Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode 582 · 6 months ago

Ezekiel Prosecutes the Covenant

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Ezekiel 22

You may be seated, and let's turn in God's Word to Ezekiel Twenty two, Ezekiel twenty two, let's hear God's word. The word of the Lord came to me, saying, and you, son of Man, will you judge? Will you judge the bloody city? Then declare to her all her abominations? You shall say, thus says the Lord God, a city that sheds blood in her midst so that her time may come, and that she makes idols to defile herself. You have become guilty by the blood you have shed and defiled by the idols you have made. You have bought your days, I'm sorry, yes, and you have brought your days near. The appointed time of your years has come. Therefore, I have made you a reproach to the nation's and a mockery to all the countries. Those who are near and those who are far from you will mock you. Your name is defiled, your full of tumult. Behold the princess of Israel, and you, every one, according to his power, have been bent on shedding blood. Father and mother are treated with contempting you. The sojourner suffers extortion in your midst. The fatherless and widow are wronged. In you, you've despised my holy things and profaned my sabbaths. There are men in you who slander, to shed blood, and people and you who eat on the mountains. They commit lewdness in your midst. In you, men uncover their father's nakedness. In you, they violate women who are unclean in their menstrual and purity. One commits abomination with his neighbor's wife. Another leudely defiles his daughter in law. Another and you violates his sister, his father's daughter. In you, they take bribes to shed blood, you take interest and profit. You make gain of your neighbors by extortion, but me you have forgotten, declares the Lord. Behold, I will strike my hand at the dishonest gain that you have made and at the blood that has been in your midst. Can your courage endure or can your hands be strong in the days that I shall deal with you? I, the Lord, have spoken and I will do it. I will scatter you among the nations and disperse you through the countries, and I will consume your uncleanness, uncleaning uncleanness, cleanness out of you and you shall be profaned by your own doing, in the sight of the nations, and you shall know that I am the Lord, when the word of the Lord came to me, son of man. The House of Israel has become draws to me. All of them are bronze and tin and iron and lead in the furnace. They are dross of silver. Therefore, the says the Lord, God you, because you have all become dross. Therefore, behold, I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem, as one gathers silver and bronze and iron and lead and tin into a furnace to blow the fire on it in order to melt it. So I will gather you in my anger and in my wrath, and I will put you in and...

...melt you. I will gather you and blow on you with the fire of my wrath, and you shall be melted in the midst of it, as silver is melted in a furnace. So you shall be melted in the midst of it. You shall know or I have poured out my wrath upon you, and the word of the Lord came to me, son of man, say to her, you are a land that is not cleansed or reigned upon in the day of indignation. The conspiracy of her prophets in her midst is like a roaring lion tearing the prey. They have devoured human lives, they have taken treasure and precious things. They have made many widows. In her midst, her priests have done violence to my law and, if profane my holy things. They have made no distinction between the coalie and the common, neither of they taught the difference between the unclean and the clean, and they have disregarded my sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. Her Princes in her midst are like wolves, tearing the prey, shedding blood, destroying lives to get dishonest gain and her profits of smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying thus says the Lord God, when the Lord is not spoken. The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have oppressed the poor and needy and have exhorted, extorted from the sojourner without justice. And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none. Therefore, I have poured out my indignation upon them, I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath. I've returned their way upon their heads, declares the Lord God, my God, bless his word to us this evening. So here Ezekiel is not using songs and proverbs parables. He does use a few metaphors as the Lord gives them to him, but in the whole Lord Calls Ezekiel to act like a prosecuting attorney. Ezekiel is to stand and to speak the truth about the sins of Israel. The Lord has given him the case, and Israel is guilty and defiled. God is righteous and we see that all of her sins are made known. We hear this passage and we see these things piled up, one after another after another. There are many, many lessons that are to be learned, not all that we can deal with tonight, but important things for us to know. Now, some of these things we've touched on before, sometimes frequently throughout the book of Ezekiel, as it has a common theme and touches in similar ways on these things. But I think it's so important to hear anew and a fresh as God's word comes to us. Because we are very hardhearted, we forget these things. Will Confess all day how bad sin is and then go do it. Will say how evil and how rotten it is. We'll talk about how despicable it is and then we go and we sin. We do the very same things on some of the very same things that are mentioned here. We must remember, and it's one of the ways that the Lord impresses on our hearts, how much we need him, righteous he is, and that we need someone to stand in the breach for us, even our savior, Jesus. So I'd like to go through this passage with you this evening think about some of these things, to give an exposition of it. We begin in the first few verses. God Calls Ezekiel I'm to stand and to judge, to judge...

