Beware the ‘I’…

Ezekiel 23:40-49

“Furthermore you sent for men to come from afar, to whom a messenger was sent; and there they came. And you washed yourself for them, painted your eyes, and adorned yourself with ornaments. 41 You sat on a stately couch, with a table prepared before it, on which you had set My incense and My oil. 42 The sound of a carefree multitude was with her, and Sabeans were brought from the wilderness with men of the common sort, who put bracelets on their wrists and beautiful crowns on their heads. 43 Then I said concerning her who had grown old in adulteries, ‘Will they commit harlotry with her now, and she with them?’ 44 Yet they went in to her, as men go in to a woman who plays the harlot; thus they went in to Oholah and Oholibah, the lewd women. 45 But righteous men will judge them after the manner of adulteresses, and after the manner of women who shed blood, because they are adulteresses, and blood is on their hands.

46 “For thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Bring up an assembly against them, give them up to trouble and plunder. 47 The assembly shall stone them with stones and execute them with their swords; they shall slay their sons and their daughters, and burn their houses with fire. 48 Thus I will cause lewdness to cease from the land, that all women may be taught not to practice your lewdness. 49 They shall repay you for your lewdness, and you shall pay for your idolatrous sins. Then you shall know that I am the Lord GOD.’ ”

Pasted from <http://www.blueletterbible.org/tools/printerFriendly.cfm?b=Eze&c=23&v=1&t=NKJVP>

 

The nations, typed as sisters who practice adultery, prostitution and bloodshed, brag of who and what they are.  They go after the ideologies  and lifestyles of the neighboring  nations.  What drives their desires?  It is a focus on self.  Self which always wants more and is never satisfied.  It is all about me, who I am, what I do.  It is all about us, who we are, what we do.  It is a hunger what they already possessed in the Lord.  What the world seeks is found through Christ in reunion with its Creator.  And yet they are blind to this, so filled with self.  Go back to Eden and the fruit of the tree.  Why was it eaten?  The big ‘I’ got in the way of wisdom and obedience.  The seed of what more they could be was sown and they gave in to the desire of ‘I’ want…  Today the big ‘I’ gets in the way of ironically, what the big ‘I’ seeks!  Jesus said lose yourself and you will find yourself.  Huh?  The unbelieving world would say.  We are complete in him.  Then we are satisfied, fulfilled.  And the mystery of it all continues….

Would we judge? Will we escape?…

Ezekiel 23:32-39

“Thus says the Lord GOD:

​‘​You shall drink of your sister’s cup,

​​The deep and wide one;

​​You shall be laughed to scorn

​​And held in derision;

​​It contains much.

33 ​​You will be filled with drunkenness and sorrow,

​​The cup of horror and desolation,

​​The cup of your sister Samaria.

34 ​​You shall drink and drain it,

​​You shall break its shards,

​​And tear at your own breasts;

​​For I have spoken,’

​​Says the Lord GOD.

35 “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD:

​‘​Because you have forgotten Me and cast Me behind your back,

​​Therefore you shall bear the penalty

​​Of your lewdness and your harlotry.’ ”
36 The LORD also said to me: “Son of man, will you judge Oholah and Oholibah? Then declare to them their abominations. 37 For they have committed adultery, and blood is on their hands. They have committed adultery with their idols, and even sacrificed their sons whom they bore to Me, passing them through the fire, to devour them. 38 Moreover they have done this to Me: They have defiled My sanctuary on the same day and profaned My Sabbaths. 39 For after they had slain their children for their idols, on the same day they came into My sanctuary to profane it; and indeed thus they have done in the midst of My house.

