Friday, May 29, 2015


For the week beginning Sunday May 31, 2015

(A message for Gog)
Ezekiel 37-38

In Ezekiel 37, verses 1-14, GOD gives the prophet Ezekiel a vivid illustration of the things that HE had promised in Ezekiel 36, concerning the restoration of Israel. The vision of “the dry bones revived” accentuates the fact of GOD’s sovereign power and ability to fulfill HIS promises. At that time, Israel was dead as a nation, and could see no way, as to how they could be extricated from their present condition. In their minds, restoration, at that time, seemed impossible.
In Ezekiel 36, verse 26, GOD promised to, first, put a “new (human) spirit”, or “desire” in the people of Israel, and then later (v.27), embody them with HIS HOLY SPIRIT, to help lead and guide those who desire to obey and live by HIS laws and directives, into all righteousness and eternity with HIM in Heaven. There HE was describing an eschatological time, when mankind would be cleansed of his “sin nature”, or desire to rebel against GOD and what is right and true.
Here in Ezekiel 37, GOD explains further, just what that kind of future event of transformation could be likened to. In this chapter, HE gives Ezekiel two signs that illustrate and confirm the promised resurrection and re-uniting of HIS chosen nation. The first is the sign of the “dry bones in the valley (Vs.1-14), and the second is the sign of “the two sticks” (Vs.15-28), the reuniting of northern Israel and Judah.
Using the power of HIS HOLY SPIRIT, GOD, takes Ezekiel to a valley that was filled with the dry, sun-bleached bones of human remains. Then, GOD asks HIS prophet this question; “Son of man, can these bones become living bodies again?” In other words, is there any way for life and flesh to be restored to these sun-baked bones that you see before you?
Knowing the human impossibility of what GOD was asking him, Ezekiel answered his LORD in the only way that a trusting man of faith could ever answer, when he responded, “Only YOU LORD know the answer to that”. He knew that only GOD could accomplish a task of that magnitude.
God then orders HIS servant Ezekiel to prophesy to the dry bones around him and immediately the transformation from “death to life” had begun. Ezekiel began to hear the rattling of bones all across the valley floor, as the bones of each body began to re-attach themselves as they had been before. Then, he watched in utter amazement as muscle and flesh began to form over the bones, and the skin began to cover the, still lifeless, sinews of the reconstructed human figures.     
Then GOD instructs Ezekiel to speak to the wind that it may breathe life into the restored bodies that lay around him in the valley, and when he did, the great army of humanity, stood to its feet. Then GOD said to Ezekiel, “These bones represent the nation of Israel”. She has become a nation that could be likened to dry bones, as all hope had been sucked from her existence. Her anticipation of ever being released from Babylonian captivity had dried up long ago, like the dry bones in that visionary valley.
And now, GOD would open up their graves of exile, and cause them to rise again into health and prosperity. And so, we see a “physical restoration” symbolizing “the national restoration of Israel”, and we also see in this passage, a return to faith in GOD, which symbolizes a “spiritual restoration”.
These events would occur in such a way, that, all involved would know that it was the LORD WHO was responsible for their revived fortunes. In addition, GOD promised to indwell each of HIS people (the revived bodies), with a HOLY SPIRIT from on high that would cause them to know that HE is sovereign, and, that HE has kept HIS promise to them, alive.
GOD provides “New Life” for all who seek it, and we only need to ask, in faith, to receive it. The vision that GOD showed so vividly to Ezekiel that day, was just the LORD’s way of revealing to us that HE is able, and also willing, to grant us a free pass into an eternity with HIM, all at the expense of CHRIST JESUS, our LORD and SAVIOR, if, we are willing to accept HIS benevolence.
In verses 15-28 we see the second of the two signs featured in this passage, and it is the sign of the two sticks. It is prophecy of the re-uniting of northern Israel and Judah. In verses 15-19 GOD says;

 … “Son of man, take a piece of wood and carve on it these words: “This represents Judah and its allied tribes. Then take another piece and carve these words on it: ‘This represents Ephraim and the northern tribes of Israel.’  Now hold them together in your hand as if they were one piece of wood.  When your people ask you what your actions mean, say to them, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will take Ephraim and the northern tribes and join them to Judah. I will make them one piece of wood in my hand”.

