Tags: commentary on Ezekiel, common expressions, common expressions from the Bible, Ezekiel 18, Ezekiel 19, Ezekiel 20, knowing God, Sunday School lessons on Ezekiel
In Chapter 18 Ezekiel begins to address the excuses of those who were being convicted by his messages. Their chief excuse seems to have been the age-old excuse of, “It’s someone else’s fault.” The people were saying that God wasn’t fair, even though He was keeping the covenant. The covenant breakers were blaming the Covenant Keeper.
God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked.
Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?
For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.
In Chapter 19 Ezekiel lays the responsibility at the feet of the the leaders. Israel is compared to a lion, but a lion that has been captured and taken into captivity.
And say, What is thy mother? A lioness: she lay down among lions, she nourished her whelps among young lions.
Then the nations set against him on every side from the provinces, and spread their net over him: he was taken in their pit. And they put him in ward in chains, and brought him to the king of Babylon: they brought him into holds, that his voice should no more be heard upon the mountains of Israel.
Ezekiel also compared Israel to a vine, but a vine that had become withered and unfruitful.
Thy mother is like a vine in thy blood, planted by the waters: she was fruitful and full of branches by reason of many waters.
But she was plucked up in fury, she was cast down to the ground, and the east wind dried up her fruit: her strong rods were broken and withered; the fire consumed them. And now she is planted in the wilderness, in a dry and thirsty ground.
This comparison would have reminded them of Israel’s blessing in Genesis 49.
In Ezekiel Chapter 20 the elders come to Ezekiel’s house, supposedly to “enquire of the Lord.”
And it came to pass in the seventh year, in the fifth month, the tenth day of the month, that certain of the elders of Israel came to enquire of the LORD, and sat before me.
But they had forgotten that Ezekiel was getting his discernment directly from God, and he gave them a history lesson instead. He reminded them that, even though they had been required to dwell among the heathen, they should not have been converted to the heathens’ ways. As Christians we should beware of becoming a part of the culture we’re trying to reach. “Undercover evangelicals” may think that they can lift up sinners out of their sin, but what usually winds up happening is that the Christians wind up getting dragged down into sin and ruining their testimony. Jesus ate with the publicans and sinners. He talked with them, and cared for them while they were yet in sin. But He did not sin with them.
And that which cometh into your mind shall not be at all, that ye say, We will be as the heathen, as the families of the countries, to serve wood and stone.
George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” That is what was happening to these Israelites. They had not learned from the mistakes of their forefathers and they were experiencing the same type of chastening from God.
And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face.
Ezekiel 20:35 (emphasis added)
God told them that He would bring them into a figurative wilderness and deal with them face to face. This is in contrast to God telling Ezekiel to “set his face” toward Jerusalem. New Testament Christians look forward to seeing God “face to face,” because now we see through a glass, darkly. We are excited because we will know as we are known. But we have to make sure that we’re not like the people of Israel in Ezekiel’s day, who didn’t really “know” God. Seeing God face to face is different than seeing eye to eye with God. Seeing God face to face is an exciting and joyful prospect to those who know God through Jesus Christ, but it is terrifying for those who are known by God for their unfaithfulness, and do not know Him via Christ.
Tags: 2 Peter 3, common expressions, common expressions from the Bible, Deo Volente, James 4, providence of God, sovereignty of God, will of God
Have you ever qualified a promise to be at a certain place at a certain time with the condition, “Lord willing.” It’s sort of the Christianized version of the expression, “Weather permitting.” Some people say it all the time. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to say. There is some Scriptural support for it:
Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.
James 4:13-15 (emphasis added)
The Latin expression for “Lord willing” is “Deo Volente” and there used to be a practice of putting the initials “D.V.” on wedding invitations to indicate the possibility – however remote – of a last-minute cancellation. For some people it is almost superstitious to say “Lord willing” before committing to anything.
Considering the sovereignty of God, it is true that all our plans are subject to His overriding and supreme will. But does the Bible give us any clues as to exactly what the Lord is willing – or not willing?
