Memphis Belle

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Ezekiel 1-12
Ezekiel 13-16
Ezekiel 17-24
Ezekiel 25-27
Ezekiel 28-29
Ezekiel 30-33
Ezekiel 34
Ezekiel 35-39
Ezekiel 40-48
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Ezekiel 30:1-26

 

Ezekiel 30:1-5:  “A cloudy day was unusual.  They don’t have many clouds in the land of Egypt because they have less than an inch of rain in that section [I assume, per year].  They depend upon the river Nile for the water they need…At times there was an alliance between Egypt and Ethiopia, although a great deal of the time there was enmity and warfare between the two nations.  It is believed by many conservative scholars [a rarity today] that Moses, when he was Pharaoh’s son, would have been next Pharaoh, and that he actually led an expedition against Ethiopia [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/lamb/exodus1.html]…At this point in time there was an alliance among these nations [vs. 5], but they would all become subject to Nebuchadnezzar, who was actually a world ruler.  In fact, he is the head of gold in Daniel’s prophecy (ch.2) of the four great world kingdoms…”  Verses 6-12: “Not only Israel, but all of these other nations had looked to Egypt for help, and they will all be judged together.  These rivers, as we have seen before [vs. 12], are actually the different branches down in the delta of the Nile, and there were many of them.  There were also canals in that very rich fertile area.  Near there was the land of Goshen, where the Israelites settled when they first came to Egypt.  “I will make the rivers dry, and sell the land into the hand of the wicked.”  Egypt fell later on to Alexander the Great, and when he died his generals took over the nations he had conquered.  Cleopatra, who was not an Egyptian but a Greek, ruled over Egypt.  “I will make the land waste, and all that is therein, by the hand of strangers.”  “Strangers” are foreigners.  Egypt came under the control of foreign nations, and the canals were allowed to fill up.  Although I have never gotten into that delta section, a friend of mine whom I met in Cairo had just come from there, and he told me it is really a swamp in that section. God had said that He would make the land waste, and that is what it is today.”  Verses 13-14:  “I will cause their images to cease out of Noph.”  Noph is Memphis, and in Ezekiel’s time it was the great city of Egypt.  It was a very wealthy city, and it had idols in profusion---up and down both sides of the streets were idol after idol.  They were the city’s decoration!  No other place has ever had idols like Memphis had them.  Here God says that He would make the idols cease out of Memphis.  I have walked over what is supposed to be the ruins of Memphis, and all that is left of the idols is one great big statue of Raamses.  It lies on its back, and a building has been erected around it to house the statue.  That is the only thing left in Memphis. God did exactly what He said He was going to do.  He made the idols to cease.  “There shall be no more a prince of the land of Egypt.”  There is no royal line in Egypt any more.  Neither can any of the rulers be called great men.  They all have had to look to other nations for aid and support.”  Verses 15-26:  “I will pour out my fury upon Sin”---which is Pelusium, now completely buried in the sand.  “I will cut off No”---this is Thebes, which was a great city in the upper Nile.  The ruins are there, but its greatness is all gone.  In the next verses God continues to speak of these great cities of Egypt which have now disappeared altogether…God states once again that Egypt will fall.  This pictures of Egyptian rulers always shows them holding the scepter in their hands.  The scepter was a token of their power.  God says, “I have broken the arm of Pharaoh.”  It is hard to hold a scepter with a broken arm!  And God goes on to say, “It shall not be bound up to be healed.”  Babylon was going to conquer Egypt, and Pharaoh [Hophra] would be powerless to stop it.  All of this was literally fulfilled.”  [THRU THE BIBLE, Vol. III, pp495-496]

 

List of Egyptian cities by Bible and (ancient) Egyptian names:

 

 

Noph                                :       Memphis

Zoan                                 :       Tanis

Sin                                   :       Pelusium

Aven                                 :       On or Heliopolis

Pi Beseth                          :       Babustis

No                                    :       Thebes

Pathros                             :       southern Egypt

Syene                               :       Aswan

Migdol                              :       Suez

 

A Cloudy Day, a Day of War

 

Verses 1-5, “The word of the LORD came to me again, saying, ‘Son of man, prophesy again saying, Thus says the Lord GOD:  Wail, Woe is the day!  For the day is near, even the day of the LORD is near;  It will be a day of clouds, the time of the Gentiles. [in context with history, this is probably not the “day of the LORD”, Great Tribulation prophecy, but applies to Egypt from the 570sBC to 530sBC.  But the wording is identical to other Day of the LORD prophecies, so it may have dual application.  Think about who these nations are now, and the alliances that are forming between them all as I am writing this.]  The sword shall come upon Egypt, and great anguish shall be in Ethiopia, when the slain fall in Egypt, and they take away her wealth, and her foundations are broken down.  Ethiopia, Libya, Lydia [Hebrew: Put], and all the mingled people, Chub, and the men of the lands who are allied, shall fall with them by the sword.”

