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Ezekiel

June 3, 2009

Background

I. God’s Glorious Calling Ezekiel 1:1-3:27

  1. God Comes to Ezekiel                 Ez. 1:1-28
  2. God Calls Ezekiel                          Ez. 2:1-3:11
  3. God Sends Ezekiel                        Ez. 3:12-27

II. Plays, Prophecies, and Proclamations Ezekiel 4:1-7:27

  1. Jerusalem’s Siege, a Result of Sin     Ez. 4:1-17
  2. Disaster in Jerusalem Foretold          Ez. 5:1-17
  3. Disaster in All Israel Foretold            Ez. 6:1-14
  4. The End of Israel Prophesied            Ez. 7:1-27

III. God Calls for Judgment Ezekiel 8:1-11:25

  1. Against Idolatry                      Ez. 8:1-9:11
  2. Against Violence                     Ez. 10:1-11:25

IV. Five Oracles Concerning Judah’s Final Exile Ezekiel 12:1-28

The Lord’s Justice Ezekiel 13:1-18:22

  1. Concerning False Prophets       Ez. 13:1-23
  2. Concerning Idolaters                   Ez. 14:1-11
  3. Concerning All Israel                  Ez. 14:12-20
  4. Concerning Jerusalem               Ez. 14:21-15:8
  5. A Picture of God’s Grace             Ez. 16:1-63
  6. A Picture of God’s Mercy             Ez. 17:1-24
  7. Righteousness is Required to Live Ez. 18:1-32

VI. Ezekiel Mourns Over Judah and Two Kings Ezekiel 19:1-14

VII. God’s Judgment is Soon Ezekiel 20:1-24:27

  1. A. God’s Reasoning             Ez. 20:1-44
  2. B. God’s Sword                    Ez. 20:45-21:32
  3. C. God’s Sorrow                   Ez. 22:1-31
  4. D. God’s Parables                 Ez. 23:1-24:24
    1. Two Prostitutes             Ez. 23:1-49
    2. The Cooking Pot           Ez. 24:1-24
  5. God’s Word Fulfilled          Ez. 24:15-27

VIII. God’s Judgment of the Nations Ezekiel 25:1-32:32

  1. Ammon and Moab Ez. 25:1-11 B. Edom and Philistia Ez. 25:12-17
  2. Tyre                             Ez. 26:1-28:19
    1. Their Judgment          Ez. 26:1-21
    2. Their Lament              Ez. 27:1-36
    3. Their King                     Ez. 28:1-10
    4. Their King’s Lament  Ez. 28:11-19
  3. Sidon                          Ez. 28:20-26
  4. Egypt                          Ez. 29:1-32:32
    1. Their Judgment           Ez. 29:1-21
    2. Their Lament                Ez. 30:1-26
    3. Egypt Compared to Assyria Ez. 31:1-18
    4. Pharaoh’s Lament         Ez. 32:1-32

IX. Righteous Responsibility Required Ezekiel 33:1-20

  1. As God’s Chosen Servant-Leaders                  Ez. 33:1-11
  2. As God’s Chosen Servant-People                     Ez. 33:12-20

X. Messages of Accountability Ezekiel 33:21-35:15

  1. The Accountability for God’s Prophet           Ez. 33:21-33
  2. The Accountability of Israel’s Leaders            Ez. 34:1-31
  3. The Accountability of Edom                                 Ez. 35:1-15

XI. Messages of Hope Ezekiel 36:1-39:29

  1. Israel’s Future                  Ez. 36:1-38
    1. Israel Will Be Revived                      Ez. 37:1-14
    2. Israel Will Have a King                         Ez. 37:15-28
    3. Israel’s Enemies Will Be Destroyed    Ez. 38:1-39:29

XII. Come, Let Us Serve the Lord Ezekiel 40:1-48:35

  1. Let Us Rebuild the Temple                Ez. 40:1-42:20
    1. To Receive God’s Glory                              Ez. 43:1-12
  2. Let Us Prepare to Serve                        Ez. 43:13-25
    1. By Choosing Qualified Servants            Ez. 44:1-31
    2. To Govern Responsibly                            Ez. 45:1-12
  3. Let Us Worship the Lord                  Ez. 45:13-46:24
  4. Let Us Enjoy the Lord’s Blessing   Ez. 47:1-12
    1. As We Occupy His Promised Land                   Ez. 47:13-48:35

Background

Ezekiel is another major prophet with a limited background. His name means
“God strengthens”. This is appropriate in that he is ministering to
those in exile and their faith needs strengthening. Their weak faith was
the major reason for Judah’s exile. Scholars believe Ezekiel was a Levite because
of his excellent knowledge of the temple, its’ functions and its’ symbolism.
He was part of Judah’s second wave of exiles in 597 BC along with King Jehoiachin
and lived in Tel-Abib near the river Kebar. He was a contemporary of Daniel,
who was exiled first in 605 BC, and Jeremiah, who did not leave after the destruction
of Jerusalem and the temple in 586 BC. Like Daniel, Ezekiel was called as God’s
prophet in Babylon in 593 BC. He was a young man at the time of his exile and,
supposedly, 30 years old when called by God. He prophesied for 22 years to the
exiles in Babylon. His wife died about the time of Jerusalem’s destruction [588-586
BC] and there is no mention of children.

Perhaps I should have separated Daniel and Ezekiel from the other pre-exilic
prophets to Judah because they prophesied specifically to the exiles in Babylon.
However, it’s difficult to imagine their prophecies could not have been heard
by those who were left behind because some of Jeremiah’s prophecies reached
the exiles in Babylon. Exile did not mean the severing of communication. Ezekiel
and Daniel also lived during the time of Jeremiah and were influenced by him.
Also, Ezekiel prophesied to the exiles while Jeremiah was prophesying to those
in Jerusalem. Much of this happened in the last 5 years before and during Jerusalem’s
siege and destruction in 586 BC.

Ezekiel’s prophecy has a balance of judgment [before Jerusalem’s fall] and
hope [after Jerusalem’s fall] as did the prophets before him. Beginning with
Daniel and those who followed later, God’s prophecies changed to encouragement
and hope for the future and from a national focus to a more personal focus.
These changes are also true for Ezekiel. Ezekiel was also very personally involved,
acting out God’s Word as did Hosea, Jeremiah, and Isaiah. In fact, we would
consider Ezekiel a thespian.

Ezekiel is written and assembled for us in chronological order except for
his second judgment concerning Egypt [Ez. 29:17] which was actually his last
oracle in 571 BC. But it was placed after his first oracle concerning Egypt
written in 588 BC for the sake of unity. In addition to Egypt, Ezekiel also
announced judgments on Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia, Tyre, Sidon, as did Amos,
Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Zephaniah.

God’s Glorious Calling                                    Ezekiel 1:1-3:27

God Comes to Ezekiel                                                  Ez. 1:1-28

Verses 1-3 are where we glean much of our background information about Ezekiel.
We believe he is 30 years old, an exile living near the Kebar River, in the
fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s reign [593 BC], and the son of a priest. All
this is interesting but the most important information contained in these verses
is “the hand of the Lord was upon him”.

Because the Lord’s hand is upon Ezekiel, he sees heaven opened and visions
of God. Without taking away from his spectacular vision, allow me to briefly
modernize what is happening.

1. Ezekiel is near the Kebar River meditating on God. We could say he is sitting
on top of Enchanted Rock near Llano, Texas, in the vicinity of the Colorado
and Llano Rivers reading his Bible and praying while looking at the sunset in
the western sky.

2. Ezekiel sees a windstorm, cloud, and lightning to the north [vs. 4]. In other
words, looking north Ezekiel observes a storm. A huge thunderhead has formed.
Its’ wind is kicking up much dirt and the lightning display is spectacular,
brighter than anything Ezekiel has ever seen.

3. Ezekiel likens his vision to the glory of God, falls face down, and hears
a voice [vs. 28]. Or as the storm approaches Enchanted Rock where Ezekiel has
been meditating, he prays to God that the storm will pass by and that he will be
protected from a lightning strike. But while praying, God is speaking to his
heart concerning what Ezekiel had been reading and meditating upon.

Far-fetched? No! Have you experienced something similar? Perhaps. I have many
times in a less spectacular fashion but the end result is the same; hearing
the voice of God speaking to my heart through meditating upon His Holy Word.
What Ezekiel describes seeing in verses 4-28 reminds me of the difficulty people
have of describing phenomena they have observed in the sky and attributing it
to UFOs. I’m not suggesting these people are seeking God as did Ezekiel seek,
sense, observe, and attempt to describe and explain. John had a similar vision
[Rev. 4] and I wonder if the chariot that carried Elijah to heaven was the same
as seen by Ezekiel [see II Kings 2:11]. God simply shows us wonders to get our
attention.

When reading Ezekiel 1:4-28 it is easy to over-speculate. What I have written
above is not for speculation but only my feeble attempt to put us in “Ezekiel’s
shoes” to get a sense of what is taking place. God is coming personally
to visit Ezekiel. He is being shown the glory of God in a limited fashion. The
Lord God comes as a bright light hidden in the cloud. He is sitting on His throne
surrounded by cherubim [vs. 4-9] following the Spirit of God to wherever He
wants to go [vs. 12]. They are being transported on a chariot with special wheels
[like gyroscopes] controlled by the Spirit [vs. 20]. The throne room of God
in all its’ glory is carried on the chariot [vs. 22-28]. We see a God who is
all knowing and all-encompassing calling on Ezekiel personally.

Ezekiel is given a vision of God’s glory similar to the glory present in God’s
tabernacle and temple but which has left Israel/Judah because of her sin. That
glory is available to each and every one of us just as it was made available
to Ezekiel. Meditate upon God and His Word and His glory will come. God will
instruct us personally when we meditate on His Word and humble ourselves before
His throne. He may not come as He came to Ezekiel, but He will come. Look for
His coming. Seek the Lord and He will come in all His Glory.

God Calls Ezekiel                                                                              Ez. 2:1-3:11

God Commands Ezekiel to stand up and listen to Him. Upon God’s arrival, Ezekiel
bowed in humble worship. He is now commanded to stand and receive the Lord’s
instructions. The same Spirit which transported the Lord to Ezekiel comes upon
Ezekiel and enables him to stand before the Lord God [vs. 2].

God tells Ezekiel he is being sent to the Israelites as God’s prophet [vs.
3-5]. God proceeds to tell Ezekiel what the attitude of the Israelites will
be; rebellious, revolting against God, obstinate, and stubborn. Ezekiel is to
go to them and not be concerned whether they listen to him or not. In going,
Ezekiel is to be bold and not fear. He is not to listen to them, be influenced
by them, or become like them. Ezekiel is to be focused, listening only to God
and relaying God’s Word to Israel [vs. 6-8].

Ezekiel is handed a scroll containing laments and woes coupled with mourning
and told to eat it. These are God’s words of lament and mourning over the state
of His people Israel because of their rebellious attitude toward Him. The woes
and mourning represent God’s judgment of Israel if they continue to respond
in a rebellious manner. The words are bitter but they taste sweet because they
are TRUTH [see also Rev. 10:9-10].

Ezekiel is instructed to go to Israel and speak the words he has received
in the scroll [Ez. 3:4]. There is no language barrier to obscure God’s truth
but God warns Ezekiel that he will find that the Israelites have hard hearts.
With God’s help, Ezekiel is to be just as stubborn and committed to presenting
God’s truth as Israel is in rejecting God’s truth. God and Israel are engaged
in a battle of wills. God is the general and Ezekiel is His soldier. Ezekiel
is sent out in the Name of the Sovereign Lord [vs. 11].

In summary, we have three simple but important lessons that God is emphasizing
for us.

1. It is natural for us to worship but unnatural for us to obey His instruction.
We need the help of His Spirit to stand up, hear, and obey.

2. We are responsible to obey God and to share His TRUTH. We are not responsible
for whether or not His TRUTH is accepted by others having rebellious hearts.
[see also Ez. 3:18-21 in the next section]

3. God’s Word is to become part of us, part of our being. We must experience
TRUTH so that we might share TRUTH.

God Sends Ezekiel                                             Ez. 3:12-27

Ezekiel is sent out in the Name of the Sovereign Lord and he is sent out by
the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord [vs. 12-14]. Ezekiel goes but is not happy
about it. Although God’s Word was sweet, it is also bitter because it contains
God’s message of judgment upon Judah/Jerusalem. Ezekiel is overwhelmed and burdened
as he contemplates God’s assignment and his responsibility. Ezekiel’s responsibility
is to obey God and bring His Word to the unrighteous and the righteous [vs.
18-21].

The Lord has now come to Ezekiel, called Ezekiel, and is sending Ezekiel to
be His spokesman to the Israelites in exile. He is the “Jeremiah”
to the exiles, prophesying God’s judgment and hope to them in Babylon. As preparation
for his assignment, God sends him away out on the plains where He and His Glory
visits Ezekiel again. Ezekiel is to go back home where he will be bound up [isolated]
from the Israelites until God releases him to speak [begin his ministry]. Whether
this binding is of God or by the people [a metaphor or true] is difficult to
discern. Regardless, Ezekiel was in isolation because of the exiles’ stubbornness
and would not be released until God willed it. Perhaps Ezekiel’s first words
angered the people who blamed God for their exile and they bound him. But Ezekiel
can and will speak only when God gives him the words. Ezekiel does not begin
his ministry until God directs him. He has no choice but to depend on God and
be in submission to Him. See Matthew 10:17-19.

God has a special need and He has sent a special servant, Ezekiel, to fulfill
that need. We who place our faith and dependence on God are also called because
of our faith coupled with our capabilities. Sometimes what we are called to
do for Him is not pleasant but it is always necessary to fulfill God’s Divine
Plan. But God doesn’t call us, expect us to obey without question, and leave
us. His Spirit is upon us always and He prepares us so we understand and do
not lose heart or become discouraged. This is exactly what God is accomplishing
in Ezekiel’s life at this moment. Ezekiel was called to an impossible mission
to an impossible people but God also knows that Ezekiel has the capability and
compliance necessary to complete His assignment. Ezekiel has placed his faith
in God and God has, in turn, placed His faith in His servant Ezekiel. God’s
glory has descended upon Ezekiel so the Ezekiel can present the glory of God
to His people in exile. Let us trust God and make ourselves available to serve
Him in good times and bad. Remember, His Spirit is with us to guide us and give
us the right words at the right time.

