Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode 579 · 5 months ago

The Sword of God

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Ezekiel 20:45-21:32

Chapter Twenty, verse Forty Five Is Echiel Twenty, verse Forty Five, and all read through Chapter Twenty one. Let's give our attention to God's holy word and the word of the Lord came to me, son of man. Set your face towards the south land, preach against the South and prophesy against the forest land and the Negeb. Say to the forest of the Negeb, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord, God. Behold, I will kindle a fire in you and it shall devour every green tree in you and every dry tree. The blazing flame shall not be quenched and all faces from south to north shall be scorched by it. All fleshes else shall see that I, the Lord, have kindled it. It shall not be quenched. Then I said, Ah, Lord God, they are saying of me. Is He not a maker of parables? The word of the Lord came to me, son a man. Set your face towards Jerusalem and preach against the sanctuaries, prophesy against the land of Israel and say to the land of Israel, thus says the Lord, behold, I am against you and I will draw my sword from its sheath and I will cut off from you, both righteous and wicked, because I will caught up cut off from you, both righteous and wicked. Therefore, my sword shall be drawn from its sheath against all flesh, from south to north, and all my and all flesh shall know that I am the Lord. I have drawn my sword from its sheath. It shall not be sheathed again. As for you, son of men, grown with breaking heart and bitter grief, grown before their eyes. And when they say to you, why do you Groan, you shall say because of the news that it is coming. Every heart will melt in, all hands will be feeble, every spirit will faint and all knees will be weak as water. Behold, it is coming and it will be fulfilled, declares the Lord God. And the word of the Lord came to me, son of man, prophesy and say, thus says the Lord, say a sword. A sword is sharpened and also polished, sharpened for slaughter, polished to flash like lightning. Or shall we rejo voice? You have despised the Rod, my son, with everything of Wood. So the sword is given to be polished that it may be grasped in the hand. It is sharpened and polished to be given into the hand of the slayer. Cry Out and Wail, son of man, for it is against my people, it is against all the princes of Israel. They are delivered over to the sword with my people. Strike, therefore, upon your thigh, for it will not be attesting. What could it do if you despise the Rod, declares the Lord God. As for you, son of man, prophesy, Clap your hands and let the sword come down twice, yes, three times, the sword for those to be slain. It is the sword for the great slaughter which surrounds them, that their hearts May Melt and many stumble, and at there at all their gaits. I have given the Glittering Sword Ah. It is made alike lightning. It is taken up for slaughter. Cut sharply to the right. Set yourself to the left, wherever your face is directed.

I also will clap my hands and I will satisfy my fury. I, the Lord, have spoken. The word of the Lord came to me again. As for you, son of man, Mark Two ways for the sword of the King of Babylon to come. Both of them shall come from the same land and make a sign post. Make it at the head of the way to a city mark away for the sword, to come to Riba of the AMMONITES and to Judah into Jerusalem. The fortified for the King of Babylon stands at the parting of the way, at the head of two ways to use divination. He shakes the arrows, he consults the Tariffeme, he looks at the liver. into his right hand comes the divination for Jerusalem, to set battering rams, to open the mouth with murder, to lift up the voice with shouting, to set battering rams against the gates, to cast up mounds, to build siege towers. But to them it will seem like a false divination. They have sworn solemn oaths. But he will bring their guilt to remembrance that they may be taken. Therefore, thus, as the Lord God, because you have made your guilt to be remembered, in that your transgressions are uncovered, so that in all your deeds, your sins appear, because you have come to remembrance, you shall be taken in hand. And you, oh profane, wicked one prince of Israel, whose day has come, the time of your final punishment. Thus, as the Lord God, remove the Turban and take off the crown, things shall not remain as they are. Exalt that which is low and bring low that which is exalted. A ruin, ruin, ruin, I will make it. This also shall not be until he becomes the one to whom judgment belongs, and I will give it to him. and You, son of man, prophesy and say the says the Lord God concerning the ammonites and concerning their reproach. Say a sword. A sword is drawn for the slaughter, it is polished to consume into flash like lightning, while they see for your for you false visions, while they divine lies for you to the to place you on the necks of the profane wicked, whose day has come, the time of their final punishment. Return it to its sheath. In the place where you were created, in the land of your origin, I will judge you and I will pour out my indignation upon you, I will blow upon you with the fire of my wrath and I will deliver you into the hands of brutish men skillful to destroy. You shall be fuel for the fire. Your blood shall be in the midst of the land. You shall be no more remembered, for I, the Lord, have spoken. May God bless his word to us. We have a section here in is equel that centers very much around a sword, doesn't it? The sword is brought up in in many ways. We begin with a sword of fire, in which lightning and the sword word are are connected to one another. Then we come to a section which we might call the song of the sword. We heard it in beginning in twenty one, verse eight, and then again here, just at the end. This a sword, a sword is drawn for the slaughter it is Polish to consume and flash like lightning. After this song of the sword, we then have three sections, the sword of Babylon against Jerusalem, the sword of Babylon against the ammonites and then the sword of Babylon against Babylon. And each of these things we see the strength of the Lord, his judgment against sin, his fury and his righteousness. What I'd like to do this evening is walk...

