Category Archives: Ezekiel

Back to Ezekiel – Moving towards RESTORATION

Looking back through the past summer’s blog entries, I began to recall the great lessons that I was able to glean from the book of Ezekiel.  Who would have thought that this book of prophesy would become such an intriguing book.  I was in the midst of finishing the study when summer ended and so did my study…of this book, anyhow.  I knew that when I was able to escape my regular daily routine and get away for a bit, I could reestablish this connection with Ezekiel.

I looked back through my blogs, the study guide I was using, and the notes I jotted down in my Bible.  I re-familiarized myself with the main ideas and took up where I left off.  The past 2 days and 4 chapters have been energizing.  Let me share.

Chapter 33 marks a pivot in the book of Ezekiel.  Chapters 1-32 are saturated with statements of sin and punishment.  From now til the end of the book, the prophet will fashion a catalog of comfort as he scans the prophetic horizon.  Beyond judgment God will regather and restore his people, and in the process establish a new covenant with them.  Glory will prevail when the groaning has ceased.  (Daily Walk Bible p.993)

Chapters 33-36 focus on how Israel has a new Shepherd and how there is hope of RESTORATION and HEALING  following the captivity from Babylon.  Here are the lessons I took away:

  • We, just like the nation of Israel must go beyond regret and remorse for our sin; there must be true repentance of the mind, heart, and the will (33:10)
  • Israel had Ezekiel as a watchman over their souls as he attempted to bring them to true repentance yet many of them did not apply the message but rather just enjoyed hearing the words Ezekiel spoke.  We have a great responsibility…we have access to Scripture on so many levels, yet how often do we fail to put the WORD into action through love, sacrifice, obedience (33:30)
  • God’s transformation of Israel included a new SPIRIT (36:26) and a guidance to despise their sin (36:31-32).  God gives us His SPIRIT upon salvation to comfort us, but to also convict.  “One of the evidences the Spirit’s presence within is a growing sensitivity to sin and a strong desire to turn away from it.”  (Be Reverent, p, 193) I appreciate this gentle reminder; may I continue to listen to the SPIRIT’S voice and may I not quench HIS work in my life.
Advertisements

God’s Glory Revealed Through Judgment

Ezekiel 25 -28

Most of the book of Ezekiel up to this point has been a review of the sins of Judah and the destruction that was coming their way.  But chapters 25-28 go a different direction as God reveals to Ezekiel the judgment coming to the neighbors of Judah.  Over and over, God repeats that because of their sin (whether it be vengeance, hatred, pride, etc) they too would see judgment just as the Jews would see.

And I will execute great vengeance upon them with furious rebukes; and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I shall lay my vengeance upon them. – Ez. 25:17

I will be glorified in the midst of thee; and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I shall have executed judgments in her, and shall be sanctified in her. – Ez. 28:22

These neighboring countries had observed what was going on with Judah.  They saw how for a time they had proclaimed their trust in a divine God and then observed as these same people turned on their God as they were enticed with the idolatry of those around them.  The Jews lost the opportunity to demonstrate the glory and greatness of God; they could have accomplished much for their God if they would have remained strong in His might.  Instead, there were given over to the lusts of their own flesh and were ineffective in showing the work of God in their nation.

I too am in the midst of “neighboring countries.”  I am called to be separated unto Christ so that those around may see His glory and His greatness.  Yet how often do I become enticed by the “frills” that the world has to offer.  I think every Christian at some time has contemplated how to both live in this world and at the same time be an effective example of God, showing HIS character.  There’s a fine line where reaching out to people wherever they are in life can become a hindrance to living out our purpose to glorify God.  Perhaps you have been able to discern between the two better than I.  I want people around me to see Christ in me; I don’t want to come off as “elitist” or “haughty” because I have Christ and they don’t.

Lord, use me in this world.  Allow me to not be drawn into the wealth, the entertainment, the shallowness…There are so many people who need your love – Give me your Spirit of direction, protection, and reflection on the life I live so that I may be fruitful and glorify you (Gal. 5)

Holy nation/lives gone wrong

Ezekiel 20-22

It’s amazing just how long the book of Ezekiel can go on describing the lack of reverence that Israel has developed towards their God.  These chapters continue on as the pronouncement of judgment continues.  Ezekiel is quick to point out to the current nation that THEIR sin of idolatry, adultery, usury is what is bringing God’s judgment; it’s not the sins of their fathers.  The people had sat trying to justify that they were not as faithless as their fathers and grandfathers who had wandered in the wilderness; however, God shows them through more “action sermons” of Ezekiel that this is the punishment for THEIR lack of reverence towards God.