Plays, Prophecies, and Proclamations                           Ezekiel 4:1-7:27

Jerusalem’s Siege, a Result of Sin                                        Ez. 4:1-17

There is no record of Ezekiel speaking so what we have here is a “mime”.
Ezekiel is probably going to a public place in Tel-Abib where Israelites gather
or pass by. He sets up a model of Jerusalem and places siege ramps and battering
rams around it. Ezekiel is to lay bound on his left side facing the Jerusalem
model for 390 days and, likewise, on his right side facing the model for 40
days. An iron pan is placed between Ezekiel and the model signifying separation.
Nobody is coming to rescue Jerusalem. On top of Ezekiel is placed the sins of
Israel [390 days] and the sins of Judah [40 days]. We are not told how these
sins were symbolized. During this period of 430 days, Ezekiel is told to eat
a special bread baked with cow dung and drink only water.

The interpretation of the 430 days equivalent to years [vs.5] is difficult
if not impossible. Scholars have put forth several ideas and none of them are
very plausible. I tried a couple of my own ideas with the same result. Sin is
sin but God considered the sins of Israel to be greater than the sins of Judah.
It is dangerous to go beyond that simple explanation. Contextually speaking,
Ezekiel was called by God in 593 BC. We are not exactly sure when this “play”
took place but it most likely began before 592 BC [Ez. 8:1]. So we can say Ezekiel
performed this act for about 1 ½ years approximately 3 years before the
siege began and 5 years before Jerusalem fell in 586 BC.

God is using Ezekiel’s play acting skills to tell the exiles of Judah that
His discipline of them for their sin is not yet complete. Those who are living
in Judah and Jerusalem are still obstinate toward Him and, therefore, He is
planning to have Jerusalem placed under siege and punish them even more. God,
in His grace and mercy, continues to “tighten the screws” against
our sinful ways until we either turn back to worship Him or choose to be destroyed.
God’s Law does not change but He offers us a way of escape. We are to repent
of our sin and turn back and acknowledge Him as Lord God. But too often our
pride blinds us from seeing the escape route and we end up on the path to destruction.
God has shown us His TRUTH throughout history and He has shown His TRUTH to
the exiles through this object lesson. May we see His TRUTH, learn His TRUTH,
and submit to His TRUTH.

Disaster in Jerusalem Foretold                                                      Ez. 5:1-17

Chapter 5 is a continuation of the effects of the siege of Jerusalem illustrated
in Chapter 4. It speaks of the great disaster coming to its’ inhabitants. To
illustrate this disaster, Ezekiel shaves the hair off his head and face, weighs
it, and divides it into three equal parts. One third is burned, another third
is struck with his sword while walking through Tel-Abib, and the last third
is scattered by the wind. A few strands are kept separate in Ezekiel’s garment
and even some of those are burned up, starting a fire throughout Israel.

Perhaps Ezekiel returns to his model of Jerusalem to speak to the exiles [vs.
5] telling them the meaning of what he has just done. He begins by telling the
exiles that Jerusalem’s sin, her wickedness and rejection of the Lord God, is
greater than the gentile/pagan nations surrounding Judah [vs. 6-7]. Consequently,
God has left Judah, Jerusalem, and His temple and will punish His people. Their
idolatry will cause God to do things God promises never to do again. Food will
be so scarce that cannibalism happens. Any survivors will be scattered. God’s
favor is withdrawn and He will not have pity for His people. One third will
die of disease or famine [burned], one third will die from the siege battles
[sword], and one third will be scattered and pursued with the sword. Read Jeremiah
39-43 for a live historical account of theses forecasted events. Those strands
left in Ezekiel’s garment represent the exiles and some of those died when they
were given opportunity to stay in Judah but chose to flee to Egypt. Only after
all this takes place does God’s anger against Judah cease [vs. 13].

Verses 14-17 reiterate what has been said before. God is bringing His wrath
upon Judah to punish her for her sin. He is bringing famine, wild beasts, plagues,
and bloodshed against them because they have ignored Him and not kept His laws
or their covenant with Him. Therefore, God exercises His justice against their
sin. God has the final word. This message was needed because the exiles in Babylon
were not repentant nor did they fully comprehend why they were exiled.

God is serious about removing sin in our lives personally and in the lives
of all nations. God also has much patience, grace, and mercy. But there comes
a time when He must act if His grace, mercy, and love are to move forward. Judah
was defiant, ignoring God and, therefore, God punished them. Let us consider
our own lives. What is our current relationship with God and His Son, Jesus
Christ? Are we ignoring the triune God, Creator of heaven and earth? Are we
ignoring His Word? If so, repent, seek Him, worship Him, ask for His forgiveness,
receive His Spirit anew, and serve Him with joy and thanksgiving. Receive His
blessing instead of His punishment. Live under His protection, secure, instead
of being scattered to wander without meaning or purpose. Love God and be loved
by God, assured of eternity in His Presence.

Disaster in All Israel Foretold                                                Ez. 6:1-14

Not only is disaster coming to Jerusalem but it is coming to all of Israel.
God’s wrath/destruction comes first to all the high places where the people
worship idols. These altars will be destroyed and those who worship there will
be slain [vs. 3-4]. The cities located near these worship centers will also
be destroyed [vs. 6]. God’s wrath serves one purpose and that is to let the
people who were not slain know who is Lord [vs. 7].

There is hope because some will be scattered and not die [vs. 8]. Some will
remember God and acknowledge their sin [vs. 9] recognizing that God is faithful
and just in keeping His promise 1]. to withhold His blessings from those who disobey
His statutes and 2]. to destroy sin. Others will die by famine or the sword, both
instruments of God’s wrath [vs. 12]. The “death” of Israel is a direct
result of their sin so that those who are left will acknowledge that the Lord
is God and worship Him. This is more than knowing just who God is but it is knowing Him personally in order to have a relationship with Him.

God is taking matters into His Sovereign hands for the sole purpose of saving
His people from their sin and restoring them into a right relationship with
Him. Famine and the sword will fall on those who practice idolatry and who refuse
to make God the Lord of their lives. God is counting on those who remain to
acknowledge their sin, turn from their wicked ways, and seek to know Him as
Lord, depending on Him for their redemption and restoration as His people.

Likewise, God is angry with us when we refuse to obey His statues and worship
in ways which do not honor and glorify His Name. God is just in punishing us
when we refuse to repent of our sin and acknowledge His sovereignty. Our continual
refusal brings forth His discipline/wrath in our lives. God wants to get our
attention and have our attention focused on Him alone. We are to take inventory
of our lives, acknowledge our sin, and recommit to serving and worshipping Him
as Lord and Savior. Failure to do so invites disaster and discipline in our
lives as it did with all of Israel. Let us not repeat Israel’s stubbornness
but yield to Him and His Will.

The End of Israel Prophesied                                              Ez. 7:1-27

This prophecy from the Lord through Ezekiel adds to the prophecies of disaster
against Jerusalem and Israel in Chapters 5 and 6 by declaring the end has come
[vs. 3]. The end has come and God’s wrath is poured out because of their sinful
and detestable practices [vs. 4]. God’s purpose in doing this is clear. Sin
required just punishment [vs. 3] and He wants Israel to know that He is God
[vs. 4]. Verses 1-4 are essentially repeated verbatim in verses 5-9 with added
statements of doom, panic, and no joy [vs. 7].

Israel’s detestable practices are defined beginning in verse 10. They are
arrogant and violent. In fact, God is going to use their violent nature against
them. They will end up killing each other for plunder [vs. 11], laws concerning
the buying and selling of property will be ignored [vs. 12-13], and yet they
refuse to go into battle to defend what they have [vs. 14]. If they leave the
city walls they will be killed and if they stay they will starve [vs. 15]. Only
those who fled early to the mountains are saved [vs. 16]. Their remaining wealth
will be of no value. It won’t save their lives or buy food [vs. 19-20]. Their
wealth, jewelry, and idols will be plundered by their enemy. God has turned
His back on His people. Even His dwelling, the temple, will be plundered and
desecrated [vs. 21-22]. Violence reigns. The leaders of Israel will seek peace
but it isn’t available. Their homes are destroyed. They will seek prophets and
priests for advice but receive none. Their king will be in mourning. All this
happens so that Israel will come to its’ senses and know that He is Lord.

Note that God’s wrath has only one purpose, that people will know that He
in the Lord. That has been God’s purpose since sin entered the world through
Adam and Eve. God goes to all lengths/means to reveal Himself to man through
His goodness, love, mercy, grace, chosen people Israel, and, in this case, justice.
Eventually, God sent His Son to give His life for our sin. God is patient and
slow to anger. But He is willing to pour out His wrath on us if that is the
only way He can get our attention. That is exactly what Ezekiel is prophesying.
God is going to get Judah’s attention by pouring out His wrath on her. God’s
wrath on earth is usually reserved for nations but sometimes He deals similarly
with us as individuals. Therefore, we must be wise and discerning in our assessment
of what is happening and why. God is patient but He is also just. His wrath
does not fall on the innocent or undeserving. Individually we may become innocent
targets but probably because we have committed sins of omission and failed to
speak out against the crimes deemed acceptable to society. As Christians, Gods’
chosen people, we must be bold to proclaim the Name of the Lord God and exhort
our fellowman to obey His statutes and worship Him. In other words, we must
be willing to be “Jeremiahs”. Failure to do so encourages God’s justice
through His wrath to come so that we may know who the true sovereign Lord God
is. The people Ezekiel is speaking to, exiles from Judah, have experienced the
beginnings of God’s wrath but there is more coming. They still are stubborn
and ignoring God, their God, who wants them to know Him and who is still trying
to get their attention away from idolatry and toward Him. Do not test God as
did the Israelites but let us trust God and love Him with all our heart, soul,
mind, and strength. He will not forsake those who place their trust in Him.
Let us trust Him as individuals and as a nation and, thus, receive His blessing
instead of His wrath.

God Calls for Judgment                                             Ezekiel 8:1-11:25

Against Idolatry                                                  Ez. 8:1-9:11

Ezekiel is caught up in a vision while meeting with Judah’s exiled elders
in his house. This is Ezekiel’s second recorded vision. His first vision was
his calling to be God’s prophet in Chapters 1-3. This vision happens a year
and one month after Ezekiel’s call in 592 BC. Ezekiel evidently has gotten the
attention of Judah’s elders through his enactment and prophecies of Jerusalem’s
siege [still ongoing at this time]. God is now validating His prophet even more
by giving him this vision during this particular meeting. If the elders were
questioning Ezekiel’s validity, their questions are being removed before their
very eyes.

Ezekiel sees a figure, bright and glowing. He is not an angel as some think.
He is God’s Son [see Rev. 1:1-18] because He is referred to as the Lord [and
“I”] later on in this chapter and the next. Ezekiel is taken by God’s
Spirit to the north gate of the inner court of the temple in Jerusalem where
he sees an idol [possibly an Asherah pole] and the glory of God as he had seen
on the plain where he was called to be a prophet [vs. 4]. The two, the true
God and the false god, are seen side by side in stark contrast. This idol seems
to be located in an area to the north outside of the altar area in what was
designated the Court of the Gentiles in Jesus’ time. Ezekiel sees Judah worshiping
this idol instead of worshiping the Lord God. And they are doing this in very
close proximity to God’s dwelling place in the Holy of Holies. God has every
reason to be angry because He is being driven from His house, the temple where
He is to be worshiped.

Ezekiel is taken to the entrance of this court and then to the wall where
he sees 70 elders of Israel burning incense to various idols painted on the
wall. This wall could be the wall of the courts or it could be the outer wall
of the Holy Place [my preference] where rooms were set up to store the temple
vessels. Many of the vessels had been plundered by Babylonia already so these
rooms could have been vacant for private worship of these various painted representations
of pagan idols [Egyptian]. They believe God cannot see their idolatry but He
does [vs. 12]. But there is more. In the courtyard by the north gate, women
are mourning/calling Tammuz, the Babylonian idol of fertility. This is perhaps
the designated courtyard of the women [see the diagram of Herod’s temple] even
though Herod’s building program was years away. Then looking through the gate
to the temple steps, Ezekiel sees 25 priests bowing to the east [their backs
to the temple entrance] worshipping the rising sun.

Not only are Judah’s elders and priests worshiping idols in the temple courtyards,
they are given to violence against their fellowman [covered in chapters 10-11].
God is angry [vs. 18] and refuses to listen to their cries for help. In fact,
God the Son gives orders for His angels to place a mark on the foreheads of
those who refuse to worship idols and to slay all those who worship theses idols
[Chapter 9:1-4]. This is similar to the command God gives to mark believers
in Revelation 7:3. The angels begin slaying those in the temple courts and then
go throughout Jerusalem [vs. 6-7]. Judah’s sin is great and God is forced to
take corrective action. When all are slain, the lead angel reports to the Lord
that their work has been completed [vs. 11]

Idolatry angers God. Practicing idolatry breaks the first three commandments
and most likely the fourth too [see Ex. 20]. Our own idolatry, the priority
worship of anything other than the Lord God Almighty, also angers God. God does
not tolerate idolatry and, therefore, we should not be surprised when God takes
drastic action against us for our sin. God is omniscient. He knows all and sees
all. We are never hidden from His view. We may hide our sin from our fellowman
but it is impossible to hide it from God. In fact, God sees our sin and will
reveal it to others. Therefore, we should not be surprised when our “secret
sins” become known to others. It is God’s way of disciplining our sinful
behavior and causing us to seek His forgiveness and return to worshiping Him.
The revealing of our sin aids His process of restoration in our lives. Remember,
God knows, sees, and reveals our sin in order to begin His process of restoration
and return us to worshiping Him only.

Against Violence                                                                Ez. 10:1-11:25

Chapters 8 and 9 concerned Judah’s idolatry. Chapters 10 and 11 concern Judah’s
violence [see Ez. 8:17]. Ezekiel’s vision of God’s judgment is one vision [Chapter
8-11] but it is divided into two parts, Chapters 8 and 9 and Chapters 10 and
11. By dividing Chapters 8-11 into two main themes, I am going against the grain
of most scholarly divisions. Most, if not all, consider Chapter 10 to prophecy
the Lord God leaving His dwelling place, the temple. It does show Him leaving
but I contend He had already left before when Judah preferred to worship idols
instead of the Lord God. Ezekiel sees the throne of God and the cherubim [vs.
1] but they appear on the south side of the temple [vs. 3] and not over the
Holy of Holies as was customary. God’s glory, a cloud, fills the inner court
[vs. 3] which is outside the temple. It then moves to the door of the temple
[vs. 4] and both the temple and the court are filled with God’s glory.

