History is an interesting thing. We study it in school and commemorate it on national holidays– but do we learn from it? The Old Testament is full of history, but don’t just flip past it. Behind the history, the foreign customs and complex family trees, there’s so much we can learn – particularly about what not to do!
First, let’s set the scene: When King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (modern day Iraq) first attacked Jerusalem, he took many Jews captive. As years passed he finally destroyed the city of Jerusalem, devastating Israel. Their future looked bleak. This was when the prophet Ezekiel showed up with a message from God explaining the course of events. So what went wrong?
- Looking Elsewhere: The Israelites had lost sight of God. They began to put other things first. Sound familiar? What about your job, spouse, child, career, or finances? These things are not wrong – UNTIL they begin to replace God in our lives, becoming idols. What about the sinful habits and secret sins you feel you can hide? All this is looking elsewhere.
- A Community of Violence: Recent newspaper headlines reveal just how many similarities modern-day America has with ancient Israel. As we argue, justify and harm one another with weapons in our homes and on the streets, we see a parallel to the community of violence in ancient Israel.
- No Desire to Change: The Israelites became content in their sins. They listened to Ezekiel and even agreed with much of what he said, but their lives did not change. They continued to accept and justify the wrongs they were committing, from adultery to dishonest business practices and everything in between. They had no desire to change.
The root of all these problems was pride. From ancient Israel to modern America, the danger of pride is when it begins to replace our reliance on God with a false sense of self-sufficient security. This can lead to all kinds of problems: relationally, professionally, and within our culture as a whole.
Are you struggling with pride? What changes do you need to make? It won’t be easy, but it is possible to learn from the past and to stop history from repeating itself in your life!