In Ezekiel 18:2 the LORD says the people are saying “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, And the children's teeth are set on edge?” The people were saying that the present generation was paying the price for the sins of past generations. The LORD makes it clear that anything anyone suffers because of past generations has nothing to do with the LORD's judgment. He clearly says in Ezekiel 18:20, “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.” Then He reminds the people again that they can find forgiveness and mercy even if they have lived a life of wickedness; He says, "But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, … he shall surely live; he shall not die” (Ezekiel 18:21). Israel was complaining about the LORD’s ways not being fair (just), but they said this because of their wrong understanding of God; it was Israel’s ways that were not fair (just). The LORD said in Ezekiel 18:25, "Yet you say, 'The way of the Lord is not fair.' Hear now, O house of Israel, is it not My way which is fair, and your ways which are not fair?”
Ezekiel may have wondered if the judgment on Israel needed to be so severe. The LORD tells him that he will be comforted when he observes the complete moral bankruptcy of the few survivors. The LORD says in Ezekiel 14:22-23, “Yet behold, there shall be left in it a remnant who will be brought out, both sons and daughters; surely they will come out to you, and you will see their ways and their doings. Then you will be comforted concerning the disaster that I have brought upon Jerusalem, all that I have brought upon it. And they will comfort you, when you see their ways and their doings; and you shall know that I have done nothing without cause that I have done in it." God’s judgment's are not “without cause;” it is His last resort for people who refuse to repent.
In Ezekiel 9:4 the LORD says, "Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it." Then in verse 5 and 6 the LORD instructs the judgment to be released on the people except on those who have the mark. This is a principle that we know the LORD will use again: the apostle John writes in Revelation 7:2-3, “Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, "Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads."’ Later in Revelations 9:4 we see how this mark from God protected them from the judgments in the earth; it says “They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.”
In Ezekiel 11:13, Ezekiel says, “Now it happened, while I was prophesying, that Pelatiah the son of Benaiah died. Then I fell on my face and cried with a loud voice, and said, "Ah, Lord GOD! Will You make a complete end of the remnant of Israel?"’ God had tarried long, but now His Words wear manifesting quickly. The LORD says in Ezekiel 12:28, "None of My words will be postponed any more, but the word which I speak will be done.” The Bible says that mockers will also come in the last days saying “where is the sign of His coming,” but that day of judgment will come like a “thief in the night” and over take them all.
The LORD sends Ezekiel into ministry with some sobering words in Ezekiel 3:7, “the house of Israel will not listen to you, because they will not listen to Me.” The LORD goes on further in Ezekiel 3:17-21 to tell him that as a “watchman” for Israel, he wasn’t responsible for the people’s response, but he was responsible to obey and give them warning. Ezekiel 3:17-19 says, "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: When I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.”
Of course people have done weird and strange things out of their own imagination, but the life of Ezekiel proves that just because something seems strange or far from ideal, that alone does not mean it isn’t God. Beginning in chapter 4, we see God had Ezekiel preach His message by demonstration in some unusual ways.
God desired to show the world His goodness and His ways through Israel. Because of Israel’s wickedness, He had to show the world His righteousness and judgments upon Israel instead. Ezekiel 5:15 says, “'So it shall be a reproach, a taunt, a lesson, and an astonishment to the nations that are all around you, when I execute judgments among you in anger and in fury and in furious rebukes.”
As we look ahead to the coming days, where everything that can be shaken will be, Ezekiel 7:19 seems to have a lot of significance. It says, “'They will throw their silver into the streets, And their gold will be like refuse; Their silver and their gold will not be able to deliver them In the day of the wrath of the LORD; They will not satisfy their souls, Nor fill their stomachs, Because it became their stumbling block of iniquity.” In the end, the only thing that will be able to save is the LORD; He is the only solid foundation.
The prophets and spiritual didn’t correct the people of Israel; instead, they told them there would be peace. Jeremiah said it this way in Lamentations 2:14, “Your prophets have seen for you False and deceptive visions; They have not uncovered your iniquity, To bring back your captives, But have envisioned for you false prophecies and delusions.” As a result, the people continued to wander deeper and deeper into sin.
I can’t imagine what Jeremiah was going through after the destruction of Jerusalem and after so many people had died. His despair must have been great when he said, "My strength and my hope have perished from the LORD” in Lamentations 3:18. After this, he changes his outlook after he began to think again upon who the LORD is instead of only the circumstances. He said in Lamentations 3:21-24, “This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. Through the LORD's mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I hope in Him!" We can feel hopeless when bad things happen, but if we will meditate on Who God is, hope will be restored. Jeremiah goes on to say in Lamentations 3:31-33, “For the Lord will not cast off forever. Though He causes grief, Yet He will show compassion According to the multitude of His mercies. For He does not afflict willingly, Nor grieve the children of men.” Jeremiah has the realization that the LORD didn’t desire to bring judgment. “He does not afflict willingly;” it was a last resort to a wicked people. Jeremiah begins to have hope that the LORD will restore Israel because of His compassion and mercy.
After the LORD says, “You are My battle-ax and weapons of war” in Jeremiah 51:20, He goes on to say the words “with you I will” ten times in verses 20-23. One question some have is: who is God speaking of? Is He speaking of Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon, or is He speaking of Cyrus (who would destroy Babylon); commentators seem to have some disagreement about this. I believe the text has prophetic insight not just about what happened to ancient Babylon, but the one that we see will rise up in these last days spoken of in the book of Revelations. OK, now, back to the phrase, “with you I will.” That is a powerful statement; it’s all God’s plan and power, but He has chosen to work through vessels. What God has done or will do, He does through people. Even as Amos 3:7 says, “Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.”