Pasted from <http://www.blueletterbible.org/tools/printerFriendly.cfm?b=Eze&c=23&v=1&t=NKJVP>

In hindsight  we ask how could they and yet look around it is not so different today.  Will we escape the same judgment Samaria and Jerusalem fared?  Is God not the same God today he was then?  We are the nations who today practice the same detestable practices.  How many unborn children have been sacrificed on the altar of lust?  There is no good reason for this today with what we know about the body and how it functions.  What is lust but a “desire for what I want.”  And the unborn gets in the way, the idol of lust begs for food and we give it the child that is the fruit  of the actions.  Today, as in Ezekiel’s day, we are given opportunity to repent, turn and change.  How will our nation respond?  That depends upon the individual actions of each person.  What can we do? We can, as believers, keep our own lives pure in the cross where there is forgiveness.  We can spread that message to an unbelieving world.  We can act in love toward the rest of humanity in obedience to the Lord’s command to love our God and our neighbor.

Sowing to a hard harvest…

Ezekiel 23:22-31

“Therefore, Oholibah, thus says the Lord God: ‘Behold, I will stir up your lovers against you, From whom you have alienated yourself, And I will bring them against you from every side: 23 The Babylonians, All the Chaldeans, Pekod, Shoa, Koa, All the Assyrians with them, All of them desirable young men, Governors and rulers, Captains and men of renown, All of them riding on horses. 24 And they shall come against you With chariots, wagons, and war-horses, With a horde of people. They shall array against you Buckler, shield, and helmet all around. ‘I will delegate judgment to them, And they shall judge you according to their judgments. 25 I will set My jealousy against you, And they shall deal furiously with you; They shall remove your nose and your ears, And your remnant shall fall by the sword; They shall take your sons and your daughters, And your remnant shall be devoured by fire. 26 They shall also strip you of your clothes And take away your beautiful jewelry. 27 ‘Thus I will make you cease your lewdness and your harlotry Brought from the land of Egypt, So that you will not lift your eyes to them, Nor remember Egypt anymore.’ 28 “For thus says the Lord God: ‘Surely I will deliver you into the hand of those you hate, into the hand of those from whom you alienated yourself. 29 They will deal hatefully with you, take away all you have worked for, and leave you naked and bare. The nakedness of your harlotry shall be uncovered, both your lewdness and your harlotry. 30 I will do these things to you because you have gone as a harlot after the Gentiles, because you have become defiled by their idols. 31 You have walked in the way of your sister; therefore I will put her cup in your hand.’

Pasted from <http://www.biblestudytools.com/nkjv/ezekiel/23.html>

What seeds do we sow?  Is there any difference between our nation and Israel at this time of Ezekiel?  The message goes out – Ezekiel shared and there was time to repent.  Over and over the Bible gives us examples of what displeases our God and the consequences that follow, the fruit that comes from the seeds of discord, disrespect, disloyalty, dishonor, dishonesty… The believer repents, sits at the foot of the cross and receives forgiveness.  It rains upon us all believer and unbeliever but not all receive judgment for eternity.  We can rejoice in the knowledge we will spend our time here and forever in his presence.

