Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode 586 · 8 months ago

Will the Prophets Say the Hard Things?

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Ezekiel 23

You may be seated. Please turn your attention to Ezekiel, Chapter Twenty three. Ezekiel twenty three, let's give our attention to God's word, the word of the Lord. Came to me, son of man. There were two women, the daughters of one mother. They pray, they played the whore in Egypt. They played the whore in their youth. There their breasts were pressed and their virgin bosoms handled. Oholah was the name of the elder, and Oholibah was the name of her sister. They became mine and they bore sons and daughters. As for their names, Aholah is Samaria and Aholiba his Jerusalem. Aholah prayed the whore while she was mine, and she lusted after her lovers, the Assyrians, warriors clothed in Purple, governors and commanders, all of them desirable young men, horsemen riding on horses. She bestowed her horring upon them, the choicest men of Assyria, all of them, and she diviled, defiled herself with all the idols of everyone after whom she lasted. She did not give up her horring that she had begun in Egypt, for in her youth, young men are in her youth, men had laid with her and handled her virgin bosom and poured out their horring lust upon her.

Therefore, I delivered her into the hands of her lovers, into the hands of the Assyrians after whom she lusted. These uncovered her nakedness, they seized her sons and her daughters, and, as for her, they killed her with a sword and she became a byword among women. When judgment had been executed on her, her sister, a Holba, saw this and she became more corrupt than her sister in her lust and in her horring, which was worse than that of her sister. She lusted after the Assyrians, governors and commanders, warriors clothed in for full armor, horsemen riding on horses, all of them, all of them desirable young men, and I saw that she was defiled. They both took the same way, but she carried her horring further. She saw men portrayed on the wall, the images of the Chaldeans, portrayed in vermilion, wearing belts on their waists and flowing turbans on their heads, all of them having the appearance of officers, a likeness of Babylonians, whose native land was Chaldea. When she saw them, she lusted after them and sent messengers to them in Chaldea. And the Babylonians claim to her into the bed of love, and they defiled her with the wharring, with their horring lust. And after she was defiled by them, she turned from them and disgusted. When she carried on her hohrring so openly and flaunted her nakedness, I turned in disgust from her, as I had turned in disgust from her sister. Yet she increased in her wharring, remembering the days of her youth when she played the WHO in the land of Egypt and lusted after the her lovers there, whose members were like those of donkeys and whose issue is like that of horses. Thus, you longed for the lewdness of your youth, when the Egyptians handled your bosom and pressed your young breasts. Therefore, oh Oholiba, thus says the Lord God behold, I will stir...

...up against you your lovers from whom you turned in disgusted, and I will bring them against you from every side, the Babylonians and all the Chaldeans, Pec God and Showa and Coa and all the Assyrians with them, desirable young men, governors and commanders, all of them officers and men of renowned all of them riding on horses, and they shall come against you from the north with chariots and wagons and a host of people's they shall set themselves against you on every side with Buckler, shield and helmet, and I will commit the judgment to them and they shall judge you according to their judgments, and I will direct my jealousy against you that they may deal with you in fury. They shall cut off your nose in your ears, and your survivors shall fall by the sword. They shall seize your sons and your daughters, and your survivors shall be devoured by fire. They shall also strip you of your clothes and take away your beautiful jewels. Thus, I will put an end to your lewdness and your horring begun in the land of Egypt, so that you shall not lift up your eyes to them or remember Egypt any more. For thus says the Lord God behold, I will deliver you into the hands of those whom you hate, into the hands of those from whom you turned in disgust and they shall deal with you in hatred and take away all the fruit of your labor and leave you naked and bear and the nakedness of your horring shall be uncovered. The Lewdness and your the Your Lewdness and your horring have brought upon have brought this upon you because you played the whore with the nations and defiled yourself with their idols. You have gone the way of your sister. Therefore, I will give her cup into your hand. Thus says the Lord God. You shall drink your sister's cup. That is deep and large. You shall be laughed at and held in Derision, for it contains much. You shall be filled with drunkenness and sorrow, a cup of horror and desolation, the Cup of your sister Su Mary. You shall drink it and...

