10 You, human one, say to the house of Israel: This is what all of you are saying: “How our transgressions and our sins weigh on us! We waste away because of them. How can we live?” 11 Say to them, This is what the Lord God says: As surely as I live, do I take pleasure in the death of the wicked? If the wicked turn from their ways, they will live. Turn, completely turn from your wicked ways! Why should you die, house of Israel?
Lent is a time set apart to contemplate and evaluate how we’re doing as disciples of Jesus and where we are in our relationship with God. As we follow the journey of Jesus through these forty days, we see how Jesus loved God, His followers and the marginalized. We experience Jesus’ faithfulness to God’s sovereign plan of salvation for the world. We are humbled by God’s grace and Jesus’ sacrifice for us.
If we can be honest with ourselves, we can also see where we are “missing the mark” in our faith journey, we can repent and experience the love and grace of God anew in our lives. As followers of Jesus, we have the advantage of looking forward to our eternal hope, from the foot of the cross. For us, Lent is a time of repentance and renewal, a time to turn completely from sin and to experience God’s grace, love and forgiveness in our lives.
In today’s reading, God called Ezekiel to be prophet to his fellow exiles in Babylon, and he was tasked with relaying the truth of the consequences that would happen to Israel for their turning away from God. This generation of exiles blamed their parents for the sin of turning away from God, rather than taking on the responsibility for their own sins. In the midst of their suffering the people were finally ready to turn from sin and cry out to God in despair, “our sins weigh on us…How can we live?”
In response to them, God cries out to Israel, telling Ezekiel, “do I take pleasure in the death of the wicked? If the wicked turn from their ways, they will live. Why should you die, house of Israel?” God’s plan for God’s people is life, not death, God still loves and is faithful to Israel. God tells them that God is present with them and suffers with them. The purpose of God’s laws was to care for life, not to destroy life. God’s law was given to be the rule of love, not a rule of condemnation. God promises Israel that when they repent they will be forgiven and that Israel and the world will be restored by God’s loving faithfulness.
by Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
Today, we can stand at the cross of Jesus and see the fulfillment of God’s promise through Jesus. We live into that hope of God’s Kin-dom, both now and future. Just as the exiles called out to God for forgiveness, this Lent we can call out to God for forgiveness. What sins do we need to turn away from, while turning back to loving and faithful God?
Prayer: Holy and Loving God, we confess and turn away from our sins, and we turn back to you for your forgiveness, that being forgiven we may follow the example of our Savior Jesus. Amen.
Our Lenten Series
For our Lent series this year, we’ll be using the Adam Hamilton book Luke: Jesus and the Outsiders, Outcasts, and Outlaws. At his website, you can find a 40-day reading plan to help you read through the Gospel of Luke during Lent. And join us for worship, in-person or online, at 9:00 & 10:30 every Sunday.