September 06

Read Ezekiel 20 -- 21

In Today's Reading:

God's refusal to be consulted by the elders; the history of the unfaithfulness of Israel; Israelites' defeat by Babylon; their scattering among the heathen and their restoration foretold.

Verses for Today:

I will not be enquired of by you. . . . I chose Israel . . . and made myself known unto them in the land of Egypt. . . . But they rebelled against Me. . . . They despised My judgments, and walked not in My statutes, but polluted My Sabbaths: for their heart went after their idols (20:3,5,8,16).

The king and the religious leaders of Judah had expressed growing hatred for Jeremiah because he proclaimed the judgment of God against them. The revelations and visions given by God to Ezekiel in Babylon were also ignored. It was now too late to pray for God to spare Jerusalem from destruction. Ezekiel records: Certain of the elders of Israel came to enquire of the Lord, and sat before me (Ezekiel 20:1).

Then God revealed their sins to Ezekiel. Following this, Ezekiel received a horrifying message to Israel, Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I am against [you], and will draw forth My sword. . . . This sword is sharpened . . . to give it into the hand of the slayer (Nebuchadnezzar) (21:2-3,11).

Far in advance of Nebuchadnezzar's march on Jerusalem, the prophet Ezekiel foretold how the slayer, would come to the fork in the road at the parting of the way . . . to use divination: he made his arrows bright, he consulted with images (household gods), he looked in the liver (of an animal) (21:21). He cast lots to decide whether to first attack the capital of the Ammonites or that of the Israelites. One arrow was marked Jerusalem and the other Rabbah (modern Amman, Jordan). These arrows were placed in a vessel which was shaken until one fell out indicating the direction that Nebuchadnezzar should take. Little could he realized that when the arrow marked Jerusalem fell out it was by the hand of Almighty God and not by his own false gods.

Ezekiel's prophecy of the sharpened sword revealed impending doom as Nebuchadnezzar turned to destroy Jerusalem. No doubt, Nebuchadnezzar congratulated himself on his splendid triumph in Judah when, in fact, he was only a servant of the King of kings, unknowingly used to fulfill the judgment of God upon His rebellious people. The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord (Proverbs 16:33).

King Zedekiah, the wicked prince of Israel (Ezekiel 21:25), and the people would soon be captured. Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed to fulfill Ezekiel's prophecy: I will overturn, overturn, overturn it: and it shall be no more, until He (Christ the King) [comes] Whose right it is (to reign in judgment and in righteousness); and I will give it to Him (21:27).

No other king has been anointed to sit on the throne of David in Israel during the past 2500 years. In the time of Jesus, an Edomite named Herod was appointed by Rome as a puppet-king to govern the Jews of Judea. Israel will continue to exist without a king until the return of Jesus Christ as King of kings, and Lord of lords (1 Timothy 6:15).

Christ Revealed:

As the One Who will gather His people from all nations and will purge out the false from the true (Ezekiel 20:34-38; also Matthew 3:12; 25:32).

Word Studies:

20:5 lifted up mine hand = promised, vowed; 21:2 drop thy word toward = preach against; 21:13 the sword contemn even the rod = there is a testing in store by the sword since you despised the rod (refused to be corrected).

Prayer Needs:

Government Officials: Rep. Danny Davis (IL) and Rep. Sander Levin (MI) · Pray for one more person to read through the Bible · Country: St. Kitts-Nevis (42,000) in the Leeward Islands of the West Indies · Major language: English · Religious freedom · 74% Protestant; 7% Roman Catholic · Prayer Suggestion: Ask the Lord to write His precepts in your heart (Colossians 3:16).

Optional Reading: Revelation 11

Memory Verse for the Week: Romans 8:28