2333.) Ezekiel 18

April 11, 2018

Ezekiel 18   (ESV)

The Soul Who Sins Shall Die

The false proverb:

The word of the Lord came to me: “What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? As I live, declares the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.

The promise of life to the righteous man:

“If a man is righteous and does what is just and right— if he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife or approach a woman in her time of menstrual impurity, does not oppress anyone, but restores to the debtor his pledge, commits no robbery, gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, does not lend at interest or take any profit, withholds his hand from injustice, executes true justice between man and man, walks in my statutes, and keeps my rules by acting faithfully—he is righteous; he shall surely live, declares the Lord God.

All of the preceding is a general description of the man (or woman) who is faithful to the covenant Israel made with God in the days of Moses. Today we relate with God by a new and better covenant, but we still understand the heart of God’s ancient law for today.

–David Guzik

1 John 1:5-7   (ESV)

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.  If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

The wicked son of the righteous father:

10 “If he fathers a son who is violent, a shedder of blood, who does any of these things 11 (though he himself did none of these things), who even eats upon the mountains, defiles his neighbor’s wife, 12 oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, does not restore the pledge, lifts up his eyes to the idols, commits abomination, 13 lends at interest, and takes profit; shall he then live? He shall not live. He has done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon himself.

The righteous son of the wicked father:

14 “Now suppose this man fathers a son who sees all the sins that his father has done; he sees, and does not do likewise: 15 he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife, 16 does not oppress anyone, exacts no pledge, commits no robbery, but gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, 17 withholds his hand from iniquity, takes no interest or profit, obeys my rules, and walks in my statutes; he shall not die for his father’s iniquity; he shall surely live. 18 As for his father, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother, and did what is not good among his people, behold, he shall die for his iniquity.

The responsibility of the individual soul:

19 “Yet you say, ‘Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?’ When the son has done what is just and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. 20 The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

21 “But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 22 None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done he shall live. 23 Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? 24 But when a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice and does the same abominations that the wicked person does, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds that he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, for them he shall die.

God’s final declaration of the fairness of His ways:

25 “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way not just? Is it not your ways that are not just? 26 When a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice, he shall die for it; for the injustice that he has done he shall die. 27 Again, when a wicked person turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he shall save his life.28 Because he considered and turned away from all the transgressions that he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 29 Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ O house of Israel, are my ways not just? Is it not your ways that are not just?

30 “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin.

31 Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.”

God ended this prophecy with a strong, dramatic exhortation and application. God’s people should turn and live. They should not have fatalistic confidence or despair in their forefathers or descendants. God has offered a way for mankind to come to Him–GOOD NEWS!–and they must come as individuals.

–David Guzik

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Music:

God wills that none should perish! God has provided a way of salvation through Jesus Christ! Turn to Jesus and live!

HERE  is Fernando Ortega and Amy Grant, and an old (1884) hymn of “Repentance and Conversion – Warning and Inviting: Invitation to sinners” (as the old Methodist hymnal puts it). It is “Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy.”

_________________________

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
The one who sins is the one who will die.   https://reversingverses.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/eze18-20.jpg
Personal accountability.   http://livingthelectionary.blogspot.com/2015/06/pentecost-3-b-ezekiel-1722-24.html
Repent and live.   https://www.crosscards.com/cards/facebook-ecards/09192015-ezekiel-18-32-social.html
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2332.) Ezekiel 17

April 10, 2018

Ezekiel 17   (ESV)

Parable of Two Eagles and a Vine

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, propound a riddle, and speak a parable to the house of Israel;

Ezekiel the prophet was told to speak forth a saying that would be something of a riddle and something of a parable. It was a riddle in that the meaning was a bit of a puzzle to understanding; it was a parable in that it told a story illustrating spiritual and material truth.

–David Guzik

say, Thus says the Lord God: A great eagle with great wings and long pinions, rich in plumage of many colors, came to Lebanon and took the top of the cedar. He broke off the topmost of its young twigs and carried it to a land of trade and set it in a city of merchants. Then he took of the seed of the land and planted it in fertile soil. He placed it beside abundant waters. He set it like a willow twig, and it sprouted and became a low spreading vine, and its branches turned toward him, and its roots remained where it stood. So it became a vine and produced branches and put out boughs.

The first eagle comes to Lebanon, takes a branch from a cedar tree and carries to a different land. There he plants some seed from the land of the cedar tree, plants it in good soil, and it flourishes, producing branches.

“And there was another great eagle with great wings and much plumage, and behold, this vine bent its roots toward him and shot forth its branches toward him from the bed where it was planted, that he might water it. It had been planted on good soil by abundant waters, that it might produce branches and bear fruit and become a noble vine.

A second eagle flies over and suddenly the vine reaches out its branches to him. This second eagle has done nothing to help the vine, yet the vine turns to him.

“Say, Thus says the Lord God: Will it thrive? Will he not pull up its roots and cut off its fruit, so that it withers, so that all its fresh sprouting leaves wither? It will not take a strong arm or many people to pull it from its roots. 10 Behold, it is planted; will it thrive? Will it not utterly wither when the east wind strikes it—wither away on the bed where it sprouted?”

