Today's Bible Commentary

  EZEKIEL Daily Bible Readings
  Commentary, Cross Reference Bible, and Bible Dictionary  

What is a prophet?     Major & Minor Prophets Timeline
Books on Ezekiel from

John - Lamentations - EZEKIEL - Acts - Daniel

Timeline of the Prophets * Isaiah * Jeremiah
606 BC: Daniel
in first group taken to Babylon === 597 BC: Ezekiel in group taken to Babylon ===
586 BC: Jerusalem destroyed by Babylon - Jeremiah taken to Egypt === ca 580 BC: Jeremiah died ===
538 BC: Hebrews began returning to Israel from Babylon

Nov 6: Lamentations
Nov 7:Ezekiel 1-4 * Ezekiel, A Prophet In Exile, N Sween
Nov 8:Ezekiel 5-8 * When The Lord Rejects Rejection, N Sween
Nov 9:Ezekiel 9-12 * Derailed In Jerusalem, N Sween
Nov 10:Ezekiel 13-16:23 * False Prophets and Forgotten Love, N Sween
Nov 11:Ezekiel 16:24-18:13* "Like Mother, Like Daughter", N Sween
Nov 12:Ezekiel 18:14-20:49 * Changing the Covenant Agreement, N Sween
Nov 13:Ezekiel 21-22 * No One In The Gap, N Sween
Nov 14:Ezekiel 23-24 * When Wasting Away Reveals The Lord, N Sween
Nov 15:Ezekiel 25-27 * The Lord Hears National Responses To Israel, N Sween
Nov 16:Ezekiel 28-31 * The Lord Deals With Pride, N Sween
Nov 17:Ezekiel 32-33 * Warnings for Terrorists and National Security Watchmen, N Sween
Nov 18:Ezekiel 34-36 * On Hating Israel and Profaning the Name, N Sween
Nov 19:Ezekiel 37-39 * Focus on Israel: Disaster and Recovery, N Sween
Nov 20:Ezekiel 40-42 * See the Temple Ezekiel Was Shown, N Sween
Nov 21:Ezekiel 43-46* The Final Temple, N Sween
Nov 22:Ezekiel 47-48 * Israel's Future, N Sween
Nov 23-Dec 4: Acts

Ezekiel, A Prophet In Exile - WHAT Did Ezekiel See?
Nov 7 reading
Ezekiel 1-4
More on Ezekiel
Dictionary and Books
* Introduction to Ezekiel,
PROMISE: "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me." (3:17)
Ezekiel was already an exiled Jew in Babylon when the Word of the Lord called him to be a prophet. His "burning bush" experience was a windstorm coming from the north, flashing like fire, lightning, electricity. Ezekiel saw and described unusual living beings (later called "cherubim" in 10:20) moving inside the fire. They moved forward and back, up and down, with bright light flashing between them. The wheel on the ground next to each cherubim had another wheel intersecting wheel, with eyes on their rims. The spirit of each cherubim was in its wheel, and the sound of their wings was like the roar of rushing water, the voice of the Almighty, or of a tumulting army. Whatever was above their heads sparkled like ice. Two of their wings, when spread, touched the wings of those next to them. Their other two wings covered their body. Overhead, high above the sparkling area, more radiance like fire and a rainbow surrounded the figure on the throne. When Ezekiel realized he was seeing what looked like the glory of the Lord, he fell facedown.

The figure on the throne spoke to Ezekiel, and the Spirit raised him to his feet. The one on the throne had work for Ezekiel to do among his own people, the rebellious house of Israel. Ezekiel was not to be afraid. He was to tell his people what the Lord told him to say. Whether they would listen or not, Ezekiel was to listen and obey. The Lord gave him a scroll to eat. It was covered with words of lament, mourning, and woe, but tasted sweet. Ezekiel obeyed and ate. The Lord said people in foreign countries would be more apt to listen to Ezekiel's message than Israel would. But the Lord wanted Israel to be told, so He would make Ezekiel as unyielding and hard as Israel was. Don't be afraid, Ezekiel. The Spirit transported him to the exiles at Tel Abib near the Kebar River. The whole experience left Ezekiel bitter with an angry spirit, and he sat among the exiles overwhelmed for 7 days.

The Lord returned to Ezekiel, calling him a watchman for the house of Israel. The watchman's job was to hear what the Lord said to a wicked man then repeat the warning, dissuading him from his wicked ways. Ezekiel was also to watch for stumbling blocks the Lord put before any righteous man turning toward evil, and warn him not to sin. But there is no evidence that Ezekiel went off on his own to find and confront wicked or righteous people. Instead, the Lord told Ezekiel to meet Him somewhere else, and Ezekiel went. The watchman was to shut himself in his house and have others tie him up with ropes. Ezekiel would be made mute except when the Lord gave him a message for Israel.

On a clay tablet, Ezekiel was to draw Jerusalem then lay siege to it, step by step. Afterwards, Ezekiel was to lay on his left side for 390 days, to bear the sin of Israel - 1 day for each of the 390 years of their sin. Next he was to lie on his right side to bear the sin of Judah 40 days, one day for each year of their sin. The Lord gave specific instructions what and how Ezekiel was to eat during all the days. They debated over what kind of excrement to use for baking. This would show how Israel and Judah were on rationed food before eating defiled food in other nations. This would demonstrate the people wasting away because of their sin.

Morry Sofer, in his book Ask The Bible, says it's unclear exactly who the intended audience was for Ezekiel's messages and demonstrations. The exiles in Babylonia? The people back in Jerusalem? Future generations who read his book?

