Vs. 6, “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices.” Not only were the people with Ezekiel earlier deported to Babylon because of their idolatry, they were now repeating their sins by setting up idols in Babylon too. It may look good that they were coming to Ezekiel (vs. 1-5), but their inner heart had no intention to turn back. As Ezekiel shared a prophecy of continued sin, they thought that God would save them because they saw Godly people in Babylon that were among the exiles. However, this would not ensure the salvation of those who hardened their hearts.
Regarding application…Where’s Your Heart? Vs. 5, “I will do this to recapture the hearts of the people of Israel, who have all deserted me for their idols.” They had forgotten their first love. They experienced the promises of God when they reigned with Him in the Promised land…and now they also were experiencing the judgement of God as they were exiled. Sin seperates us from God. Their sin seperated them from God and their homeland. Often times, tough times make us bitter towards God. Yet, for some people, tough times tug at their heart and they turn back to God. Question: Which are You? Where is your heart today? Open your heart to God and let Him recapture your first love!
Vs. 25, “...and I told the exiles everything the Lord had shown me.” What a vision that Ezekiel would be sharing too! Earlier in the chapter, we are reminded nothing is hidden from God’s eye (vs. 2). Question: What the big deal? So they were wrong in their prophecy? Not only were they wrong, they had compeletely turned their hearts from God. They did evil in the sight of the Lord and were corrupt. Their actions were a large part of why Jerusalem would have to be destroyed and God’s glory would have to depart. Yet, even in God’s judgement, we see God’s grace and faithfulness (vs. 16-25)
Regarding application…Is God in Our Temple? I’m expounding upon yesterday’s QT reflection…just because God has blessed us in the past is no assurance that He will continue to bless us in the present or future. We don’t have a physical temple, but we do have a spiritual temple which is us! The church is God’s gift to believers in this era of Grace. Let’s do our part in inviting the Lord into our lives, back into our churches to take possession! Let God do heart surgery in you and see if there is any clogged up arteries that need to get cleansed out.
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!
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. 1, “And he said to them, “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.” Jesus was talking about the very next event we see in this chapter, the Transfiguration (vs. 2-12). In a way, this was Jesus’ moment of validation and preperation before he would enter into Jerusalem. It is not coincidence or bad luck that Jesus would come back down from the mountain to see all the chaos in the valley. The people were agruing (vs. 14) and there was a poor boy who was demon-possessed. When Jesus casted out the demon, It’s interesting to note that it wasn’t just a command to the demon, but Jesus had to also pray (vs. 29). Instead of rebuking the disciples about their selfish desires for greatness in the midst of our Lord’s anguish…Jesus patiently teaches them about kingdom truths (vs. 33-37). We also see a twinge a jealousy from the disciples that Jesus quenches from their emotion (vs. 38-41). And lastly, We must realize the ultimate ending of those who have turned from God and do our best to further his kingdom (vs. 42-50).
Regarding application…Everything is Possible! Vs. 23, “If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.” Question: How is everything possible? If you believe. At some point, we all must make a leap of faith in trusting completely in Jesus. And don’t misunderstand what Jesus is implying here. The context shows us that the disciples lacked faith in carrying out something under the umbrella of “God’s Will”. ”Everything” certainly than corresponds to that which would be under the realm of what God can do and will do through us. This is not some magic, hocus pocus…wave a wand like Harry Potter. God does not answer our beckon call like genie in a bottle. But, God can do things our doubt may think is impossible! Question: What are things in your life that seem impossible? God is bigger than all of our troubles. Cast your burden’s upon the Lord and He wil lift you up!
Vs. 13, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites...” Now that Jesus was in Jerusalem, he had quite a captive audience of disciples as well as Pharisee’s and teachers of the law. Seven times Jesus would would point out the faults of the Pharisee’s and teachers of the law. In fact, this would be the last public message before his death. Question: Really? A message of fire & brimstone? Yep, it was time to rebuke the false teachers and warn the disciples as well as us the hypocrisy that surrounded their life. Here’s a rundown of what the hypocrisy looked like: They were not practicing what they preached (vs. 3-4), They did it for recognition, not God (vs. 5-7), they put the focus on men rather than God (vs. 8-12), They tried to control the very gates of heaven (vs. 13-14), they led followers astray (vs. 15), they put their value in worldy oaths (vs. 16-22), they ignored God’s law (vs. 23-24), they put focus on the outside rather than the inside (vs. 25-26), they were empty morally on the inside (vs. 27-28), they judged their ancestors when they themselves were doing a worse action (vs. 29-32). Not a very distinguished list, huh?
