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Monthly Archives: March 2013

Ezek. 38

1/25/10 There are strong parallels to this passage in Zech 14. This and the next chapter are the story of God and Magog, who are mentioned in the important post-millennial section of Revelation.

Gog is the leader of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. Meshech and Tubal, as well as the others listed in the next verses are all descendants of Noah’s sons listed in the genealogy. God has plans for Gog and his armies. God will impel him to attack his people so that God may defend them and show his power and defend his name before the universe.

Interestingly, several of the nations mentioned were already mentioned as trading partners with Tyre. Slaves, bronze-work, horses, mercenaries, all were supplied by these nations.

Together, all of these nations assemble a massive army that looks like a cloud. V. 8 says, “after many days,” which is Bible code for the time at the end. It clues us in that this passage is mainly eschatological. If we want to understand God and Magog in Revelation, this is where we discover the story.

Gog will invade a land that has forgotten what war is like and are living safely, peaceably, and without protection. This is definitely the case of God’s people after the millennium. We will have spent a thousand years in heaven. But when the New Jerusalem returns to earth and the wicked dead are raised back to life, Satan will gather the earth for battle against God. All the nations around are obviously involved in the war. And it’s because God has ordered it (v. 16).

As they advance upon God’s people he is aroused to action in their defense. God puts the earth into turmoil. Then the hordes of Magog turn their swards on each other. God will send rain storms, hail, and burning sulfur on the mighty host and destroy them. Why? So that his name and his greatness and his holiness will be known to them. This is hell.

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Posted by on March 31, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Ezek. 37

1/24/10 In days of battle and field warfare the sight of a valley filled with bones would not have been too fantastical. It was a reality of war.

God asked Ezekiel if the bones could live, and Ezekiel, not knowing God’s plans, replies that only God knew. God then proceeded to tell Ezekiel to prophesy that the bones would live, which he did. God was creating a memorable picture with this illustration. The bones rattled and moved and came together. Then tendons, flesh, and finally skin covered the bones, but they still did not have life.

Ezekiel was then told to prophesy to the breath, which he did, and the bodies became living souls. Body + breath = living soul just as it was at creation.

This was not an illustration of the resurrection at the Second Coming, it illustrated the resurrection of a nation. God would restore Israel but they wouldn’t have in them the breath of life, the Spirit of God, in and of themselves. They would be given this spirit as a gift of grace.

This is a prominent theme in Ezekiel that his people would be filled with God’s Spirit, receive a heart of flesh, obey God’s laws. God’s people would become the people he desired them to be.

This hasn’t reached its full fulfillment, but when Jesus came it began the process. The joining of the two kingdoms never happened in a literal sense, but happened after Jesus when the gospel began to include the Gentiles. It will reach its full fulfillment when the New Jerusalem arrives at the end of the millennium.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Ezek. 36:16-38

1/23/10 In vs. 1-15 God promised beautiful promises to his people; promises of restoration and glory. Now he clarifies why he will do this. And that reason is for his own reputation’s sake. His people had rejected him and the nations had seen and noticed. They knew Israel’s God was powerful and they feared him and learned of him though Israel. But Israel had not been faithful to God and were punished for it.

God had a different intention for his people. God’s design was that his people would draw the rest of the world to God and be a hand in reconciling the entire world to him. But not only was Israel not doing this, they were leaving God themselves. Therefore, the nations had no reason to better themselves. So God, for the sake of himself, which is to say, out of his great love for humanity, he punished Israel. But this was completely misunderstood by the nations, and frankly even by Israel to some degree. The nations thought that God simply wasn’t enough of a God to protect his people and that their own gods were more powerful than Israel’s God. Therefore, says God, so that everyone will understand who I am, I’m going to restore my people.

Then God makes it very clear that his people deserving this restoration is far from being the reason he is doing it. His people have absolutely no claim to any merit whatsoever. God will do what he does simply because he is God, sovereign. In his grace he would restore his people and accept them regardless of themselves. And they would be keenly aware of this grace shown to them, keenly aware of their own guilt. God also makes clear that he would transform his people also. They would not continue in their evil ways. They would have new hearts and minds. And his people would finally be obedient.

The end result of this incredible grace would be that the nations around would know and understand God in his true nature. They would acknowledge his power.

All of this demonstrates God’s great love for us. If God held us in contempt he would not care what we think of him, would not care if his name be glorified among us.  He would simply annihilate us and be finished with it. Instead, his love is so great that the defense of his name, in the end, is for our sake.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Ezek. 36:1-15

1/22/10 This passage is a direct contrast to the proceeding prophecy against Edom and the entire situation of Israel. Edom at this time was prospering and Israel was devastated. The Lord speaks to the mountain of Israel as a literary device of speaking to his people. God does not like the fact that the surrounding nations mock and rejoice over the fate of Israel. True, it is his judgment upon Israel, but it is judgment of discipline with the end result being that his people return to him.

