Exact Ezekiel; Chapters 18-20
August 1, 2017

C. R. Oliver

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August 1, 2017

Exact Ezekiel
Chapters 18-20

     The next three chapters have unique aspects, for each one carries a prophecy of correction.

Chapter 18 could well become a sermon entitled, "Every tub must sit on its own bottom." Here, the prophet attacks the misconception commonly held by the populous about Exodus 34: 5-7. This is the passage concerning: "the second and third generation of them that hate Me."

Chapter 19 ties the plight of Israel's current events to local sources and reveals the part played by its Kings, especially the two sons of Hamutal.

Chapter 20 corrects Israel's view of its history. The ploy of satan in every generation is to "rewrite history," in order to show the events of the past as his doing. In this chapter, the Lord gives His truthful interpretation of Israel's deliverance.

Each of these chapters removes the "excuse system" used by its citizenry to explain their plight. They form a bank of understanding for those who would ask the question, "How did we wind up here?"

Chapter 18: Sour Grapes

Ezekiel 18:1-4:
Then another message came to me from the LORD: 2 "Why do you quote this proverb in the land of Israel: 'The parents have eaten sour grapes, but their children's mouths pucker at the taste'? 3 As surely as I live, says the Sovereign LORD, you will not say this proverb anymore in Israel. 4 For all people are Mine to judge - both parents and children alike. And this is My rule: The person who sins will be the one who dies."

Israel was using a similar "excuse system" to today's. "I was abused by my parents." "I am not to blame for my condition, it was the environment where I grew up, drugs, alcohol, permissive sex." "Don't blame me, I fell into the wrong crowd." "Pardon me, but it's the society I am involved with, you know, social demand, peer pressure-stuff like that." "Well, I attended university and I don't believe the things you do." "Who can live a righteous life in today's world? There are so many factors that enter into the equation." "Why me? Why are you arresting me? Everyone steals from that store." "She caused all this." "He caused all this." "They caused all this." "It's that other political party; they are responsible for the rules governing my behavior. I'm not really a free moral agent." "They won't allow me to preach on those kinds of subjects." "Surely, you can't fault me for what I have to do to climb the corporate ladder." "It's not me, it's in my gene pool." "What? you think that's the real me, NO! , they made me do it." "I'm a millennial and I never found my true path." "God, you really didn't mean those things you listed would cause my death, did you?" "I was born this way."

Where does it end, this ceaseless diatribe which refuses to recognize the origin of sin really abides in the sinner?

God explains to Israel that an end has come. The sword has drawn a line in the sand and every person must stand alone before the great "I Am." Each person must choose which side he or she must stand-in righteousness or in unrighteousness. The issue abides within.

Psychology seeks answers for behavior outside the person: some mental or chemical aberration is the cause. Socio-metrics point to societal change or trends to answer the need.

Cathedrals and churches explain away the issues by hyper grace being the answer.

Nowhere in Scripture can be found an annulment of this word-it is forever God's view on personal responsibility, a trait so lacking in this modern age.

Ezekiel offered no refinement. The Exodus passage was defined by God's dictionary, which sadly has been replaced by man's thinking.

Exodus 34:5-7:
5 Now the LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the Name of the LORD. 6 And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, 7 keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation."

After reviewing the Ezekiel passage and weighing it against the Exodus passage, one can see the emergence of those who are deemed "guilty." Such leads me to the conclusion that the modern church and the warped society it exists to serve "have forgiven more than God does." The depth of the problem is so severe that calls to "repentance" are met with "Who, Me?" Society has adopted, at every level, the philosophic stance of Alfred E. Neuman and MAD magazine (that is to create a skeptical movement antithetical to church and family). Sponge Bob offers little difference when analyzing his enormous popularity. Both these venues have produced three generations of people who believe nothing is solidly the truth and all things are a matter of interpretation. Ezekiel smashes this cynical narcissism which is so broadly displayed in society.

The Lord evidently did not believe Israel could fully understand His intervention into their affairs, so, He gave Ezekiel three (3) suppositions.

