Ezekiel was appointed not only as a prophet – forth-telling and foretelling God’s Word, but also as a watchman. Watchmen were stationed on the city walls, or in places of significance in order to warn the people of imminent danger, such as invading armies. But what if the watchman saw the danger and yet said nothing? The LORD speaks to Ezekiel and in essence warns the “warner.”
In reading Ezekiel 3:16-21 we discover some pretty heavy truths. The watchman DOES make a difference, souls are hanging in the balance. The blood of those who perish, because they were not warned, will be required of such “prophets,” or “preachers,” who do not share the full counsel of God. But if the watchman does his job and calls sin sin, and warns of the judgment to come, it doesn’t matter whether or not the people listen, God says to that spokesman, that watchman, “…you will have delivered your soul.” What a heavy accountability, pastors, preachers, and teachers of God’s Word have! Paul the Apostle was well aware of this truth.
Acts 18:6 (NKJV) “But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his garments and said to them, “Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”
Acts 20:26–27 (NKJV) “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.”
I thought it was interesting in reading the rest of the chapter (Ezekiel 3) how Ezekiel was at the same time taught, he would be unable to speak, until God spoke to him, and opened his mouth. What a beautiful balance between the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man.
The last four words of Ezekiel 4 are heavy words of warning, “…because of their iniquity.”
It didn’t have to be this way, but Israel and Judah refused to turn from their iniquity, their sin, even in captivity, even after multiple sieges from the Babylonians!
Ezekiel was a prophet who not only spoke the message, but whose life was a message. Imagine lying down on your left side for 390 days! And then, lying down on your right side for 40 days. What if your diet during that time was reduced to eight ounces of food each day, and one jar of water from time to time? Not only that, what if the fuel you used to cook your mini-meals was cow dung! that was the life of Ezekiel (and we think we have it bad).
People probably thought this skinny prophet was extremely weird, but if they opened their hearts to the Holy Spirit they would know, his message was true, and they needed to take it to heart. It was a heavy warning that Ezekiel issued:
Ezekiel 4:16 (NKJV) “Moreover He said to me, ‘Son of man, surely I will cut off the supply of bread in Jerusalem; they shall eat bread by weight and with anxiety, and shall drink water by measure and with dread.’”
Ezekiel once again is called by God in chapter 5 to offer to the people a visual illustration of the message at hand. Ezekiel was to cut off his hair including his beard, with a sword, and burn 1/3 of it, strike 1/3 of it, and the remaining 1/3 would be scattered to the wind. We read the meaning in:
Ezekiel 5:12 (NKJV) “One-third of you shall die of the pestilence, and be consumed with famine in your midst; and one-third shall fall by the sword all around you; and I will scatter another third to all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them.”
The Jews had not only committed the sins of the pagan nations around them, they had surpassed them in their sins, “by doing wickedness MORE than the nations…” (Ezekiel 5:6).
Therefore God Himself was against them; the famine would be so severe and their depravity so deep, that fathers would eat their sons in the siege, and sons would eat their fathers…it pains me to type these words – but such is the devastation of defiant disobedience to God. I don’t want to spiritualize something that literally took place, but consider the damage done to families in today’s society…all because we won’t do things God’s way. How we desperately need the Lord!
Malachi 4:6 (NKJV) “And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”
One last thing, one last word, before we leave Ezekiel 5…it’s that word “pestilence” in verse 17. Most of us today know people who have died due to pestilence, but has our world taken it to heart? In the midst of all the politics of Covid-19, we must not be distracted. It might be wise to realize that God has allowed it – we are living right smack dab in days of worldwide discipline. Am I any different now?
In Ezekiel 6 the prophet continues to pronounce judgment upon the people of God, particularly pointing out their blatant idolatry. It was at these mountains, these altars, these trees and high places where they offered incense, and pagan practices of worship to their idols. They would therefore be slain by God.
After all God had done for them this is how they showed their gratitude.
But what about us? After all God has done for us. He made us. He maintains us. He loves us and never leaves us. The God of the universe is willing to have a PERSONAL intimate relationship with us, but how many times do we put other people or things before Him? This is idolatry…and it breaks His heart. Did you catch what Ezekiel wrote?