 

The nations allied to Egypt to fall to Nebuchadnezzar as well

 

Verses 6-12, “Thus says the LORD:  ‘Those who uphold Egypt shall fall, and the pride of her power shall come down.  From Migdol to Syene [Suez to Aswan] those within her shall fall by the sword,’  says the Lord GOD.  ‘They shall be desolate in the midst of the desolate countries, and her cities shall be in the midst of the cities that are laid waste.  Then they will know that I am the LORD, when I have set a fire in Egypt and all her helpers are destroyed.  On that day messengers shall go forth from me in ships to make the careless Ethiopians afraid, and great anguish shall come upon them, as on the day of Egypt; for indeed it is coming!’  Thus says the Lord GOD:  ‘I will also make a multitude of Egypt to cease by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.  He and his people with him, the most terrible of nations, shall be brought to destroy the land; they shall draw their swords against Egypt, and fill the land with the slain.  I will make the rivers dry, and sell the land into the hand of the wicked; I will make the land waste, and all that is in it, by the hand of aliens.  I, the LORD, have spoken.’”

 

All the idols to cease out of Noph---Memphis the capital city---the royal Egyptian line to cease

 

Verses 13-14, “Thus says the Lord GOD:  ‘I will destroy the idols, and cause the images to cease from Noph; there shall no longer be princes from the land of Egypt; I will put fear in the land of Egypt.  I will make Pathros desolate [Pathros: southern Egypt]; set fire to Zoan [Tanis], and execute judgments in No [Thebes, the capital of Upper Egypt (Noph or Memphis being the capital city of Southern Egypt when the ‘kingdoms’ were divided)].

 

All the great cities of Egypt to disappear, most under the sand

 

Verses 15-19, “I will pour out my fury on Sin, the strength of Egypt [Pelusium: either thought to be Sais…it is thought by some to be the same with Pithom, built by the first pastor-kings (Hyksos) of Egypt, garrisoned at times with over 10,000 troops and probably chariot forces, a city on the eastern extremes of Egypt’s Nile Delta 30km (10 mil) to the S.E. of modern Port Said.  It was the easternmost major city of Lower Egypt---a border fortress on Egypt’s frontier, a place of great strength militarily (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pelusium)]; I will cut off the multitudes of No [Thebes the strong military capital of Upper Egypt when Egypt was a divided kingdom, still an important sub-capital city when Egypt was a united kingdom], and set a fire in Egypt ; Sin [Pelusium] will have great pain [obviously, being the first spot to bear the brunt of Nebuchadnezzar’s forces as they crossed over into Egypt], No [Thebes] shall be split open, and Noph [Memphis] shall be in distress daily.  The young men of Aven [On or Heliopolis, near Memphis] and Pi Beseth [Babustis] shall fall by the sword, and these cities shall go into captivity.  At Tehaphnehes [Greek “Daphnae”, a city on the N.E. border of Egypt, 16 miles from Pelusium (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tahpanhes) the day shall be darkened, when I break the yokes of Egypt there.  And her arrogant strength shall cease from her; [obviously Tehaphnehes was another garrisoned border fortress-city on Egypt’s extreme N.E. border.  If Pelusium fell, Tehaphnehes was next in Egypt’s line of defense.] as for her, a cloud shall cover her.  And her daughters shall go into captivity.  Thus I will execute judgments on Egypt, then they shall know that I am the LORD.’”  These were great and powerful cities, as Egypt was.  To learn about Egypt, I highly recommend reading Sir Allen Gardiner’s “Egypt of the Pharaohs”.  It is available in paperback.  It’s considered the bible of Egyptology, the reference handbook all budding Egyptologists carry with them.  I read it one summer, and it is not a hard read at all.  This ends this vision, which was later inserted by Ezekiel inbetween what would have chapters 29 and 30.  Ezekiel 30:20-26 start another vision.  As you will see, Ezekiel is placing dates on when he received these visions from the LORD.

 

The LORD’s Proclamation Against Pharaoh

 

Verses 20-26, “And it came to pass in the eleventh year, in the first month, on the seventh day of the month, that the word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, I have broken the arm of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and see, it has not been bandaged for healing, nor a splint put on to bind it, to make it strong enough to hold a sword.’  Therefore thus says the Lord GOD:  ‘Surely I am against Pharaoh king of Egypt, and will break his arms, both the strong one and the one that was broken; and I will make the sword fall out of his hand.  I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and disperse them throughout the countries.  I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon and put my sword in his hand; but I will break Pharaoh’s arms, and he will groan before him with the groanings of a mortally wounded man.  Thus I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon, but the arms of Pharaoh shall fall down; they shall know that I am the LORD, when I put my sword into the hand of the king of Babylon and he stretches it out against the land of Egypt.  I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations and disperse them throughout the countries.  Then they shall know that I am the LORD.’”  This occurred between 570BC and 568BC.  Archeological evidence has been discovered that Egyptian sailors and ships had been traveling between Egypt and northern Maine, around the Monhegan Island area and part of northern Maine.  The Native American Micmac written language differs only a little bit from standard Egyptian hieroglyphics.  The dates for these landings were between 800BC and 600BC, perhaps some of these Egyptians had actually sailed to northern Maine as late as Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion, as well as a little before, when civil war broke out in Egypt.  War drives populations to relocate.

