A Closing Vision – Ezekiel 43

This meditation closes out our look at the book of Ezekiel.  Ezekiel was God’s prophet to the community of believers who had been expelled from Judah by King Nebuchadnezzar and carried off with their wealth into his nation of Babylon.  This tragic episode was a specific judgment from the Lord due to their chronic unfaithfulness and idolatry.

Ezekiel was prophet to the people who lived in an exile community by the river Chebar.  At the same time, approximately 100 miles away, Daniel was prophet to the palace – he would be the Lord’s mouthpiece to Nebuchadnezzar and all the leaders who succeeded him as long as the exiles were in the land.  Both prophets had much to say about their current time as well as far into their (and even our) future.

God used Ezekiel to send a message of hope to the exiles from Judah who had been sent to Babylon as a consequence of them rejecting the One who had blessed them.  Instead of worshiping the Lord who had given them such a good land filled with vineyards and olive trees and blessed by the dew of heaven, they turned to worship other gods from the nations around them.  There was nothing remotely holy about their “worship” services.

But God had not forgotten or abandoned His beloved nation.  Far from it.  He gave a series of visions to Ezekiel to share His love for them, ending with a grand one about His final return to earth to live among them forever.  This last vision describes the Messianic age, the culmination of the genealogy of Jesus Christ. 

Ezekiel’s final vision was directed by an angel as the two looked down from a virtual mountain upon the temple area in Jerusalem.  Some of these images appear again centuries later in the visions of the apostle John in the New Testament book of Revelation.  Speaking of his leading angel, Ezekiel writes:

Then he led me to the gate, the gate facing east; and behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the way of the east. And His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone from His glory. And it was like the appearance of the vision which I saw, like the vision which I saw when He came to destroy the city. And the visions were like the vision which I saw by the river Chebar; and I fell on my face. And the glory of the Lord entered the house by way of the gate facing east. And the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner courtyard; and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house.

Then I heard Him speaking to me from the house, while a man was standing beside me. And He said to me, “Son of man, this is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell among the sons of Israel forever.  Ezekiel 43:1-7a (NASB)

God promised that His Spirit, which was earlier removed from the temple, would one day return there.  This was initiated with the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, ten days after the risen Jesus ascended into heaven. 

Jesus the Messiah has promised to return again to walk on the earth, this time ruling and reigning over the world from His throne in Jerusalem.  God’s Spirit continues to fill hearts around the globe, with believers everywhere making up the true temple of God.  This filling began at Pentecost in Jerusalem and is growing out from there to this day.  Ezekiel has also promised a new outpouring on that nation in the end times.

God called Abraham, the father of our faith, and promised that through him, the Lord would extend generous blessings to everyone.  Beginning with Abraham and continuing down his line through the genealogy of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, this promise has been and is being fulfilled among us.   One day all prophecy in the Bible, including Ezekiel’s, will clearly be accomplished before our eyes. 

May you be richly and generously blessed by the Lord today.

Reflection

God promised to bless all nations when He called out Abram (Abraham) to be the father of a special people.  What started with this kernel of a promise continues to spread each day through the gift of faith and the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit upon believers everywhere.  As God promised:


And I will make you into a great nation,
And I will bless you,
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing;
And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse.
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”  Genesis 12:2-3 (NASB)

Have you reached out to the Lord yet in faith?  He is there, loves you deeply, and longs to be a blessing to you.

Father God, thank You for Jesus who went to the cross for my sin and was raised from the dead for my eternal life.  I ask for Your purification and cleansing today.  Free me from the evil that sometimes grips my mind and soul.  Bless me to sit at Your feet and learn from You.  In Jesus’ name we ask this, Amen.

I Will Pour Out My Spirit – Ezekiel 39

14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:14 (NKJV)

Without the Spirit of God impacting our hearts, we cannot know or believe the things of God.

God is reaching out to all people at all times, but most of the time we are resistant to His invitation of faith.  We want to do things our own way and live our life exactly as we choose.  After all, haven’t we made it this far in life just fine without the benefit of God in our lives?  That is what many of us have believed.  But in fact, a loving God has been with us the whole time.

In the present day, the people of Israel have been regathered from all over the world into a restored nation.  Many citizens there believe it all happened only through the efforts of people, and that God doesn’t even exist, let alone played a role in their nation’s creation. 

