Monthly Archives: August, 2012

Ezekiel16-17

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Chapter 16.  I had to read this in stages.  It was just too much to read all at once.  In the middle of it I called a friend and talk it through.    As I read it, it was tough, but when I retold the chapter it really came alive with the words (so call me if you want to re-tell it to me).  God took Israel when she was nothing, an abandoned people, a lost baby.  God cared for her and loved her and raised her in good ways.  Gave her all she needed plus more.  God was dedicated.  Israel on the other hand took all the prosperity God spoiled her with and she prostituted herself with all the other nations.  Worshipping other gods, bowing to idols, following false prophets, sacrificing their children to false gods.

You can really feel how personal and hurt God is when His children fall so far.  But the last chapter in 16 was reassuring:

‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will deal with you as you deserve, because you have despised my oath by breaking the covenant. Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you.

We may break our promises to the Lord but thank Heavens He will never break His!

Chapter 17 As it says in the first verse, He set before Ezekiel an allegory to tell a parable.  About 2 Eagles, both great in power, the first one planting a seed from himself, but the seed rebelled and went to the other great eagle.  By verse 11 the Lord tells the people what all this means.  Nebuchadnezzar would plant Zedekiah as king in Judah.  He thought it would be a good move.  Zedekiah however rebelled and tried to align himself with Egypt.  I remember these readings because Jeremiah had a word from the Lord that was saying…Trust in God…don’t line yourself with Egypt.  But we all know it is easier to arm ourselves with earthly things then relying on the Lord.  But man will always let you down.  God will never.

All this was told to Jeremiah 5 years before it happened, just like Jeremiah prophesied it.  Same message now to Ezekiel.  Two Messengers.  Hundreds of miles apart.  God can speak to anyone anywhere at anytime.  But wait the best part of the whole chapter is the last. 

‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will take a shoot from the very top of a cedar and plant it; I will break off a tender sprig from its topmost shoots and plant it on a high and lofty mountain.  On the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it; it will produce branches and bear fruit and become a splendid cedar. Birds of every kind will nest in it; they will find shelter in the shade of its branches.  All the trees of the field will know that I the LORD bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall. I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish.
      ” ‘I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it.’ “

Jesus the Messiah will come, planted on a mountain top from the Lord!

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Ezekiel 13-15

This is a very cool reminder and summary for people who just jumped in at Ezekiel.  You may be asking “why is this happening to Jerusalem”.  The three chapters in my Bible are titled:

  • False Prophets,
  •  Idolatry,
  • and A Useless Vine. 

That about sums it up. We  are  watching the 3 waves of captivity occurring from a first person perspective, Ezekiel’s.

Chapter 13. The false prophets.  We read about this in Kings, Chronicles, Isaiah and Jeremiah.  We know that there were men that would preach “prosperity” because people will follow that.  Think about it, if you turn on the tv and a preacher or a politician is saying “ohhh this is going to get worse”, do you follow them? Or do you look for a better speaker?  Here is a more applicable application, false prophets twisting scripture and making their own Doctrine or Way to Salvation.  It is condemnable!

Chapter 14.  idolatry.  When I read that I cannot help but to be sad.  Carved images of any kind, all takes God off the throne.  God is going to send 4 Judgments on his people:

  1. Sword
  2. Wild Beasts
  3. Plague
  4. Famine

Why??  I know you know the answer “then they will know that I am the Lord”.  He WANTS Everyone to know He is the Lord no matter HOW he has to get their attention.

Chapter 15. Jerusalem a useless vine.  If a vine does not produce fruit it is useless.  A parable to describe  Jerusalem.  Jerusalem wasn’t worth  anything now but burning.  Jesus himself uses this example when speaking to US in John 15.  Go ahead, go read it.

Tomorrow  is a very deep read.  Ezekiel uses a very graphic and vivid allegory to describe the birth, growth and betrayal of Jerusalem.  You may want to read it once tonight before bed and give it a re-read tomorrow.

Pray

First this is a Prayer request because I believe in Prayer.  I have seen it make THE Difference.   Second,  let me start by saying how BLESSED I am.    But my prayer request is for TIme Management and Productiveness.  Let me repeat.  Time Management and Productiveness….without stress.

