The Prophet “Paddles” His Audience

September 30, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Posted in Ezekiel | 2 Comments
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In Chapter 16 Ezekiel’s sermons began to grow in intensity. The religious leaders of his day had come to call on him, hoping to be entertained by the “crazy preacher man,” but they got more than they bargained for when the prophet started comparing them to a cheating wife.

And in all thine abominations and thy whoredoms thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, when thou wast naked and bare, and wast polluted in thy blood. And it came to pass after all thy wickedness, (woe, woe unto thee! saith the Lord GOD;) That thou hast also built unto thee an eminent place, and hast made thee an high place in every street.

Ezekiel 16:22-24

Hosea had a similar message.

Ezekiel had preached about the unfit vine and the adulterous wife. In his third sermon, in Chapter 17, he got very specific in his prophecy and used the image of three cedar trees. These represented kings. The first two were wicked – King Jehoiakin, who had already been deposed by Nebuchadnezzar, and King Hezekiah, who was King at the time of this prophecy. These two wicked kings were compared to the coming King Messiah:

Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will also take of the highest branch of the high cedar, and will set it; I will crop off from the top of his young twigs a tender one, and will plant it upon an high mountain and eminent:

Ezekiel 17:22

Here is the pattern of Ezekiel’s witnessing. He used his O.A.R.S.

1. He O.pened the Word of God: “The word of the Lord came unto me, saying…

2. He A.lleged. He held up their exposed idolatry next to the Word of God. Sorcery and idol-worship had previously been condemned by God in the Book of Deuteronomy.

3. He R.easoned. These religious leaders knew their history. They knew their kings and their genealogies, and they could comprehend the comparisons between the great cedars – and the leaders of the enemies of God, who were being used by God – to eagles.

4. He S.hared by preaching and proclamation. Ezekiel, the “man of God” – called the “Son of Man” – sat in the house of God and used the Word of God to proclaim the Son of God.

Spurgeon Exhorts You to S.W.I.M. NOW

September 20, 2011 at 9:49 am | Posted in Quotes | 2 Comments
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I want you to remember, too, that you are called to come now, at once. You may not be bidden to come tomorrow for several reasons: you may not be alive, or there may be no earnest person near to invite you. Can there be a better day [than] today? You have always said “Tomorrow,” yet where are you now? Not a bit forwarder some of you than you were ten years ago. Do you recollect that sermon when you were made to tremble so, and you said, “Please God, if I get out of this, I will seek His face,” but you postponed it, and are you any forwarder now? You remember the story of the countryman who would not cross the river just yet, but sat down and said he would wait until all the water had gone by. He waited long in vain, and might have waited forever, for rivers are always flowing. You too are waiting till a more convenient season shall come, and all the difficulties have gone by. Be quit of such supreme folly. There will always be difficulty, the river will always flow. O man, be wise, plunge into it and swim across. Now is the accepted time, and now is the day of salvation. Oh that you would believe in Jesus Christ! May His Spirit lead you to do so now.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “The Two ‘Comes,'” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 23

Desire in Marriage

September 14, 2011 at 8:52 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage | 2 Comments
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Last time, I described the effects of the curse brought about by sin on the first marriage.

Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

Genesis 3:16 (emphasis added)

There is a common misconception among Bible teachers that sexual desire itself is part of the curse, but that is not true. For wives, the curse is finding pain in the one relationship that fulfills the roles God created you for as a woman. The “desire” that is part of the curse is not a desire for intimacy. It’s a desire for unlawful control. It’s a desire for coup d’etat. It’s a desire to stage a rebellion in your marriage, and to seize control for yourself, even though this desire often operates at an almost subconscious level.

If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

Genesis 4:7

That verse is about Cain and Abel, but it illustrates the early Bible concept of “desire.” The “desire” of women that is part of the sin curse is the same desire whereby one person desires to rule over another person.

But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

I Timothy 2:12-15 (emphasis added)

The curse will not be done away with in this life. But its effects can be mitigated through the disciplines of Godly marriage.

So, why did God’s curse upon women tie them to the very thing they were ordained to do?

1. To show God’s redemptive glory in the picture of marriage; and
2. To sanctify husbands and wives through the marriage covenant and relationship.

Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

Galatians 3:13

The curse of our sin was tied to Christ, and bearing that curse was the very thing He was ordained to do.