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
II Peter 3:9 (emphasis added)
We need to keep in mind every day, every minute, that we’re totally dependent on God. In the sense that God has desires, He is “willing” that we do His will. Therefore, it is good to pray, “Not my will, but Thy will be done.”
We are to put the will of our Heavenly Father ahead of our own will, so we have to to be very careful about saying what we do or don’t “feel” like doing. There are times when the providence of God hinders us from doing what it seems like He has called us to do, but, while it can be easy to deceive other people, it is impossible to deceive God. There are times when God wants my body to be used for His service, even though it is in pain. There are times when God wants me to go somewhere I don’t feel like going. There are times when He wants me to talk to somebody I’m embarrassed to talk to, or somebody I do not particularly like. There are times when He wants me to discipline my children even if it will disturb the peace in my home. I need to be even more enthusiastic about doing the Lord’s will when it feels bad than I am about doing it when it feels good. The remedy for a lack of enthusiasm about serving the Lord is not monotoning “Lord willing” every time I do my “Christian duty.” The remedy is remembering the Gospel and having it settled in my heart and in my mind that I really am excited and enthusiastic and zealous about doing what the Lord is willing – what He wants.
Tags: Christian marriage, creation of marriage, Genesis 2, invention of marriage, Jesus Christ, marriage, marriage counseling, purpose of marriage, reason for marriage
And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
The Bible answers the question, “Whose idea was marriage?” Marriage was invented by God. It also answers the question, “For whom was marriage invented?” Marriage was invented by and for God, to be used by Him as an illustration of Christ and His Church. God is the One Who decided that it was not good for man to be alone. God is the One Who decided what it was that would solve that problem: a woman. The woman would be both “mankind” (of man’s kind) and yet inalterably different. Both man and woman would be creatures with the same essential relationship to God, but with great variety in how they related to God. As one half of a married couple, you must remember to nurture your spouse’s own individual relationship with God.
1. Living a Godly life yourself
2. Thinking of creative ways to inspire interest in God
3. Asking your spouse questions about God even if you are more likely to be the one that knows the answers
4. Suggesting attending church, and setting a good example by going yourself and taking the kids, even if your spouse won’t go
5. Getting involved in ministry activities so that your spouse can see that your relationship with God is real, and not just limited to church attendance once or twice a week
These types of things remind us of the sameness and the variety or our different roles in God’s plan. Your spouse needs to see that it is possible that you could both serve the same God – but that you might each delight in Him in a variety of different ways.
Here is another glorious thing about knowing that God is the One Who created marriage:
And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
Did God create woman and then tell Adam to go find her? No, He brought her to Adam. God gave away the first bride in the first marriage ceremony. And even better: He didn’t really “give her away;” He placed her into the stewardship of the husband. Marriage was a whole new relationship. Our sin nature and this world’s system want to make us think that because marriage is between two people, then one or the other must be central. Or that the relationship itself is central. The radical thing about knowing what we know about the way marriage pictures Christ’s relationship to the Church is that marriage can be focused on the togetherness of two creatures, but with Christ as the Center: the True Focus.
Tags: 2 Corinthians 12, Andrew, C.T. Studd, feeding the 5000, Jesus, John 1, John 6, lunch, turtles
If you were to take a drive out into the country, past forests and fields, pastures and ponds, and were to happen to see a turtle sitting on top of a fence post, you would not automatically be able to discern all the exact details about what you were seeing, but one thing you would know for certain: somebody put that turtle there.
Turtles don’t get on the tops of fence posts by themselves.
I’m thankful to be involved in Christian ministry. I’m thankful to know a few things about the Christian life. I’m thankful to be a Christian. One of the many reasons I’m thankful is that I didn’t get here by myself. Right before I became a Christian, somebody told me how to be saved. And, before that, there was a time when somebody told that person how to be saved. My little fence post is a very small, comparatively insignificant fence post, and I’m certainly not a very important turtle. But I know one thing for sure: I didn’t get up on this fence post all by myself.
The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.
Philip was from Bethsaida – he knew the area.
