From Disgust to Judgment

Ezekiel 16:15–30 (NKJV)

15 “But you trusted in your own beauty, played the harlot because of your fame, and poured out your harlotry on everyone passing by who would have it. 16 You took some of your garments and adorned multicolored high places for yourself, and played the harlot on them. Such things should not happen, nor be. 17 You have also taken your beautiful jewelry from My gold and My silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself male images and played the harlot with them. 18 You took your embroidered garments and covered them, and you set My oil and My incense before them. 19 Also My food which I gave you—the pastry of fine flour, oil, and honey which I fed you—you set it before them as sweet incense; and so it was,” says the Lord God.

20 “Moreover you took your sons and your daughters, whom you bore to Me, and these you sacrificed to them to be devoured. Were your acts of harlotry a small matter, 21 that you have slain My children and offered them up to them by causing them to pass through the fire? 22 And in all your abominations and acts of harlotry you did not remember the days of your youth, when you were naked and bare, struggling in your blood.

23 “Then it was so, after all your wickedness—‘Woe, woe to you!’ says the Lord God—24 that you also built for yourself a shrine, and made a high place for yourself in every street. 25 You built your high places at the head of every road, and made your beauty to be abhorred. You offered yourself to everyone who passed by, and multiplied your acts of harlotry. 26 You also committed harlotry with the Egyptians, your very fleshly neighbors, and increased your acts of harlotry to provoke Me to anger.

The Lord here addressed the harlotry of Israel, a nation found in its weakness and made great by God.  He saved, fed, clothed, and built this bride, bore children with her, and yet she committed horrible sins with false gods.  This passage chronicles the depth to which her harlotry fell. First, it discusses her personal affair with other lovers, false gods, idols. She used the clothing given to her by God to adorn them, and the jewelry He gave her to form phallic symbols and gods.  She offered the food items He gave her to the idols as well. Then it goes on to recount how she offered her children to false gods, passing them through the fire to Molech, effectively giving her children as burnt human sacrifices.  Third, she spread the idolatry throughout the great city of Jerusalem, and allied with other nations, perverting the people of God.

27 “Behold, therefore, I stretched out My hand against you, diminished your allotment, and gave you up to the will of those who hate you, the daughters of the Philistines, who were ashamed of your lewd behavior. 28 You also played the harlot with the Assyrians, because you were insatiable; indeed you played the harlot with them and still were not satisfied. 29 Moreover you multiplied your acts of harlotry as far as the land of the trader, Chaldea; and even then you were not satisfied.

30 “How degenerate is your heart!” says the Lord God, “seeing you do all these things, the deeds of a brazen harlot.

The Lord declares the reach of her idolatry and harlotry, as she gave herself to the Philistines, the Assyrians, and even the Chaldeans.  He declares her degenerate and brazen.  I sometimes imagine what God thinks of the Church of today.  We are His chosen, His redeemed, His saved from the weakness of our existence.  We chase after false gods, build up ourselves, and–for long periods–forget about God.  Could we disgust God the way that Israel and Judah did?  Repent before His disgust turns to judgment.

I Choose You

Ezekiel 16:1–14 (NKJV)

16:1 Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God to Jerusalem: “Your birth and your nativity are from the land of Canaan; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. As for your nativity, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed in water to cleanse you; you were not rubbed with salt nor wrapped in swaddling cloths. No eye pitied you, to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you; but you were thrown out into the open field, when you yourself were loathed on the day you were born.

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“And when I passed by you and saw you struggling in your own blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ Yes, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ I made you thrive like a plant in the field; and you grew, matured, and became very beautiful. Your breasts were formed, your hair grew, but you were naked and bare.

The Lord begins a biography of the life of Israel, especially the city of Jerusalem as its capitol.  This description shows how the nation was birthed, common and unwanted.  Then the Lord came along and spoke life into this bloody orphan and made her thrive.  The nation matured and became beautiful in His care.

“When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine,” says the Lord God.

“Then I washed you in water; yes, I thoroughly washed off your blood, and I anointed you with oil. 10 I clothed you in embroidered cloth and gave you sandals of badger skin; I clothed you with fine linen and covered you with silk. 11 I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your wrists, and a chain on your neck. 12 And I put a jewel in your nose, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head. 13 Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth. You ate pastry of fine flour, honey, and oil. You were exceedingly beautiful, and succeeded to royalty. 14 Your fame went out among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through My splendor which I had bestowed on you,” says the Lord God.

