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August 13, 2006


“For out of Zion shall go forth the Law and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem

(Isaiah 2:3 and Micah 4:2).

From that launching pad, we will continue studies with Ezekiel.

 

From Gory to Glory

The Book of Ezekiel - as other prophetic books of the Bible - was written to Israel. And, although, other nations are mentioned, how does our own USA figure in?

For some time many have pointed out that “USA” is in the middle of JerUSAlem. Can this play on words be enlarged from Scripture?

To discover this in the Book of Ezekiel is an intricate study and may take 2 or 3 of these newsletters to do it any kind of justice. Therefore, I beg your patience and suggest you consider it when you have a quiet time to think, without the many other voices of the day clamoring for attention.

Appropriate here are some guidelines we are using for our Jerusalem midrashim (sharing Bible studies) between Jews and Christians here in my rented apartment. Some of these guides are direct quotes from Elmer A. Josephson, my late husband’s writings:

  • May we approach Bible study with a mind and heart open to learn without intimidation toward each other.

  • This can be done if we have an attitude of respect and acceptance of where another is in his/her understanding and learning.

  • A preconceived concept of, “I’m right; I won’t change, but I’m going to change you” - will blind us and close our minds to further understanding of concepts that would transform our stagnant lives into fountains of blessing. Many evangelicals have accepted certain interpretations of various passages because Dr. Knowsall and Sister Neverwrong believed and taught it. Most of us are apt to read, study and attend meetings for the purpose of confirming what we already believe. When someone dares to open a window to let a new fresh-air-thought in, it suddenly awakens the dozing saints long enough for them to cry, “Heresy,” without really taking time to carefully examine the invading truth. The intruder is immediately rejected and ejected and the sleepy saints fall back into their acclesiastical snoozing again. (Italics - EAJ)

Last time we looked at chapters 31 and 32 of Ezekiel. Now, let us take an overview of:

Chapter 33:

V. 1, “And again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,” In the KJV when “LORD” or “GOD” is all in caps, it is a translation from the tetragrammaton - the unpronounceable Name of the God of Israel - the most high God.

Chapter 33 goes on to give instructions to watchmen for the house of Israel and the warnings they are to give when danger is imminent. When the warning trumpet sounds, those who hear and take precautions, will live and those who ‘break the curfew’ will die.

The declaration is, “As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn you, turn you from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?” (V. 11)

Hold on and stay with us and we shall see how this admonition applies not only to the “House of Israel” as in the nation of Israel today - but in an awakening clarion call to our own USA - beginning with “the House of God” (i.e., believers; I Peter 4:17).

He goes on in verses 18-20 to reveal that turning away from God’s righteous love-laws, trusting in one’s own righteousness and committing transgression of those life-preserving laws, will bring death upon oneself and the former “righteousness” shall not be remembered. That is, will not keep the bad results away.

On the other hand verses 15 & 16 tell us, “If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he has robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity, he shall surely live, he shall not die. None of his sins that he has committed shall be mentioned unto him: he has done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live.”

Who, then, can charge the Almighty of unequal ways (V. 17) when we are merely reaping what we ourselves have sown? “You stand upon [rely upon] your [own] sword, you work abomination and you defile every one his neighbor’s wife: and shall you possess the land?” (V. 26).

The chapter then declares there will be an action that will bring down the pride of mankind, so that all will “know that I am the LORD.”

In verses 31 - 33, the attitude of the people toward Ezekiel was, “Oh, isn’t he a great man? Isn’t he talented? He sings and plays and speaks so well.” They hear but do not. However, when the above act will come, they will “know that a prophet had been among them.”

Chapter 34:

This chapter is a parable of true and false shepherds. Verses 1-10 give a scathing reprimand to the false shepherds that feed themselves instead of the sheep. Please read it thoroughly to learn the identity of the false shepherds among us.

Then the rest of the chapter gives the wonderful action verbs of the Great Shepherd of Israel (see footnote) as He restores His flock. Compare this with the words of Jesus in John 10, and note especially verse 16 which speaks of two flocks being made into one - not replacement theology but re-joining and restoration.

In Ezekiel 34:17 & 22, we learn He will judge “between cattle and cattle.” Between the two flocks of sheep - the two houses of Israel - and between Jews and believers from among the nations. What nation today had a Biblical foundation quite related to the nation of Israel? What is it that binds the two nations but our common Judaic/Christian values? Is this not why the culture of death hates both nations? And not that either of us are lily white can we expect God to help us - but the Almighty God of Israel and the Son of His Love has chosen a people for His purpose. Are we with it?

Don’t turn off here or you might miss a shining highway you are invited by the Good Shepherd to join.

Next time we will go further into Ezekiel’s marvelous prophetic words.

FOOTNOTE:

Action verbs (underlined) of the Good Shepherd in Ezekiel 34:

  • Searches & seeks for His sheep among the scattered in the cloudy and dark day, and delivers them. (Verses 11-13)

  • Will bring them out … and gather them from the countries and bring them to their own land and feed them in the mountains, etc. (Verses 13-14)

  • Feed and cause the flock to lie down. (Verse 15)

  • Seek the lost and bring again (repetition in Scripture is not redundancy); bind up the broken; strengthen the weak and sick; destroy the fat and the strong (pride and control of man); feed with judgment, i.e., justice. (Verse 16)

  • Save the flock and judge between fat cattle and lean cattle (haves and have-nots). (Verse 20 & 22)

  • Set up one shepherd over them. (Verse 23)

  • The LORD will be their God. (Verse 24)

  • Make them a covenant of PEACE and cause evil beasts to cease. (Verse 25)

  • Make them and the places round about my hill (Jerusalem) a blessing and cause showers of blessing. (Verse 26)

  • On and on the positive actions of the Lord continue in verses 27-29, as:

1. Trees yield fruit and the earth yields increase

2. They will be safe in their land when He has broken the bands of their yoke and delivered them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them.

3. They shall no more be prey to the nations, and none shall make them afraid.

4. He will raise up for them a “plant of renown” and they shall be no more consumed with hunger in the land, neither bear the shame of the heathen any more.

Verses 30 & 31 concludes the chapter. “Thus shall they know that I the LORD their God am with them, and that they, even the house of Israel, are my people saith the Lord GOD.

“And you my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord GOD.”

That’s sounds pretty secure and positive, doesn’t it?

                 In His Love,

                         Chris Josephson