Monthly Archives: June 2011
2 Timothy 4
1 I give you a command in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, the One who will judge the living and the dead, and by his coming and his kingdom:2 Preach the Good News. Be ready at all times, and tell people what they need to do. Tell them when they are wrong. Encourage them with great patience and careful teaching,3 because the time will come when people will not listen to the true teaching but will find many more teachers who please them by saying the things they want to hear.4 They will stop listening to the truth and will begin to follow false stories.5 But you should control yourself at all times, accept troubles, do the work of telling the Good News, and complete all the duties of a servant of God.
Wiersbe links this passage to the study he presents of Ezekiel 13
Ezekiel, once again, uses a picture to demonstrate a principle. He discusses a wall that has been repaired with shoddy materials- it looks great on the outside. These false prophets have entered the lives of the people and have made everything look great. But when the rains come or the winds blow strong, that wall is going to wash away. Ezekiel reminds them that when judgment comes, the truth of God will be revealed and their shoddy foundation will crumble.
A true prophet told the people what they needed to hear, not what they wanted to hear.
It’s important to me, right now more than ever, that I am reading and following, or at least critically thinking about the authors I read in regards to teaching spiritual truth. Even when choosing a book on Ezekiel, I kept looking up the authors to see their backgrounds, perspectives. I have never been really good at defending an argument, much less Scripture. I know what I know and in recent years have really desired to learn beyond just the basic ideas of the gospel and to listen more intently when the Bible is being taught. But I still lack in this area. I love these times when I can spend a bit more time in Scripture and see some things and respond to some lessons in a different ways. I want to be able to discern the philosophies that enter my life. Definitely between what is Godly and what is not, but even more so between what man’s interpretation of Scripture and what is truth of Scripture. Not sure if I will be able to arrive there or even what that really means yet.
Proverbs 2: 6-15
6 For the LORD gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
7 He holds success in store for the upright,
he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
8 for he guards the course of the just
and protects the way of his faithful ones.
9 Then you will understand what is right and just
and fair—every good path.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
11 Discretion will protect you,
and understanding will guard you.
12 Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men,
from men whose words are perverse,
13 who have left the straight paths
to walk in dark ways,
14 who delight in doing wrong
and rejoice in the perverseness of evil,
15 whose paths are crooked
and who are devious in their ways.
As in the beginning of the book, chapter 12 of Ezekiel continues with pictures – God’s way of illustrating the things that would happen to those who lacked repentance. Ultimately, God wanted the leaders to know that they would not escape judgment and that even though the things that Ezekiel had prophesied had not come to pass yet, they would happen.
There were other prophets who were not of God that came and told of things to come. Many turned to them instead of the warnings of Ezekiel because those words were more soothing to hear…more favorable. Their fleshly desires of security outweighed their relationship with the God of the nation. It is often more soothing to do as my flesh desires. I desire God’s wisdom, yet there are often times that I look to man’s wisdom instead and it usually contradicts His wisdom. I do this simply because I want to be mentally and emotionally “comfortable.” It is when God brings circumstances into life that take me out of my comfort zone that I truly begin to seek God’s wisdom. So, in a way, discomfort works to make me a better child of God.
Lord, today, give me discernment as I approach decisions and tasks. Keep my mind safe from distractions that would lead me to approach life away from your desire for it. Help me to embrace the discomfort and insecurity as ways to draw closer to you each day.
Ezekiel 11: 19-20 (NLV)
And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart, so they will obey my decrees and regulations. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God.
Despite the idolatry, the hardheartedness, lack of reverence for the holiness and righteousness of God, He would impart grace and mercy to those who returned to him. He would unite their hearts towards Him, so that they would not be divided amongst God and the idols of the land. They would desire to revere Him. What an awesome God we serve! What a great example of love and forgiveness! What can anyone do against me that I should not seek to glorify God by renewing my relationship with them?
Lord, give me a responsive heart today in the way I approach your Word and the way I approach the moments you give for me to glorify you.
I picked up a commentary guide by Warren Wiersbe on the book of Ezekiel. Today I read Ezekiel 10 and found a further description of the consequences of the sin of the people – His glory would be departed from the temple. The chapter describes the cherubs who take the coals of God’s judgment and scatter them over the City (Vs. 2) At first glance, who would care about the description – so it talks about the different faces, the wheels, the coals? Other times in my Bible reading, I would have just passed over this as inconsequential. BUT I am curious.
What I can gather is that these cherubs are the deliverers of the judgment – God’s glory is slowly departing from the people due to their lack of repentance and true reverence for the holiness of God.
I begin to examine my own reverence toward’s God – This book by Wiersbe is entitled Be Reverent. I am going to look more for that application as I continue to study.
Again, I am not sure if I am picking up on all that there is to pick up on and apply and see historically or prophetically significant, but I am looking for continued time with God and a true enjoyment of His Word.
Serve the LORD with reverent fear, and rejoice with trembling.
Clarke’s Commentary http://bible.cc/psalms/2-11.htm
Serve the Lord with fear – A general direction to all men. Fear God with that reverence which is due to his supreme majesty. Serve him as subjects should their sovereign, and as servants should their master.
