God Judges Sin

God judges sin

Ezekiel 25 to 27 God chose Israel to carry His message of love and forgiveness to the world. However, she decided to allow the foreign gods to infiltrate her land and her worship of Yahweh. Know this truth: judgment begins at God’s house, but He also sees others’ contempt and in His righteousness will also judge them.

God patiently sent prophets and priests to warn Israel that He would discipline. First, the northern tribes were scattered to the north. God hoped that Judah would learn, but she did not. She became even more immoral, so God sent the Babylonians and sent them into exile.  One would think that the nations to the east would see this and learn. Instead, they scoffed, aided the Babylonians, and rushed in to take Judah’s land, cities, and crops.  In their pride, they fell for the lie that God would not discipline them.  Our prisons today are an example of this thinking.

Ezekiel explained that it was because they rejected God and His children; they too would face God’s hand. Like a maid dries a plate, He wiped them clean from east to west, beginning with Ammon and ended with Tyre.

The lesson for us is that there is a day of reckoning for all that the world may know that He is God. 

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“Will you trust God?”

Will you choose to trust God

Ezekiel 22 – 24 If you are an enthusiast of old English movies, you know that servants obey without question. Ezekiel is known as the servant who obeys whether he understands or not. Are we? The Lord graciously prepared Ezekiel to be a sign to the exiles through his response to his wife’s untimely death. God told him, “I am about to take the delight of your eyes away from you with a jolt, but you must not mourn or weep or shed tears.” And it happened just as the Lord had said. In the evening, his wife died, and Ezekiel did just as the Lord commanded. Ezekiel did not question: “why, Lord?”

“The death of Ezekiel’s wife prefigured the loss of the temple, which was “the delight of [the Jews’] eyes.” God strove to make His intent clear so that the people would have no excuse. Despite the hardship in the loss of Ezekiel’s wife and Temple, all would be for Israel’s good (vv. 19–27). Through the trouble, the people would come to know that He is the Lord.” (Ligonier ministries)Li

Like the English servants, Ezekiel obeyed and did not mourn, and the exiles as well were not to mourn the tragic news of the loss of their Temple.  Ezekiel trusted God’s purpose even as he experienced this tragedy. 

How about us? Do we trust God enough to be obedient even when we don’t understand all of the reasons behind His request?  

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Perspective Matters

How do you see your world?

Ezekiel 19-21 The way we see things may be different than other people’s perspectives. We may see our situation as challenging but manageable, but others living near us see this COVID-19 as challenging but unmanageable. The exiles in Babylon were living in isolation just as we are today. They wanted answers; they wanted to “go home.” The word of the Lord came to Ezekiel, and he shared two more parables.

The two young lions represented the young kings who had no training for a king’s role. They became despots, and the people hated them. The vine represented the city of Jerusalem that was fruitful at one time, but because of the people’s disregard for God and His Law, the city has been destroyed.

The exiles rehearsed the past and wallowed in their hopelessness. Coming to Ezekiel they hoped to hear good news.  Instead, Ezekiel again reminded them that God had placed them in a fruitful land, but they did not honor Him. What mattered now was their perspective of today, not yesterday. They could dwell on what could have been, or they could do as Jeremiah said, build houses, have families, and honor the new leader. 

Today we have a choice. We can rehearse the past or look to God’s work now and look forward to what He will do in the future. Paul penned these words about how to think: think about what is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, and your perspective will change.

It is up to you.   

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“Four Parables”

Parables are about real life and real decisions

Ezekiel  15 to 18 In the NT, Jesus told three parables about things or people. Ezekiel’s four parables, earthly stories with a heavenly purpose, mirrored these stories in many ways.

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 up 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 against the king. Solomon wrote: 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.

Israel had been blessed by God but was unfaithful and ungrateful. Yet, like the prodigal’s father, God was always waiting to restore the relationship. She would need to return to the father in confession and repentance. What would she do? What would you do?

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“What Are You Doing?”

The Cross

Ezekiel 12-14 Marcel Marceau was arguably the most famous mime artist of the century. Using white face and dramatic eyes, he referred to mime as the “art of silence.”  Hundreds of years before he stepped on the stage, God had Ezekiel pantomime the end of Zedekiah’s reign and the end of Jerusalem. Instead of watching and learning, the hardhearted exiles just wanted to know what he was doing. Jeremiah’s words should have been ringing in their ears, but they didn’t want to hear that God would allow the destruction of His Temple!  So God opened Ezekiel’s mouth to declare: I am an object lesson for you about your king and Jerusalem. They charged him with lying because they only wanted to have their ears tickled. So they left and went to hear the false prophets telling them that all would be over in two years.  Today the world is living through a pandemic but men only want to hear false teachers who say all will be well.

Years later, God used both words and mime to tell about His plan for our salvation. He sent His Son with parables, miracles, and sermonettes because He doesn’t tickle our ears with false prophecy. His message is that we are all sinners; none is righteous, no, not one!  There is a judgment coming. Choose Jesus for He is the Way, The Truth, and the Life. Come be saved today. Are you heeding His message?     

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“El Roi the Almighty Sees!”

God sees all

Ezekiel 8 to 11 Have you ever wondered if God sees all that is really going on in this world? Does He care? Come along with the prophet Ezekiel who is far from Jerusalem yet still held “Bible Studies” in his new home in Babylon. It was there that he experienced another graphic vision in which a glorious figure lifted him and took him to Jerusalem’s Temple.

