On Being Who He’s “Put” You to Be

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“And the Lord said to me, ‘Son of man, mark well, and behold with your eyes, and hear with your ears all that I say to you concerning all the ordinances of the house of the Lord, and all the laws thereof; and mark well the entering in of the house, with every going forth of the sanctuary.’” (Ezekiel 44:5)

 
When I hear God saying, “Mark well…” it makes me think I’m really supposed to be paying attention. It seems to be confirmed when He follows it up with “behold with your eyes, and hear with your ears.” And what am I supposed to be paying attention to? The ordinances of the someday sanctuary of God, of it’s laws, and even who gets to enter and exit through the different doors. Well, really this was told to Ezekiel. And Ezekiel was to relay it to the children of Israel. But God allows us to be privy to this information today. So I would assume that we also ought to mark it well, to behold with our eyes and hear with our ears because some day, when that day comes this will be an experience shared by all believers, including those already with the Lord. So, I may not understand fully now, but there will come a day when I will appreciate fully the significance of every utterance of God concerning this.

 
But that’s me thinking about this as a 20th century Gentile. And it’s not totally wrong thinking. But if I stop to think about the Hebrew words, it makes me think and respond even more. Like that word “mark” is from the Hebrew word “siym”. It actually means “to put”.  Genesius’s Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon gives the first definition as “to put, to set, to place.” It can mean in that respect “to plant, to beget children, to construct a nest or habitation, to dispose an army or to set an array, to constitute, to found, or to set a statute or place.” It’s next definition can be “to put, to place, or to lay inanimate things.” In that case it’s used like “in putting garments on, laying down a pledge, putting or imposing on someone something to be done, putting or imposing a name on anyone, putting before one’s own eyes as in highly regarding, propounding or explaining to someone, laying up in a treasury, or laying up on the heart.” Even the third definition has to do with “putting, placing, or setting as in directing to turn in any direction.” It’s like “setting the eye on, to see, setting the face on or towards, setting the heart upon, attending.” Next is the definition “of making or rendering anyone so and so.” And lastly, “to make, to prepare for anyone.” After reading all of those and thinking about it, it’s less like just a warning or good advice and more like a commission or anointing in a sense. Let me share another verse which leads me to think that this is God’s way of saying, “Here is my purpose for you, here is where I’m placing you and equipping you, so understand and then live accordingly.”

 
Let’s go back to the beginning. That’s always a good place to start. So we go back to Genesis 2:8, “The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed.” See that word for placed? It’s the same word “siym” as “marked”.  I’m not saying that one word can’t have multiple meanings. But I’m wondering if it still doesn’t carry some of those meanings over. Here, Adam was being put in the garden. He didn’t start out there. He was put or placed there by God for a purpose. God placed Ezekiel in the temple. He was placed for a purpose. God places each of us where He will and it is for a purpose. Am I accepting and living out His purpose in my placement?

 
God has a plan. He had it for Adam and beyond Adam. God still has a plan. He had it for Ezekiel and beyond Ezekiel. God still has a plan. He has it for me and beyond me. He has it for you and beyond you. Guess what? God is even in charge of our geography! Oh, wait a minute! But Adam was placed in a perfect paradise, my life isn’t. Was Adam placed in a perfect paradise? As I recall, God planted the garden and everything in it. God planned the tree, that tree of the knowledge of good and evil that was the downfall of man. From the beginning, that tells me that the Garden had the potential for what we know as “evil” from the start.

 
But what I do know is that God placed Adam in the garden for His purpose and to have a fully untainted relationship with Him, and to be able to eat of the tree of life. God fully nourished man there and provided everything he needed and man was able to exhibit his own free choice. It was a fully satisfying place, yet a dangerous place. But it was “only dangerous because it contains the possibility of disobedience.” (Skip Moen) God knew what He was doing. None of this is a surprise or oops moment. God planted and placed that tree in the Garden, the one that Adam chose over Him. Does that make you stop and think? It does me.

 
Being planted and placed carries a heavy responsibility and commitment to the One who plants and places. I have to continually realize and be reminded that I am not and never have been the planter and placer of myself or anyone else. God is my planter and placer. God is the planter and placer. I better mark this well because my life depends on it. My satisfaction depends on this. My nourishment depends on Him. I better understand the purpose and importance and significance of my placement in life by God. I better use my eyes for their correct purpose, to see and obey His will for my life and those around me. I better use my ears to hear and obey Him. I better surrender my whole body and being to His purpose or I am fighting against my very purpose in life.