...through these different sections and then finish with a couple points of application. Let's begin with the Sword of fire, twenty, chapter, twenty, verse Forty Five. He begins, the Lord, that is the Lord, begins by speaking to his Zekiel, as he does throughout in these different sections, and we have this this opening. The word of the Lord came to me, son of man, or the word of the Lord came to me a son of man. Prophesy and say thus as the Lord God. And in this opening section, which I'm calling the sword of fire, we have a parable in a way, and is equels to command about a fire that is set. He says, son of Man, set your face toward the south land. This is speaking of Judah in the southern part of Israel. Preach against the south and prophesy against the forest land. I will kindle a fire and it shall devour everything. It takes green and dry. It scorches the faces of the people throughout the land. Ian Do good, a commentator whom I very much enjoyed reading on this this book. He notes that the fire, this wildfire, though not wild, directed by the will of the Lord, is consuming in three ways. He notes that it's caught, it's an all consuming and its content we see, but both the green and the dry trees are destroyed, both the righteous and the wicked are destroyed. The geography is all encompassing as it moves from south to north, and the temporal scope of it is also income all encompassing. It says that the fire is kindled and will not be put out. In other words, is the word of the Lord, and his judgment comes upon the land in the shape of this fire. It is the end of these things, and this very much corresponds to all everything that we've been reading up to this point. JERUS LUM has sinned and send and stand and stacked or sends up to heaven, and the time of judgment has come. Everyone will know that it was the Lord who set the fire. Right, when we have wildfires and fire seasons, sometimes we ask how did it get set right? Was it an electrical thing? Was it a lightning strike, or was there a person who set it? What is Equel says here, by the word of the Lord, is that then everyone looks at this fire, they will know exactly who said it, exactly who kindled it. In Verse Forty Eight, all Flesh Sall see that I, the Lord, have kindled it. It shall not be quenched. The response to this is typical of the responses of Israel and her princes and her elders, that is equal has frequently been getting. As he proclaims these prophecies, they say, is he not a maker of parables, he's He's speaking in parables and as if this was somehow excusing them. In some way it doesn't excuse them. The parable, like Jesus, is parable, is meant to both convey information, to express these things, but also, in a way, to hide the truth and hard in the hearts of those who do not have ears to hear it, and we see them responding in that way. Another response that we see comes at the beginning of Chapter Twenty one, where God calls Ezequel to do one of these things that we've talked before is like sign acts, some sort of thing, a physical act that is eqil does to either make known a truth or to express it or confirm it in some way. The thing the Lord calls him to do is to grown,...

