November 18, 2021

Ezekiel 37:1–38:23

Ezekiel 37 is an amazing prophecy about the regathering of Israel into the land, and the life God breathes into otherwise dead, dry bones. No longer are the Jews divided into two nations (Israel and Judah), no, the two sticks have become one.

This was partially fulfilled in the past, events we read about in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, but I believe this is primarily a reference to the present, and near future. Since the nation of Israel was “born-again” on May 14, 1948, 3 million Jews have returned to their homeland!

This is the beginning of the end of time. After the Rapture and half-way into the Tribulation Period, their “life” will take on new meaning, beyond national life, they will find Spiritual life as they embrace Jesus as their Messiah King.

David Jeremiah, “God Himself interprets the vision for the people. The whole house of Israel (the northern and southern kingdoms) had been ejected from its land and vast numbers of the people had died because of their rebellion, yet one day God would bring a remnant of His people back to the Promised Land. Then He would begin to prosper them, and finally He would bring about a nation wide revival in which He would restore their hearts to Himself (Romans 11:26-27). Ezekiel again describes the Messianic Kingdom of the Millennium, when Jesus Christ (referred to here as David my servant) will rule His people from Israel and enable them to live in peace and safety. Other nations will continue to exist, but only Israel will have the promise of the Lord’s sanctuary in their midst.”

Bible students are not certain on the when, and even all the whos of Ezekiel 38. This invasion of Israel from the north may happen before or after the commencement of the Tribulation Period. 

More details on these nations are suggested by K-House, “The shifting geopolitical winds have once again raised the specter of Ezekiel’s “Magog” invasion of Israel. Ezekiel describes this ill-fated “band of brothers” as coming from the lands of: Magog—the Southern Steppes of Russia (former Soviet- Bloc countries); Meshech and Tubal—Turkey; Persia—Iran; Ethiopia—Southern Egypt, Sudan, Somalia; Libya—Libya (may also include Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia); Gomer—North-Central Turkey; Togarmah—Eastern Turkey.”

We see significant signs in our day-and-age, especially with the recent alliance of Russia and Iran (Persia), amplified by the latter’s desire to push Israel into the sea (annihilate the Jews).

But God will utterly defeat these invading armies and show the whole wide world who He is. This all takes place in the “latter years” (Ezekiel 38:8). 

I’m amazed at the many military victories Israel has wrought since 1948, truly God has blessed this nation with wisdom and military might, but on THIS day, it appears the victory won’t be attributed to the fighter jets of Israel, it will be an earthquake of the Almighty, pestilence, hailstones, fire and brimstone,  God’s intervention will be the only explanation.

Ezekiel 38:23 (NKJV) “Thus I will magnify Myself and sanctify Myself, and I will be known in the eyes of many nations. Then they shall know that I am the LORD.” ’

Some people wonder how an Arab/Muslim led coalition could possibly invade Israel today without the assistance of Israeli allies? There are a couple of possible answers to that question. One is that nations such as the United States will be too weak to put up a fight…and we do see our nation weakening, don’t we? We’re no longer the super-power we once were. The other possibility is that the nations will not support Israel, shifting even to an ANTI-Irsael stance. Tragically we see this taking place today, even our own nation’s support for Israel has waned. Anti-semitism is on the rise.

Some Bible students see the United States as the “young lion” spoken of here in Ezekiel 38:13. Comparatively speaking, we are relatively “young.” Protesting a bit verbally, but not willing to help, practically.

But that’s when God shows up. It’s Ben said that, “We don’t realize that God is all we need, until the day comes, when God is all we have.”

James 1:19–2:17

I must confess that James 1:19-20 is one of my favorite Scriptures in all the Bible. I honestly believe it’s one of the most important principles in all of life! God gave us two ears and only one mouth to emphasize listening more than speaking. If only we’d be slow to speak, to truly listen to that person sharing those words with us, and then listen to the Lord – BEFORE we start talking, life would be much better. Sometimes we speak foolishness – it leads to a fight – next thing you know there are arguments and yelling – anger and wrath. Nothing good ever comes out of that! James will have more to say about taming the tongue, as well as the temper. (see also James 1:26)

The Word of God is used by the Spirit of God to conceive a child of God, and conform us into the image of God – therefore, we are to ask God to soften and open our hearts, to receive with meekness, the seed of His Word. But when we hear that Word, we must not merely be hearers of it, we must be doers of it. We can’t just be “talkie-talkies,” we need to be “walkie-talkies.” Some people deceive themselves into thinking it’s sufficient to hear the Word of God, or to know the Word of God, or to even teach the Word of God (I think that sometimes). No way…God wants us to LIVE the Word of God! We must guard ourselves from mere profession, we need to DO all we can to live out our faith, by doing things like helping the helpless.

I like to tell people that, “God loves everyone, but I’m His favorite.” But it’s just me being funny, for although God loves me as if I were the only one to love, the truth is, God has no favorites, He loves everyone equally. With that understanding, God has called us to be like Him and show no partiality. And yet it can happen at any church. What if a millionaire strolled into the sanctuary, a famous actor or actress…would I treat him or her better than the poor man, or the one I’ve known for years (the common man)? James wants us to check our hearts and make sure we love everyone equally; let’s not bend the rules for some because of their fame or wealth – such behavior is sin.

James reminds the recipients of his letter that the rich often times oppress the poor, dragging them to court. Generally speaking, the rich don’t realize their need for Jesus, but the poor do, which prompted James to ask, “Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom…?” (James 2:5). James dealt with this earlier in (James 1:9-11) and repeats himself for emphasis, that the godless rich man should beware of his future humiliation, while the godly poor man should look forward to his exaltation.

Getting back to the poison of partiality, James alludes to it in his comment on the Royal Law, how we’re to love our neighbor as ourselves, if we do this we do well, it’s the fruit of salvation…partiality is completely contrary to love.

Some might categorize partiality as a minor sin, but James teaches us that sin is sin, that all sin is against God, that we might keep the whole law, but if we stumble in one point, we’re guilty of all and therefore in need of a Savior. When I read James 2:10-13 I’m reminded that the law can never save me, it only proves my guilt and need of salvation. Thank God for Jesus and the merciful law of liberty. The Bible teaches us from Genesis to Revelation – salvation by faith (not law), faith in Jesus, who is the substance of the shadows, the Figure in all the figures of the Old Testament.

In closing out the chapter, James reminds us, however, that faith-works – that faith without works is dead. Imagine someone comes to you, a brother or a sister, naked, and on the brink of starvation, and rather than helping them in a practical way, we say, “God bless you, I’ll be praying for you,” and leave them there to die. The pitiful prayer doesn’t profit. James teaches us that such “faith” is 100% dead.

Psalm 117:1-2

One wonders why some of the Jews became so exclusive. There were some Rabbi’s who believed that the Gentiles were only created to fuel the fires of hell.

But here we read in God’s Word about the Gentiles praising the LORD. Many of you are Gentiles (non-Jews).  To laud God means to praise God publicly and the Psalmist mentions two reasons to praise Him in such a way:

God’s mercy and God’s truth.

Aren’t you grateful that He’s shown us mercy? That He has NOT dealt with us according to our sins. One of my favorite passages is:

Psalms 103:10-11 (NKJV) “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him.”

And we should praise Him for His truth, His Word, the Bible. Where would we be without it? Lost, lied to, in deep darkness. Here we are, reading, studying, meditating on, and trying to live out God’s truth; I commend you, keep it up!

Proverbs 28:1

Proverbs 28:1 (NKJV) “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.”