The Lord commands the lead angel, the one who directed the slaying of all
idolaters in Chapter 9, to get coals from under the cherubim and spread them
over Jerusalem [vs. 2, 7]. There are two possible interpretations of this act.

1. The coals were to consecrate others in Jerusalem to speak God’s truth much
like Isaiah was called [ Is. 6]. The idolaters were slain in Chapter 9 so these
coals would be spread out to consecrate God’s remnant for their ministry of
faithfulness.

2. The coals represented a judgment against all of Jerusalem of their sinful
and wicked ways.

I do not find a compelling reason to prefer one interpretation over the other.
Scripture doesn’t define this for us. This section’s main theme is judgment
which would favor #2. But God promises Israel a remnant in spite of His harsh
judgment [see Ez. 11:16-25]. It seems best to leave it as it is.

Chapter 10 describes the arrival and leaving of God’s throne carrying chariot
containing God and His glory. It is the same vision Ezekiel saw on the plain
when called by God [Ez. 1-3]. The only difference is that the whirling wheels
have the face of a cherub instead of an ox. This is the same vision [vs. 15,
20-22] but with a slightly modified description.

If judgment is the theme of this section, why write about God’s glory. Consider
these reasons:

  1. It confirms Ezekiel in his calling.
  2. Ezekiel has seen God’s glory twice and can now speak of it with confidence\ and tell others of its’ certainty as he does in Ez. 11:25.
  3. This chapter clearly shows the coordinated activities of God the Father, God the Son [Lord], and God’s Holy Spirit.
  4. God’s glory is real and difficult to describe in language that we humans can comprehend.
  5. In God’s glory we have a picture of God’s holiness, omniscience, and omnipotence.

Proceeding on to Chapter 11, Ezekiel sees the 25 men again at the entrance of the temple. They are:

  1. The same men who worshiped the sun in Ez. 8:16.
  2. Israel’s leaders.
  3. Plotting evil.
  4. Israel’s false prophets.

They believe all is well and that Jerusalem/Judah is invincible and will soon
be back to normal.

The Lord instructs Ezekiel to prophesy against them for their violence and bloodshed.
They have killed with the sword so they are destined to be killed by the sword.
They have not followed the Lord but have conformed to the evil practices of
the nations around them.

As Ezekiel was prophesying against these leaders, Pelatiah died. Perhaps he
was one of the elders meeting is Ezekiel’s house or perhaps this is part of
Ezekiel’s vision experience. I believe the later [see vs. 24] and that Pelatiah
was known for his faithfulness to God.

The arrogance of those in Jerusalem is portrayed in vs. 15. They believe they
are the righteous ones and those in exile are the unrighteous because they are
still residing in the Promised Land. With all that’s happening in Jerusalem
[see Jeremiah’s ministry], they refuse to believe God will continue His punishment.
But they are wrong.

Ezekiel is given a message of hope after envisioning God’s further judgment
upon Judah and Jerusalem. God is Israel’s sanctuary in exile [vs. 16] and He
will bring them back to their land again [vs. 17]. The true remnant will come
from those exiled and not from those left in the land. The exiles will be blessed
and those who remain will continue to experience God’s wrath. With that, God’s
Spirit returns Ezekiel to Babylonia and back to reality [vs. 24] where Ezekiel
shares what he has just seen with those in his home [vs. 25]. Ezekiel is able
to share with the exiled elders the reason for their exile. They have sinned
against God but from their midst God will raise a remnant who will return and
remove all Israel’s idols and worship the Lord God. The exiles have a hope and
a purpose. They have a reason to live. They will be the foundation of God’s
rebuilding project. Their mission is defined. They are to return to God in a
foreign land so that they may return to the Promised Land and rebuild His Kingdom.
They are in Babylon for a purpose just as we live where we are for a purpose
[Acts 17:26]. While God completes His judgment against His people who live in
Judah, He offers hope to those who seek Him.

Regardless of where we live, we are called to be faithful to Him and His calling.
We are called to be faithful Kingdom builders. Let us always praise God and
diligently serve Him. The alternative results in death [Romans 6:23]. May we
show forth God’s glory and not be the cause of it leaving.

Five Oracles Concerning Judah’s Final Exile                          Ezekiel 12:1-28

Ezekiel has just finished meeting with Judah’s exiled elders in his home telling
them about his vision in their presence concerning the devastation God has planned
for Jerusalem and its leaders. The result of that meeting is continued unbelief
among those already exiled [vs. 1]. To counter this unbelief, God’s Word comes
to Ezekiel five times with specific instructions on what to say and/or do.

Ezekiel is first told to pack his belongings in the morning as if preparing
for exile. He is to dig a hole in the wall, most likely the wall of Tel-Abib
where he resides. At dusk he is to take his belongings and walk through the
hole and out on the plain with his face covered. Ezekiel obeys, getting the
attention of his fellowman [vs. 7].

Ezekiel was asked what he was doing so the next morning the Lord tells him
what to say [vs. 8]. Ezekiel is to say that he is a sign [symbol] of what is
to happen to Israel and, in particular, the prince or current ruler in Jerusalem.
This would be referring to Zedekiah [see II Kings 25] in that Jehoiachin was
exiled at the same time as Ezekiel. Essentially, Ezekiel is prophesying what
will happen to King Zedekiah when Jerusalem falls. Only a few Israelites will
be spared [vs. 15-16] so they will know that their God is Lord.

The Lord comes to Ezekiel a third time [vs. 17] instructing Ezekiel to tremble
when eating so as to show the exiles the calamity coming to Jerusalem and Judea.
They will be eating in anxiety not knowing if they will continue to have food
or water because their land is being stripped bare by invaders, their city will
be under siege, and Jerusalem will be filled with violence. All this is happening
to show Israel who the real Lord God is.

The fourth word of the Lord has to do has to do with the proverb “the
day goes by and every vision comes to nothing”. Ezekiel is to tell the
people that proverb is no longer true. In fact, every vision will be fulfilled.
God’s Word is true and will be fulfilled. Evidently this is to counter the false
prophets among the Israelites already in Babylon as well as those still in Judah
which were prophesying the end of their enemies and the early return to their
former glory. God says such is not to be.

The fifth word [vs. 26] of the Lord is to counter the Israelites’ opposite
philosophy that Ezekiel’s visions, if they are true, will not happen for a long
time in the future. In other words, they won’t affect them or their descendants.
God says through Ezekiel that such is false thinking and the fulfillment of
His Word is not being delayed.

When studying Jeremiah you will note that his prophecies reached the ears
of the exiles in Babylonia. So it is safe to assume Ezekiel’s prophetic visions
and prophecies also reached back to Jerusalem and Judea. Note God’s consistency
with respect to His Word. Two different personalities of two different men in
two different locations were called by God to be prophets and proclaim the same
message. God gives us many and various ways of hearing His message. Let us listen
to His voice and take heed. God will judge our sins so that we will know who
the true Lord God is. Seek Him, know Him, and obey Him. Place your trust in
Him for life, life eternal. Acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior.

The Lord’s Justice                                                   Ezekiel 13:1-18:22

Ezekiel has just finished sharing his vision of Jerusalem’s sins with the
exiled elders [Chapters 8-11] and informed them that another exile will happen
shortly. These next chapters set out to explain why the Lord is angry and what
He is doing about it. God is acting as both prosecutor and judge against those
groups of people He showed Ezekiel in his most recent vision.

Concerning False Prophets                                                               Ez. 13:1-23

Ezekiel is told by God to speak out against those prophesying falsely. Most
of these prophets resided in Jerusalem but some probably were already in Babylon
among the exiles. These prophets speak their mind instead of what’s in God’s
mind [vs. 2]. They do not have God’s Spirit or blessing [vs. 3]. Words of repentance,
redemption, and restoration as God’s people are not in their vocabulary [vs.
5]. They claim to speak for God and to have seen His visions but they haven’t
and, therefore, are lying [vs. 7]. The Lord God is against them and will remove
their influence and also remove them from among His people [vs. 8-9]. More specifically,
they proclaim peace when there is no peace. Their words are eloquent [whitewash]
in proclaiming protection and security that doesn’t exist [vs. 10-11].

These false prophets are prosecuted and found guilty so God’s wrath comes
upon them with destructive fury [vs. 13]. Women are also included in this category
of false prophets. Many of them have been engaged in similar activities, leading
the people astray with their lies, magic, and violence. They will also be destroyed.

This condemnation and punishment of Israel’s false prophets serve one purpose;
to show the people who the Lord God is so that they may know Him [vs. 9, 14,
21, & 23]. Justice is imposed so that Israel can be saved [vs. 23].

As God’s children, believers in Jesus Christ, it is critical that what we
say and proclaim conforms to God’s Word and is blessed by His Holy Spirit. We
are to be sensitive to God’s leading; listening to Him, obeying Him, and speaking
the words He gives us. We are to speak God’s words and not our own words lest
we lead people astray as did these false prophets. The most condemning lie we
hear today in our culture from those who claim to be Christian is that there
are multiple ways one can achieve eternal life. There is only ONE WAY. Jesus
said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father
except by me.” [John 14:6] God has called us to be His children and to
represent Him. Let us represent Him in TRUTH and not lie. Let us speak His words
of repentance, redemption, and restoration which is made available to all people
who place their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Son, who gave His life
as payment for our sin that we too might have life.

Concerning Idolaters                                                  Ez. 14:1-11

Next the word of the Lord comes concerning idolaters. Ezekiel envisioned them
at the temple in Jerusalem and God tells him the exiled elders in his home are
no different [vs. 3]. The Lord questions if He will even answer their queries.
He clarifies His position that because they have sought out Ezekiel He will
answer in hope that He can recapture their hearts [vs. 5]. God begins by having
Ezekiel exhort them to repent and turn from their idols, renouncing their detestable
practices. Failure to repent will result in God Himself removing that person
from God’s chosen people, from being a member of God’s Kingdom.

The same punishment applies to any prophet [most likely false prophets] who
hardens his heart in sympathy with the idolaters [vs. 9-10]. God’s prophets
are to speak out with strength and boldness against all forms of idolatry and
encourage the people to repent. Again God’s purpose is made clear; so that Israel
will turn to God and that He will be their God. Repentance is required for their
relationship and covenant to be restored.

Concerning All Israel                                                Ez. 14:12-20

The salvation of Israel is on a personal and individual basis, not a national
basis. God chose Israel, the nation, to be His people but their redemption as
His people will be on an individual basis. God’s discipline is given on a national
basis but His salvation is dependent on an individual’s righteousness [vs. 13-14].
Neither is God’s salvation associated with family [vs. 15-16]. Again, salvation
is personal.

This same theme is repeated concerning famine, wild animals, war, and plagues.
These are the major tools of discipline applied by God to remind us of our disobedient
behavior and enable us to repent, seek God, and return to Him in obedience and
worship [see Leviticus 26-27]. Remember, God’s love is unconditional but His
blessings are conditional.

Concerning Jerusalem                                                 Ez. 14:21-15:8

These four disciplinary actions discussed in the previous section are targeted
for Jerusalem and its’ inhabitants because of their idolatry. Many will die
but there will be some survivors [vs. 21-23]. What is implied here is that those
with hardened hearts will die and those who hearts are soft who will repent
or already have repented will be spared. They all pass through God’s divine
judgment but the righteous are spared.

God goes on in Chapter 15 explaining that He holds Jerusalem responsible for
the destruction of all Israel/Judah. Jerusalem is where the nation’s leadership
resides and the leaders are the one who have gone astray and led the others
astray. Jerusalem is the wood and Judah is its’ branches. Again we learn the
destruction of Jerusalem and the desolation of the land is for the purpose of
making the Lord and His Name known among the people.

Therefore, we have been given another example and another exhortation to REPENT,
to RETURN to the LORD, to be RECONCILED with Him, and to be REDEEMED unto RIGHTEOUSNESS
in His sight for RESTORATION.

A Picture of God’s Grace                                              Ez. 16:1-63

This Chapter summarizes the history of Jerusalem from the very beginning to
the very end. From Ezekiel’s perspective verses 1-34 are history, verses 35-52
document God’s reasons and justification for His punishment, verses 53-58 describe
Jerusalem’s restoration/rehabilitation, and verses 59-63 proclaim God’s New
Covenant. I have chosen to include this Chapter under the heading of God’s Justice
in the outline because Jerusalem is a perfect example of God’s justice and grace
at work.

Because of its’ length, I have chosen to outline the major points as follows:

History:

  1. Born of pagan ancestry. [vs. 3]
  2. Ignored and despised throughout its’ youth. [vs. 5]
  3. Reborn by God [King David’s era]. [Vs. 6]
  4. Matured into greatness [King Solomon’s era]. [vs.9-14]
  5. Turned away from God and turned to worship idols. [vs. 15-22]
  6. Turned away from God to depend on other nations. [vs. 23-29]
  7. Misused wealth to buy favors. [vs. 32-34]

Punishment:

  1. Those on whom you depend for security will become your enemies. [vs. 35-42]
  2. Known to have greater sin than Sodom. [vs. 43-48]
  3. Known to have greater sin than Samaria. [vs. 49-52]

Restoration/Rehabilitation:

  1. God promises to restore them. [vs. 53]
  2. They will be ashamed and bear the consequences of their sin [repentance].[vs. 54, 58]

God’s New Covenant:

  1. God remembers His Old Covenant but will establish a New Covenant which is everlasting. [vs. 60]
  2. God will atone for their sin. [vs. 63]

As I see it, God is still restoring and rehabilitating Israel [Jerusalem].
It began with their return to the land after the Babylonian Exile and it continues
with their becoming a nation in 1948. God established His New Covenant through
His Son, Jesus Christ, who died for all our sins once and for all. This is the
New Everlasting Covenant of atonement for sin. God’s grace has been at work
since Christ’s death and resurrection and is still at work in our lives and
in the lives of His people Israel. One day God’s people, His Church and Israel,
will be united as His Kingdom.

God is just, punishing sin, so that we may know Him as Lord and Savior and
become our God. God loves us and gives us mercy and grace through His Son Jesus
Christ who atoned for our sin. Therefore, let us return to the Lord God, place
our faith in Him, repent of our sin, and be redeemed by His grace. Such is God’s
divine justice.