 

Ezekiel 31:1-18

 

Two months later, in this prophecy God compares the might of the great Assyrian Empire to a tall cedar tree in Lebanon, a vast and powerful Empire which was well-watered between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, and militarily dominated the whole of the Middle East from the Egyptian border up into Asia Minor.  God is saying that if he felled this great tree of an empire through the king of Babylon, and then at the very end of this discourse about how great Assyria was and what he did to that empire, he asks Pharaoh,  ‘what makes you, Pharaoh, think that you can avoid the same fate that befell Assyria, when you are weaker and more insignificant by comparison?’

Verses 1-9, “Now it came to pass in the eleventh year, in the third month, on the first day of the month, that the word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, say to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his multitude:  Whom are you like in your greatness?  Indeed Assyria was a cedar in Lebanon, with fine branches that shaded the forest, and of his stature; and its top was among the thick boughs.  The waters made it grow; underground waters gave it height, with their rivers running around the place where it was planted [i.e. the Tigris and Euphrates], and sent out rivulets to all the trees in the field.  Therefore its height was exalted above the trees of the field; its boughs were multiplied, and its branches became long because of the abundance of water, as it sent them out.  All the birds of the heavens made their nests in its boughs; under its branches all the beasts of the field brought forth their young; and in its shadow all great nations made their home.  Thus it was beautiful in greatness and in the length of its branches, because its roots reached to abundant waters, the cedars in the garden of God could not hide it; the fir trees were not like its boughs, and the chestnut trees were not like its branches; no tree in the garden of God was like it in beauty.  I made it beautiful with a multitude of branches, so that all the trees of Eden envied it, that were in the garden of God.’”  Interesting, God likens Assyria as dwelling in the past location of Eden, the Garden of God.  That would equate to the land encompassing modern Iraq, between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.  Eden and Garden of God are mentioned three times in this short passage.  It is almost as if God is naming where Eden was located right here in these verses.  God is about to warn Egypt in the next verses to learn from what happened to Assyria.  Assyria had just been wiped out by a combination of forces from Scythia and the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar’s father.  The Assyrian Empire had been totally destroyed.  Pharaoh Necho II had tried to go up to assist the king of Assyria, but was unable to succeed in helping them resist the Scythians and Babylonians.  That is the period of time when Josiah was killed for trying to stop Pharaoh Necho and his forces from crossing through Israel to assist the Assyrian king.  Egypt had at one point even been a vassal state under Assyria, but now Assyria was gone, ‘And you’re next, Pharaoh Hophra,’ is what God is telling this Pharaoh.  God goes on with his description of how the mighty Assyrian Empire was brought down.  After this defeat, the ancient Assyrian Empire never rose to power again, it was gone, dead and buried as God says here.  Verses 10-18, “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD:  ‘Because you have increased in height, and it set its top among the thick boughs, and its heart was lifted up in its height, therefore I will deliver it into the hand of the mighty one of the nations, and he shall surely deal with it; I have driven it out for its wickedness.  And aliens, the most terrible of nations, have cut it down and left it; its branches have fallen on the mountains and in all the valleys; its boughs lie broken by all the rivers of the land; and all the peoples of the earth have gone from under its shadow and left it.  On its ruin will remain all the birds of the heavens, and all the beasts of the field will come to its branches---so that no trees by the waters may ever again exalt themselves for their height, nor set their tops among the thick boughs, that no tree which drinks water may ever be high enough to reach up to them.  For they have all been delivered to death, to the depths of the earth, among the children of men who go down to the Pit.’  Thus says the Lord GOD:  ‘In the day when it went down to hell, I caused mourning.  I covered the deep because of it.  I restrained the rivers, and the great waters were held back.  I caused Lebanon to be darkened for it, and all the trees of the field wilted because of it.  I made the nations shake at the sound of its fall, when I cast it down to hell together with those who descend into the Pit; and all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, were comforted in the depths of the earth.  They also went down to hell with it, with those slain by the sword; and those who were its strong arm dwelt in its shadows among the nations.  [Comment:  We just read God’s description to Pharaoh of how he just brought down the mighty Assyrian Empire.  Now view God’s remark to Pharaoh Hophra in the last verse of chapter 31, where God’s essentially saying, ‘You’re nothing, your Egyptian empire is nothing compared to the great Assyrian Empire, which I just brought down into hell, the Pit.]  To which of the trees in Eden will you then be likened in glory and greatness?  Yet you shall be brought down with the trees of Eden to the depths of the earth; you shall lie in the midst of the uncircumcised with those slain by the sword.  This is Pharaoh and all his multitude,’ says the Lord GOD.”  The area occupied by ancient Assyria is referred to by God here as Eden.  This would indicate that the area between the Tigris and Euphrates was where the ancient Garden of Eden was, modern-day Iraq.

