EZEKIEL 19:1 – 21:32 and REVELATION 2:12–17
This chapter begins with an account of the last few kings of Judah in a parabolic type story. There is a mother, a lioness who nourishes her two whelps among other lions. This would speak of Queen Hamutal who was the mother of King Jehoahaz and Zedekiah. King Jehoahaz ended up being taken into captivity because of his wickedness (2 Kings 23:31-33). Jehoiakim then reigned in his place who was soon followed by his son Jehoiachin who also did evil. At the time of the Babylonian siege upon Jerusalem Jehoiachin went out to meet them but was taken into captivity in the year 597 BC. This is where the chronology of Ezekiel comes in. He went into captivity with Jehoiachin at the same time. Queen Hamutal was training Zedekiah throughout this time but like his elder brother Jehoahaz, Zedekiah was also wicked. So in the end the ambitions and plotting of the Queen mother were thwarted. This helps to bring the first four verses into a bit of context.
In verses 5-9, the young lion that is spoken of was King Zedekiah. He is pictured here as preying upon his own people and taking advantage whenever he could. He confiscated homes and was a terror to his people. Remember, he earlier swore an oath to the King of Babylon only to break it to his peril and the peril of the people. One begins to wonder how much influence the mother (Queen Hamutal) contributed in all of this. We have seen several incidents of influence from certain Queen mother’s before. (Jezebel and Athaliah come to mind.)
There is some important instruction given towards mothers in verses 10-14. We have seen many godly examples of mothers who trained up their sons to become mighty men of God. Women like Hannah, Bathsheba and others to name a few. The Word of the Lord is focusing attention on the mother of Jehoahaz and Zedekiah to demonstrate her level of influence and the resultant damage that was done due to the ambitions she held for her sons. It is natural for a mother to want their children to succeed but a godly woman will do that which is best in the sight of the Lord. Queen Hamutal is a warning to the mothers of our day as to the damage that can be done if a child is not properly nurtured. A parent generally seeks the best for their children. At the same time, the condition of a parent’s heart will be reflected through the child. Oftentimes their self-ambition is played out through their children that is why it is so important to have our own hearts in check. The sons of Queen Hamutal were born at a critical juncture in Israel’s history. The ambitions she held for her sons were not only thwarted by God but they caused great damage to her sons as well as to Israel. This is a warning and a lesson that needs to be meditated upon as we are entering a similar time period of church history. It is always important to remember that promotion comes from God alone (Psa 75:6-7). Parents generally want the best for their children but it is always good to ensure that God is involved. He delights in working alongside those who put their trust in Him.
The message of Restoration will be presented in this chapter. The word of the Lord comes to Ezekiel to speak to the elders of Israel who are seeking to enquire of God. The Lord chooses not to respond to them because they do not walk uprightly before Him. The Lord then instructs Ezekiel to tell them why. It is due to the abominations committed by their fathers. There comes a time when God will not regard the prayer of men if there has been persistency in hearing the Word of the Lord. Man seems to only come to God in time of need. God has shown Himself to be faithful while demonstrating a longsuffering approach towards His people. As has been noted on many occasions there is a limit with God. There is another truth here as well. The men of Ezekiel’s day are now suffering under the sins and abominations of their father’s. Does this seem fair?
The Lord recounts the history of Israel from the time that they came out of Egypt. The first commandment was that they were to love the Lord with their whole heart, mind and strength (Exo 20:2-3). Doesn’t this sound reasonable when considering all that the Lord had already done for them by delivering them out of Egyptian bondage? This was repeated on a number of occasions in their journey as seen in Deu 29:16-19 and Joshua 24:14. The Lord intended to bring them into a land that flowed with milk and honey and to do them good. So what then was their response? The Lord speaks through Ezekiel as seen in verses 8-9.
Upon entering into the land of their inheritance, they disobeyed the Lord and began to follow after idols. They were to drive out the heathen enemies and their gods and establish the Lord’s kingdom that other nations could learn from (Eze 5:5). Instead, they became like the people they were called to drive out. They followed after their gods instead of the living God. We saw this with King Solomon as he allowed his heart to go after other gods (1 Kings 11:4).
The crux of the matter is seen in verses 10-11. The Lord gave unto the children of Israel His law; if they would follow, uphold and do His laws all would be well and they would live. This is but yet another portion of scripture that helps to put the law of God into proper perspective. God gives a Law and the enemy works as hard as he can to try and get man to violate it. We see this from the very beginning in the garden. God gave man a law in Gen 2:16-17 and soon thereafter the serpent seeks to get man to disobey it (Gen 3:1-6). Why is it so difficult to understand this in today’s Christianity? Why do we allow the contemporary church to go about redefining God’s Law; to make it something more palatable and turn it into something contrary to its true meaning? The Lord is making the case as to why it has come to the point of such severe judgement. It is not something that had just occurred but has been in motion through many generations. The Lord has been gracious to provide a covering to those of Ezekiel’s day if they would only come to the place of hearing and responding to his voice. Why did God give Moses the 10 commandments as they began their wilderness journey towards the Promised Land? Why are the commandments so important and relevant today? God puts such a high emphasis upon His Law for the following reasons:
1) The Law defines God
2) The Law defines man as he sees himself before a Holy God.
