“So I took them out of the land of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness. “I gave them My statutes and informed them of My ordinances, by which, if a man observes them, he will live.
“Also I gave them My sabbaths to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them.
Ezekiel 20:10-12 (NASB)
It just occurred to me how interesting it is that God took the children of Israel into the wilderness to give them “the ordinances, by which they might live.” Why the wilderness? Perhaps it was because of what was to come. God new that they would be cast out again and I think it is important that Ezekiel was bringing them back to this point to reminded that God has a purpose for the time of exile, and that purpose is to bring them to a place where He could provide Words of Life. And all of it is a foreshadowing of what was to come. The wilderness is a place of death in the ancient world; a place for outcasts and the cursed. Yet this is where God gives life. It is amazing to me that even the place God chooses to reveal His plans for salvation to Israel is a sneek-peek of the ultimate plan. God’s choice to bring Israel into the wilderness to reveal His ordinances (and more importantly His sabbaths) was itself a foreshadowing of His plan to bring life out of death through Jesus. God has always brought life out of death and this encouragement (even in the midst of the rebuke of this passage)could not have been more important than at the time of the exile when Ezekiel was working. How sad it is though that Israel always focused more on the Law than on the Sabbath rest that God provides.
God brings life out of death and light out of darkness. In our darkest time God is at work to bring us life. He provides in the wilderness and He provides not just rules, but the rest and freedom of the Sabbath. We can never live by the ordinances that God has established, as the ordinances prove, but the Sabbaths includes not just the one day of the week, but also the Day of Atonement, and the Year of Jubilee. God provides rest out of the turmoil of the Law. He gives us life and hope in the wilderness. How often like Israel I focus on the law instead of resting in my God who provides what I cannot for myself.
Father your ways are utterly amazing and cannot fully be captured in words. I am mazed at the way the your Word is always pointing us to the complete work of Jesus that you have provided that we might have life and might find rest in you. He and He alone followed Your ordinances perfectly so that we could find life. Teach me to rest in you, to hear, love, and obey your Word but to rest in You and not in a way of life or a code to follow. For you are our provision and salvation. Rules and ways fall short and leave us empty but you fill us to overflowing.