Archive for the ‘Ezekiel’ Category

Ezekiel 38

Ezekiel 38 has God telling the prophet to prophecy against Gog and his nation.  God is against him and his army and will not only defeat them, but also will chose to use them to pour out judgment on His people as well.  Gog has an impressive army, both is style and ability.  God knows all about it and will choose to use it His way in His time.  That’s the reality of the God we serve.  He sits on the throne and is in control of all things big and small, now and forever, until the end of time.  Gog may not have known that reality, but he would become a pawn in God’s hand to do His will.

To the Jews of Ezekiel’s day, the nations referred to here would represent the most distant regions of the world- ‘the four corners of the earth’. They are led by a man called Gog, who lives to the north in the land of Magog and who is ruler of the joint kingdom of Meshech-Tubal. He will lead an attack on Israel and will be helped by other countries from the east (Persia), from the south (Cush and Put, meaning probably Ethiopia and Libya), and from the north (Gomer and Beth-togarmah). But because God is working in history, the attackers, not the people of God, are the ones who are doomed

After carefully laying his plans, Gog puts his plan in action, but he does not realize that God is in control of every detail and event.  “You will come from your place out of the remote parts of the north, you and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses, a great assembly and a mighty army; and you will come up against My people Israel like a cloud to cover the land”.  God has been waiting for him, and now he deals with him. Through earthquakes, floods, fire, disease and bloodshed, God wipes out the forces of Gog.

The odds seemed overwhelming against God’s people.  By earthly standards, they would have been smashed by attack from all directions.  But God had a different plan.  He was and is in control of all things all the time.  And in this situation, the best laid plans of man were not only thwarted but complete demolished by God and His power.  He destroyed those who were intent on destroying His people.  And all of it brings glory to God in the same way as His actions today!  “I will magnify Myself, sanctify Myself, and make Myself known in the sight of many nations; and they will know that I am the Lord”.

 

*Some commentary from Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Ezekiel 37

Ezekiel 37 has one of the craziest stories in all of scripture – the prophets interaction with a valley full of dry bones.  “The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones”.  God has a plan to do something new and different and it is all about some dry bones and His prophet.  “Prophesy over these bones and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord”.

Doesn’t that seem a bit unusual – to prophecy to a bunch of old dried up bones.  But God is going to do something new and amazing with those bones.  “I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life. I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am the Lord”.  God’s going to speak life into a bunch of bones and bring them back from the dead – not just dead – but long ago dead.

He used Ezekiel as His messenger but make no mistake, this was all God.  “There was a noise ,and behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone”.  God started the process, but there was much more than just assembling the dry bones into skeletons.  Now He creates bodies and then breaths live into them. “Breathe on these slain, that they come to life”.  Can you imagine Ezekiel’s thoughts about this time.  God’s stirred up a bunch of dry bones and created people that He’s breathed life into.

This was more than a show for that time.  God was creating a word picture of what was to come.  “Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel….Then you will know that I am the Lord”.  He is bringing His people back together and will be their King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  It’s a word picture no one should be able to miss. “I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them….I will be their God, and they will be My people”.  God has a plan.  He is God even over dry bones!

Ezekiel 36

Ezekiel 36 has the prophet speaking of the coming restoration.  With the removal of the people of Israel from their ancient homeland (both northern and southern kingdoms) certain neighboring nations took the opportunity to seize Israel’s former territory for themselves.  God had to judge and punish His people for their actions, but now God will bring the people of Israel back to their former territory. The deserted land will be repopulated, cities will be rebuilt, farm and pasture lands will again become productive, and flocks and herds will increase.

I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you will be cultivated and sown….I will multiply on you man and beast; and they will increase and be fruitful; and I will cause you to be inhabited as you were formerly and will treat you better than at the first. Thus you will know that I am the Lord”.  God’s in the restoration business.  He’s bringing back His people to a place that He can revive them.  They’ve been down and out, scattered to and fro, but now God’s got another agenda.

But we can’t forget the history behind why this happened in the first place.  God had driven the people of Israel out of their land because their sins had made them unclean in his sight. “When the house of Israel was living in their own land, they defiled it by their ways and their deeds….therefore I poured out My wrath on them….I scattered them among the nations….according to their ways and their deeds I judged them”.  He will cleanse his people from their idolatry and put a new spirit within them. Then, instead of being stubborn as in former days, they will have a willing heart to do God’s will.