...to sigh and to Groan with a broken heart and bitter grief. It's one of the interesting places, one of just as a side no one, of the interesting places in scripture where we see emotions being commanded. Emotions in some ways are a reaction to things around us. Right they just sort of happen, but we also see that in some ways they can be controlled, that we are called to feel certain ways at certain times, and his equal here is being called to sigh and to Groan, and not just outwardly, but with a broken heart and bitter grief. He is to think about this destruction that's coming and to grieve it, and this, of course, expresses the Lord's own heart. God is not rejoicing and happy and really excited or having a fun time. He is destroying his people and it breaks his heart, brings him grief and he wants his prophet to express that as well. And when the people ask, right, when the people ask, he shall respond. How shall he respond when they say, why do you Groan? In verse seven, he says because of the news that it is coming. Every heart will melt and all hands will be feeble, every spirit will faint and all knees will be weak as water. Behold, it is coming and it will be fulfilled, declares the Lord. I think there's an opportunity for us to grieve our own lack of grieving when it comes to the judgment of the Lord. The Lord promises that judgment is coming in a way that is even greater than is expressed here in is Eqil, that on the last day, when the Lord Jesus returns the mountains will shake, the hills of the rocks will fall on the sky will be rolled up like a scroll and the Lord's Flaming Sword of Judgment will come down upon the world. That will be a hard day and a difficult day and a terrible, terrifying day for many. That should make us grief. It should make us concerned for the loss of people who reject it and who laugh at it, who despise it and who aren't listening, who aren't paying attention to the news. It should also make us passionate about sharing the good news of the Lord's salvation, passionate about telling people about the Lord and what he is doing, about the salvation that he offers. From that very day, the news of the word of the Lord should affect our hearts well. Next we come to the song of the sword, as and calling it, beginning in twenty one eight, the word of the Lord came to me, son of man, prophesy, and say, thus say us, thus says the Lord, a sword. A sword is sharpened and also polished, a sharpened for slaughter, polished to flash like lightning. And here is why, earlier I called that passage the sword of fire, right even though a sword wasn't mentioned directly in that that earlier passage, this lightning, in this flashing is connected with the sort of judgment here, as we sing this song of the sword, this this poem that is here. He the you, you hear, you see the image right. The sword is being prepared, it's being ready, it's being clean and it's going to be polished so bright that the glint of it, the flash of it, is like lightning just flashing in your face, making you close your eyes.

A terrifying thing, as the sword is sharpened, is the sword is polished, as the sword is ready. What is the purpose of this sword? Why is it given to be polished? Verse Eleven. The answer is that it may be grasped in the hand. It is sharpened and polished to be given into the hand of the slayer. What is the effect of this? Melting hearts? Cry Out, verse twelve. Cry Out and Wail, son of man, for it is against my people, it is against all the princes of Israel. They are delivered over to the sword with my people. He then calls is equal to clap his hands. In verse fourteen, and perhaps another sign act like the groaning were and the sorrow we heard before. He says in Verse Fourteen, Clap Your Hands and let the sword come down twice, yes, even three times. I'm not sure exactly what the clapping hands means. Perhaps it's confirmation of the message, or maybe it's something like pounding the table to make the point. Perhaps it's getting their attention and an announcement in some way. But whatever it means, it's clear that what the Prophet represents there he represents again the Lord's own actions. He speaks on the Lord's behalf, because we read, as we go on later in the Prophet in in the prophecy, in verse seventeen, it says I also will clap my hands and will satisfy my fury. Again we see that the prophet, he's not just acting on his own, he's not just saying these things. Notice how that's emphasized over and over again, how he speaks the word of the Lord. When we hear these words of Ezekiel, we are hearing the word of God. And so we have this parable to begin with, this flashing lightning that goes throughout the land. Than it is connected with this sword. In this second section in which we hear what it is to do, to slaughter in the hands of the slayer, causing people, of course, to die in their hearts to melt. Then we get into three specific instances of judgment. First Jerusalem, than at the AMMONITES, and then Babylon. So first the sword of Babylon against Jerusalem. We call it the sort of Babylon, even though it's already been identified as the sword of the Lord, because Babylon is his slayer, Babylon is his executioner that he has called and so in a way the sword does belong to Babylon, even as it belongs to the Lord, and this is an important point, as will come to see in a moment. In first eighteen through twenty seven we see exactly how the sword of God will be wielded, that the executioner is Babylon. In the way this is expressed is in another sign act. Ezekiel is to in this case actually make a sign. He is to create a sign post on a road that splits in two ways. So you might imagine a road coming down out of Babylon and then splitting right, going into directions. One Direction it goes to Jerusalem and in one direction it goes to the ammonite. So you can imagine, right the Lord's executioner, the Lord's the Lord's Judge, coming with his sword in his hand down the road and then he comes to this crossroads. Will he go to Amman? Will he go to Jerusalem? And the king there is described as making this choice. And what's very interesting is he does not inquire of the Lord, but he uses lots something...