God will use the Babylonians to destroy the temple in Jerusalem.  What a shame this is!  The people’s own place of worship, designed for them to enjoy the presence of the Lord, will be destroyed because of their failure to come to repentance, to take hold of their relationship and covenant with the God who had been so faithful to the nation of the past.  Why couldn’t they learn from the example of their forefathers?  Learn the ways in which the people had failed and had lived a whirlwind life of sin, judgment, repentance, and renewed relationship with God.  HE had a perfect plan, but they allowed wickedness to reign in their nation – God would bring war that would destroy the land and lives, and then would scatter them to live among the heathen nations that they had become accustomed to following.  That’s what it would take for them to see that they had broken the covenant established with their God.

Israel had an obligation to obey and serve the Lord; He had chosen them.  Instead of living up to the holy nation He had intended them to be, they fell into the wickedness of the nations around them.  God pleaded with them, but to no avail.  God’s character could not (cannot) allow this to continue – HIS justice would be (will be) dealt.

God has called me to be set apart for Him.  He has chosen me and desires that I be preserved to be a light to the unsaved.  He has a perfect plan for me, and no matter how difficult I may think it is to stay on the path He has chosen for me, I need to be constantly reminded that HIS “perfect” is better than MY “perfect.” He pleads for me to follow, no matter what the inconvenience it may cause, the faith to follow without seeing the end,  to remain faithful through my weariness, display HIS joy moment-by-moment.  All so that I can remain a light to a lost world and I can remain a testimony of God’s AMAZING life I have been chosen to.  That my family, coworkers, students, brothers and sisters in Christ can be lifted up and have a more increased desire to live out that AMAZING life as well.  

Lord, I want to draw closer to you today,

gaining strength and stamina for my walk in life.  

Only in you can I find

contentment,

protection,

light,

and mercy,

and I praise you for that fact.  

Make me an instrument in my hurting, hateful world just as Ezekiel was in his.

Privilege…responsibility…accountability

“Privilege brings responsibility, and responsibility brings accountability.” Wiersbe

Ezekiel 13-15 Continues with the discussion of false prophets, condemnation and a glimpse of redemption.  If you don’t remember from last post, Ezekiel has begun to condemn the false prophets and the people for their idolatry.  Once again, God uses examples and imagery to make things real to the people.  They were familiar with men like Noah, Daniel, and Job – God had used them to save others, these were men of faith.  Yet God says here that there will not be a Sodom and Gomorrah opportunity that if there are ten righteous men in the city, that He would save it.

Wiersbe uses the words “borrowed faith.” No one will escape the judgment without repentance of their own hearts and a turning away from the idols of their lives.

Ezekiel 15 shares the first of 3 examples Ezekiel will speak of: the worthless vine, the unfaithful wife, and 3 shoots of a tree.

The worthless vine:  from the quote at the beginning here, we are reminded of the great privilege we have to be called sons of God, yet with that is a responsibility that we bear to be fruitful.  The people of Ezekiel’s time had failed miserably at demonstrating responsibility in this area.  The land was desolate of those that were living like God’s chosen people.  They had stopped bearing the fruit of righteousness.  I am reminded of John 15 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”  I have a personal responsibility before Christ to be fruitful in my righteousness.  This includes the ways I use my time, talents, money, and testimony.  Do I allow idols to come into my life on a daily basis?  Do these things inhibit me from being the Christ-like example he calls me to?  Do my family, friends, students, and even strangers recognize a spirit of meekness, patience, gratitude, kindness, or faithfulness in me?

I want to be reminded today that I need to abide in Christ.  “If we fail to abide in Christ, we lose our spiritual power, wither, and fail to bear fruit for His glory.”  -Wiersbe

I also need to remember that with that responsibility, I need accountability.  Read over Ezekiel 14 in regards to the false prophets.  I treasure other followers who are willing to share reminders of truth. They keep me accountable to the actions and attitudes most evident of my relationship with my God.  I don’t want to be caught up in any false doctrine, pleasant but deadly life paths, or choices that have the subtle appearance of unrighteousness.

As John Wesley put it….”Lord, let me not live to be useless!”

A False Wall created by False Prophets

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.

Lessons from Proverbs for the men of Ezekiel…and me

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.

Heart exchange

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.

God’ Presence – My Reverence

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.

Psalm 2:11
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.

Mercy vs Justice: Ezekiel 8-9

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.

Ezekiel 9:6-10
“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.

A Treck through Ezekiel

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.