How long, O Lord…

Revelation 6:9-10

Revelations 6:9-10   How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

Ezekiel 22:1-16

1 Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2 “Now, son of man, will you judge, will you judge the bloody city? Yes, show her all her abominations! 3 Then say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “The city sheds blood in her own midst, that her time may come; and she makes idols within herself to defile herself. 4 You have become guilty by the blood which you have shed, and have defiled yourself with the idols which you have made. You have caused your days to draw near, and have come to the end of your years; therefore I have made you a reproach to the nations, and a mockery to all countries. 5 Those near and those far from you will mock you as infamous and full of tumult.
6 “Look, the princes of Israel: each one has used his power to shed blood in you. 7 In you they have made light of father and mother; in your midst they have oppressed the stranger; in you they have mistreated the fatherless and the widow. 8 You have despised My holy things and profaned My Sabbaths. 9 In you are men who slander to cause bloodshed; in you are those who eat on the mountains; in your midst they commit lewdness. 10 In you men uncover their fathers’ nakedness; in you they violate women who are set apart during their impurity. 11 One commits abomination with his neighbor’s wife; another lewdly defiles his daughter-in-law; and another in you violates his sister, his father’s daughter. 12 In you they take bribes to shed blood; you take usury and increase; you have made profit from your neighbors by extortion, and have forgotten Me,” says the Lord GOD.
13 “Behold, therefore, I beat My fists at the dishonest profit which you have made, and at the bloodshed which has been in your midst. 14 Can your heart endure, or can your hands remain strong, in the days when I shall deal with you? I, the LORD, have spoken, and will do it. 15 I will scatter you among the nations, disperse you throughout the countries, and remove your filthiness completely from you. 16 You shall defile yourself in the sight of the nations; then you shall know that I am the LORD.” ’ ”
Near half-way through Ezekiel and so much of this is the heart of God showing his people in detail what they do that is displeasing and detestable to him.  It shows how it hurts the Creator to witness the rebellion and disrespect in his creation, those who were created lovingly to love, not harm, to build, not destroy.
What can be gleaned from this for today?  Not much has changed!! The same offenses listed here are read about daily in our papers, on Internet news and social media, heard on radio broadcasts and TV news headlines.  We react as if it is surprising, yet mankind without a relationship with God will go this pathway.  Mankind without God will live with hatred, not love; destruction, not growth; harm, not care.  All that is good is of God and when mankind disrespect and dishonors their Creator; calling themselves creator, no good can come of it.  We pay the consequences for the bloodshed we allow.  The multitude of unborn lives scream out for justice.  The multitude of abused and neglected children and adults call out for justice.  The oppressed of all nations who seek asylum and life, cry out for justice.  Who will answer with justice if not God’s people?  Think on it…
Micah 6:8   He has shown you, O man, what [is] good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?
DO JUSTLY…

Words that span time…

Ezekiel 21:24-32

“Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Because you have made your iniquity to be remembered, in that your transgressions are uncovered, so that in all your doings your sins appear—because you have come to remembrance, you shall be taken in hand.

25 ‘Now to you, O profane, wicked prince of Israel, whose day has come, whose iniquity shall end, 26 thus says the Lord GOD:

​​“Remove the turban, and take off the crown;

​​Nothing shall remain the same.

​​Exalt the humble, and humble the exalted.

27 ​​Overthrown, overthrown,

​​I will make it overthrown!

​​It shall be no longer,

​​Until He comes whose right it is,

​​And I will give it to Him.” ’
A Sword Against the Ammonites

28 “And you, son of man, prophesy and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD concerning the Ammonites and concerning their reproach,’ and say:

​‘​A sword, a sword is drawn,

​​Polished for slaughter,

​​For consuming, for flashing—

29 ​​While they see false visions for you,

​​While they divine a lie to you,

​​To bring you on the necks of the wicked, the slain

​​Whose day has come,

​​Whose iniquity shall end.

30 ​‘​Return it to its sheath.

​​I will judge you

​​In the place where you were created,

​​In the land of your nativity.

31 ​​I will pour out My indignation on you;

​​I will blow against you with the fire of My wrath,

​​And deliver you into the hands of brutal men who are skillful to destroy.

32 ​​You shall be fuel for the fire;

​​Your blood shall be in the midst of the land.

​​You shall not be remembered,

​​For I the LORD have spoken.’ ”

Pasted from <http://www.blueletterbible.org/tools/printerFriendly.cfm?b=Eze&c=21&t=nkjvp>

Isn’t it amazing?  The word of the Lord came to Ezekiel and he shared what he was given, he did what he was told, he was obedient and history tells us it came to pass.  In this passage we see the words used by Jesus centuries later.  We are reminded that Jesus said he only speaks what he hears the Father say, the words given to him by the Father.  The words refer to he who is last shall be first, he who is least shall be greatest.

“…Mark 9:35   And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” Luke 9:48 and said to them, “Whoever receives this little child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me. For he who is least among you all will be great.”…”

Human nature has a competitive streak.  That attribute hinders true humility for what is competition but the drive to do and be better than someone else?