After the death of King Solomon, Ephraim, the tribe that made up northern Israel, had torn itself away from southern Israel (Judah), and the remaining tribes. Northern Israel had since been conquered by the Assyrians in 722 B.C., and had been intermixed with Assyrian relations that formed the hated Samaritans people of JESUS’ day. They were half breed Jews who were no longer accepted by their southern counterparts.
Here in this passage GOD promises a re-unification of the two estranged nations into “one nation under GOD”, indivisible, once again. Here, GOD is again speaking of an eschatological time when the “Millennial Kingdom” of CHRIST will be formed here on earth at history’s end. One KING will rule over the whole earth at that time, JESUS CHRIST, of the lineage of David. At that time, all people on earth will only desire to worship CHRIST and obey GOD the FATHER completely. HE will be our GOD, and we will be HIS people, and Israel will hold a special place in that world as GOD’s chosen people forever (Vs.20-28).
Through GOD’s faithfulness and power, we can all enjoy “new life” just for the asking, and HE will always “restore” and “unite” the people who share a common allegiance to CHRIST JESUS. Some believe that this particular passage of scripture does speak of the present Jewish state, and if it does, then the coming of the MESSIAH must be drawing near, however, whenever CHRIST does return, the remainder of these prophesies will find their fulfillment in a great movement toward HIM as the MESSIAH of all mankind. It is then when GOD’s promises of restoration and blessing, can and will, be completely realized, consummated, and fulfilled.
In Ezekiel 38, we see the sixth and final series of prophesies uttered by the prophet Ezekiel prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. Here he prophesies against “Gog” (ro’sh – “the chief prince”) and the land of “Magog (the area of modern-day Russia, eastern Turkey, and Iran) where he ruled. He foretells an event in the distant future when Gog will invade Israel while she is at peace. GOD tells Ezekiel in verses 3-9, to announce to the chief prince;

“… Gog, I am your enemy! I will turn you around and put hooks in your jaws to lead you out with your whole army—your horses and charioteers in full armor and a great horde armed with shields and swords. Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya will join you, too, with all their weapons. Gomer and all its armies will also join you, along with the armies of Beth-togarmah from the distant north, and many others.
“Get ready; be prepared! Keep all the armies around you mobilized, and take command of them. A long time from now you will be called into action. In the distant future you will swoop down on the land of Israel, which will be enjoying peace after recovering from war and after its people have returned from many lands to the mountains of Israel. You and all your allies—a vast and awesome army—will roll down on them like a storm and cover the land like a cloud.”

The LORD further states that, at that time evil thoughts will come into the mind of Gog and cause him to devise an evil scheme against Israel that involves several allies (v.10). And while GOD does not cause this hostility toward Israel to happen, HE does seem to create the conditions which will lead Gog to outwardly express his hostility against Israel.
This passage presents the picture of a scenario where Gog will be joined in his attack by other nations who will come from different directions to ascend upon Israel. In verse 5 Ezekiel identifies those nations that will ally with Meshech and Tubal (Russia) as Persia (Iran), Cush (Ethiopia), and Put (Libya). And so, these territorial references at least suggest that parts of Russia, eastern Turkey, and Iran will likely be involved.
And so Gog, feeling that Israel is quite vulnerable at that time, will seize the opportunity to pounce upon this peaceful and confident, revived nation, and attempt to capture its now vast amounts of plunder and take the surviving populace back to their own countries as slaves.
However, little does Gog know that this attack will be used by GOD, to show HIS sovereignty, and power in the world. By going against Israel, all those nations will come to know GOD, and as a result of their failed attack, Israel will be empowered further, and GOD HIMSELF will be even more glorified (Vs.14-16).
When all those armies reached Israel, GOD interrupted their charge with a massive earthquake that spread fear and confusion throughout their military ranks. During this confusion, all communications broke down between the four invading nations, causing them to actually begin attacking each other. In addition to disease, heavy rainfall, hail, and burning sulfur (probably volcano ash) added to their problems, all of which were forms of “natural disasters” that can only be controlled by the hand of GOD (Vs.17-23). 

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

Friday, May 8, 2015


For the week beginning Sunday May 10, 2015

(Restoration for Israel)
Ezekiel 35-36

In Ezekiel 35, the prophet Ezekiel presents yet a second prophecy of doom against Edom (the first was Ezekiel 25:12-14), or, Mount Seir, and the whole geographical region where Edom is located. Therefore, this particular prophecy is against all people living in that area, including Edom, one of Israel’s oldest enemies.
Seir is the name of the valley and mountain range of Aravah, from the Dead Sea to the Elanitic Gulf. It is also where the Horites lived, who were conquered by King Kedorlaomer before he himself was defeated by Abraham (Genesis 14:6), and, where Jacob sent messengers in an attempt to soften his brother Esau’s expected rage against him for swindling him out of his inheritance (Genesis 32:3). Esau is the father of the Edomite nation.
As I stated in an earlier commentary, 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 said in chapter 25 that Edom’s sin was that she “took revenge on the house of Judah”, and that she 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.
Here in Ezekiel 35, the LORD says that Edom’s continued hatred for Israel led her to butcher them when they were helpless (under duress from Babylon). Their actions against Israel came at a time when GOD was already punishing Israel for their sins against HIM. In this passage GOD hurls four accusations at Seir, as reasons for HIS judgment on that region.

·         The first accusation was that they were always hostile toward HIS chosen people (v.5).
·         Secondly, they maintained a desire to take possession of, and own the land that GOD had already given to HIS people, Israel (v.10).
·         Thirdly, they harbored an ongoing disrespect for GOD HIMSELF (v.10).
·         And finally, they refused to submit to GOD, and boasted proudly against HIM, which is the general reason for the fall of all mankind (v.13).

And so Edom became somewhat of “an object lesson” for all nations in general, who are hostile to Israel. In the day when GOD restores Israel, HE will also judge the nations of the world, based on how they treated Israel, GOD’s “original representative nation” here on earth.
Ezekiel 36 is the exact antithesis to Ezekiel 35. After GOD judges Israel’s enemies, HE will, at a future date, bless HIS chosen nation with complete restoration. Here Ezekiel contrasts GOD’s plan of judgment, and Israel’s present condition, with GOD’s plan of restoration, and Israel’s future blessings.
In this passage GOD tells Ezekiel to prophesy to Israel’s mountains, which were soon to be cleansed of all of the shrines and altars, along with all of their demonic influences that could currently be found there. Israel had become possessed by the demonic forces of many nations while worshipping those nations many idol gods. As a result of their poor spiritual choices, they now suffered physical defeat, and they were now mocked and slandered by those same nations (Vs.1-3).
The LORD’s anger was kindled against the pagan nations, especially Edom, because of her utter contempt against HIM, by happily taking Israel’s land for themselves, as a reward after Judah’s destruction. GOD’s intent in this chapter, however, is to encourage HIS down-throdden people of Israel, and assure them that HE had not abandoned them. This, all in light of the fact, that, none of the exiles would ever live to see this prophecy fulfilled. GOD wanted them to know that Israel would rise from its shame, and that her mountains would once again produce abundant crops, and its land would again be filled with people, flocks and herds (Vs.5-15).
When the Israelites were living in their own land they defiled it with evil deeds, and to GOD, those acts were utterly detestable. They had polluted the land with murder, idolatry, and adultery, and so GOD poured out HIS anger on them, and scattered them abroad to many distant lands, as one of HIS forms of punishment. Even after they were scattered abroad, they still brought dishonor to GOD’s holy name. The pagan nations began to mock them by saying, “These are the people of the LORD, and HE couldn’t keep them safe in their own land” (Vs.16-20).
Being concerned for HIS OWN name and reputation, GOD sent this message to the exiles through the prophet Ezekiel (Vs.22-27) (NLT):

 “Therefore, give the people of Israel this message from the Sovereign Lord: I am bringing you back, but not because you deserve it. I am doing it to protect my holy name, on which you brought shame while you were scattered among the nations.  I will show how holy my great name is—the name on which you brought shame among the nations. And when I reveal my holiness through you before their very eyes, says the Sovereign Lord, then the nations will know that I am the Lord.  For I will gather you up from all the nations and bring you home again to your land.
Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols.  And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.”

Here in this passage we see one of scripture’s earliest revelations of GOD’s plan for us through CHRIST JESUS and the HOLY SPIRIT. GOD would not only give us a new “human spirit”, or, “desire to obey HIM” (v.26). After we have been cleansed by the blood of CHRIST, which was shed as a sacrifice for our sins and uncleanness, GOD would also allow us to be embodied by HIS HOLY SPIRIT. The HOLY SPIRIT would be paramount in helping steer us and guide us into all righteousness and obedience, based on our own personal choice, and “saving faith” in HIM (v.27).
In GOD’s Mosaic Law (Leviticus 16:30-31), a ritually unclean person would not be able to participate in worship services. And so the idea of being “clean” or “unclean” could have a significant impact on one’s personal relationship with GOD. This law also carried over to “moral and immoral acts” as it is emphasized in Psalm 106:36-39. Men of GOD saw in this concept of ritual uncleanness, a powerful image of “the inner defilement” that is caused by sin.
The whole nation of Israel had defiled itself through their forbidden practices of idolatry, adultery, and murderous sacrifices of children in the fire to Mollech. GOD’s holiness absolutely required that the Israelites vacate from HIS holy land, which would continue to exist long after that generation of people, had expired. The land had to cleansed of the “demonic defilement” that comes with worshipping people, places, and things other than GOD HIMSELF. And the people themselves had to be cleansed by allowing their sins to “run its course” for seventy years in Babylon, after which, GOD would be ready to hear their prayers once again, and be willing to also, grant their special requests (v.37).

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website