The Days Are at Hand

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

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

Ezekiel 12:13

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

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

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

Ezekiel 12:22

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

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

Ezekiel 12:23 (emphasis added)

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

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

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

Ezekiel 13:10-11

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

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

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

Ezekiel 13:17-19

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

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

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

Ezekiel 14:4

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

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

Ezekiel 14:5

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

Stand Up for Jesus

May 17, 2010 at 10:23 am | Posted in Daniel | 17 Comments
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The events in the beginning of the Book of Daniel took place in 605 B.C. – after Jerusalem was taken by Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel would have been approximately 15 years old at that time.

Daniel was a real historical person. He actually existed. He is referred to in Ezekiel Chapter 14, along with Noah and Job for their righteousness. The context there is that the righteousness of these men could only save themselves, not others.

Daniel is also mentioned as a real person by the Lord Jesus.

But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:

Mark 13:14

He is also mentioned in Matthew 24:15.

Daniel and his friends were the “best and brightest” of the young men of Jerusalem. They were also royalty.

And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes; Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.

Daniel 1:3-4

The Babylonians changed their names:
– Daniel meant “God is my judge;” Belteshazzar meant “Bel protect his life.”
– Hananiah meant “the Lord shows grace;” Shadrach meant “command of Aku” (the moon-god).
– Mishael meant “who is like God?” Meshach meant “who like Aku?”
– Azariah meant “the Lord is my help;” Abednego meant “servant of Nego.”

As Jews, Daniel and his friends were not supposed to eat defiled food, according to the Old Testament covenant. Compare the New Covenant application:

As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.

Acts 21:25

Daniel and his friends chose the Word of God over the king’s food, even while being gracious toward authority. They were trained for three years in Babylonian beliefs and science and languages. They were examined and scored higher than anyone else.

Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.

Daniel 1:18-20

Between Chapters 1 and 2, Daniel was given some authority in the kingdom, reminding us of Joseph’s favor in Egypt, found in the Book of Genesis. Daniel was in a position of relative security, but Nebuchadnezzar was crazy and temperamental. He was having bad dreams.

[Caution: Be careful about your own dreams. Before Christians take their dreams as some sort of a vision from God, and decide to act in accordance, we must make sure our actions line up with Scripture. If you have a dream that makes you feel rebellious, it may be from your own subconscious, rather than from God.]

Nebuchadnezzar tested his counselors by pretending to forget his dream. This was somewhat of a double test: Could they tell him what the dream had been, and could they then tell him a believable interpretation of it? If we suppose that Satan was behind this scheme, then it is important to note that he was willing to kill all his false prophets just to get rid of four righteous servants of God.

Daniel was in trouble and needed to comfort himself.

Then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions: That they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret; that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his:

Daniel 2:17-20

He sought the Word of God first; then he began to praise and worship Him. That’s our order when Satan comes against us – when we’re in trouble.

The dream depicted the time of the Gentiles described by the Lord Jesus in Luke 21:24. The head of gold symbolized Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon. The chest and arms of silver symbolized the Medes and the Persians. The legs of iron with feet of iron and clay symbolized the Roman empire. Christ the Solid Rock is the only firm foundation this world has ever known. All other ground is sinking sand.

Note all the references to “standing” and “stood:” Daniel 1:4; 1:5 1:19; 2:2; 2:31. “Stand” carries the connotation of “standing” for something. If we don’t stand for something, we’re going to fall for anything.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 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. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Ephesians 6:10-14, emphasis added

When you feel like your can’t serve the Lord – when you’re like Daniel and you have to serve someone else – remember: You can still “stand” before them, and “stand” for the Lord.

Character and Integrity Part 4

September 15, 2009 at 10:49 am | Posted in character and integrity, Daniel | 13 Comments
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Let’s review some of the physical, material things we have examined to learn something about character and integrity. We said that an official NFL football has more integrity than a Nerf football, because water will easily seep into a Nerf, but a real football has a quality of soundness and impenetrability. We said that, for storing sandwiches, zip-lock bags have more integrity than birdcages, because they make an airtight seal. In addition, they are known for having a better character for this purpose, even though birdcages may look more ornate or beautiful.

Today, we look at another facet of integrity and character in the comparison between a steel ball and a ball of Play-Doh. Neither of these is especially permeable. Therefore, we might conclude that they both have integrity. However, the steel ball actually has the greater integrity and character, because, in addition to being impervious to water, it resists being molded into a different shape by outside forces.

One of your three main enemies – “the world” – wants to attack your character and integrity primarily because of greed – the love of money.

