Highlights from Ezekiel

March 5, 2012 at 11:08 am | Posted in Ezekiel | Leave a comment
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One of the key themes of Ezekiel is reverence for God’s name. He wants His people to be identified by His name (Ezekiel 20:44). He wants His great name to be sanctified (Ezekiel 36:23). He will make His holy name KNOWN and everyone will know that He is THE LORD (Ezekiel 39:7).

Here are links to the previous lessons on Ezekiel:

1. Acting Out Against Acting Up
2. Satisfied Patients
3. Objections To the Doctrine of Everlasting Security Answered (Objection 2)
4. Beware the Full Focus
5. Are You a “Stuff”y Christian?
6. Son of Man
7. R.S.V.P. Before You R.I.P.
8. The Days Are at Hand
9. The Prophet “Paddles” His Audience
10. Spiritual Cheating
11. Face to Face
12. Salt or Scum?
13. The Difference Between a Brave Face and a Bold Face
14. Pining Away
15. Touring the Temple
16. The Thousand Year Reign of King Jesus
17. God’s Plan for Water Pollution
18. The Grace of Running Water
19. The Grace To Swim
20. Swimming for Spiritual Fitness
21. Getting Your Feet Wet
22. Seeking the Source
23. Waters of Grace
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(*) most-read post in series

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The Thousand Year Reign of King Jesus

February 24, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Posted in Ezekiel | 5 Comments
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If Ezekiel was describing the Millenial Temple in Chapters 40-48 – and I believe that he was – then it is somewhat surprising to see that this temple will have altars for sacrifices.

And from the bottom upon the ground even to the lower settle shall be two cubits, and the breadth one cubit; and from the lesser settle even to the greater settle shall be four cubits, and the breadth one cubit. So the altar shall be four cubits; and from the altar and upward shall be four horns.

Ezekiel 43:14-15

And one lamb out of the flock, out of two hundred, out of the fat pastures of Israel; for a meat offering, and for a burnt offering, and for peace offerings, to make reconciliation for them, saith the Lord GOD.

Ezekiel 45:15

Why sacrifice? Didn’t Jesus die for the sins of the whole world once and for all? You better believe He did! But in Ezekiel we have descriptions of burnt offerings, trespass offering, sin offering, peace offering, meal offering, drink offering… What gives?

It is helpful to remember that Old Testament believers weren’t forgiven because of the actual shedding of the blood of animals.

For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

Hebrews 10:4

For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Psalm 51:16-17

Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

Habakkuk 2:4

The Old Testament believers were not saved by the sacrifices of animals, but, as we see in Hebrews 11, they were saved because of the sacrifice of the then-future Messiah, through faith.

For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God. Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:

I Thessalonians 2:9-10

These Verses are addressed specifically to believers.

As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,

I Thessalonians 2:9-11

Note the honesty and authenticity in the “exhorting, comforting, and charging.” Note that the Apostle and the other leaders did not subtly insert themselves into the lives of the new Christians. This was more deliberate and intentional discipleship than backyard barbeques and once-weekly meetings at Starbucks. The purpose of discipleship is not to make new believers feel comfy and cozy.

That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory. For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

I Thessalonians 2:12-13 (emphasis added)

These new believers received the Word of God more than the excitement of experiences, more than the external appearance of exuberant praise and worship, more than fun, food, and fellowship. Many folks will agree that the Word of God must be trusted at salvation, but then they abandon it, or don’t place the same importance on it. The Word of God is still of paramount importance after we are saved. It works “effectually” in those that believe.

For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.

I Thessalonians 2:14-16 (emphasis added)

In the Millenial Temple Jewish people and gentiles will study the Word of God and worship together.

But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire.

I Thessalonians 2:17

Circumstances caused the Apostle and the other leaders to be physically separated from these new believers, but they longed to see them face to face. As Christians today, we need to physically attend church whenever possible so that we can see our brothers and sisters face to face.

In the Millenial Temple there will be no “separating wall.” In the Book of Acts we saw that the Jewish leaders wanted to kill Paul because they thought he had brought Gentiles into the Temple.

If you are reading this, and you are a gentile Christian like me, I am not sure what we will be doing during the Millenial Reign. Perhaps we will have authority over certain regions (under King Jesus, of course). Perhaps we will have specific ministry- or worship-related tasks. It appears that we will not be “priests,” although that is what we are, in a sense, today.

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;

I Peter 2:9

There will be singers in the Millennial Temple.

And without the inner gate were the chambers of the singers in the inner court, which was at the side of the north gate; and their prospect was toward the south: one at the side of the east gate having the prospect toward the north.