When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.
John 6:5-6 (emphasis added)
Jesus wanted to test Philip’s faith. It just so happened that Andrew knew a lad.
One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him, There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?
The Disciple Andrew was a very interesting fellow. He didn’t write a book of the Bible, and, as far as we know, he never preached a well-known sermon. But what he excelled at was bringing people to Jesus. He brought his brother, Peter, to Jesus, and now he brings this lad to Jesus. If we are willing, we can all be “Andrews.” We can all bring people to Jesus. But we will have to do what Jesus did, too. We will have to “lift up our eyes” and see the need. Jesus looked on the multitudes and saw the need. The unsaved people you know don’t really need entertainment. They don’t really need more “fun.” They don’t need something to occupy their time. The common pious Christian response at this point is, “Yeah, I know, I know, what they need is to be loved.” And that is true. But, like with most things in our life, the Bible tells us specifically how we are supposed to love them. We love them the way Jesus loved the crowd that was hungry: by giving them food, yes, but even more so by feeding them the Gospel. The people you know need to hear the Truth about Jesus way more than they need to know about the latest metrosexual mormon vampire movie.
Jesus is and was God. He could have fed this crowd of hungry people simply by creating fish and bread out of thin air. But His plan was to use people. And that’s still His plan today. I won’t pretend to understand it. It seems like too important a job to trust to people like you and me. But I’m not God – He knows what’s best – and He’s chosen us to spread the Word – the plan of salvation – to the hungry masses.
What about the little boy that Andrew brought to Jesus? I don’t want to read too much into the account, but, being a typical little boy, it seems probable that his mother, or someone at home who loved him, packed his lunch for him that day. (Little boys rushing out of the house early in the morning, excited about a big day, aren’t exactly known for stopping to think about planning ahead!) If you are a Christian, God has used people in your past – your parents, grandparents, other family members, teachers, coaches, pastors, or church elders – to invest into your life. If you are “prepared” to be used by God – the way this boy was – then you owe a debt of gratitude to those people. Remember, like I said at the beginning of the post, we didn’t get up on our fence posts by ourselves. This lad had two things going for him:
1. He was prepared.
2. He was available.
If people have invested into your life, are you now intentionally making yourself available in places where you can bless others with that investment? Somebody has been used by God to “pack your lunch” for you. Now Jesus wants to use your lunch to feed others. Is your lunch wrapped up somewhere spoiling? Are you going to eat it all yourself? Or are you going to give it to Jesus?
Jesus took the lad’s lunch and He blessed it and broke it. If you give your “lunch” – your self – to Jesus, He may very well decide to break you. We don’t like to think of it that way, but Jesus knows me, and He knows my lunch can’t be used unless it’s broken. Can you convince yourself to rejoice over being broken?
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
II Corinthians 12:9-10 (emphasis added)
Don’t hold back your lunch from God. And don’t try to give Him the “leftovers” from your lunch. God is the only One you can truly trust with your “investment.” He will not waste it.
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Tags: Bible study on Romans, coals of fire, commentary on Romans, fire with fire, Judges 16, overcoming evil, revenge, Romans 12, Sunday School lessons on Romans
If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
It doesn’t always lie within us to be able to live peaceably with everyone around us. But it does always “lie with” God. There are some people who won’t let you live peaceably with them. The question is, when they fight against us, do we trust God enough not to fight back?
Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
What do these “coals of fire” represent? Is the Holy Spirit encouraging us to pray for revenge? There are some Old Testament instances of such prayers. Samson’s prayer is one example:
And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.
Sometimes we are tempted to substitute the expression “coals of fire” with the sentiment “fight fire with fire.” The emphasis in Romans 12:20-21 is not on refusing to fight evil with evil – that should be a given. God’s children should not hate other people. Instead, the emphasis is on not being overcome with evil. The admonition is against letting the evil – the hatred – get inside us.