When The Lord Rejects Rejection - The Lord Deals With Rejection
Nov 8 reading
Ezekiel 5-8
More on Ezekiel
Dictionary and Books
* Visionary Prophet,
PROMISE: "Then in the nations where (the Jews) have been carried captive, those who escape will remember me - how I have been grieved by their adulterous hearts, which have turned away from me, and by their eyes, which have lusted after their idols. They will loathe themselves for the evil they have done and for all their detestable practices. And they will know that I am the Lord; I did not threaten in vain to bring this calamity on them." (6:9-10)
Calling Ezekiel "Son of man" (ben-adam), the Lord showed him how to illustrate messages. Even the hair from Ezekiel's shaved head and beard would be used. The Lord said He had chosen Jerusalem to be in the center of the nations, but its residents' standards were even worse than the surrounding heathen nations. Israel followed detestable idols, so the Lord had withdrawn His favor from them in a unique way. (5:9) After the Jews turned from the Lord, He turned from them and horrors like canabalism resulted. When the Lord's wrath was over, He would be avenged, and for many - too late the people would know He is the Lord. But the results of the Lord's punishment would continue for years to come. Surrounding nations would see that casual treatment of the Lord does not go unpunished, even for His chosen people.

Ezekiel was to prophesy against the mountains of Israel. The Lord was at war against places supporting idols and idolatry, and against His idolterous people. Because of the calamity of being scattered among many lands and nations, some Jews would survive and recognize the Lord as their God. No matter where they were, when the Jews realized they were surrounded by death and desolation despite their idols, wouldn't they recognize the Lord as God?

The Lord, following His plan, sees the end coming in an unprecidented disaster. Any one still believing in coincidence will finally see the Lord's punishment, promised to the whole crowd. Silver and gold made them stumble into sin, and couldn't be used to save them. Did they see the Lord turning away from His treasured place, before others desecrate it? Using the most wicked of the nations, the Lord planned to end the Jewish pride of strength. Would they miss the Lord's benefits of providing prophets with visions, priests teaching the law, and getting counsel from the elders? Instead of using mercy, the Lord began judging them by their own standards.

While sitting in his house with the elders of Judah, Ezekiel had a vision of being in Jerusalem at the entrance to the north gate where the idol of jealousy stood. The glory of the Lord with the cherubim appeared. Then the Lord showed Ezekiel secret drawings of crawling things and detestable animals that the 70 elders of Israel worshiped, claiming that the Lord was gone from the land and couldn't see them. Back at the north gate and close to the temple, Ezekiel was shown more Jews ignoring the Lord and worshiping other things. If this weren't bad enough, the people filled the land with violence and "put the branch to their nose". [Likely that had nothing to do with hard drug addiction at that time.] So now, even were the people to shout at the Lord, he would ignore them.

Derailed In Jerusalem
Nov 9 reading
Ezekiel 9-12
More on Ezekiel
Dictionary and Books
Crash Courses: * End of Israel
* Babylonian Exile
PROMISE: "This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will gather you (scattered house of Israel) from the nations and bring you back from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you back the land of Israel again. They will return to it and remove all its vile images and detestable idols. I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people and I will be their God. But as for those whose hearts are devoted to their vile images and destesable idols, I will bring down on their own heads what they have done, declares the Sovereign LORD." (11:17-21)
In the vision, the Lord called the guards of Jerusalem to come armed. A man in linen with a writing kit came with them, and his job was to mark the foreheads of anyone grieving and lamenting over the detestable things being done in Jerusalem. The guards were told to follow and kill without mercy anyone not marked. (Note that these people are not killed indiscriminately or recognized by outward appearance.) Starting in front of the temple, they are allowed to defile the temple with the dead. The Lord explains how great the sin of Israel and Judah was, even to the extent of saying that the Lord was gone and no longer watching the people. So He used their standards of no pity to deal with them.

The Lord directed the man dressed in linen to get burning coals from the cherubim and scatter them over Jerusalem. Soon, the glory of the Lord left the temple, stopped above the cherubim, then moved to the east gate of the temple. 25 men were there plotting evil and giving wicked advice in Jerusalem. The Lord told Ezekiel what to say against them, quoting something they said to each other in private, and exposing their injust murders. The Lord will bring the sword they fear, and deal with them as they leave the country borders. Hearing this, one of the men died on the spot, and Ezekiel was afraid that all of the remnant would die. The Lord told him that the people of Jerusalem had said people like Ezekiel who were scattered into other countries were far from the Lord. They thought possession was nine tenths of the law, so to speak, and that if they stayed in Israel the land was still theirs. Perhaps they thought they were still the Lord's people, no matter what.

But the Lord corrected that thinking. The remnant had stayed in Israel against the Lord's instructions through Jeremiah and Uriah. The scattered captives had obeyed the Lord and now He was a sanctuary for them in the foreign countries. These were the people who would receive the land of Israel back from the Lord. They would return and destroy any remaining idols. The Lord planned to replace their hardheartedness with a soft heart and a new spirit. These Jews will follow the Lord's decrees and carefully keep His laws. They will be His people, and the Lord will be their God. Anyone whose heart remains devoted to idols will get back whatever he has done to others. Ezekiel told the Babylonian exiles all the Lord showed him in this vision.

The Lord had Ezekiel pantomime a man packing for and going into exile. The people back in Jerusalem, even the prince, would soon be going into exile as captives. The prince would leave through the wall, but not see Babylonia when he got there, and would die there. (See Jeremiah 39:7) In the foreign nations, the Jews would begin to acknowledge all their detestable practices, and begin to know the Lord. Ezekiel was shown things to tell the exiles that would soon be happening in Jerusalem. Later when the news came, they would know the Lord had said it would happen. The Lord said, "The days are near when every vision will be fulfilled." (12:23b) The Lord told Ezekiel that because the exiles were saying the Lord's prophesies were for the far distant future, they would no longer be delayed.