 
Where has God planted me? Am I marking His planting and responding according to Him? Are His ordinances and laws and ways of life and love flowing from me where He has put me? I’m here for His purpose, not my own, and yet at the same time He has made His purpose the very purpose of my being. Am I fulfilling that in Him. Am I preparing the way for others to fulfill His purpose in them or am I making my own plans and spreading them? Adam spread his own plans. And look how it affected his family and others down the road. But Ezekiel was spreading God’s plans even to the point of spreading them to you and me today.

 
I suppose that even those who are placed with a purpose must learn the difference between holy and profane and how to discern between the unclean and clean. And that means to me, that there had to be a choice from the beginning. But it’s a sad thing to have to learn the hard way that we should have chosen God all along. Lord, may I cling to that which is holy and of You so tightly that the profane no longer has any appeal for me. I pray that my desire is so strong to fulfill Your purpose that I would stop thinking about my purpose and just let Yours more than suffice in me. May I continually come to the Tree of Life for Your sustenance and direction and may knowledge not even be an interest because knowing You and knowing You are in charge is all I need to know to live.

 
“The end of the matter, all having been heard: fear God, and keep His commandments; for this is the whole man.” Want to be whole? Want to fulfill your God-given purpose? Mark God’s word. Be who He’s “put” you to be in Him.

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Signets Don’t Live in the Dung

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Photo credit to doubleportioninheritance.blogspot.

“‘In that day,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘I will take you, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel,’ says the Lord, ‘and I will make you as a signet: for I have chosen you,’ says the Lord of hosts.”  Haggai 2:23

Can you imagine being Zerubbabel?  Of all the men in the world, the Lord chose Zerubbabel.  You, Lord, chose to make him like a signet, the signature ring of the King.  But just the fact that You chose him, a mere man, out of what seemed like an insignificant tribe to the rest of the world, wow!  I’m so glad that You see things differently than the world and that nothing and no one is insignificant to You.

You speak to a residue of people.  Here are the “left-overs” of Israel.  And the residue is looking at the residue of the previous temple, the house of the Lord.  Some of the residue had seen the prior glorious house of the Lord, but this…  it was and would be like nothing in comparison.  Even it’s best effort would be less than the original.  But I think that You were telling Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the people, to not concentrate on the glory of the building, but to concentrate on Your glory. 

It’s like You say, “Look at these left-overs, and then turn to me and see what I will do with them.  Come, enter into the work with me.  The important thing isn’t the left-overs you see, but that I am here with You in the midst of the left-over mess.  And I have a plan to guide You to change these left-overs into something glorious in Me.”  Your real words are, “Work: for I am with You.” And that word for work, asah, is the same word used in Your creation of the world shared in Genesis.  The literal translation would be “God rested from all His work which God created to make.”  The interesting thing is that after Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, after they chose something over You, You asked Eve and the serpent something on the same line of thinking.  You asked them, “What is this that you have done?” (Genesis 3:13, 14) 

What if there are different doors of opportunity to effect the world that You have created?  You know, a way that seems right unto people, but that’s not what You intended, because it leads unto death and separation?  Or other ways, other doors, that lead unto You and to life?  And what if You built all these doors into the world and You know the consequences of every door that we can choose, only we think we know, but we really don’t?  And so, just as You shaped the world and placed doors of opportunity and doors that lead to destruction, You have also given us the ability to shape the world You’ve placed us in.  Does that change the way Zerubabel, or Joshua, or the people of Israel, or I think? 

Why should that change the way we think?  Could it be that the choices I make shape the world around me?  Here You set before us these glorious possibilities.  You have such wonderful plans for us, to prosper us and give us a future in You.  But we choose to take those possibilities and grab onto little, scrappy actualities instead.  I want my possibility now!  I don’t want to wait.  And I grab for less.  I restrict You.  Can I restrict You, God?  Well, we know that it is possible to grieve the Holy Spirit.

What if You created a world and formed it in such a way that we had opportunities to join in the forming?  It could have been perfect, but Adam and Eve chose to open doors their own way.  And don’t we?  And yet we complain at God for the evil in the world, when it was never Your choice.  Letting evil in is all by our choice but who wants to blame ourselves?  Isn’t it always easier and less hurtful to point the finger at someone else?  Who is performing the making and doing is important because there is only One who always makes and does what is purely Good.  I shouldn’t fool myself to think that I can make good choices without You.  It’s not the doing or making that’s the important thing.  It’s Who is doing and making that matters most.  That I can open my own doors isn’t the privilege of being human and made in the image and after the likeness of God.  Because unless I open the doors of Your desire, I tear apart that image and destroy the likeness.