The LORD speaks of Bozrah (capital of Edom) in Jeremiah 49:16; He says, “Your fierceness has deceived you, The pride of your heart, O you who dwell in the clefts of the rock, Who hold the height of the hill! Though you make your nest as high as the eagle, I will bring you down from there,’ says the LORD.” They were deceived to think they would continue to have peace and prosperity. What deceived them? It was their military strength and the pride in their hearts. The LORD explains, it doesn’t matter how high up a person or nation is, His judgment will bring them low.
Jeremiah prophesies the judgment on Babylon… this judgment happened in the prophet Daniels day but I believe it has foreshadowing’s of the Babylon seen in the book of Revelation. Jeremiah 50:2 says, “"Declare among the nations, Proclaim, and set up a standard; Proclaim—do not conceal it— Say, 'Babylon is taken, Bel is shamed. Merodach is broken in pieces; Her idols are humiliated, Her images are broken in pieces.'” God’s judgment is always just, but He longsuffering desiring people to repent. The verse above shows us the good that comes out of judgment… the false gods and the powers of darkness behind them are “shamed” and “broken.”
Jeremiah 50:4 continues with the good that would happen: "In those days and in that time," says the LORD, "The children of Israel shall come, They and the children of Judah together; With continual weeping they shall come, And seek the LORD their God.” The LORD relents from doing harm (Joel 2:13 & Jonah 4:2), but when it is inevitable, He releases in a way and a time to bring as many people as possible back to Him. God is good; His mercy is forever, so we must “consider the goodness and severity of God” (Rom. 11:22).
The first of the 10 Commandments given was: "You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3). What is it about humanity that they continually want to change who God is and serve a god that isn’t God at all. It’s not our job to tell God who He is; it’s our job to love the truth and seek Him with a humble heart. The devil presents to every culture and every people “a god or gods” that are more suitable for their carnality.
The prophet proclaims judgment on the false gods in Jeremiah 46:25 (Amplified Version), “The Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, says: Behold, I will visit punishment upon Amon [the chief god of the sacred city, the capital of Upper Egypt] of No or Thebes, and upon Pharaoh and Egypt, with her gods and her kings--even Pharaoh and all those [Jews and others] who put their trust in [Pharaoh as a support against Babylon].”
Some gods are hard task master like Allah, or a person’s god could be the god of self (their knowledge, their money, their power). Regardless of the false god, it is pride to reject the truth to embrace a lie. We need to “consider the goodness and severity of God” (Rom. 11:22).
The LORD said in Jeremiah 48:7 to Moab, “because you have trusted in your works and your treasures, you also shall be taken. And Chemosh shall go forth into captivity, His priests and his princes together.”
Although God suffers long, the most “merciful” thing God can do to a wicked people that refuses Him is bring judgment.
A group of survivors comes to Jeremiah for council from the LORD; they want to know where they should dwell. They told Jeremiah with their mouth that they would do whatever He told them, but in their heart they were saying they would do whatever God said as long as it fit into their plan. How many Christians do that today? They ask God for His plan for their life, but when it isn’t what they want, they conclude that it isn’t from God.
Jeremiah 42:1-3, & 6 says, “Now all the captains of the forces, Johanan the son of Kareah, Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people, from the least to the greatest, came near and said to Jeremiah the prophet, "Please, let our petition be acceptable to you, and pray for us to the LORD your God, for all this remnant (since we are left but a few of many, as you can see), that the LORD your God may show us the way in which we should walk and the thing we should do. …Whether it is pleasing or displeasing, we will obey the voice of the LORD our God to whom we send you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the LORD our God.’"
Jeremiah got a response from the LORD after 10 days; he told them to stay in the land of Israel. The people thought going to Egypt looked like the obvious best choice. Egypt looked safe and prosperous which was the opposite of Israel. Jeremiah told them what they should do, but Jeremiah 43:4 says, “… all the people would not obey the voice of the LORD, to remain in the land of Judah.”
So, the question to ask our self: When we tell the LORD that we want His plan for our life and we will do what He asks, do we really mean it?
The book begins in chapter 1, verses 1-4 by Habakkuk expressing his concern to God about the rampant sin in Israel. There didn’t seem to be any judgment and people believed there wouldn’t be. In verses 5-11, the LORD tells the prophet that He is raising up the Chaldeans (Babylonians) to inflict His judgment on Israel. Habakkuk responds again to the LORD in verse 12-17; he asks God how He can use a people more wicked than Israel to bring judgment on Israel. In Hab. 2:1, Habakkuk expresses how he will wait as a night watchman waits on the wall for an answer from the LORD. The LORD then prefaces the “vision” that He will give Habbakkuk for the future with these words from Habakkuk 2:2-3, "Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry.” Now the LORD goes on through the rest of chapter 2 telling of how he will also judge Babylon and restore Israel. The LORD promises that it will come at an “appointed time;” He also said it would “tarry,” but they had to continue to wait in faith. Chapter 3 contains Habakkuk’s prayer (which is also a song) after he received the new insight from the vision God gave him. Now, instead of bringing a complaint, he proclaims his faith in God, even when what he sees doesn’t look good. He says in Habakkuk 3:17-18, “Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls— Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” This book is a powerful testimony of one person’s journey of faith; I hope you read it today.
Read through the Bible with us in 2012! The reading plan can be downloaded below; we are reading in chronological order. Check back often to read the blog posts on the Bible readings and discuss things in the "comments" section.
2012 Bible Plan
Wednesdays - Bible Study - 7-8:15 pm
Sundays - Prayer - 7 pm
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