ABC Aug. 28 – Sep. 3

August 28 — Ezekiel 5-8 — Reasons for Wrath (about 593 – 592 BC).  These chapters were written after the Chaldeans overcame Jerusalem and carried away captives like Ezekiel to Babylon.  Jerusalem was not destroyed at that time and Nebuchadnezzar installed the Jewish King Zedekiah and allowed the nation to continue.  But that exile was only the first step of God’s punishment of His people and about 12 years later, God gave Ezekiel several reasons for His complete judgment, which would come 5-6 years later.  The first reason punishment was coming was because Jerusalem “has rebelled against my rules” (5:6).  The second reason was that they “have defiled my sanctuary” (v. 11), which was shown in a vision series that included an undefined “image of jealousy” (8:3) set up in the inner court, 70 elders worshiping in a secret place surrounded by idolatrous pictures (vv. 10-11), women weeping for the Sumerian god Tammuz (v. 14), and 25 men “worshiping the sun” (v. 17) in front of the temple.  The third reason for their punishment, stated 8 times, was that “they shall know that I am the LORD” (5:13; 6:1, 10, 13, 14; 7:4, 9, 27).  God’s ultimate purpose for punishment was to wake them up so that they “will remember me” (6:9).  God disciplines His people today, for the same reason: to recognize His rebuke and to remember Him as the loving God that deserves our attention.

August 29 — Ezekiel 9-12 — Marked for God (about 592 BC).  In Ezekiel’s vision, the angelic “man clothed in linen” (9:2) was given the task of applying a protecting mark on the foreheads of some of the people in Jerusalem before it was to be destroyed.  How were these men chosen?  They were the ones who “groan over all the abominations that are committed in [Jerusalem]” (v. 4).  They grieved over the sin that surrounded them, even among their leaders.  That arrested me.  How much do I grieve over prevalent sins in my culture, like addictions, abortion, greed, profanity, sexual perversions, and immoral entertainment?  I certainly do not approve of it and hate to see that it represents lostness and is destroying lives but do I grieve over it?  If the “man clothed in linen” passed by me, would he notice my grief?  Heartache over the sins around us is one mark of wholehearted connection to God.  Let us take up the burden that God feels about sin.  When we pray, let us grieve over the sins that we stumble into and the sins that characterize our culture.  It will change us and we will be noticed not only by the “man clothed in linen” but by others around us within and outside the family of God.

August 30 — Ezekiel 13-15 — False Prophets (about 592 BC).  I couldn’t help but think about some recent TV “prophets” as I read these chapters in Ezekiel today.  Although these modern “prophets” might begin with the positive New Testament emphasis on faith, they distort it to prey on the natural, selfish, and sinful greed of people.  Like in Ezekiel’s time, their “prophetic message” comes “from their own hearts” (13:2) as they “follow their own spirit” (v. 3).  They announced to the people, “… ‘Declares the LORD,’ when the LORD has not sent them, and yet they expect him to fulfill their word” (v. 6).  God’s displeasure and judgment were on them, however, “because they have misled my people” (v. 10) and they are “in the hunt for souls” (v. 18).  We have an advantage over the people of Ezekiel’s day because we have the standard of God’s whole written Word against which to judge messages that we hear from those claiming to represent the Lord.  Your daily reading of Scripture is building protection against false ideas that we may hear from others.  The Truth exposes that which is false.

August 31 — Ezekiel 16-17 — Live! Live! — Woe! Woe! (about 592 BC).  The long and graphic story of chapter 16 emphasizes God’s grace and faithfulness in contrast to mankind’s ungratefulness and unfaithfulness.  His grace was shown to Jerusalem by pointing out how helpless and alone she was at the beginning when He “found” her abandoned.  His cry of loving concern was, “Live! … Live!” (16:6) and His demonstration of love and grace was, “I made you flourish” (v. 7).  Then, He “entered into a covenant with [her]” (v. 8) but after God had shown His grace, she “trusted in [her] beauty” (v. 15), “played the whore” (v. 17) with idols, and “did not remember the days of [her] youth” (v. 22).  So, because of her insistent sin, God declared, “woe, woe to you!” (v. 23) and she received her deserved punishment.  God’s desire for us and plea to us is “Live!” but there is also the warning of “Woe!”  We begin and continue to “Live!” when we surrender to God’s love and instruction to us.  Why risk the “Woe!” of God’s discipline by going our own way or by following the path of the world?