Paul understood that the one performing the doing and making was the piece de resistance.  It’s not how it’s done.  See, it was one man named Adam who sinned and opened his own door his own way.  It was like a Pandora’s box he chose.  And his open door brought sin and death into our world.  So now, everyone has sinned, and the penalty for sin is death. (Romans 5:12)  Thank you, human beings, for your great contribution to the world as you and we choose to make choices and open doors of our own choice as opposed to the choice of the God who loves us and gave himself for us.  Pretty sad, huh?

Here’s another thing.  Three times here, You tell the hearers to consider this.  And I guess we usually think of considering as thinking about something.  And it does mean that.  But I wonder if our translation really carries the heart of what You mean when You ask us to consider something?  Why do I say that?  Because every time You say, “Consider,” it’s two words together from siym and lebab.  We’ve seen that God is inviting His people to join in His doing with Him.  Now maybe considering in Your eyes, God, is all about understanding our placement and purpose in the world by You, accompanied by our heart’s undivided intended devotion to You.  And maybe we really aren’t considering things properly if those two aren’t coming together in You.

See, Adam didn’t actually start in the Garden.  Genesis 2:8 tells us that the Lord God put the man whom He had formed in the garden.  Why?  Because He had a purpose for man in that garden.  That “put” or “placed” is that same Hebrew word siym.  It can mean “to appoint, to bring, to call, to put, to change, to charge, to commit, to consider, to convey, or to determine.”  Maybe that means that God is in charge of everything, even our geography.  And when does Adam’s story really begin?  Was it where he was created?  Or where God placed him?  What about us?  Was it all about Adam’s plans or Your plans, God?  And why would You place Him in the garden?  Was that the place of full relationship with You?  Is that where You could nourish man by Your provision, Your way?  And yet You allowed man free choice.  Adam could choose the door to the tree of life or the door to the knowledge of good and evil.  Maybe paradise on earth wasn’t such a safe place after all.  Maybe the only safe place has always been in You and choosing You.  Because even paradise can draw us away into disobedience and danger. 

But you just don’t plant or place.  You look at the “lebab,” and you know our heart.  This is Your desire for us that You share in Deuteronomy 6:5, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart [lebab], and with all your soul, and with all your might.”  This is all about singular devotion to God.  This is all about personal devotion to You.  Loving You with all our heart is about devoting all our will, of the whole me to You.  My soul is the unity of my flesh, and will, and essence.  And my might is absolute commitment, the muchness of who I am, to You.

So if considering the way You ask us to consider is refocussing ourself on You, it really makes sense that You ask us to look into our heart that You have placed strategically in this world for Your glory.  Am I living up to Your created purpose and placement for me?  Am I living up to Your plan and entering Your intended doors, or am I avoiding Your plan for me and opening my own doors?  Are my will, emotions, and thoughts lined up with Your plan and placement of me?  Now, Psalm 20:4 touches on this.  It says, “May He grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your counsel!”  Isn’t that great?  Well, only if our heart’s desire has been lined up with Yours.  Otherwise, granting us what we want according to our council is an opportunity to live out a curse.  Just look at history and the doors that have been opened according to man’s council. 

But if we stop to consider Your way, with all our heart leaned in to You, we find that just like Zerubbabel, You have chosen us to place us for a purpose for You in this world.  Jesus said, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14)  And Paul continue that thought, “For you see your calling, brothers, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty…” (1 Corinthians 1:26,27)  Why?  Because it’s all about His glory and that can only be seen in those who are called and accept their appointment.  Then You choose to use and glorify Yourself in those who surrender to You and open and enter Your doors where You are present.  And these, and only these, are those who are labeled faithful.  And it’s only the faithful who are able to reflect Your image and bear Your likeness in this world.

Many are called but few are chosen.  Why?  Because You are a bad and cruel God?  Absolutely not.  Why?  Because we choose by choosing other doors to not answer Your call.  I mean, how much more merciful do we want You to be?  Look at how many times, over and over again, You showed up for the unfaithful nation of Israel, Your child, Your people.  You kept saying, “Go through my doors with Me.”  But they didn’t want to.  They wanted things their own way.  And they got it.  And it’s the same with us.  I want to stop wanting things my way.  I want to come to consider everything as empty without You.  I want to come to the reality that Paul did.  I want to count it all dung compared to knowing You, Jesus, and living and walking and doing and being in Your presence.  I want to learn to suffer whatever loss it takes to obey You and follow through Your doors.  I’m not there yet, Lord, but I pray that Your Spirit will continue to guide me there and that my spirit will desire nothing more than total commitment to the God who has my purpose in life down pat.