 

Ezekiel 32:1-32

 

Verses 1-16:  Halley has, “March 584BC, 1 year 8 months after Jerusalem fell.  A lamentation over Egypt to be crushed at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar.” [Halley’s Handbook, p. 331]  Verse 2 may be translated as “a whale” in some translations, and “a monster” in the New King James translation, but should be translated “crocodile.”  God says he’s going to cast a net over this nasty Pharaoh-crocodile and catch it, just like the Egyptians would cast nets over the Nile to catch fish.  In verse 11 God again names the one he is going to use to do his bidding on Egypt, “the king of Babylon.”  Hophra was compared by God to a young lion and a thrashing crocodile that only muddied up the waters of the Nile.  In 568BC, just 17 years after this lamentation was given by the LORD to Ezekiel, who then penned it, Nebuchadnezzar invaded the nation of Egypt and laid waste the whole Nile valley and apparently deported many of the surviving Egyptians for that 40 year period just prophecied about in Ezekiel 29:11-16.  When Babylon fell to the Persians, 40 years later, these poor surviving Egyptians made their way back home.  But after this, Egypt was crushed, never to rise again as an Empire-Nation, never to have a native prince rule over her as a Pharaoh.  Verses 17-32:  This prophecy was given to Ezekiel by God just two weeks after verses 1-16 were given.  This part of this two-part lamentation pictures Egypt and her other allies in the realm of the dead, Sheol.  A whole company of nations and empires are listed whom Egypt will find as their companions in Sheol, the grave. Whether they are actually alive and conscious in some nebulous spirit-ghostly form or this is just a metaphoric warning to Pharaoh and Egypt about where they’re headed has been a subject debated about for millennia.  To see all the various interpretations the various groups and denominations have on the subject of hell, Sheol, log onto: http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm.  This is the last prophecy about ancient Egypt and the other foreign nations surrounding her in Ezekiel which have been fulfilled and are in the history books.  Ancient Egypt and all her companion nations are in the grave, Sheol, just as the LORD said they would be.

 

Verses 1-16, “And it came to pass in the twelfth year, in the twelfth month, on the first day of the month, that the word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, take up a lamentation for Pharaoh king of Egypt, and say to him:  You are like a young lion among the nations, and you are like a monster [crocodile] in the seas, bursting forth in your rivers, troubling the waters with your feet, and fouling the rivers.’  Thus says the Lord GOD:  ‘I will therefore spread my net over you with a company of many people.  And they will draw you up in my net.  Then I will leave you on the land; I will cast you out on the open fields, and cause to settle on you all the birds of the heavens.  And with you I will fill the beasts of the whole earth.  I will lay your flesh on the mountains, and fill the valleys with your carcass.  I will also water the land with the flow of your blood, even to the mountains; and the riverbeds will be full of you.  When I put out your light, I will cover the heavens, and make its stars dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light.  All the bright lights of the heavens I will make dark over you, and bring darkness upon your land,’ says the Lord GOD.  [verses 7-8 probably point to the period of the end-times, part of the Seven Last Plagues, cf. Revelation 16:10.  Two verses tucked in the midst of a fulfilled prophecy, it’s not uncommon.]  ‘I will also trouble the hearts of many peoples, when I bring your destruction among the nations, into the countries which you have not known.  Yes, I will make many peoples astonished at you, and their kings shall be horribly afraid of you when I brandish my sword before them; and they shall tremble every moment, every man for his own life, in the day of your fall.’  For thus says the Lord GOD:  ‘The sword of the king of Babylon shall come upon you.  By the swords of the mighty warriors, all of them the most terrible of the nations, I will cause your multitude to fall.  They shall plunder the pomp of Egypt, and all its multitude shall be destroyed.  Also I will destroy all its animals from beside its great waters; the foot of man shall muddy them no more, nor shall the hooves of animals muddy them.  Then I will make their waters clear, and make their rivers run like oil,’ says the  Lord GOD.  ‘When I make the land of Egypt desolate, and the country destitute of all that once filled it, when I strike all who dwell in it, then they shall know that I am the LORD.  ‘This is the lamentation with which they shall lament her; the daughters of the nations shall lament her; they shall lament for her, for Egypt, and for all her multitude,’ says the Lord GOD.”

 

Egypt and her allies in Sheol

 

