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General Observations of the Book of Ezekiel

2/5/10 The book of Ezekiel is important to the dispensationalist position, which states, generally speaking, that the Jews are still the true chosen people of God. They rejected Christ so now we’re in the Christian dispensation. But Christians are kind of a stop-gap measure. However, eventually all of the prophecies in Ezekiel will come true for Israel. Christians will be raptured away, Israel will accept Christ, rebuild the temple, restart sacrifices (oddly enough), and will face much resistance from the world. The millennium will take place and then finally Christians will rejoin Israel on earth or in heaven.

This view fails to take into account a number of important things, though, which I won’t go into here. A full study of the book of Revelation presents an entirely different picture of how things will come down in the end. (See my book You Can Understand the Book of Revelation, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the iBookstore).

Perhaps one of the primary things to understand is that Ezekiel was in large part a conditional prophecy. It was a prophecy or a picture of what things would look like for Israel if they took on a particular course of either loyalty to God ro disloyalty to God. They chose the disloyalty course, therefore that is the part of the picture they received. God continues to offer the positive outcome, albeit with some differences, to his faithful people in the end times.

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This brings to a close this devotional study. Find devotional commentaries on other books of the Bible at www.scoggins.biz. Also find information about my book on Revelation.

 

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Posted by on April 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Ezek. 39

1/26/10 This chapter continues the prophecy against Gog and Magog, with lots of gruesome descriptions of the carnage. However, the concentration seems to be God’s hand in it all rather than the gore. God brings Gog down from the far north to attack his people, just as he did before with Nebuchadnezzar. But rather than allowing Gog success as he did with Babylon, he will use the opportunity to defend his people and wipe out the hordes of Magog by sending fire upon them (v. 6).

His purpose is to defend his reputation and make himself known to  everyone. Israel then will use the weapons of their enemies for firewood, enough of it for seven years. “In that day,” says v. 11, which means that these are eschatological scenes. It will take seven months to bury the dead in the valley, which will be done with the utmost care. Much of this is symbolic rather than literal, which is clear because the destruction is by fire, which wouldn’t leave the wood of the weapons or bodies to bury.

In vs. 17-22 the imagery is apocalyptic. John’s allusions in Rev 20:17 are obvious even to casual readers. The attack of Gog is in reality a massive sacrifice but in a reversal, this time the victims are men and the feasters are animals and birds.

In OT times the times of sacrifice were times of abundant food and celebration with others. To use up all of the meat from a sacrifice in the prescribed time required eating plenty and including a group. Sacrifice involved great blessing.

At the time of this final sacrifice all will finally understand God and will know why he has acted as he has. Once God is understood he will restore all things, bring his people back into the relationship intended for them and they will forget the past things: their shame, their unfaithfulness, etc. And God will dwell with his people, as the following chapters will show.

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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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. 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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