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Bible Pathways 9/4/2001

September 4

Read 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 . . . and put . . . their iniquity (sins) before their face . . . 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 (14:3,6-8,11).

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 idols of other nations. Thus they disqualified themselves in their calling from God 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 through His Word as the One True God.

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). Every Israelite knew that the grapevine was valued only for its fruit and was worthless for making lumber for houses, furniture, or even a peg to hang his hat on, for the wood is twisted and gnarled.

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 judgment of God upon those in Jerusalem had to be consistent with the great privileges they had willfully forsaken. The same is true today. 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 comes the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience (Ephesians 5:5-6).

Christ Revealed: In the everlasting Covenant (Ezekiel 16:60). He is the Mediator of a better Covenant (Heb. 8:6).

Word Studies: 16:8 I spread my skirt means I bound myself by oath; 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; 16:43 fretted means provoked to anger.

Prayer Needs:
Government Officials: Rep. Bob Filner (CA) and Rep. Anthony Weiner (NY) · Pray for Bible Pathway Distributors · Country: Uzbekistan (24 million) central Asia · Major languages: Uzbek and Russian · Limited religious freedom due to Islamic influence · 68% Muslim; 4% Russian Orthodox; .5% Protestant/Catholic · Prayer Suggestion: Ask the Lord to give you strength for today's need (Ephesians 3:14-16).

Optional Reading: Revelation 9

Memory Verse for the Week: I Timothy 6:9

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