           Supposition #1

Ezekiel 18:5-9:
5 Suppose a certain man is just and does what is lawful and right, 6 and he has not feasted in the mountains before Israel's idols or worshiped them. And suppose he does not commit adultery or have intercourse with a woman during her menstrual period.
7 Suppose he is a merciful creditor, not keeping the items given in pledge by poor debtors, and does not rob the poor but instead gives food to the hungry and provides clothes for people in need.
8 And suppose he grants loans without interest, stays away from injustice, is honest and fair when judging others, 9 and faithfully obeys my laws and regulations. Anyone who does these things is just and will surely live, says the Sovereign LORD.

Observe the criteria for this supposition.
  1. Is just and does what is lawful and right.
  2. Has not feasted on the mountains and worshipped idols.
  3. Does not commit adultery or have illegal intercourse.
  4. Is a merciful creditor: reverencing right of ownership.
  5. Does not rob the poor but gives food and clothing to the needy.
  6. Grants loans without interest.
  7. Stays away from injustice and is honest and fair in judging others.
  8. Faithfully obeys My laws and regulations.
     Conclusion: "They shall live."

           Supposition #2 (the opposite)

Ezekiel 18:10-13:
10 "But suppose that man has a son who grows up to be a robber or murderer and refuses to do what is right. 11 And suppose that son does all the evil things his father would never do - worships idols on the mountains, commits adultery, 12 oppresses the poor and helpless, steals from debtors by refusing to let them redeem what they have given in pledge, worships idols and takes part in loathsome practices, 13 and lends money at interest. Should such a sinful person live? No! He must die and must take full blame.

Notice the addition of "loathsome practices" and the absence of righteousness and the fear of the Lord in obeying His word.

     Conclusion: No matter how good "dear ole dad" was, Death! Full Blame!

          Supposition #3 (Righteous son and grandson)

Ezekiel 18:14-18:
14 "But suppose that sinful son, in turn, has a son who sees his father's wickedness but decides against that kind of life. 15 Suppose this son refuses to worship idols on the mountains, does not commit adultery, 16 and does not exploit the poor, but instead is fair to debtors and does not rob them. And suppose this son feeds the hungry, provides clothes for the needy, 17 helps the poor, does not lend money at interest, and obeys all my regulations and laws. Such a person will not die because of his father's sins; he will surely live. 18 But the father will die for the many sins he committed - for being cruel and robbing close relatives, doing what was clearly wrong among his people.

     Conclusion: life! (For the son)

These suppositions spell it out perfectly. Are they relevant today? Well, a quick review of the "live" passages shows a remarkable lack in our society, while the "death" passages look like the headlines for the evening news.

With Israel an astonishing revelation occurred, what they believed was truth was found to be a lie. What they taught in their religious circles was a misinterpretation of the Scripture. (Follow along now and apply this to today.)

The Lord then read the minds of the elders, thus closing the gate on further speculation and reprieve.

Ezekiel 18:19-21:
19 " 'What?' you ask, 'Doesn't the child pay for the parent's sins?' No! For if the child does what is right and keeps My laws, that child will surely live. 20 The one who sins is the one who dies. The child will not be punished for the parent's sins, and the parent will not be punished for the child's sins. Righteous people will be rewarded for their own goodness, and wicked people will be punished for their own wickedness.

Graciousness and mercy still prevail, however. If the wicked turns and does all the righteous acts, his wickedness is overridden by life. (Oh! this needs to be preached in a million settings across this wicked world.)

Again, God proffers their unspoken response, "You say I am unjust." He points out they are the unjust ones. Then the Lord makes a profound statement: "If the righteous man turns to wickedness, his righteousness is overridden by sin." He will die and his righteousness will be forgotten.

Ezekiel 18:25-29:
25 "Yet you say, 'The Lord isn't being just!' Listen to Me, O people of Israel. Am I the one who is unjust, or is it you? 26 When righteous people turn from being good and start doing sinful things, they will die for it. Yes, they will die because of their sinful deeds. 27 And if wicked people turn away from their wickedness, obey the law, and do what is just and right, they will save their lives. 28 They will live, because after thinking it over, they decided to turn from their sins. Such people will not die. 29 And yet the people of Israel keep saying, 'The Lord is unjust!' O people of Israel, it is you who are unjust, not I."