His eyes were opened and he saw the religious leaders worshiping idols! God had explicitly said; You shall not make for yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything I have created. But, when men want to worship God ‘their’ way and not His way, God will give them over to a depraved mind to do that which is not proper. These religious leaders knew “about” God, but they did “know” God. Professing to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the immortal glory of God’s for an image resembling His creation.  In doing so, these religious leaders were driving God far from His sanctuary, and worse they were leading others to follow them.  They thought and even said: “The Lord does not see me.”

What a difference from Hagar’s words. She called God “El-Roi,” the God who sees me!

Yet, as Ezekiel listened in and saw all of this depravity, he also saw God’s grace. As in Revelation, the righteous were sealed with a mark on their forehead, lest the executioner mistakes them as God releases His judgment.

Yes, God does see! Yes, God knows who are His. 

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“Street Theater News”

Ezekiel's street theater

Ezekiel 4-6 In Babylon, the captives had no newspapers or town criers, only miles and miles of desert sand. As the days passed, they wanted answers, but their priests were of no help. They knew God had called Ezekiel to be a prophet, so they came to ask him: Why are we here? What is happening in Jerusalem? When will we go home? Instead of a steady sermonette, God had Ezekiel pantomime the Jerusalem news for 430 days! The message was clear: Where are your idols now? Did they save you? 

God is patient, and He had not forgotten them, but they were in sin. Just like a parent, God disciplines those He loves. Before all of this, He had sent them prophets to warn them: do not trust in these idols, they will fail you—but the words fell on deaf ears. Now in the plains outside Babylon, they could see that the idols were gone, rusted, or decayed. Ezekiel’s drama told this one truth:

God loved you yesterday as He does today and will tomorrow, but He also will judge sin. He will use whatever means He considers best so that people might repent. 

The question remains: Have you heard God’s message over and over, but you refuse to repent? Do you believe God loves you even as He waits for you to repent?  

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Ezekiel the Prophet Watchman

Ezekiel

Ezekiel 1 to 3 Imagine being in captivity on your birthday. You have traveled over 900 miles with this group of captives. He knew their behavior, their attitude, and their grumbling. As he stood by the river in this strange land, he wondered what life would be like in this strange barren land. Behind him stands the city of Babylon with impenetrable walls. Jerusalem and God’s Temple is now thousands of miles away. This year would be like no other and Ezekiel would not celebrate with cake and presents. Instead, his gift is a dramatic encounter or vision of God Himself. It was so majestic that he fell on his face in adoration.

Was it a mirage or was it real? Twice God opened heaven and shared his throne room with Ezekiel. He saw something extraordinary and its beauty was beyond that of the Temple he remembers. As he stood by the riverbank, Ezekiel remembers it as the day God called him to be a watchman for these captives who are rebellious, hardheaded and hardhearted whether they listened or not. He knows these people and he knows their language. He would be God’s prophet so that they would be without excuse.

You may be like the captives away from familiar sights and sounds but God wants you to know that He remembers you wherever you are.

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We may weep but God is Faithful!

Weeping but God is faithful

Lamentations 1 to 5

In Israel, long ago, God raised a prophet to tell God’s saving message, but the people turned away.  For 45 yrs. Jeremiah faithfully reminded the people of their sin and consequences with no repentance.  And so, just as Jeremiah prophesied, the nation was destroyed both physically and spiritually. God’s discipline was harsh and long, and Jeremiah’s heart was broken.

As Jeremiah wept, we should also. We should weep for our countrymen who hear the gospel and reject it. We should weep for ourselves if we have failed to share the truth. But even as he cried, he knew this truth which never changes:

“The Lord’s loyal kindness never ceases; his compassions never end. They are fresh every morning; your faithfulness is abundant!” [Lam 3:22-23]

Jeremiah poured out his pain in his writing. Do we cry as well for those who have heard and reject and those who have yet to hear?

 Are we weeping along with Jeremiah?

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What Do You Want to Hear from Jesus?

The words of Jesus

Jeremiah 50 to 52 The tale of Zedekiah and Jehoiachin reveals a pointed lesson for us.  When God tells us what to do, there is a choice; surrender and live or reject and die. God says, surrender your life to me, and you will have everlasting life. But, just as then, many still think they can save themselves or wait or do many works in God’s Name. 

Both kings sought Jeremiah’s advice as the Babylonians were crouching at their doorstep.   Jehoiachin believed Jeremiah; surrendered and saved his family. Zedekiah tried to escape through a tunnel at night time but was captured and taken to King Nebuchadnezzar. In Riblah, he lost his family, the royal household, and his eyes. Both ended up in a Babylonian prison. But, after 37 yrs., Jehoiachin was released to sit at the king’s table. Blind Zedekiah would die in his bronze chains with the vision of his children’s faces as they were slaughtered. Neither would have a descendant to take their place on the throne.

What are the takeaways from these two men and their end?  One accepted God’s way and was released. The other rejected God’s way, and these words will ring in his ears: “I never knew you.” Remember these words from Jesus: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me.” [Jn 14:6]

The lesson is clear: Surrender to God and be saved; reject and enter a Christ-less eternity.

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