I am a Mom of three.  Fifth grader who has had a hard start to the school year due to some social malfunctioning.  a Third grader who is a spittin image of her mommy.  And a Kindergarten son….who is so cute I want to sop him up with a biscuit.  We have Softball 4-5 times a week, A jazz class for another and a Hip hop class for the last child.  I work full time at a school in the Special Education department and have to be there by 6:45 a.m. On top of all that I do have an EXCELLENT husband who takes a ton off my load as a wife including grocery shopping and laundry (so yes everything is pink toned now).  I try to cook dinner most nights, read the same AR books my kids are reading and still try to sit still long enough to hear God speak.

Tonight was my first NIGHT OF SCHOOL.  See I wanted to go to Union University to get a Masters for Christian Studies.  But No, the Good Lord had a totally different plan in mind. (I am still a little confused on as to why)  SO now I am enrolled at TSU for a Masters’ in Special Education.

After work I had just long enough o clean the kitchen and vacuum till I ran downtown for a 3 hour class.  tomorrow is another 3 hour First day class on another course.

I feel overwhelmed.  Not stressed yet, but a definite concern.  So I am calling on my prayer warriors to get me from Today to December 5th, without completely losing it!

Ezekiel 9-12

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This is a crazy book.  I am captivated.  Chapters 9-12: idolaters killed, the Glory departs from the Temple, the leaders are judged, and the exile is “acted out” as Zedekiah.   SO what does all this point to? Jesus.  On every page we can see the coming Messiah, from the line of David, the remnants of Judah, to give them the Spirit.  Or as Ezekiel says in Chapter 11, to give then  undivided hearts, a new spirit, a heart of flesh, ones that will walk in the ways of the Lord.

They will be my people and I will be their God. (Ez 11:20)

Anyway before I start preachin let me get back to the text.  This man with the writing kit was to mark the foreheads of those that were to be saved, the ones that grieved and lamented over the terrible things that are done. Please think about this dearly, why these people were chosen.  Because the grieved what the Lord grieved, NOT for deeds or service, or acts, but for having a heart of the Lord.  Please give this some thought, nothing we can DO can make us closer to the Lord. 

In chapter 10 the Glory of the Lord departed the Temple.  (HUGE moment!) The temple was so vile that the Lord would not dwell in it.  Dang, I hate all this practical application I am writing today but consider this….WE are the temple of the Lord.   We house the Holy Spirit.  How is our temple?  Full of unrepentant sin, full of us, is there much room for Him? (sorry I won’t preach again again)

The burning coals represent the purging of the sin, shortly after this prophecy the Babylonians destroyed the temple by fire.  Ezekiel constantly questions, Will you completely destroy the remnant of Israel?? (we already know the answer to that…NO!)

If the time line is throwing you off remember Ezekiel is in captivity during the second sweep taken into exile.  What he is predicting is what is happening back in Jerusalem for the final act of captivity.  The destruction of the temple.  That is why in Chapter 12 He is acting out what is going to happen to king Zedekiah.  Judah would be attacked and Zedekiah would be taken into captivity.  The reason he was to cover his face so he did not see the land was because if you remember Zedekiah’s eyes were gauged out.

So are you loving Ezekiel or what!

Ez 5-11

Hello!  Very visual Reading today.  I can picture Ezekiel dividing his hair and doing to the 3 parts as the Lord directs him to do, as a symbol of different forms of judgment.  The one I noted most was the remnant he put in his garment.  Very important to follow that remnant from Judah.  He mentions again in 6 that some will be spared.

“They will know that I am God”unless you are skimming, I know you noticed this phrase (it is said 65 times in this book), or a paraphrase of the meaning.  Man, it really hit me.  Freeing them from slavery, parting the red sea, giving them manna and quail, handing them the promise land from the fiercest warriors, giving them prosperity, and family.  Given all that,  they turned away from the Lord.  But take all that away, where are their gods now?  Surly the Lord will get their attention.  I don’t think I need to make a current application out of this for you.

The Lord suspends Ezekiel between earth and Heaven and gives him another vision.  A vision of the temple.  He is revealing the extent of the idolatry and wickedness that occurred.  Disgusting pagan practices with sex, men and animals.  Prostitution  was a form of god worship.  Woman were mourning over a  false god, and men were outside worshipping the sun.

And contrary to what they believed, God sees everything.

 

Ezekiel1-4

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Well, that was far from boring!  YOu may not have expected that!  Let me explain what just happened the best I can.  

There are three Apocalyptic books in the Bible: Ezekiel, Daniel and Revelation.  Apocalyptic means “lifting of the veil” or ”revelation”.  God will show his Glory to Ezekiel and give us a glimpse.    