Verses 17-32, “It came to pass also in the twelfth year, on the fifteenth day of the month, that the word of the LORD came to me, saying:  ‘Son of man, wail over the multitude of Egypt, and cast them down to the depths of earth, her and the daughters of the famous nations, with those who go down to the Pit:  Whom do you surpass in beauty?  Go down, be placed with the uncircumcised.  They shall fall in the midst of those slain by the sword; she is delivered to the sword, drawing her and all her multitudes.  The strong among the mighty shall speak to him out of the midst of hell with those who help him:  they have gone down, they lie with the uncircumcised, slain by the sword.  Assyria is there, and all her company, with their graves all around her, all of them slain, fallen by the sword.  Her graves are set in the recesses of the Pit, and her company is all around the grave, all of them slain, fallen by the sword, who caused terror in the land of the living.  [And the Assyrian Empire caused terror in the land of the living, that’s for sure.  They drove the northern ten tribes of Israel, called the House of Israel, out of their homeland, and all who did not flee in advance where conquered and the survivors taken captive into Assyria.  But the mighty Assyrian Empire fell at the hands of the Scythians and Babylonians between 612BC and 608BC]  There is Elam and all her multitude, all around her grave, all of them slain, fallen by the sword, who have gone down uncircumcised to the lower parts of the earth, who caused terror in the land of the living; now they bear their shame with those who go down to the Pit.  They have set her bed in the midst of the slain, with all her multitude, with her graves all around it, all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword; though their terror was caused in the land of the living, yet they bear their shame with those who go down to the Pit; it was put in the midst of the slain.  [Elam is Persia]  There are Meshech and Tubal and all their multitudes, with all their graves around it, all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword, though they caused their terror in the land of the living.  [the peoples in Russia today, the Slavic races are descended from Meshech and Tubal]  They do not lie with the mighty who are fallen of the uncircumcised, who have gone down to hell with their weapons of war; they have laid their swords under their heads, but their iniquities will be on their bones, because of the terror of the mighty in the land of the living.  Yes, you shall be broken in the midst of the uncircumcised, and lie with those slain by the sword.  There is Edom, her kings and all her princes, who despite their might are laid beside those slain by the sword; [the modern Turks are descended from the Edomites, from Esau Isaac’s brother]  they shall lie with the uncircumcised, and with those who go down to the Pit.  There are  the princes of the north, all of them, and all of the Sidonians, who have gone down with the slain in shame at the terror which they caused by their might; [the Sidonians, along with the Tyrians, were the Phoenicians.  Sidon was one of the capital cities of the Phoenician Empire.]  they shall lie uncircumcised with those slain by the sword, and bear their shame with those who go down to the Pit.  Pharaoh will see them and be comforted over all his multitude, Pharaoh and all his army, slain by the sword,’ says the Lord GOD.  ‘For I have caused my terror in the land of the living; and he shall be placed in the midst of the uncircumcised with those slain by the sword, Pharaoh and all his multitude,’ says the Lord GOD.”  Realistically, all the great empires of the world right up to this moment are in the grave, the Old Testament using the word Sheol, and the New Testament using the word Hades, which merely means “the grave”, six feet under.  Within the Body of Christ there are mixed beliefs about whether or not the dead (i.e. what some people call “souls”) are conscious upon death or unconscious.  Are they really partying it up down there?  That’s a good question. To see some of these various beliefs, log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm.     

 

The Future of Israel:  Ezekiel chapters 33-48

 

These chapters deal with the future of Israel (and the world) in the Millennial Kingdom of God

 

J. Vernon McGee explains this chapter block in Ezekiel quite well: “Chapter 33 brings us to the last major division of this book.  From chapters 33-48 we will see the glory of the Lord and the coming of the millennial kingdom.  Chapter 32 concluded the predictions concerning the nations that were round about Israel.  Some of these nations were contiguous to the land of Israel.  They were closely related to them, of course---actually related by blood [Ammon, Moab and Edom, and the Ishmaelites, today’s Arabs].  These prophecies were given before the destruction of Jerusalem.  Now we come to the second part of this prophetic book, which contains Ezekiel’s prophecies after the fall of Jerusalem.  Ezekiel again is speaking to Jerusalem, and the land of Israel will be his subject [all 12 tribes of Israel, which would include the House of Israel containing the “ten lost tribes of Israel” whoever and wherever they are], but his message is different.  Up to chapter 25 everything pointed to the destruction of Jerusalem.  Then Jerusalem was destroyed exactly as he had predicted.  Now he will look forward to the future of the coming millennial kingdom when the glory of the Lord will be seen again on this earth.  That makes this a very interesting section.  Not only is Ezekiel’s commission renewed, he will also be commended for the fact that he has done a good job up to this point.  From now on he is going to be speaking to those in captivity, telling them that they are to live in the expectancy of the future.  Before, these captives had no hope because of their sins.  But in the future, Ezekiel sees hope for the children of Israel.  [For those Israelites, and all Israelites in who have lived and died, their hope lies in the fulfillment of Ezekiel 37:1-14, the literal fulfillment of that prophecy, which we will come to in this last section of Ezekiel.  That is an integral part of this block of prophecy the LORD is about to give to Ezekiel.]  Today believers also have a hope.  It is not anchored in anything that men do here on earth, or in any of the gyrations of psychoanalysis.  Our hope today is not a philosophy.  It rests upon the Word of God and what He has said will take place in the future.  This is the lodestar of the child of God in our day.  It is not the same as Israel moving into the Millennium.  We are moving actually into the New Jerusalem.  This is what is immediately ahead of us as believers.”  [THRU THE BIBLE, Vol. III, p.500, col.1, par. 1-4]  Those last two sentences I underlined are more thoroughly explained at: http://www.unityinchrist.com/revelation/Pentecost-Revetion1.htm

 

Ezekiel 33:1-17, 18-20, part I

 

