Ezekiel 20:18-26 (New International Version)
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18 I said to their children in the desert, "Do not follow the statutes of your fathers or keep their laws or defile yourselves with their idols. 19 I am the LORD your God; follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. 20 Keep my Sabbaths holy, that they may be a sign between us. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God."
21 " 'But the children rebelled against me: They did not follow my decrees, they were not careful to keep my laws—although the man who obeys them will live by them—and they desecrated my Sabbaths. So I said I would pour out my wrath on them and spend my anger against them in the desert. 22 But I withheld my hand, and for the sake of my name I did what would keep it from being profaned in the eyes of the nations in whose sight I had brought them out. 23 Also with uplifted hand I swore to them in the desert that I would disperse them among the nations and scatter them through the countries, 24 because they had not obeyed my laws but had rejected my decrees and desecrated my Sabbaths, and their eyes lusted after their fathers' idols. 25 I also gave them over to statutes that were not good and laws they could not live by; 26 I let them become defiled through their gifts—the sacrifice of every firstborn —that I might fill them with horror so they would know that I am the LORD.'
The book of Ezekiel - Ezekiel is a priest of Judah, in slave captivity in Babylon, during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. Ezekiel is raised from priest to prophet as he explains why God has turned aside from His promises to Israel.
As they traveled away from Jerusalem, they crossed a vast desert. Children of Israel knew about desert, the Judean desert is part of Israel. Not only was Israel a land of milk and honey, but areas of desert - these are used to depict how barren a relationship can become with God.
God has never asked the Children of Israel to provide Him with child sacrifice. The people speaking with Ezekiel are asking why God's promises to them have failed. These are the same people who have practiced child sacrifice on altars for Baal up on the hilltops, a sacrifice made for financial hopes.
When we think of what God asks of us:
The nature of the Lord Most High. He is for everyone. He is worthy to be praised.
He isn't about Black-eyed Peas, don't step on a crack, wear a little bracelet with knots tied in it so many days, pray in this exact fashion, eat this diet, or wear your hair like this.
He does not ask you to sit up straight. He does not ask you to refrain from alcohol. He does not ask you not to dance. He does not ask you not to chew gum. He is not partial to one skin type or one color. He is not partial to one class over another. He does not say cleanliness is next to Him. He does not say that if you pay attention to Him at least once a week, He is pleased. God seeks a relationship with you. And asks time of you on the Sabbath. He does not ask you to seek wealth. He is more fond of wisdom and kindness.
Father God seeks you. Father God does not expect you to save yourself. He doesn't just put you off until eternity, He is part of this life. He wants your love and trust. He is for you. He chose to create you. He is about love, wisdom, loyalty, forgiveness and eternity.
The remnant would return to God's promises. The Scriptures are unique, held by and preserved by a conquered people returning from slavery to freedom; they understand, as returning people, they have earned God's judgement. History is usually written by the conquerors to whitewash any wrong, the children of God admit error and love the Lord for providing the reconciliation.
1 John 4:19
We love because he first loved us