...drain it out and Gnaw it's shards and tear your breasts, for I have spoken, declares the Lord God. Therefore, thus says the Lord God, because you have forgotten me and cast me behind your back, you yourself must bear the consequences of your lewdness and whorring. The Lord said to me, son of man, will you judge Aholah and and Oholiba. Declare to them their abominations, for they have committed adultery, and blood is on their hands. With their idols, they have committed adultery, and they have even offered up to them for food the children whom they have had borne to me. Moreover, this they have done to me. They have defiled my sanctuary on the same day and profaned my sabbaths, for when they had slaughtered their children in sacrifice to their idols, on the same day they came into my sanctuary to profane it. And behold, this is what they did in my house. They even sent for men to come from afar, to whom a messenger was sent, and behold, they came, for they for them. You Bathed Yourself, painted your eyes and adorned yourself with ornaments. You sat on a stately couch with a stable spread before it, on which you had placed my incense and my oil. The sound of a care free multitude was with her and with men of the common sort. Drunkards were brought from the Wilderness and they put bracelets on the ends of the women and beautiful crowns on their heads. Then I said of her, who was worn out by adultery, now they will continue to use her for a whore, even her, for they have gone into her as men go into a prostitute. Thus they went into a whole lot and to a Holiba lewd women. But righteous men shall pass judgment on them with the sentence of Adultss, adultresses, and with the sentence of women who shed blood because they are adultresses, and blood is on...

...their hands. For thus says the Lord God, bring up a vast host against them and make them an object of terror and a plunder, and the host shall stone them and cut them down in there with their swords. They shall kill their sons and their daughters and burn up their houses. Thus, I will put an end to the lewdness in the land, that all women may take warning and not commit ludness as you have done. And They Shall Return Your Lewdness upon you and you shall bear the penalty for your sinful idolatry, and you shall know that I and the Lord God amen. So here from God's Word, before the Great Seas of the Jerusalem is Ekiel is given a yet another word to speak, a very hard word, and he's asked, will you say it? Will you speak it? And of course he did, for we have it written here, but it is a hard word. It is a chapter full of lowdness and violence, of murder and blood and idolatry, and we have to ask ourselves why so awfully graphic, why so pointed, why so harsh? The answer is that it's not needless. This chapter and other chapters like it that we've come across, and is equal in other parts of scripture, are not here just to make us feel embarrassed, but they are here to impress upon our minds and our hearts what we so often forget. They are to make it perfectly clear, crystal clear, forever rememorable, memorable of what idolatry is, of what it means when we,...

...as a people, or any people, go after other gods, when we go after our sins and our lust, when we go after power and protection all apart from the Lord, when we use humanistic means and human ends to achieve penultimate goals or, worse, just downright evil goals, thinking that we can find the safety and security and all the things that we need and the arms of anyone other than God. Most of what Jesus said came in the form of a story. When you read the Gospels. You find them over and over and over, these parables. One reason this is like, one reason he likely use these, was to impress these truths on us, to make the memorable. And in the same way the Lord speaks here, even Jesus speaks here. Ezekiel, twenty three in gives us a parable of two women, one representing Samaria and Israel to the north and the other representing Jerusalem and Judah to the south, to people two places that were called to dedicate themselves to Yahweh and to him alone and instead when every other way. What are the ways that we see on them going other ways? What are the ways in which is ekiel describes it? Well, he describes it, of course, in terms of idolatry, and especially towards the middle of the chapter, he middle of the last two thirds, he paints this really stark picture. These people, his own people here presented as women. They did...

...not fall into this sin by accident. They didn't stumble into this. Notice how he says several times. They they sent messengers, right they they heard the about these these young men, as it's portrayed here. They heard, which is to say they heard about the power and the wealth and all the great things of these cities of Babylon and Assyria, and they sent messengers to them. They actively pursued this idolatry and then they they prepare themselves for them. They painted their eyes and all of these sorts of things and they brought them in. And you hear the Lord expressing the shamefulness of this and his his his anger and his wrath over this when he says, and all this was happening in my house, right his his bride, his church, his people were bringing it, the adulterous idols, into his place, into his home. On top of that, they used his resources, his incense, his cups, his all the things that had been dedicated to the temple for holy purposes. That's where the people put their idols. That's where the people went about their sin. It was in the worst possible ways, in the most egregious ways, to the furthest three. And even after Israel had been judged for this, even after Samaria, a whole lot here, as she is named, was judge for this, Jerusalem, when even further, rather than seeing the sin of her sister and the wrath poured out upon her, she went further and pressed it further. In this again, as we have seen so often, the Lord lays upon his people the the the the case against them, the case against their sin, and says, what do you...

...have to say for yourselves? I've been eminently patient. Over and over and over, I have waited on you, I've given you chances for repentance, I have sent to you my prophets, and over and over and over again you have rejected me. You have pressed it further, you've gone after these idols in the worst possible ways. We remember these themes that have been coming up in his EK. You'll not only of idolatry and adultery, but also murder as well, these things all tied up with one another. He speaks several times about the blood being on their hands. How is blood on their hands? Well, in lots of different ways, as we've seen. One particular way he mentions here is that they were sacrificing their very own children, which is to say God's children, the children of the Covenant, the Children of his promises, the children through whom we're supposed to come the Messiah, right through whom the seed was being preserved his very people, and these mothers and fathers in Israel were taking their children and sacrificing them to idols, murdering them to Bale and to others. Blood was on their hands, and not the blood of some nameless enemy or bad neighbor, but the blood of their own children, sacrificed to other idols who were in fact the children of the Lord. And so what does God doom, as he often does with sin, he gives them exactly what they wanted. You Want Assyria, you want Babylon, have them and all of these young men. Here is their portrayed in their chariots and their horses, and that their finery and their power.