The prophets Ezekiel and Joel tell us that one day, this shared belief will be challenged.  A massive invasion of Israel will take place under the leadership of one named Gog, the driving force behind an alliance of attacking nations.  Every technological defense known to man will be employed and will fail, leading to a desperate plea for help from Almighty God.

God has promised in His word that He will hear and answer their plea in that hour.  This will come in a way that will not only strike down the invaders but will shake the heavens and the earth to their very limits.  No person on earth will be unaffected during this great, end-times battle.  It will mark the historical end of the kingdoms and empires of people and the beginning of the eternal rule of the kingdom of God.

Ezekiel writes of this day:

“On that day I will give Gog a burial place there in Israel, the valley of those who pass by east of the sea, and it will block the way of those who would pass by. So they will bury Gog there with all his horde, and they will call it the Valley of Hamon-gog (Literally the multitude of Gog).

21 “And I will place My glory among the nations; and all the nations will see My judgment which I have executed, and My hand which I have laid on them. 22 And the house of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God, from that day onward.

27 When I bring them back from the peoples and gather them from the lands of their enemies, then I shall show Myself holy through them in the sight of the many nations. 28 Then they will know that I am the Lord their God because I made them go into exile among the nations, and then I gathered them again to their own land; and I will leave none of them there any longer. 29 I will not hide My face from them any longer, for I will have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,” declares the Lord God.  Ezekiel 39:11,21-22,27-29 (NASB)

Eyes will be opened all over the world when God pours out His Spirit into the hearts of women and men.  Faith will take root and a true recognition of God’s presence and identity will be known to all.

The prophet Joel also writes about this coming event:

28 “It will come about after this
That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and your daughters will prophesy,
Your old men will have dreams,
Your young men will see visions.
29 And even on the male and female servants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

30 I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth,
Blood, fire, and columns of smoke.
31 The sun will be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.
32 And it will come about that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord
Will be saved; Joel 2:28-32a (NASB)

Faith will cover the earth when God pours out His Spirit upon diverse people of all nations.  A first taste of this occurred with the birth of the Christian Church at Pentecost, where people of faith were gathered in Jerusalem from all the known God-worshiping nations of that time.  The apostle Peter even quoted a portion of this scripture in his first sermon to the new believers there.  But the final fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy will not come until the onset of the day of Lord and will be born of the great struggle that Israel must go through to fulfill prophetic scripture.

Reflection

Can you think of a time when a great personal trial resulted in a deeper faith and closer relationship with God?  Did He bring you safely through?

Lord, thank You that you promise to never let go of us.  Build up our faith through the gifting of the Holy Spirit and the granting of blessings and protection each day of our lives.  May You be glorified forever.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

The Day of the Lord – Joel 2

Though the prophet Joel lived hundreds of years before Ezekiel, both prophets wrote of the same future event – a massive invasion of the regathered and restored nation of Israel.  This catastrophic aggression by a leader named Gog from Magog will involve a vast alliance of countries.  It will occur towards the latter days of human history during a time period known by the prophets as the “day of the Lord”.  This event will trigger the next era of history, the ushering in of the kingdom of God and His time.

With no one else to turn to during the attack, the people of Israel will desperately seek the Lord for deliverance from these overpowering foes.  And God has promised in His word that He will hear their prayer and save them in this hour, inflicting a harsh judgment upon the invaders.

Joel is the first of many prophets to refer to this day, which starts with this invasion as a precursor to the return of Jesus Christ and ends with the installation of Christ’s kingdom rule over all the earth.  Though the war’s focus will initially be in the eastern Mediterranean region, this event will ultimately have a tremendous impact on all the nations of the earth.

The prophet Joel writes:

Blow a trumpet in Zion,
And sound an alarm on My holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,
For the day of the Lord is coming;
Indeed, it is near,
A day of darkness and gloom,
A day of clouds and thick darkness.
As dawn is spread over the mountains,
So there is a great and mighty people;
There has never been anything like it,
Nor will there be again after it
To the years of many generations.
A fire consumes before them,
And behind them a flame devours.
The land is like the Garden of Eden before them,
But a desolate wilderness behind them,
And nothing at all escapes them.
Their appearance is like the appearance of horses;
And like war horses, so they run.
With a noise as of chariots
They leap about on the tops of the mountains,
Like the crackling of a flame of fire consuming the stubble,
Like a mighty people drawn up for battle.  Joel 2:1-5 (NASB)

Ezekiel also wrote about this latter-day invasion led by Gog of Magog in Ezekiel 38.

