Summary: While purity includes a discussion on sexual morality as God defines it, it’s actually a word that is more about an idea that a definition.
Have you ever asked, “What does God want from me?” “What is God really after?” As I read through the book of Ezekiel this question keeps coming up for me. And Ezekiel offers the answers. Last week Ezekiel told us that God wants exclusive worship. We received confirmation of that truth through the words of Jesus. Today Ezekiel shares with us that God demands purity from his children.
When we throw the word “purity” around we almost always assume that it’s about sex. Did you know that when you eat soft-serve ice cream you are ingesting chemicals that are also found in anti-freeze and paint thinners? Obviously the designers or makers of the ice cream have found a way to use these chemicals so that you don’t die when you eat their product. When we are immoral in our behavior it’s like we are so hungry for ice cream that we’ll just go to the shed and throw some anti-freeze and paint thinner in some milk and freeze it. It’s not that these chemicals are a bad thing, they have a good use, even in ice cream, but only the makers of the ice cream know how to put these chemicals together so they don’t harm a person.
I like how Duffy Robbins sums this up, “God never said “Sex is bad” any more than he ever said “Thou shalt not eateth ice creameth.” But God makes it clear that this God-given desire for sexual intimacy must be fulfilled within God-given guidelines. Or, the result is poisoned lives and poisoned relationships.”
And when it comes to the subject of purity this is how we assume we’re going to talk about it, and while purity includes a discussion on sexual morality as God defines it, it’s actually a word that is more about an idea that a definition.
The first key to understanding purity is found in the first sentence of the Scripture in Ezekiel that we are looking at today. “Now set the empty pot on the coals. Heat it red hot! Burn away the filth and corruption.” There are two basic parts to making something pure. First the fire has to be really hot. The idea that God wants us to have here is the same concept as what it takes to shape or make metal something useful and/or valuable. Blacksmith’s and welders make their living at making metal hot enough so that they can mold it into a shape that they want or need. According to www.beautifuliron.com “The higher the heat and brighter the color, the softer and easier to forge the steel and iron become. But there is often a specific temperature or color range to which a smith heats the iron, which gives the best results for each type of forging task to be accomplished. “ This is one part of the idea behind purity. The fire must be hot enough to mold the metal into the shape the blacksmith wants it.
The second part is to burn away the filth and corruption. The technical word for this is called cupellation. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary cupellation is refinement (as of gold or silver) by exposure to high temperature in a blast of air by which the unwanted metals are oxidized. The Bible has a lot to say about what purity is and God almost always uses the analogy of heat and cupellation to describe it.
Proverbs 17:3 - Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but the Lord tests the heart.
Psalm 66:10 - You have tested us, O God; you have purified us like silver.
Malachi 3:2-3 - But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes. He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the Lord.
1 Peter 1:7 - These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world
There are many others but hopefully you get the idea. Jesus only used the word “pure” one time. He said, “Bessed are the pure in heart” Matthew 5:8.
Mark tells this story in Mark 10. Jesus is approached by a rich and fairly young politician. He’s cocky and a tad arrogant. Sounds just like a politician if you ask me. I don’t know what this guy’s motive was as he approached Jesus. Maybe he was being sincere. There were other rich politicians like Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea who were sincere in their questions and responses to Jesus. So it could be that this young successful leader ran in those circles and was genuine in his questions. I’ll assume that. But he does something a little odd for someone so cocky, he kneels at the feet of Jesus. He is publicly stating that Jesus is his superior, someone in authority. Rabbi’s were esteemed in this society, and especially rabbi’s with the mass following that Jesus enjoyed at this time in his ministry. In the beginning of Chapter 10 we’re told that masses of people were following Jesus everywhere he went. So this young man esteems Jesus as his spiritual authority and he has the most important question.