Israel's Continuing Rebellion
“Then I said I would pour out my wrath upon them in the wilderness, to make a full end of them. 14 But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, in whose sight I had brought them out. 15 Moreover, I swore to them in the wilderness that I would not bring them into the land that I had given them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most glorious of all lands, 16 because they rejected my rules and did not walk in my statutes, and profaned my Sabbaths; for their heart went after their idols. 17 Nevertheless,my eye spared them, and I did not destroy them or make a full end of them in the wilderness.
18 “And I said to their children in the wilderness, Do not walk in the statutes of your fathers, nor keep their rules,nor defile yourselves with their idols. 19 I am the Lord your God; walk in my statutes, and be careful to obey my rules, 20 and keep my Sabbaths holy that they may be a sign between me and you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God. 21 But the children rebelled against me. They did not walk in my statutes and were not careful to obey my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live; they profaned my Sabbaths.
“Then I said I would pour out my wrath upon them and spend my anger against them in the wilderness. 22 But I withheld my hand and acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, in whose sight I had brought them out. 23 Moreover, I swore to them in the wilderness that I would scatter them among the nations and disperse them through the countries, 24 because they had not obeyed my rules, but had rejected my statutes and profaned my Sabbaths, and their eyes were set on their fathers' idols. 25 Moreover, I gave them statutes that were not good and rules by which they could not have life, 26 and I defiled them throughtheir very gifts in their offering up all their firstborn, that I might devastate them. I did it that they might know that I am the Lord.
27 “Therefore, son of man, speak to the house of Israel and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: In this also your fathers blasphemed me, by dealing treacherously with me. 28 For when I had brought them into the land that I swore to give them, then wherever they saw any high hill or any leafy tree, there they offered their sacrifices and there they presented the provocation of their offering; there they sent up their pleasing aromas, and there they poured out their drink offerings. 29 (I said to them, What is the high place to which you go? So its name is called Bamah to this day.)
30 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: Will you defile yourselves after the manner of your fathers and go whoring after their detestable things? 31 When you present your gifts and offer up your children in fire, you defile yourselves with all your idols to this day. And shall I be inquired of by you, O house of Israel? As I live, declares the Lord God, I will not be inquired of by you.
32 “What is in your mind shall never happen—the thought, ‘Let us be like the nations, like the tribes of the countries, and worship wood and stone.’
The Lord Will Restore Israel33 “As I live, declares the Lord God, surely with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out I will be king over you. 34 I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out. 35 And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will enter into judgment with you face to face. 36 As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you, declares the Lord God. 37 I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant. 38 I will purge out the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against me. I will bring them out of the land where they sojourn, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord.
39 “As for you, O house of Israel, thus says the Lord God: Go serve every one of you his idols, now and hereafter, if you will not listen to me; but my holy name you shall no more profane with your gifts and your idols.
40 “For on my holy mountain, the mountain height of Israel, declares the Lord God, there all the house of Israel, all of them, shall serve me in the land. There I will accept them, and there I will require your contributions and the choicest of your gifts, with all your sacred offerings. 41 As a pleasing aroma I will accept you, when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered. And I will manifest my holiness among you in the sight of the nations. 42 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I bring you into the land of Israel, the country that I swore to give to your fathers. 43 And there you shall remember your ways and all your deeds with which you have defiled yourselves, and you shall loathe yourselves for all the evils that you have committed. 44 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I deal with you for my name's sake, not according to your evil ways, nor according to your corrupt deeds, O house of Israel, declares the Lord God.”
Accompanying Robert Rayburn sermon
Accompanying David Legge sermon: The Road of Rebellion
Israel has been an idolatrous nation from the beginning. They had periods of faithfulness, but for the most part they spent far more time defying God's law than obeying it.
Because Israel wanted to be like the nations around her. (v32)
It is hard, so hard, to live counter-culturally. It was hard in Ezekiel's day, and it's hard in ours. When the vast majority of the world lives by a world view in complete opposition our own, it's so hard to continue on instead of thinking "can so many people be wrong?