False Prophets and Forgotten Love
Nov 10 reading
Ezekiel 13-16:23
More on Ezekiel
Dictionary and Books
Ezekiel outline: * Predicting Judgment,
PROMISE: "By lying to my people, who listen to lies, you have killed those who should not have died and have spared those who should not live." (13:19b)
The Lord showed Ezekiel another group of men to prophesy against and warn: the false prophets of Israel. Rather than acting this out, he was given parables to communicate with them. These prophets had followed the wishes of their own spirits rather than dealing with breaks in the wall needing repair. Had they repaired breaks and not just whitewashed over a flimsily built wall, the defenses would have stood strong during battle on the day of the Lord. Instead, they had claimed to have visions they made up, and let the people believe lies received by divination. They practiced "positive mouth confession," expecting their words to be fulfilled. (13:6) They looked at dangerous times and called them "Peace." Someday they will say, "Didn't we prophesy in your name?", but the Lord will not have them listed in his records of the house of Israel. Too late they will know who the Sovereign Lord is. The Lord will send a violent wind with hailstones and torrential rain, and that whitewashed wall, along with those who whitewashed it, will fall. Appearing strong, their protection was weak. Appearing wise, the false prophets would fall, and fail. Too late, they'll know the Sovereign Lord. Ezekiel was also to prophesy against women who prophesy their own imaginations, use magical charms, and dress to ensnare people. Because of them, some people had died who should have lived, and vice versa. They disheartened the righteous with lies, and encouraged the wicked to keep doing evil. Too late they would know the Lord is Lord.

Some elders came to Ezekiel to inquire of the Lord, who saw the idols they had set up in their hearts. So to recapture their hearts, the Lord would not answer them except to warn them to repent, turn from their idols, and renounce all their detestable practices. For their audacity, wanting the "best" of both idols and of the Lord, the Lord promised to cut them off. Too late they'll know Him. In the same way, both the idolator and the prophet who tries to consult the Lord for an idolator will be charged with their own guilt. A country that is unfaithful to the Lord will have its food supply cut off, will send wild beasts to kill children, will bring a sword against it, or send a plague. Even if Noah, Daniel, and Job lived in that country, their righteousness would only save themselves from this judgment. The Lord will save a few survivers when Jerusalem undergoes the four judgments (sword, famine, beasts, and plague) who will be proof to exiled Jews that the Lord didn't destroy Jerusalem without cause.

Perhaps because people remember and repeat stories, the Lord begins to illustrate His messages with parables and allegories. Compare the usefulness of the wood of a vine with wood of a tree branch. The vine is good for fuel, but being charred in the fire doesn't make it useful for anything else. When the Lord sets his face against the people in Jerusalem, those who come through the fire will still be worthless, not refined. When the exiled Jews see this, they will know the Lord did what He promised.

As a story, the Lord describes his intimate relationship with Jerusalem as an infant born in Canaan to an Amorite father and an Hittite mother. Neither parent wanted the newborn, so Jerusalem was abandoned in the trash to die. But the Lord chose to intervene and provide life and care for Jerusalem, so she grew and matured. (Genesis 18:18-19 describes the Lord's plans for those He chooses.) When Jerusalem was old enough for love, the Lord made her His own. He provided her with fine clothing, grooming, and jewelry, and she became beautiful. Jerusalem became impressed with her own beauty and fame, and began trusting that, losing interest in her Lord and provider. Did she think of Him as a husband away on business? Or did she lose connection with the sense of His presence? Whatever, Jerusalem became unfaithful to her first love - the One who truly loved her. She became a prostitute with anyone passing by, and even killed and sacrificed her children - who belonged to the Lord - as food to idols. Jerusalem forgot her early history when the Lord found her kicking about in her blood.

"Like Mother, Like Daughter"
Nov 11 reading
Ezekiel 16:24-18:13
More on Ezekiel
Dictionary and Books
Covenants | History of Jerusalem:
* Jewish Virtual Library *
PROMISE: "For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son - both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die." (2:19)
Jerusalem's promiscuity increased. When she "ran off" with lustful Egypt, the Lord pulled her back, allowing enemies like the Philistines to reduce her territory. Even the Philistine women were shocked at Jerusalem's lewd behavior. Insatiable, Jerusalem chased after a relationship with Assyria, and later with Babylonia, a land of merchants. Still, this wasn't enough. Jerusalem became a weak-willed, adulterous wife, and lost her beauty and appeal along with her reputation. So when "men" stopped coming by to pay her for prostitution, she began giving herself away free, offering gifts and bribes to get lovers. Did she think the Lord's patience meant He didn't see or care? He found her guilty of both adultery and the murder of their children. Then the Lord determined to cause Jerusalem's "lovers" - as well as enemies - to come and strip her naked in punishment, not lust. The Lord had a plan to end Jerusalem's unfaithfulness until His jealous anger subsided.

"Like mother, like daughter," the saying goes. Jerusalem's mother (a Hittite) not only left her to die at birth, but despised her husband (an Amorite) and her other children. Jerusalem's older sister was Samaria to the north, and younger sister was Sodom to the south. All three behaved detestably, but Jerusalem became the most depraved. The sin of Sodom was arrogance, being overfed, having no concern for the poor and needy, and doing destestable things. (Homosexuality isn't specifically mentioned here.) At first Jerusalem was too proud to even talk to sister Sodom, assuming the upperhand. But when the coverup of Jerusalem's sins was exposed, her behavior made her sisters appear almost righteous. Her lifestyle had changed as she broke her agreement with the Lord, and her neighbors Edom and the Philistines had more reason to despise her. The heart-altering "home remedies" of worshiping idols hardened and poisoned until Jerusalem - hitting bottom - had to enter a unique addiction treatment program, made ashamed, and forced to bear her own disgrace. The Lord would remember the covenant He made and Jerusalem broke, and He would establish an everlasting covenant with her. This covenant would remind Jerusalem of her pre-exile ways. The Lord would restore Samaria and Sodom and give these sisters as daughters to Jerusalem, not on the basis of the covenant. As the Lord establishes the covenant with Jerusalem, they will know Him as Lord. He will make atonement for all Jerusalem had done, and she will be silenced by her humiliation.

