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Ezek. 44

1/31/10 Ezekiel’s guide leads him to the east gate of the temple court where he sees that the gate is shut. He is informed that it is to remain shut. This is the gate that God’s glory entered through, so it became particularly holy. People should enter through the gates on the north and the south.

This chapter really makes clear God’s insistence on the separation between holy and common things. The east gate would be the place where the prince would eat before the Lord. This prince seems to be a a civil ruler not Messiah, because Messiah wouldn’t offer sin offerings or have sons.

Ezekiel, since he can’t go in by the east gate, is brought around to the north and led into the temple court where he saw the glory of God filling the sanctuary. Then God spoke to him about his laws and regulations concerning the holiness of his house. Most of these are repeats of the laws in Leviticus, with the exception of the prohibition for priests against wearing wool.

One of these regulations was that foreigners were not be to taking care of the temple. Some Midianites and Gibeonites had been given to the Levites in Israel’s conquering of the land, and they had begun to serve the temple Levites and then even became active in serving in the temple itself. This was not to happen in the new temple. Then Levites were to keep charge themselves. They had not been entirely faithful to God when Israel apostatized, so they would be relegated to certain duties. Only the descendants of Zadok could serve as priests because they had remained faithful.

The rules for working with holy things became more marked the closer the Levites came to God’s presence, so the priests had even more to consider in preparing to serve near the Lord. The separation of the holy from the common was paramount, including the dress and grooming of the priests, and the situation of their marriage.

The authority of judges was given to the priests, so what the function of the prince was to be is left to speculation. Perhaps it was purely administrative. More over, one of the functions of the priesthood is to teach the people to respect the difference between the holy and the common. And they would continue to live upon the tithes of the people.

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Posted by on April 5, 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. 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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Ezek. 28:1-19

1/13/10 Ezekiel 28 has at least three different things going on that are fairly obvious. First is the prophecy against the king of Tyre proper. Second is the symbolism of Satan’s fall into sin and his destruction. Third is the parallels with the fall of Babylon in Revelation.

The problem with Tyre wasn’t that it was rich. In fact, in the second section of the prophecy it is clear that God bestowed all the riches. The problem was that pride and arrogance corrupted the heart of Tyre/Satan/Babylon. So much so that it began to believe it was equal to God himself, was himself divine. The wisdom of Tyre was real. There was no match for it (v. 13). It used this wisdom to increase wealth (V. 4-5).

It may be that vs. 2-10 are descriptive of Satan’s doom following the millennium. Those he deceived will turn on him, just as those Babylon deceived will turn on it after the close of probation.

V. 12-19 describes Satan’s original fall into sin, which to some degree also parallels the fall of the Christian church into the state of Babylon. It was sealed by God (v. 12). It was a bride adorned for her husband, wise, beautiful (v. 12). It was blameless until unrighteousness began to creep in (v. 15). As commercial interests began to dominate its thinking it became more and more corrupt, until finally God had to reject her because of her wickedness and call out of her a remnant (come out of her my people). It profaned its sanctuaries (abomination of desolation?) and will be consumed by fire as befitting the adulteries of a priest’ daughter (v. 18). V. 19 is reminiscent of the “woes” in Revelation.

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Ezek. 23

1/8/10 The story of Oholah and Oholibah is intended to shock, and shock it does with its sexually graphic descriptions. The prophecy concerns Samaria and Jerusalem, both of which belonged to God in a covenant like marriage. But both of them lusted after other gods.

Starting in Egypt and continuing through Assyria, Babylon, and finally back to Egypt again, God gave judgment into the hands of those nations and they destroyed Samaria first.

We often think of Samaria as being worse than Jerusalem, but Ezek 23:11 says that Jerusalem was worse. The reason was because she saw all of what happened with Samaria and still followed in her adulterous paths, and even taking it further. God said that eventually he would arouse her lovers against her and send them to her to carry out his punishments.

The language around v. 24 ff seems to parallel Rev 17 when the resources of Babylon are stripped away, except here it is happening to Jerusalem. It is left empty and is then destroyed by Babylon.

God knows that even we will not be truly happy until we are faithful to him. So he works according to his knowledge and wisdom to bring about reconciliation in our marriage and faithfulness to him.

The terror of his judgments through the nations of the earth seem horrible to us, but really they are not. They are merciful and even quick. And in the end we will find that more were people saved because of these judgments than would have been without them. A God of love would work that way.

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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