September 10

Read Ezekiel 33 -- 36

In Today's Reading:

Jerusalem's destruction; the justice of God's dealings; reproof of the faithless shepherds; the two shepherds foretold; destruction of Edom; covenant with, and restoration of, Israel foretold.

Verses for Today:

In the twelfth year of our captivity (in Babylon) . . . one that had escaped out of Jerusalem came . . . saying, The city (Jerusalem) is smitten (33:21).

Ezekiel was called a watchman (prophet) unto the House of Israel; (and God said to Him) [you shall] hear My Word . . . and warn them (Ezekiel 33:7). The Israelites in Jerusalem, as well as the captives in Babylon, disregarded Ezekiel's warnings that they would be destroyed if they refused to renounce their sinful ways and return to worshiping the Lord God.

To the very day of Jerusalem's destruction, the Israelites fully believed that, regardless of their sinful conduct, they would always possess the City of God (Jeremiah 39:2; 52:6-7). Like the Israelites, some today ignore the fact that their Covenant relationship with God contains conditions for which they are accountable.

The majority of the Jews in Babylon complained that the horrifying death of their kindred in Jerusalem and the destruction of their homeland were inconsistent with the promises of God's protection. They charged God with injustice, saying: The way of the Lord is not equal (fair or even just) (Ezekiel 33:17). The Lord responded: When the righteous [turns] from his righteousness, and [commits] iniquity, he shall even die [because of it]. But if the wicked turn from his wickedness, and [does what] is lawful and right, he shall live (33:18-19).

Finally, as foretold by Ezekiel, the inevitable judgment had taken place. And, in sorrow, we read: Then shall they know that I am the Lord, when I have laid the land most desolate because of all their abominations which they have committed (33:29). This all happened on the day of Ezekiel's wife's death, just as it had been revealed to him (24:18,25-26).

Ezekiel's message proclaimed holiness as the Israelites' responsibility in their Covenant relationship with God. This did not meet with acceptance by the popular religious crowd who were unwilling to forsake their sins. Living a godly life is equally unpopular today. God will judge all who love the world. . . . the lust of the flesh (physical gratification), and the lust of the eyes (covetousness), and the pride of life (prestigious worldly goals that have priority in one's life) (1 John 2:15-17).

Like the Israelites, many people today dwell only on the love of God, while ignoring Paul's warning: Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).

Christ Revealed:

As the Shepherd (Ezekiel 34:23). Jesus said: I am the Good Shepherd, and know My sheep (John 10:14).

Word Studies:

34:14 fat = rich, the best; 34:27 served themselves of them = enslaved them; 36:3 an infamy of = slandered by.

Prayer Needs:

Government Officials: Rep. Stephanie Jones (OH), Rep. James Oberstar (MN), Rep. John Sununu (NH), and Rep. Albert Wynn (MD) · Pray for your pastor · Country: Tajikistan (6 million) southeast central Asia · Major languages: Tajik and Russian · Almost entirely Muslim · 82% Muslim; 4% Russian Orthodox · Prayer Suggestion: Pray to the Lord with earnestness night and day (1 Thessalonians 3:10).

Optional Reading: Revelation 15

Memory Verse for the Week: Romans 10:9