Is there a word to us today?  Judgment came because of insults against the Lord and his people.  Should we be ever mindful of how we treat one another?  Also we are reminded often to prefer one another – that would be the opposite of competition.  The Christian world appears to be in competition with one another rather than uniting and following the Lord’s lead to work together for the kingdom of God.  If we are busy about our Father’s business, as Jesus said, we don’t have time to judge or insult one another.  If we are about caring for one another, building one another up in the faith we won’t be competing, dragging one another down.  The Lord brought judgment against the prince of Israel and then also against the people of Ammon.  No one is exempt from the consequences of their actions.  One for a haughty and prideful nature and the other for disrespecting God and his people.  We will not be found guilty of either if we are acting in love toward one another as Christ commanded.  That love comes from him; we receive it when we receive him.  It is done.

Consequences fit the crime? Is there an escape?

Ezekiel 21:14-23

“You therefore, son of man, prophesy,

​​And strike your hands together.

​​The third time let the sword do double damage.

​​It is the sword that slays,

​​The sword that slays the great men,

​​That enters their private chambers.

15 ​​I have set the point of the sword against all their gates,

​​That the heart may melt and many may stumble.

​​Ah! It is made bright;

​​It is grasped for slaughter:

16 ​​“Swords at the ready!

​​Thrust right!

​​Set your blade!

​​Thrust left—

​​Wherever your edge is ordered!

17 ​​“I also will beat My fists together,

​​And I will cause My fury to rest;

​​I, the LORD, have spoken.”

18 The word of the LORD came to me again, saying: 19 “And son of man, appoint for yourself two ways for the sword of the king of Babylon to go; both of them shall go from the same land. Make a sign; put it at the head of the road to the city. 20 Appoint a road for the sword to go to Rabbah of the Ammonites, and to Judah, into fortified Jerusalem. 21 For the king of Babylon stands at the parting of the road, at the fork of the two roads, to use divination: he shakes the arrows, he consults the images, he looks at the liver. 22 In his right hand is the divination for Jerusalem: to set up battering rams, to call for a slaughter, to lift the voice with shouting, to set battering rams against the gates, to heap up a siege mound, and to build a wall. 23 And it will be to them like a false divination in the eyes of those who have sworn oaths with them; but he will bring their iniquity to remembrance, that they may be taken.

Pasted from <http://www.blueletterbible.org/tools/printerFriendly.cfm?b=Eze&c=21&t=nkjvp>

No news analyst needed here to know what is coming.  God speaks directly to the people and allows that he will not intervene in what is coming their way.  Instead he suggests their sin has brought this upon them because they have left him and turned to other idols.  He goes further to say the king of Babylon is acting under his direct influence.  This would make one think twice about displeasing the Lord God.  We can see a similar correlation between this  and the child who has deliberately disobeyed by breaking a rule, maybe even one that could cause harm to another and when the one in charge hands out the consequences for the disobedience, the child blames that one for his punishment not recognizing his disobedient action.  How many times do you hear “the teacher made me miss recess,” or  “the principal gave me a detention” or “Dad won’t let me go?”

The difference, of course, is the severity of the punishment in relation to the crime.  Souls were at stake here, disrespect is to the Creator who is the only one who can destroy a  soul.  Christ warns – be in fear of the one who can destroy the soul, rather than anyone who can destroy the body.

“…Matthew 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell….”

How does this, or does this apply to us today?  God judges, that is his prerogative and part of his nature.  He is also merciful and grants the way of escape from the consequences of sin that judgment brings, through his son, Jesus.  For us today, the cross makes the difference.  As believers we are covered by the blood of Christ, the sin is forgiven, we are told we are changed into a new creature who now may walk with God.  Accepting that knowledge by faith, we need not fear his judgment and wrath, we can find hope in this life and the next; that we are able to rise above the pain and suffering this world, time, space gives us and also rejoice and embrace the life he gives looking forward to joining him in eternity.

The sword is sharpened…

Having missed a few days this will be an attempt to play catch-up.  As the time allows more than one post will be published to bring the stream of posts into a current, chronological flow again.

