"I gave them over to worthless decrees and regulations that would not lead to life." - Ezekiel 20:25 (New Living Bible)
Upon their exodus out of Egyptian slavery, God instructed the Hebrews to abandon the idolatrous religious rituals practiced by their parents while they were in bondage, and to direct their devotions toward the One God who had heard their pleas and secured their liberation.
But according to Ezekiel, the Hebrews clung to the idolatrous practices of their parents.
God's judgement upon the people for ignoring God's liberating love was not an earthquake or an onslaught of pestilence or a rain of fire from above. God simply gave the Hebrews more of the empty rituals, the misguided devotions and the toxic religion that they craved.
Israel was judged by getting more of the very practices and rituals they refused to let go.
Often, it is not denial that chastens us, but permission.
America is a gun-wielding, gun-promoting, gun-obsessed culture. Not even the unrelenting cascade of mass killings by guns in the wrong hands has been enough to convince some state and the majority of national legislators that sensible gun reform is a key ingredient for better public safety.
As a result, it's easier to get a semi-automatic weapon than it is to get mental health treatment.
And we keep sending our police into situations where they are targeted and sometimes out-gunned by gun wielding individuals with deep dysfunctions.
Jesus said: "Those who live by the sword will perish by the sword." The proliferation of that which we deem our defense is fueling our demise.
Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with our resolve to dismantle our devotion to deadly weapons. Amen.
Kenneth L. Samuel is Pastor of Victory for the World Church, Stone Mountain, Georgia.