A Picture of God’s Mercy                                     Ez. 17:1-24

This story concerning Israel/Judah is told by God as a parable for Ezekiel
to pass on to the exiles. Verses 1-10 are the parable and verses 11-21 explain
its’ meaning. The first eagle then is Nebuchadnezzar who had come and taken
Judah’s King Jehoiachin to Babylon, the land of the merchants. Then he took
one of King David’s seed, Zedekiah, and made him king over the survivors in
Judah but also subject to himself. He was called a king but was more like a
governor. The other eagle represents Egypt, where King Zedekiah went for help
in hope of getting out from under King Nebuchadnezzar’s ruling hand [vs. 7].
But the vine does not thrive because Nebuchadnezzar lays siege to Jerusalem,
devastates the land, and takes all but the poor and needy Israelites into exile.
This essentially is the explanation given in verses 11-21. See II Kings 25 and
II Chronicles 36 for the historical record. Jeremiah also wrote about this time
in chapters 37-39 and 52.

This parable probably doesn’t represent prophecy in the sense of foretelling
the future. Much of this was in motion historically at the time of this writing;
probably all but the final siege and exile of 586 BC.

Verse 22 begins the story of God’s mercy and forgiveness. God starts over
with a new shoot of cedar [Israel] and plants it on the mountains of Israel
[Mt. Zion]. This new shoot is the arrival of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, announcing
the Kingdom of Heaven. The example of a tree and birds finding shelter are the
same words Jesus used in mark 4:32 to describe the Kingdom of God. God brings
down the tall tree, the proud, and brings up the low tree, exalting the humble
[Matt. 18:1-6; James 4:6]. All trees, peoples, will see that Israel has been
replaced by His Church. God’s chosen people are alive in a different form but
for the same purpose; that people will know the true Lord God Almighty personally
and will worship and obey Him. Therefore, we see that God’s plan of salvation
is not frustrated by our sinfulness. God is faithful and keeps His promises
in spite of our wrongdoing. God provides us a way of escape, salvation through
His Son. God provides us a means of pardon, believing in Jesus as Savior and
Lord, for forgiveness of our sins. God is just but He is also merciful to all
who believe in Him.

Righteousness is Required to Live                                           Ez. 18:1-32

The Lord begins by chastising Israel for their bad attitude exhibited by the
quoting of a “sour grapes” proverb [vs. 2]. The message of verse 3
seems to reflect God’s attitude of “stop it because you, Israel, belong
to me, God”. Those who sin [those who refuse to accept the Lord God as
their heavenly Father] are the ones who will die. The person who is righteous
and just, the person who obeys God’s statutes and does what is right [vs. 5-9]
will live. If a righteous man has a son who does just the opposite, that son
will die [vs. 10-13]. And if he has a son who does the opposite of his father
and does what is right like his grandfather, he will live. Each, as individuals,
are responsible for their behavior and their behavior determines whether they
live or die [vs. 18-20]. Evidently, the Israelites thought righteousness was
a family oriented, national oriented, culturally oriented instead of individually
oriented.

The wicked have an opportunity to repent, be forgiven, and have their past
forgotten in favor of the present. Because that person became righteous, he
will live [vs. 21-23]. Likewise, the righteous have an opportunity to turn away
from God and God’s Laws, live in wickedness, and refuse to repent. Because that
person sins, he will die [vs. 24].

Israel claims that God is not just but God declares their ways are not just
[vs. 25-30]. God exhorts Israel to repent and live [vs. 30-32].

This is perhaps the clearest portion of scripture arguing against the Doctrine
of Eternal Security. Israel as a nation believed in eternal security but God
claims such a belief amounts to false security. Although God is exercising His
justice against Israel as a nation, His judgment concerning who lives and who
dies is based on ones righteousness. The issue here is spiritual life, not physical
life. God’s punishment of His people Israel will affect both the righteous and
the unrighteous in His effort to rid His people of their sin. However, spiritual
life or death is directly related to the individual’s heart. The person who
repents of their sin and lives a faithful righteous life will live eternally.
The person who refuses to repent and seek forgiveness will be eternally tormented.
This passage exhorts us as individuals to repent, seek God’s forgiveness, and
live faithfully according to God’s statutes, acknowledging Him as Lord God and
Savior. Place your trust in Him now and for eternity. The present condition
of your heart trumps the past. Thus, God’s justice has been made clear. Allow
the presence of the Lord through His Holy Spirit to assure you of life and keep
you secure in Him. The Lord God values faithful repentant righteous behavior.

Ezekiel Mourns Over Judah and Two Kings                          Ezekiel 19:1-14

The princes and cubs described in this lament refer to Judah’s kings. Note
that throughout all Ezekiel’s writings, God and he refer to God’s chosen people
as Israel and do not make a distinction between Israel [long gone] and Judah.
In God’s eyes, they are still one people [see my comments on Isaiah]. The lioness/mother
in this lament represents the nation Israel.

The first cub discussed in verses 3-4 refers to Jehoahaz, an evil king, who
was the son of Josiah [the last good king] and reigned for 3 months. Then Pharaoh
Neco attacked Judah, captured Jehoahaz, and took him to Egypt where he died.
See II Kings 23:31-35.

Jehoiakim, the next king, was appointed by Pharaoh Neco and reigned for eleven
years. This king is not mentioned in the lament other than perhaps the first
half of verse 5 and verse 8. The fact that verse 9 indicates the king was captured
and taken to Babylon could refer to Jehoiachin or Zedekiah. The preference is
Jehoiachin since there is a strong possibility this was written during the reign
of King Zedekiah and would be prophetic instead of a lament.

Assuming the kings referred to in this lament are Jehoahaz and Jehoiachin,
both reigned only three months each [II Kings 23:31; 24:8]. Perhaps that is
the reasoning for this lament.

Israel is described beginning with verse 10. She was once a fruitful vine,
strong and glorious. Now the east wind [Babylon] has come and destroyed their
land and taken them into the desert [Babylon]. They are now weak instead of
strong. So in addition to mourning the two kings, this lament also includes
Judah/Israel.

One may sin and feel good but long term such behavior is punished by God and
one ends up in a pit of dismay from which you cannot recover. The sooner one
recognizes this truth and seeks God’s forgiveness the better. Failure to do
so means one is destined to remain in the pit [hell] forever. We are lifted
from our pit of sin only by grace through the forgiveness of sin by the death
of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. His resurrection power is available to all who believe
on His Name. The resurrection power comes to all who believe and lifts them
out of the pit and to life alongside a river of living water, God’s Holy Spirit.
God’s dealings with Israel shows us the way to life. Learn from them, return
to God, obey Him, and be blessed.

God’s Judgment is Soon                                      Ezekiel 20:1-24:27

God’s Reasoning                                                      Ez. 20:1-44

The date of this meeting with the elders is the 7th year, 5th month, and 10th
day. This refers to Jehoiachin’s reign over Judah. He was exiled with Ezekiel
in 597 BC after reigning in Jerusalem for 3 months. Specifically, this date
represents August 14, 591 BC. Ezekiel receives word from the Lord while meeting
with Israel’s elders. Ezekiel evidently was respected and his insight sought
out. They acknowledged him as God’s prophet or they would have ignored him and
excluded him from their meetings. God is using Ezekiel as his go-between or
mediator with Israel’s leaders [vs. 3].

Ezekiel is told to confront the leaders concerning their detestable behavior.
It’s somewhat ironic. The elders ask to meet with Ezekiel to hear what God has
to say and are “chewed out”. God begins by having Ezekiel remind the
elders how blessed they were to have been released by Egypt and brought to the
Promised land. In doing so, God declared vividly to them that He is the Lord
God Almighty [vs. 5-6]. Israel was to rid itself of Egypt’s idolatry but they
failed to do so [vs. 7-8]. That is why they suffered in Egypt. In spite of their
rebellion, God removed them from Egypt, placed them in the desert, gave and
taught them His Law, and made them holy [vs. 9-13]. Yet Israel still rebelled
against God and disobeyed Him. It was in the desert that God made it perfectly
clear that if Israel would not forsake their idolatry or obey His Laws or keep
His Sabbath, they would be dispersed [vs. 23].

God declares to Israel that they have blasphemed Him by forsaking Him and
turning to idolatry [vs. 27-29]. Israel has a history of ignoring and forsaking
God and His statutes. That is why they are living in Babylon instead of their
Promised Land at this time. God has fulfilled His promise to disperse them.

God essentially is asking Israel’s elders “Are you going to continue
as you have or are you going to change your ways? Are you going to continue
with your idolatry and sacrifice your children or are you wanting to follow
me?” [vs. 30-31]

God declares that they desire to be like other nations but He isn’t going
to let that happen. Instead, He will gather them together in the desert [Babylon]
and judge them as He did in Egypt. In other words, prepare to live as slaves
in a foreign land until they are purged of their rebellious nature and submit
once again to the covenant established between God and Israel [vs. 32-38].

Israel may continue rebelling but one day they will come to their senses and
listen to God [vs. 39]. Then Israel will once again serve God Almighty in Jerusalem
at the temple of the Lord. Israel will be forgiven and they will worship God.
Israel will acknowledge the Lord God as their God and humble themselves before
Him [vs. 43]. God’s Name will be praised, not blasphemed.

In conclusion, we can summarize God’s reasoning for His wrath being poured
out on Israel as follows:

  1. Israel has rebelled against God and worships idols.
  2. God refuses to let them live in rebellion and, therefore, will punish them until they submit to Him.
  3. Upon submission/repentance, Israel will return and worship Him.

God deals with us in much the same way. Let us listen to what God says in
His Word and submit ourselves to Him, obeying Him and not blaspheming His Holy
Name. We blaspheme God when we do not put Him first and on the throne of our
lives. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords and deserves to be treated that
way. Let us review our own personal behavior and that of our nation making sure
we repent of our sin, change our ways, and worship Him with genuine love and
devotion. That is God’s Will and leads us to His Blessings.

God’s Sword                                                 Ez. 20:45-21:32

Ezekiel is given the additional task of preaching and prophesying against
the south, Jerusalem and Judah [vs. 46]. Ezekiel is to proclaim that their land
is about to be consumed and scorched. This command from the Lord gives credibility
to continued communication between those in Judah and the exiles. Perhaps this
is the reason for meeting together in Ezekiel’s house, to exchange information
and letters from Judah/Jerusalem. Verse 49 seems to be a nice way of asking
the Lord why they would listen to him, Ezekiel, when they don’t listen to Jeremiah
who happens to be in their midst.

Ezekiel is told to continue, specifically speaking out against Jerusalem [Ez.
21:2]. God is drawing out His sword metaphorically to remove both the righteous
[remnant] and the wicked from among the people. This act of judgment is to show
them that God is also Lord. Ezekiel is to mourn and be broken over this judgment
which is so severe that the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual strength
of the people is appreciably weakened [vs. 7].

The Lord’s sword is being sharpened for the slaughter and placed in the hand
of the slayer [Babylon] to be used against Judah and its’ princes, that is king
and leaders [vs. 11-12]. The slaughter will be great before the Lord’s wrath
subsides [vs. 13-17]. Babylon is to exercise judgment on two fronts, on Rabbah
and on Jerusalem/Judah [vs. 20]. A siege will be laid against Jerusalem for
their guilt, their rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar and their rebellion against
God [VS. 22-24]. Jerusalem will not be restored until the Lord returns [vs.
27]. This could mean the glory of the Lord returning to the temple which is
to be rebuilt by Zerabbabel after the exile [there is a record of worship in
Ezra but not of God’s glory returning] but it most likely refers to the Messiah’s
Second Advent when He comes to reign as King of Kings. Jerusalem has been restored
but never to its’ former glory as intended.

God’s wrath by the sword given to Babylon also goes against the Ammorites
[Rabbah]. They too are slaughtered mercilessly because of their idolatry, false
vision, and practice of divination.

God promises that He will judge sin. He proclaims His judgment upon Judah,
Jerusalem, and Rabbah. He also proclaims His judgment against each of us who
refuse to repent of our sin and seek His forgiveness. God is just and will do
just as He says whether it be judgment or forgiveness unto righteousness. But
God is faithful just as He was faithful to His promises concerning Israel. Therefore,
let us take heed lest we follow in the steps of the inhabitants of Judah and
Jerusalem. Repent and receive His forgiveness today.

God’s Sorrow                                                       Ez. 22:1-31

God asks Ezekiel to confront Jerusalem on His behalf [vs. 2] Jerusalem is
guilty of shedding innocent blood and worshiping idols [vs. 4]. Therefore,
God is going to end her days, make her an object of scorn, and fill her with
turmoil. Other nations will laugh at her demise and mock her. Jerusalem’s kings
abuse their power by promoting injustice resulting in the shedding of blood,
oppressing aliens, mistreating the fatherless and the widows, and ignoring God-fearing
worship. Slander, worship of idols, sexual immorality, bribery, usury, and
extortion are the norm [vs. 9-12]. God has been completely forgotten.

God must act and He will act. God will disperse them among the nations who
will treat them as they have treated others [vs. 15-16]. God is applying His
“golden rule” in judgment against them [see Matt. 7:1-2, 12]. God
makes His purpose clear. He wants His people to know that He is the Lord God
Almighty sovereign over all things.

Next, God turns His attention to all of Israel. They are the dross in the
purification of silver. They will be drawn into Jerusalem where God’s purification
takes place.  They will be subjected to His fiery wrath and then dispersed [vs. 17-22].
See also Jer. 6:1-3; 27-30 and Is 48:10. God’s wrath by the hand of the Babylonian
sword [Ez. 22] coincides with a drought [vs. 24].

God proceeds to outline the sins of Jerusalem’s king, priest, leaders, and
prophets [false]. They practice and promote extortion, oppression, stealing,
lying, and killing. The priests have forgotten God’s Laws and the prophets are
speaking on behalf of themselves. God cannot find one person among them with
enough backbone and faith to stand up and confront their sinfulness. God has
commissioned Jeremiah in Jerusalem and given him that voice [Jer. 25-28] but
the leaders have silenced him by placing him under house arrest and tossing
him into a pit. Jeremiah was a lone voice and nobody else has enough faith to
take up the task.

