The Most Important Children’s Ministry Tool

April 3, 2017 at 4:01 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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There is a whole industry out their geared toward the production of material for sale to churches, under the heading, “children’s ministry.” From coloring books, to puzzles, to visual aids, to movies, to action figures, to entire programs with point systems set up to award patches, trophies, candy, and prizes for attaining participation and memorization goals, there is no shortage of items available for those who would like organize, institute, or carry on with, a “children’s program” at his or her church.

The Holy Spirit, however, reminds us that the most important “material” needed in the evangelism, instruction, and training of children is found between the covers of God’s Holy Word: the Bible.

And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

II Timothy 3:15

If you are a Christian parent, then I suppose there may be some value in having a shelf filled with work books, color-in-the-lines representations of Noah’s Ark, and attendance awards, or a wall covered with certificates of merit for knowing all the hand motions to “I’m in the Lord’s Army, yes sir!” but do not neglect the most valuable teaching and learning tool ever invented for the edification of little (or future) disciples of Jesus: the Scriptures.

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The Privilege of Protection

January 30, 2017 at 5:56 pm | Posted in The Family of Faith | 3 Comments
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Last time, I said that membership in the family of faith includes the privilege of participation. It also includes the privilege of protection.

Citizens of an earthly nation sometimes have to fight for their nation. Citizens of God’s nation and family get to fight in a spiritual war for their nation.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Ephesians 6:12

Why is fighting a privilege? Because we know we’re going to win.

Citizens of an earthly nation must protect the principles on which their nation is founded. Citizens of God’s nation and family get to protect sound doctrine.

Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

Titus 1:9

Why is this a privilege? Because sound doctrine is always profitable (II Timothy 3:16). It is the Word of LIFE.

Next time: the privilege of provision.

A Diet of Distinction (Part 3)

August 25, 2016 at 2:40 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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In Part One, we considered God’s dietary laws under the Old Testament and their fulfillment/abolition under the New Testament. In Part Two I tried to expound upon some of the reasons for the Old Covenant prohibition against eating unclean animals, and to apply, not the letter of the Law, but the principles, to God’s people today. God’s people were/are to be:

A. Clean Cut, meaning they were to be separate from their pagan neighbors in their devotion to the One True God, and in how they lived their daily lives, including what they ate. (Leviticus 11:44; II Corinthians 6:14-18). They were/are to be:

1. Distinct in calling and conduct (I Corinthians 10:31)
2. Distinct in conscience (Psalm 139:7-12)
3. Distinct in creeds (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
4. Distinct in communication (Colossians 3:8; Proverbs 14:9)

Now we will see that God’s people were/are to have a:

B. Clean Consistency

When it came to quadrupeds, the clean animals were animals that met two criteria:

Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat.

Leviticus 11:3

They had to have both: a cloven hoof and a multi-chambered stomach. Some animals had one or the other, and these would be unclean. For example, the camel:

Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.

Leviticus 11:4

This is a picture of some Christians. They “chew the cud.” They enjoy chewing over the Word of God. They love to learn Scripture and Bible doctrine. But there is a problem with their “hooves” – their feet – the way they walk. It doesn’t match up to what they are learning. They are hearers but not doers.

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

James 1:22

They are ever learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth.

Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

II Timothy 3:4-7

For in truth doctrine is never divorced from duty. We study Scripture in order to know God, and when we meet God, He tells us to “go.”

There is an opposite example, too, though: the pig.

And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you.

Leviticus 11:7

He appears to be okay in his walk, but he’s not really clean. Some church people are like this, too. They appear to be walking with God, but they don’t want to be equipped. They don’t want to invest the time or the patience to hear what is truly pleasing to God. They think they will stay busy and please God their own way. Don’t get too busy – or think you’re too advanced – to humble yourself under the preaching and the teaching of the Word of God.

A true pig has a pig-like nature. He can never stop wallowing on his own filth. He needs to be changed from a pig to a man by the miraculous power of God.

God’s Specific Will for You

November 11, 2015 at 3:09 pm | Posted in Where There's a Way There's a Will | 2 Comments
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If you are a Christian, here is the specific will of God for you:

1. Respond to suffering.

For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

I Peter 3:17

God may allow you to suffer for sin or mistakes, or He may allow You to suffer despite your obedience. Our job as Christians is to accept suffering as coming from God – either in allowing or causing it – and to seek to do what is right.