“The critical issue is, Will the vine survive after it has turned away from the first eagle and oriented itself toward the second? The redirection of the vine’s branches toward the second eagle (instead of having them spread out low on the ground) and its roots upward (instead of going deeper into the fertile and well-watered soil) had rendered the plant extremely vulnerable to the wind’s withering force.”

–Daniel I. Block

11 Then the word of the Lord came to me: 12 “Say now to the rebellious house, Do you not know what these things mean? Tell them, behold, the king of Babylon came to Jerusalem, and took her king and her princes and brought them to him to Babylon. 13 And he took one of the royal offspring and made a covenant with him, putting him under oath (the chief men of the land he had taken away), 14 that the kingdom might be humble and not lift itself up, and keep his covenant that it might stand.15 But he rebelled against him by sending his ambassadors to Egypt, that they might give him horses and a large army. Will he thrive? Can one escape who does such things? Can he break the covenant and yet escape?

Ezekiel carefully explains his riddle/parable.

The first great eagle represented the king of Babylon.

Lebanon represented Jerusalem.

The highest branch of the cedar represented Judah’s king (Jehoiachin) and princes.

The seeds and the vine represented the king’s offspring (Zedekiah).

The first eagle made a covenant with Zedekiah and put him under oath.

The first eagle took away the mighty of the land, not only King Jehoiachin, but also other notable men such as Daniel and his companions. He did this to keep Zedekiah low, and so that Zedekiah would keep his covenant.

The king of Babylon took them with him to Babylon, which was called the city of merchants (v 4).

Just as the vine stretched out its roots and branches toward the second eagle, so Zedekiah rebelled against him by sending his ambassadors to Egypt, which represented the second eagle. Zedekiah hoped for horses and many people from Egypt.

The vine would find no help from the second eagle, and Zedekiah would find no help from Egypt.

–David Guzik

16 “As I live, declares the Lord God, surely in the place where the king dwells who made him king, whose oath he despised, and whose covenant with him he broke, in Babylon he shall die. 17 Pharaoh with his mighty army and great company will not help him in war, when mounds are cast up and siege walls built to cut off many lives. 18 He despised the oath in breaking the covenant, and behold, he gave his hand and did all these things; he shall not escape.

God promised severe judgment on Zedekiah because he did not keep his word and honor the covenant he made with Nebuchadnezzar. 

19 Therefore thus says the Lord God: As I live, surely it is my oath that he despised, and my covenant that he broke. I will return it upon his head. 20 I will spread my net over him, and he shall be taken in my snare, and I will bring him to Babylon and enter into judgment with him there for the treachery he has committed against me. 21 And all the pick of his troops shall fall by the sword, and the survivors shall be scattered to every wind, and you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken.”

There would be no recovery from the fall of Zedekiah’s reign. Judea would be conquered completely.

But there is hope! — another young twig, or as Isaiah puts it: “Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot—yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.”

22 Thus says the Lord God: “I myself will take a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar and will set it out. I will break off from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one,

and I myself will plant it on a high and lofty mountain. 23 On the mountain height of Israel will I plant it, that it may bear branches and produce fruit and become a noble cedar. And under it will dwell every kind of bird; in the shade of its branches birds of every sort will nest. 24 And all the trees of the field shall know that I am the Lord; I bring low the high tree, and make high the low tree, dry up the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it.”

“You remember Joseph in the dungeon, Israel in Egypt, Hannah in the family of Elkanah, David when Samuel would have passed him by, Hezekiah when Sennacherib rebuked him. Are not all these instances of God exalting the low tree?”

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Yahweh remains sovereign over history. When his people experience calamity, his hand is in it. When foreign nations sweep down on them, they come as his agents. No nation has ever become so powerful that he cannot bring it down in a moment; and no people is so low that he cannot exalt it.”

–Daniel I. Block

“The chapter began with judgment and punishment; it ends with mercy and grace. The dethroned and blind Zedekiah is overshadowed by God’s King who is full of power and glory. Kingdoms are but the lengthened shadows of kings.”

–Charles L. Feinberg

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Music:

The “tender one” in verse 22 is the Messiah, the Son of David. Such a gentle description of our Savior brings to my mind the lovely German Advent carol, “Lo, how a rose e’er blooming.”  HERE  it is, sung in German by the Monteverdi Choir, a Baroque ensemble from King’s College Chapel, Cambridge. Below is a literal translation, as from the YouTube description, and note particularly the last lines —

He helps us from all trouble,
Saves us from sin and death.

A rose has sprung up,
from a tender root.
As the old ones sang to us,
Its lineage was from Jesse.
And it has brought forth a floweret
In the middle of the cold winter
Right upon midnight.

The rosebud that I mean,
Of which Isaiah told
Is Mary, the pure,
Who brought us the floweret.
At Gods immortal word,
She has borne a child
Who makes us blessed.

The floweret, so small
That smells so sweet to us
With its clear light
Dispels the darkness.
True man and true God!
He helps us from all trouble,
Saves us from sin and death.