I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols….I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances….you will be My people, and I will be your God”.

Ezekiel 35

Ezekiel 35 has the prophet hearing once again from God directly.  This time, Ezekiel is instructed to prophecy against Mount Seir and warn them of God’s pending wrath.  “And I will stretch out My hand against you And make you a desolation and a waste. I will lay waste your cities And you will become a desolation. Then you will know that I am the Lord”.

God makes it clear in this chapter, and in almost every chapter of Ezekiel, that not only is Ezekiel’s job to make Him known, but God Himself is doing a whole lot of things that will make that clear.  In chapter 35, we see it clearly four times as God says “Then you will know that I am the Lord”.  God wants us to know Him and that He alone is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  There is no other.  And He does that through His prophets, but also through His work in the world around us.  It began with creation and scripture is clear that creation itself is enough for every man to know that God exists.  It doesn’t require any more than that.

But there is much more, and God’s hand has been on mankind since the day of creation.  He has orchestrated and directed events throughout history.  He has used people, good and evil, to accomplish His will His way.  He directs our steps and sits on the throne of the universe.  And in Ezekiel’s day, He is repaying nations who have mistreated His chosen people.  Mankind has always somehow believed they could do whatever they want and God wouldn’t even know it happened.  We find that completely untrue as we read Ezekiel’s words.  God knows, God responds, God is in control.

With regard to the folks at Mount Seir, God says “you have spoken arrogantly against Me and have multiplied your words against Me; I have heard it”.  God doesn’t miss anything.  He knows what man does.  He hears what man says.  He sees clearly and has more than eyes in the back of His head.  God would make our mothers look like they couldn’t see what was going on.  He’s omnipresent.  He isn’t fooled ever.  And He will respond and deal with our sin.  The good news for us today is that He made a way through grace – the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross – for us to defeat the price of sin and spend eternity with Him.  Thank you God for your blessing and gift of life!

Ezekiel 34

Ezekiel 34 has the prophet wailing against the leaders of Israel.  The leaders of Israel were supposed to be shepherds, but instead of caring for the people they exploited them. “Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock”?  Their sole concern has been for themselves.  They have largely ingnored and neglected the flock so the sheep were attacked and scattered. Because of the corruption of its leaders, Israel was destroyed by hostile nations and its people taken captive into foreign countries.  That was not at all God’s plan.

The leaders neglect was called out in detail by God through Ezekiel.  “Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them”.  God had given them a specific task – to shepherd and care for His people. Instead they were looking after themselves and allowing the people to suffer.  God is not pleased.  “I am against the shepherds, and I will demand My sheep from them and make them cease from feeding sheep . So the shepherds will not feed themselves anymore, but I will deliver My flock from their mouth, so that they will not be food for them”.

God announces that He’s going to resume the role of shepherd of His people in a much more direct way.  He has been totally disappointed by the leaders He put in place.  Now He’s going to take action.  “I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries and bring them to their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the streams, and in all the inhabited places of the land….will feed My flock and I will lead them to rest”.  No more depending on men who put self ahead of their role.  The True Shepherd will remove those who allowed their greed and selfishness spoil the pastures while they failed to care for their people.

Ezekiel uses some words we have heard many times in his prophecy.  This time, it is about God’s relationship with His people.  They too have lost their connection to their God, caused by bad leaders who have caused them to be separated and gone astray. God will make Himself known again to His own.  He will cover them with “showers of blessing….the tree of the field will yield its fruit and the earth will yield its increase, and they will be secure on their land. Then they will know that I am the Lord….then they will know that I, the Lord their God, am with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are My people”.  No more depending on man to shepherd His flock.  He’s taking care of them now!

Ezekiel 33

Ezekiel 33 has the prophet being instructed about the role of a watchman.  Up until now Ezekiel’s messages have been concerned mainly with God’s judgment – first his judgment on Jerusalem, then his judgment on other nations. Now that Jerusalem has fallen, God shifts the prophets focus to the task of building up the exiles. He wants them to be a new people who will be ready to repossess the land when God’s time comes. This, however, is going to involve some stern warnings. Ezekiel is therefore reminded again that he is like a watchman on the city wall who must warn the people when he sees danger approaching.

Whether the people heed him or ignore him, he must carry out his duty faithfully. “‘If I bring a sword upon a land, and the people of the land take one man from among them and make him their watchman….if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman’s hand”. The stakes are high and God will hold any watchman to a high level of accountability.