But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

I Peter 5:10

For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 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 12:6-10

2. Give thanks.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

I Thessalonians 5:18

Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

Ephesians 5:20

3. Obey the earthly God-ordained authorities when doing so would not violate God’s commandments.

Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:

I Peter 2:13-15

4. Be holy.

For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.

I Thessalonians 4:3-7

5. Use your time wisely.

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

Ephesians 5:15-17

What will help me accomplish God’s will in my life?

1. His Spirit

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

I Corinthians 2:9-10

The Holy Spirit teaches us through the Bible and gives us wisdom through prayer.

2. His Word

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

II Timothy 3:16-17

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

3. His Body

Specifically, it is God’s will that we be involved in the local church.

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Ephesians 4:11-12

Professing Atheists Are Blind to Their Own Lack of Objectivity

February 20, 2015 at 1:54 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Professing Atheist: It’s odd that you think quoting the Bible would sway unbelievers.

Christian: You may not like it, but it’s not “odd” at all. Christians believe the Bible is the Word of God (II Timothy 3:16), and we have seen many unbelievers swayed by its truth.

Professing Atheist: What “truth” are you referring to?

Christian: The Bible itself and Jesus Himself, Who is THE Truth (John 14:6). You’ve never met anyone who started out rejecting it, read it, and then changed his/her mind? Let me help you find a Christian church to visit.

Professing Atheist: No thanks. Been there, done that. It took me 40 years of belonging to a Charismatic church to realize it was nonsense.

Christian: You should try another church – a non-Charismatic evangelical church. If it was a typical Charismatic church, you may be like the unbelievers described in I Corinthians 14:23-25.

Professing Atheist: Those are Paul’s words, and they are not relative to me.

Christian: You mean “relevant,” but they are relevant to you, because they are not just Paul’s words, they are the Holy Spirit’s words, and the Holy Spirit is God, and God is your Creator and your Judge.

Professing Atheist: Most Christians are taught or told that the Bible is true before they ever read or have time to evaluate its claims.

Christian: That doesn’t make it odd for Christians to quote it to unbelievers. You are assuming that “most” haven’t evaluated it, but, even if that’s true, by your own admission, others have read it and have been convinced of its truth afterward.

Professing Atheist: Do you ever take into consideration that there are probably more that reject than believe?

Christian: Of course. The Bible says that many reject (Matthew 7:13-14). It doesn’t say that all reject.

Professing Atheist: The Bible is a book of claims. I reject its claims for lack of conclusive evidence.

Christian: There’s no conclusive evidence that you reject it for that reason. I reject your claim that you reject it for that reason.

Professing Atheist: You’re just playing semantic games. The fact that I said I reject it is evidence that I reject it. That’s my conclusive evidence.

Christian: That’s the point. It’s “your” evidence (Judges 17:6) so you’ve subjectively labeled it as “conclusive.” And your “evidence” is just a self-assertion. It shows that you have a double standard. You don’t reject the Bible as true. You just don’t like it (Romans 1:18).

Professing Atheist: Do you think cherry picking Bible verses will somehow convince me?

Christian: The Holy Spirit may or may not use them to convict you or convince you, but, if you think they are being used out of context, I honestly hope that you will look them up and read them in context.

Professing Atheist: I reject the Bible’s claims, but I do like reading its fictitious stories.

Christian: Try to be consistent. You were pretending earlier that you were persuaded by “conclusive” evidence. There’s no conclusive evidence that the stories in the Bible are fictitious. In fact, the definition of “fiction” is a work where the author does not claim
its truthfulness. The Bible definitely asserts its own truthfulness. And you know deep down that what it says matters.

Professing Atheist: I know it matters? Nice assumption.

Christian: That’s why you’re driven to discuss it. The fact of this conversation proves that you know it matters.

Catechism Question 12

October 20, 2014 at 1:03 pm | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism | 3 Comments
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Question 10: Who is the Author of the Bible?
Answer: God the Holy Spirit is the Author of the Bible.
Prove it.
II Timothy 3:16

Question 11: How did the Holy Spirit write the Bible?
Answer: He wrote the Bible by using people.
Prove it.
II Peter 1:21

Question 12: Can the Bible ever be wrong?
Answer: No, the Bible is the Word of God, and God cannot lie.
Prove it.