Light Gives Safety

September 12, 2011 at 9:53 am | Posted in Biblical Light, Selected Psalms | 8 Comments
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It is a pretty well-accepted truth that most children are afraid of the dark. What’s more, this fear is not always as baseless as we like to claim. Darkness can provide cover for many dangerous things. Light gives safety because it informs us of what sort of environment we are in, and what sorts of things or creatures are occupying that environment with us. Light tells us what our true condition is.

[A Psalm of David.] The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalm 27:1.

People are afraid of the dark because we fear the unknown. Knowing God brings light and security when we trust Him. If you know and fear God, you need not fear anything else. If you do not know and fear God, you should fear everything else.

The Days Are at Hand

September 8, 2011 at 11:35 am | Posted in Ezekiel | 7 Comments
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God had the prophet Ezekiel act out some of his prophecies. In one of them he portrayed a man sneaking out of a city under siege. II Kings 25 tells us that this prophecy came to pass when King Zedekiah tried to escape Jerusalem from the invading Babylonians, but was captured.

My net also will I spread upon him, and he shall be taken in my snare: and I will bring him to Babylon to the land of the Chaldeans; yet shall he not see it, though he shall die there.

Ezekiel 12:13

This must have been a difficult prophecy for Ezekiel’s audience to credit. How would the King go to Babylon to die, yet not see it? The prophecy was fulfilled when King Zedekiah’s captors first killed his sons in front of his own eyes, then put his eyes out before they led him away in captivity.

The next morning Ezekiel performed another “action sermon,” when he ate his meal and drank his water while shaking and trembling. This portrayed the way the people in Jerusalem would feel while the city was under siege.

Son of man, what is that proverb that ye have in the land of Israel, saying, The days are prolonged, and every vision faileth?

Ezekiel 12:22

God let Ezekiel know that the people had a proverb or a common expression about the prophecies. The fall of Jerusalem came about six years after this prophecy. Their saying was a little like our saying, “Tomorrow never comes.” God gave them a new proverb:

Tell them therefore, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will make this proverb to cease, and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel; but say unto them, The days are at hand, and the effect of every vision.

Ezekiel 12:23 (emphasis added)

In response to the people saying, “We’ve heard that one before,” God said, “The future is now.”

Ezekiel Chapter 13 goes into more detail about the false prophets. They substituted the concrete promises of God for the untempered mortar of empty lies.

Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and, lo, others daubed it with untempered morter: Say unto them which daub it with untempered morter, that it shall fall: there shall be an overflowing shower; and ye, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall rend it.

Ezekiel 13:10-11

“Untempered morter” reminds us of the New Testament reference to “whitewashed walls.” Jesus likened the Pharisees to “whited sepulchres.” The false prophets really come out of the woodwork when there’s a chance to make money. They are more interested in making “profits,” than in being true “prophets.” As an aside, do you know who the first capitalist in the Bible was? It was Miriam, Moses’s sister – she went down to the “bank” and “drew out” a “little prophet.” (Sorry, that’s joke #5 in the Official Preacher’s Joke Book, but I couldn’t resist.)

The sign of the false prophecies really getting bad was when even women prophets began to come to prominence.

Likewise, thou son of man, set thy face against the daughters of thy people, which prophesy out of their own heart; and prophesy thou against them, And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe to the women that sew pillows to all armholes, and make kerchiefs upon the head of every stature to hunt souls! Will ye hunt the souls of my people, and will ye save the souls alive that come unto you? And will ye pollute me among my people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, to slay the souls that should not die, and to save the souls alive that should not live, by your lying to my people that hear your lies?

Ezekiel 13:17-19

There are very few female prophets in Scripture, and there are restrictions on the roles of women in church (see I Timothy 2:8-15). The proliferation of women calling themselves prophets when they are really practicing cons or scams at best, and sorcery at worst, is one of the features of the so-called “prosperity gospel” or “word of faith movement.” There are ministries today which base their beliefs and practices on charlatans and false prophets like Aimee Semple MacPherson and Kathryn Kuhlman and Mary Baker Eddy and Ellen G. White.

Some of the Jewish leaders among the exiles came to visit Ezekiel in his home in Chapter 14. Ezekiel was not supposed to leave his home unless God told him to do so. When the leaders came to his house, God told him that these were some of the ones He had shown him in his earlier visions worshiping idols. God told him to confront them with the truth – even if it sounded like a word of condemnation.

Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the LORD will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols;

Ezekiel 14:4

However, Ezekiel didn’t just tell them, “You’re busted. God knows what’s in your hearts. Now get out.” No, he tried to get them to repent.

That I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols.

Ezekiel 14:5

In Chapter 15 Ezekiel continued preaching to the Jewish leaders in his home. He had been “manhandled” by God in one his visions, so he had a healthy fear and reverence for God. The leaders came to be entertained, but Ezekiel compared them to an unfit vine – a non-fruit-bearing vine – fit to be burned.

Son of Man

September 6, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Posted in Ezekiel | 8 Comments
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In Ezekiel Chapter 12 the prophet Ezekiel begins to “act out” one of the prophecies the Lord had given him. At times Ezekiel was called to perform these dramatic “silent sermons.” On this occasion he played the part of someone sneaking out of a city under siege.

First, he sneaked out with a small amount of “stuff:” things that someone escaping would need for traveling. Then, greedily, instead of just escaping, he came back after dark, dug a hole in the wall of the house, and got more “stuff:” more material possessions. This time, when he came out again, he made a point to do it in a way so that everyone could see he had his face covered and his eyes fixed on the ground. God gave him a message to go along with this little dramatic skit.

There are times when God may call us to do something that will look strange to the people who are watching us. When He does, it is important for us to obey, but we also need to be prepared and give an answer or an explanation if some asks what we’re doing. Why do you dress the way you dress? Why do you carry that Bible around with you?

And in the morning came the word of the LORD unto me, saying, Son of man, hath not the house of Israel, the rebellious house, said unto thee, What doest thou? Say thou unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; This burden concerneth the prince in Jerusalem, and all the house of Israel that are among them. Say, I am your sign: like as I have done, so shall it be done unto them: they shall remove and go into captivity.

Ezekiel 12:8-11 (emphasis added)

God allowed Ezekiel to preach about the scene he had been performing. There are different views among Bible scholars about why God referred to Ezekiel by the title, “Son of man.” One view is that “son of man” was a way of contrasting Ezekiel’s humanity with God’s deity. Daniel was also called “Son of Man,” and it was Jesus’s Own favorite title for Himself. (See Luke 19:10; Matthew 8:20.) Some scholars think it is an eschatological title (that it has end times significance). Many times the title “Son of God” is contrasted with “Son of Man” in reference to Jesus’s role in the Kingdom of God, or as a physical manifestation of the Word. The Gospel of John starts off by saying that in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God, and goes on to tell us that the Word was made flesh. John Chapter 5 talks about Jesus as the Son of God coming to give life, and the Son of man having the authority – as the Word made manifest – to execute judgment.

Here is what I believe the primary meaning of the title “Son of Man” is in Ezekiel: It is a title that shows that “men” (human beings) are creatures made to be used by One greater than them. In the Bible, a “son” is “of the father.” So Ezekiel, while he is merely the son of a human man, is actually being used by God the Father. It is a title that reminds us that Jesus was the ultimate example of a Man allowing God to use Him. Remember, Jesus laid down His glory, not His Deity, in His incarnation. But it also reminds us that, as sons and daughters of men ourselves, we can also be used by One greater than us. As human beings, we can be used by our own flesh. We can be used by Satan. Or we can be used by God. We are not called “Sons of man” by God as our official title, but, even as children of mortal men, we can be representatives of God to men, and God can use us to influence other men.

World Peace: Overrated

September 1, 2011 at 9:09 am | Posted in John, Uncategorized | 10 Comments
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If Christians are not careful, they can find themselves losing out on one of the greatest blessings of their salvation. In a world where many people are worried, frantic, panic-stricken, or just plain distraught, Christ Jesus tells His followers,

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

John 14:27

The peace that Jesus gives to Christians is “not as” the counterfeit peace which the world advertises. A worldly peace is completely dependent upon external circumstances, and, ultimately, the evil designs of our worst enemy.

Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.

John 14:30

Satan himself is the prince of this current world system, so it is not surprising that he has “rigged the game” in order to rob Christians of their peace and confidence.

The Lord provided a good example for His disciples, for, in Jesus’s earthly life, Satan was never able to obtain a foothold (“hath nothing in me”). Christians should strive to remember that the Lord has left His Spirit with them. The Holy Ghost will produce a peace in the lives of Christians that does not flee in the face of troubles. In fact, trials and struggles only strengthen and nourish the peace of Spirit-filled Christians.

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