September 1 — Ezekiel 18-19 — Is God Just? (about 592 BC).  The Jews of Ezekiel’s day had a distorted view of justice.  Their oft-quoted proverb (18:1) suggested that the sins of a father should be inherited by, or at least rubbed off on, his children.  All of chapter 18 is a refutation of that idea, with God straightening out their crooked sense of justice.  God twice declared that each person will be judged according to their own sin: “the soul who sins shall die” (vv. 4, 20).  And later, “I will judge … every one according to his ways” (v. 30).  That sounds like a no-brainer to us but it was a stumbling block to those Jews.  Their second problem with God’s justice had to do with one’s change in relationship to sin (v. 25).  They didn’t like the idea that God was willing to forgive a wicked person who turned away from sin (v. 21) or that God would punish a righteous person who turned back to a life of sin (v. 24).  They recoiled at the former because they didn’t understand the perfect love of God and they balked at the latter because they didn’t understand the perfect justice of God.

September 2 — Ezekiel 20-21 — For the Sake of My Name (about 591 BC).  Some of the exiled elders of Israel came to Ezekiel “to inquire of the LORD” (20:1) but their hearts were not right before God.  In their minds they were thinking, “Let us be like the nations … and worship wood and stone” (v. 32), therefore God told them, “I will not be inquired of by you” (v. 31).  God reminded them that they were thinking just like their ancestors.  He had told their fathers in Egypt to cast away the Egyptian idols (v. 7) but they would not.  Instead of wiping them out in His wrath, however, God spared them “for the sake of my name” (v. 9).  He freed them from slavery and led them into the wilderness to give them His laws but they rebelled.  God wanted to wipe them out entirely (v. 13) but He again spared them “for the sake of my name” (v. 14).  For the remaining 40 years in the wilderness, their children also rebelled against God but He said, “I withheld my hand … for the sake of my name” (v. 22).  That pattern of disobedience followed them into the Promised Land (v. 28) until they were again experiencing God’s punishment.  But in His grace, God revealed a future time when “all the house of Israel … shall serve me in the land” (v. 40).  Then, they will be repentant, remembering their ways and loathing themselves, and God said that He would “deal with you for my name’s sake, not according to your evil ways” (v. 43).  We live in that Age of Grace where, because of the sacrifice of Christ and for the sake of God’s holy name, He forgives us.  Oh, what a privilege!

September 3 — Ezekiel 22-23 — Turned in Disgust (about 591 BC).  Ezekiel was in Babylonian exile, yet God instructed him to prophesy against Jerusalem before her final fall: “declare to her” (22:2), “say to her” (v. 24), and “declare to them” (23:36).  How was he to do that since Babylon was over 1,600 miles (2,600 km) from Jerusalem?  Maybe he had a way to send messengers or maybe the message was for the sake of the exiles who would soon hear of its fulfillment.  God’s basic message was that “You have become guilty … and you have brought your days near” (22:3) but sadly, “me you have forgotten” (v. 12) and they would have to experience “the fire of my wrath” (v. 21).  God then reviewed the history of Israel from Egypt to Babylon through a graphic sexual picture of two promiscuous sisters, representing Samaria, the northern kingdom of Israel, and Jerusalem, for the southern kingdom of Judah.  How were they adulterous with Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon?  “With their idols they have committed adultery” (23:37).  Her adultery was not really satisfying, however, and three times it says that “she turned from them in disgust” (v. 17, cf. :22, 28).  Then, God had the same reaction to her open shame: “I turned in disgust from her” (v. 18).  Ultimately, sin is disgusting, and we should turn away from it in order to find God’s approval rather than His disgust.

Published by abibleread

This website honors the Bible as the inspired Word of God through which God speaks to us as we read and study it.

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