_________________________

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
eagle.   http://jwitness-forum.proboards.com/thread/644/ezekiel-illustrations-chap-15-16?page=1&scrollTo=4518
planting a tree.   http://livingthelectionary.blogspot.com/2015/06/pentecost-3-b-ezekiel-1722-24.html
baby Jesus.   http://www.supercoloring.com/coloring-pages/baby-jesus-in-a-manger
verse 24.   https://biblia.com/bible/Ezekiel17.24

2331.) Ezekiel 16

April 9, 2018

Ezekiel 16   (ESV)

The Lord‘s Faithless Bride

“Here, in the longest chapter in Ezekiel, the story is told in detail in all its sordid, loathsome character, so that God’s infinite abhorrence of Israel’s sin may be clearly seen. According to Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus in the Mishna, the chapter was not to be read nor translated in public.”

–Charles Feinberg

“A very extraordinary chapter this sixteenth of Ezekiel! A minister could scarcely read it in public: he certainly would not like to explain its metaphors to a general audience.”

–Charles Spurgeon

“Although there are many metaphors here, yet all is not metaphorical. Where there was so much idolatry, there must have been adulteries, fornications, prostitutions, and lewdness of every description.”

–Adam Clarke

Again the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, make known to Jerusalem her abominations, and say, Thus says the Lord God to Jerusalem:

In this chapter, Jerusalem is used as a representative of the people of Israel as a whole.

Your origin and your birth are of the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. And as for your birth, on the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to cleanse you, nor rubbed with salt, nor wrapped in swaddling cloths. No eye pitied you, to do any of these things to you out of compassion for you, but you were cast out on the open field, for you were abhorred, on the day that you were born.

 “Cutting the cord, washing, rubbing down with salt, and clothing the newborn were also customary legal acts of legitimation. In the neglect and abandonment of the infant in the open field, the parent legally relinquished all rights to and responsibilities for the child.”

–Daniel I Block

“And when I passed by you and saw you wallowing in your blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ I made you flourish like a plant of the field. And you grew up and became tall and arrived at full adornment. Your breasts were formed, and your hair had grown; yet you were naked and bare.

“When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord God, and you became mine. Then I bathed you with water and washed off your blood from you and anointed you with oil. 10 I clothed you also with embroidered cloth and shod you with fine leather. I wrapped you in fine linen and covered you with silk. 11 And I adorned you with ornaments and put bracelets on your wrists and a chain on your neck. 12 And I put a ring on your nose and earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. 13 Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen and silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour and honey and oil. You grew exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. 14 And your renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through the splendor that I had bestowed on you, declares the Lord God.

Such richness and generosity from the Lord! In many countries of the world, heavy gold jewelry is still both a status symbol and a repository for women’s wealth. Yet Israel forgot who her benefactor was, and lost her love for her God.

In the next verses:  Ezekiel 16:15-35 is one of the strongest denunciations of Israel’s sin found in the entire Bible. “Rebukes of Israel’s sin by the prophets of Israel are many and well known, but none is so vivid, vehement, sordid and piercing as these words.”

–Charles L. Feinberg

15 “But you trusted in your beauty and played the whore because of your renown and lavished your whorings on any passerby; your beauty became his. 16 You took some of your garments and made for yourself colorful shrines, and on them played the whore. The like has never been, nor ever shall be. 17 You also took your beautiful jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself images of men, and with them played the whore. 18 And you took your embroidered garments to cover them, and set my oil and my incense before them. 19 Also my bread that I gave you—I fed you with fine flour and oil and honey—you set before them for a pleasing aroma; and so it was, declares the Lord God. 20 And you took your sons and your daughters, whom you had borne to me, and these you sacrificed to them to be devoured. Were your whorings so small a matter 21 that you slaughtered my children and delivered them up as an offering by fire to them? 22 And in all your abominations and your whorings you did not remember the days of your youth, when you were naked and bare, wallowing in your blood.

“The innocent young woman, graciously elevated to the status of queen, has become a whore.”

–Daniel I. Block

23 “And after all your wickedness (woe, woe to you! declares the Lord God), 24 you built yourself a vaulted chamber and made yourself a lofty place in every square. 25 At the head of every street you built your lofty place and made your beauty an abomination, offering yourself to any passerby and multiplying your whoring. 26 You also played the whore with the Egyptians, your lustful neighbors, multiplying your whoring, to provoke me to anger.

The language Ezekiel uses is quite indelicate. What is translated as “offering yourself” is more literally you opened your feet. It was a shocking way of saying “you spread your legs for everyone.” And “your lustful neighbors” is more literally your neighbors with the huge organs. Such a picture makes it clear why God is so offended.

–David Guzik

27 Behold, therefore, I stretched out my hand against you and diminished your allotted portion and delivered you to the greed of your enemies, the daughters of the Philistines, who were ashamed of your lewd behavior. 28 You played the whore also with the Assyrians, because you were not satisfied; yes, you played the whore with them, and still you were not satisfied. 29 You multiplied your whoring also with the trading land of Chaldea, and even with this you were not satisfied.