...on the bloody city. This is not an English swear word here. This is literally it is good either. Is described by being bloody, and he says as much over and over again. It is a city that sheds blood in her midst. In verses three, froo fought. Three through five, we have kind of a summary of the case. What is what is Ezekiel going to proclaim two things. Murder primarily two things, but there are a couple others. Murder and idolatry are the two big ones. She is guilty and she is defiled. These are the other two things that come up again and again. And then finally judgment is coming and that judgment is going to be a reproach. What's a reproach? A reproach is a big time disappointment, massive disapproval, chastisement, a reproach to the nation's a mockery to the countries and other places. In Ezeki we've heard about how Israel become, will become, a by word right, like just a phrase that people use to express foolishness or or destruction or judgment. God is going to come and judgment against his people. The indictment and the or the specific charges come in versus six through twelve, and let's look at those now. He begins with the princes of Israel. In verse six, he says the princes of Israel and you everyone, according to his power, have been bent on shedding blood. Now, of course this sounds horrific and evil. I think it helps to impress the point when we remember what the duties of the king actually are. In Psalm Seventy two, verses one through four, we read this. Give the king your justice, so God, and your righteousness to the Royal Sun. May He Judge Your people with righteousness and your poor with justice, but the mountains bear prosperity for the people and the hills in righteousness. May he defend the cause of the poor, of the people, give deliverance to the children of the needy and crush the oppressor. This is a King Right. This is a real king, a godly king. He is one who rules according to the Justice and Righteousness of God. He's happy to be called God's Royal Son. He's not hoping to be named after the baals or other false gods. He knows God and he knows that he rules by him. Then he run. He judges the People in Righteousness. He doesn't go after his own way. He judges even the poor with justice. A true king, a king after God's own heart, is not one who looks around and sees, okay, who can advantage me here? How much money do you have? What's your status? What's your rank? How stronger you know? He does justice for the poor, for the needy for the cause of the poor, for the children of the need. Right like the needy of the needy, he comes and he protects them and he provides for them. And those who would seek to oppress them, even though they have power, strength of power and wealth, status whatever else, no problem. He's going to crush them. It's going to crush the oppressor, because that's what a king does. He protects his people. The result of this is prosperity, not just for him, not just for his elite few, not just for the people who happened to get close to him, who bribe him or whatever. It's prosperity for the people. Even the hills, everything use the flowering. The people are flowering. It's a happy place, a happy kingdom, a blessed...

