While They Are Watching

Hi GAMErs,

Today’s passage is Ezekiel 12:1-16.  Let’s go!

Ezekiel 12:1-7 (NIV) 
1  The word of the LORD came to me:
2  “Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people. They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people.
3  “Therefore, son of man, pack your belongings for exile and in the daytime, as they watch, set out and go from where you are to another place. Perhaps they will understand, though they are a rebellious house.
4  During the daytime, while they watch, bring out your belongings packed for exile. Then in the evening, while they are watching, go out like those who go into exile.
5  While they watch, dig through the wall and take your belongings out through it.
6  Put them on your shoulder as they are watching and carry them out at dusk. Cover your face so that you cannot see the land, for I have made you a sign to the house of Israel.”
7  So I did as I was commanded. During the day I brought out my things packed for exile. Then in the evening I dug through the wall with my hands. I took my belongings out at dusk, carrying them on my shoulders while they watched.

On verses 1-7:  Here God is getting Ezekiel to act out how the Israelites are exiled from their land.  Notice how many times the phrase “while they watch” and variations of it get repeated in these verses.  This shows me that God is a thoughtful communicator who carefully plans out how He will engage His hearers, so as to get the most bang for His effort.

Home Again

Hi GAMErs,

Today’s passage is Ezekiel 11:14-25.  Let’s go!
Ezekiel 11:14-16 (NIV) 
14  The word of the LORD came to me: 
15  “Son of man, your brothers–your brothers who are your blood relatives and the whole house of Israel–are those of whom the people of Jerusalem have said, ‘They are far away from the LORD; this land was given to us as our possession.’
16  “Therefore say: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Although I sent them far away among the nations and scattered them among the countries, yet for a little while I have been a sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone.’ 

On verses 14-16:  The Jews in Judah were captured and taken to Babylon in three stages: the first group was brought to Babylon in 605 B.C., the second in 597 B.C., and the third in 586 B.C.  According to scholars, Ezekiel was part of the second group that was taken to Babylon in 597 B.C.  When this second group was captured and taken to Babylon, the Jews who remained in Jerusalem assumed that God was giving them the entire land (“They are far away from the Lord; this land was given to us as our possession” – v15b).  Little did they know that another attack was on its way and that many of them would also be captured and deported within the next decade.

The Only Real “Pot”

Hi GAMErs,
Today’s passage is Ezekiel 11:1-13.  Let’s go!

Ezekiel 11:1-4 (NIV) 
1  Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the gate of the house of the LORD that faces east. There at the entrance to the gate were twenty-five men, and I saw among them Jaazaniah son of Azzur and Pelatiah son of Benaiah, leaders of the people.
2  The LORD said to me, “Son of man, these are the men who are plotting evil and giving wicked advice in this city.
3  They say, ‘Will it not soon be time to build houses? This city is a cooking pot, and we are the meat.’
4  Therefore prophesy against them; prophesy, son of man.” 
On verses 1-4:  What do Jaazaniah, Pelatiah and these other 23 men mean when they say, “This city is a cooking pot, and we are the meat” (v3)?  This is them bragging that they believe they are safe and secure within the walls of Jerusalem, like meat safely kept in a pot.  Despite the fact that the people of Judah have already suffered attacks, invasions and deportations at the hand of the Babylonians, these 25 leaders in Jerusalem scoff at the idea that a foreign enemy would take them down again.  Rather they believe it will soon be time for them to look at building houses and making long term investments in Jerusalem.  As we will see, theirs was a false sense of security.

I Just Want To Be Where You Are

Hi GAMErs,

Today’s passage is Ezekiel 9:1-11.  Let’s go!