This is God speaking:
Ezekiel 6:9b (NKJV) “…because I was crushed by their adulterous heart which has departed from Me, and by their eyes which play the harlot after their idols…”
God is not some unemotional force or inanimate object. He can be grieved by our sin. Scholars tell us that Jesus died of a broken heart. Here in Ezekiel we see something similar, how the LORD was hurt, grieved, even crushed by their unfaithful heart; how with their eyes they lusted and longed for idols. Paul wrote in:
Ephesians 4:30a (NLT) “And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live.”
God help us to learn from these things, to learn to live wholeheartedly for God.
The writer to the Hebrews is both wooing and warning the people to make sure they’ve entered-in and that they’d stay in God’s rest.
Religion is tiring. The concept of having to work for our salvation or somehow earn God’s favor, has nothing to do with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The recipients of this letter were in a state of flux. It’s challenging to discern whether they were people who were on the brink of salvation and had not entered-in, or if they had experienced salvation and were on the brink of going back to Judaism (please see Hebrew 10:38). I believe if you read this book with an open heart, you’ll see both types of people being addressed. This chapter emphasizes the former, those who have not yet entered in. These people heard the gospel, but they didn’t mix it with faith – and yet, without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).
The writer emphasizes the fact that the work is done. In one sense the work was done from the foundation of the world. This is seen in the creation account, when God rested on the seventh day and ceased from all His works. This is not just creating but also redeeming. An solid parallel passage would be Revelation 13:8 which tells us that the Lamb (Jesus) has been slain from the foundation of the world. The work is done – creation – the cross – salvation – redemption, the work is done, all we have to do is believe and receive the Lord Jesus Christ; this is how we enter in to that rest.
It’s not something that Moses, or Joshua, or any of the other patriarchs could have given, otherwise David wouldn’t have been writing about a future rest in Psalm 95. This rest comes only under the new covenant – under the cross Christ.
The writer to the Hebrews exhorts the people to make sure to enter that rest, to be diligent to do so (Hebrews 4:11).
We learn all this by the living Word of God, which is the sword of the Spirit. It can also be likened to a scalpel, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit. How can we distinguish if something we experience is emotional or spiritual? The Word of God! His Word reveals the intricate details of life, things we need to see and things we cannot hide from God’s sight. It’s critical to remember that God sees everything! We are naked before His eyes of omniscience and one day we will give an account of our lives. Let this truth purify us, but let it also encourage us to come to Him for help. This is how the chapter closes. We have Jesus, our great High Priest who has gone before us – He’s the Son of God – so let’s hold tightly to Him and our confession of faith in Him. As we’re temped day by day, keep in mind that we don’t have a God who doesn’t have a clue of how we’re feeling, of what we’re experiencing – He’s been there, He Himself has been tempted and therefore able to help us every single time.
Be bold to run to Him, understanding it’s a throne of grace, it’s the only place to find help in time of need.
We continue with this Psalm of praise to God for the beauty and variety of His creation, for all the earth “possesses,” and all that’s in the sea. There in the deep, creatures like the Leviathan “play” and are fed by God.
Leviathan is mentioned five times in the Scriptures, and the opinions as to what it is, ranges from a crocodile to a fire-breathing dragon (Job 41:1-34). The primary point the Psalmist is making is how everything, and every living thing is in the hands of the Lord, made and maintained by Him – He truly is an awesome God!
The Psalmist deals with God’s “relationship” with the earth and then God’s relationship with us (mankind). He ends with a prayer of personal determination, a prayer for holiness on earth, and an honest expression of praise.
Psalm 104:33–35 (NKJV) “I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. 34 May my meditation be sweet to Him; I will be glad in the LORD. 35 May sinners be consumed from the earth, and the wicked be no more. Bless the LORD, O my soul! Praise the LORD!”
Proverbs 26:27 (NKJV) “Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and he who rolls a stone will have it roll back on him.”
You’ve probably heard that saying, “What comes around, goes around.” Or, “Those who live by the sword will die by the sword.” Jesus said something similar.
Matthew 26:52 (NKJV) “But Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.’”
In those days digging pits and rolling stones from the top of a hill were methods of warfare.
Bible Knowledge Commentary, “Destruction by one’s own devices is the subject of this verse and of Psalms 7:15; 9:15; 35:8; 57:6. If Proverbs 26:27 is related to verses 23–26 the point is that attempts to trap or destroy others will eventually turn on the schemer (cf. 1:18–19; 28:10). Many times Proverbs affirms that sin boomerangs.”
Eventually what happened to Hamaan will happen to them. We read in:
Esther 7:10 (NKJV) “So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the king’s wrath subsided.”
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.