Read Ezekiel 20
Highlights In Today's Reading:
Israel's leaders refuse to listen to the prophets of God. The consequences are inevitible(chap. 20). God guides Babylon to fulfill His judgment against Israel (21:3). A fork in the road. Babylon heads for Judah (21:18-23). God accuses the people of open sin with no shame (21:24).
Thus far, the political and religious leaders of Judah had expressed growing hatred of the prophet Jeremiah over his messages of the coming destruction of Jerusalem.
Certain of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the Lord, and sat before me (20:1). God responded through Ezekiel: As I live, saith the Lord God, I will not be inquired of by you. . . . they . . . would not hearken unto Me: they did not . . . cast away the abominations of their eyes, neither did they forsake the idols of Egypt (20:3,8). Following this Ezekiel had a horrifying vision of a gigantic sword and heard the Lord say to Israel: Behold, I am against thee, and will draw . . . My sword. . . . To give it into the hand of the slayer (Nebuchadnezzar) (21:3,11).
The prophet also foretold how Nebuchadnezzar would come to the fork in the road at the parting of the way . . . to use divination: he made his arrows bright (to cast lots), he consulted with images (false gods), he looked in the liver (of an animal) (21:20-21). To decide whether to attack the Ammonites or the Israelites, he marked one arrow 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 Nebuchadnezzar should take.
Nebuchadnezzar didn't know it, but he was getting directions directly from the Living God: The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord (Prov. 16:33). King Zedekiah, the wicked prince of Israel (Ezek. 21:25), would soon be captured; Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed to fulfill this prophecy: Until He come whose right it is; and I will give it Him (21:27).
Although the believing Israelites returned to Jerusalem after 70 years of captivity, over two thousands years have passed without another king of Israel sitting on the throne of David. In Jesus' time, an Edomite named Herod was "appointed" by Rome to govern but he was merely a puppet-king over the Israelites.
God is the Judge: He putteth down one, and setteth up another (Ps. 75:7). Unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy Kingdom (Heb. 1:8).
Thought for Today:
The righteous Lord . . . doth behold the upright (Ps. 11:7).
As the One who will gather His people from all nations and will purge out the false from the true (Ezek. 20:34-38). When the Son of Man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: And before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats. . . . And these (goats) shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal (Matt. 25:31-46; also 3:12).
20:5 I lifted up mine hand = I bound myself by an oath; 21:2 drop thy (your) word toward = pour out your words 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).
Pray for Government Officials: Rep. Danny Davis (IL), Rep. John Kline (MN), Rep. Sander Levin (MI), Rep. Kendrick Meek (FL), and Gov. Bill Ritter (CO) • Country: Burundi (6 million) in east-central Africa • Major languages: Kirundi and French • Losing religious freedom • 51% Roman Catholic; 12% animist; 11% Protestant; 1% Muslim • Prayer Suggestion: Pray that your words and thoughts will be pleasing to the Lord (Ps. 19:14).
Optional Reading: Revelation 11
Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 11:29