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

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