“God sends a faintness into the hearts of the wicked, and the sound of a shaken leaf frightens them.” – Trapp

Taken together and in context, it’s not only an issue of boldness, it’s also an issue of holiness. When a person has a guilty conscience, they’ve done something they know to be wrong, it’s almost as if they’re always looking over their shoulders, running, and hiding. They need to “cover their tracks,” so to speak; they’re afraid that the law is after them.

“The guilty consciences of the wicked causes them to run from imagined pursuers. Knowing they have done wrong, they suspect they are being chased by lawmen. By contrast the righteous are as bold (i.e., self-confident; cf. “confidence” in Proverbs 31:11) as a young lion. God gives them courage; they have no fear of reprisal from wrongdoing.” – Bible Knowledge Commentary

“Bold: ‘confident’ is nearer the meaning. The straightforward man, like the lion, has no need to look over his shoulder. What is at his heels is not his past (Num. 32:23) but his rearguard: God’s goodness and mercy (Psalms 23:6).” – Derek Kidner

“We know that the wicked may appear bold in facing danger, so long as they drown reflection and stupefy conscience. But when conscience is roused, guilt is the parent of fear. Adam knew no fear until he become a guilty creature.” – Charles Bridges

If David was in sin, do you think he would have run to the battle?

November 17, 2021

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

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!’”

November 15, 2021

Ezekiel 31:1–32:32

Ezekiel continues his prophetic word against Egypt, he addresses the nation and its leader in chapters 29-32, as a matter of fact, Egypt is mentioned by name 48 times in the book of Ezekiel. 

Warren Wiersbe, “This message was for Pharaoh, who thought his nation was indestructible. Assyria once had the same idea, but look what God did to her. God would rebuke Pharaoh’s pride, cut down his nation, and cast it into hell (Ezekiel 31:15, 17).”

We frequently see nations, and even people described in the Bible as trees. Egypt had grown tall with water from above and beneath. Egypt was a leader of nations. Egypt grew proud, her heart was “lifted up,” (Ezekiel 31:10) and therefore God would have to humble her and her king (pharaoh).

Eden is mentioned 3 times in this chapter. It’s tragic to see the extent of the fall, from paradise to the pit, all because of pride!

In Ezekiel 32 the emphasis seems to be on the PIT where Egypt and all other unsaved nations and people will end up when they die. The word “pit” is found 13 times in the book of Ezekiel, and 8 times in the Ezekiel 31-32 where he addresses Pharaoh and the Egyptians.

According to historical records this prophecy was given on March 3, 585 B.C., that would be two months after the news of Jerusalem’s fall reached the Jewish captives in Babylon (Ezekiel 33:21). All hope of Egypt helping Jerusalem was dead. This chapter is a lamentation, a passionate expression of grief and sorrow at the tragedy of Egypt’s fall to the absolute bottom…the pit, even referred to as “hell” (Ezekiel 32:21).

Ezekiel lets Egypt know, as well as all of us, that Egypt will not be alone in their agony. There is Assyria (Ezekiel 32:22), there is Elam (Ezekiel 32:24), there is Meschech and Tubal (Ezekiel 32:26), there is Edom (Ezekiel 32::29), there are the princes of the north, with the Sidonians (Ezekiel 32:30), and there are all the people from all of time who have rejected the covenant of their Creator, found ultimately in the Lord Jesus Christ. 

As we study the Scriptures we find that all those who die apart from God’s grace tragically enter hell, which is just a holding tank for an eternal future in the Lake of Fire (Luke 16:19-31; Revelation 20:11-15). If you’re reading this and thinking, “God would never do that!” Or, “I don’t want to serve a God who would do that!” I pray that you would humble yourself to realize, you’re not God, He sets the standards. His holiness is something we can’t understand at this time, but we will one day. No one has to perish in hell or the Lake of Fire, all they need to do is believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31). Salvation – heaven is a gift freely available to anyone who wants it.

Allow me to close with a couple of passages to consider on this and mention the fact that the next chapter (Ezekiel 33) is all about our duty as pastors, and the people of God to issue the warning.

Matthew 7:13 (NKJV) “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.”

2 Peter 3:9 (NKJV) “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

Hebrews 12:14-29

What great goals we have in Hebrews 12:14 and for good reason!

Hebrews 12:14 (NKJV) “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.”

If we’re not pursuing peace with all people, how can we claim to be holy? And if we’re not holy how can we say we’re saved? Although we can’t guarantee a right relationship with everyone (Romans 12:18) it is to be our heart, for it’s often a reflection of our relationship with God.

We must take heed to the warnings. The author writes the letter with the intent of preventing them (and us) from ending up like Esau, who for a morsel of food, sold his birthright. 

The New Covenant is not the one established in earth on Mt. Sinai, it’s the one established in heaven on Mt. Zion. The figure is not Moses the lawgiver, but Jesus the Mediator of a better covenant rooted in love and faith, why would anyone go back? 

God in these last days has spoken to us through His Son (Hebrews 1:1-2; 2:1-3) so we must listen wholeheartedly; we must remain in the faith, abide in the Vine.

Hebrews 12:25 (NKJV) “See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven.”

The Bible Knowledge Commentary has these words of explanation on Hebrews 12:26-27, “The reference to Haggai 2:6 was understood by the author as speaking of the ultimate remaking of the heavens and earth which will follow the millennial kingdom (cf. Heb. 1:10–12). What remains after this cataclysmic event will be eternal.”

I also believe this is an exhortation to me, to us, not to be shaken – on the contrary we are to be one of those unshakable things that remain!

The writer mingles some beautiful promises along with some heavy warnings, “See that you do not refuse Him who speaks…for our God is a consuming fire.” 

Let’s have a heart to stay close and cling to our Savior all the days of our lives.

Psalms 113:1–114:8

Psalm 113 is a reminder that we are to CONSTANTLY praise the LORD. We His servants are to praise Him now and forever; from sun rise to sunset and all the time in between. We have good reason to praise the LORD, for this great God of the universe humbles Himself and enters our world to help the poor and the needy, even raising them up. He blesses the barren in such a beautiful way – with a family. Just a few reasons to praise the LORD.

Psalm 114 is a brief testimony of Israel’s redemption from Egypt, a picture of salvation. May we never forget the way God brought us out of Egypt, and the way He loves us. Isn’t it awesome to think that God’s people are His sanctuary! (Psalm 114:2) God split the Red Sea, the Jordan as well. God moved mountains as if they were pebbles skipping along like rams and lambs. God gave water in the wilderness, even a fountain of waters.  God has not only saved us, but He’s moved mountains to do so, even giving us the Living Water of His Holy Spirit. May we never stop praising and singing with heartfelt appreciation of our salvation.

Proverbs 27:18-20

Proverbs 27:18 (NKJV) “Whoever keeps the fig tree will eat its fruit; so he who waits on his master will be honored.”

Or as the New Living Translation puts it:

Proverbs 27:18 (NLT) “As workers who tend a fig tree are allowed to eat the fruit, so workers who protect their employer’s interests will be rewarded.”

Fig trees required more attention than other plants or trees, but if you do a good job, you’ll end up with Fig Newtons, a good crop.

To wait on your master, is another way of saying, be good to your boss, protect your employer’s interests – such a person will be rewarded.

“In other words working well at one’s job brings favorable results.” – Bible Knowledge Commentary

“The Hebrew word translated “waits” describes a careful watching over or looking after, a meticulous service, anticipating the needs and safeguarding the charge. Such a servant need not worry about his efforts going unrecognized and unrewarded (see also Prov 22:29; 2 Tim 2:6, 15).”

Proverbs 27:19 (NKJV) “As in water face reflects face, so a man’s heart reveals the man.”

Israel asked for a king like all the other nations, tall, strong, and handsome, he had to have the look of a king on the outside, head and shoulders above the rest. But when God chose a king for Israel, he looked at the heart.

