Vs. 7, “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: You have been more unruly than the nations around you and have not followed my decrees or kept my laws. You have not even e conformed to the standards of the nations around you.” Because of the spiritual decline of Israel, God would have Ezekiel shave his head (vs. 1)…which was a humbling experience in his culture to do. This reminds me of the book of James where we are reminded sin is like a spark in a forest that can turn into a wildfire!
Vs. 1, “Now, son of man, take a clay tablet, put it in front of you and draw the city of Jerusalem on it.” Consequeces would be coming, we reap what we sow. And then God would have Ezekiel do a most unusual prophetic action. For 390 days he was to lie on his left side (yikes) and for 40 days he was to lie on his right (vs. 4-8). When we were in the book of Jeremiah, one of the things we talked about was how there were false prophets who also were exiled into Babylon who were telling everyone not to worry, they would soon be back in Judah. So, Ezekiel would have to demonstrate this was not true. The 390 days represented Israel’s fall from walking with God since the Exodus and the 40 days would represent the years they would spend in Babylon.
Regarding application…Drastic Times = Drastic Measures. Vs. 4, “Turn your face toward the siege of Jerusalem and with bared arm prophesy against her.” People no doubt must have walked by Ezekiel and shook their head in wonderment. Question: Who is this guy and why is he doing this? But in the bigger picture, this is just another example of God’s amazing grace upon a hardened people. I’m sure the word spread quickly over the land about Ezekiel’s actions (Gossip spreads like wildfire). We too live in desperate times. While we are not prophets, we are still called to make disicples and spread the good news to a sinful world. Sometimes, God is going to ask us to do things in drastic ways. Maybe not lie on our left side for over a year, but perhaps it means to have the boldness and courage to stand up for justice. To have courage to share your faith at school. To have courage to give up your things in your life to follow God. In many ways, these are drastic measures compared to how the world looks at life. Ask God today how you can do something to bring Glory to His name!
Vs. 10, “And he said to me, “Son of man, listen carefully and take to heart all the words I speak to you.” Isn’t that great? God would ensure Ezekiel would know His word before he was to go and share God’s word! Sadly, we are reminded that God’s people are stubborn and would not respond well to Ezekiel’s admonishments. Even though Ezekiel would be asked to do a very hard thing, this is God’s love in action. God did not need to share truth and hope to his exiled, but He did so out of love for us. The Spirit would transport Ezekiel back to the Kebar and I think by now, we all would have felt like Ezekiel, overwhelmed (vs. 15). In the latter half of the chapter, we see God using figure of speech to instruct Ezekiel how He was going to direct him and how Ezekiel must submit to God’s will.
Regarding application…Being a Watchmen. Vs. 17, “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.” Question: How does this apply today? You are a watchmen too! Jesus has chosen us and commissioned us to go out and share His word to a obstinate and stubborn hearted people. We must surrender our will and be willing to obey wherever God leads us. You have a purpose. Often, we get short-sighted about one of the main reasons we are still on this earth. Wouldn’t it be nice to be raptured up the moment we became saved? But God doesn’t do that because who would be able to pass on the message of His love if we all just left? The answer is, YOU are to pass on that love! Be a watchmen and look after others! The message is not easy to share because people will not respond well. But, be faithful with what God has given you.
Vs. 1, “He said to me, “Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.” I find this an interesting observation: God came to Ezekiel on His own volition. What I mean by this, is that we are not told Ezekiel went up to a mountain and fasted for days upon days to get a vision from God. I’m not saying that it isn’t wrong to be assertive and seek after God, but sometimes…we just can’t force it. God will speak to us when HE chooses, not when we pray and seemingly demand for it. My heart goes out to Ezekiel because what God is asking of him is a monumental task of gargantuan proportions. He was to speak to a group that would not listen. Their hearts were hardened so much that, they are in exile because of it and yet…many still would not respond. Seriously…who wants to do something that isn’t going to be easy and people won’t care about what you say?
Regarding application…What is Success? Vs. 5, “And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious house—they will know that a prophet has been among them.” Question: How do you measure success in the Christian sense? When it comes to churches, we fall into the same trap of the world…we look at the numbers. A big church is supposed to be a more successful church. Brothers & sisters…this is a lie direct from the enemy himself. Like Jeremiah…Ezekiel was already told that his ministry would not bring much success from a worldy vantage point. However good or even not so good a Pastor/Youth Pastor may be in sharing the Word and presenting the Gospel…it is not a human thing…it is a Holy Spirit thing. I have seen on numerous occassions times I have preached a wonderful message and many students look with blank faces. There have been also times that I have spoke a very simple message and I see hearts turning to God. But either way…it is not the speaker, but it is the hearts of those who respond. Good preaching, teaching, doctrine all have their place…but no matter what size a church is, is not determined by successs or failure. It’s not how much you accomplish, it’s what you do with what you have that brings glory to God!
In 597 B.C., Ezekiel was one of the exiles who were deported to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar. To give you perspective, at this same time, Jeremiah stayed back in Judah while Ezekiel would minister to those in Babylon. Ezekiel would give us a different side of the story and also prophecy what would happen to those who turned away from the Lord and to know who the Lord is. After the complete destruction of the temple years later, Ezekiel would prophecy about a future hope of a new Jerusalem
Vs. 3, “the word of the Lord came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, b by the Kebar River in the land of the Babylonians. There the hand of the Lord was upon him.” At the age of thirty (vs. 1), Ezekiel was now preparing to be a full-time priest, but like Jeremiah, God would call him to be a prophet. And what a calling/vision God would give Ezekiel! The description of these four creatures are the same that John saw in Revelations 4 & 5. The human face represented God’s greatest creation, the lion represented the fierciest animal, the ox was the greatest domesticated animal and the eagle is the greatest flying animal. These four symbolize God’s creation and they all would submit under their Creator. The wheels would be symbolic that God is moving and active…even in the exile.
Regarding application…God is Here. Vs. 28, “Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.” It’s important to remember that this was a very sad and tragic time for Ezekiel and God’s people. There wasn’t much hope and things were getting worse. But, God would show his faithfulenss (rainbow) and come to not just Ezekiel but all of the exiles. The vision was one that would be evident of God’s presence. Question: Do you believe God is here? When Ezekiel realized it, what did he do? He fell facedown in reverance and awe. Each day, we can encounter this very same God! The Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit! Turn to Him today and no matter what trials you may be having, trust in the Lord!
Vs. 4, “But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.” Question: Did Jesus use his mighty strength to roll away the rock? Did he need it to get out of the cave? I think not. The rock was rolled away for the benefit of the women who came to pay their respect for Jesus. And this death on the cross is now life through the resurrection! The resurrection reminds us that Jesus was victorious over the enemy! We also see the apostles were given extra power through signs and wonders early on (vs. 17-18), they did not have the completed Bible at that time.
Regarding application…Do you believe? Vs. 11, “When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.” Question: Can we blame them? They were in mourning because Jesus’ death was so abrupt and so violent. Jesus’ public ministry was shorter than just one term of our President in the US. And the excruciating pain and quick death on the cross was especially sobering. This isn’t shared for us to rebuke the followers of Jesus, rather, it is shared to remind us we don’t believe in someone who was defeated. When life seems hopeless and we are against the ropes…will you believe that Jesus can help you overcome? Let go of your doubts and trust in the Lord!
Vs. 14, “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” When I think about the response of the crowds, I wonder…how would I have responded? How would I have responded if I was one of Jesus’ disciples during this time? It was a chaotic last 24 hours for Jesus and all the disciples. I still can’t bying myself to watch the movie Passion again. I’ve watched it once, and cringe at the very thought of watching it again. Yet, this is what Jesus did for me, this is what Jesus did for you. Take some time in your busy day and evening to reflect upon this chapter and thank the Lord Jesus! I hope one day I can grasp His amazing love to the full extent, but until that day, I pray we all keep reminding our hearts of Jesus’ love!
Vs. 32, “They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” We are reminded of this fateful night. Yet, in the midst of it, we see Jesus not running, but being ready for it all! Question: Are you ready? Jesus was. He was obedient and ready to die for us so that we could have life through Him. It’s time to prepare our own lives as an offering to Him!