O church, it is time to preach this timeless message. It is not done away with. Read Paul's writing and encounter these same elements applied to the New Testament. Start with the letter to Timothy, then read II Peter and Jude for starters. The end time is rank with unbelief and false teaching. Spiritual discernment is a gift of the Spirit; it is time to use that gift!

Ezekiel 18:30-32:
30 "Therefore, I will judge each of you, O people of Israel, according to your actions, says the Sovereign LORD. Turn from your sins! Don't let them destroy you! 31 Put all your rebellion behind you, and get for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O people of Israel? 32 I don't want you to die, says the Sovereign LORD. Turn back and live!"

This is the message of compassionate appeal that is missing today. (O' how the people of the world need to heed this invitation from the Living Lord. This message cannot be preached from the mouth of a cold professional occupying a system position. It only comes through the flame of a prophet's heart.)

Chapter 19: The lioness' sons: two children by Hamutal and Josiah.

Another cog in the gearbox of "how did we wind up here?" is uncovered in this funeral oration for a nation. Though it is posited in the form of a lyric and crowned with what could be discerned as a "riddle," actually it is a plain characterization of Israel's unholy leadership.

To decipher the somewhat cryptic message, one must recognize a key component: Hamutal. This "lioness" is the daughter of Jeremiah and the wife of Josiah, the King. Although the throne changed hands several times during these tumultuous years, it is wise to focus on her sons. Josiah was a righteous man and even though he bore children with other wives, only Hamutal and her offsprings were significant.

Josiah tore down the altars of Samaria and re-instated the Passover, among many other righteous acts.

2 Chronicles 35:26-27:
26 Now the rest of the acts of Josiah and his goodness, according to what was written in the Law of the LORD, 27 and his deeds from first to last, indeed they are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah.

Two kingdoms played a part in this tumult of leadership, they are Egypt and Babylon. The first of Hamutal's children vowed a connection with Egypt that God found to be nauseous. Though the King sought protection from Assyrian and Babylonian invasions, it showed Israel's lack of faith in their God to deliver them. Mattaniah (Zedekiah) also sought evasive action apart from Jeremiah's prophecy. He ultimately was a vassal to the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar.

Josiah's other sons more or less played the same games as the others and they were soon deposed by yet another son who was deemed better for a while. None lasted on the throne longer than Zedekiah.

2 Kings 23:31- 34:
31 Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother's name was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah; she was from Libnah. 32 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, just as his fathers had done. 33 Pharaoh Neco put him in chains at Riblah in the land of Hamath so that he might not reign in Jerusalem, and he imposed on Judah a levy of a hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold. 34 Pharaoh Neco made Eliakim son of Josiah king in place of his father Josiah and changed Eliakim's name to Jehoiakim. But he took Jehoahaz and carried him off to Egypt, and there he died.

2 Kings 24:15-19:
5 Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiachin captive to Babylon. He also took from Jerusalem to Babylon the king's mother, his wives, his officials and the leading men of the land. 16 The king of Babylon also deported to Babylon the entire force of seven thousand fighting men, strong and fit for war, and a thousand craftsmen and artisans. 17 He made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin's uncle, king in his place and changed his name to Zedekiah. 18 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. His mother's name was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah; she was from Libnah.

Chapter 19 may well act as an example of Chapter 18's rule. Here is righteous Josiah with sons who were evil and unrighteous. It explains the faulty leadership of the kingdom and gives a portrait for those asking, "Why were we captured and brought as slaves to Babylon?"

Although the chapter is lengthy as a poem, the funeral oration makes sense with knowledge of the blood line of Hamutal and Josiah.

Ezekiel 19:1-4 (Jehoahaz):
"Sing this funeral song for the princes of Israel:
2'What is your mother?
A lioness among lions!
She lay down among the young lions
v and reared her cubs.
3 She raised one of her cubs
to become a strong young lion.
He learned to catch and devour prey,
and he became a man-eater.
4 Then the nations heard about him,
and he was trapped in their pit.
They led him away in chains
to the land of Egypt.

