TODAYíS READING: EZEKIEL 33-36
The responsibility of the watchman and the fall of Jerusalem (chapter thirty-three); Wicked shepherds and Godís Shepherd (chapter thirty-four); Judgment against Edom (chapter thirty-five); Restoration of Israel (chapter thirty-six).
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
Chapter 33 begins with Godís admonition to Ezekiel concerning his responsibility as a watchman for Israel. Once again, God emphasizes that it is not Ezekielís responsibility to change the heart of the people. However, it is his responsibility to proclaim Godís truth.
Because of Ezekielís warning, the children of Israel considered their situation hopeless (33:10). However, within Godís admonition we also find Godís mercy. Oftentimes when reading the prophets of the Old Testament one might feel that God takes pleasure in inflicting judgment on His people. Nothing could be further from the truth. God reminds Ezekiel that He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but desires that the wicked would repent and live (33:11).
Our responsibility to our lost friends and neighbors is no different than Ezekielís responsibility to his kinsman. We are to warn those who one day will be the recipients of Godís wrath, to turn from their sin and to walk in the statutes of life and live (33:11-16). Who have you warned this week? With whom have you shared the story of Godís mercy? We are the watchman. We are seated on the wall of a city, knowing full well Godís judgment is imminent. Those asleep in the city might be our family, friends and neighbors. God forbid we would be silent.
This chapter also reveals the depth of manís pride. Rather than repent, the children of Israel were questioning Godís fairness in judgment (33:17-20). Oftentimes that is manís response to reproof. Questions such as, ďWould a loving God send people to hell?Ē and statements such as, ďIím no worse than anyone elseĒ are nothing more than manís attempt to not take responsibility for his own sin. However, God says he will judge every man after his own ways (33:20).
For years Ezekiel had warned that Jerusalem would eventually fall to Babylon. One who had escaped notified Ezekiel that Jerusalem had fallen (33:21). Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 BC (II Chron. 36:19). Ezekiel further warns those who were spared in the destruction of Jerusalem and scattered in the land that they are still in danger of Godís judgment (33:27-28).
Ezekiel knows that Jerusalem has fallen before the messenger even arrives. Ezekiel 33:22 states that the hand of the LORD was upon him in the evening before the one who had escaped comes to him. Verse 23 says the word of the LORD comes to Ezekiel. Ezekiel 33:23-39:29 records Godís word to Ezekiel the night before the messenger comes. Chapters 40-48 are dated more than twelve years after the destruction of Jerusalem.
The end of the chapter contains a short commentary on many of Godís people in every generation. Even those in exile with Ezekiel were talking against him (33:30). How sad that one of the enemies greatest tactics is to deceive Godís people into talking against Godís leaders. They still came and sat before Ezekiel as you would expect Godís people to do, and listened to Ezekiel as you would expect Godís children to do, and even enjoyed Ezekielís words as you would expect Godís children to do, but they just wouldnít do what Ezekiel said! God says that when His judgment is come, His people will know that a prophet had been among them (33:31-33).
Chapter 34 contains Ezekielís condemnation of Israelís leaders. Instead of protecting and providing for Godís people, they had only served themselves. They had failed to care for Godís people and to seek after Godís people (34:2-6). Because of the failure of Israelís leadership, the children of Israel had been scattered (34:5-6). God says that He will personally seek out His lost sheep and save them (34:11-16). This is what Jesus spoke of in Matthew 9:36. There is still a future restoration for the children of Israel.
God then promises that He will set up ďone shepherd,Ē even my servant David (34:23-24). This is a reference to the Shepherd who would come from Davidís line, the Lord Jesus Christ (John 10:11). Doctrinally, the passage is speaking of Christís millennial reign.
Chapter thirty-five contains a prophecy against Edom, which is called Seir (Genesis 32:3). Mount Seir covers the mountainous area settled by the Edomites. This prophecy has been literally fulfilled. Edom was defeated by Babylon, then by Medo-Persia, and then in 126 B.C. by John Hyrcanus the Hasmonean, who compelled them to become Jews. There is no trace of the Edomites now.
Chapter thirty-six speaks to the restoration of Israel. Even in the midst of their exile and judgment, God asks creation to remember His promise to Israel (36:1). Israel has been scattered, but they will be restored! God specifically says in Ezekiel 36:24 that He will gather the children of Israel out of all countries and bring them again into their own land. This was fulfilled in 1948 when the Jews returned to their homeland after World War II. Ezekiel 36:25-38 speaks to the restoration of Israel in the millennium. We are living in the ďspaceĒ between verses 24 and 25! There has never been a nation in history that has been brought together again as Israel has. The restoration of Israel is one of the greatest proofs that the Bible is Godís Word. Prior to 1948, many scholars scoffed at those who believed that Israel would be physically gathered together again as stated in Ezekiel 36:24. However, after 1948 it isnít hard to see at all. Blessed are those who donít ha!
ve to see to believe!
CHRIST IS REVEALED:
As the ONE SHEPHERD Ė Ezek. 34:23-24 (I Peter 5:4)