Tags: commentary on Ezekiel, Ezekiel 10, Ezekiel 11, Ezekiel 12, Ezekiel 7, Ezekiel 8, Ezekiel 9, greed, stuff, Sunday School lessons on Ezekiel
After delivering a series of wordless “action sermons” the prophet Ezekiel begins to speak again in Chapter 7. God has him tell the people not only that the “end is coming,” but that it’s coming soon.
Now will I shortly pour out my fury upon thee, and accomplish mine anger upon thee: and I will judge thee according to thy ways, and will recompense thee for all thine abominations.
Ezekiel 7:8 (emphasis added)
In Chapter 8, 14 months after his first vision, Ezekiel gets his second vision. This is not a “fresh” vision, though; it is a new insight into the original vision. The idolatry of the leaders is exposed.
And he brought me into the inner court of the LORD’S house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the LORD, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east. Then he said unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? for they have filled the land with violence, and have returned to provoke me to anger: and, lo, they put the branch to their nose.
In Chapter 9 the people are slain.
Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.
In Chapter 10 the glory of the Lord departs from the Temple.
Then the glory of the LORD departed from off the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubims.
It is a shame when people are deceived by their own leaders.
Moreover the spirit lifted me up, and brought me unto the east gate of the LORD’S house, which looketh eastward: and behold at the door of the gate five and twenty men; among whom I saw Jaazaniah the son of Azur, and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah, princes of the people. Then said he unto me, Son of man, these are the men that devise mischief, and give wicked counsel in this city: Which say, It is not near; let us build houses: this city is the caldron, and we be the flesh. Therefore prophesy against them, prophesy, O son of man. And the Spirit of the LORD fell upon me, and said unto me, Speak; Thus saith the LORD; Thus have ye said, O house of Israel: for I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them.
Thing have not changed much since Ezekiel’s day. Even today in America we have political leaders who get people on their side by espousing their religious beliefs, only to line their own pockets. If the economists tell these greedy politicians that we as Americans are not being optimistic and enthusiastic consumers, then we are deemed “unpatriotic.” God’s judgment is righteous against those who would use His Name as a pretense to stimulate the economy.
This city shall not be your caldron, neither shall ye be the flesh in the midst thereof; but I will judge you in the border of Israel:
All throughout history God has maintained a faithful remnant of true believers.
Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.
Ezekiel also prophesied about the coming Messiah, the Kingdom of Jesus, and the end times.
And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. But as for them whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads, saith the Lord GOD.
Ezekiel once again is told by God to act out a sermon and he begins doing some very strange things.
Therefore, thou son of man, prepare thee stuff for removing, and remove by day in their sight; and thou shalt remove from thy place to another place in their sight: it may be they will consider, though they be a rebellious house. Then shalt thou bring forth thy stuff by day in their sight, as stuff for removing: and thou shalt go forth at even in their sight, as they that go forth into captivity.
Ezekiel 12:3-4 (emphasis added)
This removal of “stuff” illustrated the consequences of the “rebellious house” which the land of Israel had become. What attitude do we find today among people who are rebellious toward God when it comes to their “stuff?” Beware of the love of material possessions.
Tags: Jeremiah 13, Jesus Christ, John 1, John 12, light, light in the Bible, Salvation, the light of the world
We live in a day and age of clocks. From our wristwatches to our cell phones to our bedside wake-up alarms to our on-screen television programming guides to our vehicle radios to the flashing signs in front of banks and churches, everywhere we go, we are reminded of the time. However, even without mechanical timepieces, we would still have a pretty good idea that the day is over when the light fades. We count weeks and months and years by how many times the sun has risen and set. Therefore, when it comes to spiritual reality, God has made light to behave in such a way as to remind us that our time and opportunities in this world are coming to an end.
Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.
In an attempt to defeat the darkness which ends each and every day of our lives we have come up with many ways to “light up the night.” However, batteries in a flashlight will run down eventually. The wax which feeds the wick of a candle will burn down in time. Even long-lasting light bulbs and tubes of fluorescent neon are not eternal. There is only one Light which shall shine forevermore.