14 “Therefore, son of man, prophesy, and say to Gog, Thus says the Lord God: On that day when my people Israel are dwelling securely, will you not know it? 15 You will come from your place out of the uttermost parts of the north, you and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses, a great host, a mighty army. 16 You will come up against my people Israel, like a cloud covering the land. In the latter days I will bring you against my land, that the nations may know me, when through you, O Gog, I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.  Ezekiel 38:14-16 (NASB)

Though we could never know the day nor the hour of Christ’s return, we are encouraged to be aware of the signs and the seasons.  A massive invasion of Israel by a large alliance of nations in the latter days would certainly qualify as such a season.

As Jesus told His disciples in the closing days of His ministry on earth:

28 But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”  Luke 21:28 (NASB)

In Christ we have hope, even in those times when our world is shaking apart.  Nothing is too great for Him to touch, heal, and restore.  May you know Him and His peace today.

Reflection

Each of us face times when our worlds are shaken to the core.  Attacks come in many forms, and we often face more than one serious problem at a time.  In our own strength, we may be tempted to give up fighting and to surrender to the temptation to despair.  Yet Christ has promised to never leave us nor abandon us.  In our darkest hour, we can turn to Him for comfort, healing, and grace.  His will for us is good and surrounded with love.

Lord, You know the problems that I am facing today.  I humbly seek Your help and deliverance.  Bring healing, wholeness, and peace.  Forgive me for my sins as I forgive those who have sinned against me.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

The Fig Tree – Ezekiel 38

Before His crucifixion, death, and resurrection, Jesus warned His disciples about the global struggles that will occur in the last days, just prior to His return.  No human or even Christ Himself at the time knew the day or hour when these end times events were ordained to happen.  Jesus said that only God the Father knew.  When the Father’s determined hour arrives, He will stand up from His throne and set in motion the events that will bring forth God’s kingdom in all of its fullness.

While we believers are discouraged from speculating as to the hour, Jesus encouraged His followers to look at the signs and seasons around them to be ready for Christ’s return.  The first time, Jesus came to earth as a humble carpenter.  The next time, He will come in glory and power as eternal king over all the earth.

One of the clues Jesus left us with to evaluate the season was the parable of the fig tree.

29 And He told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees: 30 as soon as they put forth leaves, you see for yourselves and know that summer is now near. 31 So you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.  Luke 21:29-33 (NASB)

Some Bible teachers interpret the leafing fig tree in the parable as a reference to Israel’s regathering and rejuvenation in the last days.  This interpretation puts the coming of the kingdom of God in our imminent future.  This may be the correct meaning, but of course, the parable might also be referring to something quite different and with a far longer time frame.

Another event that Christ and the prophets warn about is a final attack on Israel after it has been regathered.  This alliance of armies comes under the direction of a mysterious leader named Gog of Magog.  Many Bible interpreters have assigned modern day countries and their leaders as the fulfillment of this unidentified group, while others disagree.  Without trying to identify any participants here, it is clear that in God’s timing, there will be a tremendous invasion of Israel by a large conglomerate of countries from both east and west, led and directed by a nation from the north or far north of Israel.  Israel will be overwhelmed and have no choice but to call upon the name of the Lord for their protection.  He has promised to hear their prayer and deliver them at that time. 

The prophet Ezekiel warns all of us about this event which will occur far into his future, long after the prophet left this earth.  Speaking to Gog through Ezekiel, the Lord says:

“Get ready; be prepared! Keep all the armies around you mobilized, and take command of them. A long time from now you will be called into action. In the distant future you will swoop down on the land of Israel, which will be enjoying peace after recovering from war and after its people have returned from many lands to the mountains of Israel. You and all your allies—a vast and awesome army—will roll down on them like a storm and cover the land like a cloud.  Ezekiel 38:7-10 (NLT) 

Indications are that Israel’s divine deliverance from this attack will be a faith-developing event for the nation on the order of their initial Exodus from under Pharaoh in Egypt.  In fact, it will be a significant faith-stimulating event for all who witness it all over the globe.