It is the desire to conform; it is the tendency to think right what the masses believe. We don’t put it that way to ourselves, but it is, in fact, the real explanation of our behavior. The influence of the world, its example, its demands are everywhere in the Bible a chief threat to true faith and fidelity to God and his Word. The world in the Bible is largely a sinister force, an enemy of the people of God and of their faith in Jesus Christ.....
This is John’s point, when he writes in his first letter,
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of the eyes, and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”
John says it is either God or the world, it is living for the world or it is living for the Lord. Yahweh had said precisely that to Israel and all her life she had found it too difficult to believe. And so it had been: the world beguiling Israel and Israel following the world, wanting to be like the other nations, imitating their way of thought and their worship. After all, could so many people be wrong? Everyone else did it another way, thought about the gods and salvation another way? Surely they weren’t all wrong?...
a weakening faith does not typically invent a new substitute religion. It takes it from the world around because it is motivated to betray and to leave the truth of God’s word by a desire to conform to the world around. And so it has been through the ages of the church and so it is today...
whole churches are bending or breaking, at precisely those places where the Christian faith seems most out of step with the thinking and the feeling of the world around. Exclusivism, judgment, sexuality and gender. People predicted the capitulation of the church at these very points years ago and their predictions have come true like clockwork. “Tell me what the world is saying,” Francis Schaeffer used to say, “and I’ll tell you what the church will be saying in ten or twenty years.”
Paul may say that that wisdom of the world – what the world considers to be true – is foolishness to God (1 Cor. 1:20), but it remains powerfully attractive even to Christian people with a Bible in their hands. We too find within ourselves the desire to conform, to be like everyone else. No one likes to be scorned or thought out-of-date or dismissed as the advocate of discredited and unworthy ideas. Many of you in your work places have bitten your tongues; you know you have because you didn’t want to identify your opinions and your convictions for what they were in that environment among those people. You knew what they would think about that and about you for having them. The power of this desire to be accepted and so to conform is demonstrated everywhere we look....
The world will not ask you to embrace a message that is thought to be ridiculous by most people, including most educated people. But the world will also not require you to embrace a way of life that is demanding in those ways that human beings find most demanding. Ancient Near Eastern idolatry is a perfect illustration. It was in every way an easy religion, an undemanding one. What it required was easy enough to give. It made no demands of the heart, soul, strength, and mind. It indulged both man’s pride and his flesh....
And so does the wisdom of the modern western world: Darwinism, materialism, therapeutic psychology, Madison Avenue’s vision of the good life, and all the rest. And both the ancient and modern forms of the world’s wisdom have this in common. They both domesticate God and bring him down to our level. People often imagine that religion amounts to man’s quest for God. In truth religions provide ways for man to escape God....
[God] is a personal God who is involved in the life of his people and the world, a God of grace but also a God of judgment. He is a God who takes the initiative; who intervenes, and who demands the allegiance and the reverence of all. Modern secularism is certainly just as much an opiate of the people as ancient idolatry was and embracing it is just as easy and just as foolish as when Israel worshipped images after the living God had revealed himself to her....
The world is an anti-God system and its thinking is anti-God. If the world is generally for an idea, it is highly likely to be not only untrue, but outrageously untrue in the judgment of the only one whose judgment matters now and forever. Ezekiel chapter 20 should convince us to have a very skeptical attitude toward the thinking of the world when the world suggests or demands that we should think a certain way about God and salvation or about the righteous life.
We have to think and act biblically, not culturally, no matter the cost. The alternative is eternally costly.
Legge says that over and over again we see a....
history of failure and forgiveness. God warns us, we rebel against God, God restores us. In the life of a believer it's the circle, the vicious circle of failure and forgiveness; failure and forgiveness - and some of us are caught in that circle at this moment and we wonder will we ever, ever get out of it! I wonder is Israel's spiritual history your spiritual history? Failure, forgiveness; failure, forgiveness, and it's like a rollercoaster that goes up and down, up and down. You think somewhere that there is this victorious Christian life, that there is a way of being a mature Christian when you'll get beyond all this failure and failure and then forgiveness, and then failure - the same thing - and then forgiveness. Is there something more? Yes, there is - hallelujah! There is: but it cannot be accomplished with divided loyalties! That's the message!
Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Deuteronomy 20:19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live,
Choose this day whom you will serve.
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Ezekiel 20:45 - 22:21