...place. From the top to the bottom, from the great to the small, all our prosperous under the rule of that King. So then Ezekiel comes to the princes in the name of the Lord and says, according to your power not, you have protected the poor, you have protected the children of the needy, you've ruled in righteousness and justice and we have prosperity all over the place. What does he say? He says you have been bent on shedding blood. This is the thing that you've been driving after, your main objective, your mission statement, the thing that keeps you up at night, makes you work there in the next day to shed the blood and of innocent people. He then goes and describes other things. Saw The tribute to the king's described of the people in general, as well various things drawn from the holiness codes in Leviticus. Nineteen, twenty and twenty five. Father and mother are treated with contempt, the Sojourner suffers extortion. In your midst, the fatherless and the widow are wronged in you. Have you ever decided it not to go to a certain place because you're afraid of her, your safety? Have you ever gone to a certain pleasure you like? I don't know the language, I don't know the people, I don't trust that place. It doesn't seem safe. Here are a people in Israel where it's not safe, a place where you don't want to go across their border and find yourself among this people, because you're going to get extorted, you're going to get robbed. It's not a place that treats the poor with or treats the sojourner with hospitality and protection, but instead uses their weaknesses and advantage to steal, to rob not just the sojourners but those who are there among them. The fatherless and the widow are wronged among them. And so we have these various ways in which the the social code is is broken. Parents, pilgrims, the poor. And then he moves into worship practices. He talks about their places and their times. Are Despised. You despise my holy things, you profane my sabbaths. Then there's more murder, idolatry, sexual sin. He talks about. There are those who shed blood at those who eat on the mountains. This is not picnicking, this is worship of false gods. They commit lewdness in your midst. And then he lists all kinds of just horrible, despicable things. And the people are wild and crazy with their lusts and their sexual sin. On top of all of that, you've have financial sins, predatory lending, more extortion, even hit men verse twelve and you they take bribes to shed blood, hit men or false justice judges who are willing to look the other way or give give justice. CARE quotes there to the highest bidder. Israel is an awful place to live. This is not the land flowing with milk and honey and everything's fertile and growing and protected and safe and full of love. This is the country that you do not want to go to ever if you can avoid it. This is a sodom and de Maura. Israel has become one of these places where you put yourself and your family at great risk, and if you happen to live there, well, it's just awful. And in all of these things, one of the things that impresses me this huge list. It's like this flurry of activity, this whirlwind of sin, all these things that they're doing and paying attention to an after...

...and then he ends at Verse Sixteen. And you shall be profaned in Oh, not verse sixteen, Verse Twelve, he says, and make gain of your neighbor's extortion. But me, you have forgotten the one thing that they are supposed to remember, the one thing that is to guide them and all their things, they have forgotten. So these are the charges. They are extreme, they are consistent, they are fair. We don't have to go very far to see the proof of these things. Zekiel, as we have read in earlier chapters has had visions and which he's been able to look in and see people doing these things. And then we have, of course, the histories that are recorded for us in the Scriptures, where God records the acts of the Kings. He tells us what they have done, the alliances they've made, the the the murders they have committed and in lots more. Well, given all of these things, the Lord then moves in verses sixteen, or rather thirteen through twenty two, into his righteous judgment and he he centers it around two verbs, scattering and gathering. First there is the scattering, I'm he says he will strike his hand at the dishonest game that they have made of the blood that is in their midst. He gives them a challenge similar to what we hear and job right. Can your courage endure in all your pride and all your strength, you know your talk is cheap. Is essentially what he's saying. I will disperse you through the countries, I will scatter you, and he says I will consume your uncleanness, uncleanness out of you. That that is a very striking image to me, that he will consume, he will consume their uncleanness out of them. Whatever that if refers to exactly. It's not a pleasant image, is it? It's a very raw, even violent image. But it also gives this indication that through this judgment, God is somehow fixing the problem, that he is going in and he's dealing with this. It's almost like the surgeon going in and just taking out all the bad stuff, except it's one step further, because he says he's going to just consume it, whether that's with eating or fire. Nevertheless, God is, in his great power, in his awesome strength, is going to deal with this problem and his people. It will not stand and he will do this part by scattering them to the nation's now, many other parts of the prophets, there's this one to move that happens as God speaks. The first move is he says he will scatter them and then he says he will gather them, and that note, that gathering, is often a very hopeful note. Piece he is and we've seen this in other places, where he will gather them out of those lands and bring them back in and establish a city, establish his people as holy. He will bring he will bring them back here. However, the image is not positive. That's not contrary to other places. He's just using the image of gathering in a different way. That's all that's happening here. And this gathering is again a very, very powerful one, very frightening one. What is it? It is gathering into the furnace. Is the metaphor that he uses. Now again,...