Ezekiel 10:1-2 (NIV) 
1  I looked, and I saw the likeness of a throne of sapphire above the expanse that was over the heads of the cherubim. 
2  The LORD said to the man clothed in linen, “Go in among the wheels beneath the cherubim. Fill your hands with burning coals from among the cherubim and scatter them over the city.” And as I watched, he went in.
On verses 1-2:  This part of Ezekiel’s vision reminds me of a scene from Isaiah 6.  In Isaiah 6, the prophet Isaiah sees a vision of God seated on his throne in the temple.  In his vision, Isaiah is dismayed because he realizes that he is a sinner who cannot stand in the presence of a holy God.  All of a sudden one of the angels takes a live coal from the altar, touches Isaiah’s lips with it, and tells him that his guilt is taken away and his sin atoned for.
I believe a similar thing may be happening here in Ezekiel’s vision.  God tells a man clothed in linen (the same man whom God instructed in Ezekiel 9 to mark those who did not worship idols) to fill his hands with burning coals from among the cherubim and scatter them over the city (v2).  What is God doing?  Since all the idolaters in the city have been exterminated in Ezekiel 9, God is now sanctifying and purifying those who are left. 

God Is Precise and Protective

Hi GAMErs,

Today’s passage is Ezekiel 9:1-11.  Let’s go!

On verses 1-11:  In chapter 8, as part of Ezekiel’s vision, God promised not to spare the Israelites who were engaging in idolatry. Here in chapter 9, Ezekiel’s vision continues with God fulfilling this promise. At God’s summoning, six men appear, each with a deadly weapon in his hand, as they have been appointed to execute judgment on the city (v1-2).

Before these six men go throughout the city to kill every idolater, two things happen. First, verse 3 says that the glory of the Lord moves from above the cherubim (most likely a reference to the cherubim statues that sit on top of the ark in the Most Holy Place) to the temple entrance. This signifies that God’s presence has left the temple as a result of the people’s idolatry (see Ezekiel 8:6).

Second, God calls for a man dressed in linen (linen representing purity and righteousness) and with a writing kit to go and place a mark on the foreheads of all those in the city who grieve and lament over the Israelites’ idolatrous practices (v3b-4). This signifies that despite God’s wrath against all the idolaters in the city, God still wanted to protect those in the city who did not bow down to any idol.

You Can’t Hide From God

Hi GAMErs,

Today’s passage is Ezekiel 8:1-18.  Let’s go!

On verses 1-6:  Ezekiel is in his house having a meeting with the elders of Judah when all of a sudden he sees a vision (v1).  In the vision Ezekiel sees a figure who waist down is full of fire and who waist up looks like glowing metal (v2).  As verse 5 confirms, this figure is the same figure Ezekiel saw in Ezekiel 1:26-27 and is a picture of the Lord (also known as a theophany).  The Lord reaches out what looks like a hand, grabs Ezekiel by the hair, and pulls him into a vision of the temple in Jerusalem (v3).  Ezekiel sees an idol standing in the north gate of the temple.  This idol is called the idol of jealousy, probably because it stirred God’s jealousy to see this idol standing in what was supposed to be His temple (v3, 5), even while the Lord himself and His glory is standing before Ezekiel (v4). The Lord calls the Israelites’ idolatry “utterly detestable” (v6) and says that these are the kind of “things that will drive me far from my sanctuary” (v6).  And yet even more detestable things are still to come, the Lord says (v6).

What can we learn from this?  God detests idolatry.  As He says in Isaiah 42:8, “”I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols.”  A sure-fire way to grieve God’s heart is to worship other gods.

The Only Thing That Can Save

Hi GAMErs,

Today’s passage is Ezekiel 7:14-27.  Let’s go!

Ezekiel 7:14-17 (NIV) 
14  Though they blow the trumpet and get everything ready, no one will go into battle, for my wrath is upon the whole crowd.
15  “Outside is the sword, inside are plague and famine; those in the country will die by the sword, and those in the city will be devoured by famine and plague.
16  All who survive and escape will be in the mountains, moaning like doves of the valleys, each because of his sins.
17  Every hand will go limp, and every knee will become as weak as water.
18  They will put on sackcloth and be clothed with terror. Their faces will be covered with shame and their heads will be shaved. 