God [is] not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do [it]? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

Numbers 23:19

There are some difficulties in the Bible, and even some paradoxes, but it is important to remember that none of these are unresolved. There may be fault in our understanding of the Word, but there are no true contradictions or inconsistencies.

It is also important to remember that the Bible is written somewhat conversationally in some places, and it is polemical in places, so it does have metaphors and figurative language and even estimates, but it is to be taken literally, and it does contain the absolute Truth.

Other verses to consider:

As also in all [his] epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as [they do] also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

II Peter 3:16

If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.

I Corinthians 14:37

The S.H.A.R.K. Principle (lesson 3)

April 18, 2014 at 1:09 pm | Posted in The S.H.A.R.K. Principle | 1 Comment
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S.atan
H.ates

A.ll
R.eal
K.

There is a type of “knowledge” which is empty. It’s not “real” knowledge. It’s like a mirage. It looks interesting, but there’s nothing really there.

An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.

Romans 2:20

Beware of things which have a “form” but are empty. Satan teaches that outward appearances are everything. God teaches that outward appearances should be the result of real knowledge on the inside. Don’t let Satan squeeze you into this world’s mold. Get something substantial from God, from the Bible, and be changed on the inside – transformed, not conformed.

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

II Timothy 3:1

Let’s see if it sounds like we’re in the “last days:”

For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

II Timothy 3:2

Do you love yourself more than God and more than others? Do you wish God would have given to you what He has in fact given to someone else? (covetous) Do you desire to be looked up to, and to be told how “great” you are? (proud) Do you really believe that you are great? (boasters) Do you treat God’s name as an exclamation or an interjection? (“OMG”) Would you be satisfied if you had woken up this morning with only the things for which you had thanked God yesterday? (unthankful)

Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

II Timothy 3:3-7

Appearing to learn something, while actually learning nothing, will not lead you to the truth, because Satan doesn’t have any real knowledge. He hates it. He only has fake knowledge, which is another name for “lies.”

S.atan
H.ates
A.ll
R.eal
K.nowledge

Did you know you have to have knowledge to go Heaven?

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

I Timothy 2:3-5

I said to Heaven, not to God. Everyone is going to meet God, with or without genuine knowledge. In fact, all roads lead to God. It’s just that there will be an enforced U-turn when you get there, unless you are in Christ Jesus. This is what Satan hates and what he doesn’t want you to know. Jesus is the only Mediator – the only One Who can make peace between you and God so that you can be in His presence and live. The presence of God will be absolute bliss for all eternity if you have believed the Gospel and trusted Christ, but the presence of God will be unbearable torment without the Mediator.

If you don’t go into the ocean you’ll never have to worry about a great white shark. But if you’ve never been born again through saving faith in Christ, you had better worry about the Great White Throne. It is from there that God will throw unbelievers into the lake of fire.

How to Read the Bible (and Get Something out of It): Part 1

November 6, 2013 at 2:05 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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The Bible is 66 books combined into one big book. Its Author is God in the Person of the Holy Spirit, but He used about 40 different human instruments over a time period of about 1600 years across three continents to write it. It is inerrant, which means it is perfect. There are no mistakes in it. It is infallible, which means it is not possible for it to be wrong. And it is inspired, which means that it is supernatural – divinely given by God.

For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

II Peter 1:21

This verse seems, at first blush, in our modern vernacular, to mean that the Bible is new: The prophecy “came not in old time.” However, the emphasis that matches the “came not” is on the “will of man,” not the “old time.” The prophecy was, in fact, given long ago, but it did not come by the “will of man.” It came instead by the “inspiration” of the Holy Ghost. He picked up certain men (like you or I would pick up an ink pen) and used them by “breathing” His Holy living words through them. He did this either by dictation or superintendence. In other words, they either knew they were writing Holy Scripture or they didn’t, but God made sure that they were.

As stated above, the Bible is inerrant, infallible, and inspired. It is also sufficient.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

II Timothy 3:16

The doctrine of “the sufficiency of Scripture” holds that all of the Bible is inspired by God, and that it is profitable for all the things listed in that verse, so that we need no other words from God. We do not need any “fresh revelations” or new “words of knowledge” or privately-given “words of prophecy.” Therefore, when you hear someone say, “God told me to tell you this” or “I have a word from God for you” or “the Lord spoke to my heart,” you may reject these expressions or at the very least test them against Scripture.