This passage describes the eventual love affair and covenant between the Lord and Israel.  He clothed her in fine raiment, gave her jewelry, and fed her the finest foods.  He dressed her like royalty and she became famous.  This almost romantic picture of redemption points to the love of God for His people.  His grace and mercy are unfathomable!  He will take and orphan and make her a princess.  When God takes someone from near death and makes his or her life a fairy tale, it is a wonderful story of redeeming love.  The greatest words one can hear from the Lord of the Universe are “I Choose You!”

You Cannot Escape

Ezekiel 14:12–15:8 (NKJV)

12 The word of the Lord came again to me, saying: 13 “Son of man, when a land sins against Me by persistent unfaithfulness, I will stretch out My hand against it; I will cut off its supply of bread, send famine on it, and cut off man and beast from it. 14 Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness,” says the Lord God.

15 “If I cause wild beasts to pass through the land, and they empty it, and make it so desolate that no man may pass through because of the beasts, 16 even though these three men were in it, as I live,” says the Lord God, “they would deliver neither sons nor daughters; only they would be delivered, and the land would be desolate.

17 “Or if I bring a sword on that land, and say, ‘Sword, go through the land,’ and I cut off man and beast from it, 18 even though these three men were in it, as I live,” says the Lord God, “they would deliver neither sons nor daughters, but only they themselves would be delivered.

19 “Or if I send a pestilence into that land and pour out My fury on it in blood, and cut off from it man and beast, 20 even though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live,” says the Lord God, “they would deliver neither son nor daughter; they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness.”

21 For thus says the Lord God: “How much more it shall be when I send My four severe judgments on Jerusalem—the sword and famine and wild beasts and pestilence—to cut off man and beast from it? 22 Yet behold, there shall be left in it a remnant who will be brought out, both sons and daughters; surely they will come out to you, and you will see their ways and their doings. Then you will be comforted concerning the disaster that I have brought upon Jerusalem, all that I have brought upon it. 23 And they will comfort you, when you see their ways and their doings; and you shall know that I have done nothing without cause that I have done in it,” says the Lord God.

The Lord here delineates the ways in which He will judge Israel: sword (war), famine (drought), wild beasts (animals or brute people), and pestilence (disease).  He speaks of the severity of the judgments when He states each time that even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were in the land, no one else would be spared but them.  However, even though all the sinful will be destroyed, God will leave a remnant to be brought out to Ezekiel to comfort him for the plight of Israel.

15:1 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: “Son of man, how is the wood of the vine better than any other wood, the vine branch which is among the trees of the forest? Is wood taken from it to make any object? Or can men make a peg from it to hang any vessel on? Instead, it is thrown into the fire for fuel; the fire devours both ends of it, and its middle is burned. Is it useful for any work? Indeed, when it was whole, no object could be made from it. How much less will it be useful for any work when the fire has devoured it, and it is burned?

“Therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Like the wood of the vine among the trees of the forest, which I have given to the fire for fuel, so I will give up the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will set My face against them. They will go out from one fire, but another fire shall devour them. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I set My face against them. Thus I will make the land desolate, because they have persisted in unfaithfulness,’ says the Lord God.”

The Lord further describes His judgment as a fire that makes Jerusalem and its inhabitants useless.  Just as a vine cannot provide wood from which any object can be made, it especially cannot provide any usefulness once it is burned.  God is saying that Israel will be desolate and useless in the face of God’s pursuing judgment.  They will not get away.

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Hear the Right Voice

Ezekiel 14:1–11 (NKJV)

14:1 Now some of the elders of Israel came to me and sat before me. And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts, and put before them that which causes them to stumble into iniquity. Should I let Myself be inquired of at all by them?

“Therefore speak to them, and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Everyone of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, and puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the Lord will answer him who comes, according to the multitude of his idols, that I may seize the house of Israel by their heart, because they are all estranged from Me by their idols.” ’

“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Repent, turn away from your idols, and turn your faces away from all your abominations. For anyone of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell in Israel, who separates himself from Me and sets up his idols in his heart and puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, then comes to a prophet to inquire of him concerning Me, I the Lord will answer him by Myself. I will set My face against that man and make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of My people. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.

“And if the prophet is induced to speak anything, I the Lord have induced that prophet, and I will stretch out My hand against him and destroy him from among My people Israel. 10 And they shall bear their iniquity; the punishment of the prophet shall be the same as the punishment of the one who inquired, 11 that the house of Israel may no longer stray from Me, nor be profaned anymore with all their transgressions, but that they may be My people and I may be their God,” says the Lord God.’ ”

The Lord here communicates His utter disdain for idolatry.  He states unequivocally that He will judge the idolater and cut him off from the nation.  He even pledges to deceive the idolater, and even judge the prophet who supports or encourages receiving messages from an idol.  This clear message is a warning to Israel and to us today.  Do not allow any person or thing to influence in a way that would go against the will of God.  How does one determine the will of God?  By prayer and fasting.  By righteous living.  By hearing from the voices that hear from God alone.  Don’t listen to obviously worldly voices, especially those who do not serve God.  Instead, restrict those who influence you to the people who know God relationally and hear His voice, the right voice.  

False Prophets Disappear

Ezekiel 13:1–23 (NKJV)

13:1 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who prophesy, and say to those who prophesy out of their own heart, ‘Hear the word of the Lord!’ ”

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Thus says the Lord God: “Woe to the foolish prophets, who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! O Israel, your prophets are like foxes in the deserts. You have not gone up into the gaps to build a wall for the house of Israel to stand in battle on the day of the Lord. They have envisioned futility and false divination, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord!’ But the Lord has not sent them; yet they hope that the word may be confirmed. Have you not seen a futile vision, and have you not spoken false divination? You say, ‘The Lord says,’ but I have not spoken.”

Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Because you have spoken nonsense and envisioned lies, therefore I am indeed against you,” says the Lord God. “My hand will be against the prophets who envision futility and who divine lies; they shall not be in the assembly of My people, nor be written in the record of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord God.

The Lord here pronounces judgment on false prophets in Israel who proclaim blessings and good times when God is truly speaking judgment over the Israelites.

10 “Because, indeed, because they have seduced My people, saying, ‘Peace!’ when there is no peace—and one builds a wall, and they plaster it with untempered mortar—11 say to those who plaster it with untempered mortar, that it will fall. There will be flooding rain, and you, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall tear it down. 12 Surely, when the wall has fallen, will it not be said to you, ‘Where is the mortar with which you plastered it?’ ”

13 Therefore thus says the Lord God: “I will cause a stormy wind to break forth in My fury; and there shall be a flooding rain in My anger, and great hailstones in fury to consume it. 14 So I will break down the wall you have plastered with untempered mortar, and bring it down to the ground, so that its foundation will be uncovered; it will fall, and you shall be consumed in the midst of it. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.

15 “Thus will I accomplish My wrath on the wall and on those who have plastered it with untempered mortar; and I will say to you, ‘The wall is no more, nor those who plastered it, 16 that is, the prophets of Israel who prophesy concerning Jerusalem, and who see visions of peace for her when there is no peace,’ ” says the Lord God.

The Lord goes on to describe the sins and their resultant destruction.  Seduction of the people is their sin, and their wall (the words of their prophecies speaking of security) will fall because it is made with untempered mortar, a mortar that will not stand up to the weather.  In the same way, the nation will fall because their security is in man and false idols rather than in God.

17 “Likewise, son of man, set your face against the daughters of your people, who prophesy out of their own heart; prophesy against them, 18 and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Woe to the women who sew magic charms on their sleeves and make veils for the heads of people of every height to hunt souls! Will you hunt the souls of My people, and keep yourselves alive? 19 And will you profane Me among My people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, killing people who should not die, and keeping people alive who should not live, by your lying to My people who listen to lies?”

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20 ‘Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I am against your magic charms by which you hunt souls there like birds. I will tear them from your arms, and let the souls go, the souls you hunt like birds. 21 I will also tear off your veils and deliver My people out of your hand, and they shall no longer be as prey in your hand. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.

22 “Because with lies you have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and you have strengthened the hands of the wicked, so that he does not turn from his wicked way to save his life. 23 Therefore you shall no longer envision futility nor practice divination; for I will deliver My people out of your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord.” ’ ”

The Lord identifies a particular group of “prophets:” women who wear charms and veils to false gods and prophesy to the people.  They hunt for souls and cast spells for individuals.  God promised to shut them down, tearing off their veils and charms.

God will not tolerate false prophets, lying people who claim to speak for Him.  God is looking for true prophets and Godly individuals who will speak for God with His truth and not their own.  Don’t deliver a personal message or a personal gospel.  There is one word and one God.  Be careful, for false prophets don’t make it!

