Monday, January 27, 2014

Monday, January 27- by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Exodus 3-4, Psalm 20, Matthew 20
Today's scripture focus is Ezekiel 20:45 - 22:31

45 [a] And the word of the Lord came to me: 46 “Son of man, set your face toward the southland;[b] preach against the south, and prophesy against the forest land in the Negeb.47 Say to the forest of the Negeb, Hear the word of the Lord: Thus says the Lord God, Behold,I will kindle a fire in you, and it shall devour every green tree in you and every dry tree. The blazing flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from south to north shall be scorched by it.48 All flesh shall see that I the Lord have kindled it; it shall not be quenched.” 49 Then I said,“Ah, Lord God! They are saying of me, ‘Is he not a maker of parables?’”

The Lord Has Drawn His Sword

21 [c] The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, set your face toward Jerusalem andpreach against the sanctuaries.[d] Prophesy against the land of Israel and say to the land of Israel, Thus says the LordBehold, I am against you and will draw my sword from its sheath and will cut off from you both righteous and wicked. Because I will cut off from you both righteous and wicked, therefore my sword shall be drawn from its sheath against all flesh from south to north. And all flesh shall know that I am the Lord. I have drawn my sword from its sheath; it shall not be sheathed again.
“As for you, son of man, groan; with breaking heart and bitter grief, groan before their eyes. And when they say to you, ‘Why do you groan?’ you shall say, ‘Because of the newsthat it is coming. Every heart will melt, and all hands will be feeble; every spirit will faint, andall knees will be weak as water. Behold, it is coming, and it will be fulfilled,’” declares the LordGod.
And the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy and say, Thus says the Lord, say:
“A sword, a sword is sharpened
    and also polished,
10 sharpened for slaughter,
    polished to flash like lightning!
(Or shall we rejoice? You have despised the rod, my son, with everything of wood.)[e] 11 So the sword is given to be polished, that it may be grasped in the hand. It is sharpened and polished to be given into the hand of the slayer. 12 Cry out and wail, son of man, for it is against my people. It is against all the princes of Israel. They are delivered over to the sword with my people. Strike therefore upon your thigh. 13 For it will not be a testing—what could it do if you despise the rod?”[f] declares the Lord God.
14 “As for you, son of man, prophesy. Clap your hands and let the sword come down twice,yes, three times,[g] the sword for those to be slain. It is the sword for the great slaughter, which surrounds them, 15 that their hearts may melt, and many stumble.[h] At all their gates I have given the glittering sword. Ah, it is made like lightning; it is taken up[i] for slaughter.16 Cut sharply to the right; set yourself to the left, wherever your face is directed. 17 I also will clap my hands, and I will satisfy my fury; I the Lord have spoken.”
18 The word of the Lord came to me again: 19 “As for you, son of man, mark two ways forthe sword of the king of Babylon to come. Both of them shall come from the same land. And make a signpost; make it at the head of the way to a city. 20 Mark a way for the sword to come to Rabbah of the Ammonites and to Judah, into Jerusalem the fortified. 21 For the king of Babylon stands at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination. He shakes the arrows; he consults the teraphim;[j] he looks at the liver. 22 Into his right hand comes the divination for Jerusalem, to set battering rams, to open the mouth with murder, to lift up the voice with shouting, to set battering rams against the gates, to cast up mounds, to build siege towers. 23 But to them it will seem like a false divination. They have sworn solemn oaths, but he brings their guilt to remembrance, that they may be taken.
24 “Therefore thus says the Lord God: Because you have made your guilt to be remembered, in that your transgressions are uncovered, so that in all your deeds your sins appear—because you have come to remembrance, you shall be taken in hand. 25 And you, O profane[k] wicked one, prince of Israel, whose day has come, the time of your final punishment, 26 thus says the Lord God: Remove the turban and take off the crown. Things shall not remain as they are.Exalt that which is low, and bring low that which is exalted. 27 A ruin, ruin, ruin I will make it.This also shall not be, until he comes, the one to whom judgment belongs, and I will give it to him.
28 “And you, son of man, prophesy, and say, Thus says the Lord God concerning the Ammonites and concerning their reproach; say, A sword, a sword is drawn for the slaughter.It is polished to consume and to flash like lightning— 29 while they see for you false visions, while they divine lies for you—to place you on the necks of the profane wicked, whose day has come, the time of their final punishment. 30 Return it to its sheath. In the place where you were created, in the land of your origin, I will judge you. 31 And I will pour out my indignation upon you; I will blow upon you with the fire of my wrath, and I will deliver you into the hands of brutish men, skillful to destroy. 32 You shall be fuel for the fire. Your blood shall be in the midst of the land. You shall be no more remembered, for I the Lord have spoken.”

