Friday, September 30, 2016

Ezekiel 23: Idolatry = Adultery

"For they have committed adultery, and blood is on their hands; with their idols they have committed adultery; and they have even offered up to them for food the children whom they had borne to me" (vs. 37).

Ezekiel 22: Three In One

There are three different pronouncements from the Lord (each marked by the phrase "the word of the Lord came to me") shared by Ezekiel in chapter 22.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Ezekiel 21: Terrible Swift Sword

If you find the idea of a wrathful God too frightening to imagine, just try adding a sword to the picture!

Ezekiel 20: Name Sake

Ezekiel 20 reveals that God has acted throughout much of history for the sake of His name, especially in His discharge of mercy.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Ezekiel 19: Reading Between The Lions

Ezekiel 19 introduces a story about lions and one about a vine to explain what is happening to God's people during the prophet's moment in history.

Ezekiel 18: To Each His Own

When I served as an associate pastor, there was one particular hypothetical question that really bothered the Bible study gang.  "Suppose Adolf Hitler - right before he died - repented and became a Christian.  Would he go to heaven?  And what if someone who has led a long and saintly life like Billy Graham commits a single sin and dies before he has the opportunity to repent?  Would he go to hell?"

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Psalm 138: God And The Little Guy

"For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly; but the haughty he perceives from far away" (vs. 6).

Ezekiel 17: Israel's Story In Allegory

In chapter 17, the prophet Ezekiel is given a parable to share with God's people - an allegory that reveals the spiritual truths underpinning the geopolitical realities of their day.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Ezekiel 16: A Scorcher!

Ezekiel 16 borders on PG-13.  It contains a long, detailed analogy of Jerusalem as a whore - actually, worse than a whore because she pays her lovers instead of charging them!

Ezekiel 15: Fuel For The Fire

God, speaking through Ezekiel, draws a very threatening analogy between the inhabitants of Jerusalem and a worthless vine found in the forest.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Ezekiel 14: Four Deadly Acts Of Judgment

God reveals to Ezekiel that four deadly acts of judgment are coming upon Jerusalem: sword, famine, wild animals, and pestilence (vs. 21).  Moreover, even if three righteous persons like Noah, Daniel, and Job were in the land, they would only be able to save themselves through their righteousness.  Salvation would extend to no one else, not even their sons and daughters.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Ezekiel 13: The False Prophets Who Cried "Peace"

You probably have heard the cautionary tale of the little boy who cried wolf.  In the end, he paid dearly for his misbehavior.  In the days leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, there were false prophets who were crying, "Peace!"  They, too, paid dearly for their lies.

Ezekiel 12: Heaven Standard Time

God's people frequently struggle with His sense of timing.  Whether it's the 400 years that the Hebrews travailed in Egypt, or the "How long?" questions in Psalm 13, or the disciples itchy for God's kingdom to come at last, we have a patience problem.  So did the Jews of Ezekiel's era.

Ezekiel 11: Who Is The True Israel?

Ezekiel 11 points to a serious rift that was developing between the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the exiled community in Babylon.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Ezekiel 10: The Lord Has Left The Building!

Another grand vision of God's glory, complete with the four living creatures and the "wheels within wheels", takes place in Ezekiel 10.  The same elements are present as were seen in chapter 1, but this time the setting is the Temple in Jerusalem.  Ezekiel hears a voice from the sapphire throne at the top of the vision commanding a man dressed in white linen to take some of the fiery coals from the wheelwork and scatter them over the city.  After he does that, the whole image itself lifts up and leaves the Temple!  "The cherubim rose up" (vs. 15).   The wheelwork, too, lifts up and ascends with the four living creatures (vs. 16).  "Then the glory of the Lord went out from the threshold of the house and stopped above the cherubim" (vs. 18).  In one of the most devastating scenes of judgment upon the nation, God's presence vacates the Temple.  Just like Elvis, the Lord has left the building!

Psalm 137: Ouch.

Psalm 137 is rather infamous in Christian circles for its bloodthirsty final verse: "Happy shall they be who take your little ones and dash them against the rock!" (vs. 9)  Is this really an appropriate sentiment to be included in the Bible?  Is this truly God's Word?