This Chapter ends on a very sobering note. We, as Christians and members of
His Church, have been given the responsibility to confront sin in our culture
and preach repentance. God will have no other choice than to pour out His wrath
upon the earth when we, as His people, no longer have the backbone to stand
for His Truth and against what is accepted wickedness. Then the end will come
and Christ will return. We have an awesome responsibility to fulfill the Lord’s
commission to preach repentance, baptize, make disciples of all nations, and,
thus, build God’s Kingdom. When we quit ministering on His behalf, God will
come again. See my comments on Revelation 2-3. The greatest sin found in Jerusalem
other than that of rejecting God was that nobody was willing to stand up for
Him. That makes God sorrowful.

God’s Parables                                         Ez. 23:1-24:24

Two Prostitutes                                      Ez. 23:1-49

God gives Ezekiel a parable to relay to Israel exiled in Babylon. It involves
two daughters from the same mother who became prostitutes in Egypt. We quickly
learn that the mother was a “united Israel” in Egypt who bore two
daughters, Oholah representing Samaria of the northern kingdom and Oholibah
representing Jerusalem of the southern kingdom. Prostitution and adulterous
behavior used in the parable represents Israel leaving the Lord God to worship
idols and to depend on idolatrous nations for security. Israel left her husband,
the One who loved them and provided for them, to be with other nations who practiced
idolatry and who they thought could provide them with security. Israel changed
its’ allegiance from God to another god, man.

In verses 5-10 we learn that Oholah [Samaria] sought out Assyria, loving Assyria
and her ways more than God. But Assyria turned on Samaria, stripping her of
her wealth, slaughtering her descendants, and dispersing those who were fortunate
enough to live.

In verses 11-34 we hear a similar story about Oholibah [Jerusalem]. She followed
in the same path as her sister, only worse [vs. 11,14]. She lusted after Assyria
too and also the Chaldeans and the Babylonians. She too is to be stripped of
her wealth, slaughtered, and exiled. She will be ruled by those she once loved
but now has come to hate.

All of this happens because these sisters grew up in Egypt, the source of
“their original sin”, the worship of idols. Egypt represents the sin
nature in which we are all born. We have a Savior, Jesus Christ, who loves us
and desires that we love and worship Him. He is the bridegroom for us, the bride.
Rejecting Him in favor of another brings disaster and death. Returning to Egypt,
the sins of our youth, brings destruction and shame.

Sin has consequences [vs. 35]. The sins of Israel, of the northern and southern
kingdoms, must be judged. Their adulterous behavior towards God, their shedding
of innocent blood, their sacrifice of children to idols, their rejection of
God and His Law, their pursuit of other nations to protect them through treaties,
and their refusal to depend on God and seek His will leaves God no choice but
to punish them for their sinfulness [vs. 35-49]. God’s purpose is the same,
that they will know and return to the Sovereign Lord.

The example/parable of the two prostitutes relates to Israel because that
is the exact activity they are engaged in. If they didn’t understand what God
was saying directly, perhaps they would relate to this parable and understand
God’s message. Again, we see that God uses all tools available to get His message
to the people. Sin has consequences but God wills to redeem us if we would only
turn to Him, repent and seek His forgiveness, and commit to worshipping Him
through obedient service.

The Cooking Pot                                           Ez. 24:1-24

Two years and five months after Ezekiel’s last recorded meeting with Israel’s
exiled leaders, God instructs Ezekiel to record this date. It is the later part
of 588 BC and Nebuchadnezzar’s siege of Jerusalem has begun. God’s final judgment
of Judah and Jerusalem has commenced.

Ezekiel is told to tell and demonstrate a parable to those already in exile.
He is to put choice pieces of meat [inhabitants] into a pot [Jerusalem] of boiling
water [Nebuchadnezzar]. Before putting the meat and bones into the pot, the
animals are slaughtered and their blood is spilt on the rocks instead of on
the ground. This signifies the exposure of Jerusalem’s wickedness [vs. 6-8].
The fire [God] is hot and the meat is cooked to “well done” and more.
The fire and the pot is so hot that the meat falls off the bones and the bones
are charred. The pot is emptied but placed back on the coals where it glows
in hope of removing all the residue, similar to our self-cleaning ovens of today.
But these deposits cannot be removed. This deposit or residue represents Judah’s
sins which cannot be removed until God’s wrath is ended. In other words, only
God can remove their sin and He can’t do it until the fire is out and the pan
cools. This cooling pot of meat and by-products illustrates the completeness
of God’s judgment and the hardness of Israel’s hearts. Not only are the pieces
of meat over cooked but the pot is damaged too. Only God can cleanse them and
it will take time. Such is the destruction of Jerusalem and its’ inhabitants
from the anointed armies of Nebuchadnezzar. All that God promised because they
would not repent has now begun. The fire is being stoked and Jerusalem and its’
inhabitants are about to be destroyed because they refused to acknowledge God.
This parable should be a visible reminder for all of us to not make the same
mistake as the Israelites. Again, God exhorts us to repent of out sin and turn
to Him so that we may avoid His wrath today and for eternity.

God’s Word Fulfilled                                              Ez. 24:15-27

God informs Ezekiel that his wife, his delight, is about to die. He is told
not to mourn outwardly even though he mourns inwardly. God is using the trials
and troubles in Ezekiel’s personal life to instruct and guide Israel. Ezekiel
relays this information to the people so they could know what is to happen,
to know that he is God’s prophet, and to show the people who God is. The death
of Ezekiel’s wife is not sudden. Ezekiel could see it coming. He is prepared.
There is no reason to mourn outwardly. Everyone knows what is about to happen
and now Ezekiel confirms it from the lips of God. Therefore, he is to mourn
internally but not externally.

So when Jerusalem and the temple are destroyed [vs. 20-24] they are not to
mourn outwardly but inwardly. They are to express sorrow personally because
of Israel’s sins. They have been told and have been prepared by God’s prophets
regarding what is to happen, how it will happen, and why it will happen. There
is no surprise, only the fulfillment of God’s Word.

Soon a messenger will come from Judah with information about the great slaughter
and destruction of Jerusalem’s inhabitants, Jerusalem itself, and the temple.
Israel’s “delight” will be no more. The Word of the Lord has been
fulfilled. God’s wrath has been poured out on all Israel and destroyed them
because of their sin. Take heed. Let’s not make the same decisions as the proud
and arrogant Israelites. Instead, let us humble ourselves in repentance at the
feet of the Lord and ask His forgiveness. We have heard the Word of the Lord.
We must believe it and commit to follow the Lord God Almighty, receiving His
grace and mercy.

God’s Judgment of the Nations                                  Ezekiel 25:1-32:32

Ammon and Moab                                                                        Ez. 25:1-11

God pronounces judgment against Ammon because they gloated over the destruction
of Judah, Jerusalem, and the Lord’s temple. God is going to bring people from
the east to do the same to Ammon and its capital Rabbah as He did to Israel.
Their land will become a wasteland only good for grazing animals. All this happens
because they rejoiced over the destruction of God’s people, Israel. God’s purpose
is the same as He had for Israel, that they may know God and acknowledge He
is Lord.

Moab doesn’t necessarily rejoice as did Ammon but they do ridicule Israel
who was not strong enough to resist Assyria and Babylon. Israel was not given
special treatment because God chose them. God judged Moab’s sin just like
He did with everyone else. Consequently, Moab will be destroyed with the Ammonites.

These judgments most likely came by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar in 582 BC.

Edom and Philistia                                                 Ez. 25:12-17

Here we see Edom and Philistia guilty of revenge against Israel and exhibiting
vengeance and malice against Judah, their closest neighbor. God, therefore,
is going to take vengeance upon them with His wrath, killing them with the sword.

It is difficult to pinpoint their destruction at the hand of a single nation
in that many nations many times went through these areas. However, Nebuchadnezar
may have delivered the final blow. See my comments on Amos 1-2.

Even though Israel was guilty of great sin and wickedness, God still loved
His people enough to punish them and also stick up for them. They were sons
and daughters, His own. This is no different than a parent supporting their
children in time of trouble. Even when God’s wrath is being poured out, God
expresses compassion and love for His disobedient children. God’s people are
God’s focus. We too can be assured as God’s children, we who place our faith
in Him, that God’s focus is on us when we disobey Him and when we obey Him.
God always has our best interests at heart.

Tyre                                                Ez. 26:1-28:19

This is the most significant and complete record of God’s judgment against
Tyre. Isaiah mentions it as did other minor prophets but their prophecies are
very short. Both Nebuchadnezzar and Alexander the Great launched major campaigns
against Tyre. Nebuchadnezar’s lasted 13-15 years but Alexander’s was the most
devastating.

Their Judgment                             Ez. 26:1-21

This prophecy was given in the 11th year of King Jehoiachin or sometime in
587-586 BC. Since Ezekiel is chronological except for one later passage concerning
Egypt, this oracle came in the later part of his 11th year after Jerusalem had
fallen to Nebuchadnezzar. The people of Tyre are also accused by God for rejoicing
upon hearing of the fall of Jerusalem [vs. 2]. Judah’s [and Israel’s] location
was significant to trade north-south and east-west. The fall of Jerusalem was
like a trade barrier being lifted because Tyre was the main seaport on the eastern
side of the Mediterranean Sea. With the fall of Jerusalem, Tyre rejoiced at
their good fortune and potential for greater wealth.

But greater wealth is not God’s will. God’s will is judgment [vs. 4-6]. Her
walls and towers [protection] will be torn down and her settlements plundered.
This refers to Nebuchadnezar’s siege of the city totaling 13+ years. It followed
his conquering of Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar just moved his armies and equipment
from Jerusalem to Tyre and employed the same strategy [vs. 7-14]. Tyre’s walls
will be breached and much killing and plundering will take place. Verses 13-14
probably refers to Tyre’s end caused by Alexander the Great in 332 BC.

Tyre’s neighbors and trading partners tremble because Tyre is no more. Their
economic and political livelihood is threatened so they mourn [vs. 17-18]. Verses
19-21 describe the complete destruction of Tyre and its’ harbor by Alexander
the Great.

Again we see that God is sovereign, raising His hand of wrath against those
who would harm or take advantage of His people, even in their punishment. This
is why we , the United States, must not undercut Israel but support her and
aid her in becoming a strong people and a strong nation. God administers His
punishment and redemption according to His Sovereign will. Our responsibility
is to let Him be Sovereign and not try to thwart His will [we couldn’t anyway]
and support/encourage His people to be all that they can be.

Their Lament                                                                      Ez. 27:1-36

God instructs Ezekiel to write this lament or eulogy about Tyre, the dominant
shipping and commerce city on the eastern side of the Mediterranean Sea. It
was a city of wealth and beauty, analogous to New York City. Verses 3-7 compare
it to the finest ships made. Note the number of countries and cultures involved
to make and outfit the fastest and most seaworthy vessels of that day. Their
ships were manned with men from Sidon and Arvad, captained by the men of Tyre,
and maintained by craftsman from Gebal. Tyre specialized in commerce so they
outsourced their protection [vs. 10-11]. Tyre traded with countries as far away
as Spain [Tarshish]. They traded goods, animals, slaves, metals, precious stones,
wood, ivory, food, medicine, spices, and wine [vs. 12-24]. If people wanted
it, Tyre traded it.

But an east wind blows, Babylonia, and their good life is shipwrecked by Babylonia’s
13-15 year siege of Tyre. They are no longer able to trade and people are out
of work [vs. 12-32]. Their beauty is gone, their wealth is gone, their reputation
is gone, and their people are shattered and drowning in despair. A bustling
city of great wealth and commerce has become a quiet city of hopelessness. Tyre
has gone from being full of life to death itself.

Such is life without faith in God. We who place our faith in God know that
there is life after death, a glorious and heavenly life in the presence of God.
As Christians, we do not lose hope as we age but live in expectation of what
awaits us. Tyre’s god was wealth and commerce. Our God, as followers of Jesus
Christ, is the Lord God Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth. Our God has
planned for our future in His Kingdom. Regardless what may take place on earth,
we live with assurance and expectation as a bride awaits the bridegroom to take
her home to the great wedding feast of all believers in heaven. His Kingdom
is forever. Praise God!

Their King                                                    Ez. 28:1-10

God chastises the King of Tyre for his pride and arrogance. The king thinks
he is a god but he is only a man. the king thinks he is wise like a god but
he is not wise like Daniel even though he has become very wealthy by using his
wisdom and skill in trading [vs. 1-5].

Because the king is proud and thinks he is wise, God is going to humble him
by bringing ruthless foreigners against the city to kill him. He will die a
violent death as a man [vs. 7-10].

Their King’s Lament                                    Ez. 28:11-19

Tyre’s King would be considered tall, dark, handsome, and wise. He was created
by God to possess the giftedness he exhibited. He was born with special abilities
and given special protection to do good. He was born to be a blessing to his
people [vs. 11-15]. See also Romans 13.

The king started well but wickedness came to dwell in his heart. His skill
at trade led to violence. His beauty led to pride. Therefore, God has chosen
to remove him from his throne, strip him of his wisdom, and make him an example
for other kings [vs. 16-17].

Perhaps the king even worshipped God and encouraged the worship of God early
in his reign [vs. 18] but turned to idol worship. It appears Tyre has a parallel
history to that of Israel. Therefore, Tyre will experience the same wrath of
God as did Israel [vs. 18-19].

Sidon                                                                    Ez. 28:20-26

Sidon is another seaport north of Tyre. God also is promising to inflict His
wrath upon her with plagues and war. God wants them to know who He is, the Lord
God and sovereign over them [vs. 20-23]. There is a secondary purpose too, to
eliminate Israel’s border enemies before Israel returns to their land [vs. 24-25].

God closes this section with a promise, to show Himself holy among them. Other
nations will see His holiness and Israel’s holiness. God will protect Israel
and they will flourish/prosper. Israel’s enemies have been punished and subdued.
Israel will know that God is the true Lord God Almighty. This is the Lord’s
first word of hope for the future given to His prophet Ezekiel. This promise
was partially fulfilled upon their return to the land. Its’ complete fulfillment
is slated for Christ’s Second Advent when Christ defeats all His enemies and
becomes the King of Kings ruling Jerusalem for a thousand years [Rev. 19:11-20:6].

Egypt                            Ez. 29:1-32:32

Their Judgment                                   Ez. 29:1-21

This prophecy came about one year before Ezekiel’s prophecy of Tyre’s judgment.
God calls Pharaoh a monster for claiming control of all territory associated with
the Nile River [vs. 3]. Pharaoh even seems to claim he created the Nile. God
promises to take Egypt and all the people living along the Nile and entice them
into the desert where they will be destroyed and left to feed the animals. Egypt
will know that God is Lord and not the gods of Egypt [vs. 6]. Egypt is being
punished for not keeping their word to support Israel. Israel came to them for
help but Egypt caved in and Israel was conquered. Therefore, they will be conquered
too [vs. 7-8] from Migdol to Aswan and the border of Cush [Ethiopia]. Egypt
is to be conquered and the land made desolate, including its cities, for 40
years. Scholars believe the 40 years is not literal but just represents a long
time. Egypt’s inhabitants will be scattered among the nations as Israel was
scattered. In fact, after 40 years Egyptians will return and reestablish their
nation. However, it will never have the power and influence they once had. They
will continue to be a reminder to Israel of their sin in seeking help from man
instead of from God. Egypt will no longer be a temptation to Israel [vs. 16.

Ezekiel receives another word from God concerning Egypt 17 years later, near
the end of Ezekiel’s prophetic life [vs. 17]. We learn that Nebuchadnezzar is
to be given Egypt and it’s wealth as a reward for their 13 year siege of Tyre.
Babylon is being rewarded by God for being God’s servant and carrying out His
wrath upon those nations who worship idols and who think their leaders are gods.
[vs. 18-20].

Verse 21 can have a variety of interpretations but the “horn” is
not considered to be the Messiah. Perhaps Zerubbabel was born, who became the
leader of the first Israelites to return or perhaps Israel’s heart was finally
softening and they were more willing to listen to God through His prophet Ezekiel.

This whole section is difficult to grasp historically in that secular history
during this period is sparse. One of the most detailed accounts of both scripture
coupled with the historical records can be found in the NIV Expositor’s Commentary
edited by Frank Gaebelein. Even my textbook on world history quotes Ezekiel
29 to aid their interpretation of history during this time period. After reading
these two sources plus another two sentences from a third source, I offer the
following speculatory comments.

  1. Nebuchadnezzar plundered Egypt around 570 BC. Forty years later would be 530 BCC. Israel was allowed to return by Cyrus, King of Persia who conquered Babylon, in 535 BC. Therefore, it is likely Egyptian exiles would also be allowed to return.
  2. What was left of Egypt’s dynasty after its’ defeat by Nebuchadnezzar was a “broken reed” according to An Encyclopedia of World History by William Langer. Evidently Greece was flexing its’ muscle by then and sent several excursions into Egypt, defeating the small Egyptian armies and preventing them from risingto power before the forty years were up.

Their Lament                                            Ez. 30:1-26

This lament picks up where Chapter 29 begins. The day of the Lord usually
refers to the Second Advent but in the context of this passage it seems to refer
to the day of the Lord’s wrath against Egypt. Egypt and her allies, those along
the Nile, will die by the sword, God’s sword, Nebuchadnezzar [Ez. 21]. The devastation
described in verses 6-8 is similar to the devastation Babylon caused on all
the nations they encountered and conquered and is confirmed in the text [vs.
10].

One of the reasons God has for destroying Egypt is their worship of idols
[vs. 13]. There is more detail in verses 1-9 than in any history book I have
read. I assume the battles described are a result of Babylonian victories and
plundering. Egypt had leaders [princes] but no Pharaoh’s, the last being Hopra
[Apreis] who rebelled against Babylon and initiated Egypt’s destruction. Verses
20-26 detail God’s prophetic action by Nebuchadnezzar toward Hopra. The great
nation of Egypt will be great no longer because they did not keep their word
to Israel even though Israel was disobedient and worshipped idols.

The sin of idolatry is a big issue with God. God has the least tolerance for
this sin against Him. Nations are being destroyed because of their idolatry
and in His Day of Wrath, all nations will be destroyed because of their idolatry.
Idolatry is national/cultural and personal. We must listen to what God has said
and remember what He has done because of idolatry and then search our own hearts
and lives. We must repent of our own idolatry and turn to God before it is too
late.

Egypt Compared to Assyria                                             Ez. 31:1-18

The word of the Lord concerning Egypt came again in the 11th year of Jehoichin’s
reign [assumes he was still king] to Pharaoh and his people. The date is 587
BC. Jerusalem is under siege and the Pharaoh Hophra has been on the throne for
about 1 year. He is the last Pharaoh of any significance for about the next
170 years.

God compares Egypt to Assyria who was in decline from 626 BC and conquered
by Babylon by 609 BC. Assyria was probably chosen for this comparison because
its’ history is known and relevant.. Babylon is still too young. And the third
power at that time was Egypt. Verses 3-9 go into great detail telling how great
and glorious the Assyrian Empire was. Israel was nowhere near her equal [vs.
8]. And God was responsible for her strength and beauty [vs. 9]. But God gave
Assyria to the ruthless Babylonians because of her pride [vs. 10-11]. God also
expresses sorrow over her fall [vs. 15].

The punch line of this oracle is verse 18. As great and strong as Assyria
was, she fell. Egypt may be compared to Assyria [vs. 2] but she is not her equivalent.
So if Assyria fell to Babylon, Egypt will also fall to Babylon along with many
other nations.

Pharaoh’s Lament Ez. 32:1-32

This lament follows one year later in 585 BC. Once again Hophra is referred
to as a monster controlling the areas along the Nile River. God’s prophecy through
Ezekiel in verses 3-6 are very similar to that said in Chapter 29. It will be
a dark day when Egypt falls [vs. 7-10] and many nations will be appalled and
terrified.

Babylon is to be the source of their downfall [vs. 11]. This prophecy in verses
11-15 is similar to Chapter 31 but not as detailed.

Ezekiel is instructed to mourn for Egypt. Her fate is no different than that
of many nations including Judah [vs. 18]. There is a new world power, a ruthless
and murderous nation called Babylon. Egypt will go the way of Assyria [vs. 22-23].
Verses 24-32 add to defining the extent of Babylon’s Empire.

In one sense, Chapters 25-32 have more to do with Babylonia’s rise to power
to serve as God’s instrument of wrath, ridding the world of idolatry. It is
a display of God’s sovereignty over the nations and it’s leaders. Regardless
of our own political allegiance, God is sovereign over our leaders too. They
may be part of God’s Divine Plan for good, instruments of His wrath and/ or
for our punishment. Let us always pray for our leaders, that they would do good
and see God’s wisdom. Our future on earth depends on them. But let us also remember
that our eternal future is in the hands of Almighty God who desires that we
repent of our sins and return to worship Him for who He is, our Savior and Lord.

Righteous Responsibility Required                                  Ezekiel 33:1-20

One would be remiss to study this passage alone. This is the third time such
a message has been given to Ezekiel by God. The other two are found in Ezekiel
3:16-20 and Ezekiel 18:1-32. The first was in the context of Ezekiel’s call
to be God’s prophet. The second was given in the context of God’s system of
justice which is emphasized again with respect to the responsibility of the
righteous.

As God’s Chosen Servant-Leaders                                     Ez. 33:1-11

God explains the reasonable and practical aspects concerning the role of a
watchman in verses 1-6. A watchman is chosen to warn people of danger. Essentially,
the watchman is responsible for doing his job correctly and expediently. He
must be alert whether or not something is on the horizon. Likewise, the people
who have been warned have a responsibility to heed the watchman’s warning and
act accordingly.

God has given the job of “watchman” for Israel to Ezekiel. God gave
it to Ezekiel when He called him and now He reminds Ezekiel of that earlier
instruction 7 years later. Ezekiel is to tell the wicked that they will die
if they do not repent of their sin and return to the Lord. Ezekiel is responsible
to warn the people and the people are responsible for responding properly to
Ezekiel’s warning [vs. 7-9]. When Israel hears and asks what they should do,
Ezekiel is to tell them of God’s mercy and encourage them to repent of their
sin that they might live and not die [vs. 11]. Therefore, verses 1-11 repeats
the message of Ezekiel 3:16-20.

God has called many of us believers in Christ as His Special Servants and
gifted us with varying positions of responsibility in His Church. We who have
this special calling are expected to do the job for which we have been called
and to do it well, to the best of our ability, consistently and constantly.
Failure to be responsible to our calling leads to death. Being responsible to
our call will lead to spiritual growth and life for many who hear and accept
God’s message from our lips. Have you a special call ? If so, take heed and
practice righteous responsibility at all times.

As God’s Chosen Servant-People                                    Ez. 33:12-20

Obedience to God’s Word is required of the righteous. Should they turn away
from God and sin, they will die. The wicked, should they turn to God and live
according to God’s Word, doing what is right and just, will live.

God readily forgives our sins and forgets our sins. Simply put, we are to
live responsibly in righteousness if we are to be assured of eternal life. This
is God’s system of justice. We may say it is not fair but God says it is JUST.
God is in control and what He has decreed is fair and just, holy and righteous.
He is man’s judge. Man has no authority to judge when it comes to spiritual
life or death. Judgment of man is God’s responsibility. What is said in verses
12-20 was said previously in Ezekiel 18:1-32. See also Hebrews 6:6 and 10:26.
[The real sin in this context refers to replacing God with self; idolatry.]

We are not only required to live lives of righteousness but lives of repentance.
It is impossible for us to live and not sin, that is to be disobedient. But
we can live doing God’s good works of righteousness with an attitude of humble
repentance, praising God for His love and mercy in granting us the righteousness
of His Son, Jesus Christ, who knew no sin but became sin for us that we who
believe in Him can be assured of eternal life [see Heb. 4:14-15, I John 3:4-10,
Rom. 3:21-26]. We are justified and counted as righteous because of our faith
in Christ Jesus. Our hearts are right but many times our actions are wrong.
Therefore, God’s work of sanctification and purification commences to make us
holy as He is holy. Our righteousness is a function of our faith. We have a
responsibility unto righteousness to acknowledge and confess our sin, repenting
and seeking His mercy and forgiveness such that we become more like Christ.

Messages of Accountability                                  Ezekiel 33:21-35:15

The Accountability of God’s Prophet                                         Ez. 33:21-33

Ezekiel is in the 12th year of his exile [585 BC] and a fugitive arrives in
Babylon with the news that Jerusalem has fallen, thus fulfilling the prophecy
of Ezekiel 24:26. Ezekiel’s tongue is freed to speak [vs. 22]. Evidently God
had exercised control of Ezekiel’s tongue up to this time [Ez. 3:26-27]. God
is still telling him what to say but He is giving him more freedom as to when
and where to speak. Ezekiel is no longer considered by God to be His “prophet
in training”. The people coming to Babylon [vs. 24] do not understand how
Abraham could possess the land and they could not. Sheer numbers favored them.
But their problem was not numbers but faith. They rejected God and worshipped
idols [vs. 25]. They shed innocent blood and practiced adultery [vs. 26]. That
is why Jerusalem fell to the sword, those in the country were attacked by wild
animals, and those who sought shelter in caves became sick [vs. 27]. The land
has been laid waste so that the people will come to understand that God is Lord
and sovereign over all. See also Leviticus 26-27.

Ezekiel learns from the Lord that the people are talking about him. They are
beginning to recognize him as God’s prophet. Their hearts are softening and
they are more willing to listen. The reports from this third group of exiles
will confirm what Ezekiel has been telling, showing, and explaining to them
these past seven years. Right now they are listening but ignoring Ezekiel’s
words. They still think of him as an entertainer. But God says that soon they
will begin to listen and take heed, acknowledging that Ezekiel is a true prophet
sent by the Lord God.

Ezekiel’s tongue has been loosed and he is to be accountable to God and finally
respected by the exiles. He will speak freely concerning the people’s accountability
for their sin, the real reason for their exile. Likewise, we have access to
the TRUTH, God’s Word. Therefore, we too are responsible and accountable to
God for all that we say and do. God has given us His Holy Spirit to indwell
our hearts teaching us and giving us messages to relay on behalf of the Lord
God. Sometimes we will be effective and other times we will be ineffective.
Ezekiel’s ministry is changing from being ineffective to being effective. Regardless,
God expects us to be responsible servants of His Kingdom and is holding us accountable.
God is worthy. May we also be worthy.

The Accountability of Israel’s Leaders                                         Ez. 34:1-31

God asks Ezekiel to prophecy against Israel’s leaders because they placed
their own needs above the needs of the people [vs. 2-3]. They have ignored the
weak and sick while ruling with harsh brutality [vs. 4]. The people were scattered
[exiled] over the earth because Israel’s leaders did not carry out their God-given
responsibilities. Therefore, God is holding them accountable for their actions
by removing them from their positions[vs. 10]. God’s people will no longer be
subjected to their irresponsible behavior.

God is taking over as Israel’s leader and will rescue them, bringing them
back to their lands [vs. 11-13]. God will provide for their need for food, protection,
loving care, mercy and justice. The people will return but their leaders will
not. God will act as judge, determining who are worthy to remain as His children
and who are not [vs. 17, 20]. God does not judge according to wealth or position
[vs. 20-22].

In tending to His sheep [children], God will appoint a shepherd from David’s
lineage to be their prince [king] and bring them peace, security, rain, and
crops. They will no longer live in fear for their lives from their enemies or
famine. They will know God and know His blessings. He will be their God. God
gives them hope through His promises.

This message is a picture of the future. The wicked and/or sin must be removed
before paradise can be created. “Paradise” would not be “paradise”
if evil is allowed to remain and influence God’s children. Therefore, this prophecy
was fulfilled in part with Israel’s return to their land but it will not be
completely fulfilled until Christ comes as our “prince” or King of
Kings to rule [Second Advent]. But remember, we can live in “paradise”
right now by accepting Christ as our Lord and Savior, making Him our King, repenting
of our sin and receiving His forgiveness; living in peace and security, assured
of His provision for all that we need while rejoicing in His unconditional love.
This relationship between Israel’s leaders and her people under God’s sovereignty
is analogous to our own spiritual lives. There is a difference between the physical
and spiritual worlds, but the same Godly principles of love and justice govern
both.

The Accountability of Edom                                             Ez. 35:1-15

God is holding Edom accountable for its’ actions, especially those against
Israel. These first four verses parallel God’s judgment prophesied by Ezekiel
in Chapter 25.