Israel's Shedding of Blood

22 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “And you, son of man, will you judge, will you judge the bloody city? Then declare to her all her abominations. You shall say, Thus says the Lord God: A city that sheds blood in her midst, so that her time may come, and that makes idols to defile herself! You have become guilty by the blood that you have shed, and defiled by the idols that you have made, and you have brought your days near, the appointed time of[l] your years has come. Therefore I have made you a reproach to the nations, and a mockery to all the countries. Those who are near and those who are far from you will mock you; your name is defiled; you are full of tumult.
“Behold, the princes of Israel in you, every one according to his power, have been bent on shedding blood. Father and mother are treated with contempt in you; the sojourner suffers extortion in your midst; the fatherless and the widow are wronged in you. You have despised my holy things and profaned my Sabbaths. There are men in you who slander to shed blood, and people in you who eat on the mountains; they commit lewdness in your midst. 10 In you men uncover their fathers' nakedness; in you they violate women who are unclean in their menstrual impurity. 11 One commits abomination with his neighbor's wife;another lewdly defiles his daughter-in-law; another in you violates his sister, his father's daughter. 12 In you they take bribes to shed blood; you take interest and profit[m] and make gain of your neighbors by extortion; but me you have forgotten, declares the Lord God.
13 “Behold, I strike my hand at the dishonest gain that you have made, and at the blood that has been in your midst. 14 Can your courage endure, or can your hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with you? I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it. 15 I will scatter you among the nations and disperse you through the countries, and I will consume your uncleanness out of you. 16 And you shall be profaned by your own doing in the sight of the nations, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”
17 And the word of the Lord came to me: 18 “Son of man, the house of Israel has becomedross to me; all of them are bronze and tin and iron and lead in the furnace; they are dross of silver. 19 Therefore thus says the Lord God: Because you have all become dross, therefore, behold, I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. 20 As one gathers silver and bronze and iron and lead and tin into a furnace, to blow the fire on it in order to melt it, so I will gather you in my anger and in my wrath, and I will put you in and melt you. 21 I will gather you and blow on you with the fire of my wrath, and you shall be melted in the midst of it. 22 As silver is melted in a furnace, so you shall be melted in the midst of it, and you shall know that I am the LordI have poured out my wrath upon you.”
23 And the word of the Lord came to me: 24 “Son of man, say to her, You are a land that isnot cleansed or rained upon in the day of indignation. 25 The conspiracy of her prophets in her midst is like a roaring lion tearing the prey; they have devoured human lives; they have taken treasure and precious things; they have made many widows in her midst. 26 Her priests have done violence to my law and have profaned my holy things. They have made no distinction between the holy and the common, neither have they taught the difference between the unclean and the clean, and they have disregarded my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. 27 Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, shedding blood, destroying lives to get dishonest gain. 28 And her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ when the Lord has not spoken. 29 The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have oppressed the poor and needy, and have extorted from the sojourner without justice. 30 And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none.31 Therefore I have poured out my indignation upon them. I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath. I have returned their way upon their heads, declares the Lord God.”

David Legge says:

The one verse I want us to really home in on is chapter 22 and verse 30. Now, these are the words of God: "I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none".
James Gilmore of Mongolia said these words, listen to them very carefully: 'Where is now the Lord God of Elijah?', he echoed the words of Elisah, 'Where is the Lord God of Elijah?'. But James Gilmore answers that question by saying: 'He is waiting for Elijah to call on Him'. Where is the Lord God of Elijah? He's waiting on Elijah to call on Him. The question today is not: 'Where is the Lord God of Elijah?', for the Lord God of Elijah is in the place that He has always been, and we have seen a great vision of Him in chapter 1 of this book. He is upon His throne, He is sovereign, He is working throughout all the occurrences that we see in the world, historically in Palestine of this age and in the world today, His great wheels of time and sovereignty are moving. The question is not: 'Where is the Lord God of Elijah?', rather the question is: 'Where are the Elijahs of God?'. God is there, but God needs men and women to call upon Him.