18 But this is what the Sovereign Lord says: When Gog invades the land of Israel, my fury will boil over! 19 In my jealousy and blazing anger, I promise a mighty shaking in the land of Israel on that day. 20 All living things—the fish in the sea, the birds of the sky, the animals of the field, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and all the people on earth—will quake in terror at my presence. Mountains will be thrown down; cliffs will crumble; walls will fall to the earth. 21 I will summon the sword against you on all the hills of Israel, says the Sovereign Lord. Your men will turn their swords against each other. 22 I will punish you and your armies with disease and bloodshed; I will send torrential rain, hailstones, fire, and burning sulfur! 23 In this way, I will show my greatness and holiness, and I will make myself known to all the nations of the world. Then they will know that I am the Lord.  Ezekiel 38:18-23 (NLT) 

When the Fig Tree of Israel is shaken, all the world will feel its trembling.  This will be the season that Christ instructed His believers to watch for.  This event will signal the approaching end of the Times of the Gentiles and the great world empires of history.  Their replacement, God’s eternal kingdom on earth, will be led by a returning, victorious Jesus Christ.

Christ’s humble death on the cross and resurrection from the dead paved the way for us sinners to be cleansed and to live with Him forever in His new kingdom.  We are now living in the era of God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness, and unmerited favor.  It is there for the taking, offered to all who would seek it and are willing to ask Him.  Perhaps this is the hour for you to do so.

Reflection

Lord, thank You that You have promised to be the shade at our right hand, even as the mountains themselves begin to quake under Your judgement of evil.  Forgive all of our sins and make us clean through the blood sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ so that we may live in peace with You in Your holy kingdom forever.  We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

A Thousand Years as a Day – Ezekiel 37

But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.  2 Peter 3:8 (NASB)

21 And say to them, ‘This is what the Lord God says: “Behold, I am going to take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land… Ezekiel 37:21 (NASB)

Approximately 2,500 years after Ezekiel delivered this prophecy about the future regathering of God’s people, it was fulfilled with the creation of the nation of Israel towards the middle of the twentieth century.

During the interim period, dozens of generations of families were born and died.  Several great world empires were raised up and later struck down or crumbled into dust.  Countless people went through the suffering and hardships of terrible wars, disease, famine, and finally, two great World Wars.  Untold numbers of people were killed as a result, including millions in the brutal and inhumane Holocaust of World War II.

God saw all of this coming.  For Him, these two thousand years flew by as if they were two days.  It was never His will that people should suffer so – this suffering was brought on by people, often under the influence of evil and demonic forces.  God mourns deeply and grieves as we suffer.  But His eyes are always looking into the hope of eternity that Christ has purchased for us through His own suffering.  Here the Lord has created a place for us that will have no evil – in fact, all wrongdoing and its bitter fruits will be cast out of His new kingdom.  The horrors and heartaches of life that have been so widespread throughout the history of Man will be once and for all be ended in God’s coming kingdom.

The apostle John describes this coming hope in the Revelation of Jesus Christ:

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among the people, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”  Revelation 21:2-4 (NASB)

This new eternal kingdom will be ruled by the Messiah, Jesus Christ.  It will be according to God’s will and in His timing.

We know from several prophets, including King David’s prophet Nathan, that the Messiah will be born in David’s messianic line within the tribe of Judah.  Nathan delivered this divine message to his king, which is sometimes referred to as the Davidic Covenant:

Now then, this is what you shall say to My servant David: ‘This is what the Lord of armies says: “I Myself took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be leader over My people Israel. And I have been with you wherever you have gone, and have eliminated all your enemies from you; I will also make a great name for you, like the names of the great men who are on the earth. 10 And I will establish a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place and not be disturbed again, nor will malicious people oppress them anymore as previously, 11 even from the day that I appointed judges over My people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. The Lord also declares to you that the Lord will make a house for you. 12 When your days are finished and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come from you, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he does wrong, I will discipline him with a rod of men and with strokes of sons of mankind, 15 but My favor shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from you. 16 Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.”’” 17 In accordance with all these words and all of this vision, so Nathan spoke to David.  2 Samuel 7:8-17 (NASB)

Christ was the fulfillment of this magnificent prophecy.  He did suffer from the beating and crucifixion of men, but not for His own wrongdoing, as He lived His entire life without sin.  When Jesus went to the cross, He was bearing the sins of you and I, and He took the punishment that we deserve upon Himself.  When Jesus arose from the dead after three days in the grave, we believers, too were able to be raised up with Christ.