They come and they are going to destroy these people, expose them and their lewdness, explos them in their idolatry. And this is indeed what will happen. And what did happen? They came in and instead of loving their lovers, they destroyed them, killed their children and burnt up their houses. That it might be a warning to all, is ECIEL says. God says to Ezekiel at the end of the chapter that, as he can so frequently ends and include throughout the books, that we may know that I am the Lord, that we may know that God. Yeah, Wagh is the one true God. With that parable in front of our minds and, hopefully, on our hearts, what should we remember from it? What do we take away from it? What do we leave with? Well, one point, I think, is the need that we have for this kind of word to us. God didn't include such a difficult and graphic even chapter for no reason. Right. God didn't say, well, I don't really need this, but I'll just thrown in there anyway. Right. God Put is Eciel twenty three in the scriptures because we need to hear it, because our hearts are not as sensitive as we need to be, because we're forgetful about idolatry, idolatry, about adultery, about murder and about all the other commandments. We are forgetful, we get desensitized, we get lazy, we stop being watchful.

And Ezekiel Twenty three is what you know. We sometimes talk about you know too, before hitting up subside the heads like wake up. That's about Ezekiel twenty three is. It's one of those wake up chapters. Let's actually take a look at sin and see it for what it really is, because so often we down play it, we nurture it, we start let it go and be what it is. Is Ekiel twenty three. We hear this word, we hear this parable and hopefully we say, okay, no more of that. It's too awful, it's too evil, it's too destructive. Another thing I think Ezekiel twenty three helps us to remember is the patterns of Sin. There is a kind of predictable nature to these things which we don't always learn from right Jerusalem being an example of that. But we should learn from and we should pray to God that he would give us the grace to learn from there are patterns to sin. Listen to God's Word in James Chapter One. In James Chapter one versus thirteen through fifteen, James says, let no one say when he is tempted, I'm being tempted by God, for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one but each person. That's you and me. Okay, each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to Sin, and sin, when it is fully grown, brings forth death. Does what I mean by the pattern of sin there's this predictable way things happen and for some reason we always look at saying we're like,...

...what happened that way? This time right, nothing, this time I'm just going to I'm just going to notice, but I'm never going to get to the actual scheming. Right. Or this time I'm going to do the scheming but I'm never actually going to get to the satisfying part. Or this time I'm going to do the scheming in the satisfying part, but of course I won't really suffer for that. Come on, that's not how it works. There is a predictable pattern here that we experience, of course, in our own lives, that we see a tested to and parables like this and is Ekiel twenty three, and that's laid out pretty clearly for us in a passage like James. We see, we are lured, we notice, we desire, we start planning. We say, HMM, what can I do? Maybe I'll and a messenger, I'll send a messenger and we'll see if they be, you know, we'll see what happens satisfying. And then, ultimately, one of the things that this passage impresses on us so as much as that this the pattern that goes all the way to the end. There is that noticing and wondering and scheming and desiring and satisfying, and you remember what the last one is, death, suffering. These things do not end well. Sin Never ends well. It never does. Now, when we're satisfying our sins, we sort of think in the moment that it's ending well, but it doesn't. Sin Lens ends in heartbreak and sorrow, in suffering and all kinds of ways, and we see that here in Isekiel. These are where these things lending. So this is the second thing I think that we ought to notice from Ezekiel twenty three. Is this pattern of sin a...

...warning that we ought to pay attention to. And as we can pay attention to that pattern, it's helpful to us not only to stay away from sin, but when we find ourselves in some part of that cycle, we have to notice that to be watchful. I'm scheming here. Why am I scheming? I need to stop my scheming. I'm I'm being tempted here, I'm being lured here. Let's take a second notice. That is a lure, allure that catches, allure that brings death. These things are important to us and helpful for us to remember. A third thing to remember is our need for grace. When we see the you know, the the the the trajectory that Israel takes and crashes, who and crashes, we ought to look at ourselves and say, apart from the grace of God, the same thing is going to happen to me. And it does and it has in all of our lives. This passage, and other passage is like us, were like. It remind us of all our need for grace. We are not a people that can look at the law of God and say I've got this, because when the law is given to us, the good law, the holy law, the wonderful law, as it was given to Israel, we end in failure and we need so much with the laws unable to do, but the spirit is able to do, and that is to bring us a word of grace. Apart from Christ, apart from God's work in the Gospel, we are all in this death spiral of idolatry, of adultery, of of...