Sometimes we do feel like God has walked away from us and we wonder where He is. We can be bombarded by life's circumstances and they can knock us down. I've seen this quote on pinterest before and it's a great reminder:

Unfortunately, coming to God does seem to be our last resort. We often try to solve things on our own before we finally come to God for help. It's often when we can't take another thing that finally brings us to our knees.

David Legge continues:

God says: 'I looked and I couldn't find a man', and you would do well to say: 'Well, what about Ezekiel? Was he not a man that God could use? Was he not a man, actually, that God was speaking through?'. Yes, he was! But what had happened was that God's prophet, who was once pleading on the behalf of the people, had now been taken by God and had been called upon to set his face against the people. He was no longer being an intercessor, in other words standing between God and men pleading for man's cause, now he's standing between God and man pleading for God's cause! He's now declaring the judgements that God will bring upon the nation, and because of that Ezekiel couldn't be the man that God was looking for.
He was no longer being an intercessor, in other words standing between God and men pleading for man's cause, now he's standing between God and man pleading for God's cause!
So Ezekiel, God's Spirit through him, depicts the tragedy of the hour that these people were now living in. He uses again prophetic pictures. Now we finished off at verse 44 of chapter 20 last week, because that's really where the chapter should finish, and I've told you before that in our Authorised Version - or indeed any version of the Bible, the Scriptures translated into English - the chapter and verse divisions are not inspired by the Holy Spirit, men did that after the books of the Bible were written. There are times that they make these divisions excellently, and there are other times where they're not made very well at all. So your chapter 21, if you like, should start at verse 45 - and we have there the first prophetic picture of judgement. What is it? In verses 45 to 49 there is a vision of a forest fire. If you look down it you can see very clearly the idea behind it. Now, before you read it let me tell you this: we have encountered, right throughout this book, the image of fire and the image of a sword. Do you remember that? Right throughout: the fire and the sword. We also saw, in the early chapters of this book, that when you go back to the book of Genesis you find that God's Holy Spirit is repeating a lot of imagery that you find in the book of Genesis.
Let me refresh your memory. You go into the garden of Eden, man and woman have fallen, God casts Adam and Eve out of the garden of paradise, and what does God set in front of the gate of the garden of Eden? He sets a cherubim with a sword of fire, speaking of the judgement of God, a sword of fire. It speaks of His judgement, but it also speaks of His mercy, so that they wouldn't eat of the Tree of Life and live forever in their sinfulness. Here again we have the imagery of fire and sword. If you look at verse 46: 'Son of man, set thy face toward the south, and drop thy word toward the south, and prophesy against the forest of the south field; And say to the forest of the south, Hear the word of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will kindle a fire in thee, and it shall devour every green tree in thee, and every dry tree: the flaming flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be burned therein'. A prophecy against the South, if you know the area of Israel it is the Negev, the southern desert - and in fact, specifically, it's speaking of the southern kingdom which is the city of Jerusalem and the nation of Judah. All God is saying is: 'There's going to be a devouring fire, a fatal sword that's going to come down. It's coming from the north down to the south, it is the Babylonians again coming by the hand of God, and it's going to devour your whole city until there's nothing left!'. What a picture: a forest fire.
Then, to bring home this truth and metaphor again, He uses a second picture in chapter 21 and verses 1 to 17: a drawn sword. Now Jeremiah remember, who was Ezekiel's counterpart, in chapter 51 of his prophecy he calls Babylon: 'God's battle axe'. But now Ezekiel, using the military language, calls Babylon: 'God's sword' - and more than a dozen times right throughout chapter 21 you find this reference to the nation of Babylon. In verses 1 to 7 the picture is of God pulling His sword out of the sheath and out of the scabbard. It shows in verses 8 to 17 God sharpening it, God cleaning it, God preparing it for the use of judgement. Then in verses 18 to 27 you see God points that sword toward Jerusalem, and then in verses 28 to 32 God points it again at the nation of Ammon. The Ammonites you see, if you look at the history, had united with Judah against the Babylonians. They tried to help Judah to overthrow the Babylonians. What God is saying here is that they escaped judgement for a little time, but eventually judgement will come to them - Ammon - too.
Judgement will come to us too. Are we ready?

Tomorrow's scripture focusEzekiel 28
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Exodus 5-6, Psalm 21, Matthew 21

1 comment:

Tammy said...

It's so true that we use prayer as our last resort, when it really should be our automatic "go to" response!