Friday, August 22, 2014

Ezekiel 20-21: Constrain Me, Oh Lord

Ezekiel 20:37-38
Amplified Bible (AMP)

37 And I will cause you to pass under the rod [as the shepherd does his sheep when he counts them, and I will count you as Mine and I will constrain you] and bring you into the covenant to which you are permanently bound.

38 And I will purge out and separate from among you the rebels and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the country where they temporarily dwell, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you shall know, understand, and realize that I am the Lord.

Years ago, the Lord gave me a personal promise that "My rod and staff will comfort you."  Of course, I thought of Psalm 23 where God offers this promise to all of His kids.

Psalm 23:4
Amplified Bible (AMP)

Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.
I understood God my Shepherd to be my Protector, and an excellent Protector is He!  What I didn't understand at the time of His promise was the methods God uses in order to accomplish protection.
In verse 37 above, the shepherd counts his sheep be having them pass, one by one, under his rod.  God promises that He will count His kids and He will constrain them.  Constrain is an intense verb!

Definition of constrain (vt)

  • con·strain
  • [ kən stráyn ]
  1. force somebody to act: to force somebody to do something, especially through pressure of circumstances or a sense of obligation
  2. restrict somebody or something: to limit or restrict somebody or something, especially to prevent the free expression of something
  3. restrain somebody or something: to hold somebody or something back from an action

Sheep don't have the understanding of the shepherd.  They may not understand if they wander from the field under the shepherd's protection, that a wild animal may attack and devour them.  A shepherd may "force" the sheep to remain within his ability to protect.

I have often been like a sheep!  As a matter of fact, my Shepherd calls me His sheep!  Looking back over my life, evaluating difficult circumstances, I can see how my Shepherd was working to protect me. 

We can't separate this verse from the context of the whole book of Ezekiel!  Our God is a passionate God!!!  He loves us with an eternal and sometimes violent love.  He sees, not only this world, but eternity.  His will fight against any "thing" which may damage our eternity with Him.  Just like He used Babylonian attack and captivity to discipline his kids, to constrain them. 

We cannot become offended by God's ways.  He understands eternity, we do not!  Not even the most gifted prophet understands eternity the way God does!

I don't want to struggle against God's constraint!  He sees eternity in me; He sees Jesus in me!  He understands what could hurt and damage for eternity!

Part of the way my Shepherd leads, protects, constrains me, is by dreams.  Recently, He has given me a dream, which I believe contains significant direction and warning.

Dream #1:

I was outside walking when a lady rushed up behind me.  I felt uncomfortable that she was within my personal space because she was a stranger.  I looked over my right shoulder to see the face of this woman.  She had a smile, but it wasn't genuine.  I had knowledge in the dream that her intentions towards me were evil.  Suddenly, she reached out to grab my purse.  As she yanked, I turned around to face her.  I had a key in my hand, which I used to jab her in the breastbone. The incident cause great anxiety!

I believe the woman in this dream was symbolic for anxiety, which attempts to steal my purse.  My purse contains forms of identification.  Anxiety seeks to steal my identity in the Lord.  I had a key, which I used to protect myself.  I believe the key is the power of His Spirit within my, His word spoken to my heart and written in the Bible. 

I need to listen to His direction and obey His leading.  Empower me always, Lord.  In Jesus' name, AMEN!

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