1 Samuel 16:6–7 (NKJV) “So it was, when they came, that he looked at Eliab and said, ‘Surely the LORD’s anointed is before Him!’ 7 But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’”

What’s on my “inside?” My hidden heart is who I really am and that’s the key to life. O Lord, create in us a clean heart (Psalm 51:10). Any man can clean up his act, but only God can clean up our hearts.

Proverbs 27:20 (NKJV) “Hell and Destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.”

“The grave is personified as having an appetite. Seemingly it always wants another live person dead. Likewise, the eyes of man are never satisfied. People constantly want to see new things (Ecclesiastes 1:8) and to own new things.” – Bible Knowledge Commentary

And isn’t it so sad and true? We can testify first-hand, our fleshly eyes are never satisfied!

November 14, 2021

Ezekiel 29:1–30:26

As Ezekiel pens the first of seven prophecies against Egypt, Jerusalem has been surrounded by the Babylonians for just two days shy of one year (Ezekiel 24:1-2; 29:1). Jerusalem had once hoped for Egypt’s help, relying on this nation numerous times throughout her history, but God would strip that reliance away. As a matter of fact, God would judge Egypt to such an extremity, that this once powerful nation, would never recover its greatness again.

Ezekiel points directly to Hophra, the Pharaoh of Egypt at that time (he reigned from 589 to 570 B.C.) describing him as a monster, a man who claimed the Nile River to be his, even claiming to make the Nile River. God would humble him and his nation for their pride.

Ezekiel mentions the cities of Migdol and Syene in order to describe the extent of the judgment. Although we don’t extra biblical records of the 40 years  of Egyptian deportation, it is safe to assume this is what took place, since Babylon did conquer Egypt and deportation was their standard practice.

Egypt has never returned anywhere near the place she once was, in spite of such ambitions. Bible Knowledge Commentary, “She tried to exert herself during the intertestamental period, but she was held in check by Greece, Syria, and Rome. Egypt’s political weakness would be a continual object lesson to Israel. She would look at Egypt and remember her folly of depending on men instead of God.”

Make no mistake about it, God wants us, His children, to trust ONLY in Him!

Ezekiel 29:16 (NKJV) “No longer shall it be the confidence of the house of Israel, but will remind them of their iniquity when they turned to follow them. Then they shall know that I am the Lord GOD.” 

Seventeen years later, Ezekiel again describes Babylon’s plundering of Egypt; by now the prophecies against Tyre have been partially fulfilled (Ezekiel 29:17-21). The Babylonians had sieged the city of Tyre for 13 years; they’d worked hard in the process, but only gathered meager spoils. Apparently Tyre had shipped their treasures off. God was now “paying” the Babylonians for their labor at the expense of the Egyptians.

Although not in chronological order, the details of judgment upon Egypt continue tin Ezekiel 30, and not only Egypt, but also upon her allies. The Day of the Lord is near, indeed it is coming, then they shall know, God says “…that I am the LORD.”

Egypt’s idols, judged, her cities, leveled, her yokes, broken, “…her arrogant strength shall cease…” (Ezekiel 30:18). We get that visual of Pharaoh’s broken arm, unable to hold a sword, but the king of Babylon’s arm strengthened by God, defeating this once “undefeated” nation.

Ezekiel 30:26 (NKJV) “I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations and disperse them throughout the countries. Then they shall know that I am the LORD.”

How many people are in hell right now – who now know, the truth, justice, and existence of the God of the Bible? If only they had humbled themselves to look up, before it was too late. 

God will deal thus, with every nation of the world – the truth is the ultimate Day of the LORD can begin, any day now.

Hebrews 11:32–12:13

By faith they lived, they conquered, they suffered, they died (Isaiah was sawn in two – Hebrews 11:37) all this is mentioned to us, so we also might live and die by faith. Take God at His Word, His promises are true, Jesus will always be with us, and one day we’ll be home in heaven, we can see it…we can even see Him with the eyes of our heart.

In Hebrews 12, I’m not certain, but it appears that there still may be an opportunity for us to make it into the hall of faith. The chapter begins with the words, “we also…”

I like what Warren Wiersbe said, “The people listed in chapter 11 are the ‘cloud’ that witnesses to us, ‘God can be trusted!’ When you read the Old Testament, your faith should grow, for the account shows what God did in and through people who dared to trust His promises (Romans 15:4).”

Again, we have that analogy, the reality of running…in our Christian life. As we run this race, we must run to win (1 Corinthians 9:24-27) (to be the best possible me) so we need to travel light. When was the last time you saw an Olympic runner running with a backpack on? The writer commands us to lay aside every weight. I believe the weights that need to be laid aside aren’t always things that are sinful, they may be things that are permissible – but they’re things that slow us down in the race. As you go through life and choose what to include along way, each and every day, ask yourself, “Is this a wing or a weight? Does it build me up, or slow me down?”

The sin which easily ensnares us might be in reference to our own unique vulnerabilities (some people struggle with anger more than others, or jealousy, pornography, laziness, etc.) we’re all uniquely wired with different strengths and weaknesses. It could also be the sin of unbelief. Some lean in this direction, with this interpretation by saying that this is the overall warning in the book of Hebrews (see Hebrews 3:12).

Another important aspect of this race is that we need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. Don’t look around or you’ll be distressed, don’t focus on yourself or you’ll be depressed, just keep your eyes on Jesus – you’ll be blessed. As we keep in mind and heart that Jesus died for us, we’ll always remember His love, even though we go through the fiery trials of life.

The Hebrews were being persecuted, but they were also being chastened by their heavenly Father. This was another proof of their Father’s love for them, He cared enough to correct them. Whenever we experience Divine discipline, we shouldn’t cry, kick, and complain, we should conform and ask the Lord what needs to change in our lives. I agree wholeheartedly with G. Campbell Morgan who said, “We cry too often to be delivered from the punishment, instead of the sin that lies behind it. We are anxious to escape from the things that cause us pain rather than from the things that cause God pain.”

Let’s also remember the words of Pastor Chuck who said, “The chastening of the Lord is never punitive, but always corrective.”

Psalm 112:1-10

I love the way this Psalm stands out (this is one of those verses to memorize).

Psalm 112:1 (NKJV) “Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who delights greatly in His commandments.”

Do you want to be blessed? Of course we do, we should therefore cultivate a healthy fear of the LORD, and have a heart to obey His Word!

The only valid fear is a healthy fear of God. We will not be afraid of “bad” news, or as the Psalmist puts it, “evil tidings,” (Psalm 112:7) our heart will be steadfast.

This Psalm lists the way such people will be blessed…and some of their characteristics.

Blessed in family, in provision, with salvation (that’s a big one), with light, with stability, with victory over one’s enemies. The person who fears the LORD and longs to live God’s Word will be imputed with the righteousness of Christ forever and ever (Psalm 112:9; Romans 10:4).

This person will be gracious, compassionate, and righteous – both positionally and practically. This person will be generous and wise, will disperse abroad, and give to the poor.

Our haters will throw tantrums at the sight of us being blessed, experiencing this abundant life, but it’s there for us to enjoy, the life of those who fear God, love God, and have that heart to obey Him.

Proverbs 27:17

Proverbs 27:17 (NKJV) “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”

I would describe this “sharpening” as genuine, and at times intense, friendship and fellowship. What a difference it makes in our lives!

Countenance usually speaks of one’s face, which is a reflection of the heart (we see that in Proverbs 27:19). We read in:

Ecclesiastes 8:1 (NKJV) “Who is like a wise man? And who knows the interpretation of a thing? A man’s wisdom makes his face shine, and the sternness of his face is changed.”