That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
Jesus, the Light of this world, has already finished the work of redemption, and He has made it available to unbelievers for a limited time only. Will you receive the Light which shall give you comfort, peace, beauty, and joy in the world to come? Or will you cling to the temporary false light of the here-and-now, which will one day burn out, leaving you in an eternal darkness from which there shall be no escape?
Hear ye, and give ear; be not proud: for the LORD hath spoken. Give glory to the LORD your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness.
Tags: 1 Peter 1, blood, Christian marriage, Ephesians 4, Ephesians 5, flesh and bones, marriage, marriage counseling, principles for marriage, Romans 12
For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
Because marriage is a God-ordained institution, when you got married, you and your spouse became one flesh. In a physical body, “flesh” is the source of strength. If your spouse is weak, you must be his or her strength. You became “one set of bones.” Bones provide structure.
If your spouse is not holding up his or her part of the structure of married life, you must hold up your spouse’s part for him or her. Christ will empower you to do it. A body is flesh and bones, but neither flesh nor bones work without blood. In marriage, love is the blood of the body. It circulates and carries nourishment. It circulates and removes impurities. If your spouse is not pumping love into the marriage, you must pump enough love for both of you.
From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
I Peter 1:22
If you don’t feel loving toward your spouse, use the love you feel toward Christ as your motivation. Perform acts of grace and mercy on your spouse, regardless of whether he or she appreciates it or responds, because that is evidence of genuine love for Christ.
Tags: Daylight Savings Time, Isaiah 46, on time God, providence, providence of God, sovereignty of God, timing
Man to God: How long is a million years to You?
God: It’s like a minute.
Man: What is a million dollars like to You?
God: It’s like a dollar.
Man: Can I have a million dollars?
God: Just a minute…
God lives both inside and outside of time. God is not subject to time; time is subject to Him, for He created it. We are creatures, though, and we are fairly obsessed with time. The days on which we set our clocks forward or backward to accommodate Daylight Savings Time are days of great rejoicing or consternation for us, depending upon how the change affects each of us personally. Sometimes the only thing that bothers us more than being too early or too late for an event ourselves, is when someone we are depending upon does not show up “on time” for us.
One of the tasks of our faith is to separate this type of finite thinking from our meditations about God. God can never be late or early. He is perfect in all His ways, and in every attribute of His character. Therefore, His “timing” is always perfect.
We sometimes speak of God’s “providence,” and this word comes from the Latin pro, meaning “ahead,” and video, meaning “to see.” To make it simple, God’s providence refers to His ability to “see ahead,” or to see into the future. How often have we cursed the traffic jam which made us late for an appointment, but which also, unbeknownst to ourselves, kept us from being broadsided by a careless truck driver a few miles down the road? How often have we sulked over a rainy day which kept us from a big outdoor party, and only later realized what a blessing it turned out to have been when we were “forced” to spend the day indoors, reading, playing, and talking with our small children, who will never again be as small as they were that day?
The providence of God not only refers to His ability to see into the future, but also to His sovereignty and control over a future which, to Him, already exists by His Own power, and where He reigns even now, planning wonderful things for our tomorrows that we can not even yet imagine.
Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
Tags: countenance of God, face of God, light, light in the Bible, Psalm 4, Psalm 89, spotlights, true light
There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? LORD, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.
For the pious Jewish person in Old Testament times, one of the most common ways of describing the blessings of God was to speak of God’s countenance (His “face”) being turned toward, instead of away from, His people. God’s countenance was described as beautiful light, and the attractiveness of it was awe-inspiring.
Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance.
These days we still have an innate understanding of the attractiveness of light. The planner of a big event will often use a big spotlight to attract people at night. Satan, when he attempts to seduce Christians, does not always utilize the darkness of his evil. He often disguises himself as an “angel of light.” Therefore, while light is attractive, we must discern the true Light from the false. Just as bugs, which can’t resist flying into bright lights at night, seal their doom by doing so, people who desire a superficial worldly “light” are sometimes enticed to their own destruction.
As Christians, our goal should be to desire that God look favorably upon us so that His glory, reflected through us, will attract people to Him.