To the house of Israel, the Lord told a story of two great eagles and a transplanted tree that grew into a spreading vine. The Lord explained how the story was of Jerusalem breaking its treaty with Babylon and looking for help from Egypt. Can you break a covenant with any ruler and escape retribution? Can you break a covenant with the Lord and escape notice? Israeli exiles would get news that those who escaped exile, the unfaithful, had died and their survivors scattered. All the trees of the field (different groups of people, 17:22-24) would see the Lord's intervention, bringing down the tall tree and making the low tree tall.

The world was changing. In the law of Moses, the Lord had promised He would punish "the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me." (Exodus 20:5 and Deut. 5:9) The Lord, saying "Every living soul belongs to me", was changing the basis of punishment for sin from collective to individual. He describes a righteous man doing what is just and right, and his son who sins. Each is responsible for his own life choices.

Morry Sofer, in his book Ask The Bible, noted that because of distance in exile and the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, atonement was not possible. In order for Judaism to survive in foreign places with their support system gone, individual responsibility before the Lord became essential.

Changing the Covenant Agreement
Nov 12 reading
Ezekiel 18:14-20:49
More on Ezekiel
Dictionary and Books
* Covenants, Bible Reference Guide
* Repentance, Andrew Scott
PROMISE: "The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him. But if a wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, he will surely live; he will not die. None of the offenses he has committed will be remembered against him. Because of the righteous things he has done, he will live. Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?" (18:20-23)
Still explaining the change to individual responsibility for righteousness or wickedness, the Lord answers why the son doesn't share the guilt of his father. "The soul who sins is the one who will die." The new plan changed from collective to individual self-discipline and responsibility. A wicked person can turn away from his sins, live righteously, and live - his sins forgotten. Conversely, a righteous person can turn to wickedness, and none of the righteous things he did will be remembered. You don't have to be cut off from the Lord and die. Repent! Turn from offenses so sin is not your downfall. The Lord has a special offer to Israel: Take individual responsibility for practicing ethical behavior. Get a new heart. Get a new spirit.

Ezekiel was given a lament over the princes of Israel who the Lord compared to young lion cubs who roared fiercely, but were trapped, caged, and silenced. Israel was like a fruitful, high vine that was uprooted, stripped, and planted in a dry place, where it was suddenly weak.

Elders came to Ezekiel to inquire of the Lord. Good news? Not really. The Lord refused to respond to them. Instead, He gave Ezekiel the history of His relationship with Israel, to whom and through whom He chose to reveal Himself to people on Earth. He was the Lord their God. He brought them out of Egypt to the land He had chosen for them. Their part was to get rid of vile images they had seen, and not to defile themselves with idols of Egypt. The Lord's part sounded good to them, but they quickly rebelled about their requirements. They didn't want the responsibilities of being the Lord's chosen people. By then, other nations had heard of the Lord Almighty because of news on how He freed his people from Egypt. So for the sake of his Name, the Lord kept his promise even though Israel didn't keep theirs. He then gave them specific laws and decrees. "The man who obeys them will live by them." (20:11b) He gave them Sabbath rests and celebrations as a sign that He had made them holy. (20:12) Collectively, the people of Israel rebelled through the generations. When the Lord said they would be scattered through other nations because of their disobedience, as a group they didn't change their ways. The Lord even let them live, using laws that wouldn't work, so they would return to the Lord. They continued defiling themselves with idols whose laws they preferred. The Lord continued using judgment to purge Israel from the rebels. Immeasurably stronger than Israel, the Lord would deal with them for His Name's sake rather than according to Israel's evil ways. The Lord will set an unquenchable fire to the "trees" of the south.

No One In the Gap
Nov 13 reading
Ezekiel 21-22
More on Ezekiel
Dictionary and Books
* The Ezekiel Project
* Praying for 10/40 Window countries
PROMISE: "I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none. So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord." (22:30-31)
Setting his face against Jerusalem, Ezekiel was told to preach against the sanctuary, and prophesy against the land of Israel. Both righteous and wicked still living in the land were going to be cut off, killed by the Lord's command. Ezekiel was to groan and grieve with the Lord in advance of the news of the coming slaughter of that portion of the Lord's people, who will die tested and terrified. In time the Lord's wrath would subside. But in the meantime, Ezekiel drew a map of the fork in the road, one toward Rabbah of the Ammonites, and another toward Judah and fortified Jerusalem. The King of Babylon will stop there, and consult his idols and other means to decide which road to take. When the lot directs to destroy Jerusalem, some will oppose the choice, but the Lord is in control of this decision. The prince of Israel will be taken captive. "The lowly will be exalted and the exalted will be brought low." (21:26b) The ruin of Jerusalem's line of Davidic kings won't be restored until someone the Lord has already chosen comes to restore it. The Ammonites will be handed over to brutal, destructive men who will kill and wipe them out, until they are no longer remembered.

Ezekiel was to judge Jerusalem, confronting her with the detestable practices of murder, making idols, and bringing their end on themselves. What else? Contempt for parents. Poor treatment of aliens, fatherless, and widows. Despising the Lord's holy things and the Sabbath. Using lewd behavior. The Lord details all the commandments which have been broken. The people have forgotten their Lord. So when the people of Israel are dispersed through all the nations, they will be defiled -- and they will remember when the Lord warned this. The Lord described the people of Israel as dross to be heated and melted in His fiery wrath. The Lord described the drought bringing in the day of wrath, with the viciousness of leaders, priests, officials, prophets, and people of Israel. When the Lord looked for someone among these leaders and people who would build up the wall and stand before Him in the gap so He wouldn't need to destroy the land, there was no one still in Jerusalem prone to do that. So fiery destruction was coming.