...thinking about metaphors in scripture, this is a good reminder that God can use the same image in different ways, sometimes positively, sometimes negatively. That's fine. He's allowed to do that. We do that all the time as well. I only mention that to say that we want to be careful when we come to these metaphors, that we don't take, you know, sort of what we've heard elsewhere and imputed into this passage when it doesn't fit. So, as I mentioned with the gathering, same thing with the furnace. There's other passages in scripture that speak of the furnace as a very positive image. Right, the refining fire of God's work. Difficult, hard suffering sometimes, but nevertheless what's the result? The dross has gone away and you're left with something really precious. That God works through us in a heart hard ways, sometimes to result in something good. That is not the image here. What does he say? He says, this is verse eighteen. The House of Israel has become dross. To me right, they are not something good that needs to be refined. They are the leftovers, the dross that needs to be getting gotten rid of. All of them are bronze, tins, iron, lead in the furnace. They are the Dross of silver. Therefore, because you have become dross, therefore behold, I will gather you into the midst of Israel, as one gathers, this is verse twenty, silver and bronze and iron and lead and tin into the furnace to blow the fire on it in order to melt it. So I will gather you in my anger and in my wrath and I will put you in and melt you. You will blow on you with the fire of the wrath. This imagery of melting corresponds with the challenge to courage right, to melt away, right sort of fall apart, to have your spine go limb, to fall on the ground. This kind of melting imagery as the opposite of courage. Right. They have this talk. They say, they, they, they consider themselves proud and powerful, as they take their bribes and shed the blood and worship whom and how they want. But God says we're done with all of that. It's over. Jerusalem, you will become to me as a furnace and I will gather you in and I will melt you. You will not stand as verse twenty two as silver is mental melted in a furnace. So you shall be melted in the midst of it and you shall know that I am the Lord. This is a phrase. I just to say it again because I think we, at least I, need to keep remembering this as a phrase that keeps coming up in Ezekiel over and over again these judgments. One of the key things, the most important things, God desires to do. His objective is to make it known that he is the Lord. It's something that is forgotten and rejected and despised over and over again, and he is going to act in such a way that it will be undeniable, undeniable, unquestionable. They will know finally that he is the Lord. As we come into verse twenty three, we find that there will be no help during this time. There's no washing or cleansing that comes upon the land and then he gets into the pollution of the land, the ways in which is defiled, and he gives us five peas, particularly focused on the leadership, and then the last one on the people generally, as he comes back again to the problems that are in the land. He first addresses the prophets, although sometimes...

...this is translated princes here, and he says they are like a roaring a lion, a roaring lion. This is verse Twenty Five. The conspiracy of her prophets in her midst is like a roaring lion tearing the prey. They have devoured human lives and they have taken treasure and precious things. They have made many widows in her midst, destroying families, putting people into poverty, just tearing, destroying. You remember a while back, as ekiel talked about Israel as being a roaring lion that was raised up and just creaking havoc everywhere. And what happened? God sent people to capture the lion and put her down. He brings that imagery back here, particularly applied to the Prophets, those those prophets who are supposed to be speaking the word of God, revealing things, strengthening instead on they are destroying. Next he indices the priests. The priests have done violence to my law, they have profaned my holy things. Their job is to make a distinction between the holy and the common. Their job is to teach the difference between the clean and unclean. These are some of the essential jobs of priests. Were they doing their job? No. Why might that be important? Is it just nice to know what's clean and unclean? In Israel, it's essential to know what's clean and unclean, because if you are defiled, you are prohibited from accessing the temple participating in worship. You it's important that you become clean and become holy. And if the priests aren't teaching those things, if they're not helping the people, if they're not guiding the people, then then God is then God is profaned, the people are profaned, and that's what he says here as well. Next he comes to the princes, or perhaps officials, and he can again and tear characterizes them as a as a beast verse twenty seven. Her Princes in her midst are like wolves, tearing the prey, shedding blood, destroying lives. Why? To get dishonest gain. And then the prophets her prophets have smeared, whitewashed for them. Right. When? When? When the officials are doing all of these things. Right, if the job of the prophets to say no, that, like Ezekiel thus say, if the Lord, this is true, what you're doing is false and if you continue to doing doing so, there will be judgment. Is that what the prophets did? Know, they smeared, whitewashed for them. They saw false visions, they said lies and said peace, peace, where there is no peace. They said everything's Fine, God's happy, do what you want. And so at every level across Israel society, throughout every institution in which leadership was found, it was corruption, corruption, corruption, and not little, big. But it's not just the not just the leadership, the people of the land. In Verse Twenty Nine are mentioned. The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have oppressed the poor and the needy, they have extorted the sojourn or without justice. Then is ekiel speaking on behalf of the Lord, as the Lord gives him these words and commands him to speak them. He says, and I saw a man among them who should build up the wall. What Wall you might ask the Ezekiel answers to stand in the breach before me and the land, that I should not destroy it. Perhaps this calls to mind Moses, right the end the golden calf incident, as...