You’ll see it first of all in their face, but then there’s more. The Hebrew word can refer to a person’s personality. I’ve seen it over the years, people who are poisoned by bad influences, and people who are sharpened by good ones.

We are shaped, we are sharpened, by whoever we share life with, even those random discussions, suggestions, criticisms.

Be aware of that; do your best to be around, and surrounded by those who are strong in the Word. We need to stay sharp.

I like what Pastor Sandy Adams said, “No one sharpens a knife on a stick of butter.”

No, it takes friction to forge an enduring faith.

November 13, 2021

Ezekiel 27:1–28:26

Wow! As we read the description of Tyre, we see a nation that seems to be the pinnacle of luxury, commercialism, commerce, goods shipped to and fro – all over the world! Repeatedly we read of how this place was “perfect in beauty” (Ezekiel 27:3, 4, 11). It’s tragic to read that they even bartered human lives (slaves) (Ezekiel 27:13). The multicolored apparel in Ezekiel 27:24 reminds us of Joseph’s coat of many colors, a luxury in those days (Genesis 37:3). But just as Joseph was stripped of his tunic, so Tyre would be stripped, but for different reasons. Tyre was about to be judged by God and the watching world would mourn – all that “stuff” would no longer be available for them to purchase to posses or sell. This place that they saw as perfect and invincible would be destroyed…we read yesterday of Tyre’s judgment in Ezekiel 26, something that took place in 585 B.C., and later at the hands of Alexander the Great.

When I read this chapter I can’t help but think of the USA or Amazon – all the merchandise, luxury, and materialism – gone. I also think of Revelation 18 and God’s future judgment on commercial Babylon.

Pastor Chuck said this, “Revelation 18 parallels this passage. God will finally bring an end to the commercialism that has preyed upon the weakness of man. The sea captains will stand afar off at the destruction of commercial Babylon, wailing and weeping because they have been made rich by the merchandising. But it will be destroyed – just as the sailors wailed and wept here in Ezekiel 27.”

In Ezekiel 28 we have the judgment upon the prince of Tyre (Ezekiel 28:1-10, the judgment upon the devil who at one time was a cherub (Ezekiel 28:11-19), and the judgment upon of Sidon.

The prince or king  (the word literally means “the man at the top,”) of Tyre at that time was  Ethbaal III, who ruled from 591 B.C. to 572 B.C. He claimed to be a god. It’s despicable to see how success, position, and riches can lead to such pride…but God promises to humble the prideful! God would slay this king and his claim to deity would be proven as absolute foolishness.

What would move a person to such a view of themselves? Part of the answer is the devil. I believe behind many of the world rulers today is Satan himself, and that’s what we see in our text as Ezekiel subtly transitions into the fall of Satan. He was the seal of perfection, he was in the Garden of Eden, he was the anointed cherub on the holy mountain, he was perfect in all his ways – until – iniquity was found in him. Isaiah 14 also describes the fall of Satan (Lucifer) revealing the fact that he wanted to share the glory with God, even overthrow Him. His heart was lifted up because of his beauty – but who gave him that beauty? Who made him? 

How is it that people don’t see this, who God is – our Maker and Maintainer? Blind pride, hard hearts, foolish minds…they lie under the sway of the wicked one (1 John 5:19).

In Ezekiel 28:13 the prophet mentions the workmanship of their timbrels and pipes. Timbrels are tambourines, might the pipes be trumpets, or flutes? Some believe Satan may have been the worship leader in heaven, the gifted angelic musician. We can’t be certain, but it makes a lot of sense when you consider the way music has been used for such evil on planet earth, especially as we get closer to the end of time.

Sidon was 20 miles north of Tyre, and no doubt they were guilty of many of the same sins as her sister city. Her judgment would prove who the LORD was and would take away a people who irritated Israel like a brier or painful thorn.

Hebrews 11:17-31

When you study the life of Abraham, you’ll find that he was tested many times along the way. I believe the same will be true for you and me. Abraham wasn’t a perfect man (so there’s hope for us) but at the end of the day, when the truth was revealed, he honestly, wholeheartedly believed in the living God – he held tight to God’s promises. That’s the key to faith.

God’s command for Abraham to offer up his son is the only time in the Bible that God asked a man for a human sacrifice. Of course God didn’t allow Abraham to follow through with it, but He did test him, and what a test it was! This is the first time we find the word “love” in the Bible.

Genesis 22:2 (NKJV) “Then He said, ‘Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.’”

In Isaac ALL of the promises were wrapped and now God was asking him to offer him up? Yes, and Abraham was willing to do it, because He believed the promise, that through Isaac he would  have innumerable descendants. Abraham believed the promise so much that he believed God would raise his son from the dead if necessary. Hmm, where else have we heard a story like this? In the cross of Jesus Christ. You see, this story of Abraham and Isaac is representative of what would happen 2,000 years later, when God the Father would actually offer up His Son on this same mountain. Yes, Mount Moriah is where Jesus died for our sins! Wow!

And the stories in the Hall of Faith continue…

By faith Isaac…by faith Jacob…by faith Joseph…by faith Joshua…by faith, even Rahab was saved!

By faith Moses’ parents placed their child in the hands of God, who raised him up to deliver Israel. Don’t you love the results and description of Moses’ faith?

Hebrews 11:24–25 (NKJV) “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.”

What a picture that is of what needs to be done today, especially in the USA! God help us to choose to refuse the passing pleasures of sin!

You might remember the definition of sin as described in Hebrews 11:1, how “by faith we do the impossible, we see the invisible.” Moses endured as seeing the invisible, as if He was able to see God, and he did the impossible.

Psalm 111:1-10


Hallelujah with my whole heart, the Psalmist cries out, Hallelujah!

This Psalm offers a variety of reasons we praise the LORD and reminds us to remember those reasons, and even study about the things that God has done.

Psalms 111:2 (NKJV) “The works of the LORD are great, studied by all who have pleasure in them.”

Those of you reading this blog/commentary, may actually qualify as someone who studies the works of the Lord. I commend you, it means you have “pleasure,” in them (you love the Lord and His Word). I also believe these works go out into all God does, into all of His creation.

Warren Wiersbe, “Whether it is science or history, you are examining God’s works in this world. His works are great and glorious, revealing His power and wisdom. To see the creation but ignore the Creator is to move into idolatry and sin (Romans 1:18 and forward).”

As we ponder life and read the Bible we remember God’s works, His righteousness, His amazing grace, and the way He is FULL of compassion. The reason to worship ranges for appreciation from the way He feeds us (don’t you thoroughly appreciate food?) to the way He has saved us – now under the New Covenant (Psalm 111:5).

God gave Israel power over nations in certain seasons, and God gave Israel, and all of us the power of His Word (Psalm 111:7).

We have redemption by the blood of His Son (Psalm 111:9). This brings me to that place of fearing Him, in absolute awe; it puts within me a desire to obey God, my Redeemer, who is so good to us.

Psalm 111:10 (NKJV) “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.”

It all starts with the fear of God. He is awesome, and He is holy. He loves us, and if we get out of line, He will chasten us. Thank You Lord!

Amen and Hallelujah!

Proverbs 27:15-16

Proverbs 27:15-16 (NKJV) “A continual dripping on a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike; 16 Whoever restrains her restrains the wind, and grasps oil with his right hand.”

Pastor Chuck Smith said, “It never stops, and it drives you crazy.”

A word to wives and a warning to young men choosing a wife – really a warning to all who are unmarried, for this contentious woman, can very easily be a contentious man. Sometimes people want to be married so bad, that they settle for someone who may for the rest of your life, UNsettle your soul.

Here we see it’s constant and impossible. Maybe she thinks her “dripping” or nagging will fix him – it won’t. Prayer, patience, and love are much more effective.

