Ezekiel 19-21

Refining, When Things Get Hot

Chapter 19 is an expression of grief usually accompanied by drum beats or one beating their breast. The subject of this lamentation is the last three kings to sit on Judah’s throne who were taken captive to other nations. Jehoahaz was taken to Egypt by Pharaoh Neco. The second king or lion cub is Jehoiachin He was taken captive to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. Jehoiakim who reigned in between these two kings is not mentioned because he died in Judah. The third king, at the time this was written, Zedekiah, is still reigning but will also be taken to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar soon, and the nation will be destroyed.

Chapter 20 begins the last warning from God before Jerusalem is captured and destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. What brings on this prophesy is that the elders came to Ezekiel to inquire of God but God says He will not be inquired of by them, but He has plenty to say to them.

God had promised to make Abraham’s descendants into a great nation but rebellion has been their pattern from the days of Jacob.  As we saw in our study of Genesis, Jacob’s sons were in rebellion and had sold their brother Joseph into slavery. They let their father believe Joseph had been killed. Because of their sin and rebellion the family was falling apart and certainly not following God. God sent a famine on the land and the family was forced to go to Egypt to buy food. What seemed like it would be a simple transaction became a time of trial and difficulty for the family but finally Joseph, who God delivered out of slavery and elevated him to being second in command after Pharaoh, revealed himself to his brothers and the family was eventually reunited and relocated to Egypt. There they prospered and did well for a time.

It would appear from verses 5-10 that as Israel was living in Egypt they started following the Egyptian idols so God allowed them to be enslaved until they cried out to Him for deliverance.

Egypt is a type of the world. We all have to live in this world but to the rebellious, the things of the world that are so appealing start to live in them, take control, and eventually enslave.

This pattern is repeated over and over throughout Israel’s history. Truly it is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. It doesn’t make sense to us but it makes sense to the rebellious. The real question for us today is, are we in danger of following the same pattern? The answer is YES!

Israel could not see what was plainly going on around them. Are we able to see what is going on around us? Anger from blocked goals I believe is a sign that the world is starting to enslave especially when it turns to rage. Addiction, all kinds including obesity, over the counter drugs, gambling, porn, and so on, is another sign. The list of addictions seems endless. Hopelessness and depression is still another sign. Debt, debt, and more debt, is another sign. So what do we do?  We need to change who we trust. Trusting the world’s solutions which are always presented with hope, end in some form of enslavement. Jesus said, to those who were listening to Him and believing in Him, “….If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” John 8:31b &32. NASB

Freedom is found in Christ Jesus, but note, this is not a onetime event or an on and off again relationship. To be truly free one must remain in Him and not wander back to the old lifestyle and the “new” things and solutions the world has to offer which are marketed as hope.

Our world is like the frog in the kettle. The heat is ever increasing but we just adapt to the culture around us not realizing what is to come. One of the most common ways is to blow off the warnings. That is what the people did to Ezekiel. In the last verse of Chapter 20 they discounted the message by saying he was only speaking in parables. Their attitude was like the saying, “same song, same verse, a little bit louder, a little bit worse.”

They can’t see what is happening right before their eyes nor do they understand that they have been taken from Jerusalem as captives to Babylon. By blowing off the warning they are showing that they are deaf to the message and do not notice that the heat is increasing.

When people tell me that they don’t read the Old Testament because of all the judgments and war, and only want to hear messages from the New Testament, I get concerned. When we reject a huge portion of the Word of God, are we not falling into the same pattern that Israel did? Are we not deaf when we tune God out? Even though the people tuned out the message God gave them through Ezekiel, God did not stop speaking as we see in Chapter 21. The problem was they were not listening which was why they were exiles in Babylon. Even in the land of Babylon God can bless His people and give them freedom from all the fears and hopelessness they were going through as Jeremiah made clear in Jeremiah 29. Of course if they don’t listen they won’t know there is hope. They will just remain in their hopeless state where things just get worse and end poorly.

 Forget what’s in your wallet. Who are you abiding in?

Pastor Dave