30 “How sick is your heart, declares the Lord God,

The New King James has it, “How degenerate is your heart!” 

because you did all these things, the deeds of a brazen prostitute, 31 building your vaulted chamber at the head of every street, and making your lofty place in every square. Yet you were not like a prostitute, because you scorned payment.

“In verses 30-34, in a piece of fine sarcasm Ezekiel portrays Israel literally as a nymphomaniac whose promiscuous lust has caused her to reverse the usual order involved in prostitution. She has hired rather than been hired by her clients.”

-Bruce Vawter and Leslie J. Hoppe

32 Adulterous wife, who receives strangers instead of her husband! 33 Men give gifts to all prostitutes, but you gave your gifts to all your lovers, bribing them to come to you from every side with your whorings. 34 So you were different from other women in your whorings. No one solicited you to play the whore, and you gave payment, while no payment was given to you; therefore you were different.

35 “Therefore, O prostitute, hear the word of the Lord:

Prostitute! What a shocking name for the beloved of the Lord!

36 Thus says the Lord God, Because your lust was poured out and your nakedness uncovered in your whorings with your lovers, and with all your abominable idols, and because of the blood of your children that you gave to them, 37 therefore, behold, I will gather all your lovers with whom you took pleasure, all those you loved and all those you hated. I will gather them against you from every side and will uncover your nakedness to them, that they may see all your nakedness.

“Appropriately, it is Israel’s ‘lovers’ who will execute God’s vengeance upon her. By that they add to the depth of her shame. They show how cheaply they had valued what she had to offer them and the real contempt in which they held her.”

-Bruce Vawter and Leslie J. Hoppe

38 And I will judge you as women who commit adultery and shed blood are judged, and bring upon you the blood of wrath and jealousy. 39 And I will give you into their hands, and they shall throw down your vaulted chamber and break down your lofty places. They shall strip you of your clothes and take your beautiful jewels and leave you naked and bare. 40 They shall bring up a crowd against you, and they shall stone you and cut you to pieces with their swords. 41 And they shall burn your houses and execute judgments upon you in the sight of many women. I will make you stop playing the whore, and you shall also give payment no more.42 So will I satisfy my wrath on you, and my jealousy shall depart from you. I will be calm and will no more be angry. 43 Because you have not remembered the days of your youth, but have enraged me with all these things, therefore, behold, I have returned your deeds upon your head, declares the Lord God. Have you not committed lewdness in addition to all your abominations?

44 “Behold, everyone who uses proverbs will use this proverb about you: ‘Like mother, like daughter.’ 45 You are the daughter of your mother, who loathed her husband and her children; and you are the sister of your sisters, who loathed their husbands and their children. Your mother was a Hittite and your father an Amorite. 46 And your elder sister is Samaria, who lived with her daughters to the north of you; and your younger sister, who lived to the south of you, is Sodom with her daughters. 47 Not only did you walk in their ways and do according to their abominations; within a very little time you were more corrupt than they in all your ways.

As bad as it is to be compared to Samaria, God says the Israelites are even worse — they are like Sodom, the city infamous for its corruptions.

48 As I live, declares the Lord God, your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. 49 Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it. 51 Samaria has not committed half your sins. You have committed more abominations than they, and have made your sisters appear righteous by all the abominations that you have committed. 52 Bear your disgrace, you also, for you have intervened on behalf of your sisters. Because of your sins in which you acted more abominably than they, they are more in the right than you. So be ashamed, you also, and bear your disgrace, for you have made your sisters appear righteous.

The sarcasm continues. Jerusalem is so sinful that Sodom and Samaria look good in comparison.

53 “I will restore their fortunes, both the fortunes of Sodom and her daughters, and the fortunes of Samaria and her daughters, and I will restore your own fortunes in their midst, 54 that you may bear your disgrace and be ashamed of all that you have done, becoming a consolation to them. 55 As for your sisters, Sodom and her daughters shall return to their former state, and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former state, and you and your daughters shall return to your former state. 56 Was not your sister Sodom a byword in your mouth in the day of your pride, 57 before your wickedness was uncovered? Now you have become an object of reproach for the daughters of Syria and all those around her, and for the daughters of the Philistines, those all around who despise you. 58 You bear the penalty of your lewdness and your abominations, declares the Lord.

The Lord‘s Everlasting Covenant

59 “For thus says the Lord God: I will deal with you as you have done, you who have despised the oath in breaking the covenant, 60 yet I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish for you an everlasting covenant. 61 Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed when you take your sisters, both your elder and your younger, and I give them to you as daughters, but not on account of the covenant with you. 62 I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord, 63 that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I atone for you for all that you have done, declares the Lord God.”

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Music:

Atonement. Forgiveness of sin and reconciliation. A new and everlasting covenant. All found in Jesus, the Savior! The hymn “Rock of Ages” proclaims that the shed blood of Christ is alone able to remove the guilt of our sin.  HERE  it is, with a different, beautiful tune. by James Ward. I think verse 3 of this hymn particularly relates to this chapter of Ezekiel.