Verses 1-11:  So God is telling us through Ezekiel here, as well as telling the prophet himself, that we in the Church, the Body of Christ, must all (until Christ returns) continue to preach the Gospel---accompanied by a watchman type warning message and call to repentance.  This is a crucial chapter placed right in front of all the chapters that follow, which are about the coming Millennial kingdom of God.  But this chapter outlines our responsibility as Christians and Messianic Jewish believers, what we must do, first, before God will usher in his Millennial Kingdom of God described in the following chapters.  Thus the first part of the chapter is critical to all believers who long for the return of Jesus Christ.  Whether or not the people of the world will respond favorably to our Gospel witness and warning is not to be our concern.  Our job is just to give the message, the rest is in God’s hands.  As the time of the Tribulation draws close our Gospel presentation must have a prophetic warning aspect to it, just as Peter’s first Gospel sermon did in Acts 2 (see verses 17-21 of Acts 2).  That is what God is revealing to us believers who are living in the end-times.  As the period of time known as the First Seal comes upon us, this Great Commission Jesus gave the Church in Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15, coupled to a prophetic warning, will become paramount in importance for all spiritually alive and on-fire believers in Jesus Christ---it must become our sole job before the end comes.  What is the Gospel message?  See http://www.unityinchrist.com/mathew/Matthew24-1-31.htm and

http://www.unityinchrist.com/misc/WhatIsTheGospel%20.htm.  Verse 2 is interesting, because this commission to warn is worded “Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say to them…” Thus the LORD is focusing the prophetic Gospel warning to anyone, of any race, to deliver it to the children of his people.  This focus makes the Gospel/warning message non-ethnic, international, and worldwide.

 

Verses 1-11, “Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them:  When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head.  He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself.  But he who takes warning will save his life.  But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.  So you, son of man:  I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from my mouth and warn them for me.  When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.  Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.  Therefore you, O son of man, say to the house of Israel:  ‘Thus you say, If our transgressions and our sins lie upon us, and we pine away in them, how can we then live?  Say to them:  As I live, says the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.  Turn, turn from your evil ways!  For why should you die O house of Israel?’”  Here is the stated commission God gives to all those who are in the Body of Christ, this warning is about repentance from one’s wicked ways, which is all about the Gospel message.  It is a powerful Bible them, given in the Law, that when a people sin against God, and their national sins get great, that God will bring conditions of famine and then military invasion against those people.  It’s a stated pattern in the Word of God.  This pattern of disobedience and divine judgment and punishment is found throughout the history of the Old Testament from the Book of Judges to the end of 2nd Chronicles, throughout the historically fulfilled parts of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, with the fall of both the House of Israel to Assyria and the House of Judah and Jerusalem to Babylon (which we just covered in Jeremiah and the first part of Ezekiel here).  Now we find ourselves getting really close to the period of time called the Great Tribulation (World War III).  Wickedness in today’s world abounds, both within and without the nations which make up the ten tribes which would make up the House of Israel, whoever they are.  The same can be said of the House of Judah, which contains the tribes of Benjamin, Judah and Levi.  God’s Gospel warning is meant to go worldwide, as Jesus said it would in Matthew 24:14.  He said it would go worldwide just before the beginning of the Tribulation, or World War III, the opening of the 2nd Seal in Revelation 6 (Matthew 24:14-15).  Most of the 2nd Coming of Jesus Christ prophecies show massive warfare coming upon the world.  Jesus wants the Gospel of Salvation, with a warning element attached to it, to be taken to the world, a warning to repent before the sword comes upon the land.  The 5th point in the Gospel of Christ or Salvation is that Jesus is coming again, which would include all the prophecies about Jesus Christ’s 2nd coming, including everything leading up to it.  The whole world is about to be swept up in a massive world war just before the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ.  What is the Gospel of Christ?  Log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/misc/WhatIsTheGospel%20.htm.  How do we get the Gospel out?  That is called Evangelism.  This website has a whole section on Evangelism (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/evangelism/1.htm and http://www.unityinchrist.com/missionstatement.htm for some helpful ideas in how everyone can support some powerful non-denominational international evangelistic works.  The next five verses put this in context, it’s all about repentance, and what that really is, to not just say you’re sorry, but to turn around and go in the right direction, the direction of obedience to God’s laws.  Accepting the Gospel and “coming to the Lord” is all about real repentance.  It involves initial confession, but goes much further, it involves a lifestyle change.  Verses 12-16 describe that.  Verses 12-16, “Therefore you, O son of man, say to the children of your people:  ‘The righteousness of the righteous man shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression:  as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall because of it in the day that he turns from his wickedness; nor shall the righteous be able to live because of his righteousness in the day that he sins.  When I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, but he trusts in his own righteousness and commits iniquity, none of his righteous works shall be remembered; but because of the iniquity that he has committed, he shall die.  Again, when I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ if he turns from his sin and does what is lawful and right, if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has stolen and walks in the statutes of life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live;  he shall not die.  None of his sins which he has committed shall be remembered against him; he has done what is lawful and right; he shall surely live.”