When Wasting Away Reveals The Lord
Nov 14 reading
Ezekiel 23-24
More on Ezekiel
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* Ezekiel 23:1 and beyond,
OnLine Parallel Bible
PROMISE: "Now your impurity is lewdness. Because I tried to cleanse you but you would not be cleansed from your impurity, you will not be clean again until my wrath against you has subsided." (24:13)
Still looking collectively at the Jews of the two kingdoms of Israel, the Lord described Samaria and Jerusalem as sisters who had learned prostitution in Egypt while they, and those attractive to them, were young. Both belonged to the Lord, and both preferred others.

Had they never read the verdict ("meaningless") on lust, in Ecclesiastes?

Samaria (Oholah), the older sister, wanted intimacy with Assyria. When the Lord removed His protection of her in punishment, the Assyrians stripped her and killed her children as well as herself. Seeing this, the younger and more depraved sister, Jerusalem (Oholibah) saw her chance to lust after the Assyrians. But besides them, she also called the handsome Babylonians to come to her. They defiled her, and she turned away from them, looking to satisfy her lewdness elsewhere. But the Lord was ready to bring all the handsome young warriors of Babylon, Chaldea, Pekod, Shoa, Koa, and Assyria to Jerusalem, when "she" no longer wanted them. But now they were coming with torture and terrorism. Now the Lord Almighty was permiting them to expose Jerusalem's lewdness and promiscuity in punishment. No matter that all of these countries had already rejected the Lord Almighty for idols. Jerusalem had even begun murdering children she had from the Lord to feed her idol habit, right before entering the Lord's sanctuary. Wanting the best from both, Jerusalem defiled the Lord's sanctuary by continuing idol worship. So the actions and punishment of Jerusalem and Samaria became warnings for other cities and countries to expect punishment from the Lord for their own lewdness and idolatry.

The Lord spoke to Ezekiel in Babylonia on the exact date when Jerusalem's defeat began. The news would come days later. He described Jerusalem as a cooking pot from which the food is emptied but left on the fire to burn away impurities and deposits.

The Lord instructed Ezekiel not to mourn for the dead when the delight of his eyes is taken away. In the morning he told the people what his orders were, and that evening his wife died. Then the people asked how his loss and his response applied to them. Ezekiel said he was to be a sign to the Jews in Babylonian exile. He was not allowed to appear to be in mourning with clothing or weeping, and could only groan and waste away. The Jews in exile were not allowed to mourn when they hear that sanctuary in Jerusalem has been destroyed. When they see their number wasting away due to their sins, they will know that the Sovereign Lord made it so. Ezekiel would not be able to speak again until the exiles hear the news confirming the temple's destruction.

The Lord Hears National Responses To Israel
Nov 15 reading
Ezekiel 25-27
More on Ezekiel
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Prophecy against, history, and current Tyre (in Lebanon)
PROMISE: "For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because you have clapped your hands and stamped your feet, rejoicing with all the malice of your heart against the land of Israel, therefore I will stretch out my hand against you and give you as plunder to the nations." (25:6-7a)
The Lord's prophecy against Tyre was one of several against nations that had laughed and rejoiced over Jerusalem's fall. (He made other prophecies against Ammon, Moab, Edom, and Philistia - other countries that had taken revenge on Judah on their own, without the Sovereign Lord's permission. After their own destruction, they would know that He is the Lord.)

Having no interest in the Sovereign Lord God of Judah, these areas weren't warned to lament Jerusalem's fall. They didn't understand the concept, "Love your enemies." (Who did? Jonah didn't love the people of Ninevah, and resisted obeying God to warn them.) Tyre saw the elimination of an economic competitor in the hard times of Jerusalem, and was delighted at the judgement against Judah.

The economy of Tyre was based upon trade routes both on land and on sea. With many products and great wealth of goods, Tyre bartered for raw materials and the best products from other trading countries. Tyre attracted skilled craftsmen, carpenters, shipwrights, seamen, merchants, and soldiers to work with them.

All this would come to a horrible end. Like today's boom boxes, offensively noisy songs had blared out of Tyre long enough, and God promised to put an end to their music industry as well. In a movement like the sea that they used, many nations would come from the East to destroy Tyre partially for their response to Jerusalem's fall. If they won't mourn for the Lord's people, let them mourn for themselves.

Wealth won't save a country. External beauty won't fool God. Commercial centers aren't indespensible. Fear of terrorism isn't the same as coming to and trusting the Lord. Mourn for all who trust in their goods, their services, their raw materials to save them.
(Original post, 2003)

The Lord Deals With Pride
Nov 16 reading
Ezekiel 28-31
More on Ezekiel
Dictionary and Books
* Facts on Satan, and Crocodiles,
* Trees of the field & scripture references
PROMISE and WARNING: "No longer will the people of Israel have malicious neighbors who are painful briers and sharp thorns. Then they will know that I am the Sovereign Lord. This is what the Sovereign Lord says: When I gather the people of Israel from the nations where they have been scattered, I will show myself holy among them in the sight of the nations. Then they will live in their own land, which I gave to my servant Jacob. They will live there in safety and will build houses and plant vineyards; they will live in safety when I inflict punishment on all their neighbors who maligned them. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God." (28:24-26)
I know that this section in Ezekiel about the king of Tyre is often seen as describing Satan. But what strikes me in this reading is the sin of pride that so easily besets us - ok, me.

Things were going just great for the king of Tyre. His trade routes were expanding. His expertise in merchandising was increasing. He could hire the best experts in any number of fields related to his city's export-import business. Life was good, and the ruler of Tyre (no one seems to remember his name now) felt great. Chosen to be a guardian, he was taking credit for being a god.