Regarding application…What times is it? Humble Time. Vs. 12, “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Looking at the list of “woes”…I would like to think that I’m not guilty of any of these. Yet, I find that I have acted just like the Pharisee’s and teachers of the law. The more I measure myself to God’s word, the more humbled I am. Going back to seminary is one of the most grueling and arduous things I have done. God has a sense of humor and all those times I have not studied in the past…I’m making it up now. As I venture down the road of Biblical & spiritual academia…I am humbled. As you venture down reading the Bible everyday…allow His word to humble you. Question: What good is it to read and not be moved? Then you wasted your own time and God’s time. As Jesus closes his message, O Jerusalem…O Jerusalem…I can’t help but think he’s saying that to us. (Sigh~~~…Oh Youth Group…O Youth Group….how often I have longed to gather you together.” It’s time brothers and sisters. Turn to the Lord.
Vs. 12, “Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” The Pharisees and Sadducees were normally in opposition with each other, but here they united to challenge Jesus (vs. 1-12). Question: How could they demand a sign? Jesus had just recently fed 5000 and 4000 miraculously and in addition to all his other healings….yet they refused to see what was so evident. They were blind spiritually and were now trying to lead others blind. That is why Jesus would warn the disciples to not fall into their false teachings. We also see Peter’s confession about who Jesus is (I’ll expound on this in the application section) (vs 13-20). And sadly, we see Jesus letting the disciples know what the future would look like as they traveled to Jerusalem (vs. 21-28). I don’t think any of us would have responsded any differently than Peter did. Who wants to see someone we love talk about their death? But Jesus would use this response as a reminder to all of us that we too must bear our cross and die to ourselves!
Regarding application…Who is Jesus? Vs. 13, “When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” A few times prior to this…when Jesus did mind-boggling miracles, the disciples would blurt out that Jesus must be the son of man. Understandable. But, Jesus now approaches them with a very honest and introspective question. Question: Who am I? Notice the intial response…some say John the Baptist, Elijah, even Jeremiah! It’s almost like they are not sure if this is a loaded question. But good old Peter would blurt out, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God.” Question: How did Peter know this? Because the Father in heaven revealed it to his heart (vs. 17). And ever since, Jesus has fulfilled his prophecy of the church that Peter would lead from the book of Acts. When we believe in Jesus, nothing can overcome us (vs. 18). I believe there is great value in asking ourselves who Jesus is more often. If He is the Son of God…what is our appropriate response to him? Turn to Jesus today and find rest in Him!
Vs. 3, “Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” Rome was now led by emporer by the name of Domitian. He was even worse than Nero and he persecuted both the Christians & the Jews. John was exiled on the Island of Patmos for this very reason. This revelation from God to John was not some thing that happened in the first century…it wasn’t just for spiritual meaning…It was for the future of all the prophecies before us! Simply look at vs. 3 again to see that this is a book with a promise of a blessing! The seven churches were literal (real) churches at the time…yet they were representative of all churches of all times (including us today). The trumpet (vs. 10) plays an important symbol. The trumpet was like the voice of Christ, it calls John to heaven, it signals the wrath of God, and the trumpet will call God’s people home! The double-edged sword is the authority & power of God’s word! And of course, the number “7–seven” plays an important symbol. For seven symbolizes perfection or more accurately “completion”.
Regarding application…World is Getting Worse. Vs. 19, “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.” The world is getting worse…but Jesus already said that it would get worse. We see all sorts of documentaries about global warming and the end of the world….we are indeed getting closer. While it seems that society is losing its morals before our very eyes…don’t be too suprised. While it may seem we are losing the war (terrorism, violence, school shootings, murderers, child abuse, etc…) know that we are one day going to win the War!!!! Why do I know this? Because of the book of Revelations! Let us not shy away from such an awesome book! I pray with all my heart that you journey with me in studying & devoting our minds & hearts to God’s revelation! Remember, to read aloud God’s word as we read each chapter a day! Revelations is not meant for casul reading…so let us reverently approach the Lord as we seek his revelation for our lives.