Posted by: John Adams | March 1, 2010

Hard Words for Hard Hearts

I’ve been reading through Ezekiel for a while now, and it’s quite depressing. The prophets were serious people – poetic on occasion, usually hopeful in the end, but also full of furious denouncements of sin and predictions of violent judgment. There is no getting around the fact that in the prophetic literature we meet God at his angriest, and it is probably true of most Christians that they simply avoid these parts of the Bible because apart from being obscure, they present a side of God that is very difficult to handle. Nevertheless, as Christians, we believe that God had them inspired for our benefit and if we are willing to put our shoulders to the task of digging, I believe that there is real treasure to be found there.

A professor of mine once said that one of the reasons the prophets spend so much time decrying sin before moving on to predictions of hope is that without repentance, there is no cure. You can’t get to the springs of joy that bubble up from a repentant heart until you’ve dug down through all the layers of denial, excuse-making, selfishness and sin that accumulate in an unrepentant heart. And if you don’t believe those layers are there, simply look at what it took the original recipients of those prophecies to actually fall on their faces and repent: It took deportation. It took exile. It took the complete dismantling of everything they knew about life.

A preacher named Mark Driscoll says we should use hard words to pierce hard hearts and soft words to comfort soft hearts. If you find the Bible using hard words, don’t assume God doesn’t love the people to whom those words were written. He is trying to chisel away at people’s arrogance, presumption, and unrepentance for the sake of their souls. He is trying to save them from themselves, so that they will finally be what they were created and called to be.

Read the prophets, and think on these things.

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