...with arrows, he's looking at a liver, he's using all of these things of pagan divination, of Pagan idolatry, to decide which way to go, and he will lie through this divination discover that it is to Jerusalem first that he will go. However, we know very clearly from the prophecy that is being spoken of ahead of time, from the work that God is doing, the one that he that is directing all these things, that it's not Nebuchadnezzar's gods or fate that is causing him to go to Jerusalem. It is Yahweh. The Lord is the one who's directing them. The Lord is the one who is sending him here. We see an irony in a way, and and and a sort of sweet justice, as we sometimes say, and which the Lord is using the very means by which Israel has gone astray to bring about their destruction. They're chasing after false gods, they're chasing after idolatry and divination. It is there undoing in a number of ways. They're running after Babylon and all her gods. There are accepting of false worship and and these sorts of things. They are there. It is our undoing. So just as God uses the foreigners whom Israel sought after for their own destruction, he will also use these foreign religious practices as a means to their end. Finally, in this section of Judgment Against Jerusalem, we see that is the king of Babylon goes to Jerusalem, that this punishment is both for Prince and people, and do good makes another helpful note here. He points out that it's not merely Zeedekiah who is going to be judged at this moment. He's not even named here. He's simply called unworthy prince. It is the all, ultimately the whole office of the King in Israel that is being judged. As dug it puts it, a divine reordering of society in which the Lord will exalt the lowly and bring down the exalted. This reminds us, beloved off, one of the central problems that has been happening in Israel. She doesn't have a king where she has a king, but not one that she needs. She has kings that continually swing her to idolatry, that lead her into false practices and adultery. Under the Lord, the Kings have, over and over and over again, failed and not been shepherds to their sheep. And the Lord is going to bring all that to an end. All the corruption, all the false judgment, all of the money, all of the power. It's over. It's over and, as he says, as the Scriptures say, the sword of Brat Babylon, as it comes on the Prince and the people, will bring nothing. But this is verse twenty seven. Ruin, ruin, ruin. I will make it the beginning. Earlier, in Verse Nineteen, we read about the sword of the King of Babylon to come, and then here at the end of this section, we read that this ruin will come as as this king comes, the one to whom judgment belongs, and I will give it to him. That said, as we will soon see, the King of Babylon, though he exercises the will of the...