...we sometimes call it. You fromistically comes down from Mount Sinai the tablets in his hand, the very laws that they are commanded to given. They're in this place where they have been called out to be wholly into worship, and there they are worshiping the Gods of Egypt. God wants to destroy them. Moses stands in the breach as a mediator and God withholds his judgment. Moses as a type of Christ, pointing to the one who would come, Abraham, in a way. I mentioned Sodom and Gomor earlier. Remember. The Lord was going to destroy the whole city and Abraham pleads with the Lord and says, if there's just a little bit of righteousness, there's just one or two and the will you, will you not spare them? And ultimately lot and his family we're spared because of Abraham's mediation. In this case. These things, these people appoint point to the need for someone to stand in the breach. They point to the need that when the judgment of the Lord comes, we need someone to to to be a mediator between God and man. There's no one. There's no one. God looks. So God's looking for one. He looks for someone to do this work, someone to stand in the breach, to be a wall, to to take the to take the heat, to protect the people from the judgments of the Lord. God is looking for him, but he finds none. Therefore, judgment I have poured out, he says in the past tense, a speaking in a sometimes of theologians will talk about this like the historical future or prophetic future, speaking in the past tense of something that is still future as a way to indicate certainty, like this is so certainly going to happen. We'll just talk about it as if it were in the past. I've poured out my indignation upon them, I've consumed them with my fire and wrath. I have returned their way upon their heads, declares the Lord. And it's with that last line, their way upon their heads, that we see the fairness of all of this, as we see all these horrible, despicable things, things that we would not want to be a part of, we would not want to be the victims of we also see that God is very fair. They want to go after all these things, the with for which the wages of sin is death. They want the idols of the nations and the demons that are attached to them. This is what they will have. The way that they have chosen is the way that will return upon them in judgment. And then we end this is the word of the Lord. What are we to learn from this? What does God want us to learn from his why did he record this? Well, perhaps to simply note that we're still here. Here, we are worshippers of Yahway, and if you don't know how that is, you at least have to ask the question. Right, if God came upon his people in the scattering and in the gathering and is just going to destroy them all, there's some thing that happened there, and that's important to know, and to know very well what happened. What happened if, of course, is that God provided someone to stand in the breach? God would eventually provide his own son, the incarnate second person of the Trinity, to stand and to take all of the wrath, all of the judgments of the Lord for our Sake, for the sake of his people, of Israel, so that...