 

Fairness of God’s Judgment

Verses 17-20, “Yet the children of your people say, ‘The way of the LORD is not fair.’  But it is their way which is not fair!  When the righteous turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, he shall die because of it.  But when the wicked turns from his wickedness and does what is lawful and right, he shall live because of it.  Yet you say, The way of the LORD is not fair.’  O house of Israel, I will judge every one of you according to his own ways.’”  The Jews in captivity were complaining to Ezekiel that God had been unfair with them.  But God wasn’t being unjust.  The punishment of Israel from God was God being faithful to the covenant stipulations he had given them and they had agreed to in the old covenant.  They had agreed to the commandments of God and accepted the consequences for breaking them (cf. see Leviticus 26, whole chapter, and Deuteronomy 28, whole chapter). Consider this, you who know the Bible and are aware of the various covenants within the Bible.  All of Israel, whoever they are, all 12 tribes along with the tribe of Levi, all those who are not now believers in Yeshua haMeshiach, Jesus Christ, which covenant are they bound to, whether they want to be or not?  Since they are not Christians or Messianic Jewish believers in Yeshua, they quite naturally still fall under the terms of the Old Covenant.  So all of them are being judged according to the Old Covenant terms of the agreement, as spelled out in the two chapters in the Law that describe the promised Blessings for obedience and Curses for disobedience.  So if a nation happens to be one of the Israelite tribes, unbeknownst to all of us historically and in reality, and it is breaking a bunch of God’s laws, more and more, on a national scale, aren’t they going to come under God’s judgment, just as the House of Israel did in the 700s BC? [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/kings/1.html and read through to http://www.unityinchrist.com/kings/3.html]  So, following this logic, just speculatively, let’s just say the English speaking peoples are two of the ten lost tribes of Israel, Ephraim and Manasseh (just bear with me on this).  And we have already seen the modern counterpart to the sinful practices of Baal-worship, child sacrifices, is abortion, and in the United States alone since 1960 we’ve had 45 million abortions, murders of unborn American children.  If we, unbelieving Americans, as a part of Israel, are still under the terms, blessing and punishment conditions, of the Old Covenant, shouldn’t we expect God to judge America, the United States of America under those terms spelled out in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28?  Yes, of course we should.  The Old Covenant has not be abrogated for whomever those ten tribes are, whomever and wherever they are.  Since most are not real believers, indwelt with the Holy Spirit, they are not under the terms of the new covenant, with God writing his laws in their hearts and minds.  Read any newspaper regularly, or internet wire service long enough, and you’ll see that.  Our national sins are reaching to the heavens.  Just read the terms spelled out in Leviticus 26 if you want a good scare.  And when those things come upon us, it will be through the beginning of the Tribulation, the opening shots, and we will as a nation go back into captivity, such as Americans have never known.  Read Leviticus 26:1-13 first, these are the blessings that the English speaking peoples have enjoyed since around the year 1800, England turning into the British Empire, and then the United States of America.  We have all enjoyed these blessings, as we have been relatively obedient to God’s laws, just in a natural way.  But now we seem to be coming into a period of judgment, which starts in Leviticus 26:14 and goes on through verse 45.  You want a good scare, just read those verses.  Verses 15-16 starts out with incurable diseases overtaking whomever Israel is, doesn’t that seem to be happening more and more?  Verses 17-18 shows we start suffering military defeat, verse 19 is particularly telling, as God promises he will “break the pride of our power” military power, and “I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze.”  Upset weather conditions and patterns leading to massive droughts across the land.  That’s the next national punishment from God.  Verses 23-45 bring on national defeat in major war, and national captivity.  This is all about to happen to whomever the tribes of Israel are in the coming Great Tribulation, and it all fits God’s promises for Blessings and Curses in his old covenant agreement with ancient Israel.  Scary?  You bet.  Next, what about Christians?  But what about Christians and Messianic Jewish believers who are now under the new covenant (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:6-13; 10:16)?  I think J. Vernon McGee covers this question pretty well.  “This verse [verse 18] is not speaking about somebody losing their salvation.  God is saying that when one of His children gets into sin, He will judge him.  That is exactly what Paul said in 1st Corinthians 11:31, “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.”  And God says through John that there is a sin unto death (1st John 5:16).  He is speaking about a child of God.  What kind of death is he talking about?  He is talking about physical death.  Some Christians are judged for their sins by physical death.  I am amazed that more folks don’t catch on to God’s discipline after a time.  There are others who are in the Lord’s word, but what they are doing is not prospering, and they are getting deeper and deeper into debt.  You would think that the message would come through loud and clear that perhaps God is moving in judgment, that what they are doing is not pleasing to Him.” [typ. THRU THE BIBLE, Vol.III, p. 501, col2, par.2]  And J. Vernon McGee is talking about verse 18 here in Ezekiel 33, which states, “When the righteous turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, he shall die because of it.”  J. Vernon McGee continues, speaking about the Jews God is addressing in verses 17-20, “Godly men, too, were carried away into captivity.  Those who had trusted God were carried off just like the most wicked people, and these godly people are complaining.  It looks like God is being unfair.  You and I experience this same principle in many ways.  For example, we have to pay excessive insurance premiums today because there are a lot of alcoholics. I don’t drink, but I have to pay for the ones who do.  I have to pay high taxes because we have a lot of folks in Washington today who spend money foolishly. We are identified with our nation.  And the good people in Israel were suffering because they were identified with the nation. But there is more to it than that.  Notice what God says---“O ye house of Israel, I will judge you every one after his ways.”  In other words, I am going to judge every one of you.  And, my friend, whoever you are, you will have to stand before God for judgment some day.  If you are a child of God, He will judge you for the sins you have committed, but you will not lose your salvation.  However, if you are a lost person, you have no claim on God whatsoever.”   [THRU THE BIBLE, Vol.III, p.501, col.2, par. 6-8, p.502, par.1, lns 1-4.]  In principle, J. Vernon McGee gets it pretty well.  There are differing opinions and beliefs in the various parts of the Body of Christ on eternal punishments and rewards, but I think he’s nailed it down in principle pretty well.

