November 17

Ezekiel 35:1–36:38

Ezekiel 35 records the prophetic judgment upon Mount Seir, upon a people primarily known as Edom. The Edomites were the descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother, and although the two brothers worked out their differences personally, their descendants never did. Edom was angry, envious, and covetous for the land of Israel and Judah, therefore God turned it all around…and rather than Edom inheriting Israel’s land, the Jews would see the judgment of her enemies.

Ezekiel 35:10–11 (NKJV) “Because you have said, ‘These two nations and these two countries shall be mine, and we will possess them,’ although the LORD was there, 11 therefore, as I live,” says the Lord GOD, ‘I will do according to your anger and according to the envy which you showed in your hatred against them; and I will make Myself known among them when I judge you.’”

God would judge Edom.

When we reach Ezekiel 36 the prophet transitions from judgment to blessing. Warren Wiersbe writes, “From this chapter on, the prophet focuses on reinhabiting the land, rebuilding the temple, and restoring the kingdom to the glory of God.”

The enemies of Israel rejoiced at her judgment, and they mocked the God of Israel, but the God of Israel is the true God, He therefore gets the last word; the events that Ezekiel now describe speak primarily of the last days.

We read in Ezekiel 36:5 of the way the nations of the world have taken the holy land to themselves throughout the ages. But for the sake of His own name, the LORD would ultimately restore the land back to Israel in such a way, that the Jews would multiply and their fruit would flourish. Today if you travel to Israel you see exactly what Ezekiel spoke of, it’s a Garden of Eden, they’ve transformed it from useless land to fruitful land. God has abundantly blessed Israel since its miraculous rebirth on May 14, 1948, they’ve returned to the land, setting the stage for the final events in world history.

It’s true that God has severely disciplined His children for their sins, but He has not destroyed them. He has scattered, but He has also regathered. Anyone with an open heart can simply look at the history of the nation of Israel and see their very existence today in the land is a sign of the times, showing to us (proving) that the God of the Bible is the one true God!

Ezekiel 36:33–36 (NKJV) “‘Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will also enable you to dwell in the cities, and the ruins shall be rebuilt. 34 The desolate land shall be tilled instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass by. 35 So they will say, ‘This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden; and the wasted, desolate, and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.’ 36 Then the nations which are left all around you shall know that I, the LORD, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted what was desolate. I, the LORD, have spoken it, and I will do it.”

This was partially fulfilled in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, but has primarily been fulfilled in our days.

Ezekiel 36:26-27 is still yet to be realized. Although there are some Jews who have been saved and entered int to the New Covenant with Jesus as their Messiah, generally speaking, Israel still refuses to believe in Jesus. Half-way through the Tribulation Period their eyes will be opened.

James 1:1-18

For some, it sounds ridiculous – James’ command to be joyful when things get painful…but that’s exactly what he says. We can praise God for the problems and the pain, but only because we can trust God for the purpose He has behind it all. He wants to work in us and through us. God allows troubles, trials, and tribulations not to impair us but to improve us, or as Sandy Adams said, “Spiritual maturity sprouts from the soil of suffering.”

I’m grateful for God’s promise to grant us wisdom when we need it – because not only do I lack wisdom, I lack common sense! Let’s make sure to believe and receive this promise – otherwise we become doubting disciples driven by the waves of wickedness, for “Faithless prayers are futile prayers,” said Sandy Adams

Being rich is not a sin, but it IS “hard” for the wealthy to enter the Kingdom, Jesus said in Matthew 19:23. It requires extra effort not to trust in those riches or be distracted by those dollars, for those purchased possessions that follow, can easily possess us.

James reveals that the godless rich man must consider his future humiliation, and the godly poor man must remember his future exaltation. It must things into perspective.

