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:
Last time we looked at chapters 31 and 32 of Ezekiel. Now, let us take an overview of:
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.”
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.
Action verbs (underlined) of the Good Shepherd in Ezekiel 34:
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,