Daniel 7 to 9 Daniel has been in Babylon for a v-e-r-y long time. In that time, he has faithfully served the Babylonian kings as he reverently continues to serve the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
It is as if Daniel has put on a pair of virtual-reality glasses. He sees the heavenly beings and the future. He saw God’s throne room and a river of fire proceeding from it and tens of thousands ministering to Him. He saw the saints of old who now are blessed to see the radiance of God’s glory! And then all of a sudden–Heaven’s glory is tainted with the beast with the arrogant words. While Daniel watched, God threw this arrogant beast into the lake of fire “prepared for the devil and his angels!” just as the Apostle John prophesied would happen.
The vision of heaven was so real that it broke Daniel’s heart, and he falls to his knees in prayer. “O Lord, great and awesome God!” You are faithful while we have been unfaithful. You are righteous, but we are unrighteous. You are exalted, but we have been humiliated. You were right to judge our sin.
Daniel has recorded all of this for us that we might join him in prayer.
Daniel 4 to 6 Daniel, the righteous, served under several kings. Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, and Darius were given opportunities to renounce the gods of silver and gold, yet they clung to that which would not last. Nebuchadnezzar’s words show that he believed in Yahweh – at first. Daniel pleaded with him to renounce his ways, but he put it off and was humbled by God for 7 yrs. God sent Belshazzar a dramatic visual lesson, yet he chose to ignore the warning. That very night, he was assassinated, and Babylon fell. King Darius listened to the voices of fools and regretted that a righteous man, Daniel, would be thrown to the lions.
Nebuchadnezzar and Darius learned how gracious God is when they repented and gave glory to God. But Belshazzar, like Esau, sold his birthright for a bowl of lentil stew. All three learned the hard way; God meant what He said.
Three kings, three decisions. Their choice was to accept God’s grace. However, like Pharaoh they thought, I will do it tomorrow. Principle: “Proud men will be humiliated, arrogant men will be brought low; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day” [Isa 2:17]
Two life lessons:
(1) Does God have to bring drama into your life to get your attention?
(2) God always has His person in place to speak for Him. Where has God placed you that you might be a godly influence?
Daniel 1 to 3 In our study of Ezekiel, we were challenged to live righteously in an unrighteous world. Ezekiel persevered for over 25 yrs. Daniel will do the same for over 70 +/- yrs. Both were models of what it means to be faithful and steadfast in challenging circumstances. Whereas Ezekiel faced his alone, Daniel had three friends to walk with him. All four were nobles or part of the upper class in Jerusalem, yet in Babylon, Ezekiel lived in a refugee camp by the river. Daniel and his three friends lived in somewhat luxurious quarters in the King’s palace. All were used by God to show the other captives and the wicked King that there is only one God, Yahweh.
God allowed Nebuchadnezzar to take the ripe and full-fleshed figs in the first wave and the treasures of the Temple. [see Jer 24] He would protect them by placing the captives in quarantine and the Temple treasures in his god’s treasury. There they would lay protected until the 70 yr. captivity drew to a conclusion.
God allowed all of them to face tests to prove to the Judahites, the King, and us, that God alone is supreme. Daniel and his three friends would face the test of purity vs. defilement and faithfulness vs. unfaithfulness. God blessed them and allowed them to live and work in ungodly environments where they became role models of righteousness.
Today we live and move in a world that is more and more ungodly. We will be presented with tests to prove to others that God is God.
Ezekiel 47 They tell us that there is a fountain in Jerusalem which flows deep and wide just like the Sunday School song titled: “Deep and Wide.” Children are captivated by its hand motions and simple tune
Deep and Wide; Deep and Wide; there is a fountain flowing deep and wide.
Ezekiel saw a trickling stream flowing from under the new Temple’s threshold. It began as a trickle, and then it grew until it was a mighty river. It had healing powers and provided nourishment for the trees along its bank. Indeed it was a fountain flowing deep and wide. In Psalm 1, the author likens a man to a tree planted by a flowing stream which produces fruit, and healing leaves.
Just as the river has healing powers, so does the gospel message. It begins with a small trickling stream of faith. Soon the gospel reaches and heals men and women with its message. So too, when the Holy Spirit indwells us, our faith starts as a little trickle, then expands and seeks to heal others with its message of healing. We can stop at the Temple’s threshold or let our love overflow and heal the “Dead Sea” of dead men.
Is your fountain deep and wide or still just a trickle?
Ezekiel 43 Pray for eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to understand.
More than any other OT prophet, Ezekiel gives us a front-row seat to see God’s action amongst his people regarding the Temple. He begins in chapter one with the vision of God’s glory and His voice telling him to “go and tell.” In chapter 10, we reencountered it, but this time the glory of the Lord is leaving the Temple. Now in chapter 43, Ezekiel is privileged to see the glory of the Lord, but this time he is seeing the Lord returning to the Temple.
What must it have been like to encounter the glory of the Lord? When the Shekinah glory overshadowed the Temple, all the people prostrated themselves. Then, Isaiah seeing God’s glory fell on his face. The three disciples, James, John, and Peter, saw Christ transfigured, and they too prostrated themselves. There on the Isle of Patmos, the Apostle John prostrated himself as well. So, you ask, what is the point? The point is that when we come face to face with God and His glory, we should bow in humble adoration and reverence His presence.
If you ever find yourself saying I wish I could be like those listed here who have seen—stop and consider God’s creation, a newborn baby or a new born again believer.