“Dripping water pictures the irritating nature of a quarrelsome wife (see also Proverbs 19:13). Like water dripping on a rainy day, she is annoying and never stops quarreling. She is as impossible to restrain as the wind. Trying to constrain her contentious spirit is as impossible as trying to pick up a handful of oil. She is both unsteady and slippery.” – Bible Knowledge Commentary

William Penn said, “Pray 1 hour before going to war, 2 hours before going to sea, and 3 hours before getting married.”

In closing, I don’t want to Undo anything the Holy Spirit is trying to say, but I do believe this can be a word to husbands as well. Maybe your wife is contentious because she’s not getting your love and attention. I’ve learned over the years, it takes two. Let’s do our best to do our part as husbands and wives and be willing to be “the first to change.”

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.

November 12, 2021

Ezekiel 24:1–26:21

God gives to us the precise day when the third Babylonian siege began, in the ninth year of Ezekiel’s captivity, on the tenth month, on the tenth day. The false prophets said this day would never come, but Ezekiel had been warning them all along. The people of Jerusalem were likened to meat in a pot, bones and all, with the fire turned up, covered by scum.

Ezekiel 24:6 (NLT) “Now this is what the Sovereign LORD says: ‘What sorrow awaits Jerusalem, the city of murderers! She is a cooking pot whose corruption can’t be cleaned out. Take the meat out in random order, for no piece is better than another.’”

In the Levitical law the blood of the sacrifice was to be covered with dirt (Leviticus 17:13), but the people disobeyed, they were a bloody city in every way.

Bible Knowledge Commentary, “The cause for the dispersion was repeated (Ezekiel 24:7–8): bloodshed poured out openly on rocks, not…where the dust would cover it. Jerusalem had shed innocent blood and had not even bothered to hide her crimes. That blood was crying out, figuratively speaking, for vengeance (cf. Genesis 4:10; Leviticus 17:13–14; Job 16:18). Because Jerusalem had openly shed the blood of others, God would openly shed her blood on the bare rock.”

It’s absolutely heartbreaking to read about the death of Ezekiel’s wife, she was his “dearest treasure” (Ezekiel 24:16 NLT). But Ezekiel was not allowed to mourn or weep over his wife. This would serve as an illustration to the Jews, that when the Temple was profaned and destroyed, and the citizens of Jerusalem were slaughtered, the people would feel pain inexpressible…so many loved ones – dead. The shock and fact that EVERYONE was hurting, that no one was exempt from the agony, made any mourning insufficient.

Ezekiel was a prophet who only spoke when God told him to speak or allowed him to speak. Apparently there was a time of silence that was broken in Ezekiel 24:27 (see also Ezekiel 3:26; 33:22).

In Ezekiel 25 we have God’s judgment pronounced on the nations of Ammon, Moab, and Edom.

Ammon actually clapped their hands, stomped their feet, and rejoiced in their heart when the Jews were judged (Ezkiel 25:6).

Moab interpreted Judah’s judgment to mean that they were like all the nations, meaning that the LORD their God was nothing special (Ezekiel 25:8). How wrong they were!

Edom also had a “history” of conflict with Israel beginning in the early days when they refused to allow Israel to cross through their land (Numbers 20:14-21). They became a vassal state under David and Solomon, but eventually rebelled (2 Kings 8:20-22) and fought to control various caravan routes. The last straw would be in 588 B.C., Edom then assisted Babylon in their siege upon Judah. God was furious over this and Edom would experience the vengeance of God (see also Psalm 137:7).

Ezekiel 26 describes in incredible detail the judgment of Tyre.

Map from Halley’s Bible Handook

This is such an important prophecy I’ll let Halley’s Bible Handbook give you the details, “A prophecy of Nebuchadnezzar’s siege and Tyre’s permanent desolation. The following year, in 585 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Tyre. It took him 13 years to conquer the city.

Tyre, located 12 miles north of the Israeli-Lebanese border, was a double city; part of it was built on an island, part on the mainland, in a fertile and well-watered plain at the western foot of the Lebanon mountain range. It was the great maritime power of the ancient world and reached its zenith from the 12th to the 6th centuries B.C., with colonies on the north and west coasts of Africa, in Spain, and in Britain. Tyre controlled the commerce of the Mediterranean—the wares of all nations passed through its port. It was a city renowned for its splendor and fabulous wealth.

With Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest, Tyre ceased to be an independent power. It was later subdued by the Persians, and again by Alexander the Great (332 B.C.). It never recovered its former glory and has for centuries been a “bare rock” where fishermen “spread fishnets” (Ezekiel 26:4-5, 14), an amazing fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy that it “will never be rebuilt” (Ezekiel 26:14, 21; 27:36; 28:26).”

Our God is an awesome God, who knows the end from the beginning, and every detail in between. Prophecies like this, remind us of that truth. I pray it would comfort your heart to know that God has plans for your life that are in the process of being fulfilled.

Our God is an awesome God, amazing in grace, but He is also holy and therefore must judge sin. We see that in this section. I pray we would come clean and flee all unrighteousness and the consequences therein. These nations had to learn the hard way, for the vast majority, it was way too late!

Hebrews 11:1-16

Hebrews 11 is often referred to as the “Hall of Faith.” Here we have example after example of people throughout history who have exhibited a genuine active faith in God. It’s true that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word (Romans 10:17), but have you ever noticed that faith is more “caught” than “taught?” – that it’s contagious. There’s something about being around Christians who REALLY believe – so hang out with them as much as you can, and maybe even hang out here…in this Hall of Faith.

Hebrews 11:1 describes faith as, “attaining the impossible and seeing the invisible.” 

Ponder that for a moment.

This whole letter has been about faith – ultimately in Jesus Christ (see Hebrews 10:38). May we never, ever stop believing, knowing that faith is the way we please God, faith is the way we possess every promise along the way. It’s by faith the saints of the past were able to live their lives for the glory of God, and it’s by faith we’re promised that home in heaven.

Faith was the foremost ingredient there at the dawn of history for Abel, Enoch, and Noah. This is how Abel was made righteous, how Enoch was raptured, how Noah found grace in God’s eyes, built an ark, saved his family, and preserved the human race – it was all founded on faith in God’s Word.

Faith was the heart and soul of the patriarch Abraham, who is given the biggest portion in this “Hall of Faith.” Imagine leaving everything behind! That’s what Abraham did, “…and he went out, not knowing where he was going.”

When we walk by faith, we don’t always know where we’re going, but that’s okay because we know the One who’s leading. We give God all the credit and all the glory for His gracious sovereignty, but we must also learn from the way Abraham rose to His responsibility to go out and walk by faith. The truth is, because of His faith, the whole wide world has been blessed (Genesis 12:3).

Your walk and works of faith will make a difference too! It really will.

Psalm 110:1-7

This psalm is quoted in the New Testament more than any other Psalm.

David is somehow able to eavesdrop on the conversation between the Father and the Son, he’s given this revelation:

Psalm 110:1 (NKJV) “The LORD said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.’”

Jesus would sit at the Father’s right hand until the time of judgment, when the enemies of God are dealt with, put under Jesus’ feet, and King Jesus rules.

In that day of judgment, kings, governmental leaders, and heads of many nations will be executed. During the Tribulation Period death will be everywhere, and dead bodies will fill the Valley of Megiddo in the Battle of Armageddon.

Jesus will rule as King from Jerusalem. This Psalm emphasizes that.

This Psalm also emphasizes the fact that Jesus is the Perfect Priest. Something else David hears (it’s revealed to him)

Psalm 110:4 (NKJV) “The LORD has sworn and will not relent, ‘You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.’”

