+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!
Opening – (Northumbria Community)
One thing I have asked of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life; to behold the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.
Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ, King of endless glory.
Reading: Ezekiel 7-12 (NLT)
The Coming of the End
Ezekiel 7 (NLT) – Then this message came to me from the Lord: “Son of man, this is what the Sovereign Lord says to Israel:
“The end is here! Wherever you look—east, west, north, or south—your land is finished. No hope remains, for I will unleash my anger against you. I will call you to account for all your detestable sins. I will turn my eyes away and show no pity. I will repay you for all your detestable sins. Then you will know that I am the Lord.
“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Disaster after disaster is coming your way! The end has come. It has finally arrived. Your final doom is waiting! O people of Israel, the day of your destruction is dawning. The time has come; the day of trouble is near. Shouts of anguish will be heard on the mountains, not shouts of joy. Soon I will pour out my fury on you and unleash my anger against you. I will call you to account for all your detestable sins. I will turn my eyes away and show no pity. I will repay you for all your detestable sins. Then you will know that it is I, the Lord, who is striking the blow.
“The day of judgment is here; your destruction awaits! The people’s wickedness and pride have blossomed to full flower. Their violence has grown into a rod that will beat them for their wickedness. None of these proud and wicked people will survive. All their wealth and prestige will be swept away. Yes, the time has come; the day is here! Buyers should not rejoice over bargains, nor sellers grieve over losses, for all of them will fall under my terrible anger. Even if the merchants survive, they will never return to their business. For what God has said applies to everyone—it will not be changed! Not one person whose life is twisted by sin will ever recover.
The Desolation of Israel
“The trumpet calls Israel’s army to mobilize, but no one listens, for my fury is against them all. There is war outside the city and disease and famine within. Those outside the city walls will be killed by enemy swords. Those inside the city will die of famine and disease. The survivors who escape to the mountains will moan like doves, weeping for their sins. Their hands will hang limp, their knees will be weak as water. They will dress themselves in burlap; horror and shame will cover them. They will shave their heads in sorrow and remorse.
“They will throw their money in the streets, tossing it out like worthless trash. Their silver and gold won’t save them on that day of the Lord’s anger. It will neither satisfy nor feed them, for their greed can only trip them up. They were proud of their beautiful jewelry and used it to make detestable idols and vile images. Therefore, I will make all their wealth disgusting to them. I will give it as plunder to foreigners, to the most wicked of nations, and they will defile it. I will turn my eyes from them as these robbers invade and defile my treasured land.
“Prepare chains for my people, for the land is bloodied by terrible crimes. Jerusalem is filled with violence. I will bring the most ruthless of nations to occupy their homes. I will break down their proud fortresses and defile their sanctuaries. Terror and trembling will overcome my people. They will look for peace but not find it. Calamity will follow calamity; rumor will follow rumor. They will look in vain for a vision from the prophets. They will receive no teaching from the priests and no counsel from the leaders. The king and the prince will stand helpless, weeping in despair, and the people’s hands will tremble with fear. I will bring on them the evil they have done to others, and they will receive the punishment they so richly deserve. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”
Idolatry in the Temple
Ezekiel 8 (NLT) – Then on September 17, during the sixth year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity, while the leaders of Judah were in my home, the Sovereign Lord took hold of me. I saw a figure that appeared to be a man. From what appeared to be his waist down, he looked like a burning flame. From the waist up he looked like gleaming amber. He reached out what seemed to be a hand and took me by the hair. Then the Spirit lifted me up into the sky and transported me to Jerusalem in a vision from God. I was taken to the north gate of the inner courtyard of the Temple, where there is a large idol that has made the Lord very jealous. Suddenly, the glory of the God of Israel was there, just as I had seen it before in the valley.
Then the Lord said to me, “Son of man, look toward the north.” So I looked, and there to the north, beside the entrance to the gate near the altar, stood the idol that had made the Lord so jealous.
“Son of man,” he said, “do you see what they are doing? Do you see the detestable sins the people of Israel are committing to drive me from my Temple? But come, and you will see even more detestable sins than these!” Then he brought me to the door of the Temple courtyard, where I could see a hole in the wall. He said to me, “Now, son of man, dig into the wall.” So I dug into the wall and found a hidden doorway.
“Go in,” he said, “and see the wicked and detestable sins they are committing in there!” So I went in and saw the walls covered with engravings of all kinds of crawling animals and detestable creatures. I also saw the various idols worshiped by the people of Israel. Seventy leaders of Israel were standing there with Jaazaniah son of Shaphan in the center. Each of them held an incense burner, from which a cloud of incense rose above their heads.
Then the Lord said to me, “Son of man, have you seen what the leaders of Israel are doing with their idols in dark rooms? They are saying, ‘The Lord doesn’t see us; he has deserted our land!’” Then the Lord added, “Come, and I will show you even more detestable sins than these!”
He brought me to the north gate of the Lord’s Temple, and some women were sitting there, weeping for the god Tammuz. “Have you seen this?” he asked. “But I will show you even more detestable sins than these!”