How smart he was!
How beautiful was Tyre!
Problems? He had the answers!
Resistance? He had the power!
After all, he wasn't one of those ruthless conquerors like Assyria or like Nebuchadnezzar over in Babylon. OK, so Tyre had to get a little rough and overcharge and swindle -- but, hey, sometimes that's necessary. You know, the end justifies the means. And in this economy, ultimately it helps everyone to be part of Tyre's international world trade system. And anyway, Tyre wasn't the only one full of pride. Just look south to Egypt! Pharoah thought he was so cool with the Nile running through his country. Even God's chosen people had run there for help and protection.

It's just that eventually, the Sovereign Lord had enough.

* He had enough of Tyre reminding Him of Satan.
* He had enough of Sidon and the malicious neighbors of Israel and Judah.
* He had enough of Egypt reminding Him of the people of Israel's sin.
* He had enough of Pharoah taking credit for the Nile.
* He had enough of ALL sources of pride throughout the whole world.
So the Lord promised that the Egyptians would also be scattered among the nations, and after their return, Egypt would no longer be a resource of strength for Israel.

The "trees of the field" (31:4-5) refers to different groups of people (17:22-24). God described Assyria - which had been defeated by Babylon - as once being a cedar tree in Lebanon. "The cedars in the garden of God could not rival it." But for all it's advancement and improvements, that tree fell when God handed it over to Babylon, to deal with Assyria's wickedness. "No other trees by the waters are ever to tower proudly on high... they are all destined for death... among mortal men, with those who go down to the pit." (31:14)

Lord help me, that when I'm proud of some achievement or accomplishment, YOU get the credit. Then I will know that YOU are the Lord.
Original 2003 post

Warnings for Terrorists and National Security Watchmen
Nov 17 reading
Ezekiel 32-33
More on Ezekiel
Dictionary and Books
* Called to be a watchman,
Kjos Ministries Bible study
REWARD FOR TERRORISTS: "Meshech and Tubal are there, with all their hordes around their graves. All of them are uncircumcised, killed by the sword because they spread their terror in the land of the living. Do they not lie with the other uncircumcised warriors who have fallen, who went down to the grave with their weapons of war, whose swords were placed under their heads? The punishment for their sins rested on their bones, though the terror of these warriors had stalked through the land of the living." (32:26-27)
Check me out here, but Chapter 32 seems very timely. The lament God gives Ezekiel for Pharoah predicts the end of Egypt's strength and pride. God has given Babylon's "mighty men - the most ruthless of all nations" permission to put an end to all that Pharoah took pride in. In days to come, nations will chant this lament over the lost strength of Pharoah's Egypt.

What happens to terrorists like Egypt once had? They seem to go to a particular area after death according to the cause of their death. In this case, Egypt would join Assyria, Elam, Meshech, Tubal, Edom, all the princes of the north, and Sidonia who had used their power as terrorists in the land of the living.

And what was their reward for terrorism? They would die and then, too late, they would see they were with all the other uncircumcised terrorists. Too late, they would be ashamed - realizing they were receiving punishment for sins, not reward for terrorism. "They went down with the slain in disgrace despite the terror caused by their power." (32:30)

Pharoah will not be oblivious in death. He will see all the other terrorists in the afterlife, and in some sort of "misery likes company" way (this is Donald Stamps idea) he will be consoled. God had allowed the terrorism, but punishment would follow.

Furthermore, in Chapter 33, the Lord plainly states that he takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. He sends warnings through men like Ezekiel, that are to be added to scripture after delivery either to individuals or to groups as God directs. God explains accountability and repentance. If a righteous man starts to trust in his own righteousness, rather than in God, he can't rely on his past right relationship with God. (So much for trusting in the date of the day I was saved??) A wicked man or woman who turns from sin, trusts God, and does restitution will live. (This explains the two men on the crosses beside Jesus, and the promise of eternal life for the one.) The Lord promises individual judgment under the coming new covenant, and Israel calls that unjust. (33:20)

Somewhat like the gulls in the movie "Nemo", the people left in the ruins of Israel were saying "Mine, mine, mine" because the land had been given to Abraham as a possession. God told Ezekiel to tell them that they didn't obey as Abraham had obeyed. Israel had taken pride in their own strength, but God would make the land a desolate waste because of all the detestable things Israel had done. Pride in strength is temporary. When the people of Israel hear that the promised land has become desolate, they will remember that the Lord promised to do that, and they will know that he IS the Lord.

After the Israel exiles saw that Ezekiel's prophesies came true, his popularity increased. How entertaining he was! But so far hearing his revelations hadn't changed what the people did. So far talking about what Ezekiel was saying hadn't made God's word the object of their affections. They still just didn't get it.
Original post

On Hating Israel and Profaning the Name
Nov 18 reading
Ezekiel 34-36
More on Ezekiel
Dictionary and Books
* Messiah and redemption articles,
* Jewish leadership during first exile,
PROMISE: "It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Sovereign LORD, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes." (36:22b-23)
Unlike a prophet watchman, the Levite males, descendants of Levi, had been set aside as a group to be priests, to shepherd the people. Their work was coordinated to approach the Lord to make atonement for sin on behalf of the Israelites at the Tent of Meeting, so no plagues would strike the people approaching the sanctuary. (Numbers 8:5-26) Over the centuries, they took advantage of their job security, and rather than shepherding the people of Israel, they ignored the heart of their job description, ignored their accountability to God for the people, and focused upon all the rewards of the job, like quality food and clothing.