Lord. Though he is used in a tool of the Lord, he will not stand forever. Nebuchadnezzar, it doesn't have any of this in mind. Nebuchadnezzar thinks he's a great king conquering nations. He thinks that he is accumulating wealth and power for himself, and in some ways he is, but he is blind to the fact and prideful to the fact that it is God who establishes these things. He will not stand forever, as is obvious from the fact that he is not our king today. The King Jesus is, praise be to God. God, our king, may use humans to do his will, but that doesn't make them gods under themselves. He can overturn them as easily as he lifts them up, which should remind US never to fear men more than God. Having come to Jerusalem in Verse Twenty Eight, then we see the sword of Babylon going to amm the to the AMMONITES, Verse Twenty Eight, these wicked neighbors of Israel. We read that and you, son of man, prophesy and say thus, as the Lord God, concerning the ammonites and concerning their reproach. And then we have this song again. I'm calling it a song a sword. A sword is drawn for the slaughter. It is polished to consume and to flash like lightning, and Salem the other headed to am and now, having destroyed Jerusalem, Babylon takes the other road and they will march and they will destroy the wicked and the profane there as well. But with that happening, then we see a judgment coming against Babylon, as I said, the sort of Babylon against Babylon. How do we see this? I think we see it in verse thirty, though Babylon is not mentioned. We read, we do read this. Return it to its sheath in the place where you were created, in the land of your origin, and I will judge you, I he will judge, in other words, the sword itself, the judgement, will judge the judgment, and the one who brings that judgment. This sword that is brought, that is unsheathed back in twenty one five, is now sheathed. And there might seem to be a little contradiction there, because in twenty one five it says it will never be sheathed again, and then later on we read that it is sheathed and I think the way that we ought to understand that is that this sheathing in the beginning, in the end, they're different in a way, and the continuity is the judgment of God. In other words, when he says the sword will be unsheathed, he means that the judgment of God will continue and it will not stop until it's complete. And in a way we see that even in its sheathing, right at the end, not that the judgment stops, but that now it returns on the people to from from which it began. The sheathing is not an end of judgment for Babylon. Now, without her weapon, a weapon supplied by God, Babylon will come under judgment herself. We read that in verses thirty, thirty one and thirty two. I will judge you, God says. I will pour out my indignation upon you, I will blow upon you with the fire of my wrath. I will deliver you into the hands of brutish men skillful to destroy. You shall be fuel for the fire. Your blood shall be in the midst of the land. You shall be remembered no more, for I, the Lord,...

...have spoken. So this takes us through our passage. We see the opening parable of that, this lightning going forth. We see the lightning connected with the sword and the grief that is to come over that. We see the sort of Babylon going against, first being the the work of the Lord, the judgment of the Lord, first against Jerusalem, then the ammonites and then against Babylon herself. So what are we to take from this passage about God's wrath and God's judgment through his sword? I'll mention just a couple things. I think there's a lot to think on and reflect on and be humbled by. One thing to remember is that God is the one who is sovereign, and that's a kingly term, isn't it? A sovereign it means he is the one who exercises all power and authority over all his creatures and over all their actions, to an extent that we can't even really begin and kind can accumulate. For itself is the tiniest, most infinitesimal, smallest thing compared with the infinite power of God. When we forget that, we go astray so fast. We think we can control God, we think we can be God's for ourselves. We can do our own way, we can worship whom we want and where we want, we can do the things we want. We think that when we're strong and powerful, that those things will save us. Whether we've got money or fame or relationships or whatever, we think that these are the things that hold us secure. Nebuchadnezzar thought thats. He goes and he stands and he looks out on all his land. He's look at all that I've accomplished. Not that much longer he's eating grass and a field and not much longer after that, giving praise to God. We must remember, no matter how great we may become in this world or how small we may feel in this world, that there's really only one ruler, there's really only one king, and to him all honor and glory and allegiances do no matter what, no matter what, and this king is a very powerful king. A lot of times we minimize the power and the strength and the glory of God. We think of him and small ways, and the world, of course, is constantly tempting us to do this, distracting us, minimizing him, these kinds of things. But a passage like this is it sets in our minds and in our hearts hopefully forces us not to do that. It unlock something in us that goes Oh, I remember now. He's that kind of God. He deserves to be feared, he deserves to be honored, he deserves to be obeyed. This is very important. God is sovereign, not people, not swords, not even the bearers of the sword, God and God alone. Related to that point is this when the Lord Jesus comes, the sword and the fire of God do not go away. They don't go away. Jesus says in thirty five he comes not to bring peace to Earth, but a sword. In Luke forty nine, a parallel passage,...