Ezekiel 40:44

Perhaps some people in the Millenium – Old Testament saints, New Testament believers, Tribulation martyrs – will have glorified bodies. Perhaps there will be some Tribulation survivors with mortal bodies who will be subject to death. I suppose that babies born in the Millennium will be sinners who need to be saved. Apparently, Satan will be able to raise an army to oppose the Lord. The descendants of Zadok will be the ones who will serve as priests.

And the chamber whose prospect is toward the north is for the priests, the keepers of the charge of the altar: these are the sons of Zadok among the sons of Levi, which come near to the LORD to minister unto him.

Ezekiel 40:46

“Zadok” means “righteous.” They will not shave their heads, nor allow their hair to grow too long.

Neither shall they shave their heads, nor suffer their locks to grow long; they shall only poll their heads.

Ezekiel 44:20

Ezekiel Chpaters 45-48 describe the geography of the Kingdom, not just the Temple.

There will be a “prince” under the Messiah.

And the residue shall be for the prince, on the one side and on the other of the holy oblation, and of the possession of the city, over against the five and twenty thousand of the oblation toward the east border, and westward over against the five and twenty thousand toward the west border, over against the portions for the prince: and it shall be the holy oblation; and the sanctuary of the house shall be in the midst thereof. Moreover from the possession of the Levites, and from the possession of the city, being in the midst of that which is the prince’s, between the border of Judah and the border of Benjamin, shall be for the prince.

Ezekiel 48:21-22.

There will be 20 separate “Years of Jubilee” – one every 50 years for 1000 years.

There will be a river of life, which Ezekiel was shown in a vision. He was taken out of the north gate of the Temple because the east gate has been closed. His vision was highlighted by things like fertility in the desert, bountiful fruit, and leaves for medicine.

Touring the Temple

February 6, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Posted in Ezekiel | 1 Comment
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Chapters 40 – 48 in Ezekiel contain the vision God gave Ezekiel concerning the Millennial Temple. This gave assurance to the surviving exiles that the temple which had been destroyed would be restored. The detailed specifications for the Temple have spiritual applications, but they are also literal and actual details for a real temple. It appears that the Millennial Temple will probably be located on Mount Zion when Christ rules and reigns on this earth during what some theologians call the “Millenium.” “Milli” = 1000; “annum” = years.

The spiritual lessons concerning the description of the Temple have to do with God showing the people that their empty performance-centered worship was displeasing to the Lord. God’s plan for worship is that it be God-centered.

The main purpose of the Temple was obedience to God’s word in worship. God’s Word is where we go to find out God’s opinion about things. God’s opinion of people worshipping Him? It’s good. God’s opinion of prayer? It’s good. God’s opinion of people reading and studying the Bible? It’s good. God’s opinion of giving people the good news of God’s saving grace? It’s good. God’s opinion of believers serving the Lord in love alongside other believers? It’s good. God’s opinion of fornication, laziness, lying, or rebellion against God’s appointed leader? They’re bad. We know these things are good or bad because God has expressed how He feels about them in the Bible.

The temple we see described in these chapters of Ezekiel is the temple connected with Revelation Chapter 20, not Revelation Chapter 21. There are many similarities, but it’s not the same temple that we see as being found in the Heavenly City. It is a temple that will be set up on Earth during the Millennial Reign when Christ will rule as Messiah and High Priest.

And he brought me thither, and, behold, there was a man, whose appearance was like the appearance of brass, with a line of flax in his hand, and a measuring reed; and he stood in the gate.

Ezekiel 40:3

This measuring reed was a symbol of ownership and it was used for taking a “property survey.” Ezekiel was given a tour by an angel (a man colored like bronze.) The tour of the temple revealed many similarities to Solomon’s Temple. (I Kings 7), but this temple will have no veil between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies because Christ Himself will be present with His people. Additionally, there will be no Ark of the Covenant or Mercy Seat, no golden altar of incense, no golden lamp stand with seven arms. Incense will not be used to symbolize the prayers of God’s people ascending up to Him.

In Chapter 43:1-12 Ezekiel got to see the glory return to the Temple. He had watched the glory depart earlier.

Then brought he me the way of the north gate before the house: and I looked, and, behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD: and I fell upon my face. And the LORD said unto me, Son of man, mark well, and behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears all that I say unto thee concerning all the ordinances of the house of the LORD, and all the laws thereof; and mark well the entering in of the house, with every going forth of the sanctuary. And thou shalt say to the rebellious, even to the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; O ye house of Israel, let it suffice you of all your abominations, In that ye have brought into my sanctuary strangers, uncircumcised in heart, and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in my sanctuary, to pollute it, even my house, when ye offer my bread, the fat and the blood, and they have broken my covenant because of all your abominations. And ye have not kept the charge of mine holy things: but ye have set keepers of my charge in my sanctuary for yourselves.

