Ezekiel 33 -- 36
Ezekiel was reminded of his calling as a watchman (prophet) unto the House of Israel . . . in the fifth year of King Jehoiachin's captivity (Ezekiel 3:17; 33:1-7; 1:2) . . . in the twelfth year of their captivity (33:21).
The Israelites remaining in Jerusalem, as well as the Babylonian captives, continued to ignore Ezekiel's prophecies. They disregarded his warnings that they would be destroyed if they refused to renounce their idolatries and sinful ways and return to worshiping the Lord God. Instead, the people insisted: Abraham was one (man), and he inherited the land: but we are many; the land is given us for (an) inheritance (33: 24). To the very day of Jerusalem's destruction, the Israelites fully believed that, regardless of their sinful conduct, they were eternally secure and would always possess the City of God (see Jeremiah 39:2; 52:6-7). Like some today, they ignored the fact that their covenant relationship with God contained conditions for which they were accountable.
In the twelfth year of our captivity (in Babylon) . . . one who had escaped out of Jerusalem came . . . saying, The city (Jerusalem) is smitten (Ezekiel 33:21). 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) (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 turns from his wickedness, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live (33:18-19).
Finally, the last warning message came to the Israelites: Thus says the Lord . . . Lift up your eyes toward your idols. . . . you work abomination, and every one defiles his neighbor's wife . . . shall you possess the land? . . . 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 (33:25-29).
Thus, the shocking exposure of Israel's sins was followed by the news of the destruction of their beloved Jerusalem. It all happened just as it had been revealed to Ezekiel on the day of his wife's death (24:25-26).
Ezekiel's message proclaiming holiness as the Israelites' responsibility in their covenant relationship with God did not meet with acceptance by the popular religious crowd whose hearts 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) (I John 2:15-17). Such people are just as deceived as were the Israelites, who did not realize that their "idols" would inevitably lead them downward to eternal spiritual death.
Like the Israelites, many people today dwell only on the love of God, while ignoring His perfect justice. They assume that they are "good enough" to go to Heaven without repenting of their sins and receiving Jesus as their Savior, which would also make them accountable to submit to Him as Lord of their lives.
Jesus said: Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep My saying, he shall never see death (John 8:51); and Paul warned: Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). The Apostle John confirmed: We do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. . . . The Word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one (I John 2:3-14).
As the Shepherd (Ezekiel 34:23). Jesus said: I am the Good Shepherd; and I know My sheep (John 10:14).
33:26 stand means rely; 34:14 fat means rich, the best; 34:17 cattle means sheep; 34:27 served themselves of them means enslaved them; 34:29 plant means fruitfulness; 35:8 rivers means ravines; 36:3 an infamy of means slandered by; 36:12 bereave them of men means take their children; 36:17 removed means menstruous.
Government Officials: Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (OH), Rep. James Oberstar (MN), Rep. John Sununu (NH), and Rep. Albert Wynn (MD) · BPM Staff: Diana Hash · Pray for the Bill Rice Ranch, Ministry to the Deaf · Pray for the Bible Pathway International Radio Broadcast in honor of Linda Kennon · Country: Central African Republic (3 million) in the center of the African continent · Major languages: French and Sangho · Religious freedom · 47% Protestant; 34% Roman Catholic; 12% animist; 3% Muslim · Prayer Suggestion: Pray for more faithful Christian workers (I Thessalonians 1:2-3).
Memory Verse for the Week: