Ezekiel 14 -- 16
The Israelites were under the control of Nebuchadnezzar, who had taken thousands of them captive. Once again, certain elders of Israel (Ezekiel 14:1) came to consult Ezekiel, as if they desired to know the will of God. But the Lord revealed their hypocrisy to Ezekiel, saying: These men have set up their idols in their heart, (that became) the stumblingblock (that led to) their iniquity (sins) . . . and came to the prophet (who said) . . . the Lord God has said: Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations. . . . (Otherwise) I will set My face against that man (who does not repent) . . . and I will cut him off from the midst of My people. . . . That the House of Israel may go no more astray from Me . . . but that they may be My people, and I may be their God (14:3-4,6-8,11).
Although the Israelites made regular visits to the Temple, where they offered sacrifices to God as a matter of tradition, they also worshiped the popular gods of other nations. Thus they disqualified themselves in their calling to be a light to the Gentiles (Isaiah 49:6). The Israelites' supreme purpose for existence was that God had chosen them to reveal Himself to the world as the One True God through His Word.
As a result of their disobedience, the Israelites found themselves under the control of a Gentile nation. As an illustration of their one purpose as the people of God, the Lord presented the question to Ezekiel: What is the vine tree (the grapevine which was often used by God to illustrate His people). What is Israel more than any tree? . . . Shall wood be taken from it to do any work? Or will men make a peg of it on which to hang any vessel? Behold, it is cast into the fire for fuel (Ezekiel 15:2-4; Genesis 49:22; Deuteronomy 32:32; Psalms 80:8-11; Isaiah 5:1-7; Jeremiah 2:21; Hosea 10:1). Nothing was more familiar to the Israelites than the grapevine, since they grew so many. It was valued only for its fruit. Every Israelite knew that the vine was worthless for making houses, furniture, or other useful items. No one would use a grapevine to make even a peg to hang his hat on, for the wood is twisted, gnarled, and misshapen.
Ezekiel spoke of the vine as representing Israel, chosen of God to receive His eternal Word, an honor that no other nation on earth was given. They had the privilege and also the responsibility to let the world know there was only One True God, who would bless all who honored Him by keeping His Word. But the vine had failed to produce fruit; consequently, the only alternative for it was to be uprooted and cast into the fire (Ezekiel 15:4,7).
The Lord looked for obedience in His people Israel, but there was continued rebellion. He looked for spirituality, but He found there was only deception and disloyalty. He looked for sincere, heartfelt devotion and worship, but there was only formality and hypocrisy. Therefore, the judgment of God upon those in Jerusalem had to be consistent with the great privileges they had willfully forsaken.
The complete destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple would soon take place and would fulfill the Word of God in the Mosaic covenant (Leviticus 26:14-35,43; Deuteronomy 29:9-28).
The purpose of the judgment of God is to turn the hearts of His people from their idols, such as the pursuit of pleasure, the race for riches, the greed for possessions, and all things which would replace Christ as Lord in their hearts. Even things which, in and of themselves, are good may become idols if they become the controlling influence of our lives and thinking rather than God and His Word. It is possible for us to do things "for" God while failing to "be" what He created us to be.
When Israel failed to accept the discipline of God by returning to Him, they were left with His judgment. No whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the children of disobedience (Ephesians 5:5-6).
In the everlasting Covenant (Ezekiel 16:62). He is the Mediator of a better Covenant (Heb. 8:6).
14:15 noisome means wild; 15:4 meet means useful; 16:4 supple means cleanse; 16:6 polluted means struggling helplessly; 16:8 I spread my skirt means I bound myself by oath; 16:10 badger is a member of the antelope family, not the small burrowing animal; 16:25 opened thy feet means played the harlot; 16:30 imperious means shameless; 16:31 eminent place means mound or high place for pagan shrine; 16:34 art contrary means are opposite; 16:43 fretted means provoked to anger.
Government Officials: Rep. Bob Filner (CA), Com. Carlos Romero-Barcel (PR), and Rep. Anthony David Weiner (NY) · Pray for the Bible Pathway Internet Outreach and the Bible Pathway devotions in Arabic, English, French, Hungarian, Indonesian, Norwegian, Russian, and Spanish that are now online on our website. Let friends and missionaries overseas know that the devotional/commentary is now available in these languages · Pray for the Bible Pathway International Radio Broadcast in honor of those who have gone on before · Country: Burkina (9 million) in western Africa · Major languages: French and Sudanic tribal languages · Religious freedom · 48% Muslim; 33% belief in false gods, idolatry, and heathenism; 14% Roman Catholic; 5% Protestant · Prayer Suggestion: Ask the Lord to give you contentment in your circumstances, whether in plenty or in want (Philippians 4:11-12).
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