  1. Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
    Let me hide myself in Thee;
    Let the water and the blood,
    From Thy wounded side which flowed,
    Be of sin the double cure,
    Save from wrath and make me pure.
    .
  2. Not the labor of my hands
    Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
    Could my zeal no respite know,
    Could my tears forever flow,
    All for sin could not atone;
    Thou must save, and Thou alone.
    .
  3. Nothing in my hand I bring,
    Simply to Thy cross I cling;
    Naked, come to Thee for dress;
    Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
    Foul, I to the fountain fly;
    Wash me, Savior, or I die.
    .
  4. While I draw this fleeting breath,
    When my eyes shall close in death,
    When I rise to worlds unknown,
    And behold Thee on Thy throne,
    Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
    Let me hide myself in Thee.

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English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
verse 6.   https://prayselove.deviantart.com/art/Ezekiel-16-6-278176578
woman wearing jewelry.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2018/04/35531-womenwearingheavygoldjewelry10.jpg
An idol is.   https://www.pinterest.com/pin/85216617929739871/
verse 62.   https://www.pinterest.com/pin/529243393687850105/

2330.) Ezekiel 15

April 6, 2018

A grapevine is not of much use if it does not produce grapes.

Ezekiel 15   (ESV)

Jerusalem, a Useless Vine

And the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, how does the wood of the vine surpass any wood, the vine branch that is among the trees of the forest?

It’s interesting to consider that nowhere in this chapter is there mention of fruit, either in the presence or absence of it. This was a dramatic way Ezekiel communicated that at this point in Israel’s history, there was absolutely no fruit to speak of. It was a non-issue.

“He makes no allusion to that which is always the chief idea in the use of that figure, its fruit. He only thinks of it as wood.” (Morgan)

“A vine would never be cultivated for the sake of its wood; it is really worthless but as it bears fruit. What is Israel? Good for nothing, but as God influenced them to bring forth fruit to his glory. But now that they have ceased to be fruitful, they are good for nothing, but, like a withered branch of the vine, to be burnt.” (Clarke)

–David Guzik

Is wood taken from it to make anything? Do people take a peg from it to hang any vessel on it?

Other woods may be made into useful objects, but a vine cannot be used for a table or chair. A vine is useful only for grapes.

Behold, it is given to the fire for fuel. When the fire has consumed both ends of it, and the middle of it is charred, is it useful for anything? Behold, when it was whole, it was used for nothing. How much less, when the fire has consumed it and it is charred, can it ever be used for anything.

Therefore thus says the Lord God: Like the wood of the vine among the trees of the forest, which I have given to the fire for fuel, so have I given up the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And I will set my face against them. Though they escape from the fire, the fire shall yet consume them, and you will know that I am the Lord, when I set my face against them. And I will make the land desolate, because they have acted faithlessly, declares the Lord God.”

“The disintegration of the spiritual relationship between Yahweh and Israel will result in the desolation of the land. As if further guarantees were necessary, the concluding signatory formula seals the Jerusalemites’ fate.”

–Daniel I. Block

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Music:

How different from the vine relationship Jesus spoke of in John 15!

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.

HERE  is a contemporary song which is new to me; I have been deeply moved by it and am so happy to share it  with my DWELLING readers! Jeremy Riddle and “Full Attention.”

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English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:

burn piles of pruned grape vines.


2329.) Ezekiel 14

April 5, 2018

Ezekiel 14   (ESV)

Idolatrous Elders Condemned

Then certain of the elders of Israel came to me and sat before me.

These men were the rulers of the Israelite community in exile. They came pretending to want to know what a prophet of the Lord has to say, but God has seen their true allegiance.

And the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, these men have taken their idols into their hearts, and set the stumbling block of their iniquity before their faces. Should I indeed let myself be consulted by them?

“Can these men seriously consult me? Is it fit I should give counsel to obstinate, resolved sinners, who come to inquire, but will not hearken? Should I help them in their distress, who depend on idols which I hate?”

–Matthew Poole (1624–1679, English Nonconformist theologian)

Therefore speak to them and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Any one of the house of Israel who takes his idols into his heart and sets the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face, and yet comes to the prophet, I the Lord will answer him as he comes with the multitude of his idols, that I may lay hold of the hearts of the house of Israel, who are all estranged from me through their idols.

“No oracle will be given, but I the Lord will answer him myself, in actions and not in words. The words have a sinister ring about them.”

–John B. Taylor (Ezekiel: Tyndale Old Testament Commentary)

“Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: Repent and turn away from your idols, and turn away your faces from all your abominations.


For any one of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who sojourn in Israel, who separates himself from me, taking his idols into his heart and putting the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face, and yet comes to a prophet to consult me through him, I the Lord will answer him myself. And I will set my face against that man;

The answer will be judgment, not words. “I will look him to death.”

–John Trapp (1601-1669, English Anglican Bible commentator)

I will make him a sign and a byword and cut him off from the midst of my people, and you shall know that I am the Lord. And if the prophet is deceived and speaks a word, I, the Lord, have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand against him and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel.

 God’s ultimate response to that false prophet would be to destroy him.