 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life.  Romans 6:4 (NASB)

The trials and travails of life on earth are a reality, a by-product of a fallen world resulting from the sin of people.  But the Lord has planned a restoration for His creation, making all things new without fault or blemish.  He has offered that gift to each one of us who would receive it.  In Christ, a new hope and bright future are available for all who choose it.

Reflection

Lord, we ask for a complete renewal and restoration in our lives through the forgiveness, mercy, and grace offered through Jesus Christ.  Lead us and guide us as we seek to walk according to Your will.  Thank you for your many gifts of favor, healing, and blessing.  We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

David, Future King – Ezekiel 37

Many centuries before Christ, the prophet Ezekiel was given visions from the Lord spelling out the future of Israel.  Some of these prophecies are now being fulfilled millennia later, others are yet to be realized.  Perhaps we will see more of these predictions come to pass in our lifetimes.

God promised through Ezekiel to bring the exiles back into Israel from all the various countries throughout the world to which they had been scattered.  We have seen this process begin in earnest since about the middle of the 20th century.

God also promised to reunite Israel into one nation, no longer divided into the Northern Kingdom of Ephraim and the Southern Kingdom of Judah.  Though the kings of these two regions were mostly apostate and led people away from the Lord, some were great examples of faith, including their greatest king, David.

Ezekiel gave the exiles of his day this message of encouragement about a future of hope for their nation:

21 And say to them, ‘This is what the Lord God says: “Behold, I am going to take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; 22 and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king for all of them; and they will no longer be two nations, and no longer be divided into two kingdoms. 23 They will no longer defile themselves with their idols, or with their detestable things, or with any of their offenses; but I will rescue them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. And they will be My people, and I will be their God.  Ezekiel 37:21-23 (NASB)

God also promised to restore King David to the throne of Israel.  David’s regal blood line was preserved through the genealogy of Jesus Christ including lines to both Jesus’ mother Mary and stepfather, Joseph.

Christ will one day reign over the entire earth when He does return from heaven.  If we take Ezekiel’s prophecy literally, King David will rule over Israel in these end times.  Some interpret Ezekiel’s prophecy about David to actually be a reference to Jesus as the fruit of David’s line and the Davidic Covenant.  But it is certainly possible that either interpretation is correct. 

As Ezekiel writes:

24 “And My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd; and they will walk in My ordinances, and keep My statutes and follow them. 25 And they will live on the land that I gave to My servant Jacob, in which your fathers lived; and they will live on it, they, and their sons and their sons’ sons, forever; and My servant David will be their leader forever. 26 And I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them, and set My sanctuary in their midst forever. 27 My dwelling place also will be among them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people. 28 And the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forever.”’”  Ezekiel 37:24-28 (NASB)

God also promises in the New Testament that He will live among His people in a holy sanctuary set upon the mountains of Israel.  There are great parallels between Ezekiel’s Old Testament prophecy and the Revelation of Jesus Christ given to and recorded by the apostle John near the end of his life, approximately six hundred years after Ezekiel.  John received his series of visions and prophecies while in exile on the island of Patmos because of his faith.  The visions he received decades after Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection from the dead, and ascension into heaven, focus on events leading up to Christ’s return and His assumption of global authority.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among the people, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them… Revelation 21:1-3 (NASB)

The future of the world has been determined.  God will win the ongoing battle of good versus evil, that is assured.  The times of the Gentiles and their world empires and powers will be coming to an end one day.  Then God Himself will step into His eternal role as global ruler, living among His people. 

We do not know all of the specifics of what the world might look like when Jesus returns, or even when that might happen.  No one on earth knows, only the Father.  But in the words of former Prison Chaplain, Robbie Strong, when Christ does come to call His bride the Church to the wedding supper, “Be there!”

Reflection

Father, draw us closer to You through Christ.  Purify and cleanse us of our sins and help us to overcome our difficulties so that we may be pleasing to You. We want to be there and full of joy when Christ returns to rule and reign on earth.  Place Your Holy Spirit within us and teach us how to live for You.  We ask all of this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Hope From Dry Bones – Ezekiel 37

The Lord took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley filled with bones. Ezekiel 37:1 (NLT) 

Nothing quite matches the hopelessness of a valley filled with dry bones.  With every sign of life and vitality squeezed out, all that is left is a scattering of broken skeletons and memories of a life that could have been.