The focus of the rest of Chapter 34 describes the Sovereign Lord's plans and reasons for renewing and updating His covenant with Israel. Despite their claims of obedience, Israel had broken the original contract. The Lord tells them through Ezekiel about the Messiah-Shepherd to come with the promised updated plan - new covenant - for His people. He will hold the priests accountable for neglect. He Himself will take on the responsibilities of shepherding Israel with searches, rescues, and personal care. He will judge between the sheep, and will place one shepherd from the line of David over them. Readers may be reminded of the Lord's asking Peter three times if he loved Him, and if so, "Feed my sheep". And forget about judging this by appearance. It will be a dark day, the Lord says, when he rescues the scattered flock from all the places they have wandered.

The people of Edom wanted to judge current events by appearance. When Jerusalem fell, it looked to them like a perfect ending to cleaning up the neighborhood. How they hated those Israelites! So what a great opportunity it seemed to be to take over Israel and Judah as Edom's possession. Like the Levites, Edom confused ambition with fact. The truth was, if you hate Israel you hate their God. Edom had no idea how powerful Israel's God is. He hears all the boasting and hatred expressed against Him and Israel all around the world. When He punishes Israel like a son, He isn't disinheriting Israel by a long shot. Our challenge is to learn from Israel's mistakes the same way you learn from your parents disciplining your own brother or sister. Their expectations apply to you, too. Similarly, the Lord gives examples of how disobedient behavior itself comes back to judge the disobedient. (35:6b, 11, 15)

The Lord said that Israel didn't deserve the Lord's giving them back the promised land, but He would do it for the sake of His holy name which they would profane throughout the nations. Since the dispersed Jews had been very consciencious NOT to profane His name, and since this section has been about the Messiah, what if the name profaned and rejected would actually be the name of the Messiah? The Sovereign Lord said He planned to show Himself holy through Israel before the eyes of the nations. (36:23) Did some of Israel profane the name of the Messiah by insisting they didn't need one - they had the Law? And generations later, when the Jewish Messiah came, did some of Israel welcome him while others profaned and rejected his name?

These chapters are worth reading and re-reading. Some of Chapter 36 has happened, and some hasn't. It reminded me of the explanation of 2 Peter 3:9 that God is not slow in keeping his promises, but is patient, not wanting any one to perish. In the meantime, some people - in the spirit of Edom - continue to hate and kill the Jews.
Original post

Focus on Israel: Disaster and Recovery
Nov 19 reading
Ezekiel 37-39
More on Ezekiel
Dictionary and Books
* The dry bones vision, Bible Explained
* Messianic Era * Ishmael-Terrorism
* Ezekiel 38-39 FAQ * Bible Code Digest
PROMISE: "You will advance against my people Israel like a cloud that covers the land. In days to come, O Gog, I will bring you against my land, so that the nations may know me when I show myself holy through you before their eyes." (38:16)
Kids in Sunday School sometimes sing about Ezekiel's vision of dry bones without understanding it was a vision or what it may mean. No problem -- the same kids flip the light switch without understanding how electricity works, but it does. Remember how, in yesterday's reading, the Lord told Ezekiel to speak against the priests, against Edom, and to the mountains of Israel? Today the Lord shows Ezekiel a valley full of old dead and dry human bones and tells him to speak to the bones, then to the wind. The experience is a parable of Israel, dried up from idolatry and nearly hopeless from national sin, being brought to life. Is this section the reason Jesus said Israeli teacher Nicodemus should understand the concept of being born again? (John 3:3) In the Lord's vision for Israel, the two lines of Joseph and Judah will become one again. The promised new covenant - not the old covenant - will end the current on-going spiritual war, and lead to everlasting peace with the Lord. Israel's holiness comes only from the Lord, and His promises are totally awesome.

The new covenant doesn't promise immediate fulfilling or immediate peace. In fact, the next prophesy Ezekiel receives is against an alliance of nations (Meshech, Tubal, Persia, Cush, Put, Gommer, and Beth Togarmah from the far north) that will be compelled by the Lord to attack Israel some day in the future. Before this happens, Jews from all the nations will have returned to Israel. Israel will have returned from exile, recovered from war, and be living in safety. (38:8, 14b) But the Lord will continue to hide His face from them for all their offenses. (39:24) Even overcoming their local enemies won't be what ends the shame and unfaithfulness of the people of Israel. (39:26) When they see their release from captivity, when they forget their shame and unfaithfulness toward the Lord, when they are gathered out from enemy nations and reflect the Lord's holiness, and when the Lord pours out His spirit on the house of Israel, they will know the Lord their God.

This disaster and recovery was predicted, recorded in scripture, and discussed for many centuries before it will happen to a peaceful and unsuspecting Israel. Those who get this need not be afraid. This disaster will lead to the focal point of history: the day of the Lord. The attack isn't a punishment against Israel, but proof positive that the Lord rules men's military urges and acts of nature, and that He foresees the future as though it were already history. Instead, the attack will, somewhat unusually, be punishment against the attackers who have habitually profaned the name of the Holy One in Israel (i.e., the Messiah). Unexpectedly, their stealth attack will fail and they will lose big time. Their weapons, intended for mass destruction, will provide fuel in Israel for 7 years. Finding and burying all the ememies' dead bodies will provide new full time employment in Israel. Until now nothing Israel does has resolved their shame - looking back on how close Israel once was with the Lord - or solved their unfaithfulness to the Lord, but this event will show that the Lord their G-d is definitely with them, ready to pour out His Spirit on Israel.

See the Temple Ezekiel Was Shown
Nov 20 reading
Ezekiel 40-42
More on Ezekiel
Dictionary and Books
* Ezekiel's War,
J.P. Dawson
PROMISE: "The man said to me, 'Son of man, look with your eyes and hear with your ears and pay attention to everything I am going to show you, for that is why you have been brought here. Tell the house of Israel everything you see.'" (40:4)
Ezekiel had been in exile from Israel going on 25 years (in the 14th year after Jerusalem had fallen to Babylon attack) when the Lord showed him a detailed vision. In it, Ezekiel watched a man take exact measurements of a temple built in the city on the south side of a very high mountain in Israel.