Christopher J. H. Wright saw in this a warning to those who have a gift and are unfaithful with it. “If we have some great gift and are being used in the ·service of God, and then try to use it in our own interests, or divorce it from the requirements of Christian living, God may turn the gift against us. A theologian, who abandons revealed truth for clever ideas of his own, first deceives himself, and then, by divine rule, becomes blind to the truth.”

10 And they shall bear their punishment—the punishment of the prophet and the punishment of the inquirer shall be alike— 11 that the house of Israel may no more go astray from me, nor defile themselves anymore with all their transgressions, but that they may be my people and I may be their God, declares the Lord God.”

This declared purpose of God was fulfilled in history. When Israel came back into the land in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, they did not have the same problem with idolatry as before. In some sense, the Babylonian conquest and captivity “cured” Israel of idolatry.

Jerusalem Will Not Be Spared

12 And the word of the Lord came to me: 13 “Son of man, when a land sins against me by acting faithlessly, and I stretch out my hand against it and break its supply of bread and send famine upon it, and cut off from it man and beast, 14 even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness, declares the Lord God.

Noah, Daniel, and Job: The choice of these three men is fascinating. All three were men who were tested and proven faithful, men of faith who were rescued by their trust in God.

· Noah was a righteous and obedient man (though later shown to be flawed), yet his righteousness did not save his world, only himself and his immediate family.

–==—

· Daniel was alive and in Babylon in Ezekiel’s day. His leadership and godliness was so evident to everyone that God could cite him as an example of great righteousness even in his own lifetime.

· Job was not, properly, even an Israelite (the same could be said of Noah). The reality of his relationship with God was demonstrated through the most difficult of testing and misery.

–David Guzik

This text teaches us “the prayers of the greatest intercessors cannot avail if men persist in their unbelief.”

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892, English “Prince of Preachers”)

15 “If I cause wild beasts to pass through the land, and they ravage it, and it be made desolate, so that no one may pass through because of the beasts, 16 even if these three men were in it, as I live, declares the Lord God, they would deliver neither sons nor daughters. They alone would be delivered, but the land would be desolate.

17 “Or if I bring a sword upon that land and say, Let a sword pass through the land, and I cut off from it man and beast, 18 though these three men were in it, as I live, declares the Lord God, they would deliver neither sons nor daughters, but they alone would be delivered.

19 “Or if I send a pestilence into that land and pour out my wrath upon it with blood, to cut off from it man and beast, 20 even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live, declares the Lord God, they would deliver neither son nor daughter. They would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness.

21 “For thus says the Lord God: How much more when I send upon Jerusalem my four disastrous acts of judgment, sword, famine, wild beasts, and pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast! 22 But behold, some survivors will be left in it, sons and daughters who will be brought out; behold, when they come out to you, and you see their ways and their deeds, you will be consoled for the disaster that I have brought upon Jerusalem, for all that I have brought upon it. 23 They will console you, when you see their ways and their deeds, and you shall know that I have not done without cause all that I have done in it, declares the Lord God.”

Even in bringing severe judgments, God is righteous in all that he does.

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Music:

Regarding idolatry:

“All the vain things that charm me most
I sacrifice them to His blood.”

–Isaac Watts (When I Survey the Wondrous Cross)

HERE  is another hymn of surrender to Jesus — “O for a closer walk with God.” William Cowper wrote the lyrics in 1772; Cowper was friends with John Newton, the writer of the hymn “Amazing Grace.”

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English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
verse 6.   https://i.pinimg.com/736x/2a/b8/71/2ab8716e00ef7f0e53dd32971ecf2b23.jpg
1 John 5:21.   http://images.knowing-jesus.com/w/900/62-1%20JOHN/1%20John%205-21%20Keep%20From%20Idols-blue.jpg
Noah building.   https://www.findshepherd.com/noah-builds-the-ark.html
Daniel praying.    http://sgilmore215.blogspot.com/2013/06/pray-like-daniel.html
Job suffering.   https://aaronshaf.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/suffering_job-705×500.jpg
4 judgments.   http://revelationscriptures.com/wp-content/uploads/Sword-Famine-Pestilence-Wild-Beast-Seven-Seals-White-Red-Black-Green-Horse-Seven-Seals-Revelation.png

2328.) Ezekiel 13

April 4, 2018

Ezekiel 13   (ESV)

False Prophets Condemned

Among the Jewish people of Ezekiel’s time there were many false prophets, both in Israel and in the Babylonian exile. These false prophets of Israel mostly had an optimistic, positive message: God will deliver Jerusalem and Judah from the Babylonians, and those already in exile will come home soon.

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel, who are prophesying,

Daniel I. Block sees the phrase the prophets of Israel who prophesy as a deliberate repetition, meant to be sarcastic. The sense is that they were always blabbing on and on with their pretended words from God.

–David Guzik

and say to those who prophesy from their own hearts: ‘Hear the word of the Lord!’ Thus says the Lord God, Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!

“They were misled by their own desires, which is the scriptural method of asserting they were not inspired of God. The wish was father to the thought, and they spoke accordingly.”

