Friday, February 6, 2015


For the week beginning Sunday February 8, 2015

(Messages for Israel’s enemies)
Ezekiel 24-25

In mid-January of 588 B.C. (Gregorian calendar date) Nebuchadnezzar began a two-year siege on Jerusalem that would ultimately result in its final destruction in 586 B.C. It was a day that Ezekiel had been forecasting for four years, and the prophet Jeremiah had touted for more than forty years. The siege came during the ninth year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity in Babylon, and it signaled the end of Ezekiel’s “Prophesies of Doom” against Judah.
Here in Ezekiel 24, verses 1-14, the prophet tells the divine parable of “The Cooking Pot” that was given to him by GOD on the very day that the final Babylonian siege began. This parable is similar to the message in chapter 11, where the leaders used the symbol of the “cooking pot” to give Jerusalem a feeling of false hope and security. There the leaders had the people thinking that, by being in the cooking pot (Jerusalem), they would be automatically safe from any harm, including the famine, the war, the beasts, and, fatal diseases and sicknesses that had come on them because of GOD’s wrath. In verses 6-8 Ezekiel shouts;

“What sorrow awaits Jerusalem,
    the city of murderers!
She is a cooking pot
    whose corruption can’t be cleaned out.
Take the meat out in random order,
    for no piece is better than another, For the blood of her murders
    is splashed on the rocks.
It isn’t even spilled on the ground,
    where the dust could cover it!
 So I will splash her blood on a rock
    for all to see,
an expression of my anger
    and vengeance against her”.

Here GOD is saying that Jerusalem is so corrupt that it doesn’t matter who HE takes out first. She had become a city of bloodthirsty murderers who openly sacrificed their children in the fire (Kings 16:3, Acts 7:43, Amos 5:26, 2 Chronicles 28:3 & 33:6) to the idol god Mollech, splashing their blood on the rocks in the valley of Ben-Hinnom (Jeremiah 19), They also caused the death of many innocent people through many injustices and oppression. They were also leading people away from GOD, by way of their false teaching. Now GOD says that HE will splash their blood on the rocks of Jerusalem. In verses 9-13 the Sovereign LORD says;
“What sorrow awaits Jerusalem,
    the city of murderers!
    I myself will pile up the fuel beneath her.
 Yes, heap on the wood!
    Let the fire roar to make the pot boil.
Cook the meat with many spices,
    and afterward burn the bones.
 Now set the empty pot on the coals.
    Heat it red hot!
    Burn away the filth and corruption.
 But it’s hopeless;
    the corruption can’t be cleaned out.
    So throw it into the fire.
 Your impurity is your lewdness
    and the corruption of your idolatry.
I tried to cleanse you,
    but you refused.
So now you will remain in your filth
    until my fury against you has been satisfied.
This, the LORD’s second statement through Ezekiel in this chapter, deals specifically with the corrupted filthy cooking pot (Jerusalem), and how the meat (the Israelites) had allowed the pot to become corrupted and defiled by the demonic forces that inhabited the whole land through the idols, and the shrines, that the people worshiped in.
When we worship anything other than GOD, the object of that worship can become inhabited by demons who then receives our worship through that object, be it a house, a car, another person etc. That is why GOD instructed Ezekiel on several occasions to prophesy against the land, and other inanimate objects (Ezekiel 6, & 20:45-21:4). It is because the demons that we can’t see are controlling us through certain objects, animals, and people that we worship.
When everything is defiled, including in the church that calls itself by GOD’s name, GOD destroys it all, and then starts over afresh, because the filth can’t be totally purged. Because of our mixing of the holy with the profane, even in the church, then and now, GOD will also tear down the whole defiled religious system (Ezekiel 21:1-4), and start all over again (CHRIST’s Millennial Kingdom). And GOD will do it because, then and now, we will refuse to let those demons that control us, go. We will remain filthy until GOD’s fury against us has been totally satisfied (v.13).
Taking up at verse 15 of this chapter we see a rather grim message to the exiles at Babylon. Here Ezekiel presents the image of a stern and unyielding person, very much the opposite of, say, Jeremiah, who often wept for the people he prophesied to. Here GOD informs HIS faithful prophet Ezekiel, that, HE is about to take his dearest treasure, his wife, away from him. And if that isn’t bad news enough, GOD tells him that he must not even cry for her (except for quiet sighing), or show any sorrow, even at her gravesite. He was not to take off his sandals, or accept any food from consoling friends. Nor was he to perform any of the other traditional rituals of mourning that he was accustomed to performing for close relatives whom he adored (Vs15-17).
Here in this passage we learn that, though we may be a believer, we are not immune to pain and suffering. We are also reminded here, that, pain and suffering doesn’t qualify as an excuse for not obeying GOD. Remember, I’ve told you on several occasions that a true prophet demonstrates GOD’s message with his whole life and body. Well, here in this passage, we see Ezekiel’s personal life with his wife being sacrificed to convey a solemn message to a hopelessly rebellious people, who, had refused to heed all prior warnings from GOD. In verses 21-24, following the death of his wife Ezekiel proclaims this message from the LORD;

“I was told to give this message to the people of Israel. This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will defile my Temple, the source of your security and pride, the place your heart delights in. Your sons and daughters whom you left behind in Judah will be slaughtered by the sword.  Then you will do as Ezekiel has done. You will not mourn in public or console yourselves by eating the food brought by friends.  Your heads will remain covered, and your sandals will not be taken off. You will not mourn or weep, but you will waste away because of your sins. You will groan among yourselves for all the evil you have done.  Ezekiel is an example for you; you will do just as he has done. And when that time comes, you will know that I am the Sovereign Lord.”