Fortunately, this does not have to be the case in our own lives.  God is a God of new creations no matter where we find ourselves or what we have been doing.

17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, this person is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.  2 Corinthians 5:17 (NASB)

Ezekiel was given a vision of dry bones to be delivered to the exiles in Babylon from the fallen and faithless nation of ancient Israel.  But it is also a message for all of us today.  In his vision, the Lord led Ezekiel all around this valley of death and destruction.  Ezekiel continues to describe it:

He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out. Then he asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?”

“O Sovereign Lord,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.”

Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

So I spoke this message, just as he told me. Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley. The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as complete skeletons. Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them. Ezekiel 37:2-8 (NLT)

The dry bones came together to form skeletons, then were covered with muscle, flesh, and skin to form human bodies.  Though this was a vital step in their restoration and recovery, it was not enough – they still had no breath or life in them.

When we find ourselves in a pit of depression or despair and look back upon our own life, we may see wreckage in our past that resembles the dry bones of Ezekiel’s valley.  This brokenness can come in many forms.  But just as with the miraculous restoration that the Lord extended to Israel, our own healing and recovery can come, though it may come to us in stages.  When we are truly ready, the Lord will not only heal our bodies and many of our broken relationships, but will also breath the spiritual gift of faith into our souls.

Ezekiel continues with his vision:

Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’”

10 So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army.

11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel. They are saying, ‘We have become old, dry bones—all hope is gone. Our nation is finished.’ 12 Therefore, prophesy to them and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 When this happens, O my people, you will know that I am the Lord. 14 I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live again and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken, and I have done what I said. Yes, the Lord has spoken!’” Ezekiel 37:9-14 (NLT)

Many a person drowning in despair has been tempted in their hopelessness to bring an end to life.  But the Lord is there, offering light in the darkness and relief from the overwhelming emotional pain of a valley filled with the dry bones of defeat. 

With God, there is hope, even when we find ourselves in such a place of darkness.  We pray that all those facing that hour will turn to Him and receive complete freedom from their burdens, with healing, rejuvenation, and peace.  With God, all things are possible, and through His strength we can prevail to enjoy a bright future and a hope in Christ.

Israel is back in the land physically today, regathered after being scattered among the nations for thousands of years.  Yet, many there do not yet have faith in God.  Ezekiel’s prophecy of the dry bones is only partially fulfilled.  The Spirit will also be coming to the people there on God’s timetable – we can count on it.

Reflection

Lord, we lift up everyone around us who is suffering from the pain of mental illness, hopelessness, depression, or despair.  Lift the veil of hopelessness that is suffocating them and ignite a new light of Christ in their lives.  Sweep away the fog of oppression and lift them out of the miry clay onto a new level of hope and faith.  We ask for your merciful grace to be placed upon them.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Buds and Blossoms – Ezekiel 36

The time is coming when Jacob’s descendants will take root.
    Israel will bud and blossom
    and fill the whole earth with fruit!
Isaiah 27:6 (NLT)

Even through their most challenging times, the Lord has never forgotten His people, Israel.  Scattered throughout His many prophecies of warning due to their persistent unfaithfulness and idolatry, God has always promised to regather and bless them and to be with them into eternity.  We see evidence of this in that their nation still exists today, many thousands of years after Ezekiel, Isaiah, and others wrote down God’s prophetic messages.   

“But the mountains of Israel will produce heavy crops of fruit for my people—for they will be coming home again soon! See, I care about you, and I will pay attention to you. Your ground will be plowed and your crops planted. 10 I will greatly increase the population of Israel, and the ruined cities will be rebuilt and filled with people. 11 I will increase not only the people, but also your animals. O mountains of Israel, I will bring people to live on you once again. I will make you even more prosperous than you were before. Then you will know that I am the Lord. 12 I will cause my people to walk on you once again, and you will be their territory. You will never again rob them of their children.

