September 4 — God’s Silence — Ezk. 20-21. Some of “the elders of Israel came to inquire of the LORD” (20:2) but God’s twice-repeated response was, “I will not be inquired of by you” (20:3, 31). Why such rejection? Because “to this day” (20:31), in Babylonian exile, they had continued to sin like their fathers through their idolatry. We cannot expect God to listen to our prayers or give us direction when we allow sin to continue in our lives. God said through Isaiah, “Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear” (Isa. 59:2). When we come to read God’s Word for direction or come to request something in prayer, let us first ask ourselves if there is a known sin that needs to be confessed and forsaken.
September 5 — Sinning Sisters — Ezk. 22-23. Do we learn from our mistakes? Do we learn from the mistakes of others? Jerusalem didn’t learn from her sister Samaria (capital of the northern kingdom of Israel), destroyed and dispersed 135 years earlier for her continued rebellion against God’s commands. She “made no distinction between the holy and the common” (22:26). I thought it was interesting that her name (Oholibah) sounds like “O holy bah!” We need to be careful today that we are not saying “Bah!” to holiness. God is holy. We must recognize that, and treat Him and everything connected with Him, with reverence. Holy attitudes and holy living are what God requires of us.
September 6 — Judgment Sandwich — Ezk. 24-26. The first 24 chapters of Ezekiel focus on the sins and the coming destruction of Jerusalem. Sadly, God told them, “I would have cleansed you,” but they refused to repent. Chapter 24 ends with the promise to Ezekiel that when Jerusalem fell, “a fugitive will come to you to report to you the news” (24:26). That fugitive arrived (33:21) and Ezekiel finished his last 14 chapters, writing about the future of Jerusalem and the Jewish people. But sandwiched between those two fugitive statements, Ezekiel pronounced judgment on seven nations surrounding Judah (ch. 25-32). Today we read about the coming judgment on Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia, and Tyre. Later will be added the prophecies against Sidon and Egypt.
September 7 — Tyre and Sidon — Ezk. 27-28. Tyre and Sidon were cities located 25 miles apart on the Mediterranean coast, north of the Sea of Galilee’s latitude. The southern-most city, Tyre, was actually an island city about one-half mile off the coast, sporting two large harbors that provided access to merchant ships. Chapter 27 even pictures the city as a merchant ship. It became very proud of its great wealth and prestige, so proud that it said, “I am a god, I sit in the seat of the gods” (28:2). But “how the mighty have fallen!” as we were reminded in 2 Sam. 1:27. Twice in this prophecy against them, God said, “you have come to a dreadful end and shall be no more forever” (27:36; 28:19). Besides Tyre, I can think of only one other city God destroyed and said that it would never be rebuilt—Babylon, which was also wealthy and proud. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18). Beware of the pride of wealth, beauty, influence, or power!
September 8 — Tyre and Egypt — Ezk. 29-30. The statement that neither Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, “nor his army got anything from Tyre” (29:18) comes somewhat as a surprise. This last dated (571 BC) prophecy of Ezekiel against the surrounding nations was written after Babylon’s 13-year unsuccessful attempt to conquer Tyre’s island city. Nebuchadnezzar did have success against the people of Tyre who lived on the mainland (26:7) but not against the more significant island. Ezekiel predicted that God would “bring up many nations against you” (26:3) before Tyre fell, which didn’t happen for 240 years (332 BC), when Alexander the Great built a land bridge to the island to destroy it. Next, it was Egypt’s turn to be destroyed, and the conqueror was clearly identified when God said, “I will put an end to the wealth of Egypt by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon” (30:10). Why would Egypt be destroyed? Partly for the same reason given for Tyre: they both made claims of deity. Tyre said, “I am a god” (28:2) and Egypt said, “My Nile is my own; I made it for myself” (29:3).
September 9 — Doomsville — Ezk. 31-32. Ezekiel’s collection of prophecies against Judah’s surrounding nations (ch. 26-32) ends with a summary of their punishment of being poured into the pit of death. Many of them had boasted of their wealth and strength but ended up sharing the same empty fate. But, don’t let these depressing chapters ruin your day! We belong to a “spiritual nation” of hope that is destined for heaven. Rejoice today in our anticipated resurrection life!
September 10 — Fall to Rise — Ezk. 33-34. Five months after Jerusalem fell to Nebuchadnezzar, a Hebrew refugee made his way to Babylon with the news (33:21). It is a turning point in Ezekiel, with prophecies shifting from being against Judah and its surrounding nations to its eventual restoration. The restoration would be both physical and current: “I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and bring them into their own land” (34:13). But it would also be partly spiritual and eschatological, reaching to the time of the Messianic age: “I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David” (34:23). That reign began figuratively with Christ’s first coming, which introduced the indwelling Spirit that we enjoy today. It will become more literal with Christ’s second coming when He will physically rule on the earth.