Ezekiel 19:5-9 (Mattaniah: Zedekiah):
'When the mother lion saw
that all her hopes for him were gone,
she took another of her cubs
and taught him to be a strong lion.
6 He prowled among the other lions
and became a leader among them.
He learned to catch and devour prey,
and he, too, became a man-eater.
7 He demolished fortresses in nearby nations
and destroyed their towns and cities.
Their farms were desolated,
and their crops were destroyed.
Everyone in the land trembled in fear
when they heard him roar.
8 Then the armies of the nations attacked him,
surrounding him from every direction.
They spread out their nets for him
and captured him in their pit.
9 With hooks, they dragged him into a cage
and brought him before the king of Babylon.
They held him in captivity,
so his voice could never again be heard
on the mountains of Israel.

Next, the text describes the "vine of Israel" and how righteousness faded, along with their destiny. Where once they were connected to the Lord, there came a time of disconnect and the vine withered and died.

Ezekiel 19:10-14:
Your mother was like a vine
planted by the water's edge.
It had lush, green foliage
because of the abundant water.
11 Its branches became very strong,
strong enough to be a ruler's scepter.
It soon became very tall,
towering above all the others.
It stood out because of its height
and because of its many lush branches.
12 But the vine was uprooted in fury
and thrown down to the ground.
The desert wind dried up its fruit
and tore off its branches.
Its stem was destroyed by fire.
13 Now the vine is growing in the wilderness,
where the ground is hard and dry.
14 A fire has come from its branches
and devoured its fruit.
None of the remaining limbs
is strong enough to be a ruler's scepter.'

This is a funeral song, and it is now time for the funeral.

The Lord declared "the time is now" for the funeral to begin. For 70 years they labored in Babylon until the Persians, under Esther, granted their release.

Chapter 20: Corrected History

One of the chief methods of propaganda, used by communists and others, is to rewrite history. At this moment, this is an ongoing strategy in the Western world, aided by the media industry.

Heroes of government are given disrespect as are monuments of the past. Schools and Universities are busy changing historical fact with speculative theory. Great men are denigrated and made to look like victims of ignorance or chance. Every pillar of the Protestant Ethic is being undermined and destroyed where possible. Why? These pillars support Capitalism, which is besmirched by Popes and Dictators. The markers of society have been removed and now everything rude, crude and impolite, whether in word or action, is acceptable behavior. God said to Ezekiel in essence: "Enough! I will correct the history books and it will reflect My truth."

The setting for this prophecy is approximately eleven months from the Chapter 8 word. It basically falls into two parts, but is weighted in what could be coined as, "that was then and this is now."

The Lord showed Ezekiel His version of the deliverance of Israel from Egypt and tells him how He felt during those times. Three times He diverts His anger by "protecting His Name (Verses 9, 14, 22)."

As the elders assembled on this hot July day, we are assured that God is not pleased with them or their attitudes. He openly declares they are not welcome in the courts of His dwelling. However, the prophet is supplied information, by revelation, that stood them on their ears. What Ezekiel heard, in essence, was, "Here is what I plan to do next." Unfortunately, none of them will be living to see it come to pass. They, like the wilderness masses, will die in the desert of Babylon; only their children will witness His works.

Ezekiel 20:2-5:
3 "Son of dust, say to the elders of Israel, 'The Lord God says: How dare you come to ask My help? I swear that I will tell you nothing.' 4 Judge them, son of dust; condemn them; tell them of all the sins of this nation from the times of their fathers until now. 5 Tell them, 'The Lord God says: When I chose Israel and revealed myself to her in Egypt, I swore to her and her descendants that I would bring them out of Egypt to a land I had discovered and explored for them--a good land, flowing as it were with milk and honey, the best of all lands anywhere.'" TLB

Ezekiel is assigned the task of confronting the leadership of Israel with a strong rebuke (such is not a friendly gesture). His task deepened as God told him to "judge them and to condemn them!" This judgment and condemnation is for the elders assembled in Ezekiel's home. Again, the prophet is supernaturally equipped with knowledge of all the sins of the forefathers. This is in line with Chapter 18. What is about to be learned is, "this is what I did to them for their sins and now, this is what is in store for you with yours." The point becomes evident as they realize little had changed.

