do?
Matthew records this chapter that we might see several points. One is that although there are prophets who predicted the grace that would come or righteous people; they longed to see what we see but did not see it, and to hear what we hear but did not hear it. We stop and ask why because were not prophets holy men of God who through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit spoke from God? If men were righteous why did they too not hear and see? What hindered them? Can we learn from this as to why we who claim Christ may also not see or hear? Or was it for such a time as then but for us who live now there is a greater gift of understanding.
The clue is most likely found in this. These of old “had the types, shadows, and prophecies…they desired to see the great Salvation, the Consolation of Israel, but did not see it, because the fullness of time was not yet come.” (M. Henry) But it has come now and we who live now in this century are blessed beyond measure for ‘although we have not seen him, we love him and believe in him..’ [1Pe 1:8] We have been blessed by the indwelling illuminating Holy Spirit who will teach, guide and lead us and the full Word of God that is the revelation of God Himself. The question is this: do we recognize this great blessing?
How good a listener are you? An old Turkish proverb says “if speaking is silver, then listening is gold.” Tests confirm that the majority of us today are poor listeners. Could that be a reason why God has repeatedly told us and as we read in Revelation “the one who has an ear had better hear what the Spirit says?” Three sets of individuals in Luke 2 were exceptional listeners and were blessed by God for their attentiveness.
Picture the Shepherds; the despised and rejected in Israeli society, yet necessary to the worship program of the temple. It was to these that God chose to send his angelic choir to announce the Lamb of God in a manger. The angelic figure began: “Listen carefully.” How good a listener were they? In vs 15 they decided to go and see “what the Lord has made known to us.” And their memories were crystallized as they recounted to Mary and Joseph and the dwellers in Bethlehem all that had been told to them.
Picture Simeon, filled with the Holy Spirit who had been looking for the restoration of Israel. He had been listening so that he was ready to hear the indwelling Holy Spirit speak. He followed the directions and came to the Temple just at the time Mary and Joseph were there. Simeon said to Mary and Joseph “Listen carefully” as he recounted the future of this child, Jesus who would be the Light of the World but would be rejected.
Picture Anna the widow who listened to God as she fasted and prayed in the temple for 84 yrs! She too came at just that moment to give thanks to God and may have said to those nearby “Listen carefully” as she spoke about the child.
It matters not where you are but it does matter how good a listener you are. The shepherds listened carefully, shared what they had heard and received a blessing. God blessed them as the first to report the birth of Christ. Simeon listened carefully to the Spirit, obeyed His voice and entered the Temple right on time. He received a blessing to see his prayers answered. Anna listened carefully in her prayer time and her senses were attuned to the Spirit’s voice. Her ears were attuned to hear the voice of the Spirit and she received the blessing of seeing the Christ Child.
How good a listener are you? Is your world quiet so you can hear the voice of the Holy Spirit or filled with noise that blocks His voice? The shepherds’ world was a field quiet at night with only God’s creation yet their hearts were prepared to listen. Simeon’s world was a prayer closet where he could hear God speak. Anna’s world was in the Temple, both quiet and noisy depending on the season. Her heart was quiet so she could hear God speak. They all heard the voice of the Spirit, obeyed and were blessed.
May our prayer today be as Samuel’s of long ago “Speak Lord for your servant is listening.”