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Bible Pathways 09/02/2002

September 02

Read Ezekiel 5 -- 9

In Today's Reading:

Jerusalem changing the Lord's judgments into wickedness (5:6), followed by idolatry, resulting in death by famine, pestilence, and the sword; a remnant to be spared; vision of the glory of God; vision of slaying in Jerusalem.

Verses for Today:

Your altars shall be desolate, and your images shall be broken: and I will cast down your slain men before your idols. And I will lay the dead carcases of the children of Israel before their idols (6:4-5).

Fourteen years after Nebuchadnezzar conquered the Kingdom of Judah, life in Jerusalem seemed to have returned to normal. Consequently, the people would not believe Ezekiel, who wrote from Babylon, saying that God will scatter your bones round about your altars. . . . all your . . . cities shall be laid waste. . . . (because of) the great abominations that . . . Israel [commits] . . . . and all the idols of the House of Israel, portrayed upon the wall of the Temple. . . . and they worshiped the sun (Ezekiel 6:5-6; 8:6,9,14,16). As a result of their disobedience to the Word of God, Israel had filled the land with violence (8:17). All Israelites, even those who were captive in Babylon, were sure that the covenant of God would protect His city from destruction because it included the only Temple on earth where His Presence dwelt.

But Ezekiel continued to warn: The sword is without, and the pestilence and the famine within: he that is in the field shall die with the sword; and he that is in the city (Jerusalem), famine and pestilence shall devour him (7:15). What a terrifying prophecy!

Fourteen months after his first vision, in the sixth year of the captivity of King Jehoiachin, about five years before the partial destruction of Jerusalem. Ezekiel's second vision revealed the dispatching of seven men, one to spare the faithful minority and six to slay the idolatrous majority. One man . . . clothed with linen marked the foreheads of all who remained faithful to the Lord (9:2-7; compare Revelation 7:2-3).

In his vision, Ezekiel had observed the leaders of Jerusalem who, it seemed, were being blessed and called to remain in Jerusalem in charge of the Temple as the chosen ones and the favored people, while so many others had been taken captive. But, in reality, it was the deprived captives in Babylon who eventually learned, through suffering, to repent of their pagan idolatry and trust in the Lord God of Israel. God promised a great future to those who turned to Him.

While the wicked majority was being judged, the godly minority was being purified. But by the God of all grace, Who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strenghten, settle you (1 Peter 5:10).

Christ Portrayed:

The man clothed in linen (Ezekiel 9:2-11) represents Christ as High Priest, marking His people to be spared from the flaming sword of vengeance. Seeing then that we have a great High Priest, That is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. (Hebrews 4:14; see also Revelation 7:2-3).

Word Studies:

5:16 staff = supply; 6:4 images = incense altars; 7:26 ancients = religious elders, supposed spiritual leaders; 8:12 imagery = perverse idol imagination.

Prayer Needs:

Government Officials: Rep. Jim DeMint (SC) and Rep. Earl Pomeroy (ND) · Pray for one another · Country: Swaziland (985,000) in southern Africa · Major languages: English and siSwati · Religious freedom · 67% Protestant; 19% animism; spirit-possession cults, and divination; 11% Roman Catholic; 3% Baha'i · Prayer Suggestion: Do not worry about anything, but pray about everything (Philippians 4:6).

Optional Reading: Revelation 7

Memory Verse for the Week: Romans 8:28

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