Ezekiel 9: Saved By A Mark

In Ezekiel 9, we see the biblical motif of being saved through a special mark placed upon God's people.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Ezekiel 6: Preaching To The Land

Has God given up on reaching the people?  He instructs His prophet Ezekiel not to address the nation, but the land instead.  "O mortal, set your face toward the mountains of Israel, and prophesy against them, and say, You mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord God! Thus says the Lord God to the mountains and the hills, to the ravines and the valleys: I, I myself will bring a sword upon you, and I will destroy your high places" (vs. 2 and 3).  

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Ezekiel 5: Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

In chapter 5, Ezekiel receives the call to another prophetic enactment.  He is instructed to shave off his hair and beard and meticulously divide the hairs into three equal piles.  One grouping goes into the fire, another is beaten with a sword, and the third is scattered to the wind (vs. 1 and 2).

Ezekiel 4: A Model Prophet

"And you, O mortal, take a brick and set it before you. On it portray a city, Jerusalem; and put siegeworks against it, and build a siege wall against it, and cast up a ramp against it; set camps also against it, and plant battering rams against it all around.  Then take an iron plate and place it as an iron wall between you and the city; set your face toward it, and let it be in a state of siege, and press the siege against it. This is a sign for the house of Israel" (vs. 1-3).

Ezekiel 3: The Heavy Responsibility Of A Prophet

Being a "man of God" comes with a difficult responsibility.  The words that the Lord lays upon His servant's heart must be dispensed.  To withhold saying something that we know God has given us makes us culpable in others' sin and liable for their spiritual health.  So, even if we face rejection by man, it is better to offend people than God!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Ezekiel 2: Bad News On The Doorstep

"I looked, and a hand was stretched out to me, and a written scroll was in it.  He spread it before me; it had writing on the front and on the back, and written on it were words of lamentation and mourning and woe" (vs. 9 and 10).  

Ezekiel 1: Be Thou My Vision

A kindergarten teacher was observing her classroom of children while they drew pictures.  Occasionally, she would walk around the room to see each child's work.

"What are you drawing?" she asked one little girl who was working diligently at her desk.

The little girl replied, "I'm drawing God."

The teacher paused and said, "But no one know what God looks like."

The little girl replied, "They will in a minute!"

Psalm 136: For His Steadfast Love Endures Forever

There are 26 occurrences of "For His steadfast love endures forever" in Psalm 136, one for each verse (vs. 1-26).  Intermixed within a telling of Israel's history, this phrase stands out as a consistent response to the works of God.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Lamentations 5: What Despair Looks Like

I have found that a great deal of wisdom comes from learning the lessons of others.  Why suffer the hard knocks and painful experiences that result from bad decisions yourself - when you can instead benefit by applying the truths that others have discovered to your own situation?  Such is the case when it comes to the horrible circumstances endured by the residents of Judah when God's judgment falls by the hand of the Babylonians.  We can stand in their shoes vicariously and appreciate the salvation that God provides through the grace of His Son Jesus Christ.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Lamentations 4: How The Tables Have Turned

Lamentations 4 bemoans the reversal of fortune that has occurred throughout Judah: "How the gold has grown dim, how the pure gold is changed!  The sacred stones lie scattered at the head of every street" (vs. 1).

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Lamentations 3: A Rose Among Thorns

In the middle of an otherwise bleak message, a few powerful notes of grace and hope manage to shine forth from the darkness of Lamentations 3.

Lamentations 2: Active God

When Christians attempt to explain the problem of evil and suffering in the world, we often paint God as passive, merely permitting or allowing bad things to take place.  Jeremiah describes God in starkly different terms: as the primary actor who Himself purposes and directs the tragedy that befalls Judah.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Lamentations 1: Hitting Bottom

As joyful as the Exodus and the Conquest were in representing the birth of the nation and its inheritance of the Promised Land, the Exile and Captivity mark the opposite end of the emotional spectrum.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Psalm 135: Omnipotence And Impotence

In Psalm 135, the Psalmist draws a stark contrast between the omnipotent God of Israel and the impotent idols of the Gentiles.

Friday, September 2, 2016

II Chronicles 36: Disappearing Kings

The decline of Judah leading up to the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. was marked with increasing stress and turmoil as well as the forced removal of several kings.

II Chronicles 35: Laments For A Good King

When King Josiah died, the nation mourned and lamented for him.  "All Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.  Jeremiah also uttered a lament for Josiah, and all the singing men and singing women have spoken of Josiah in their laments to this day. They made these a custom in Israel; they are recorded in the Laments" (vs. 24 and 25).