02 July 2016

Stone 25 - Ezekiel

Ezekiel, like the other prophets, shared a message of hope to a sinful and rebellious nation but not without calling them out on some things. Indeed, Ezekiel brings it. God is not pleased and through Ezekiel, He makes the Israelites well aware. Let's hear what he has to say.

The Vision
The book opens up with a pretty vivid picture of Ezekiel's vision. The reason for the detail is to establish that what Ezekiel saw was a true theophany and not some sort of natural event. Ezekiel's response is similar to that of many others who have encountered God; He fell facedown on the ground (Ezek 1:28).

Chapters two and three describe the mission that God has for Ezekiel. He is to go and share a message to the people of Israel who are in exile (Ezek 3:11). God also appoints Ezekiel as a watchman over the people (Ezek 3:17). This is no small charge. God informs Ezekiel that he will be held responsible for the deaths of the people if he fails to share the message and also for the lives he saves if he warns them and they listen.

Ezekiel prophesies the fall of Jerusalem and is given instructions for food and drink. This was to be a symbol of the famine that would be experienced. Ezekiel plays out the siege and crates imagery for the fall. The imagery details what is in store for the Israelites and includes cooking over dung (Ezek 4:12-13) and cannibalism (Ezek 5:10). The intent is that they are being informed of the severity of what was to come. Perhaps chief among the sins of the Israelites was their constant idolatry and worship of false gods. Ezekiel 6:4-5 make it clear that God intends to exercise judgment against this sin in a way that demonstrates His power and the powerlessness of the idols to do anything about it.

The Judgment
Chapter seven announces the coming judgment. Make no mistake - when all this happens, you will know it is the Lord! God then takes Ezekiel on a sort of field trip to visit several great abominations that are some of the false gods and idols being worshipped in the temple and elsewhere. God shares a vision with Ezekiel of the slaughter to come as a result of all of the idolatry. Remember that the sins of the people of Israel were punishable by death - as are our own - but the slaughter was going to come by the hands of the Babylonians rather than the six with war clubs from the vision.

God cannot remain in the presence of sin - his character will not allow it. As such, His temple is vacated. It seems reasonable to suggest that God has been more than patient with His people. Several centuries have passed and God has brought many prophets, kings, and judges over the years to try and warn the people. God is just and does not allow the sin to go unpunished. They were warned.

Ezekiel 12:2 echoes a sentiment that we have read repeatedly. They have eyes but do not see, ears but do not hear. In a way, I find this interesting considering the culture we live in today. Our culture has a strong bent toward the empirical, toward the things that we can see and hear. Interesting, almost comical, and so very tragic that we remain blind and deaf.

Consider Ezek 12:22 and the proverb mentioned there - "The days keep passing by, and every vision fails."
**Are there not those who feel the same to this day? We have scoffers that do not believe because it is said that the Lord is coming and they have not seen it yet. Do not wait until that time comes or it will be too late! Chapter 18 focuses on our personal responsibility for sin. Each of us is responsible for our own sins and not for the sins of others.

Ezekiel 18:21!

Ezekiel 18:24!

How many times do we need to be told? LOL - I seem to recall both hearing and using a variation of those words myself. These two verses inform us that there are consequences but there is hope. Tuen now. Repent and follow the Lord! Moses said it, Joshua said it, so many others said it. Oh Lord, clean the wax from our ears that we might hear and practice obedience!

God wants to deliver us! He wants a relationship with each one of us. Why do we so often decline His offer?

In chapter 33 Ezekiel is met by a man from Jerusalem who shares the news that the city has fallen (Ezek 33:21).

The Hope
Ezekiel 36:24-38 tells of how the Lord will restore Israel. God is holy and just. Imagine the sight in the valley of dry bones as described in chapter 37! Imagine! God has the power to redeem even that which seems beyond restoration.

The last several chapters speak about the restoration of the nation of Israel. Again it is worth noting that like the other prophets, Ezekiel spoke a great deal about the coming judgement for a rebellious people but also brought a vision of hope and restoration.

Next time we will visit Daniel.

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