Rejoice with trembling – If ye serve God aright, ye cannot but be happy; but let a continual filial fear moderate all your joys. Ye must all stand at last before the judgment-seat of God; watch, pray, believe, work, and keep humble.
Two attributes of God. Can one be spared for the other? I am always awed by the lives of the Israelites. God demonstrated so much of His character through His dealings with them. Today, I take away my responsibility to the work He has given me. I am to lead others towards Christ through my testimony and lifestyle. God has given me much responsibility, and I do not want to be one who looks back and is ashamed of the way I have instructed or modeled God’s love and character. I don’t want to become wrapped up in a cycle of unfaithfulness and idolatry just as the Israelites. Yes, God was always merciful in the midst of His judgment, but why would I desire for God to have to pour out judgment just so that He can demonstrate mercy. Would He do it, yes. But at what cost to my relationship with Him? I am grateful for the times that I have not deserved His faithfulness, yet He poured it out liberally to me.
Ezekiel continues in his vision from God in Chapters 8-9. God reveals some of the hidden sins of idolatry that had been committed by the elders in the sanctuary. While this is all a vision, God is revealing what is truly happening among God’s people while they are in captivity. They have turned from God and have begun worshipping as the Babylonians. God’s judgment falls on the elders first who have led generations into this mockery of God and blatant sin.
“Utterly slay old men, young men, maidens, little children, and women, but do not touch any man on whom is the mark; and you shall start from My sanctuary.” So they started with the elders who were before the temple. 7And He said to them, “Defile the temple and fill the courts with the slain. Go out!” Thus they went out and struck down the people in the city. 8As they were striking the people and I alone was left, I fell on my face and cried out saying, “Alas, Lord GOD! Are You destroying the whole remnant of Israel by pouring out Your wrath on Jerusalem?”
9Then He said to me, “The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is very, very great, and the land is filled with blood and the city is full of perversion; for they say, ‘The LORD has forsaken the land, and the LORD does not see!’ 10“But as for Me, My eye will have no pity nor will I spare, but I will bring their conduct upon their heads.”
He doesn’t spare them…they, who were ultimately responsible and accountable for those who came after them, are the first to be slaughtered. But, God in His mercy preserves those who cry and lament for those who have perverted the worship of God. (Ch 9: 4)
I am looking for God’s attributes throughout Ezekiel. Things are bleak at the moment in my study, but I am understanding more and more the consequences of rejecting God’s will and the renewed relationship that comes from repentance.
During the summer months, I find it easier and exciting to read through the Bible in a more structured way. The past two summers, I have attempted Isaiah and Jeremiah, and now I am on to Ezekiel. I know there is much more in regards to context, history, etc. than what I will uncover, but I always walk away with a renewed understanding of God – His judgment, but also His patience and forgiveness.
As I began today in the first six chapters, the warnings to Israel are bleak. There seems to be little to no hope for the house of Israel who has time and time again fallen to idolatry and a hardened heart. There must be judgment, and God uses Ezekiel to warn the people.
I learn much from these chapters – first, God uses pictures to tell His story. Chapter 1 with the vision of the wheels, the fire, the animals with multiple faces; chapter 3 with the tile drawing of Jerusalem and the diet of Ezekiel (I better understand why Ezekiel bread is the way it is); chapter 6 with the burning of the shaved hair from Ezekiel’s head. So many ways God chooses to illustrate the way he will handle the house of Israel. He is so visual.(For us who needs simple pictures to better understand His message)
The lesson I most learn from these chapters is that God had a particular job for Ezekiel…He wanted it done in a very specific way…He wanted Ezekiel to speak and move only as He instructed Ezekiel to do so. (2:7; 3:7, 11) It was all in His timing, not Ezekiel’s. God also reminds Ezekiel that the people are impudent and hardhearted, but Ezekiel was to share the message any way. Ezekiel was not to fear their words or looks.
Ezekiel 2: 3-7
Then He said to me, “Son of man, I am sending you to the sons of Israel, to a rebellious people who have rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have transgressed against Me to this very day. “I am sending you to them who are stubborn and obstinate children, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD.’ “As for them, whether they listen or not—for they are a rebellious house—they will know that a prophet has been among them. “And you, son of man, neither fear them nor fear their words, though thistles and thorns are with you and you sit on scorpions; neither fear their words nor be dismayed at their presence, for they are a rebellious house. “But you shall speak My words to them whether they listen or not, for they are rebellious.
Ezekiel so far has followed exactly as God instructed, regardless of the consequences or the inconvenience. Lord, help me to speak when you want me to speak, move when you want me to move, respond with the words you would have for me to use.
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
Acts 16: 30 “What can I do to be saved?” As I read this story of the jailer in Philippi, the earthquake, and the chance that Paul and Silas had to escape…hey, they could have thought, “God sent an earthquake to free us..it must be God’s will for us to leave…” I am struck with the idea that they stayed in an uncomfortable place, to be used by God. God did much more when they decided to stay – many were converted because of their choice to stay…and they were still released in the end.
Lord, Help me to be so in tune with your will for me that I move when you want me to. I want to know your direction throughout the day so that I can be used in ways I would have never imagined.