Thru the Bible – Day 191

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Day 191 – Thru the Bible

Today we continue in Ezekiel.

Ezekiel 19 – This chapter contains God’s answer to another empty self-assurance: the Israelites’ certainty that God would never let the Davidic kingship fall. The poem in these verses traces the downfall of three kings of Israel, each more tragic than the one before. Verses 1–4 trace the fall of Jehoahaz, who was carried away as a captive to Egypt. Verses 5–9 probably refer to Jehoiachin, exiled to Babylon. Most interestingly, verses 10–14 speak of the “mother” of these kings, that is, the Davidic dynasty as a whole. Far from being a strong tree flourishing in the Land of Promise, now the Davidic kingship has been plucked up and “cast down to the ground”, “so that there remains in it no strong stem, no scepter for ruling.” Instead of taking pride in the Davidic throne and assuring themselves that it stands as a barrier against God’s judgment of their sin, the Israelites should see that dynasty’s ruin as a sign of God’s wrath against them.

Yet even from the rubble of this royal ruin hope would rise. One day, without any pomp but in humble guise, a king from the line of David would indeed arise (Matthew 1:1; Mark 12:35–37).

 

Ezekiel 20 – Here Israel seems to take comfort in her history. “We have a glorious history,” she seems to tell herself. “The exodus, the Mosaic law, the conquest of the Promised Land! Surely God will not underestimate those triumphs!” Again, God wipes away their self-assurance, telling them that actually their history is one of repeated rebellion against Him. In fact, God says, it was due to nothing but sheer mercy that He did not destroy them long ago. Their glorious history was due to His grace, not their own righteousness (Deuteronomy 9:4–12).

Israel’s tendency to take comfort in such lies is not unique to them. Deep in every human heart is a settled inclination toward self-justification and self-assurance, a willingness to lie to ourselves or others in a futile effort to avoid the reality of our sin and its consequences. What kind of assurances do you give yourself about your sin? How well do those assurances hold up in light of God’s assault on such excuses in Ezekiel 17–20? Acknowledge your failures, and find hope. In your contrition, God draws near (Isaiah 66:2).

Even amid His warnings about coming judgment, God gives Israel several glimpses of His future grace to them. At the end of chapter 11, for example, He had promised to give them a new heart. In chapter 16, He promised to establish His everlasting covenant with them. Now in 20:40–44 we see a similar beautiful picture of restoration. Notice the reason for God’s restoration of Israel, though. It is not because of anything they have done, but rather simply because of His purposes of mercy to them. In other words, it is not for their own sake that He saves them, but for the sake of His own name.

This truth—that God will save His people for His own sake, and not because they deserve it—is taught over and over again in Ezekiel, and especially here in chapter 20. Throughout this chapter God’s message to His people could not be clearer. Salvation does not come to us because we in any way deserve it. On the contrary, it comes to us in spite of our deserving to be destroyed. God saves not because of who we are but in spite of who we are, out of His own purposes of grace.

We as Believers have been swept up in something infinitely larger than our own lives and our own significance. We have been caught up into God’s determination to glorify Himself and His Son Jesus by saving a people who do not deserve it at all. God magnifies His grace by saving those who least deserve it.

How do you express your gratitude to God for His unending mercy towards you?

 

Ezekiel 21 – With Israel’s false self-assurances now exposed and eliminated, chapters 21-24 contain a dramatic, slow-motion depiction of God’s righteous deathblow against Jerusalem.

Here the Lord draws His sword against Jerusalem in three stages. In verses 1–7, Ezekiel describes in terrifying language how the sword is drawn from its scabbard. Then in verses 8–17, we see the Lord sharpening the sword and then swinging it, as a warrior might do in preparation for battle—or for an execution.It is fascinating that in verse 19 the sword of the Lord is shown to be King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. He is the instrument by which God will execute His judgment against Jerusalem (Habakkuk 1:5–6). Ezekiel watches in a vision as Nebuchadnezzar pauses at a fork in his road, deciding whether to attack Jerusalem or to turn north and attack Rabbah, another rebellious city under the control of the Ammonites. Nebuchadnezzar uses pagan divination to make the decision, but God takes control of all the signs and sends Him against Jerusalem.

As Nebuchadnezzar is about to plunge into the heart of Jerusalem, God addresses Zedekiah, the last king of Israel. He speaks to him about the fall of the Davidic dynasty. In the midst of the cataclysm, however, comes one wholly unexpected spark of hope. Yes, the Davidic crown is fallen and is now “a ruin, ruin, ruin”—but only “until He comes, the one to whom judgment belongs.” Ultimately, that One to whom judgment belongs is Jesus. It is through Jesus, the Son of David, that God will save His people from the judgment they deserve. And in union with Jesus, Believers will join Him in judging the world, including even the angels (1 Corinthians 6:2–3).

How does this future encourage you?

 

What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?

 

Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.

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All links you need to be a part of this are here – Thru the Bible in 2018.

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