Who could possibly be a priest forever, and what’s this “order of Melichizedek?” The only priesthood the Jews knew was the descendants of Aaron (High Priests) and the descendants of Levi who served as helpers to the High Priest, but what’s this order of Melchizedek?

I believe Melchizedek was a Christophany in the Old Testament  (Genesis 14:18) who appeared to Abraham, to whom Abraham gave tithes, and consumed the elements of communion. The New Testament explains that this is the order of Jesus’ Priesthood, Melchizedek, King of Salem, King of Jerusalem, King of Peace (see Hebrews 5, 6, 7).

As High Priest, Jesus is able to reconcile us to God by the blood of His own sacrifice – forever.

As King He will rule, and we will rule with Him, serve Him and live with Him, forever (Exodus 21:6)

Just as a quick side-note, Jesus quoted this verse to force the people consider the fact that David called the Messiah “Lord.” If the Messiah was David’s descendant, and David called Him Lord, he must be much more than a mere man! And that He was! We come to discover that He is God in the flesh (Matthew 22:43-46; Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:41-44).

Proverbs 27:14

Proverbs 27:14 (NKJV) “He who blesses his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it will be counted a curse to him.”

Blessing your friend is a blessing. And doing it loudly, with enthusiasm, makes it even more of a blessing, right? But, if your friend is still sleeping, if the timing is not right, that blessing is seen as a curse.

Derek Kidner said, “It matters not only what we say, but how, when, and why we say it.” 

I still remember when I was a new believer, I was at a men’s retreat and one of the guys came into the room (it was fairly early) and spoke a LOUD blessing over everyone. One of the guys woke up mad and said, “I know there’s a verse in the Bible that says that’s wrong…” but he couldn’t find it.”

Here it is.

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.

November 11, 2021

Ezekiel 23:1-49

Ezekiel addresses the capital cities of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms. One judgment is past, the other is coming. The judgment of Samaria had already taken place, and the judgment of Jerusalem was just around the corner. Ezekiel likens these two cities to sisters, after all, they are blood-related, but the main reason he call them sisters is because of their similar behavior, they both rebelled against God in an epic way.

Ezekiel gave them new names. Samaria he named Oholah, which means “Her own Tabernacle,” for their first King, Jeroboam, created their own religion in the worship of the calf, which was only a rendition from the land of Egypt.

Jerusalem he named Oholibah with means “My Tabernacle is in her.” Jerusalem had the Temple and the truth of God, but tragically she did not follow the Lord, it was downgraded to religion, and she was eventually swept away in her sins.

Oholah was taken away by the Assyians in 722 B.C..

Oholibah would be taken away by the Babylonians in 586 B.C..

It’s heartbreaking to read of how the Assyrian cut off their noses, and cut off their ears (Ezekiel 23:25). This was the way they treated those whom they allowed to live, those whom they would carry away captive. The Assyrians were a vicious people.

You would figure that Jerusalem would have learned her lesson from what happened to her sister, but she didn’t. She also committed adultery, and her sins were even worse!

It’s interesting how both of these “gals” lusted after the things of the world (Ezekiel 23:5, 11). Pastor Chuck commented on this, “…we too can be attracted to evil in the world. And sometimes God will give it to us so we can discover how awful it really is.”

God would deal with His people. He began to alienate Himself from them (Ezekiel 23:18), He began to stir up those wicked people they “loved” to come against them.

Ezekiel 23:22 (NKJV) “Therefore, Oholibah, thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Behold, I will stir up your lovers against you, from whom you have alienated yourself, and I will bring them against you from every side.”

With all that’s going on in our lives, and all the temptations to sin, it’s unfortunately very easy to forget God. That’s what happened in Jerusalem…and they paid the price.

Ezekiel 23:35 (NKJV) “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Because you have forgotten Me and cast Me behind your back, therefore you shall bear the penalty of your lewdness and your harlotry.’”

If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy. If he can’t deceive you, he’ll distract you. Next think you know, you’ve forgotten God in the midst of the ministry, and the realm of religion.

Their hypocrisy was so bad, that in the morning they would go and sacrifice their children to Molech, and then mosey on over to the Temple and offer their worship to the LORD, “on the same day!”

Ezekiel 23:39 (NKJV) “For after they had slain their children for their idols, on the same day they came into My sanctuary to profane it; and indeed thus they have done in the midst of My house.”

God is patient and long-suffering…but He will not strive with us forever. In His holy love He will chasten us, that we may know He is the Lord (Ezekiel 23:49).

Warren Wiersbe, “In the end, our sins punish us, and we learn afresh that He is the Lord (Ezekiel 23:49). God wants single-hearted devotion from His bride (2 Corinthians 11:1–4; James 4:1–10).”

Hebrews 10:18-39

If you’re a Christian, you are now welcomed into the full-on special presence of God. I’ve always been blessed by the fact that when Jesus died, the veil that separated us from God, was torn in two, from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38). The moment Jesus died He made a way into the Holiest of All for all believers. Let’s keep going to Him in prayer and in fellowship, let’s be faithful in church attendance. In Hebrews 10:25 the writer exhorts us to not stop the assembly of the saints, on the contrary we are to gather together and encourage one another! Yes, God will bless you when you go, but that’s not all, God wants to bless others through you. Approach people, meet new brothers and sisters, pray for them, stir them up to love and good works. How awesome it is when God’s people go to church service not just to “get” but also to give!

What a heavy warning Hebrews 10:26-31 is, and what about Hebrews 10:38!

Ponder these things – a warning to those who:

1. Have trampled the Son of God underfoot.

2. Have counted the blood of the covenant – BY WHICH HE WAS SANCTIFIED – common.

3. Have insulted the Spirit of grace.

4. Have drawn back (drifted away – Hebrews 2:1) (no longer live by faith) 

Listen to God’s warning:

Hebrews 10:38 (NKJV) “Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.”

The chapter closes with a heavy injunction – friend, may we never draw back from the faith, please don’t ever stop believing in Jesus. Pastor Sandy Adams put it this way, “To be saved you must not only have faith, you must continue in that faith. Draw back from Jesus and you forfeit God’s favor.”

Psalm 109:1-31

This Psalm of David is one of the most detailed imprecatory Psalms that we have.

David’s heart is wounded within him (Psalm 109:22), the mouth of the wicked has spoken against him, and others are believing those lies. I’ve always loved David’s words in:

Psalm 109:4 (NKJV) “In return for my love they are my accusers, but I give myself to prayer.”

Warren Wiersbe said, “When people have lied about you, spoken hatefully to you, and rewarded you evil for good, you would benefit from reading this psalm. When your heart is wounded within (Psalm 109:22) and there is no way to set the record straight, take it to the Lord and tell Him how you feel.”

David prayed for justice. He prayed that God would deal harshly with his accuser, and his accuser’s children, that God would remember their sins, that they’d reap what they’d sown.

It’s okay to tell God your heart, to share how you feel, but Jesus has also commanded us to do something very different than David.

Bless those who curse you.

Do good to those who hate you.

Pray for those who treat you miserably.

Love your enemies.

Matthew 5:43–44 (NKJV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”

David gave himself to prayer, but not for his enemies, he prayed against them. This is a temptation we must resist!

Romans 12:21 (NKJV) “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

As God’s children we can echo David’s closing words with confidence:

Psalm 109:30–31 (NKJV) “I will greatly praise the LORD with my mouth; yes, I will praise Him among the multitude. 31 For He shall stand at the right hand of the poor, to save him from those who condemn him.

Amen. Thank You Jesus!

Proverbs 27:13

Proverbs 27:13 (NKJV) “Take the garment of him who is surety for a stranger, and hold it in pledge when he is surety for a seductress.”