Then he brought me into the inner courtyard of the Lord’s Temple. At the entrance to the sanctuary, between the entry room and the bronze altar, there were about twenty-five men with their backs to the sanctuary of the Lord. They were facing east, bowing low to the ground, worshiping the sun!
“Have you seen this, son of man?” he asked. “Is it nothing to the people of Judah that they commit these detestable sins, leading the whole nation into violence, thumbing their noses at me, and provoking my anger? Therefore, I will respond in fury. I will neither pity nor spare them. And though they cry for mercy, I will not listen.”
The Slaughter of Idolaters
Ezekiel 9 (NLT) – Then the Lord thundered, “Bring on the men appointed to punish the city! Tell them to bring their weapons with them!” Six men soon appeared from the upper gate that faces north, each carrying a deadly weapon in his hand. With them was a man dressed in linen, who carried a writer’s case at his side. They all went into the Temple courtyard and stood beside the bronze altar.
Then the glory of the God of Israel rose up from between the cherubim, where it had rested, and moved to the entrance of the Temple. And the Lord called to the man dressed in linen who was carrying the writer’s case. He said to him, “Walk through the streets of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of all who weep and sigh because of the detestable sins being committed in their city.”
Then I heard the Lord say to the other men, “Follow him through the city and kill everyone whose forehead is not marked. Show no mercy; have no pity! Kill them all—old and young, girls and women and little children. But do not touch anyone with the mark. Begin right here at the Temple.” So they began by killing the seventy leaders.
“Defile the Temple!” the Lord commanded. “Fill its courtyards with corpses. Go!” So they went and began killing throughout the city.
While they were out killing, I was all alone. I fell face down on the ground and cried out, “O Sovereign Lord! Will your fury against Jerusalem wipe out everyone left in Israel?”
Then he said to me, “The sins of the people of Israel and Judah are very, very great. The entire land is full of murder; the city is filled with injustice. They are saying, ‘The Lord doesn’t see it! The Lord has abandoned the land!’ So I will not spare them or have any pity on them. I will fully repay them for all they have done.”
Then the man in linen clothing, who carried the writer’s case, reported back and said, “I have done as you commanded.”
The Lord’s Glory Leaves the Temple
Ezekiel 10 (NLT) – In my vision I saw what appeared to be a throne of blue lapis lazuli above the crystal surface over the heads of the cherubim. Then the Lord spoke to the man in linen clothing and said, “Go between the whirling wheels beneath the cherubim, and take a handful of burning coals and scatter them over the city.” He did this as I watched.
The cherubim were standing at the south end of the Temple when the man went in, and the cloud of glory filled the inner courtyard. Then the glory of the Lord rose up from above the cherubim and went over to the entrance of the Temple. The Temple was filled with this cloud of glory, and the courtyard glowed brightly with the glory of the Lord. The moving wings of the cherubim sounded like the voice of God Almighty and could be heard even in the outer courtyard.
The Lord said to the man in linen clothing, “Go between the cherubim and take some burning coals from between the wheels.” So the man went in and stood beside one of the wheels. Then one of the cherubim reached out his hand and took some live coals from the fire burning among them. He put the coals into the hands of the man in linen clothing, and the man took them and went out. (All the cherubim had what looked like human hands under their wings.)
I looked, and each of the four cherubim had a wheel beside him, and the wheels sparkled like beryl. All four wheels looked alike and were made the same; each wheel had a second wheel turning crosswise within it. The cherubim could move in any of the four directions they faced, without turning as they moved. They went straight in the direction they faced, never turning aside. Both the cherubim and the wheels were covered with eyes. The cherubim had eyes all over their bodies, including their hands, their backs, and their wings. I heard someone refer to the wheels as “the whirling wheels.” Each of the four cherubim had four faces: the first was the face of an ox, the second was a human face, the third was the face of a lion, and the fourth was the face of an eagle.
Then the cherubim rose upward. These were the same living beings I had seen beside the Kebar River. When the cherubim moved, the wheels moved with them. When they lifted their wings to fly, the wheels stayed beside them. When the cherubim stopped, the wheels stopped. When they flew upward, the wheels rose up, for the spirit of the living beings was in the wheels.
Then the glory of the Lord moved out from the entrance of the Temple and hovered above the cherubim. And as I watched, the cherubim flew with their wheels to the east gate of the Lord’s Temple. And the glory of the God of Israel hovered above them.
These were the same living beings I had seen beneath the God of Israel when I was by the Kebar River. I knew they were cherubim, for each had four faces and four wings and what looked like human hands under their wings. And their faces were just like the faces of the beings I had seen at the Kebar, and they traveled straight ahead, just as the others had.
Judgment on Israel’s Leaders
Ezekiel 11 (NLT) – Then the Spirit lifted me and brought me to the east gateway of the Lord’s Temple, where I saw twenty-five prominent men of the city. Among them were Jaazaniah son of Azzur and Pelatiah son of Benaiah, who were leaders among the people.
The Spirit said to me, “Son of man, these are the men who are planning evil and giving wicked counsel in this city. They say to the people, ‘Is it not a good time to build houses? This city is like an iron pot. We are safe inside it like meat in a pot.’ Therefore, son of man, prophesy against them loudly and clearly.”
Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon me, and he told me to say, “This is what the Lord says to the people of Israel: I know what you are saying, for I know every thought that comes into your minds. You have murdered many in this city and filled its streets with the dead.
“Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: This city is an iron pot all right, but the pieces of meat are the victims of your injustice. As for you, I will soon drag you from this pot. I will bring on you the sword of war you so greatly fear, says the Sovereign Lord. I will drive you out of Jerusalem and hand you over to foreigners, who will carry out my judgments against you. You will be slaughtered all the way to the borders of Israel. I will execute judgment on you, and you will know that I am the Lord. No, this city will not be an iron pot for you, and you will not be like meat safe inside it. I will judge you even to the borders of Israel, and you will know that I am the Lord. For you have refused to obey my decrees and regulations; instead, you have copied the standards of the nations around you.”
While I was still prophesying, Pelatiah son of Benaiah suddenly died. Then I fell face down on the ground and cried out, “O Sovereign Lord, are you going to kill everyone in Israel?”
Hope for Exiled Israel
Then this message came to me from the Lord: “Son of man, the people still left in Jerusalem are talking about you and your relatives and all the people of Israel who are in exile. They are saying, ‘Those people are far away from the Lord, so now he has given their land to us!’
“Therefore, tell the exiles, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Although I have scattered you in the countries of the world, I will be a sanctuary to you during your time in exile. I, the Sovereign Lord, will gather you back from the nations where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel once again.’
“When the people return to their homeland, they will remove every trace of their vile images and detestable idols. And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart, so they will obey my decrees and regulations. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God. But as for those who long for vile images and detestable idols, I will repay them fully for their sins. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!”
The Lord’s Glory Leaves Jerusalem
Then the cherubim lifted their wings and rose into the air with their wheels beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel hovered above them. Then the glory of the Lord went up from the city and stopped above the mountain to the east.
Afterward the Spirit of God carried me back again to Babylonia, to the people in exile there. And so ended the vision of my visit to Jerusalem. And I told the exiles everything the Lord had shown me.
Signs of the Coming Exile
Ezekiel 12 (NLT) – Again a message came to me from the Lord: “Son of man, you live among rebels who have eyes but refuse to see. They have ears but refuse to hear. For they are a rebellious people.
“So now, son of man, pretend you are being sent into exile. Pack the few items an exile could carry, and leave your home to go somewhere else. Do this right in front of the people so they can see you. For perhaps they will pay attention to this, even though they are such rebels. Bring your baggage outside during the day so they can watch you. Then in the evening, as they are watching, leave your house as captives do when they begin a long march to distant lands. Dig a hole through the wall while they are watching and go out through it. As they watch, lift your pack to your shoulders and walk away into the night. Cover your face so you cannot see the land you are leaving. For I have made you a sign for the people of Israel.”
So I did as I was told. In broad daylight I brought my pack outside, filled with the things I might carry into exile. Then in the evening while the people looked on, I dug through the wall with my hands and went out into the night with my pack on my shoulder.
The next morning this message came to me from the Lord: “Son of man, these rebels, the people of Israel, have asked you what all this means. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: These actions contain a message for King Zedekiah in Jerusalem and for all the people of Israel.’ Explain that your actions are a sign to show what will soon happen to them, for they will be driven into exile as captives.
“Even Zedekiah will leave Jerusalem at night through a hole in the wall, taking only what he can carry with him. He will cover his face, and his eyes will not see the land he is leaving. Then I will throw my net over him and capture him in my snare. I will bring him to Babylon, the land of the Babylonians, though he will never see it, and he will die there. I will scatter his servants and warriors to the four winds and send the sword after them. And when I scatter them among the nations, they will know that I am the Lord. But I will spare a few of them from death by war, famine, or disease, so they can confess all their detestable sins to their captors. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”
Then this message came to me from the Lord: “Son of man, tremble as you eat your food. Shake with fear as you drink your water. Tell the people, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says concerning those living in Israel and Jerusalem: They will eat their food with trembling and sip their water in despair, for their land will be stripped bare because of their violence. The cities will be destroyed and the farmland made desolate. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”
A New Proverb for Israel
Again a message came to me from the Lord: “Son of man, you’ve heard that proverb they quote in Israel: ‘Time passes, and prophecies come to nothing.’ Tell the people, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will put an end to this proverb, and you will soon stop quoting it.’ Now give them this new proverb to replace the old one: ‘The time has come for every prophecy to be fulfilled!’
“There will be no more false visions and flattering predictions in Israel. For I am the Lord! If I say it, it will happen. There will be no more delays, you rebels of Israel. I will fulfill my threat of destruction in your own lifetime. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!”
Then this message came to me from the Lord: “Son of man, the people of Israel are saying, ‘He’s talking about the distant future. His visions won’t come true for a long, long time.’ Therefore, tell them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: No more delay! I will now do everything I have threatened. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!’”
“Ashuv Eleicha (Coming Back to You)” – Messianic Jewish Alliance of Israel (MJAI)
Blessing – (Northumbrian Community)
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!
Categories: Life in Christ