Ezekiel 15 to 18 In the NT, Jesus told parables about things or people. He said people will hear yet won’t perceive. Ezekiel also used parables so the people would listen to God’s Word and perhaps glean a truth for life.
Parable: #1 In the branch parable, we see a branch full of life thrown into the fire. Life without God is like the fires of hell. #2 In the unfaithful bride parable, we see a rags to riches story. God takes us from the gutter and bestows his blessings, yet the world’s lure is always at the doorstep of our heart. Be on guard! #3 In the parable about the eagle, we see that God raised Nebuchadnezzar, who deported the people to Babylon, leaving a vassal king who swore to honor the king in charge. Yet, the vassal grew impatient and soon rebelled. Eccl 5:4 “When you make a vow, do not delay in paying it.” #4 In the parable of the two sons, we see a family whose lives mirrored the NT story. The younger was restless and disrespectful of his father. Seeking his inheritance, he left and walked the world. The older son served his father but with an ungrateful heart. The younger returned and sought reconciliation, but the older remained unforgiving.
God had blessed Israel, but she was unfaithful. Yet, like the prodigal’s father, God was always waiting to restore the relationship because He is a covenant keeper, and unlike us, His covenant is everlasting. [Ezek 16:60]
Ezekiel 14 When we talk about an incoming politician, we say they came into power on the coattails of another, meaning they used someone else’s success as a means to achieve their own. Today many cling to the faith of their fathers, grandfathers, or their church affiliation, thinking this will get them into heaven. Perhaps that is why Ezekiel spoke so pointedly to the leaders as they sat before him. He warned them that they were sadly mistaken if they thought their righteousness could carry them or their family into eternity with them. Ezekiel reminded them that even though there will be a remnant, each must choose for themselves regarding their salvation. To make this specific point, God points to three of the most righteous men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, to get the point across.
There may be a Noah, a Daniel, or a Job in your church or family, but they cannot save those they love when God’s judgment comes. It is a personal decision each must make for themselves. Four times Ezekiel reminds these leaders that even if famine comes, wild animals roam throughout the land, a sword passes through the land, or a plague rages, they cannot save another. “They would save only their own lives by their righteousness.” [Ezek 14:14, 16, 17, 20]
That truth is as true today as it was then; one doesn’t get into heaven on the coattails of their parent, grandparent, or church. Each person from the beginning of time to even now must choose salvation. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him. [Jn 14:6]
Ezekiel 9 to 12 Do you wonder who are the faithful of God? Jude wrote that there are some that are “contenders and some are pretenders.” Unfortunately, many in Jerusalem fell into that last category. They looked and acted the part of the elite priesthood. They did all the right things like offering the sacrifices and saying the right prayers, but they were the pretenders. They did not know God nor glorify Him. How often do we get caught in that same trap?
Yet God knew those who were His even though Ezekiel, as his chosen prophet, did not and so He sent his angelic forces with an order: “put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst.” [Ezek 9:4] God sent them throughout the city to mark His faithful ones and strike down the unfaithful. As Ezekiel watched, he asked the Lord, “Will you destroy the entire remnant of Israel?” [Ezek 9:8] He was not the only one that was wondering the same thing. Many centuries earlier, Abraham had asked God: “Will you really sweep away the godly along with the wicked?” [Gen 18:23]
Beloved, God knows those who are His, and He marks them so that the evil one cannot destroy them. Like Job, the contenders are protected by the Father. Remember, Jesus asked the Father twice to keep them safe; “Father, keep them safe from the evil one.” [John 17:11 & 15]
Don’t worry about the pretenders. Until God calls you home, “contend earnestly for the faith…” [Jude 3].
Ezekiel 5 to 8 Today we live in a world that seems turned upside down. What was in yesterday is out today. Who was in yesterday is out today. However, this one thing we know: God is the same yesterday as He is today. [Heb 13:8] He may scatter as he told Ezekiel over and over, but no matter where they would be, He is sovereignly orchestrating His plan; no matter the time, circumstance, or season. No one can say they did not know: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” [Rom 1:20]
Ezekiel is the “man of the hour” for the captives by the River Chebar. Even though far from home, God will retain a remnant. Just as then, Paul reminds us: [Rom 11:5] “So in the same way at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.” The remnant is “saved…not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy,” [Titus 3:5]. God has left his remnant so that His truth and the gospel of peace may be carried far and wide to a lost and dying world.
We are that remnant with a message of hope that many need. Are our feet prepared to carry this “good news of peace,” [Eph 6:15]
Ezekiel 1 to 4 The ways of God are unsearchable, so says Paul: Rom 11:33 “Oh, the depth of God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How unsearchable are his judgments, and how unfathomable are His ways.” Do you find it hard to wrap your mind around the way God is, the way He works, and His timetable? Do you stand in awe as Ezekiel must have done?
How do you respond when you see the glory of God? Do you like Ezekiel and others who have had this experience, fall upon your face in humble adoration? What is yur response as you listen to this marvelous book of prophecy? How do you understand the vision of God and His charge?