22 “Therefore, give the people of Israel this message from the Sovereign Lord: I am bringing you back, but not because you deserve it. I am doing it to protect my holy name, on which you brought shame while you were scattered among the nations. 23 I will show how holy my great name is—the name on which you brought shame among the nations. And when I reveal my holiness through you before their very eyes, says the Sovereign Lord, then the nations will know that I am the Lord.  Ezekiel 36:8-12,22-23 (NLT)

Most people of faith were not born that way.  Many of us walked out long stretches in our life as if God did not even exist.  Some days, we still do.  But in His great mercy, God came to us – not because we deserve anything from Him, but because of His great love towards us and to show His great name over the earth.

For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we did in righteousness, but in accordance with His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He richly poured out upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.  Titus 3:3-7 (NASB)

Such is the case with us and with Israel today.  Many there do not even believe in God.  But the prophets tell us that the washing of His Spirit and a new heart of faith will be coming to His people – wait for it!

25 “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations. Ezekiel 36:25-27 (NLT)

God comes to many of us when we least deserve it.  We may be in a drunken stupor or a jail cell or someplace where we should not be when the Lord suddenly touches our hardened heart and tells us that life does not have to be this bad.  In fact, it can be wonderful.  He offers us a way out and a new life full of goodness and joy if we will be open to it.  It only takes an ounce of willingness to begin a faith journey with God’s endless blessings.

Reflection

All believers need healthy growth to bud and blossom each day to experience God’s peace and serenity and to be a blessing to those around us.  As imperfect people, we often fall short of His will and purpose for us.  The good news is that in Christ, He gives us a daily cleansing and forgiveness by His Spirit to allow us a new start.  As someone has said, it is never too late to start the day over.

Who around me needs to hear a word of love or encouragement today?

Father God, thank You so much for Your daily mercy and the cleansing offered to us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  Put Your Spirit within us to help us to walk more like Jesus on our life’s journey.  Grant relief to those who are suffering today and help me to do my part.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.


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Avoiding Mount Seir – Ezekiel 35

As we come to Chapter 35, Ezekiel begins to deliver a series of prophetic messages that reach far into the future, even beyond our current times.  These prophecies concern the future of Israel and its central role in God’s eternal kingdom.

Ezekiel’s message focuses on Israel’s physical and spiritual reawakening in the end times.  Global empires that have dominated world history in the interim period will begin to cede the world spotlight to this little nation. 

The prophet Daniel also has much to say about the unfolding history of the Gentile nations, with many of his prophecies already having been fulfilled.  We plan to take a closer look at these prophecies in future meditations.

Throughout its history, God has sometimes chastened and punished Israel for its idolatry and faithlessness to Him.  After King Solomon’s reign, He divided the nation into two parts, and later sent both the Northern Kingdom (Ephraim) and the Southern Kingdom (Judah) into their own separate exiles.  But speaking through the prophet Ezekiel, the Lord tells us that this was only a temporary arrangement.  God planned all along to regather His people and to rejoin the two parts of the nation, using them as the centerpiece of His future kingdom on earth.  These halves will be joined together as one, and blended with a redeemed and faithful Gentile church, cleansed and justified by faith in the crucifixion and resurrection of the eternal king, Jesus Christ.

A very important principle we can learn from the Old Testament prophets is that the Jewish nation belongs to God.  They are His special people to punish or to redeem as He chooses when He chooses.  They are His exclusive property.  When others seek to play a role to punish, harm, steal from, or otherwise take advantage of them, the Lord does not receive this well, and a steep price will be paid.  Referring to one of Israel’s enemies as “Mount Seir”, Ezekiel spells this out.

“Your eternal hatred for the people of Israel led you to butcher them when they were helpless, when I had already punished them for all their sins. As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, since you show no distaste for blood, I will give you a bloodbath of your own. Your turn has come! 

10 “For you said, ‘The lands of Israel and Judah will be ours. We will take possession of them. What do we care that the Lord is there!’ 11 Therefore, as surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, I will pay back your angry deeds with my own. I will punish you for all your acts of anger, envy, and hatred. And I will make myself known to Israel by what I do to you. 12 Then you will know that I, the Lord, have heard every contemptuous word you spoke against the mountains of Israel. For you said, ‘They are desolate; they have been given to us as food to eat!’ 13 In saying that, you boasted proudly against me, and I have heard it all!  Ezekiel 35:5-6,10-13 (NLT)

Ezekiel will have a lot more to say in the next few chapters about the regathering, repopulation, and restoration of the prosperity of Israel towards the end times.  The favor of God towards them will then present a great temptation to Israel’s enemies, leading to a global confrontation of heavenly and cosmic proportions.  This final battle will set the stage for the physical return of Jesus Christ to rule the earth. 