...he says I have come to bring fire on the Earth, and how I wish it were already kindled. And do you remember those pictures of the Lord Jesus the beginning of his Ekiel? Do you remember him riding upon his chariot, flashes of lightning, surrounded by a Chaer of Beam and various angelic beings, a great war chariot rumbling through through creation, the Lord on the War Clath, the Lord in his fury, the Lord Jesus. Do you remember the pictures of him and revelation, a sword from his mouth, a flaming fire when Jesus comes, he does not the the sword and image, the imagery of sword and fire are they act of judgment does not go away. Sometimes people want to say that God and the Old Testament is a god of War and judgment and that the God and the New Testament does not. They pick God against himself, but he is the same. Now there is, of course, another sense in which Jesus does bring peace. He says it himself, the angels declare it right, when he's born, peace on earth. Right, Jesus sells us to come into him, and I will give you rest on the one of the gifts of the his spirit that he gives to us is peace. But the peace he brings, the peace he brings, is by fulfilling judgment, not by ignoring it or a ball or denying it and saying, oh, that was bad stuff back then. Now I'm a nice guy. No, Jesus comes and he does bring peace, but he brings it by fulfilling judgment. Jesus brings the judgment of God against the sins of the world. But he does that in two stages. The first we've already seen and the second we're waiting for. The first stage in which he does it. He brings the judgment of God against sin on himself. He goes to a cross, he is despised and shamed, he goes through all kinds of pain and he hangs there as a sacrifice. For what? For Sin. The judgment of God is poured out on him. Jesus doesn't ignore or abolish or ignore or skip over punishment in some way. He endures the punishment. He endures the judgment of God everything that we see here and more, because it in the punishment that he receives is not the one time punishment for just this time in this place, but for all time, a complete judgment, a final judgment. That's the first stage in which the Lord Jesus brings judgment into the world. He brings it, but he brings it on himself. He takes it on himself. The second phase of Jesus's judgment is for all those who do not receive him in his first stage, for those who have refused to look to the salvation of God that is offered through Jesus on the Cross. That judgment that he took on himself will be experienced by them, not through him or under his protection, but just all out in the open, just them all by themselves. Revelation Nineteen fifteen says,...

...from his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nation's and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury, of the wrath of God the Almighty. That's Jesus. Revelation two thousand and fourteen says. Then death and hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death the lake of fire, and if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. And so when we read this passage in Ezechiel and passages like it, we have to remember this. Our hope is not in the fact that God judged Jerusalem, Amin and Babylon and not us. Right our whope is not, wow, glad I wasn't living back then. That's not the thing that saves us, because a judgment is coming, a greater judgment is coming, a judgment that these things are pointing to. So our hope is not in the fact that we weren't there. Our hope is also not in the fact that the god of the New Testament is love, where the God of the Old Testament is wrath because, as we've seen from the Scriptures, God is God in his wrath and his fury and also in his love and in His grace. Our hope is in God, the God of love and Justice in the Old Testament, who came in the new and fulfilled all of these things in himself on the cross for us. In Love, he took judgment on himself, he took our sins on himself so that we would not have to endure these kinds of things and worse. That's where our hope is. The point about the princes of the people and pointing us to a king, point us to Jesus. When Jesus came as our King, he came in righteousness, he came in holiness, he came in power, a power that the world decided to put on the cross, but a power that nevertheless resurrected from the dead and now rules and reigns at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty, and who will come to judge, come again to judge the living and the dead. So let's put our hope in him, the God who has the power to judge, the God who has the power to save and who, right now is offering us a salvation from our sins. I simply receiving that through faith in Christ. Let's pray. Lord God, we ask that you.

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