...we would not have to face the righteous in indignation of God, so that we would not have to be melted in the fire and thrown away, so that we would not have to become a by word, but instead we'd become children, beloved body of Christ, and so much more. My point is that simply reading this and a being able to read this points us to the grace of God, an amazing and wonderful thing. I think it's also worth pointing out that in this catalog of sins, we come to learn very clearly what the Lord hates, the things he detests. If you get a new job right one of the most important things that you do is figure out what your job is, what is your boss wants you to do. If you go to another country, you want to know what are the rules, what are the laws? The Bible tells us that it calls on us it. It is imperative that we learn to discern the will of the Lord. And so when God comes with his megaphone and says here is the word of the Lord, here is my will, this is what I detest, we should really really listen and not be like, well, I don't know, what does he moar really want? He's telling us what he wants and what he doesn't want. And here in the catalog of sins, we see four things in particular too are highlighted at the beginning, murder and idolatry, and then two are added in the middle, sexual sin and then oppression of the weak and vulnerable. So the four things, murder, idolatry and bad worship, sexual sin and the oppression of the poor, the weak and the vulnerable. These are the big ones that God mentions here in is Echel twenty two. These are the big ones that ham he hammers over and over again and all their many expressions of them. We have to ask ourselves how seriously are we taking these, these four things in our culture in general? I would guess that maybe one out of four of these gets sort of red mostly recognized as being a serious sin to be concerned about, and I would put that as murder. Most people, if you ask them murder bad thing, they yeah, that's bad. We should avoid that. We should not do that. That being said, what about these others? Sexual sin, idolatry, oppression of the week and the poor? What about in our churches. Again, this is just these are my hunches. I'm not a social scientist or anything like that, but I'm guessing in most churches that we'd call good would give maybe three out of four. Some churches are are maybe stronger on idolatry, very careful about worship, but don't think very much about the poor. They don't think much about the vulnerable. They're happy to come together and do what they need to do and pat themselves on the back for their good worship. Other churches focus a lot on the care of the poor. They focus very much on their community and taking care of of needs. But worship give or take, a native American God, Pagans, Gods, as long as we're helping people, these are big. They're really big. God cares about the...

...things. Why not? Just because he's mean, because he cares for people, because, like the king that we are supposed to have or the government that we are supposed to have that human society needs so desperately, and especially a place like Israel, which is named after God's own name, we need the kings and governments that are good, because, of course, God himself is good. God does not murder people. God is not like the Gods of Olympus and other places where sexual sin is rampant. God does not oppress the weak and the vulnerable. He doesn't laugh at his power and just mess with people. He protects them, he loves them and, of course, being the one true God, all glory goes to him. These are things that are serious, deadly serious, and we must care about them. Is Wise to know what the commands of the king are. Though we're not in this particular land or under the Mosaic Law, this does not mean that the moral law just doesn't continue anymore or that worship doesn't matter anymore. It does, and that's why, just as they needed, we need today, someone to stand in the breach. We need someone to endure the wrath. When we think about how callous we are against the sins that go against each other in the Lord, when we think about how often, how frequently, we're willing to tolerate these things, I hope we come to see in a passage like this, how much we need the Lord to give us new hearts, not just to protect us from his wrath, but actually changes from the inside to establish a heavenly holy city in which we can be apart and belong which we can be protected and love being there. When, as we think about Jesus as our prophet, is our priest, as our prince with our king, we can look to him and know that he is the answer to these problems, to our heart problems, to our society problems, to or our church problems, because, was he comes into this world, he uses his strength to protect us, he uses his words to tell the truth, he uses his office as a priest to intercede for us, on behalf of us and before God. He loves us. He doesn't destroy US and devours like a lion or like a wolf. He doesn't whitewash over things. Know He loves us and he meets all our needs. So, as we often do fall into these sins, we need to look to Jesus. We need to look to him as one who has established a new way and a new hope, not for anything we have done, but because of what he has done. And that's why, when he comes into the world and he says coming to me, all who are weak and heavy late and we should run to Jesus, we should call out him and say, Lord, Save Your Son of David, save me a sinner. Heal me, resurrect me, protect me, feed me, be my keen, be my prophet, be my priest. And so this week I want you to start planning now for the Times of temptation that will come. There's this thing or that thing. Make your plans now to recognize sin for what it is and to recognize your savior for who he is. And when you feel those temptations, when you have...

...the devil whispering in your ear, when your flesh feels so strong, remember that he is stronger. Trust him and then give him all your praise. Let's pray our heavenly father.

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