James promises blessings and even crowns for those who “endure” temptation; friend don’t give in! You don’t need that drug or drink; you’re empowered to turn the other cheek; some guy or gal tries to lead you astray, but you stay faithful to your spouse, to your God. You’re frustrated or humiliated, you might even be angry, but you don’t sin (Ephesians 4:26). That’s how we win! The opportunity arises, the devil woos, and the flesh feels like falling, but you don’t go down. Praise God for those times we “endure” temptation. It’s not a sin to be tempted – even Jesus was tempted, but He didn’t give in. I remember hearing somewhere that, “Temptation is not a sin, it’s simply the bell that rings, telling us it’s time to fight.”

One last thing on this, it’s important to realize that God doesn’t tempt us to sin. Some people like to blame it all on God by saying things like, “He made me this way – He did this to me – He allowed this to happen to that person in my family.”

Most of you know, “Our first parents blamed God for the first sin.” (Genesis 3:12)

But God never tempts us to sin! Benson said this about God, “He does not persuade or incline, much less constrain any one to sin by any means whatever.”

There’s different ways to blame God. Pantheism says that man is only a mode of the Divine existence, and that good is God’s right hand, while evil is His left. Fatalism teaches that all events – good and evil – come to pass under the operation of a blind necessity. Materialism regards the vilest passions of bad men and the holiest aspiration of believer as alike, only the products of physical organism.

No, it’s not God’s fault; if we’re ever to win over sin, we must take personal responsibility for our attitudes and actions. (We need this understanding) It’s not God, and it’s not “the Devil made me do it,” no, it’s actually me. My flesh goes fishing, my fallen heart goes hunting (that’s the meaning of those two concepts, “drawn away,” “enticed”). We can’t eliminate sin altogether, but we can stifle it by starving the flesh and doing our best to put it to death every day.

Psalm 116:1-19

One of the many reasons we love the Lord, is because He hears our every cry, our every prayer. The Psalmist expresses that explicitly and takes it to its logical conclusion:

Psalm 116:2b (NKJV) “…therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.”

We should too.

Apparently the writer was close to death, but God graciously delivered him and dealt “bountifully” with him.

God had delivered his soul from death, his eyes from tears, and his feet from falling. So what would he do in response? He would walk before the LORD in the land of the living. He would take up the cup of salvation (reminds me of Jesus’ cup). He would pay his vows to God – publicly.

We fight for life and we pray for healing, but why? I believe it’s that we may serve the Lord by faith, as long as we can, to bring glory to God, and good to the people.

Eventually (unless we get raptured) God’s answer to our prayer for healing will be on the other side of time…and then we’ll remember these words:

Psalm 116:15 (NKJV) “Precious in the sight of the LORD Is the death of His saints.”

We’re saints in Christ. Our death will be precious in His sight, not only do we long to be with God, but He longs to be with us, home in heaven one day (see Revelation 21:3-7).

Proverbs 27:23-27

Proverbs 27:23-27 (NKJV) “Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and attend to your herds; 24 For riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations. 25 When the hay is removed, and the tender grass shows itself, and the herbs of the mountains are gathered in, 26 The lambs will provide your clothing, and the goats the price of a field; 27 You shall have enough goats’ milk for your food, for the food of your household, and the nourishment of your maidservants.”

The primary application has to do with being a good stewards financially, to have a back-up plan, to not put all your eggs in one basket, to even have some sort of retirement – would be wise for us all. How are the flocks doing? You never know what the next king or president will do, or even if our nation will stand; the economy might fall tomorrow, and then what? If we’re wise with God’s wealth and well rounded, we’ll be okay.

“A farmer should care for his flocks and herds because they are a better investment than many things. Flocks and herds multiply through their offspring, but money when it is spent is gone (cf. 23:5) and being a king (having a crown) does not last. Hay and grass provide food for livestock, which in turn supply people’s needs for clothing (lambs’ wool), money (from selling goats), and milk and food for one’s family and servants. It is important to care for one’s resources, to work hard, and to recognize God’s provisions through nature.” – Bible Knowledge Commentary

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