I'm typing this on my iPad and I'm having trouble copying and pasting the passage, sorry!
Some thoughts from Rayburn....
Biblical prophecy is not a secret code. It is much more a picture, painted in broad strokes, with little specific detail but lots of imagery that presents the future to us in its wholeness and, still more, its spiritual significance. It presents the future in terms of the great interests of human life and of the progress and eventual triumph of the kingdom of God. Along the way we are introduced to the Messianic King and his conflict and eventual victory over the forces of darkness arrayed against him. There is some detail, enough to prove that the Lord knows the future exhaustively, but it is clear that the real interest of biblical predictions of the future is not to give us ahead of time a blow by blow description of how things are going to turn out....
The hearers of Ezekiel’s prophecy, exiled in Babylon and facing a bleak future, are given a philosophy of history to sustain them. They have been told already that they will return in due time to the Promised Land, but there is more. God has plans for his people, great plans. But so long as they are in this world there will be those who oppose them, great and powerful forces ranged against them. But, in the end, they have nothing to fear. The Lord will vindicate his name!
This is a philosophy of history that you and I need constantly to take to heart and impress upon our minds and the minds of our children. It is designed to make us a peaceful, calm, confident, and cheerful people even in the face of fierce opposition. We never need to behave as if our enemies might actually prevail over us in any ultimate sense. Too many Christians do not seem to have this sedate confidence and so they rail against their enemies and fret over the situation in the world as if they were not sure they were on the winning side. The result of this is that they become embittered by the unbelief around them and their own minority status in the culture. I saw that one of the anti-gay so-called Christian groups is planning a protest at Heath Ledger’s funeral because of his role in a gay-friendly movie that came out several years ago. There is a great deal of difference between the way a Christian who is entirely confident of the eventual vindication of the name and truth of the living God responds to the culture’s unbelief and the way people do who are insecure and afraid.
Ezekiel 38-39 don’t tell us what we are to do as believers in and servants of the Lord, but they very clearly tell us with what attitude we ought to live. These texts are announcements of ultimate victory and have for their purpose very much the same thing as does the Book of Revelation. When you know you’re going to win the war – or, better, when you know the Lord is going to win it for you – you fight it with more confidence and aplomb, with less fear, and with a greater determination to make some valuable contribution to the cause!
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Ezekiel 40-42