Ezekiel means “God is strong” or “God Strengthens”.  In spite of captivity, God prevails, restores and strengthens us.   Ezekiel, born and raised in Judah is taken into captivity and then becomes a priest a few years later.  Why did God use Ezekiel (He was also using Jeremiah and Daniel at the same time), He used him to help the Jewish people in exile to understand:

  • why they were there
  • to let them know this was going to take a long time
  •  bring a message of hope
  •  and to point people toward God.

OK, let’s jump right into the visions.  God is visualized in a huge lightning storm (love that!) With 4 Cherubims standing in a hollow square with backs to each other wing to wing.  The cherubim have 4 faces.  The best I could research was that each face represents a character of God. 

  • The lion is Strength
  • The ox as Servant
  • The man as Intelligent
  • The eagle as Divinity

And a Rainbow over it all representing COVENANT.  With the intersecting wheels.  Everything moved when the Lord did.  He is complete control of it all.  One comment I read spoke of the obedience of the Cherubim.  Very interesting article to think about.

Chapter 2 was my favorite.  “You must speak my words to them , whether they listen or fail to listen”.  Ezekiel’s success was not on the outcome of his message but of his obedience in fulfilling his purpose. (rereread last sentence)  Side note: God does not judge our witnessing by how people respond to it but that we DO IT.

Chapter 3: How Sweet are the Words of the Lord!  As sweet as Honey! We can’t go out to do the work of the Lord without His Word in us, and not just in us but in verse 10 Taken to Heart.  God made sure that Ezekiel not only had the Word of the Lord in him but that it was IN HIS HEART.

So after the proper 7 day mourning period, representing the spiritually dead, Ezekiel begins his mission for the Lord.  And what a job He has in front of him! (I will never complain about the parking at out church again).  Ezekiel will represent the judgement on Judah.  He will be uncomfortable for each day representing each year.  Ezekiel being a priest knew that eating human poop was against the law, so God allowed him to cook it over manure instead (can I get a Praise the Lord! for that one, I think)  The dung representing the spiritual uncleanliness of the people. 

OK, be back tomorrow to see how this plays out?

Ezekiel Overview

Ezekiel.  Have you ever read it?   We will read Ezekiel for over 2 weeks so I think it is pretty important for me to set the scenario. I think you will find it fascinating (of course, God wrote it).  Many of you know I have waited anxiously for this book.

We read about the 3 sieges (is that the word I am looking for?) on the Jewish people that bring Judah into captivity.  There were 3 distinct moments where they were invaded and taken into captivity.  We read about them from the perspective of Jeremiah, who was in Jerusalem to see all 3 events over the course of 40 years.  Now read about it from the inside, from a first person perspective.

King Josiah, remember him? he was a good king.  He found the Book of the Law in the temple when he was repairing it.  He read it and wept when he saw how far his country had gotten from the Lord.  He began a reformation and yes, people began to walk in the ways of the Lord; celebrating Passover, worshipping in the temple, following the Commandments.  Well, Josiah was killed by the Egyptian Pharaoh, Neco at Megiddo.  Four years later Neco was then defeated by Nebuchadnezzar, leaving Babylon as the world power.

Jeremiah was preaching during all this for 40 years , and surely had contemporaries ready to follow in his footsteps.  Ezekiel was about 18 yrs old when Nebuchadnezzar took the first group of captives.  Among that group was a familiar name, Daniel.  Daniel was exiled at the age of 15 (with his friends Hananuah, Mishael, and Azariah) , while his friend Ezekiel was left behind.  During this time Jeremiah was bringing the message to the people to repent…but they did not.

For 10 years, life continued the same, Judah continued to sin.  Then King Johoiakim, king of Judah,  rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar and he dies.  Jehoiachin became king and once again Nebuchadnezzar attacked Jerusalem this time taking 10,000 captive, and this time Ezekiel was included.  Ezekiel was a few years away from becoming a priest (age 30 eligibility).  When he did turn 30, Ezekiel has a vision! (Going to have to read the book to find out).

SO we have 3 men all living at the same time:

  • Jeremiah was at Jerusalem with the Jews during all three stages of the exile, preaching and warning them to repent
  • Ezekiel, who lived with the exiles in Babylon, bringing them a message of hope
  • Daniel, who God had live with the Rulers in the court.