This principle is also seen also in Proverbs 6:1-5 and Proverbs 20:16.

The New Living Translation puts it this way:

Proverbs 27:13 (NLT) “Get security from someone who guarantees a stranger’s debt. Get a deposit if he does it for foreigners.”

Bible Knowledge Commentary sheds light, “A debtor’s outer garment could be taken by a creditor as collateral to guarantee that the debtor would pay (Exodus 22:26). Here a creditor is commanded to take the garment of a person who co-signs for a stranger, especially if the stranger is a wayward woman.”

How we need wisdom with our finances, for in all reality, they’re God’s finances; we’ll see more at the end of the chapter, and much in the book of Proverbs. 

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.

November 10, 2021

Ezekiel 21:1–22:31

Ezekiel continues to warn the people – judgment is coming. The Sword of the LORD, in the sword of Babylon. 

But not everyone who died was unsaved, we read those words in:

Ezekiel 21:4 (NKJV) “Because I will cut off both righteous and wicked from you…”

The sins of the wicked DO affect the righteous. Today the sin of Adam, and the sins of our generation have brought death, and even days of greater death in Covid-19 to both the saved and unsaved. The difference however, is their eternal destiny in heaven or hell.

Matthew 13:41–43 (NKJV) “The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

In Ezekiel’s day the Babylonians would strike for the third time – we read that explicitly in:

Ezekiel 21:14 (NKJV) “You therefore, son of man, prophesy, and strike your hands together. The third time let the sword do double damage. It is the sword that slays, the sword that slays the great men, that enters their private chambers.”

Jerusalem was conquered in 3 sieges; the third and final siege Ezekiel predicted took place in 586 B.C..

3 Babylonian Sieges of Jerusalem

Ezekiel also wrote of the judgment of Ammon (Ezekiel 21:20; 28-32).

But it’s not all bad news. Although the scepter would cease for a season (Ezekiel 21:13) and Jerusalem would be overthrown…eventually the Day would come when Jesus would rule as King.

Ezekiel 21:27 (NKJV) “Overthrown, overthrown, I will make it overthrown! It shall be no longer, Until He comes whose right it is, and I will give it to Him.”

Aren’t you looking forward to that Day when Jesus rules the world from the city of Jerusalem?

In Ezekiel 22 Ezekiel gets specific by listing some of the sins the people were guilty of, including those that had made Jerusalem a “bloody city.” There were idols in their hearts, there was murder on their hands. They did not honor mother and father, oppressed the foreigners, mistreated the helpless orphans and widows; they despised the holy things, profaned God’s Sabbaths, and their slander was so severe, it led to bloodshed. The men slept with their father’s wife, and violated women in their impurity, there was actually a slew of sexual sin. Then of course the God of Mammon, the bribes, high interest, the extortion. They had caused the Day of Judgment to come to them (Ezekiel 22:4)

Ezekiel simply shares the truth – God’s judgment was inevitable!

Ezekiel 22:14 (NKJV) “Can your heart endure, or can your hands remain strong, in the days when I shall deal with you? I, the LORD, have spoken, and will do it.”

It’s sad that it came to this, but God saw the people He loved as dross – worthless, rubbish, impure – they needed the refiners fire. We all do from time to time, so God “tests” us. At times it’s because we’ve done something wrong, and at times it’s because we’ve done something right, such as Job, who penned these words:

Job 23:10 (NKJV) “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.”

Much of the blame for the fall of Jerusalem, was due to the complete corruption of her so called “leaders.” Her princes were wolves, her prophets were false, and her priests had no discernment whatsoever, they did not live or give the Word.

Ezekiel 22:26 (NKJV) “Her priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished between the holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them.”

God looked for someone to stand in the gap. A leader the people would follow. Apparently not, so God brought His judgment.

Ezekiel 22:30–31 (NKJV) “So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. 31 Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; and I have recompensed their deeds on their own heads,” says the Lord GOD.”

Bible Knowledge Commentary, “The corruption was so complete that when God searched for a man who could stem the tide of national destruction (build up the wall and stand … in the gap), none could be found. No one in a position of authority in Israel had the moral qualities to lead the nation aright. Obviously Jeremiah had these qualities, but he lacked the authority to lead the nation from the brink of disaster.”

Hebrews 10:1-17

In Hebrews 10:1 we come across that word “shadow” again, something we saw back in Hebrews 8:5. The Jewish Old Testament Law was merely a shadow of the substance; the substance was Christ. For that reason, the Old Testament sacrifices were insufficient, they could never cleanse anyone completely from their sins. The shadows could never ever finish the work.

The blood of bulls and goats couldn’t wash us – it had to be the blood of God (Acts 20:28).

Some might ask, “Why?” Why did it have to be the blood of God?

It’s because our sin is against an infinite God and therefore the punishment must be an infinite punishment. It’s for that reason the only way to satisfy God’s holy justice was for the sacrifice to be infinite – it had to be God on the cross. 

The writer to the Hebrews quotes from Psalms 40:6-8; how ultimately God was not pleased in the sacrifices and offerings of animals; there would one day be the One who would come, and the whole Old Testament (volume of the book) pointed to Him. The writer is redundant, he wants to make it clear, God takes away the first so that He may establish the second – the New Covenant replaces the Old (Jeremiah 31:31).

Under the New Covenant there’s no condemnation, there’s not even a consciousness of sin, in the sense that I don’t wonder if I’m saved, free, or forgiven – I know I am. Under the Old Covenant however (and any other type of works-oriented righteousness) there’s not a remission of sins, it seem that on the contrary there’s only a reminder of sin. 

Warren Wiersbe put it this way, “The sacrifices under the Old covenant brought a reminder of sin, not a remission of sin. The blood of God’s Son took care of sin once and for all. Because there is no more offering for sin, there is also no more remembrance of sin (Hebrews 10:17; Jeremiah 31:34), and we can rejoice that we have a righteous standing before God.”

Jesus finished the work, which is why He is able to sit down (see also Hebrews 1:3; 10:2; 12:2). He’s just waiting for His enemies to become His footstool; the day is coming when Jesus will reign (Psalm 110:1).

Until then we wait…as believers washed completely clean in the blood of Jesus!

Doesn’t it bless your heart and give you peace to read Hebrews 10:17?

Hebrews 10:17 (NKJV) “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

Thank You Jesus!

Psalm 108:1-13

A large part of David’s battle plan had to do with prayer and praise.

Apparently this Psalm was written after a momentary setback or struggle with Edom. We read in:

Psalm 108:10–11 (NKJV) “Who will bring me into the strong city? Who will lead me to Edom? 11 Is it not You, O God, who cast us off? And You, O God, who did not go out with our armies?”

David’s wondering, Lord, if You don’t help us, who can?

So he prays and worships. He’s not anxious or afraid, his heart is steadfast (Psalm 108:1). He’s not sweating, he’s singing. He acknowledges the greatness of God’s mercy and truth – this is not something we earn, we are promised victory because of the covenant we have with a gracious and loving God.

David longs for God to be exalted in their victory.

David knows God loves Israel (He call them His “beloved”)

David knows that without God they can do nothing, but with God there’s nothing they can’t do. Psalm 108:13 is the Old Testament version of Philippians 4:13.

Psalm 108:12–13 (NKJV) “Give us help from trouble, for the help of man is useless. 13 Through God we will do valiantly, for it is He who shall tread down our enemies.”


Proverbs 27:12

Proverbs 27:12 (NKJV) “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself; the simple pass on and are punished.”

This Proverb is identical to Proverbs 22:3. Why do you think it’s repeated? Did Hezekiah’s men make a mistake in writing it again – verbatim?