— Charles L. Feinberg

Your prophets have been like jackals among ruins, O Israel. You have not gone up into the breaches, or built up a wall for the house of Israel, that it might stand in battle in the day of the Lord. They have seen false visions and lying divinations. They say, ‘Declares the Lord,’ when the Lord has not sent them, and yet they expect him to fulfill their word. Have you not seen a false vision and uttered a lying divination, whenever you have said, ‘Declares the Lord,’ although I have not spoken?”

Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Because you have uttered falsehood and seen lying visions, therefore behold, I am against you, declares the Lord God.

Strong words! And equally pertinent to the Church today! The remarks of the false prophets sounded spiritual, but God calls those words “falsehood.” Let us be careful that we draw our understanding of who God is and what He likes from Scripture, and not from “following our own spirit” (verse 3).

My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and who give lying divinations. They shall not be in the council of my people, nor be enrolled in the register of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord God.10 Precisely because they have misled my people, saying, ‘Peace,’ when there is no peace, and because, when the people build a wall, these prophets smear it with whitewash, 11 say to those who smear it with whitewash that it shall fall! There will be a deluge of rain, and you, O great hailstones, will fall, and a stormy wind break out. 12 And when the wall falls, will it not be said to you, ‘Where is the coating with which you smeared it?’

whitewashing, covering up, hiding . . .

13 Therefore thus says the Lord God: I will make a stormy wind break out in my wrath, and there shall be a deluge of rain in my anger, and great hailstones in wrath to make a full end. 14 And I will break down the wall that you have smeared with whitewash, and bring it down to the ground, so that its foundation will be laid bare. When it falls, you shall perish in the midst of it, and you shall know that I am the Lord. 15 Thus will I spend my wrath upon the wall and upon those who have smeared it with whitewash, and I will say to you, The wall is no more, nor those who smeared it, 16 the prophets of Israel who prophesied concerning Jerusalem and saw visions of peace for her, when there was no peace, declares the Lord God.

The essential message of Jeremiah and Ezekiel was that judgment was on the way, and they should accept it as God’s chastening and cleansing. The false prophets had visions of peace, leaving God’s people completely unprepared for the judgment that was on the way.

–David Guzik

17 “And you, son of man, set your face against the daughters of your people, who prophesy out of their own hearts. Prophesy against them18 and say, Thus says the Lord God: Woe to the women who sew magic bands upon all wrists, and make veils for the heads of persons of every stature, in the hunt for souls!

“Ezekiel’s language suggests that these were more like witches or sorceresses who practised strange magic arts (cf. 1 Sam. 28:7).”

–John B. Taylor

Will you hunt down souls belonging to my people and keep your own souls alive? 19 You have profaned me among my people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, putting to death souls who should not die and keeping alive souls who should not live, by your lying to my people, who listen to lies.

20 “Therefore thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am against your magic bands with which you hunt the souls like birds, and I will tear them from your arms, and I will let the souls whom you hunt go free, the souls like birds. 21 Your veils also I will tear off and deliver my people out of your hand, and they shall be no more in your hand as prey, and you shall know that I am the Lord. 22 Because you have disheartened the righteous falsely, although I have not grieved him, and you have encouraged the wicked, that he should not turn from his evil way to save his life,23 therefore you shall no more see false visions nor practice divination. I will deliver my people out of your hand. And you shall know that I am the Lord.”

“What is unmistakable is that they degraded the name of the Lord by linking it with superstitions and magical practices.”

-Charles L. Feinberg

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Music:

HERE  is a not-so-familiar Charles Wesley hymn:  “O Jesus, Full of Truth and Grace.” How we need the Lord to keep us from falling for the clever lies of the world, the flesh, and the devil!

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English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
like foxes.   http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/versesjh/ez13_4.jpg
whitewashing the wall.   http://www.artissa.com/gallery/albums/CS_Lawrence/whitewash_3_email.jpg
I am the Lord.   https://www.pinterest.com/pin/511721576399130633/

2327.) Ezekiel 12

April 3, 2018

Ezekiel 12   (ESV)

Judah’s Captivity Symbolized

This begins another section of Ezekiel’s prophetic work, mainly a series of announcements of judgment coming against the kingdom of Judah.

The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, who have eyes to see, but see not, who have ears to hear, but hear not, for they are a rebellious house. 3 As for you, son of man, prepare for yourself an exile’s baggage, and go into exile by day in their sight. You shall go like an exile from your place to another place in their sight. Perhaps they will understand, though they are a rebellious house. 4 You shall bring out your baggage by day in their sight, as baggage for exile, and you shall go out yourself at evening in their sight, as those do who must go into exile. 5 In their sight dig through the wall, and bring your baggage out through it. 6 In their sight you shall lift the baggage upon your shoulder and carry it out at dusk. You shall cover your face that you may not see the land, for I have made you a sign for the house of Israel.”

It is important to remember that there were many false prophets in Judah, Jerusalem, and likely among the exiles in Babylon who promised that God would rescue His people from the Babylonians. These false prophets spoke smooth words of certain deliverance. The prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel strongly warned them that this deliverance would not come, and that God had appointed them to be conquered.