One thing I want you to keep in mind.  Other evil nations were wiped out by the Lord.  Judah however was not, they  was in captivity.  The difference is significant, God loves His people that He punished them in captivity as a form of correction, through their punishment they would come to know the Lord.  And they did.

Lamentations 3:37-5:22

I actually said to my friend Ginger this week who is behind ‘”skip Lamentations to catchup…who wants to hear someone lamenting”.

Was I wrong. 

I read this yesterday in the car while Elliot had Softball practie.   As I read I heard sirens and honking in the distance and I could not shake the reality that these prophecies all have 2 time frames in mind.  First, Jeremiah is speaking about His people and their sin and the situations they have brought themselves to.  Second the parallel prophecy of NOW.  You can read this book and KNOW that God is speaking to us today too. 

 The two sections of the reading that grabbed me the most were the beginning and the end.

 Why should any living man complain
       when punished for his sins?  Let us examine our ways and test them,
       and let us return to the LORD.

  Let us lift up our hearts and our hands
       to God in heaven, and say:

  “We have sinned and rebelled
       and you have not forgiven.

 In the Middle of the text you see the symbolism of the cistern.  (Verse 52-53) I feel like that at times.

But what do need to do at this point in 2012??  We need to ask is our willingness to repent as a nation too late?  Are we in the birthing pains of the Wrath and the second coming of the Lord?  Chapter 5 verse 21 says:

 Restore us to yourself, O LORD, that we may return;
       renew our days as of old  unless you have utterly rejected us
       and are angry with us beyond measure.

Lamentations 1:3:36

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When you see people Sin, and God discipline them,  how do you feel?

  • Do you say “that is none of my business” and turn the other way?
  • Do you say “Well, we all get what we deserve”?
  • Do you hurt? Does it hurt you because you know it hurts God?

Jeremiah saw the Captivity and all that was promised occur, and it was awful to watch.  Have a pen in your hand when you read these 3 Chapters, for I know you will underline a lot.  One of the Scriptures I had to stop and meditate on was 2:3 He has withdrawn his right hand.  Wow. How do I feel when I see God take his loving hand and protection off a human and allow them to live out their own choices with the consequences that will ultimately occur?

Jerusalem is spoken about as a woman.  To read this is very sad, the one scripture that really bolded out for me was

Her filthiness clung to her skirts;
       she did not consider her future. (1:9)

The chapter emphasizes that His people brought all of this on themselves. 

Chapter 3! We all have those handful of scriptures that just make us melt! Well I know when you read this chapter you KNEW I was going to comment on it.  And you are right:

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
       for his compassions never fail.
 They are new every morning;
       great is your faithfulness.

 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
       therefore I will wait for him.”

 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
       to the one who seeks him;

  it is good to wait quietly
       for the salvation of the LORD. (3:22-26)

If there was ever a Scripture to memorize today, this would be a good choice.

Lamentations Overview

Lamentations, Ekha in Hebrew, is a book or wailing and weeping.  Lamentations was written in the time between the fall of Judah and the return of the remnant people after 70 years of captivity,

There are 5 poems in this book, each begin at a new chapter.  Judah is personified as a woman in this book,  but it is important to remember WHY all this is happening to her.  An avoidable tragedy,  all this is, all caused by sin and lack of repenting.  Always read the Bible from God’s character, His Covenant and His Love.  God is Holy, God is Just, God Perfect, and God punishes sin and disobedience in His timing.

In the Bible, Lamentations follows Jeremiah, who is most likely the author,  and which gave Jeremiah the name the “weeping prophet”.  You could read the past chapter of Jeremiah as the introduction to Lamentations.  However the Hebrew Old Testament puts Lamentations with a group of books called the Ketubin or “writings”.  The group includes Song of Songs, Ruth, Ecclesiastes, Esther and Lamentations.  They are in their own category  (our Bible is grouped by category too, that is why we are jumping around a lot) because these books are read at separate Feasts.  To this day, this book is read in Synagogues throughout the world on the ninth day of the fourth month, a day of fasting, to remember the fall of Jerusalem.

Jeremiah’s grief ran deep  in his heart for God’s people.  Jeremiah wept for the Jews not just because of the suffering and the exile they would endure, but because they had rejected the word of the Lord.  This saddened Jeremiah to a level of tears and sympathy.

I read once somewhere this question…and it really should make us all think…

What makes a person cry says a lot about that person whether they are self-centered or God-centered.