Ezekiel 44:4-8

People who go to holy places should be holy people. There may be buildings around your local church building where immoral activities are going on, but the church itself should stand out as a place of holiness in your community. And the church members themselves ought to stand out as examples of holiness. This does not mean that all the members of a local Christian church have to be clones. Christians should stand out in the world for our holiness, but we need be prepared to explain why we stand out. Sometimes I hear people say, “I could just tell so-and-so was a Christian. There was just ‘something about’ him/her.” That’s not bad, but it’s not enough. If we talk differently than unbelievers, if we dress differently, have a different attitude, pray before we eat our food, we need to be able to articulate Biblical reasons for doing those things. The Temple shown to Ezekiel had distinguishing details, but they all “meant” something.

The Difference Between a Brave Face and a Bold Face

January 13, 2012 at 11:17 am | Posted in Ezekiel | 3 Comments
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God took Ezekiel’s wife, and told him not to mourn her openly with tears or in how he dressed or in what he ate.

Also the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, behold, I take away from thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke: yet neither shalt thou mourn nor weep, neither shall thy tears run down. Forbear to cry, make no mourning for the dead, bind the tire of thine head upon thee, and put on thy shoes upon thy feet, and cover not thy lips, and eat not the bread of men. So I spake unto the people in the morning: and at even my wife died; and I did in the morning as I was commanded.

Ezekiel 24:15-18

This was how God wanted Ezekiel to tell the people to feel about the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Then God removed the prohibition against Ezekiel talking.

Chapters 25-28 deal with God’s judgments on the other nations – the gentile (non-Jewish) nations around Israel and Judah. The Ammonites, the Moabites, and the Edomites were all related to the Jews, but they had harbored hatred against God’s chosen people and either attacked them outright, or helped their enemies, and rejoiced at their troubles.

After these prophecies Ezekiel set his face against the enemies of God’s people who did not have that same blood relation to the Jews: the Philistines and the Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon. Tyre was especially singled out because of its importance as a center of international finance and shipping.

The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, Now, thou son of man, take up a lamentation for Tyrus;

Ezekiel 27:1-2

In this lamentation – or funeral dirge – there is an extended metaphor, because the city of Tyre was located on land and on an island. We think of funeral speeches as “eulogies” (words of praise), but this was really a condemnation of Tyre, whose great merchants and businessmen, and the naval warriors that protected them, had the wrong type of faith. They depended on their own might for salvation.

The ancients of Gebal and the wise men thereof were in thee thy calkers: all the ships of the sea with their mariners were in thee to occupy thy merchandise. They of Persia and of Lud and of Phut were in thine army, thy men of war: they hanged the shield and helmet in thee; they set forth thy comeliness.

Ezekiel 27:9-10 (emphasis added)

There is no wisdom in trusting in physical shields and helmets. God has given us a shield of faith and the helmet of salvation.

The ships of Tarshish did sing of thee in thy market: and thou wast replenished, and made very glorious in the midst of the seas. Thy rowers have brought thee into great waters: the east wind hath broken thee in the midst of the seas.

Ezekiel 27:25-26

They would be “dead in the water.”

And shall cause their voice to be heard against thee, and shall cry bitterly, and shall cast up dust upon their heads, they shall wallow themselves in the ashes: And they shall make themselves utterly bald for thee, and gird them with sackcloth, and they shall weep for thee with bitterness of heart and bitter wailing. And in their wailing they shall take up a lamentation for thee, and lament over thee, saying, What city is like Tyrus, like the destroyed in the midst of the sea?

Ezekiel 27:30-32

Ezekiel even compared the king of Tyre to Satan.

Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.

Ezekiel 28:12-13

Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.

Ezekiel 28:17

Salt or Scum?

December 19, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Posted in Ezekiel | 2 Comments
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God instructed Ezekiel to moan and groan like a man in pain.

Cry and howl, son of man: for it shall be upon my people, it shall be upon all the princes of Israel: terrors by reason of the sword shall be upon my people: smite therefore upon thy thigh.

