Those of us who are reading through the Bible this year using The Message paraphrase have been spending the last couple weeks in Ezekiel, and it hasn’t been pleasant. The messages that God gave Ezekiel to proclaim, and to even demonstrate, were primarily messages of judgment. And God was very explicit!
In an attempt to make the judgments of God even more explicit, the author of The Message sometimes makes it sound even worse than it does in the NASB. On the flip side, however, the promises of God, and the way He feels, are stated in ways that paint an even clearer picture of the heart of God. I especially like the way God is pictured in Ezekiel 20 expressing how He decides to act the way He does.
After expressing His anger over the repeated sin and unfaithfulness of His people, and His resolve to pour out His wrath on them, the NASB accurately says, “But I acted for the sake of My name.”
Peterson puts it this way: “They rebelled against me, wouldn’t listen to a word I said. None got rid of the vile things they were addicted to. I seriously considered inflicting my anger on them in force right there in Egypt. Then I thought better of it. I acted out of who I was, not by how I felt.” And then, after documenting a couple more times when God’s people sinned against Him, Peterson has God twice again saying, “I acted out of who I was, not by how I felt.”
That phrase really struck me, and I think that paraphrase really nails it. God acts out of who He is, not by how He feels. And since we are made in His image, I’m certain He would have us do the same. He even makes it possible for us to do so.
“For here’s what I’m going to do: …I’ll pour pure water over you and scrub you clean. I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed. I’ll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands. …You’ll be my people! I’ll be your God.!” (Ezekiel 36:24-28)
Let’s make sure we act out of who we are, not by how we feel.
God Bless, Rick