I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth and give them warning from Me”.  The warning is stern from Ezekiel – sin will destroy them.  Yet God desires them to be saved.  “If you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life….I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways”!  This is the same for us today.  God desires us to live.  That’s why He sent Jesus to rescue us from our sin and the consequence it carries – death.  We need to repent and believe.

God is all about restoration and forgiveness.  “None of his sins that he has committed will be remembered against him”.  That is the result of repentance.  God holds us accountable and each individual has a personal responsibility to do what is right in order to enjoy His blessing. Good deeds of the past will not save a person from judgment if that person deliberately turns back to sin. Bad deeds of the past will not be held against a person if that person turns from them.  Grace covers all sin if we simply receive it.  Grace is that free gift of salvation God offers us through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.  It’s a different method today than what Ezekiel’s message was – but the same God loving us as His people asking us to return to Him!

Ezekiel 32

Ezekiel 32 has yet another comparision of Pharoah and Egypt by the prophet.  This time, he compares them to a monster. “You compared yourself to a young lion of the nations, yet you are like the monster in the seas….you burst forth in your rivers and muddied the waters with your feet and fouled their rivers”.  Pharaoh/Egypt is likened to the mythological monster of the Nile who will be caught, dragged out of the river and left to rot in the sun. His blood will flow over the land and his carcass will be meat for birds and wild animals.

God is going to put Egypt in its place.  “When I extinguish you, I will cover the heavens and darken their stars; I will cover the sun with a cloud and the moon will not give its light’.  It will be total darkness – Egypt will cease to exist as it was known in that day.  A terrifying darkness throughout the country will impress upon people that this judgment is the work of the sovereign God.  It’s part of God’s desire – to make Himself known to the nations.  What better way than showing one of the power houses that they are not so strong.  “The sword of the king of Babylon will come upon you”.

This won’t be a mere attack.  It will be ahnilation.  “When I make the land of Egypt a desolation….when I smite all those who live in it, Then they shall know that I am the Lord”.  The outcome will be that all people will know that God is God.  He is in control.  He sits on the throne then and now.  Neighboring nations will tremble when they see multitudes of Egyptian people killed by the invaders or taken into foreign captivity. With people and animals wiped out, the land will be left desolate.  It will clearly be a result of God’s power.

Pharaoh was one of the greatest powers of his day.  But God is far greater.  ”Though I instilled a terror of him in the land of the living, yet he will be made to lie down among the uncircumcised along with those slain by the sword, even Pharaoh and all his hordes”.  Already in the world of the dead are certain cruel nations of the past which God has defeated and removed from their place of power and influence, such as Assyria, Elam, Meshech and Tubal. These nations formerly terrified others, but now they lie useless and dishonoured. Egypt will now join them.  God is God, then, now and forever!

Ezekiel 31

Ezekiel 31 has the prophet continuing his delivery of God’s truth about the Egyptians.  Pharaoh, and through him Egypt, is likened to a giant cedar tree, well watered and tall, which provides shelter for birds and animals alike. It is a picture of the strong and proud kingdom of Egypt, upon whom neighboring countries relied for protection.  Yet even in the midst of their power and strength, God reminds them that they are still nothing compared to Him.  “Whom are you like in your greatness”?  They are like a tree that towers above the earth but is still dependent upon water and sun for it’s strength.

Other countries were impressed by Egypt and envied its stability and strength. But no matter how impressive the tree became, enemies will come and cut it down. Egypt will be conquered.  “Because it is high in stature and has set its top among the clouds , and its heart is haughty in its loftiness, therefore I will give it into the hand of a despot of the nations; he will thoroughly deal with it”.  God will not let it tout its greatness.  The ruin of Egypt will be a warning to others not to be dominated by pride and selfish ambition.

God determines the fate of all nations.  There is none powerful enough to stand in His presence.  “On the day when it went down to Sheol I caused lamentations; I closed the deep over it and held back its rivers”.  It was no surprise or mystery as to what happened.  God is in control.  No matter the might or power, God’s is greater.  He is the King of Kings and sits on the throne of the universe.  Egypt believed that they were the mightiest of nations.  But when compared to God and His power and plan, they were merely a tree that could be cut down.