God called Ezekiel to speak to a specific people whose language he knew, whose ways he knew. God is calling you and me to the same path. Will we share the good and bad news with those God places in our path?
Lamentations 3:22 -5:22 I many ways, Jeremiah reflects what Naomi said to the women of Jerusalem: I went out full and have come back empty, [Ruth 1:21] She needed a redeemer. Everyone needs this, and it begins with the assessment of the heart and our self-examination to conclude that we have sinned. When we take that first step; then God can work. He is the redeemer; He is the righteous one who will pay the redemption price. God’s mercies are new every morning, but for us to recognize them, we must be transparent before Him. As Jeremiah wrote, we must do a self-examination: Let us examine and probe our ways, And let us return to the LORD. [Lam 3:40] God is waiting to hear those words so He can begin a new work in our hearts. We need a kinsman, a redeemer, and He has come to pay the price of our sin.
Today pray for those who need this today. For us, let us examine and probe our ways, And let us return to the LORD.
Lamentations 1-3: Jeremiah saw the carnage and devastation of his beloved city, Jerusalem, and today we see the destruction of Afghanistan. Our hearts hurt for those people, just as Jeremiah’s heart ached for his people. God has allowed all of this so that His Word would be proven true; he disciplines sin. But, what about Afghanistan? They are not His people. Why has God allowed this to happen? Could it be that He is removing those who are ripe to hear the gospel message? Will we be ready to offer His love to those who are hurting? Does our heart break like Jeremiah’s? Do we weep when we see the carnage and devastation?
Remember these words; The Lord’s loyal kindness never ceases; his compassions never end. They are fresh every morning; His faithfulness is abundant! [Lam3:22] Cling to that amid the news that is swirling around us. Draw near to hear his words. Let us carefully examine our ways, and let us return to the Lord. Let us lift our hearts and our hands to God in heaven. [Lam 3:40-41].
Weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. God is bringing men/women/children to our shores to hear the gospel message. For those left behind, be like Jeremiah and weep. Remember the words of Joseph: “As for you, you meant to harm me, but God intended it for a good purpose,” [Gen 50:20]. God still has a light burning there. The fields are already white for harvest! [Jn 4:35] Will you be a worker?
Jeremiah 51 Who is this God who is master over all? The Lord of Hosts is His Name. Jeremiah reminds us that God is the author of creation. God is God, and there is none beside Him. He creates; He designs. He is the master over all, stop and praise Him.
Many today in Afghanistan and Haiti are struggling to make sense of all carnage and devastation. The photographers reveal to us what it looks like, but we have not experienced any of this, and in this time frame, we seek to try to make sense of it all. Into this rises Daniel from the grave to remind us that as believers, no matter what circumstance is before us, we can be faithful because we know the God of the universe, and nothing is unknown to Him. “Ah Lord GOD! Behold, … nothing is too difficult for You…O great and powerful God, whose name is the LORD Almighty,” [Jer 32:17-18] “By his power made the earth. By his wisdom, he is the one who fixed the world in place; by his understanding, he spread out the heaven and all idolaters will prove to be stupid and ignorant.” [Jer 51:17-19]
When you feel adrift and can’t make heads or tails of what is going on in the world, know this truth: God is sovereign, He is both Creator and Sustainer and He is in control of all that is happening. We can trust Him.
Jeremiah 49-50 The Bible once again proves to be true. Jeremiah prophesies against the nations surrounding Israel for their aggression against her when she needed help against King Nebuchadnezzar. Centuries later, when Saddam Hussein was in power in Iraq, he saw himself as a modern reincarnation of Nebuchadnezzar. To prove it, he spent millions building a massive reconstruction of Babylon. But, as Jeremiah prophesied, Babylon would never be rebuilt but be a habitation of jackals. “For out of the north a nation has come up against her, which shall make her land desolation, and none shall dwell in it; both man and beast shall flee away.” [Jer 50:3] One of the tour guides laments; history is a poignant reminder; nothing built by men lasts forever.
Men seek to play God, and God reminds us over and over:He will never share his glory with another. [Is 42:8] Again, Psa 20:7 Sometrust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
The years may change but the enemies of God remain entrenched. Just as there were enemies all around “Jacob,” they are there today. The enemy’s goal is to decimate the land and God’s people yet God sees God hears, and God will make an end of those who seek the end of His people.
Jeremiah is to pronounce three prophecies about Egypt, Philistia, and Moab. All served false gods as those lands do even today. Then it was the false stone idols; today, it is many false religions. Thus amid this, God reminds his people twice: “do not fear; you shall return. I will not make a complete end of all the nations to which I have driven you, but of you, I will not make a full end. Yes. I will discipline you, and I will not leave you unpunished, yet do not fear.” [Jer 46:27-28]
Today, Egypt is a lowly kingdom fraught with the unrest that comes from those who seek power through force. Philistia as a kingdom is no more but a strip of land we call Gaza controlled by warlords who starve the people to make war machines against Israel. Moab is the land of Jordan and a nation that waffles, and between all three lay Israel.
What is the truth for today? When the enemies of God seem to be in control, fear not for all their rattling swords is just that. Trust God.