Think about the people in films and magazines and on the internet who pose naked. They are appealing to the sin of lust. There is a market for it. People are lustful – they want to see that kind of thing. But people aren’t naturally inclined to go around naked. The world entices them into doing it to make money. Then a cult develops – you are “told” that attractive people get famous by doing it, so, if you are attractive, people will really like you if you do it, too, or, if that’s too much for you, then the world tells you that it is alright to at least act promiscuously for the same purpose.

The world is in the business of getting you to buy things. Most of the things the world wants you to buy are not practical or even comfortable. If you don’t believe me, go to a high school football game this Friday night, and watch the boys and girls spending inordinate amounts of energy hitching up their pants or brushing their hair out of their eyes.

The antidote to the greed promoted by the world is found in the Bible. Let’s look at the example of Daniel in the Bible. The events in the Book of Daniel take place in 605 B.C., after Jerusalem is taken by Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel would have been approximately 15 years old when this occurred.

Daniel was a real historical person. He actually existed. He is referred to in Ezekiel Chapter 14, along with Noah and Job for their righteousness. He is also mentioned as a real person by the Lord Jesus in Mark 13:14 and in Matthew 24:15.

Daniel and his friends were the “best and brightest” of the young men of Jerusalem. And they were royalty (Daniel 1:3-4). The Babylonians changed their names. “Daniel” meant “God is my judge.” “Belteshazzar” meant “Bel protect his life.” “Hananiah” meant “the Lord shows grace.” “Shadrach meant “command of Aku (the moon-god).” “Mishael” meant “who is like God?” “Meshach” meant “who like Aku?” “Azariah” meant “the Lord is my help.” “Abednego” meant “servant of Nego.”

As Jews, living under the Old Testament Covenant, they were not supposed to eat defiled food. When pressured, they chose the Word of God over the king’s food. When disobeying ungodly authority, they were gracious toward that authority.

They were trained for three years in Babylonian beliefs and science and languages. They were examined and scored higher than anyone else (Daniel 1:18-20).

These Jewish young men were taken captive to Babylon, and they were treated well in many ways, but, in Scripture, Babylon represents our enemy, the world.

Geographically, today’s Iraq is the old Babylon. Saddam Hussein wanted to be the new Nebuchadnezzar.

The original Nebuchadnezzar wanted Daniel and his friends to serve in the royal palace, and he wanted young men with his idea of integrity. The problem was that he wanted them to conform. So, as a representative of the world, he began to put pressure on them – the same kind of pressure that the world puts on Christians today.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 12:1-2

“Conforming” is caused by pressure from without. “Transforming” is caused by change and growth from within. Remember our illustration? Play-Doh can be conformed by pressure from outside, but the pressure won’t make it grow.

Concerning Daniel and his friends, the Babylonians changed their home, their ideas, their language, their diet – even their names. This is what we would call a form of brainwashing. Most people today were brainwashed as children to believe in a type of evolution which contradicts the Bible. They have been brainwashed to believe that the Earth is “billions and billions” of years old, when, according to the Bible, it’s only around 6000 years old.

Daniel resisted being conformed to the world of Babylon by purposing in his heart to obey God. He remembered that he was in a foreign country. Christians today are in a foreign land. If you are a Christian, the place of your physical address is not your real home.

For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:

Philippians 3:20

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

Colossians 3:2

And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.

John 8:23

When the world puts pressure on you to conform, follow the example of Daniel. Strengthen your integrity and your character. Do what it says in Romans 12:1-2. Start off each day by surrendering your body to the Lord (present your bodies a living sacrifice). Renew your mind in the Word of God every day. Pray. Daniel was automatic. He prayed three times every day, no matter what. Then “prove” God’s will – put it in action. Prove God’s will, not your own will.

Daniel and his friends proved they could be faithful in little things, so God gave them the chance to be faithful in great things (Luke 16:10), like the fiery furnace and the lion’s den.

Daniel made a “stand” (Daniel 1:4; 1:5; 1:19; 2:2; 2:31). “Standing” carries the connotation of “standing for something.” You know the old expression, but it’s still true: If we don’t stand for something, we’re going to fall for anything. Daniel and his friends were thrown into the fiery furnace for standing up when everyone else fell down and bowed down.

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Ephesians 6:13

Christians are not called to be undercover agents – going along to get along with the world. God is looking for someone who won’t CONFORM. He is looking for someone who is TRANSFORMED.

God has some great plans for you. Don’t settle for just being popular or having a great career or falling in lust. Those things are going to pass away. Things done for God’s glory will last forever.


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