It is to be noted how one commentator handles these verses:

God did great things for Israel in five periods of their history, and yet in all five they grievously rebelled against Him: first, in Egypt, then in the wilderness, then on the borders of Canaan, when a new generation had arisen, then in Canaan, the good and pleasant land, and lastly, in the times of the prophet. How sad it is that the history of the visible Church is almost nothing else than an account of God's mercies abused and slighted, and His long-suffering tried to the uttermost with ever new provocations!
(from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

The Lord "showed up and showed out" in Egypt. He revealed Himself and demonstrated through Moses His intentions. He delivered them in Goshen from the plagues, passed over their blood stained homes, destroyed the whole army of Egypt and what did He get for His work? Rebellion.

Ezekiel 20:7-8:
7 "Then I said to them: 'Get rid of every idol; do not defile yourselves with the Egyptian gods, for I am the Lord your God.' 8 But they rebelled against me and would not listen. They didn't get rid of their idols nor forsake the gods of Egypt. Then I thought, I will pour out my fury upon them and fulfill my anger against them while they are still in Egypt.

Noteworthy at this point is an observation: just like Sodom and Gomorrah, the exodus became a marker in history. It is referred to many times, both among the prophets and the New Testament writers.

Standing as an example of what happens to a nation and people who choose not to follow the Lord, the Exodus had lessons its observers must learn. When Stephen preached to the "stoners" it was this message. The writer of Hebrews used the Exodus to establish the truth of the past. (O church, if rebellion was Israel's legacy, what will be yours?) The Exodus rebellion was so great that God wanted to destroy all of them.

Ezekiel 20:9-12:
9 "But I didn't do it, for I acted to protect the honor of my name, lest the Egyptians laugh at Israel's God who couldn't keep them back from harm. So I brought my people out of Egypt right before the Egyptians' eyes and led them into the wilderness. 11 There I gave them my laws so they could live by keeping them. If anyone keeps them, he will live. 12 And I gave them the Sabbath--a day of rest every seventh day--as a symbol between them and me, to remind them that it is I, the Lord, who sanctifies them--that they are truly my people."

Looming in the elders minds was a smoking mountain and a tablet bearing Moses. Large in their hearts were two mountains, Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim, where Blessing and Curses sounded from them. The admonition to "choose life" dangled before their consciences. Later, the merchants in the Temple would encounter the wrath of God for their breaking of the Sabbath. It meant nothing to them, but it meant covenant to God. It was these "things" which separated Israel from the nations of the world and made them, "My people."

Ezekiel 20:14-17:
"But again I refrained in order to protect the honor of My name, lest the nations who saw Me bring them out of Egypt would say that it was because I couldn't care for them that I destroyed them. 15 But I swore to them in the wilderness that I would not bring them into the land I had given them, a land full of milk and honey, the choicest spot on earth, 16 because they laughed at My laws, ignored My wishes, and violated My Sabbaths--their hearts were with their idols! 17 Nevertheless, I spared them. I didn't finish them off in the wilderness. TLB

It might be difficult to determine that Israel's land today would fit the description of "the choicest spot on earth," but that was "then." Wherever God dwells meets that requisite. Perhaps we shall yet sing, "We will walk in Jerusalem, just like John."

Look at the verbs God chose to describe their attitude: they laughed, ignored and violated. Why? Their hearts were with their idols. Man looks on the outside; God looks on the heart. God's mercy prevailed--for them.

Ezekiel 20:18-21:
Then I spoke to their children and said: 'Don't follow your fathers' footsteps. Don't defile yourselves with their idols, 19 for I am the Lord your God. Follow my laws; keep my ordinances; 20 hallow my Sabbaths; for they are a symbol of the contract between us to help you remember that I am the Lord your God.'

21 "But their children, too, rebelled against me. They refused my laws--the laws that if a person keeps them, he will live. And they defiled my Sabbaths. So then I said: 'Now at last I will pour out my fury upon you in the wilderness.'" TLB

The Lord turned to the children (all ages were present in the wilderness, not just little ones). God urged them not to follow their fathers in rebellion. Chapter 18 again was the rule. They could have listened, but could it be their fathers' laughter was heard above God's voice.

Ezekiel 20:22-26:
22 "Nevertheless, again I withdrew My judgment against them to protect My name among the nations who had seen My power in bringing them out of Egypt. 23 But I took a solemn oath against them while they were in the wilderness that I would scatter them, dispersing them to the ends of the earth because they did not obey My laws but scorned them and violated My Sabbaths and longed for their fathers' idols. 25 I let them adopt customs and laws which were worthless. Through the keeping of them they could not attain life. 26 In the hope that they would draw back in horror and know that I alone am God, I let them pollute themselves with the very gifts I gave them. They burnt their firstborn children as offerings to their gods!"

When God takes a solemn oath, it is worth noting. His oath was against the children who were the ones entering the Promised Land. Again, this is a warning to the children of the visiting elders as well.

God did scatter them across the globe and into every nation. The Israel of God is found around the world today. This promise incorporated near and far events regarding the elders that sat before the prophet. The ten Northern tribes had already been dispersed; now a similar destiny awaited their generation.

Lifting the restraints from them, He allowed flesh to take its course. In not regarding the laws of God, they opened the door to heresy and worthless religion. They would denigrate into customs of men and religious diatribe. Today the worthless aspects of practiced religion are evidence that when sound doctrine is abandoned, the people backslide into the religious void of their own making. One of the identifying aspects of having attained that state is the ill treatment of their offspring, even to the realm of abortion--which is tantamount to offering them on a pagan altar.

Ezekiel 20:27-31:
27 "Son of dust, tell them that the Lord God says: 'Your fathers continued to blaspheme and betray Me when I brought them into the land I promised them, for they offered sacrifices and incense on every high hill and under every tree! They roused My fury as they offered up their sacrifices to those "gods." They brought their perfumes and incense and poured out their drink offerings to them! 29 I said to them: "What is this place of sacrifice where you go?" And so it is still called "The Place of Sacrifice"--that is how it got its name.'"

30 "The Lord God wants to know whether you are going to pollute yourselves just as your fathers did and keep on worshiping idols. 31 For when you offer gifts to them and give your little sons to be burned to ashes as you do even today, shall I listen to you or help you, Israel? As I live," the Lord God says, "I will not give you any message, though you have come to me to ask."

A warning to the assembled elders was not enough. God took action and declared them ("persona non grata"). He would not answer their prayers nor regard their inquiries (Verse 31 says it all).

They continued to offer gifts to idols and sacrifice their children to false gods. "As you do even today" was a characterization of the nation.

Even though God had spared their lives and given them promises of good things for the righteous-they chose the low road. Sitting in front of the prophet and making inquiry of God, while continuing in their sin, was mockery. In a subsequent verse, God rails, "It must stop (v.39)."

Ezekiel 20:32-38:
32 "What you have in mind will not be done--to be like the nations all around you, serving gods of wood and stone. 33 I will rule you with an iron fist and in great anger and with power. 34 With might and fury I will bring you out from the lands where you are scattered, 35 and will bring you into my desert judgment hall. I will judge you there and get rid of the rebels, just as I did in the wilderness after I brought you out of Egypt. 37 I will count you carefully and let only a small quota return. 38 And the others--the rebels and all those who sin against me--I will purge from among you. They shall not enter Israel, but I will bring them out of the countries where they are in exile. And when that happens, you will know I am the Lord.

The Lord uncovered the real cause for their behavior. Israel was tired of being a worshipper of an invisible God; they wanted to be like other nations. (When the 1948 nation of Israel voted, they wanted to be a State and not a religious entity. They wanted the status of a national presence, where they would be treated like other nations [I believe this desire had its origins during this captivity under Babylon].)

Because Egypt and Phoenicia had left their mark on the territories of Canaan and ultimately Israel, many of the pagan deities were already being worshipped. A religious relaxing took place, and the idea of covering all the bases through tolerance led to apostasy. Is this happening today?

Verse 35 tells of a winnowing process of judgment separating God's people from the general population. Does this have modern implications as well? If the Lord deemed it appropriate to purge the rebels in order to purify His people-what would happen if He did the same with His church?