Ezekiel 40 Ezekiel was taken into captivity at least twenty-five years ago. God would allow him and others to be taken forcefully to a city full of idols and a language they did not know because they had forsaken God’s way. Now they would serve foreigners in a land that is not theirs until the Sabbath Years’ completion. [Jer 5:15-18] Like Ezekiel, the exiles thought God wouldn’t let it happen; but it did happen, and amazingly God would use this time to restore them to be His beloved children.
On Ezekiel’s 30th birthday, God revealed himself to Ezekiel in all his holiness; and life was never the same after that. Now 25 yrs. later, once again, the Lord God told him to open his eyes, listen with his ears, and set his heart on all that He was going to show him. He transported Ezekiel via a vision to see the Temple’s restoration and to share His hope for the exiles. He did that for one reason; so the exiles would know He is the Lord and His promises are sure and irrevocable.
These are the same steps God wants us to go through as we read His Word so that we, too, might come to know Him and see His glory!
If you were God, how would you communicate with your people what you planned for them?
Ezekiel 37 God’s love is beyond our ability to comprehend, but our eyes are more often focused on the “valley of dry bones,” our Death Valley. We say, “I know God can do anything, “but in the next breath, we say, “I fail to see how God can work in this situation.” Martha and Ezekiel stood among the dead and thought those very words.
Martha stood before a closed tomb; Ezekiel stood in a valley of dead bones. Both were left speechless when God asked: Can these bones live? But, God in his mercy said: I am about to infuse breath into that which was dead.
Just as the pioneers of old, who wandered into Death Valley, had to be rescued, we find ourselves in need of being saved. Beloved, know God sees, and He alone can resurrect the dead out of our valley or tombs.
Jesus is our rescuer from our death valley. He came, lived amongst us even while the enemy even sought to kill and destroy. But, our God was then and is today more remarkable than any impossibility. He conquered death by rising on the third day to restore our dead bones with His living power. The one who believes in Him will experience his resurrection power.
Ezekiel 34 From Genesis to Revelation, each author presents Jesus. He is sometimes seen as a teacher or a mentor, but in Ezekiel, he is the Good Shepherd in contrast to the bad shepherds who did not care for the sheep. Ezekiel receives a message from the Lord God to prophesy against the false shepherds of Israel. They plundered the weak sheep, which were scattered and became food for every wild beast. But, the Good Shepherd will search for His sheep and gather them from their distant places to feed on the rich grass of the mountains of Israel.
Later when Jesus came, he saw Israel once again floundering and the sheep wandering because of the bad shepherds. He pronounced judgment on them and reminded them that they would have repented long ago if they had seen the same miracles that Chorazin saw. Even though the bad shepherds refused to yield to God, one day the Good Shepherd would come, and He would lay down his life for them. Ezekiel’s message to the exiles was that the Sovereign Lord knew what was happening. He will seek the lost and bring back the strays, bandage the injured, and strengthen the sick while the bad shepherds would be judged. “And then you shall know that I am the Lord” for He is the Good Shepherd and the Lion of Judah. God sees and He will judge all sin. [Num 32:23]
Trust God; He is Sovereign, He is the Good Shepherdand the Lion of Judah
Ezekiel 33 We have become a culture in which blameshifting and judging are as commonplace as yesterday’s news.
The exiles hear Ezekiel’s preaching but then behind his back, they gossip about his words—and who knows what else. Like many today, they go to “church” and say what a great message–but then tear the preacher apart. The preacher’s message was clear; “Turn back, turn back from your evil deeds!” Instead, we say: It’s not my fault we are in this fix. If it isn’t your fault, whose fault is it? Or, we say: God isn’t fair. Really? How about your fairness to God when you hear what to do and don’t do it? James says if you know what to do and don’t do it, it is sin. And then there is this argument: See, I told you, there is no hope, what’s done is done. Are you deaf? God is not willing any should perish; the answer is to turn and repent of your sin.
All of this sounds so familiar. What goes around, comes around. Pilate heard Jesus say I am the truth and scoffed: what is truth? Instead of listening, he turned and walked away, thinking he could wash his hands, and all would be well. The exiles were like Pilate.
Dr. Constable is right: When we are relatively comfortable, it is easy to listen to preaching and critique the preacher but do nothing in response to what he said.
Ezekiel 28-31 When Paul wrote his letter to the Romans, he noted that all men could know God as Creator and Sustainer by the vast universe before us, therefore we should stop and honor Him as holy, holy, holy. While Ezekiel slept and awakened to see the creation each morning in Babylon, God was preparing to destroy those nations who took advantage of His chosen ones. In his vision, God allowed him to know but never experience the horrors of God’s hand of discipline on them. From east to west, God would cleanse the wickedness in the land lest his children return 70 yrs. later to a land that was polluted. Do we ever stop to consider that both the bad and the good in our world have been allowed by His Hand? The children of Judah did not, and the wicked nations did not. Do we stop to honor Him for the steps He has ordered for His purposes alone? Daniel said: He raises up and puts down rulers. Do we praise Him for these choices, or are we like Egypt’s leader that usurped the honor of His Great Name to himself? Why did God choose to take these nations down? Over and over, He tells Ezekiel to tell the Judahites that when this happens, they will know that I am the Lord “their” God!
Today, stop and honor God for the “depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how unfathomable his ways!” [Rom 11:33]
Give God the honor due His Name today and every day.