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Books About God – Ezekiel & Isaiah

TWO PICTURES INTO ONE

Books About God: Glimpses of God

My first book. “Glimpses of God,” is still perhaps my favorite. I have a passion for expanding our picture of God. The entire book does this by putting contrasting divine qualities side by side: mercy – justice sovereign – servant transcendent – personal And they are filled with stories that flesh out these pictures and show how each one is a vivid portrait. I want books about God to be more like biographies than textbooks analyzing formulas about omniscience and omnipotence like the Father was some kind of math problem.
Here’s just one example of two contrasting pictures that come out of the Bible—and how they come together. This is why books about God have the most compelling picture when they reflect the richness of books in the Bible

Isaiah and Ezekiel present us with starkly contrasting pictures of God.

Books about God: Ezekiel

In Ezekiel God is horrified by sin. It’s not just a misstep, an error in judgment. God thunders: “..you have defiled my sanctuary with all your vile images
and detestable practices..” (5:11)
Phrases you hear over and over from God, “detestable practices,” “leudness” “promiscuity.” People rot away in their iniquities.
Ezekiel looks inside the holy temple and sees elders in a cloud of incense, surrounded by carvings of beasts and every creeping thing; they commit
abominations in the dark before carved images thinking, “The Lord doesn’t see us.”
And so in Ezekiel we see a Sovereign God of judgment. The book is scattered with dead bodies and bleached bones. This graphic image in 6:5: “I will lay
the dead bodies of the Israelites in front of their idols, and I will scatter your bones around your altars.”
And it’s after judgment, after the arrogant and immoral have been crushed that we hear the phrase, “then you will know that I am the Lord,” over and over in
the book. People are compelled to acknowledge the Sovereign Lord.
This is the dominant picture in Ezekiel. This God of fierce judgment is not someone most of instinctively admire. But just wait.

Books about God: Isaiah

Isaiah gives us another picture.
Do you know what he has that no other prophet does? God as a nurturing mother.
As a mother comforts her child,
so I will comfort you; 66:13

Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has born? Though she may forget,
I will not forget you! 49:15
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands. 16
I covered you with the shadow of my hand.

Here’s a God with a tender hand, tender heart.
A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. 42:3
We are precious and honored in His sight.

He tends his flock like a shepherd; 40:11
carrying the lambs in his arms
Till you grow old I am the sustainer,
I have made you and I will carry you;
and when white hairs come I will carry you still. 46:4

Isaiah is full of beautiful pictures of a merciful, nurturing God.
Two contrasting pictures of God. They are reflecting throughout the prophets, themes of Consuming Fire, Tender Heart.

Books About God: 100 PERCENT BOTH

What do we usually do with those two pictures? Generally we fight over them. We stake out our tough and conduct theological battles.
Tin Soldier Tim, the hard-nosed legalist, is hurling the God of judgment at poor Rag Doll Rhoda, who tends toward chaos. Her life’s a mess, she needs to straighten out. Rhoda is trying to fend him off with verses on God’s
mercy. And we have a lot of battles in church over this. Endlessly.
The Law. The Law
Grace. Grace
And both sides have the most vivid images, the most explicit texts on their sides. And the theological or doctrinal battles are MOST fierce when they are
LEAST about God. We’re trying to take care of the holes in our hearts.
Laid Back Larry is trying to say, well, he’s a little of both.

Books about God: Just Admire.

What does God want us to do with these two pictures? Put them together and admire.
God is 100% just, a consuming fire. And 100% mercy, a tender heart. He’s not 50% of each. We can’t begin to imagine how passionate He is about
justice, righteousness, how deeply sin hurts Him. We can’t begin to fathom how compassionate He is about human frailty.
We are transformed when both of these pictures come together. Our hearts are moved to admire when justice and mercy strike simultaneously. Have you
ever noticed that this is exactly what happens in dramatic conversions. Read the accounts. You’ll find the individual intensely aware of justice, the sinfulness of sin, and of
mercy, the graciousness of God.

Books about God: Human limitations.

You know what our problem is? We don’t know too many people like Him.
We find straight arrows walking around, people who are zealous for goodness. But they are precisely the ones least likely to understand the weak or show
compassion on those who fail morally.
And we have the accepting types, nonjudgmental, easy touches. But they are least likely to give a rip about righteousness.
Once in a great while we run across someone who brings these two qualities together in their lives. And they have a tremendous impact on other people.
People like Corrie ten Boom. The ten Boom family hid Jews in their home during World War II. This unassuming matron stood for justice when all hell was
breaking loose. And she was sent to a concentration camp as a result. But in that camp, thrown in with thieves and prostitutes, she demonstrated such compassion and
understanding.
I watched a film made about Corrie shortly before her death. She said the most ordinary things about Jesus being with us and acting as our Victor. They were
old phrases I had nodded off to countless times in church. But when she spoke, I almost wept. Old phrases pierced to the marrow. I knew who she was, what she had
done.

Folks, that’s the way God is. That’s why He moves and inspires so many of us. No one sees more deeply into our moral failings and no one believes in us so
ardently. When He whispers words of mercy we are warmed by a soul burning for righteousness. When He shouts in fiery judgment we know that His tender heart is
breaking. He is the great encourager. The One who pulls us out of the pit, lifts up our heads, and fulfills all our desires for goodness.
That’s someone to admire.
Can we just do that. Instead of arguing, battling, only looking at our side. Can we just fall on our faces and say, “God is bigger than what my heart contains right now, God is better, more just, more merciful.”
Let all books about God reflect something of his wideness. Let all books about God move us to simply admire.

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