As the trees of the forest mourn the death of this mighty cedar tree, so will all the other nations tremble when they hear of the fall of Egypt. Other nations who had ‘died’ previously will feel some comfort to learn that mighty Egypt has now suffered the same fate. They had incorrectly believed that somehow Egypt was in a class by itself.  But God again proves that all people and nations are subject to Him.  He alone is at the helm. The once glorious nation now lies in humiliation and destruction.  They missed the potential of their future because they believed they were in control.

Ezekiel 30

Ezekiel 30 has the prophet hearing God’s truth about the coming fall of Egypt.  “The day of the Lord is near; It will be a day of clouds, A time of doom for the nations. A sword will come upon Egypt”.  But God’s coming judgment on Egypt will be a day of terror for other nations besides Egypt as well, because when Egypt falls many of its neighboring allies will suffer also and be destroyed, and there are many.  Egypt has built a mighty set of alliances that has allowed it to be a powerful nation in the world of that day.

But the sword is no match for the Lord.  “Those who support Egypt will fall And the pride of her power will come down….they will fall within her by the sword”.  Their allies will be terrified as news reaches them of the destruction occuring in Egypt. The invading army will overrun Egypt from north to south, killing the people and burning their cities.  It will be total devastation.  The nation that God will use to smash Egypt is mighty Babylon.  They are notorious for being particularly brutal to their enemies.

God lets Ezekiel know what the underlying issue is.  In a word, it is sin.  “I will also destroy the idols And make the images cease….I will pour out My wrath”.  Sin always brings a response from God.  His nature does not allow Him to turn a blind eye.  God is going to complete what He began and take down Egypt because of their sin. Already God’s judgment on Egypt had begun. Egypt had suffered one defeat by Babylon, and was not able to repair the damage or regain former strength. Babylon had already broken one of Pharaoh’s arms so to speak.

God is now going to use Babylon to break Pharaoh’s other arm. Babylon will gain another major victory, and Egypt’s power will be smashed completely.  God will use them as His instrument to strip Egypt of all their power and influence.  “I put My sword into the hand of the king of Babylon and he stretches it out against the land of Egypt….then they will know that I am the Lord”.  And the goal or end result will be the same – that God will become known among the nations.  That is what God desires from us – to help make Him known.  He is the One True God.  We need to be His messengers of that reality just as Ezekiel was!

Ezekiel 29

Ezekiel 29 has the prophet warning against looking to Egypt as the source of resources to resist the enemy.  At the time Ezekiel delivered this prophecy against Egypt, Jerusalem was besieged by the Babylonian armies. The Judean king Zedekiah depended upon Egyptian aid to rebel against Babylon, but Ezekiel knows that to depend on Egypt is to invite defeat. By his condemnation of Egypt in this message, he shows how unacceptable any Judean-Egyptian alliance is in God’s sight.  God says “I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt, The great monster that lies in the midst of his rivers”.

God’s intent for Egypt is the same for all people – to know that He is God.  “Then all the inhabitants of Egypt will know that I am the Lord”.  He’s going to take them through a host of events that will remind them yet again that they are not in charge.  You’d think the ten plagues would have done that, but people tend to have a very short memory and unless we communicate that from one generation to the next, it is quickly lost.  That’s why God talks about the need for us to tell our kids about Him and pass on the truth.

Egypt is painted as a monster who thought he owned the Nile. God says that is not the case and drags it out of the river leaving it to lie in the fields, where it will become food for the animals. Egypt will fall to foreign powers.  But the illustration goes further.  “I will turn the fortunes of Egypt and make them return to the land of Pathros, to the land of their origin, and there they will be a lowly kingdom”.  Egypt proved to be not a walking stick but a reed, which broke and brought injury to the person who depended on it. Because of the way it has treated Judah, Egypt will be punished. For its pride also it will be punished, and its land will be left desolate.

But wait, there’s more bad news coming for Egypt.  “Behold, I will give the land of Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. And he will carry off her wealth and capture her spoil and seize her plunder; and it will be wages for his army”.  Babylon took thirteen years of hard work to conquer Tyre, and this left the Babylonian soldiers worn out. To make matters worse, they did not gain the profit they expected from the conquered city, because the people of Tyre had apparently shipped out much of their wealth during the thirteen years of siege.  The money was gone. Therefore, God will reward the Babylonians with a victory over Egypt.  This will compensate them for what they missed out on at Tyre. They had been ‘hired’ by God to carry out his judgment, and He is making sure they receive fitting ‘wages’ for their efforts.

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