Therefore, God promises this restoration by promising the hill country, that soon his people will inhabit it again. It’s like the country was kind of missing Israel. Edom was a stranger and the countryside could look forward to Israel returning. In fact, God tells the land to begin preparing to receive them by growing branches and fruit. God also loves the land and is interested that it be cared for, plowed, and planted (v. 9).

So even while this is a commentary on the restoration of hims people, this is also a commentary on God’s desired restoration and care of his creation of the earth. He designs that not only will his people return to the land but that the land will return to a state before the curse of Adam. The land will be restored into a condition in which it will not be harsh to its inhabitants.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Ezek. 35

1/21/10 The book of Ezekiel is carefully arranged. Chapters 1-24 are prophecies about the fall of Israel. Chapters 25-33 are prophecies about the fall of the surrounding nations. Chapter 34 through the end are promises of restoration. So chapter 35 seems out of place until we realize that it’s intended as a promise of restoration of Israel, but it’s stated from the negative perspective, which contrasts with Eze 36:1-15, which is the same promise stated from the positive side–the mountains of the nations vs. the mountains of God’s people.

Mt. Seir was Edom. Edom benefited greatly from the destruction of Israel, since they bordered the land of Israel. They already had a long history of animosity toward Israel dating back to the exodus and really all the way back to Jacob and Esau. So when Israel met its doom Edom was happy about it–and God knew it and was displeased. True, it was his judgment on Israel, but God takes no pleasure in punishment, and he does not intend that we will take pleasure in another’s misfortune either, no matter how deserved it may be. Those who glory in the judgments of God on someone else will eventually find himself similarly judged.

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Ezek. 34

1/20/10 God speaks specifically to those in charge. It specifies the shepherds of Israel, but also includes those with the ability to trample on others and maybe even include other nations given charge over Israel. Anyone in the position to help others and does not, really, should listen carefully to the warning of this prophecy. God has made us responsible for each other.

These shepherds were eating the best, dressing the best, and caring well for themselves, but were virtually ignoring the well-being of the flock. They weren’t providing physical care for the sick, help for the weak, nor sought the lost. Therefore, the sheep became scattered in the foreign lands where they were exiled. Their leaders didn’t really try to hold them together, but instead looked out for themselves, while the flock succumbed to the preying of the stronger people surrounding them. Therefore, God will require of the shepherds the lives of the flock. God will remove them from leadership so that the flock will be able to eat, and the leaders themselves will find themselves without.

God says then he himself will become their shepherd. He will gather the scattered remnant back together and will care well for them. And God himself will stand against those who enriched themselves at the expense of others.

Then he talks to the flock themselves, who were not entirely innocent. Even among themselves they did not care for each other. Instead, without thought to the plight of their neighbor they ate and did not provide food, drank and didn’t provide water to those around. These weaker ones were forced to scavenge what leftovers they could. God promised that David would take over, which Jesus, the son of David, did. And he showed us the way to live in compassion with our neighbor. And his work is to restore the flock to complete security, rest, comfort. And we will know who is responsible for our care and will serve God as befitting our creaturely status.

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Ezek. 33

1/19/10 This chapter marks a turning point in the book. Jerusalem had fallen and the refugees were coming to Babylon. But Ezekiel’s work was far from finished. God strongly warned Ezekiel to continue to faithfully share his words with the people in spite of how they would react to it. If he would faithfully give the warnings sent by God, he would release himself from the blood guilt of those who would die in their sins, whereas if he didn’t warn them he would be held responsible for them when they died in their their sin.

The people were discouraged, for good reason. They were saying, “We are paying for our sins, there is no hope for our survival.” They were believing though, that they were paying for the sins of their ancestors, which meant that they could do nothing about it. But God answered, “No, you are suffering for your own sins. If you are wicked then turn from your wickedness and I will forget your past and forgive. But even if you were righteous but then turn to wickedness, I will forget your past righteousness.” This pretty well shoots down the idea of once saved always saved.

V. 15, If a wicked man repents he must turn to righteous living, paying back for stealing, returning borrowed money, walking in God’s law. Loyalty to God always means serious life changes. If we will do this we will not die.

“But God’s way isn’t right!” the people respond. “It’s not right to punish children for the actions of their fathers.” And God replies, “It’s your own ways that are not right, not just your fathers. Yes, you suffer for the sins of you fathers, but only because you continue in their footsteps. Turn from your wickedness and you will be saved.”

V. 21, Word came to Ezekiel of the destruction of Jerusalem, which he already knew about from God two months before. And as God had promised he could speak again. Discouraged as they must have been the people still tried to be optimistic. “Hey, Abraham was only one, yet he possessed the land. The few that are left must do better than Abraham.” But God said that wouldn’t be the case at all. These also would be destroyed and the land laid waste. Why? Because they would persist in their sins. They still ate blood, committed adultery, relied on themselves instead of God, etc.

God again spoke to Ezekiel personally as a spiritual guide, “People will continue to listen to you, but they will not do what you say. Why? Because (v. 31) they were still selfish. They liked to listen but they had no intention of obeying. In the end, though, (v. 33) when God’s words through Ezekiel would come to pass, the people would be forced to admit that he had been right and would have only themselves to blame for their punishment.

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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