And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

II Peter 1:18-19

God has deigned to speak to us, yet we often neglect His Word. We find our eyes locked onto our phones, our televisions, our laptops, even the information printed on a cereal box, while the precious and powerful Word of God lies nearby, unread and, in many homes, covered with dust. Part of the problem comes from a misconception about how interesting, accessible, and inspiring the Bible actually is. We need to realize the excitement in it. The Bible is not boring, and, if you think it is, you may have gotten this idea from getting stuck in a section of genealogies or some the instructions for building the Temple. Or you may have fallen asleep in the minor prophets because you didn’t understand who was being addressed or why. But the Bible is not boring. There are wars and battles, love stories and intrigue, monsters and dragons, kings and rebels, superheroes and super villains – even talking animals! Hollywood offers up some big attractions, but they have nothing on the Bible – and the exciting stories in the Bible really happened!

In part 2 I will highlight three categories of excitement found in the Bible.

Fathers and Daughters

July 20, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Posted in Bible Studies, Biblical Parenting | 9 Comments
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I have three [edit: now four] daughters. My experience with boys is very limited, but from what I can tell there are some big differences between boys and girls. If you are reading this as a father of more than one daughter, you may be able to understand when I say that girls talk a LOT. Counting my wife, I live in a house with four girls and it is a place of NON-STOP talking. During one supper at my house there are probably more words said than I’ve said by myself in the last 25 years.

 

Another big difference is that girls seem to be a little more emotional than boys. It’s not that boys never cry. I mean, a typical boy might cry a little – if it’s something serious like a broken leg – but only after looking around to make sure no one is watching. But a girl can cry for an hour over losing a button off her dress. And if her big sister sticks her tongue out at her – look out. Your stock in Kleenex just went up thirty points.

Another difference is that girls tend to be more insecure than boys. Chances are, when you had a daughter, you had to learn to spend a lot of time saying things like, “It’s okay, there’s nothing bad in the attic,” or, “don’t worry if they laugh at your hair, I’ll sue everybody in that school.” It’s just a fact of life: Daughters need to be comforted by their fathers.

The Bible has some guidance for how fathers are supposed to love their daughters, and I’m glad Proverbs 22:6 doesn’t say, “Train up a son in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” It says, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 20:7 doesn’t say, “The just man walketh in his integrity: his sons are blessed after him.” It says, “his children are blessed after him.”

God has given us a great gift in our daughters, and they are fun, but they are not just for our enjoyment. We have a responsibility to do what Proverbs says and train them properly.

Let me encourage you to make regular church attendance an important part of your daughter’s life. If your daughter sees that you make church a priority, she will do the same as she grows older, and the church is a great place for your daughter to experiment with different ways of serving the Lord, and find out which ways suit her best.

Training has to be more than just bringing our daughters to church, though. If we’re spending all our time serving at church ourselves, and just using the church to babysit for us while we do it, we’re making a big mistake. It is important for our daughters to know Bible stories, and the people in the Bible, and Bible verses, and it’s our responsibility as fathers to teach them those things. It’s not enough just to discuss these things at church. Train your daughters at home, too.

It’s hard to find time to spend with our family, period. We may as well admit it. Just earning money to pay for a home and food and clothes takes most of our time. But we have to somehow make the time, to make it a priority, or we’ll miss out on the best times of all. I’ve learned that – with daughters – the talking, the emotions, the insecurity, that’s where you’ll do most of your real training. If you can take the time to listen to all those “and I was like…and she was like… and then I was like…” in all that talking there is valuable information about what your daughter is really thinking. In all that crying and sighing and melodrama over “why do I have to get off the phone and clean my room,” there is something inside that big production that is a signal that will tell you what’s really on your daughter’s heart. Even in her insecurity there is a sign that she might be insecure because of something you’ve done to let her down.

But if we don’t have the patience or make the time to sit through all that and pay close attention, we’re not going to know what’s really on her mind, and in her heart, and what she needs you to do to help her. If we miss out on those things, we’re missing out on the best parts of having a daughter.

Before you can address anybody else’s insecurity, you’ve got to make sure that you are secure in your own heart. I would think that every decent father would want his daughter to be secure in the knowledge that she has a relationship with Jesus and that her place in Heaven is 100% guaranteed.

And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

II Timothy 3:15 (emphasis added)

There’s no way to have real security without faith in Jesus.

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.

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