As Jesus told His disciples towards the end of His ministry:

29 “Immediately after the anguish of those days,

the sun will be darkened,
    the moon will give no light,
the stars will fall from the sky,
    and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

30 And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from all over the world—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.  Matthew 24:29-31 (NLT)

World events have sometimes borne the appearance of the end times, sharing many of its terrifying attributes, but so far, none of these have been this final episode.  Today we can pray for peace in the world, for the peace of Jerusalem, for improving global health and a measure of prosperity for all to enjoy. 

May God’s kingdom spread and grow bringing peace, joy, and love to all who would seek it. 

Reflection

Lord, grant us peace on earth today as we seek to love others, as is Your will.  Grant peace to Jerusalem, the center of future world events.  Help us to support the weak and the hurting and to be the hands and feet of Christ on earth.  Forgive us for all of the times that we have failed to represent You in a positive way and help us to truly do better the next time we are at risk of falling short.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Showers of Blessing – Ezekiel 34

“I never expected things to work out the way they did.  It was just blessings from left field.”  Skip J.

The journey of life has many challenges and trials, but it is carefully supported on a lattice of blessings from God.  Undeserved favor and grace keep us going through the hardest of times and let us know that God is truly there and really does love us – in fact, He loves each of us much more than anyone else in our lives does.

God promised to restore complete blessing to ancient Israel, even when they were exiled in Babylon as a consequence of their idol worship and unrighteousness.  The prophet Ezekiel gave this message from the Lord to his fellow exiles:

25 “I will make a covenant of peace with my people and drive away the dangerous animals from the land. Then they will be able to camp safely in the wildest places and sleep in the woods without fear. 26 I will bless my people and their homes around my holy hill. And in the proper season I will send the showers they need. There will be showers of blessing. 27 The orchards and fields of my people will yield bumper crops, and everyone will live in safety. When I have broken their chains of slavery and rescued them from those who enslaved them, then they will know that I am the Lord. 28 They will no longer be prey for other nations, and wild animals will no longer devour them. They will live in safety, and no one will frighten them.

29 “And I will make their land famous for its crops, so my people will never again suffer from famines or the insults of foreign nations. 30 In this way, they will know that I, the Lord their God, am with them. And they will know that they, the people of Israel, are my people, says the Sovereign Lord. 31 You are my flock, the sheep of my pasture. You are my people, and I am your God. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!”  Ezekiel 34:25-31 (NLT)

Thousands of years later, many of these prophecies are being fulfilled in our day.  Many more blessings will come as people’s hearts begin to be more and more open to the Lord and His word.

Christ came and died as a sacrifice for sin to remove the barriers of unholiness between God and all people.  By faith, we are “justified” by His death on the cross, “just as if” we had never sinned and separated ourselves from God.  And in rising from the dead, Jesus opened the floodgates of new blessing and life for us.  As the apostle Paul wrote:

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also celebrate in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. Romans 5:8-11 (NASB)

We celebrate God in a shower of His blessings.  In all things Christ is with us – to guide us through our most difficult trials, to mourn with us as He wipes away the tears of heartbreak, and to laugh and share joy with us as the greatest dreams and aspirations of our hearts are generously fulfilled in Him. Being cleansed of our sin and failures enables even the worst of us to live eternally in His loving presence, and this is the greatest joy of all.

Blessings show up when we least deserve or expect them.  God is not just waiting there for us to slip up so that He can punish us, as so many believe.  Rather, His hand of blessing is extended to us, even now.  By grace we have been saved, through faith, and are forgiven and cleansed to enjoy a life of peace in His presence.

May you enjoy His shower of good blessings today.

Reflection

Was there a good turn of events in your life that took you completely by surprise, coming at a time when you had expected the worst?

It has been said that gratitude is the antidote for self-pity.  It is also the antidote for so many other negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

Here is a prayer challenge for all of us today – let us thank God for five blessings He has placed in our life and hold onto those throughout the day.

Lord, thank You for the countless blessings You give us, today and every day.  As we reflect on our blessings, accept our gratitude and thankfulness.  We totally depend upon You and Your loving grace for every good thing in our lives.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.