...covetousness, of murder and all kinds of different ways, in two different degrees, across all of our lives and every faculty in our bodies and in our souls. The whole thing is tending in that direction. That's how we're born into. David says, in sinned and my mother conceived me. Paul tells us in Romans that in Adam we were born into a state of sin and misery. Are Born receiving the death and the penalty and the suffering which he has passed on to us. This death and this death spiral and all that is attached to it is infected the whole human race. And so the passage like this teaches us so desperately how we need the Lord Because Without Him, as Paul tells us, Zeekiel tells us, the wages of sin is death. If we want life, if we want salvation, if we want hope, if we want reunion and communion and fellowship with God, if we want freedom from our sins and our slavery, we must turn to him. But I'd like to conclude with this, this question that the Lord asks, Ezekiel, will you speak? Will you speak this word? It is a word very much of law. It is a word that comes and points at our hearts and pricks our sin and causes us, hopefully, to wake up. It's a word which brings conviction. It's a word that hurts in many ways and it's a word that must be spoken. The Lord Calls His Prophet to speak and he does, and he does speak the word of the Lord, the word of Yahweh, the word of Christ. We need to hear that...

...that we might wake up from our slumbers. But God also spoke, through Jesus and his ministry and his work in this world, a word that not only promised death for the wages of sin, but also promised life, not for obedience but through faith. And this is the wonderful story in the amazing grace of God. As you read a chapter like as Echiel twenty three, and it would seem like it is all over the very people of God. Everything has gone wrong. Perhaps you felt like this at moments in your life, at very low points, at very sinful points. I am irredeemable, this is all over for me. What could God possibly do that could save me from my sin? The wages of sin our death, and here I am to die. But is ekiel twenty three isn't the last word. The law isn't the last word. God speaks to us. The Gospel in e Ekiel and, of course, even more clearly in Christ and that word he speaks as a word that redeems to himself even people like this, like you, like me, people who are born into sin, people who do sin, who have sin, and he promises to us to save us, to save us from our lewdness, to save us from my our idolatry, to save us from our chasing after sin, to save us from death itself. It's a wonderful thing what Christ has done, and I want to close by reading to you about this from God's own word. First, Ephesians A,...

...chapter five. Paul here is giving instructions to husband's, but in the midst of these instructions he gives us doctrines to consider truths about our Lord and Savior and what he has done for Israel and the whole world, even us here tonight. So in Efhesians chapter five, he speaks to husbands and he says in Verse Twenty Five, husbands, love your wives. And here it is as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. This is what our Lord and our Savior has done for us. One more passage along these lines I'd like to read to you. This is from Psalm forty five, is beautiful marriage psalm and which testifies towards Christ's love for us and his work for us. He speaks about what he does for us in his cleansing of us, in his making us holy. And if you have any doubt about the Lord's work in your life, if you have any doubt about the forgiveness of your sins, I want you to consider these passages and really hear them. As much as you hear is Ekiel twenty three, with all of its condemnation, with all of its law, which is all good and holy and true. I want you to hear the Gospel as well and hear what the Lord offers to us in Jesus. We've read it in effusions five. Here it now in Psalm forty five, verse thirteen. All glorious is...

...the princess in her chamber with robes interwoven with gold, in many colored robes she has led to the king with her virgin companions following behind her with joy and gladness they are led along as they enter the Palace of the king. The place of your father's shall be your son's. You will make them princes and all the earth I will cause your name to be remembered in all generations. Therefore, the nations will praise you forever and never. There for, speaking of the Prince insolven forty five we hear of the Lord and his coming to his people, his beautifying them is glorifying them. We get other pictures. I won't read these now, I'll let you look at them at home. But in revelation of the bride of Christ, this beautiful place, here, the metaphors mixing of in a beautiful way, of both city and people, of bride and groom, of Land and country, where the city of God and the bride of Christ is described as just decked in jewels. Perhaps we have in popular culture right the pearly gates right. That's not a joke or a cartoon figure. Imagine Gates as big as pearls are made of pearls. What a splendid thing to see the walls and the cities, the streets paved with gold. This picture of Jerusalem is a picture of God's salvation of us, his beautifying us, his making us holy, he's sanctifying us. Can you imagine a place where blood wants running in the streets, the place filled with idolatry, and now the light of God just shining out throughout the place, filling it up, gleaming off the jewels and the crystals, off the streets themselves, the people shining with the glory of God, the bride made ready for her husband, not because of our obedience, but because of...

...his death, his sacrifice and his washing of us. That's how much God loves you. That's what God is doing for you and has done for you, and that's what he is continuing to do in your lives. And so let's fleece in, let's run away, let's despise it, let's notice it, let's watch it, let's stay away and instead run into the arms of our Savior, our God and our King, who has saved US and is saving us and will wonder they glorify us in all perfection and glory at that great wedding feast for the bride and her groom. Let's pray.

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