Ezekiel 21:12

God would use Jerusalem’s enemies as His “sword.” They had made friends with, and, even worse, become the sinful lovers of, God’s enemies. God’s people had failed to use the “sword” He had given them to conquer their enemies: the sword of His Word. As a Christian you are supposed to battle His enemies with the Holy Scriptures.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

Ephesians 6:17

Ezekiel delivered God’s warning to King Zedekiah:

I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him.

Ezekiel 21:27

Ezekiel Chapter 22 deals with the overthrow of Jerusalem, which would be particularly bad. The siege, hunger, and pestilence would give way to outright slaughter, matching the wickedness that took place when the idol-worhipping Jewish people began to bring their outside sins into their own homes.

Thou hast despised mine holy things, and hast profaned my sabbaths. In thee are men that carry tales to shed blood: and in thee they eat upon the mountains: in the midst of thee they commit lewdness. In thee have they discovered their fathers’ nakedness: in thee have they humbled her that was set apart for pollution. And one hath committed abomination with his neighbour’s wife; and another hath lewdly defiled his daughter in law; and another in thee hath humbled his sister, his father’s daughter.

Ezekiel 22:8-11

This wickedness mirrors the times in which we live, and sounds like a description of an afternoon talk show or a supermarket tabloid. Like in the days of Noah, God sees that every imagination of the thoughts of men’s hearts is only evil continually.

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

II Timothy 3:1-3

Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain. And her prophets have daubed them with untempered morter, seeing vanity, and divining lies unto them, saying, Thus saith the Lord GOD, when the LORD hath not spoken. The people of the land have used oppression, and exercised robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy: yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully. And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.

Ezekiel 22:27-30

The political leaders were corrupt, and they were engaged in wicked cooperation with the religious leaders and false prophets. Ezekiel had attempted, as a son of man, to find a man to make up the hedge and stand in the gap – to fill the hole in the wall that Ezekiel had dug to act out the fleeing king and leaders. But these corrupt leaders were too anxious to dig the hole and escape through it – to escape with their stuff. There were other prophets who were willing, but the fact that God had to seek them out meant there were not enough of them or their sins were so great that Jerusalem could not be spared.

In Chapter 23 God gives Ezekiel the parable of the two sisters who prostituted themselves and committed adultery against God. This is a particularly explicit passage of Scripture and one that is tough to exposit in mixed company. Verses 25-30 describe the punishment and humiliation of a prostitute by an army, including the cutting-off of the ears and nose. When God begins to describe the types of sins that are a sign of terrible judgment coming, and He uses the term covenant-breakers, remember this is a very serious term. Those who have entered into a covenant with God, and then break it, are like a wife who has become a whore or an adulteress, and they are subject to severe punishment.

Aholah is the name of the older sister in the parable, and is used for Samaria, the capital of the northern kingdom, Israel. Aholibah is the younger sister who represents Jerusalem, the capital of the southern kingdom, Judah. Aholah means “her tent” because the tent associated with the tabernacle in Samaria was not God’s tent. Aholibah means “my tent is in her” because the temple in Judah was still known as God’s dwelling place, even though the glory of God had departed as shown in Chapter 10 of Ezekiel. Aholah sinned first and cheated on God, and Aholibah followed her example. God punished Israel and miraculously saved Judah. However, Judah’s sin was even greater because she ignored the warning. She called out to her lovers instead.

In Chapter 24 God told Ezekiel to utter another parable – the parable of the boiling pot. The imagery goes back to Chapter 11 where the people in Jerusalem considered themselves to be the choice cuts and considered the exiled Jews in Babylon to be the scraps. The false prophets, politicians, and religious leaders accused people of being unpatriotic if they didn’t build houses, spend money, and pile up their “stuff.” There is an old saying that “a watched pot never boils,” but God is always watching.

Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe to the bloody city! I will even make the pile for fire great. Heap on wood, kindle the fire, consume the flesh, and spice it well, and let the bones be burned. Then set it empty upon the coals thereof, that the brass of it may be hot, and may burn, and that the filthiness of it may be molten in it, that the scum of it may be consumed. She hath wearied herself with lies, and her great scum went not forth out of her: her scum shall be in the fire. In thy filthiness is lewdness: because I have purged thee, and thou wast not purged, thou shalt not be purged from thy filthiness any more, till I have caused my fury to rest upon thee.

Ezekiel 24:9-13 (emphasis added)

God’s people are supposed to be the salt of the earth, but instead they were the scum of the earth.

Face to Face

November 30, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Posted in Common Expressions, Ezekiel | 6 Comments
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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?

Ezekiel 18:23

For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.

Ezekiel 18:32

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.

Ezekiel 19:2

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 19:8-9

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.

Ezekiel 19:10

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.