If it helps you to visualize this information, here are several web sites with models or more details of that temple:

Ezekiel's Temple, by Lambert Dolphin
Model of Ezekiel's Temple (Millennial Temple), by Paul Jablonowski
Model of Ezekiel's Temple by John W. Schmitt
Ezekiel's Temple: comparisons of heights & Jewish worship centers, by Ken Bowles
Ezekiel's Temple, by Jan Willem van der Hoeven, International Christian Zionist Center
The Temple Mount in Jerusalem, research listed by Lambert Dolphin
Original post

The Final Temple - Consider the Plan
Nov 21 reading
Ezekiel 43-46
More on Ezekiel
Dictionary and Books
* Palestine and Israel
* daily, Sabbath, and holiday laws
REQUIREMENT: "No foreigner uncircumcised in heart and flesh is to enter my sanctuary, not even the foreigners who lie among the Israelites." (43:9b)
Ezekiel continues describing his vision of a future temple. He saw the glory of the Lord of Israel coming from the east toward the temple. The Lord sounded like rushing waters, as in previous visions Ezekiel had seen. When the Lord was inside the temple, He said, "This is where I will live among the Israelites forever." (43:7) Originally, Israel had lived threshold to threshold with the Lord's temple, with only a wall between them. But after their unfaithful prostitution and the lifeless idols of their kings defiled the Lord's holy name, He destroyed them. Now, if any of their descendents are ashamed of their sins, let them know the design of this temple in writing - its arrangement, its exits and entrances, and its regulations and laws. Ezekiel was to give them this data so they could already be faithful to its design and regulations before it was built.

There will be specific regulations for sacrificing burnt offerings and sprinkling blood upon the altar when it is built. Priests from the Levite family of Zadok will minister near the Lord, following procedures for sin offerings, purifying the altar, and making atonement for it. For the first seven days they will make blood atonement, cleansing and dedicating the altar. From the 8th day on, people will bring burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to the Lord.

Ezekiel was shown that the east gate, where the Lord the God of Israel had entered, was closed. The prince may eat before the Lord in that closed east gateway, but he must enter through its portico. At the north gate, Ezekiel was told how detestable it had been to the Lord that Israel had brought uncircumcised foreigners into the sanctuary to take care of the holy things. Circumcision is to include the heart as well as the flesh. Many Levite fathers had disqualified themselves and their descendants from serving near the Lord or near His holy things and holy offerings in the future. They will have other work in the temple. However Zadok had remained loyal to the Lord, so several regulations are given for his priest descendants. They will teach the Lord's people the difference between holy and common. This temple will be built while people still live and die.

A section of land is to be alloted to the Lord as a sacred district. The Most Holy Place, the sanctuary, and houses of the priests will be located here. The city property will adjoin the sacred portion and belong to the whole house of Israel. The prince leader's alloted land will border both districts. Despite his power of leadership, the prince is to use exact, standard measurements and neither be violent or oppressive to his people. There will be community worship activities offering special gifts to the prince leader, who in turn will provide animals and grain for the regular offerings to the Lord for the people's atonement. On new year's day, the priests will put some specific blood on 3 specific places around the temple for atonement. Israel will continue celebrating Passover.

The east gate of the inner court will be shut on the 6 working days, but opened on the Sabbath and day of the New Moon, when the prince has specific duties for offerings to make among the people of the land. The prince has instructions for giving land to his sons and his servants. Further instructions to the priests deal with inadvertanting consecrating the people (44:19 and 46:20), and kitchens for cooking sacrifices.

For more on Jewish ethics, see The Business Ethics Center of Jerusalem, home of the Jewish Ethicist, plus more reading:
* Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge * Hebrew-English Bible
* Palestine and Israel * daily, Sabbath, and holiday laws (Original post)

Israel's Future
Nov 22 reading
Ezekiel 47-48
More on Ezekiel
Dictionary and Books
* The Temple of Ezekiel, Lambert Dolphin
* More maps * Waiting for a Miracle,
PROMISE: "'You are to allot (this land) as an inheritance for yourselves and for the aliens who have settled among you and who have children. You are to consider them as native-born Israelites; along with you they are to be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. In whatever tribe the alien settles, there you are to give him his inheritance,' declares the Sovereign Lord." (47:22-23)
The man guiding Ezekiel through the temple brought him back to its entrance which faced east, and showed him water coming out under the temple from south of the altar. The man led Ezekiel eastward along the water, measuring as he went. After the 1st 1000 cubits, the man led Ezekiel through the water, ankle-deep. After the next 1000 cubits, he led Ezekiel through the water, knee-deep. After the third 1000 cubits, he led him through the water, waist-deep. After the next 1000 cubits, Ezekiel saw the water was too deep for anyone to cross. "Son of man, do you see this?" Do you get it? Then the man led him back to the river bank where Ezekiel saw many trees growing on each bank. The man told Ezekiel that the water goes down deeper on its way to the Dead Sea. At the mouth of the river, it makes the local (community) Dead Sea alive with enough fresh-water fish to support a new fishing industry. Swamps and marshes still provide sources of salt for preservation and flavor. Fruit trees will line the river and provide year round food and leaves for healing.

Lambert Dolphin's site has a map of the way the land is to be divided as an inheritance, plus another map showing how the sacred portion - for the city, the Zadokite priests, and the Prince - will be set up. Aliens living in the land are to be considered native-born Israelites, grafted into Israel. (47:22)

Each of the three gates on each of the four sides of the city wall will be named for each of the 12 tribes of Israel. The name of the city from then on will be "THE LORD IS THERE".

More scripture about the River and the future of Israel: Joel 3:17-21, Zechariah 14:1-21, and Revelation 22:1-6
Original post 2003
Tomorrow's reading (November 23) Acts 1-3
with Commentary and Study Guilde

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