November 16, 2021

Ezekiel 33:1–34:31

A prophet, preacher, pastor or teacher who claims to be called  by God must only speak the words God gives them to speak. If the people are headed for judgment they need to be warned, they need a watchman. Resembling Ezekiel 3, Ezekiel chapter 33 reiterates the fact that regardless of the response of the recipients, it is our responsibility to blow the trumpet, to sound the warning.  If the watchman does NOT warn the people, their blood is on his hands, in other words, it’s as if he himself killed them.

The Lord uses extremely strong language here:

If the watchman fails to warn and therefore the man doesn’t turn from his iniquity, “…he is taken away  in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.” (Ezekiel 33:6b)

If the watchman DOES warn and the man still doesn’t turn from his iniquity, “…he shall die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your soul.” (Ezekiel 33:9)

That’s part of the reason James reminds us:

James 3:1 (NKJV) “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.”

A watchman who doesn’t warn is like a dog that doesn’t bark when danger lurks. Is that possible? Absolutely! Isaiah wrote about these false prophets in Israel:

Isaiah 56:10 (NKJV) “His watchmen are blind, they are all ignorant; they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.”

Some people mistakenly believe that God delights in the death of the wicked, but this can’t be further from the truth. In order for someone to perish they would have to step and trample over God’s dead body, ignore His resurrection, and discard the Bible. God wants everyone to be saved (2 Peter 3:9).

Ezekiel 33:11 (NKJV) “Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’’”

Ezekiel lays down some heavy truths in this chapter, including the way a righteous man can turn from his righteousness and how a wicked man can turn from his wickedness. God’s ways are perfectly fair in spite of accusations to the contrary! (Ezekiel 33:12-20)

Ezekiel also records the very day he heard the news of Jerusalem’s fall…his warnings all came to pass. God shoed Ezekiel some specific sins of the people that led to Jerusalem’s judgment (Ezekiel 33:25-26).

Ezekiel also writes about the way many people come to hear the word of God without any genuine interest to live it! It’s heartbreaking to read.

Ezekiel 33:31 (NKJV) “So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain.”

Ezekiel 34 reveals one important factor that led to the fall of Israel and Jerusalem…their shepherds were not loving, leading, or feeding the flock. Ezekiel covers many of the different conditions of the congregants. Some are weak and need to be strengthened. Some are sick and need to be healed. Some are emotionally broken and need to be tended to. Some have fallen away and need to be sought after. They key to a nation is her spiritual condition…if only her Shepherds would have been faithful!

God would severely judge the false shepherds who were greedy and lazy.

God Himself would replace the shepherds. Some take David to be a literal reference in Ezekiel 34:23 in the Millennial Kingdom where he serves as a prince under the King of kings, the Good, Great, and Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Others see the identification of David as a reference to Jesus. One thing’s for sure, God’s people would be taken care of for they (we) really do belong to Him.

Ezekiel 34:31 (NKJV) “You are My flock, the flock of My pasture; you are men, and I am your God,” says the Lord GOD.

Hebrews 13:1-25

Hebrews 13:1 (NKJV) “Let brotherly love continue.”

They say it’s easier to “fall” in love than to stay in love, which is why the writer exhorts us to let this brotherly love continue. We can apply this to a spouse, a friend, and even a church.

Imagine the privilege of showing hospitality to an angel! We have an example in the Old Testament book of Genesis, chapters 18 and 19, but apparently, it’s still possible under the New Covenant!

We should remember the Christians who are imprisoned and persecuted all around the world…how about a prayer, a letter, a donation, or even a visit?

Pastor Chuck Smith said this about Hebrews 13:4, “Marriage is an institution that God invented. There are those who teach that marriage is a less spiritual way of living than the ascetic lifestyle of a celibate. This is not true. If God calls you to be celibate, that’s fine. But don’t do it because you think it will make you more spiritual. It won’t. Marriage is honorable.”

I remember one time my cousin, who comes from a Catholic background, said that I should have never gotten married IF I wanted to be a faithful spiritual leader. I love her, but she doesn’t know the truth, only tradition. I thank God that we have His Word to guide us!

The marriage bed is undefiled. There are those who mistakenly believe that sexual intimacy is carnal, but it’s not – it’s holy, it’s beautiful, it’s a gift given to us from God when it’s practiced within the confines of holy matrimony. On the other hand, if anyone practices sexual intimacy outside of marriage (that’s not love it’s lust), the Bible says that God will judge such people – if they refuse to repent, they will not inherit the Kingdom of God (see also 1 Corinthians 1:6:9-10).

Hebrews 13:5 has always been one of my favorite passages in the Bible. The only way to be set free from covetousness is to remember that Jesus is with me, He will always be with me…and Jesus is enough. Have you discoverer yet that He’s all I (we) will ever need? “ O the beauty of such contentment!”

“Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, but the realization of how much you already have.”

“He is richest who is content with the least.” – Socrates

Regarding Hebrews 13:7-8, Warren Wiersbe said, “This may refer to leaders now dead, but their ministry goes on. Remember what they taught you, how they lived, and what they lived for. Church leaders may come and go, but Jesus is the same; and we must fix our eyes on Him.”

We need to guard ourselves from all the strange ascetic and legalistic doctrines out there, it’s good when our hearts are established by grace. Even in the Old Testament, the animals bodies’ were burned outside the camp – pointing to the way Jesus died outside the human temple; it’s not about those Levitical sacrifices within a dead religion. After the one sacrifice of Christ, we’re actually set free to offer sacrifices of praise and good works, not to earn our salvation, but because of our appreciation for salvation. 

It’s okay to “follow” faithful leaders who follow Jesus, may we do so submissively that they might lead joyfully (Hebrews 13:17). And it’s okay for those leaders to ask for prayer (Hebrews 13:18-19) they need it and are accountable to live an honorable life – your prayers are appreciated and make a massive difference.

The author also prays for the people, that Jesus would finish this wonderful work in the church He loves.

I’m of the opinion that this letter was not written by Paul the Apostle because Paul doesn’t normally refer to Timothy as a brother, he usually refers to him as a son (Hebrews 13:23; 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2; 2:1).  I also don’t believe Paul would have referred to this message as something he received second-hand (Hebrews 2:3). And then finally, the writer to the Hebrews quotes from the Septuagint, which is the Greek version of the Old Testament. This isn’t the norm in the Pauline epistles. I fully admit, I could be wrong on this, and I humbly, and respectfully disagree with those who believe Paul wrote it, for they happen to be some of my favorite Bible teachers, I’m just not sure. Maybe it was Apollos?

Ultimately we know it was inspired by the Holy Spirit, and we do know it was written from a Roman prison…and closes with that word of grace – may we get a good grip on it – grace– and never let go!

Psalm 115:1-18

Back in 2002 Chris Tomlin released his second studio album called, “Not to Us,” which was based on this Psalm. Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to Your name we give glory.

For Your mercy.

For Your truth.

Our God is not like the idols of the world, He’s alive, He’s the Almighty, and He keeps us alive until they day we’re done. I call it the “invincible-principal.” That’s what God does. The idols are lifeless stones and statues, but our God helps us, intervenes, and is trustworthy.

The Psalmist challenges the people of Israel to trust the LORD, as well as the house of Aaron the spiritual leaders of the land, and even any Gentiles who might fear the LORD, we can and should trust Him knowing He’s our help and shield. He is even “mindful of us” (Psalm 115:12; see also Psalm 8:4).

The Psalmist ends with a declaration (He will bless), an invocation (May you be blessed), and a proclamation (We will bless the LORD from this time forth and forevermore).

Amen! Let’s give Him all the glory! Not us or anyone else!

Proverbs 27:21-22

Proverbs 27:21 (NKJV) “The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, and a man is valued by what others say of him.”

There are two ways of seeing this passage. One has to do with our reputation. If we take care of our character, our reputation will follow. People will have good things to say about us – it’s as if we’re tested or proven by our reputation (Acts 6:3; 10:22; 1 Timothy 3:7).

Another way of seeing the passage is reflected in the New Living Translation.

Proverbs 27:21 (NLT) “Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but a person is tested by being praised.”

How do I react if someone compliments me? Do I gloat about it arrogantly? Or do I take it modestly, making sure my heart knows, God gets all the glory…and in me, nothing good dwells.

Proverbs 27:22 (NKJV) “Though you grind a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his foolishness will not depart from him.”

The full-on fool is the one who never changes. God tries everything to get his attention, loving grace, loving discipline, health and sickness, freedom, jail, you name it, God tried it, but they were not open.

His foolishness does not depart from him, so one day he will hear those word from the lips of the Lord Jesus – he must depart:

Matthew 7:23 (NKJV) “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

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