On verses 14-17:  Though the Israelites may be tempted to put their hope in their own military strength, their military will only disappoint them (v14).  They will be no match for the forces coming against them (v15-18).

What’s the lesson here?  Our own strength is no match for God.  We could never escape God’s wrath by our own strength.

Judged According to What

Hi GAMErs,

Today’s passage is Ezekiel 7:1-13.  Let’s go!

On verses 1-13:  One phrase that gets repeated over and over in this passage is: “I will judge you according to your conduct and repay you for all your detestable practices” (v3, 4, 8, 9).  Often times we can have an inflated view of ourselves.  The world would make us want to think that we are pretty good people and that God thinks so too.  I just heard one Hollywood celebrity post on social media, “All I’ve ever tried to do was help people”.  Yet a more accurate and impartial assessment of our lives would show that while we are capable of some good and have probably done some good in our lifetime, we are also capable of much evil and have acted in sin, selfishness and pride.  We must remember that God’s standards are not like ours.  His standards absolutely perfect and that is why the Bible’s assessment of our conduct is that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  If God were indeed to judge us according to our conduct, none of us would stand a chance.

God could treat us as our conduct deserves, but praise God that He is much more merciful than that.  For those of us who are humble enough to admit that we are sinners in need of a Saviour and who trust that Jesus is the Saviour we need, God does not treat us as our sins deserve.  Rather He gives us unmerited favour and undeserved grace.  That’s why David would write,

When Will You Know

Hi GAMErs,

Today’s passage is Ezekiel 6:1-14.  Let’s go!

On verses 1-14:  Why does God tell Ezekiel to speak to the mountains (v1-3)?  That’s because the mountains of Israel were the site where much of the Israelites’ idol worship took place.

Here God gives Ezekiel a message of judgment and destruction on the Israelites as a result of their rampant and persistent idolatry.  God promises that all the high places, incense altars and idols that the Israelites used to worship other gods will be destroyed, and most of the Israelites along with them (v3b-7).  Despite God revealing Himself to the Israelites time and time again, despite all of His faithfulness to them and the warnings He gave about what would happen if they turned to worship other gods, the Israelites obstinately refused to obey God’s commands or heed God’s warnings.  Thus the consequences God warned them about eventually overtook them.

Still there would be a remnant who would realize the error of their ways and whom God would spare (v8-10).

What can we learn from this?  Notice that one phrase that gets repeated over and over is the phrase: “you/they will know that I am the Lord” (v7, 10, 13, and 14).   One day, sooner or later, whether during this lifetime or after, every person will realize who the Lord is.

Real Wrath, Real Mercy

Hi GAMErs,

Today’s passage is Ezekiel 5:1-17.  Let’s go!

On verses 1-17:  Here comes another object lesson from Ezekiel, given to catch the attention of the spiritually calloused Israelites.  Ezekiel senses God telling him to shave his head and beard with a sharp sword.  He is to burn one third of the shavings inside the city.  He is to take another third and strike it with the sword, doing this all over the city.  He is also to take the last third of his hair shavings and scatter them to the wind.  All of these actions were to symbolize how, as punishment for their persistent disobedience and idolatry, God would give the Israelites over to famine (possibly symbolized by the fire), military attack (symbolized by the sword), and to wild beasts and disease (symbolized by the wind).   The reference in verse 10 to fathers eating their children and children eating their fathers is talking about how severe the famine would become that the Israelites would resort to cannibalism.

“How could a loving God do this to His own people?” you may ask.  It is worth noting that for centuries God repeatedly and with great clarity warned the Israelites that they should expect such consequences if they continued to disobey Him and persist in rebellion and idolatry.  See, for example, Deuteronomy 28 where Moses warns the people of all the problems they could expect to come upon them if they disobey.