7 And I did as I was commanded. I brought out my baggage by day, as baggage for exile, and in the evening I dug through the wall with my own hands. I brought out my baggage at dusk, carrying it on my shoulder in their sight.

“Ezekiel was to play the part of an exile, reenacting a scene all the exiles had painfully experienced when led from their land. He dramatized the fate of the inhabitants of Jerusalem.”

–Charles L. Feinberg

8 In the morning the word of the Lord came to me: 9 “Son of man, has not the house of Israel, the rebellious house, said to you, ‘What are you doing?’

What he was doing was obvious. More to the point — “Why are you doing this?”

10 Say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: This oracle concerns the prince in Jerusalem and all the house of Israel who are in it.’

The prince, specifically, was Zedekiah. “The subject of the message was King Zedekiah, who was always spoken of by Ezekiel as prince, never king. Jehoiachin was regarded as the true king (Ezekiel 17:13). In ration tablets found by archaeologists in Babylon, Jehoiachin was still referred to as the king of Judah.”

–Charles L. Feinberg

11 Say, ‘I am a sign for you: as I have done, so shall it be done to them. They shall go into exile, into captivity.’ 12 And the prince who is among them shall lift his baggage upon his shoulder at dusk, and shall go out. They shall dig through the wall to bring him out through it. He shall cover his face, that he may not see the land with his eyes. 13 And I will spread my net over him, and he shall be taken in my snare. And I will bring him to Babylon, the land of the Chaldeans, yet he shall not see it, and he shall die there. 14 And I will scatter toward every wind all who are around him, his helpers and all his troops, and I will unsheathe the sword after them.

This refers to king Zedekiah of Judah, who tried to escape but was caught, captured, and taken captive to Babylon (Jeremiah 39:2-4 and 2 Kings 25:4). His soldiers would be powerless to help him, for God promised to “scatter toward every wind all who are around him, his helpers and all his troops.”

–David Guzik

This was fulfilled in  Jeremiah 39:6-7. The Babylonians were not known to be as cruel as the Assyrians who conquered the northern kingdom of Israel some 130 years earlier, but they were still experts in cruelty in their own right. They made certain that the last sight King Zedekiah saw was the murder of his own sons, and then spent the rest of his life in blindness.

15 And they shall know that I am the Lord, when I disperse them among the nations and scatter them among the countries. 16 But I will let a few of them escape from the sword, from famine and pestilence, that they may declare all their abominations among the nations where they go, and may know that I am the Lord.”

17 And the word of the Lord came to me: 18 “Son of man, eat your bread with quaking, and drink water with trembling and with anxiety. 19 And say to the people of the land, Thus says the Lord God concerning the inhabitants of Jerusalem in the land of Israel: They shall eat their bread with anxiety, and drink water in dismay. In this way her land will be stripped of all it contains, on account of the violence of all those who dwell in it. 20 And the inhabited cities shall be laid waste, and the land shall become a desolation; and you shall know that I am the Lord.”

21 And the word of the Lord came to me: 22 “Son of man, what is this proverb that you have about the land of Israel, saying, ‘The days grow long, and every vision comes to nothing’?

The days are prolonged, meaning that everything was going on as normal and the prophecies of doom would not come to pass — was actually an act of God’s mercy. “A saying had become current among them because God’s long-suffering, which should have led to repentance, was made an argument against His word.”

–Charles L. Feinberg

23 Tell them therefore, ‘Thus says the Lord God: I will put an end to this proverb, and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel.’ But say to them, The days are near, and the fulfillment of every vision. 24 For there shall be no more any false vision or flattering divination within the house of Israel. 25 For I am the Lord; I will speak the word that I will speak, and it will be performed. It will no longer be delayed, but in your days, O rebellious house, I will speak the word and perform it, declares the Lord God.”

26 And the word of the Lord came to me: 27 “Son of man, behold, they of the house of Israel say, ‘The vision that he sees is for many days from now, and he prophesies of times far off.’ 28 Therefore say to them, Thus says the Lord God: None of my words will be delayed any longer, but the word that I speak will be performed, declares the Lord God.”

God promised there would be no more delay in the carrying out of the terrible things He had warned of for so long.

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Music:

All this talk about packing up your bags and leaving — and I remembered a song of my youth, written by John Denver and most famously recorded by Peter, Paul, and Mary (their only #1 hit in the US).  HERE  is “Leaving on a Jet Plane.” Interesting to me how the song’s themes of fidelity and marriage also play into this  chapter!

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English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Ezekiel and his baggage.   https://st-takla.org/Gallery/Bible/Illustrations/Bible-Slides/OT/Ezekiel/Bible-Slides-ezekiel-1509.html
verse 11.   https://images.knowing-jesus.com/i/ezekiel-12-11-you-are-to-be-a-sign-to-israel-brown-8256
The end is near.   http://www.33rdsquare.com/2016/01/the-end-is-really-nigh-this-time.html
What I say will be fulfilled.    https://dailyverses.net/2017/12/30