His Word is True

Ezekiel 12:17–28 (NKJV)

17 Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 18 “Son of man, eat your bread with quaking, and drink your water with trembling and anxiety. 19 And say to the people of the land, ‘Thus says the Lord God to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the land of Israel: “They shall eat their bread with anxiety, and drink their water with dread, so that her land may be emptied of all who are in it, because of the violence of all those who dwell in it. 20 Then the cities that are inhabited shall be laid waste, and the land shall become desolate; and you shall know that I am the Lord.” ’ ”

God told Ezekiel to eat and drink with trembling and anxiety, to show the condition of the Israelites when the judgment of God arrives.  The judgment is coming, and the land will be emptied.

21 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 22 “Son of man, what is this proverb that you people have about the land of Israel, which says, ‘The days are prolonged, and every vision fails’? 23 Tell them therefore, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “I will lay this proverb to rest, and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel.” But say to them, “The days are at hand, and the fulfillment of every vision. 24 For no more shall there be any false vision or flattering divination within the house of Israel. 25 For I am the Lord. I speak, and the word which I speak will come to pass; it will no more be postponed; for in your days, O rebellious house, I will say the word and perform it,” says the Lord God.’ ”

26 Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 27 “Son of man, look, the house of Israel is saying, ‘The vision that he sees is for many days from now, and he prophesies of times far off.’ 28 Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “None of My words will be postponed any more, but the word which I speak will be done,” says the Lord God.’ ”

In this passage, the Lord addresses the common interpretation of God’s prophecies of the coming judgment.  The common Jew felt that God’s judgment would not in their lifetime; that the judgment was not for them at all.  God wanted them to hear from the prophet Ezekiel that the judgment would come soon and would not be postponed.  The time would come soon.  

When God promises something, you should not discount His promises.  You should also not discount His words of discipline or chastening.  God chastens for a reason and does not do so lightly.  So whether a blessing or a curse, be sure that God will honor His word.  

All I Have Left is in This Backpack

Ezekiel 12:1–16 (NKJV)

12:1 Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying: “Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, which has eyes to see but does not see, and ears to hear but does not hear; for they are a rebellious house.

“Therefore, son of man, prepare your belongings for captivity, and go into captivity by day in their sight. You shall go from your place into captivity to another place in their sight. It may be that they will consider, though they are a rebellious house. By day you shall bring out your belongings in their sight, as though going into captivity; and at evening you shall go in their sight, like those who go into captivity. Dig through the wall in their sight, and carry your belongings out through it. In their sight you shall bear them on your shoulders and carry them out at twilight; you shall cover your face, so that you cannot see the ground, for I have made you a sign to the house of Israel.”

So I did as I was commanded. I brought out my belongings by day, as though going into captivity, and at evening I dug through the wall with my hand. I brought them out at twilight, and I bore them on my shoulder in their sight.

And in the morning the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, has not the house of Israel, the rebellious house, said to you, ‘What are you doing?’ 10 Say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “This burden concerns the prince in Jerusalem and all the house of Israel who are among them.” ’ 11 Say, ‘I am a sign to you. As I have done, so shall it be done to them; they shall be carried away into captivity.’ 12 And the prince who is among them shall bear his belongings on his shoulder at twilight and go out. They shall dig through the wall to carry them out through it. He shall cover his face, so that he cannot see the ground with his eyes. 13 I will also spread My net over him, and he shall be caught in My snare. I will bring him to Babylon, to the land of the Chaldeans; yet he shall not see it, though he shall die there. 14 I will scatter to every wind all who are around him to help him, and all his troops; and I will draw out the sword after them.

15 “Then they shall know that I am the Lord, when I scatter them among the nations and disperse them throughout the countries. 16 But I will spare a few of their men from the sword, from famine, and from pestilence, that they may declare all their abominations among the Gentiles wherever they go. Then they shall know that I am the Lord.”

Ezekiel is given a task to carry out every morning.  He is to bind up his belongings in a pack and cover his face, dig a hole in the wall of his house and carry his belongings to another place as if he is going into captivity.  When the people inquire as to what he is doing, he is to tell them that captivity is coming and everyone will do as he is doing, because the Lord is going to judge Israel.  

This sign is to demonstrate what happens when God’s people disobey and follow after other false gods.  While we may not be in danger of being carried off to the land of our political enemies today, we are in danger of a spiritual bondage related to our idolatry and sin.  We must understand that the plight of many who have gone the way of Israel in this chapter is being played out right before our eyes, and we should be aware of the bondage and pain that sin causes.  Don’t be caught up in the sinful lifestyle of our day.  Don’t be forced to stuff as many of your belingings as possible in a backpack and walk in bondage and captivity.  Live in the will of God and be blessed!