Ezekiel 19:12-13

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.

Ezekiel 20:1

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.

Ezekiel 20:32

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.

Are You a “Stuff”y Christian?

November 14, 2011 at 11:13 am | Posted in Ezekiel | 2 Comments
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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.

Ezekiel 8:16-17

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.

Ezekiel 9:6

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.

Ezekiel 10:18

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.

Ezekiel 11:1-5

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:

Ezekiel 11:11

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 11:17

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 11:19-21

We know these prophecies have a reach beyond Ezekiel’s day because the Books of Haggai and Malachi show that the returning remnant didn’t have the kind of spiritual renewal described in Ezekiel 11.

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.

Acting Out Against Acting Up

October 26, 2011 at 10:55 am | Posted in Ezekiel | 3 Comments
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Ezekiel the priest heeded God’s call to be a prophet.

The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him.

Ezekiel 1:3

He fell on his face when he saw the glory of the Lord.

As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.

Ezekiel 1:28

God picked him up and told him to stand up, be still, listen, don’t be afraid. He had something important to tell him.

And he said unto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee. And the spirit entered into me when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet, that I heard him that spake unto me.

Ezekiel 2:1-2

Christians go to church to be in the presence of God corporately with other believers, to hear the Word of God through the preaching, and to get our instructions from God. Although we might experience some overpowering emotions when we hear from God, we need to remember that one of the main reasons for attending church is to prepare for battle. We are there to get our marching orders, not to indulge in an emotional outburst.

Christian churches welcome unbelievers, and these who are sin-sick may certainly be excused for their extreme reactions to the truth or (hopefully) their exuberant rejoicing when they hear the Good News for the first time. Christians, though, need to remember that we are to yield our members to righteousness, and not to the emotional desires of the flesh.

After Ezekiel got up, he ingested the Word – God caused him to “eat” it.

But thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee; Be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house: open thy mouth, and eat that I give thee.

Ezekiel 2:8

Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll. And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness.

Ezekiel 3:1-3

God’s people were captives in Babylon.

Then I came to them of the captivity at Telabib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar, and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days.

Ezekiel 3:15

Even though they were captives and they were not living the right way, God was promising them a victorious return to Jerusalem. Ezekiel was supposed to prophesy to them using “action sermons:” wordless plays in which he would act out spiritual truth.

But thou, O son of man, behold, they shall put bands upon thee, and shall bind thee with them, and thou shalt not go out among them: And I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, that thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be to them a reprover: for they are a rebellious house.

Ezekiel 3:25-26

Using a tile, he acted out the siege of Jerusalem.

Thou also, son of man, take thee a tile, and lay it before thee, and pourtray upon it the city, even Jerusalem: And lay siege against it, and build a fort against it, and cast a mount against it; set the camp also against it, and set battering rams against it round about.

Ezekiel 4:1-2

Then he had to lie down a certain way for a certain number of days and only eat certain things at certain times.

And, behold, I will lay bands upon thee, and thou shalt not turn thee from one side to another, till thou hast ended the days of thy siege. Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentiles, and millet, and fitches, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof, according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon thy side, three hundred and ninety days shalt thou eat thereof.

Ezekiel 4:8-9

Can you imagine lying 40 days on one side and 390 on the other side? The significance was the 40 years of wandering by the Israelites in the wilderness after they left Egypt, and the 390 years of kings from Rehoboam, the son of Solomon.

To enact the famine in Judah, the Lord had Ezekiel alter his physical appearance. While these sermons were being acted out Ezekiel became quite a spectacle. People were showing up to watch. He cut his hair and his beard.

And thou, son of man, take thee a sharp knife, take thee a barber’s razor, and cause it to pass upon thine head and upon thy beard: then take thee balances to weigh, and divide the hair.

Ezekiel 5:1

Then he burned one-third of it on the “siege brick” to represent the famine and the pestilence of the siege.

Thou shalt burn with fire a third part in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are fulfilled: and thou shalt take a third part, and smite about it with a knife: and a third part thou shalt scatter in the wind; and I will draw out a sword after them.

Ezekiel 5:2

A second third he hacked to bits with a sword, and the last third he scattered in the wind, representing the Jews taken to Babylon in captivity, who were spread and lost among the Gentiles. A small amount he bound up in the hem of his garment – representing the “remnant.”

The Prophet “Paddles” His Audience

September 30, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Posted in Ezekiel | 1 Comment
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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.

The Days Are at Hand

September 8, 2011 at 11:35 am | Posted in Ezekiel | 2 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 Hezekiah 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 Hezekiah’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.

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