In verses 25-27 the LORD tells Ezekiel that HE will take away Israel’s stronghold (Jerusalem), and HE will strip them of their joy and glory, their heart’s desire, and their dearest treasure (the Temple). HE would also take away their sons and daughters, and on that day, a refugee from Jerusalem will come to them in Babylon to tell them everything that has happened to their beloved city. At that time, a once silent Ezekiel will regain his voice so as to talk to the refugee, and he (Ezekiel) will become a symbol for the exiles, and they will know that the GOD of their ancestors is truly the one and only GOD.
In Ezekiel 25, Ezekiel turns his attention from an already doomed Jerusalem, to the task of prophesying against the Gentile nations that surrounded Judah. It only stands to reason that if GOD would not spare HIS own people, certainly HE was not going to allow the pagan nations that so influenced them, mocked them, and blasphemed HIM, to go unpunished. History now records that both Ammon and Moab fell to the Babylonians only five years after Judah’s destruction in 586 B.C.
Here in this chapter we see several Gentile nations, Ammon, Moab, Edom, and Philistia all being handed a message regarding impending judgment from the LORD, because of their sins and mockery against Judah. Ammon, Moab, and Edom all formed the eastern border of Judah, while Philistia is located to the west. GOD’s judgment here is based on the “Abrahamic Covenant” which states that “those who bless the descendants of Abraham will be blessed, and those who curse the descendants of Abraham will be cursed” (Genesis 12:1-3, 15).
They would all be handed down indictments and verdicts from GOD, through Ezekiel, beginning with Ammon, who had scoffed and mocked Judah when Nebuchadnezzar decided to attack Judah first, instead of them (Ezekiel 21:18-27). Ammon, who had earlier sided with Judah against Babylon, was relieved by Nebuchadnezzar’s choice, and instead of helping Judah in her plight, Ammon chose to rejoice over Judah’s demise. They celebrated as the temple at Jerusalem was desecrated and destroyed.
Now, for their punishment, GOD would start with them first, and allow the Babylonians to set up camp and pitch tents in their land, harvest their crops, and steal their livestock. And because they celebrated Israel’s demise, their capital city, Rabbah, would be turned into pastureland for camels, and the remainder of their land would be an enclosure for keeping sheep. As a civilization, they would be utterly destroyed (Vs.1-7).
In verses 8-11, we see a message for Moab, who, in contempt for GOD’s chosen nation, said that “Judah was nothing special, and were just like any other nation”. This attitude is seen by GOD as being blasphemous toward HIM. However, in truth, the relationship between Israel and Moab had deteriorated since the time of King Saul’s regime, when he conquered and made Moab a “vassal state” to Israel, and Moab remained that way throughout King Solomon’s reign. And so, when Judah was destroyed by Babylon, as far as the pagan world was concerned, it gave credence to the contemptuous words and saying of Moab. And now GOD was bent on restoring HIS reputation as a GOD WHO is sovereign and in control of all things holy and secular.
Here GOD says that HE will open up Moab’s eastern flank and wipe out their glorious frontier cities, Beth-jeshimoth, Baal-meon, and Kiriathaim (v.9), and then HE would hand Moab over to the Babylonians. And so GOD promises to, first, take away Moab’s defense and protection, and then, HE would take away their freedom.
In verses 12-14, Ezekiel turns his prophesying to the nation of Edom. Edom’s conflict with Israel dates all the way back to the time when Edom refused to allow Israel to cross its border when they were wandering in the desert following their exodus from Egypt (Numbers 20:14-21). Ezekiel says here that Edom’s sin was that she “took revenge on the house of Judah”.
Edom saw Judah’s conflict with Babylon as a grand opportunity to strengthen her own position of power in the region. Edom believed that, if Judah were destroyed, she would be able to gain a foothold in the area south of the Dead Sea. And so they aided Babylon in her efforts to destroy Jerusalem. Now, GOD was saying that HE would aid in Edom’s destruction. Here GOD says that, “I will raise my fist of judgment against Edom. I will wipe out its people and animals with the sword. I will make a wasteland of everything from Teman to Dedan.  I will accomplish this by the hand of my people of Israel. They will carry out my vengeance with anger, and Edom will know that this vengeance is from me. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!” (Vs.13-14 – NLT).
In verses 15-17, the people of Philistia are given their warning from the LORD by Ezekiel.

“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: The people of Philistia have acted against Judah out of bitter revenge and long-standing contempt. Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will raise my fist of judgment against the land of the Philistines. I will wipe out the Kerethites and utterly destroy the people who live by the sea.  I will execute terrible vengeance against them to punish them for what they have done. And when I have inflicted my revenge, they will know that I am the Lord.” (NLT)

The Philistines had been in conflict with the Israelites since the Israeli conquest of the “Promised Land”. Israel had failed in their attempt to conquer the Philistines, in part, because of the Philistines superior military. However, because of the Israelites disobedience to GOD at that time, it was really GOD’s will that allowed the Philistines to be successful against HIS chosen people.
King David finally subdued the Philistines early on in his reign over the “United Kingdom” of Israel, and Philistia remained Israel’s vassal state all the way through the reign of King Solomon. However, following the break-up of Israel’s northern kingdom and Judah after Solomon’s death, the feud between the two was renewed. Philistia was able to win her freedom from Israel during the reign of King Jehoram, King Jehoshaphat’s son and heir, and over the years, power between the two countries shifted back and forward. Time and time again the Philistines tried to usurp GOD’s authority, and time and time again GOD would put her down. In fact, it was not until Nebuchadnezzar conquered both countries, Judah and Philistia, that their feuding came to a screeching halt.   

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

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