Edom [Esau] was a twin brother of Jacob [Israel] and Esau’s hostility toward
Jacob lived on through his descendants [vs. 5]. Forgiveness was foreign to them
whereas holding a grudge was culturally acceptable. The more Israel was punished
the more Edom rejoiced. Their attitude will result in the same bloodshed and
desolation of their land and country as that of Judah and all of Israel because
they refused to help their brother [vs. 6-9]. Edom even believed they were strong
enough and capable enough to take the land given to Israel, occupy it, and posses
it as their own [vs. 10]. They did not realize that the land was God’s to give
and not theirs to take. It was still Israel’s land even though God gave it to
Babylon and others to control for awhile. Therefore, God is disciplining them,
holding them accountable for their anger, jealousy, and hatred toward His children,
Israel. In fact, God’s judgment of Edom will help exiled Israel to take notice
and begin to realize once again who is God [vs. 11].

Edom’s judgment will take place at a time when the whole world is rejoicing.
The wording [translation] seems to imply that the Babylonian Empire is at peace,
war has stopped, and order among the nations and peoples has been restored.
Or perhaps everyone is rejoicing because the boastful and proud people of the land
of Edom are finally getting what they deserve, justice at the hand of God. Edom’s
rejoicing at the fall of Israel caused God to end His patience with them and
bring His desolation upon them [vs. 15]. They never recovered. God’s judgment
was final. They too learned who God was but it was too late.

Jesus summed up the commandments with two simple statements; love the Lord
and love your neighbor [Matt. 22:37-39]. Edom did neither. In fact, they rejoiced
at their neighbor’s calamity. It is very important for us Christians to not
rejoice over any difficulties others are having, especially those who are considered
our enemies, who have wronged us, and who persecute us for our faith. We are
to love our enemies and pray for them that they too will know the Lord [Matt.
5:44]. We are to love as Christ loved. We are to forgive as Christ forgave.
We do not judge. That is done by the Lord [Is. 34:8; Matt. 7:1]. God’s action
against Edom serves as an excellent reminder and example of how the Lord God
expects His people to behave toward others. Take heed! God is holding you and
I [all of us] accountable.

Messages of Hope                                                           Ezekiel 36:1-39:29

Israel’s Future                                                                    Ez. 36:1-38

This prophecy of HOPE concerns all Israel and is given to counter the boasting
of Israel’s enemies. These enemies are Edom [Ez. 35] and include Moab, Ammon,
Egypt, and Philistia too [vs. 3-5]. God promises Israel that His wrath will
also come upon them because they followed Assyria and Babylon in plundering
Israel’s vacated lands with malice and glee in their hearts [vs. 6-7].

God promises Israel that they will prosper in the land again. They will return
soon [within about 50 years] because the Lord loves them. He is concerned about
them and will favor them. He will bless them and bring them back to their Promised
Land to rebuild their cities, increasing their numbers of people and animals.
God promises to bless them more than He has in the past [vs. 11]. By doing so,
God will accomplish His purpose; that they will know Him, the Lord God Almighty.

Israel’s sins were great. Other nations accused them of devouring men and
depriving their nation of children [vs. 13]. Israel was scorned by the nations
around them [vs. 15]. Their behavior profaned God’s Name [vs. 17-21]. They not
only oppressed the weak and needy, they willingly sacrificed their children
to Molech. This concerned God because His Name was associated with Israel and
their Promised Land. So God, according to His justness and holiness, poured
out His wrath upon Israel [vs. 18].

Next God explains His second purpose for His wrath. His first purpose is so
that Israel and all nations will turn from their wicked ways, repent, and return
to the Lord God; knowing God as the Creator, Almighty Lord, and Savior [vs.
11, 23, 28, 36, & 38]. This theme is documented throughout all the Prophets.
God’s second purpose is explained in verses 21-23. God is redeeming Israel for
the sake of His Holy Name. He is not just a God of justice and wrath but a God
of love, mercy, and grace. He is our Redeemer.

As Redeemer, note what God promises to accomplish.

  1. Multiply their number. [vs. 10, 37]
  2. Rebuild their land and cities. [vs. 10, 33, 35]
  3. Increase their men and animals. [vs. 11, 38]
  4. Prosper them as never before. [vs. 11]
  5. Refute oppression and idolatry. [vs. 13]
  6. Remove their scorn from other nations. [vs. 15]
  7. Never again fall as a nation. [vs. 15]
  8. Show forth His Holiness. [vs. 23]
  9. Gather them and bring them back. [vs. 24.
  10. Cleanse them from sin, including idolatry. [vs. 25, 33]
  11. Given them a new heart and a new spirit. [vs. 26, 27]
  12. Obedience to God. [vs. 27]
  13. Live in the Land [vs. 28]
  14. No longer subject to famines. [vs. 29, 34, 35]
  15. Remember their past evil ways and mourn. [vs. 31]

Completely restored and more; that is what God promises His people. But they
must ask to be restored [vs. 37]. By asking, they humble themselves before God
acknowledging only He has the power to save and redeem them. So it is with each
of us. God is more than willing to save and redeem us, giving us an abundant
life beyond measure [John 10:10] if we humbly seek Him and acknowledge Him as
the Lord God Almighty. This was God’s promise of Hope to Israel and it is God’s
promise of Hope to each of us. God’s throne room has an “open door”
policy. Avail yourself of it. He will be pleased to meet you and bless you.

Concerning Israel, this promise has yet to be fulfilled. Israel returned to
the land and returned to the Lord for a period of time but they never possessed
or controlled the land completely until 1948. They still do not avail themselves
of God’s grace through His Son, Jesus Christ. But all things are in place and
ready. Soon Israel will understand and God will give them a new heart and a
new spirit but they must first humble themselves before Him and ask. The fulfillment
of this promise will take place just prior to Christ’s Second Advent and during
His Millennial Reign per Revelation.

The Messages of Hope which follow give the details relating to Israel’s future
as summarized in Ezekiel 36. Ezekiel’s prophecy has now changed from doom to
hope.

Israel Will Be Revived                                                 Ez. 37:1-14

The Spirit of God comes upon Ezekiel and he envisions being placed in a valley
full of bones. These bones were many and very dry, belonging to those who were
dead a long time [vs. 1-3]. God poses a question to Ezekiel; “Can these
bones live?” God answers in verses 4-6 saying indeed these bones will have
breath and flesh and come to life. The resurrection of these bones is to fulfill
God’s purpose for and promise to Israel; that they once again know the Lord God Almighty.

While in the Spirit, Ezekiel is commanded to prophesy to these “bones”
so that they may “come alive”. As Ezekiel prophesied, the bones took
on breath from the four winds, took on flesh, and stood before him as a vast
army.

These bones represent Israel, both the northern and southern kingdoms united
once again [vs. 11]. God promises to bring Israel to life, place them back in
the Promised Land, and put His Spirit in them. Israel will know the Lord and
know that the Lord has done this.

This vision gave hope to the exiles that they would be a nation once again.
It is a vision of resurrection hope for Israel and for us. God promises to demonstrate
to Israel physically what He is able to do for each of us spiritually. Jesus
said we must be “born again” to enter the Kingdom of God. God is telling
Israel they will be “born again” and possess His Promised land. Judah
returned in 535 BC and in 1948 AD Israel finally became a sovereign nation.
They are still in the process of becoming “born again”. They are still
awaiting God’s Spirit to come upon them. They are beginning to understand that
they occupy their land because God has willed it, not because man did it.

Spiritually, we are dead in sin but God through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ,
grants us life eternally [see Romans 6 notes and chart in my New Testament Commentary]

Israel Will Have a King                                        Ez. 37:15-28

Earlier I stated the dry bones represented a united Israel. Verses 15-22 explain
this reuniting. The northern kingdom was exiled to Assyria, scattered among
the nations, intermarried and became Samaria, and lost their identity. Judah
was exiled to Babylon but were kept separate and kept their identity. God now
promises to bring them back as one united people. No longer will they be separated
or divided [vs. 22]. They will have one king. They will no longer serve idols
because they will have been cleansed of their sin and redeemed.

David will be their king; a reference to their Messiah, Jesus Christ. They
will obey God’s laws and live in their land in peace forever. David is their
eternal King. A new covenant is established and God will dwell with them. Israel
will know God and they will be His people. All the nations will acknowledge
that God lives among them and made them holy.

Only God has the power to make man holy through “David the King”,
the Messiah, Jesus Christ. He is the one who makes possible the salvation of
Israel and the salvation of each of us. He is the one who dwells with them and
who promises to dwell in our hearts [John 14:15-17; Eph. 2:22; II Cor. 1:21-27].
The new everlasting covenant is a result of His death on the cross as the sacrifice
for all our sin [Heb. 10:8-18].

Scholars have different views regarding this Chapter. Amillenialists view
this passage metaphorically as spiritual rebirth. Dispensationalists view it
as both literal and metaphorical. I prefer the later. I believe God is promising
and making known His plan of redemption for His people Israel as a nation and
for all people spiritually. The common denominator is acknowledging Jesus Christ
as Lord and Savior, the author of the new everlasting covenant. God sees His
people Israel and His people the Church [believers] as one [Romans 11]. This
passage brings hope to Israel and it brings hope to each of us. We are to acknowledge
Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, the One who is able to redeem us, enabling
us to reside in His Kingdom forever.

Israel’s Enemies Will Be Destroyed                                          Ez. 38:1-39:29

These two Chapters will be discussed generally. They concern a prophecy against
Gog and Magog or people descending from Shem, Noah’s son [see Gen. 10]. Generally
speaking, these are people living north of Israel. The armies of Gog [north]
will be joined by armies from Persia [east] and Cush [south]. Many nations will
be allied against Israel [vs. 6]. This is God’s doing because God is against
them [vs. 2] although scripture doesn’t explicitly say why. My guess is that
they dislike Israel, dislike their principles, dislike their beliefs, and, therefore,
want to eliminate them. At this time of war, Israel has been established in
their land [redeemed] and they have been given God’s Spirit because they worship
their King, Jesus Christ, and anticipate His coming. Chapters 38-39 parallel
the writings of John in Revelation 7-9 and 16-19.

These nations are called to war against His people who have recovered from
war, who have been gathered together from the nations to Israel, and who now
live in safety [vs. 7-9]. It seems strange that God would direct a war against
His Redeemed People but the story does not end here. This is only the beginning
of what God oversees in His Sovereignty. Note that Israel’s cities no longer
have walls [vs. 11] and the people have prospered [vs. 12] via God’s blessings.
Note the many times Israel is referred to as living in safety; at least three
times in the first 13 verses.

This large army begins advancing on Israel [vs. 14]. God’s purpose through
all this activity against His people is to show all people His Holiness [vs.
16]. Because their hearts are set against Israel, God allows them to attack.
But in doing so, God’s anger is aroused. In so doing, earthquakes happen, all
the animals tremble, and all people tremble because God is showing Himself.
Man cannot control what is happening. Note how this general description ties
into the Trumpet and Bowl judgments described in Revelation. God declares war
on those nations bringing forth plagues, in-fighting, rain, hail, and volcanic
activity. God makes Himself known through theses calamities and with His Presence
[see Rev. 19:11-21; Phil. 2:10-11].

Chapter 39 provides more details concerning the destruction of this army of
allied nations. When they arrive and enter Israel, God will strike [vs. 1-8].
Through all this, God’s Name will be raised up, made known, recognized as holy,
no longer profaned, and declared Sovereign [vs. 6-8].

Verse 9 ushers in an era of true peace, the Millennial Reign of Christ [Rev.
20:1-6]. The mention of 7 years in verse 9 probably refers to “completeness”
and not the Tribulation because verse 10 indicates victory for God’s people.

Gog’s armies will be buried in a valley in Israel, Armageddon, the Valley
of Jezreel. It will take all Israel at least 7 months to accomplish this task
[perhaps 7 again denote completeness]. Israel will be involved in a huge environmental
cleanup project [vs. 14]. Birds and animals will participate in cleansing the
land [vs. 17-20]. See also Revelation 19:17-18.

In conclusion [vs. 25-29], Israel will know the Lord their God. They realize,
along with all the nations, that they were exiled and scattered because of their
sin. God hid from them. But God has promised to bring them back from captivity
which He did in 535 BC [Judah] and in 1948 [all tribes]. He is ready to show
Himself Holy and to make Himself known to them [happening]. God is getting ready
to pour our His Spirit among them [the 144,000 sealed in Revelation 7]. God
is Sovereign. He has promised to redeem His people and He is keeping His Promise.

Come, Let Us Serve the Lord                                      Ezekiel 40:1-48:35

In many ways this section could have been included with the previous section
and be part of the outline of the steps needed for Israel’s return to their
former glory. Then the outline would read:

  1. Israel is revived as a nation. Ez. 36:1-37:14
  2. Israel accepts the Lord as her King. Ez. 37:15-28
  3. Israel’s enemies are destroyed. Ez. 38:1-39:29
  4. Israel returns to the Lord in worship. Ez. 40:1-48:35

Israel’s acceptance of the Lord as her King and her return to the Lord God
in worship are tied together. Acceptance drives worship. Therefore, this portion
of scripture [Ez. 40-48] is driven by Ezekiel 37. But the rebuilding of the
temple is also key to Israel’s accepting, worshipping, and serving the Lord.

I have chosen to give Chapters 40-48 its own significance in my outline because
worshipping and serving the Lord is so important and these chapters are so filled
with detail. I also chose to focus on the word “serve” instead of
“worship”. Serve seems to be a broader term in today’s language whereas
worship is a broader term in Biblical language. These chapters portray what
happens when Israel [we] begin to seek God, acknowledge Him as Lord, and depend
on Him. Read Isaiah 60-62, including my comments, along with theses 9 chapters
of Ezekiel. They go hand in hand. What was prophesied by Ezekiel was also prophesied
by Isaiah.

Note that the outline is in the form of sentences beginning with the exhortation
“let us”. Although the outline breaks up the sentences, I think this
best represents the flow of Ezekiel’s final prophecies. Below I have written
the outline in completed sentences and included a New Testament version in italics.

Come, let us serve the Lord.

Let us rebuild the temple to receive God’s glory.

Let us prepare to serve by choosing qualified servants to govern responsibly.

Let us worship the Lord.

Let us enjoy the Lord’s blessing as we occupy His Promised Land.

Come, let us worship the Lord.Let us open our hearts to receive the Lord.

Let us prepare to serve the Lord by appointing gifted disciples to
manage and oversee His ministry.

Let us give Him our praise and thanksgiving.