Note: Only a small group would return of those who were carried away into Babylon. Perhaps a church within a church is already forming for the same purpose.

Ezekiel 20:39:
39 "O Israel," the Lord God says: "If you insist on worshiping your idols, go right ahead, but then don't bring your gifts to me as well! Such desecration of My holy name must stop!"

Jesus displayed a similar stance when He cleansed the Temple. He saw the thread of error Ezekiel saw 500 yrs before. Nothing had changed. Temple goers were no different in His day than in Ezekiel's.

What if God said to the congregations, "If you insist on worshiping your idols, go right ahead." What would be the result of such a decree in today's religious circles? At this moment, it is easy to imagine such a declaration from the Throne.

Ezekiel 20:40-44:
40 "For at Jerusalem in My holy mountain," says the Lord,"all Israel shall worship Me. There I will accept you and require you to bring Me your offerings and the finest of your gifts. 41 You will be to Me as an offering of perfumed incense when I bring you back from exile, and the nations will see the great change in your hearts. 42 Then, when I have brought you home to the land I promised your fathers, you will know I am the Lord. 43 Then you will look back at all your sins and loathe yourselves because of the evil you have done. 44 And when I have honored My name by blessing you despite your wickedness, then, O Israel, you will know I am the Lord."

Yes, the remnant returned from captivity, and, as in the case of those of the first wave with Zerubbabel, the 'old timers' wept at the Temple's loss of glory. God extended His grace to those under Ezra who sought the Lord's purity and allowed the Temple to be completely restored, but without His residence. Sacrifices would be made again. Prayers, as a house of prayer, would be restored. The priesthood would be restored. Did they have a change of heart? If your answer is "yes," then this prophecy was only for the Babylonian return. If your answer is "No," then there is room for future events.

The next few verses would serve better as an introduction for the next chapter. They are somewhat disconnected to the general theme of the previous verses. The relative tenor of it brings the prophecy back to a harshness more associated with Chapter 21.

Ezekiel 20:45-49:
Then this message came to me from the LORD: 46 "Son of man, look toward the south and speak out against it; prophesy against the fields of the Negev. 47 Give the southern wilderness this message from the Sovereign LORD: Hear the word of the LORD! I will set you on fire, O forest, and every tree will be burned - green and dry trees alike. The terrible flames will not be quenched; they will scorch everything from south to north. 48 And all the world will see that I, the LORD, have set this fire. It will not be put out."

49 Then I said, "O Sovereign LORD, they are saying of me, 'He only talks in riddles!' "

This is a prophetic word relative to Judah and Jerusalem being under judgment. The mention of the trees represents the population (men as trees). The righteous and the unrighteous are the green and dry ones. God intends to bring fire upon everyone. This happened when Babylon burned Jerusalem and took captive the remaining population. Ezekiel is showing the inevitability of this punishment. It will happen!

Note the reaction of the elders who came to hear the message of the Lord…"He talks in riddles." Jesus said He spoke parables so those with ears to hear would be able to understand. Of course, the opposite is also true. Realize these are the leaders of Israel who are versed in Scripture and the inner workings of the Temple, but they refused the message.

I believe they understood, but like today---refused the message anyway! Having ears, they refused to listen. Is this applicable to today's religious community? Yep!

Until Next month,

Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.


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To see the currently available books from Amazon, click on the cover images below.

The Sons of Zadok HR The Regal Pair Solomon's Secret Called to be Saints

Consumed By His Fire Double Grace En Punto A Study in Isaiah

The Road to Captivity Exact Ezekiel

Study Guide - The Sons of Zadok Study Guide - Called to be Saints Study Guide - The Road To Captivity

In Spanish:

Called to be Saints El Secreto de Salomon Los Hijos de Sadoc

In German:

Die Sohn Zadoks

To see the currently available books from Barnes & Noble, click on the cover images below.

Sons of Zadok Double Grace HR The Regal Pair Consumed By His Fire

Called to be Saints Solomon's Secret En Punto A Study in Isaiah

The Road to Captivity Exact Ezekiel

In Spanish:

Called to be Saints El Secreto de Salomon Los Hijos Sadoc

In German:

Die Sohn Zadoks

Last modified: 02/04/2019