I would say it’s “Repeated so we won’t be defeated.” “Repetition teaches a donkey.” 

Here we’re reminded again, that the prudent person looks ahead to see if there are any potential dangers or pitfalls in order to avoid them; but the naive person just plows through all the red flags of warning, falls into the enemies’ evil trap, and suffers the consequences.

In Matthew 3:7-12 John the Baptist warned the people about their future in the lake of fire if they simply passed on and kept doing what they were doing. The prudent man considers his eternal destiny, repents of his sin, believes in and receives Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior!

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.

November 9, 2021

Ezekiel 20:1-49

Ezekiel remembers the exact day, it was in the seventh year, the fifth month, on the tenth  day of captivity that the elders of Israel came to inquire of the LORD, they wanted to hear from God through the prophet of God. But God said, “No,” He was not willing to speak to them because of their sin.

Ezekiel then covers the history of Israel – their gracious and sovereign selection, their time in Egypt, their time in the wilderness, their time in the Promised-Land, after all God had done for them every step of the way, they were rebellious and ungrateful.

And then those indicting words to the elders:

“Even to this day…”

Ezekiel 20:31 (NKJV) “For when you offer your gifts and make your sons pass through the fire, you defile yourselves with all your idols, EVEN TO THIS DAY. So shall I be inquired of by you, O house of Israel? As I live,” says the Lord GOD, “I will not be inquired of by you.

Warren Wiersbe said something simple and yet critical, “Repeated rebellion against God’s will is serious.”

Early on in my Christian life a friend gave me a passage to memorize, it was:

Isaiah 59:1–2 (NKJV) “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. 2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.”

Early on I learned that if I’m living a life of unrepentant sin, repeated rebellion, God won’t hear my prayers. We read the same thing in:

Psalm 66:18 (NKJV) “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.”

The word regard means to harbor or hold on to.

These elders on that memorable day with Ezekiel would be informed of this.

As you read through the chapter, besides the goodness of God and the sinfulness of man, one things stands out in the midst of it all, that in God’s actions He considers His witness. 

Ezekiel 20:9 (NKJV) “But I acted for My name’s sake, that it should not be profaned before the Gentiles among whom they were, in whose sight I had made Myself known to them, to bring them out of the land of Egypt.”

We read this repeatedly in this chapter and what we find is that the Lord acted for His name’s sake. If He wiped Israel out, what would the nations think about the LORD? His name might be marred.

God did discipline His people, but He didn’t destroy them. As a matter of fact Ezekiel 20:33-44 is all about the restoration of Israel. God would regather them from all over the world.

Ezekiel 20:34 (NKJV) “I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out.”

As God disciplines Israel (and us too) it’s for the purpose of growth and refinement.

Ezekiel 20:37–38 (NKJV) “I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; 38 I will purge the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the country where they dwell, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD.”

The most important part of life, is knowing the Lord (John 17:3). To know who He is, how He is and to know Him intimately, and personally; to enjoy this fellowship after having established a relationship with God. We are then to grow in this relationship forever and ever. I’ve always loved that passage in:

2 Peter 3:18 (NKJV) “but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.”

You see? It’s all about knowing Him. Even in the chastening…”then you shall know that I am the LORD” – that’s God’s heart!

Ezekiel 20:44 (NKJV) “ Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have dealt with you for My name’s sake, not according to your wicked ways nor according to your corrupt doings, O house of Israel,’ says the Lord GOD.”

Ezekiel 20:45-49 closes the chapter with a prophecy against Judah. It was the coming fiery judgment of the Babylonians upon Jerusalem in 586 B.C.. 

The people in Ezekiel’s day were so blind, they didn’t understand the simple illustration and saw it as a perplexing parable (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Hebrews 9:11-28

There was a time when we could not enter in to God’s special presence…“But Christ came…” and changed everything (Hebrews 9:11).

That’s why the entirety of the law all pointed to Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29; Revelation 5). Jesus entered in to the true tabernacle, not with the blood of an unwilling animal, but with the blood of a willing God, and He died in our place, suffering for our sins, absorbing the wrath of God and the judgment we deserved. He redeemed us – forever. Acts 20:28 reminds us that we’ve been purchased by the blood of God, and I think of the passage in Revelation 1:5 which speaks of Jesus’ love, and the way He’s washed us from our sins in His own blood.

As I search my heart, I know the wretched man I am, but Hebrews 9:14 lifts me up and gives me hope on how I can serve my Savior, how the blood of Christ cleanses my conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

In one sense part of the “testament” is similar to a will in that it doesn’t really take effect until the death of the testator takes place. This is why we see so much blood and death in the Old Covenant. As a matter of fact, the blood is so important that we read in:

Leviticus 17:11 (NKJV) “‘For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’”

And then in Hebrews 9:22 that “…without the shedding of blood there is no remission” (no forgiveness).

Today there is no Tabernacle, or Temple to offer blood sacrifices, so how do the Jews hope for remission (forgiveness). The Jews hope that by their good works they can earn their righteousness with God, but according to the Scriptures, there is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood. This is why Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He appeared before God to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once (no, there’s no such thing as reincarnation) so Christ only had to die once, to bear our sins and save our souls.

Do you believe? I pray you do! (John 3:16)

Psalm 107:1-43

This is another thanksgiving Psalm in which we read repeatedly:

Psalm 107:8 (NKJV) “Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!”

(See also Psalm 107:1, 15, 31)

Have I given Him appropriate thanks for the many ways He’s delivered me throughout my life? For the way He’s been so good to me?

The Psalmist writes of how the Lord led them, fed them, and “spread” them out when they sinned. But God also protected them and directed them back home throughout the ages – whenever they cried out, He delivered.

When we speak of the goodness of God we always return to such passages as Genesis 50:20 and Romans 8:28. The goodness of God does NOT mean that everything that happens to us is good, it simply means that God works it all together for good.

For example, we read in this Psalm about a tough time in the sea, in Psalm 107:23-30. If you go out and down to the sea you will see the works of the Lord, and the wonders in the deep.

What does he mean by that? In part, it speaks of the beauty of the ocean and all that is in it. But also in part, the Psalmist speaks of the troubles on the ocean and those times when it appears we’re about to sink. We reach our “wits end” (Psalm 107:27) we’ve tried everything on our own strength and wisdom to get our own way, it’s not working…so we pray. And God shows up, He makes the storm still, and accomplishes His will. 

We would have never seen it, unless we went down to the sea…it’s there that we see.

So yes, we can (and should) thank God for the times of trouble. It’s there we learn about the one who will take us safely to our desired haven. (heaven) (Psalm 107:30)

The Psalmist closes in an appropriate way:

Psalm 107:43 (NKJV) “Whoever is wise will observe these things, and they will understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.”

Proverbs 27:11

Proverbs 27:11 (NKJV) “My son, be wise, and make my heart glad, that I may answer him who reproaches me.”

We saw a lot of this type of father talk earlier in the Proverbs, but this is the only verse in chapters 25–29 that includes the phrase “my son.”

It’s good to keep that context, a father speaking to his child. I may not have wealth, or the things of the world, but if I have a wise child, it brings joy to the journey, it brings happiness to my heart.

As a matter fact, notice what John the Beloved wrote: 

3 John 4 (NKJV) “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”

Church children who walk right bring joy, but I have a hunch that biological children who walk in truth, bring even more joy.

So, it’s a Proverb from parents, challenging their children – please be wise. It’ll make my heart glad, and not only that, I’ll have something good to say when my critics accuse me of incompetence, “By the grace of God, My family has kept the faith, my boy’s a believer, and my daughter is a disciple.”

If you have children that have strayed, just keep praying and loving.

That’s the heart and part of a parent.

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.

I want to know Christ more, and make Him known…