Let us remember our salvation and riches in Christ as we enter the
gates to His heavenly eternal Kingdom.

Having said this, let me refer you to the Excursus of this section found in
the Expositors Bible Commentary written by Ralph P. Alexander and edited by
Frank Gaebelein. This is an excellent treatise relating how and why Bible scholars
have trouble interpreting this passage and determining what it means. This scripture
portion is written with remarkable clarity and thus, raises questions. When
preparing to comment on this section, I found I had many of the same questions
discussed by Mr. Alexander. Overall, I think we are on the same page. However,
he takes a much more scholarly approach. Nevertheless, the comments I write
are my interpretation and reflect my thinking and notes made prior to reading
his remarks. But his remarks did help solidify my comments.

Let Us Rebuild the Temple                               Ez. 40:1-42:20

Fourteen years have passed since Jerusalem fell so the year is 573 BC, twenty-five
years since Ezekiel was exiled and thirty-three years since the first exile
of Judah. God takes Ezekiel to the temple mount in Jerusalem by way of a vision
and there he meets an angel who is laying out the building site for a new temple.
The detail is astounding and I simply refer you to the many scholarly renditions
depicting this construction project.

This temple project does not conform to Solomon’s original temple [David’s
building plans]. John describes a heavenly Jerusalem in Revelation 21 but it
does not have a temple. Zerubbabel rebuilt Solomon’s first temple upon Judah’s
return from exile but he repaired and used the existing foundation. This temple
is detailed, is not known to have existed in the past, and is about twice as
large as the original temple. This is why many scholars believe a third temple
will be built. It is the most reasonable explanation. And if you travel to Israel
and Jerusalem today, the Jewish people openly talk of a third temple. They are
building vessels and priests clothing. They would be building today if there
were not Moslem mosques on temple mount. Therefore, I personally believe this
is a third temple and will be constructed on Mt. Moriah in Jerusalem sometime
during the “Tribulation” period. The building of this temple signals
the return of Israel to worshipping the Lord God Almighty. Today many Jews acknowledge
God but in the future the Jews will return to worship Him. Worship is their
first step prior to acknowledging Jesus Christ as their Messiah, their Lord
and Savior; their King. They return to the old before accepting the new. It
is an important step toward their redemption.

This temple, built during the Tribulation and desecrated by the Anti-Christ,
remains through the Millennial Reign of Christ, serving as His throne room until
the “New Jerusalem” arrives to accept all believers for eternity.

To Receive God’s Glory                                                Ez. 43:1-12

This is the most important and pivotal section of scripture in these last
nine chapters of Ezekiel. You will recall that Ezekiel was given a vision from
God in Chapter 10 where he witnessed the leaving of God’s glory from the temple.
Israel/Judah sinned against God and had abandoned God, abandoning the worship
practices instituted by God. Therefore, God abandoned them because of their
sin and poured out His wrath upon them through Babylon as punishment.

Now Ezekiel sees the return of God’s glory to the temple, to dwell with His
people forever. God has a home among His chosen people. But more important,
they are open to letting Him dwell in their hearts and cleansing them from sin.
Even though God states this is where He will rule [vs. 7], I do not believe
this refers to Christ’s Second Advent. My speculation is that the return of
God’s glory commences the sealing of the 144,000 evangelists of Revelation 7
and the ministry of the two witnesses of Revelation 11. Israel has built their
temple and their hearts are now open to receiving the Lord. God’s glory is revealed
to them and soon He will come and rule in their hearts, over their land, over
the whole earth, and forever in heaven.

Temple mount has been cleared and all buildings raised. A third temple has
been erected, God’s glory has returned to dwell with Israel, and the area has
been declared holy.

Allow me to backtrack a little. It is entirely possible that God’s glory envisioned
by Ezekiel is the Second Advent of our Lord. It is also possible then that Ezekiel’s
temple is a fourth temple instead of a third temple. The first temple was built
by Solomon and the second temple by Zerubbabel. Currently, Israel believes it
could build a third temple in the same area as the first two just north of the
Dome of the Rock mosque. Daniel’s “abomination that brings desolation”
happens in the temple at midpoint of the 70th week, the Tribulation period.
God’s wrath is poured out on all the earth during the last half of the 70th
week. Part of that wrath involves earthquakes affecting this area. Therefore,
it is entirely possible that this great physical upheaval clears the mount of
mosques and the desecrated temple [3rd] so that a fourth temple can be built.
And it is entirely possible that Ezekiel’s temple is the 3rd temple and by some
miraculous event, temple mount is cleared for rebuilding at the beginning of
the 70th week. We are given general information, not details. Therefore, we
must keep watch and continually compare events with scripture to determine the
true meaning.

One fact cannot be disputed. There is a temple on Mt. Moriah wherein God dwells
and rules the earth during His Millennial Reign. That is all we need to know
and understand. We can expound beyond this fact, which I have, but it is all
speculation at this time. The future will clearly show what I have said to be
either true or false. Fortunately, our faith is in the person of Jesus Christ
and not in the interpretation of the future except to believe His promise to
return [John 14].

Let Us Prepare to Serve                                     Ez. 43:13-25

Here Ezekiel is given the design of a special altar to be used in worship.
But first the altar and the appointed priests from the family of Zadok must
be consecrated to serve the Lord. In so doing, they agree to perform their duties
as loving and holy servants of the Lord and of those who come to worship.

If we are to serve the Lord, we are to be consecrated for His service and
ministry; each and every one of us who claim Jesus Christ as our Savior and
Lord. We are to come before Him in all humility, confessing and repenting of
all our sin, receiving a special anointing of His Holy Spirit to provide us
direction according to His Will so we can serve faithfully and in righteousness.
God blesses all His people as they dedicate their lives in service to Him.

By Choosing Qualified Servants                              Ez. 44:1-31

It appears the Lord has returned to rule the earth for 1000 years [vs. 1-2].
The enemies of the Lord and Israel have been defeated and a “prince”
has been appointed [vs. 3]. I assume this is Israel’s king in a governing position
below the King of Kings, Jesus Christ. Some scholars believe this prince to
be King David resurrected to serve once again.

Those chosen to serve are given responsibilities relating to their past conduct
and not according to their current relationship with the Lord. Those Levites
who were disobedient in the past and led people astray, those who neglected
their duties and ignored God’s statutes, may continue to serve but in a lesser
capacity and responsibility [vs. 5-14]. They can continue to serve the people
but they will not be given responsibility for worship practices. Only those
Levites of the linage of Zadok will be permitted to conduct worship through
sacrifice and offerings because they remained faithful to God’s statues when
the others did not. In carrying out their responsibilities, they must adhere
to a strict dress code and a code of conduct [vs. 17-23]. All their needs will
be provided by the Lord through the people [vs. 28-31]. In addition to their
responsibilities of worship, they have responsibilities for judging disputes
[vs. 24]. Since the Lord is both Priest and King [see Heb. 8], they serve in
a dual role too.

To Govern Responsibly                                                       Ez. 45:1-12

The center of government is the temple area, the residence of the Lord, which
is 500 cubits square. There is open space, 50 cubits, all around. Next will
be an area 25,000 cubits by 20,000 cubits divided into two sections, 25,000
cubits by 10,000 cubits each. One of these sections will contain the sanctuary
and the land and housing for those priests who are the descendents of Zadok.
The other area will be for the remaining Levites who also serve the people [vs.
1-5]. These areas are considered holy and sacred.

Another area of government will occupy 20,000 by 5,000 cubits adjoining the
two large sacred portions. The king or prince has a large area of land extending
both east and west of the sacred area. Although the “prince” seems
to have responsibility over both moral [worship] and civil codes in that he
is allowed to enter the east gate, his major responsibility seems to be on the
civil side. He also has other “princes” to help him govern [vs. 8].

The civil portion of government is responsible to be just, honest, truthful,
and honorable in all respects. There is a high and holy standard for the conduct
of commerce and the treatment of people [vs. 9-12].

Let Us Worship the Lord                                                   Ez. 45:13-46:24

This section of scripture documents the Israelite’s return to traditional
worship practices. They return to worship God in much the same way they began
after receiving their instructions at Mt. Sinai during their exodus from Egypt.
Their Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, may or may not have come to rule depending
on one’s view of Ezekiel 43. If this worship takes place prior to Christ’s return,
they are certainly looking forward to the day of His returning in that they
are under severe stress due to the Trumpet and Bowl Judgments of Revelation
8, 9, and 15. If Christ has returned to rule, they are rejoicing in their salvation
through worship. Regardless of when in time this worship occurs, they are committed
to worshipping the Lord in the only way they know. They worship the Lord through
their sin and guilt offerings because they acknowledge they are sinners and
in need of forgiveness. They are confessing their sin before God knowing that
God, through Jesus Christ, has already sacrificed and atoned for their sin once
and for all [Hebrews 10]. Through the celebration of the various feasts, they
praise and thank God for His grace, mercy, forgiveness, redemption, and blessings.
God is now their provider and protector.

The Lord has saved them and redeemed them. He is their God and they are His
children. God’s promised Spirit has come and changed their hearts. God’s Son
atoned for their sin and the sin of the whole world. God’s chosen people respond
in loving worship, praising and thanking God for His grace and mercy. God has
and is blessing them beyond measure.

The subject in this passage is WORSHIP. Do not get caught up in the details
of how worship is described. Jesus Christ ushered in the New Covenant. Sacrifices
involving blood are no longer required. Sacrifices were symbolic and were meant
to facilitate a change of heart [Psalm 40:6-8 & 51:16-17; I Samuel 15:22].
We are to worship the Lord in Spirit and in Truth [John 4:24]. We are to acknowledge
Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, the only one who has the authority to forgive
our sin and clothe us in righteousness for the sake of His Holy Name [Acts 4:12].
If you are still disturbed about a people sacrificing as a form of worship when
sacrifices are no longer required, let me refer you to these resources:

  1. NIV Study Bible and their notes/charts on Lev. 4-7 and Lev. 23.
  2. A book titled “The Feasts of the Lord” by Marvin Rosenthall and Kevin Howard.

Don’t concern yourself with what was required but with why it was required;
i.e. the purpose and meaning of these worship practices instituted by God to
Israel.

Ezekiel, in Ezekiel 45:13-46:24, is simply documenting joyous spontaneous
worship of the loving and Almighty God who is ruler over all things and is the
only One who can grant eternal life. We should do likewise, following their
example.

Let Us Enjoy the Lord’s Blessing                                         Ez. 47:1-12

Water, much water, is flowing out from the temple to the south. This is fresh
pure living water able to sustain life. This water guarantees life. Water is
a very sparse and critical resource in Israel today. They rely on rain and snowfall
in the northern mountains to flow into the Jordan River. Israel conserves its
water by drip-irrigating all crops. As a result of God’s wrath, Bowl Judgment
#3, the worlds fresh water supply has been contaminated. As a result of God’s
wrath, Bowl Judgment #7, the great earthquake which leveled cities and mountains
probably has released new rivers of water. Israel is now blessed with an abundant
supply of fresh water. It comes from the temple; it comes from God. It is God’s
blessing to His people Israel.

The description of this river leads some scholars to believe Ezekiel’s vision
is of the heavenly Jerusalem. But those scholars usually reject the concept
of Christ’s Millennial Reign and believe those statements are a metaphor for
eternity. I disagree. See my commentary on Revelation 15. Other prophets speak
of this living water present at the end of the age [Joel 3:18; Zechariah 14:8,
Isaiah 35:6-7]. See also my comments on these passages and note how it all ties
in and comes together.

God has returned to rule the earth. His rule brings blessings in the form
of water. Animal life and fish become abundant once again [note Bowl Judgments
#2 & #4]. Trees flourish by the river which is now flowing through what
has been a mountainous desert. The coming of the Lord has accompanied a drastic
change in the earth’s topography [Bowl Judgment #7]. Earth is returning to its
condition prior to the sin of Adam and Eve. The earth is becoming like the original
Garden of Eden. The earth is becoming the precursor to heaven itself. Water
is abundant. Food is abundant. Physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual healing
is abundant. God’s blessings are abundant; to Israel and to all who believe
in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior [John 10:10; 15:1-11].

As We Occupy His Promised Land                                     Ez. 47:13-48:35

The land to be occupied by Israel is greater than ever before but the boundaries
are similar to that promised in Numbers 34. These boundaries appear to include
Lebanon and Syria in the north and Gaza in the south. The Jordan River forms
the eastern boundary on the south and the Mediterranean Sea forms the western
boundary. Jordan lies to the east, Turkey on the north, and Egypt and Saudi
Arabia on the south. Interestingly, these are the more tolerant nations toward
Israel at this time.

The land seems to be divided in equal segments from west to east starting
in the north. Dan is the northernmost tribe followed by Naphtali, Manasseh,
Ephraim, Rueben, and Judah. Next comes the land dedicated for the Levitical
priests, the descendents of Zadok. Then we have the prince’s land and that designated
for the temple followed by the land dedicated for the rest of the Levites who
are to be servants but not priests. Next comes Benjamin, Simeon, Issachar, Zebulun,
and Gad. Note that Joseph’s two sons are awarded equal portions, similar to
when Israel entered the Promised Land under Joshua’s leadership.

The gates of Jerusalem are three per side or twelve gates total. In naming
the gates, Levi and Joseph are included but not Manasseh and Ephraim, Joseph’s
sons. Verse 35 of Chapter 48 is most significant. Jerusalem is now the dwelling
place of the Lord once again. What God has promised for His people, Israel,
is now fulfilled. Peace and justice reign because the righteous King of Kings
rules and is sovereign over the earth.

In Conclusion

Once again it seems best to view Chapters 36-46 in a general manner as proposed
at the beginning of Section XII. Then we are free to observe the nations, particularly
Israel, looking for the fulfillment of some very detailed prophecies. Regardless
of your theological bent, the application of this portion of scripture remains
the same.

  1. God never forsakes His people but keeps His promises.
  2. God, through His love mercy, and grace, will redeem and revive all who seek Him as their Lord and King, calling them His people.
  3. God protects His redeemed people by interceding and destroying their enemies.
  4. God’s blessings are poured out over His people as they commit and persevere to continually worship and serve Him.

The Lord Almighty is God. There is no other. He is the ultimate and final
Victor over sin and evil. Righteousness and peace are the gifts given to those
who acknowledge God as Lord and Savior. Do not be discouraged but persevere
in faith, living assured of eternal life with Him.

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