 

Ezekiel 33:21-33

 

J. Vernon McGee gives us this, “Ezekiel had already said that Jerusalem was destroyed because God had told him, but as yet he had been given no information about it.  When the news of the destruction of the city was brought to these people, it absolutely dumbfounded them.  They were overwhelmed by the news.  They never believed that anything like this could possibly take place.  On the very day that this news was  brought, Ezekiel’s wife died, and God said to him in effect, “Don’t even grieve for your wife.  I want these people to know that I have repudiated their city.  They think that I have to have Jerusalem.  They think that I won’t destroy it.  They don’t believe I will judge sin, but I will.  Therefore, don’t weep for your wife. Let the people know that this time the city is being destroyed because of its sin.  The city is smitten…You see, at the end of chapter 24 God announced to Ezekiel the destruction of Jerusalem, the bloody city.  From that point on (chs. 25-33) He had given him no prophecy for Jerusalem; instead He had given him messages for the surrounding nations.  Now when we come here to chapter 33, we find that God no longer makes Ezekiel dumb about Jerusalem.  He says to him, “I have some messages for you about Jerusalem now.”

 

Verses 21-29, “And it came to pass in the twelfth year of our captivity, in the tenth month, on the fifth day of the month, that one who had escaped from Jerusalem came to me and said, ‘The city has been captured!’  Now the hand of the LORD had been upon me the evening before the man came who had escaped.  And he had opened my mouth; so when he came to me in the morning, my mouth was opened, and I was no longer mute.  Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying:  ‘Son of man, they who inhabit those ruins in the land of Israel are saying, ‘Abraham was only one, and he inherited the land.  But we are many; the land has been given to us as a possession.’”  J. Vernon McGee has this to say about verse 24, “The people of Israel are remembering how God took care of Abraham; yet there was only one of him, and there are a whole lot of them.  They expect Him to take care of them in the same way.  They are ignoring the fact that there was a great deal of difference between Abraham and themselves.  Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.  These people do not believe God.  “Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD:  You eat meat with blood, you lift up your eyes toward your idols, and shed blood.  Should you then possess the land?  You rely on your sword, you commit abominations, and you defile one another’s wives.  Should you then possess the land?’  Say thus to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD:  As I live, surely those who are in the ruins shall fall by the sword, and the one who is in the open field I will give to the beasts to be devoured, and those who are in the strongholds and caves to die of the pestilence.  For I will make the land most desolate, her arrogant strength shall cease, and the mountains of Israel shall be so desolate that no one will pass through.  Then they shall know that I am the LORD, when I have made the land most desolate because of all their abominations which they have committed.’”

 

Hearing and not doing

 

Verses 30-33, “As for you, son of man, the children of your people are talking about you beside the walls and in the doors of the houses; and they speak to one another, everyone saying to his brother, ‘Please come and hear what the word is that comes from the LORD.’”  Wow, appears to be a changed attitude.  Also notice, God hears everything his people, whether born-again believers, or just his physical people Israel, are saying.  He knows what’s going down and going on, all of the time.  Don’t ever think he doesn’t.  These people are shaken up by actual news of the fall of Jerusalem which an escaped survivor just revealed to them.  Now they want to listen to what Ezekiel has to say.  But sadly, they won’t follow through and start obeying God.  We know now that takes a new heart and mind, which comes from the Holy Spirit, which God wasn’t giving to the people back then, only to a few select few, like the prophets and a group called “the sons of the prophets.”  “So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as my people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain.  Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them.  And when this comes to pass---surely it will come---then they will know that a prophet has been among them.”  J. Vernon McGee says about these three verses “On the surface they appeared to be turning to the LORD.  They wanted to hear what the LORD had to say but had no intention of obeying Him.  They were like folk who go to church in our day and hear an interesting and well-delivered sermon, but what they hear does not change their lives.  The Epistle to James gets down to where the rubber meets the road when he says, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (James 1:22).  This is what God says to Ezekiel about these folks in captivity, “They hear thy words, but they do them not.”  Now that Jerusalem has fallen, as Ezekiel had prophesied, the people know he is a true prophet of God.  Although they know he is giving them God’s Word, they still will not obey it.  My friend, unbelief [many times, but not all the time, Satan is the great deceiver] is willful; it is not because mankind cannot accept what God says.  The real problem is that people do not want to give up their sin.  That was the problem with the people to whom Ezekiel ministered.  They were willing to come and listen to what Ezekiel had to say, but it had no effect upon them whatsoever.  You would think that the people would now turn to God, but that was not the case.  God said to Ezekiel, “Don’t let the crowds deceive you.  It is true that they are coming and listening, but they are not heeding what you say.  They are not doers of the Word at all.  They like it when they hear you talk about love, and the future, and prophecy, but it has not affected their lives one whit.  They are still living the same way---far from Me.”   [THRU THE BIBLE, Vol.III, p. 503]

 

 

 end Ezekiel part II, chapters 25-33

 

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