Ezekiel 21:1-

And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, set your face toward Jerusalem, preach against the holy places, and prophesy against the land of Israel; 3 and say to the land of Israel, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Behold, I am against you, and I will draw My sword out of its sheath and cut off both righteous and wicked from you. 4 Because I will cut off both righteous and wicked from you, therefore My sword shall go out of its sheath against all flesh from south to north, 5 that all flesh may know that I, the LORD, have drawn My sword out of its sheath; it shall not return anymore.” ’ 6 Sigh therefore, son of man, with a breaking heart, and sigh with bitterness before their eyes. 7 And it shall be when they say to you, ‘Why are you sighing?’ that you shall answer, ‘Because of the news; when it comes, every heart will melt, all hands will be feeble, every spirit will faint, and all knees will be weak as water. Behold, it is coming and shall be brought to pass,’ says the Lord GOD.”

8 Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 9 “Son of man, prophesy and say, ‘Thus says the LORD!’ Say:

​‘​A sword, a sword is sharpened

​​And also polished!

10 ​​Sharpened to make a dreadful slaughter,

​​Polished to flash like lightning!

​​Should we then make mirth?

​​It despises the scepter of My son,

​​As it does all wood.

11 ​​And He has given it to be polished,

​​That it may be handled;

​​This sword is sharpened, and it is polished

​​To be given into the hand of the slayer.’

12 ​​“Cry and wail, son of man;

​​For it will be against My people,

​​Against all the princes of Israel.

​​Terrors including the sword will be against My people;

​​Therefore strike your thigh.

13 ​​“Because it is a testing,

​​And what if the sword despises even the scepter?

​​The scepter shall be no more,”

says the Lord GOD.

Pasted from <http://www.blueletterbible.org/tools/printerFriendly.cfm?b=Eze&c=21&t=nkjvp>

The sword will come against all.  Jerusalem the city of God no longer acts as if she belongs to God.  And he is going to cut off everyone from the city both righteous and wicked.  We live in the land, on this planet and we share in its good and bad.  Righteous or wicked, it rains on us all. The poetry is full of sorrow.   Wail, beat your breast…  When mankind turns from its Creator it is a time of sorrow.  When life is terminated on this land where we live, it is cause for sorrow, wailing, beating our breast, groaning.  Look again at the nature of God.  He is expressing judgment but with that, sorrow; sorrow that runs deep over all creation suffering for their willful ways.

Take away:  Could it be that when the warning went out from Ezekiel, those who were righteous were given opportunity to leave a wicked place?  Like Lot were they given a chance to go to a place where God’s judgment would not be, but where they could worship him as he wished?  Just a thought and couple of questions.  We have eternal redemption.  We may be caught up in the consequences of the evil around us, but it doesn’t end there.  We have the promise that Christ, who also suffered for our sins, our willful ways, will walk with us through those times of sorrow and suffering.  That is our faith, he will never leave us nor forsake us.  He carries us, comforts us, leads us.  He knows our sorrows, they are not alien to him.  Evil must be judged and we may get caught in the judgment that falls, but we are not alone and this life is only temporary.  We do not have to stay in a place that practices evil.  Are we being warned?

I can’t get no satisfaction…

Ezekiel 23:1-21

The word of the LORD came again to me, saying:

2 ​​“Son of man, there were two women,

​​The daughters of one mother.

3 ​​They committed harlotry in Egypt,

​​They committed harlotry in their youth;

​​Their breasts were there embraced,

​​Their virgin bosom was there pressed.

4 ​​Their names: Oholah [fn1] the elder and Oholibah [fn2] her sister;

​​They were Mine,

​​And they bore sons and daughters.

​​As for their names,

​​Samaria is Oholah, and Jerusalem is Oholibah.

 

5 ​​“Oholah played the harlot even though she was Mine;

​​And she lusted for her lovers, the neighboring Assyrians,

6 ​​Who were clothed in purple,

​​Captains and rulers,

​​All of them desirable young men,

​​Horsemen riding on horses.

7 ​​Thus she committed her harlotry with them,

​​All of them choice men of Assyria;

​​And with all for whom she lusted,

​​With all their idols, she defiled herself.

8 ​​She has never given up her harlotry brought from Egypt,

​​For in her youth they had lain with her,

​​Pressed her virgin bosom,

​​And poured out their immorality upon her.

9 ​​“Therefore I have delivered her

​​Into the hand of her lovers,

​​Into the hand of the Assyrians,

​​For whom she lusted.

10 ​​They uncovered her nakedness,

​​Took away her sons and daughters,

​​And slew her with the sword;

​​She became a byword among women,

​​For they had executed judgment on her.

 

11 “Now although her sister Oholibah saw this, she became more corrupt in her lust than she, and in her harlotry more corrupt than her sister’s harlotry.

12 ​​“She lusted for the neighboring Assyrians,

​​Captains and rulers,

​​Clothed most gorgeously,

​​Horsemen riding on horses,

​​All of them desirable young men.

13 ​​Then I saw that she was defiled;

​​Both took the same way.

14 ​​But she increased her harlotry;

​​She looked at men portrayed on the wall,

​​Images of Chaldeans portrayed in vermilion,

15 ​​Girded with belts around their waists,

​​Flowing turbans on their heads,

​​All of them looking like captains,

​​In the manner of the Babylonians of Chaldea,

​​The land of their nativity.

16 ​​As soon as her eyes saw them,

​​She lusted for them

​​And sent messengers to them in Chaldea.

17 ​​“Then the Babylonians came to her, into the bed of love,

​​And they defiled her with their immorality;

​​So she was defiled by them, and alienated herself from them.

18 ​​She revealed her harlotry and uncovered her nakedness.

​​Then I alienated Myself from her,

​​As I had alienated Myself from her sister.

19 ​​“Yet she multiplied her harlotry

​​In calling to remembrance the days of her youth,

​​When she had played the harlot in the land of Egypt.

20 ​​For she lusted for her paramours,

​​Whose flesh is like the flesh of donkeys,

​​And whose issue is like the issue of horses.

21 ​​Thus you called to remembrance the lewdness of your youth,

​​When the Egyptians pressed your bosom

​​Because of your youthful breasts.

Pasted from <http://www.blueletterbible.org/tools/printerFriendly.cfm?b=Eze&c=23&v=1&t=NKJVP>

What imagery!  The underlying issue is unfaithfulness, dissatisfaction, leaving a first love for another, looking after greener pastures, giving into a hedonistic lifestyle.  Could we say these are all anti-God desires?  The emphasis is on self and “what I want” rather than an outward focus on others and the Lord.  The results are disappointment, dissatisfaction, destruction, death.  Take away is be warned and always alert to our focus.  There is death apart from God; but there is life in God.  We do not need to look elsewhere for satisfaction; it doesn’t get any better than this life with Christ.  The grass is not greener elsewhere for there is poison hidden in that grass.  Giving in to the flesh nature does not bring satisfaction; the hunger only grows.  Christ is the only spiritual food that satisfies.

Stories? Parables?

Ezekiel 20:45-49

Furthermore the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 46 “Son of man, set your face toward the south; preach against the south and prophesy against the forest land, the South, [fn7] 47 and say to the forest of the South, ‘Hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I will kindle a fire in you, and it shall devour every green tree and every dry tree in you; the blazing flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be scorched by it. 48 All flesh shall see that I, the LORD, have kindled it; it shall not be quenched.” ’ ”

49 Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! They say of me, ‘Does he not speak parables?’ ”

Pasted from <http://www.blueletterbible.org/tools/printerFriendly.cfm?b=Eze&c=20&v=1&t=NKJVP>

“Everyone will see that I the Lord have kindled it; it will not be quenched.”

A fire that will not be quenched; a Lord who will be recognized; both of these statements indicate a lordship to be known and reckoned with.  And Ezekiel responds with a cry that seems to say…’they don’t get it…’  We share the word of God and it is rejected, scorned, mocked and called stories.  “They just don’t get it.”  But it, the message of judgment as well as the message of mercy and love are not stories.  Ezekiel continues to deliver the word even in the face of the mocking, and so should we.  Though some, even many, mock and reject it, there are those who receive and they receive life as a result.  It is enough if even a few receive life.  Today the Christian message of love and redemption is often distorted and rejected, but that is not reason to quit.  We must continue to share for those who will receive.