3) The Law gives strength to sin.
The three points above help for us to appreciate what the New Covenant is all about. The Law of God being established and written upon the fleshly tables of our heart (Jer 31:33). People shun the Law of God today because they do not like to be challenged in the areas and issues of their heart. They will keep the Law at a safe distance and develop their Christianity and Doctrine around their sphere or comfort zone. Another area of violation is in the keeping of the Sabbath Day. When God’s people fail to uphold the Sabbath they forfeit the opportunity to know and flow in the Rest of God. It is from a position of Rest where one can be revived, refreshed and touched by God. It is from a position of Rest where we can hear His still small voice and receive the needed empowerment to do the Lord’s work. Failure to keep the Sabbath as it was intended will result in a striving that will lead to burnout and frustration. It can also result in pride as we seek to do everything in our own strength and effort.
The Lord continues to speak through Ezekiel to the princes of Israel the many accounts of transgression of Israel throughout their history (vs 13-23). The Lord continuously pleaded with His people to keep and uphold his statutes but they would not heed. There were a few kings of Judah who were upright and sought the Lord which resulted in seasons of God’s blessing but for the most part they would revert back to their old ways afterwards. The last great move of God was during the reign of Josiah but even during that revival the pending judgement of Babylonian captivity had already been determined. We now come to some critical verses which need to be grasped because it will be one of the means in how the church of the last days will separate.
In verses 24-25 it is the Lord who will allow for false doctrine and delusion to come over His people. The modern counterpart to these verses would be 2 Thes 2:11.
2Th 2:10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
2Th 2:11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
We can see that from the above verses that one of the primary reasons for deception is not having a love for the Truth. It is a scary precedent that is stated here in that God will allow for false teachings to circulate due to the uncircumcised heart of the people. In verses 28-29, the Lord again speaks regarding the transgressions of their fathers. He then directs a question towards them in verses 30-31. He asks if they are not likewise guilty of the same offenses. The purpose of this chapter was to review the history of Israel and demonstrate that God has been faithfully pleading with His people to keep His Laws and Statutes and forsake the ways and gods of the heathen. This is why He does not respond to the enquiring of the princes of Israel. He closes by asking them to consider if they are any different from their offending fathers. The judgement has been determined and is about to be carried out. If there are any who hear what the prophets like Jeremiah and Ezekiel are saying and respond there can be life and preservation. Sadly, the people for the most part were in rebellion and about to suffer the consequences.
The Lord speaks of a period of chastisement and judgement that will soon come upon Israel. This chastisement will produce an inward purging and cleansing; they will come forth from this captivity changed. This change will pave the way for true Restoration. There is an application that can be made for those who will return from exile but also an application that speaks of a greater Restoration when Israel returns to the Lord at the commencing of the millennial reign of Christ. This will take place upon the holy mountain of Zion that now is about to be laid desolate by the invading Babylonians. The judgements and time of persecution will be real all because Israel failed to obey the Lord. The future Restoration will be a reality that will go above and beyond all expectations. In the end it will be said that Faithful and True are the Judgements and ways of God. He is a glorious God!
The sword of the Lord is now about to be released upon Jerusalem in its fury. He is told to go about throughout the land and declare the Lord’s judgements. This is approximately 4 years before the purge begins. People will take note of his sighing and demeanour as he goes forth and he is to use this as a means of further instruction and warning (vs 1-17).
In verses 18-24 there is a rehearsing of that which was spoken of by Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Micah as now it is about to come to pass. Let’s reflect for a moment what Moses declared before the children of Israel were about to go into their inheritance:
Deu 28:48 Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the LORD shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee.
Deu 28:49 The LORD shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand;
Deu 28:50 A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young:
Deu 28:51 And he shall eat the fruit of thy cattle, and the fruit of thy land, until thou be destroyed: which also shall not leave thee either corn, wine, or oil, or the increase of thy kine, or flocks of thy sheep, until he have destroyed thee.
Deu 28:52 And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the LORD thy God hath given thee.
Deu 28:53 And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters, which the LORD thy God hath given thee, in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee:
This is an interesting passage of scripture because it depicts something that was going to happen in Israel’s future. This helps to give precedent as to what will happen in the last days seeing that scripture has much to say concerning it. If God spoke this through Moses could it have been avoided? Was it inevitable seeing that God had already decreed a future event? This brings into question some topics that Paul brings out in Romans. (Predestination and the foreknowledge of God) Here are the primary points, as I understand it concerning this event. God obviously knew by way of His foreknowledge what would happen with Israel when he spoke to Moses in Deuteronomy. Since this was already known does it exempt or excuse Israel for not obeying God? After all, it can be said they were fulfilling scripture. Absolutely not! Just because God knows what man will do and predestinates prophets and events in the leading up to that event does not excuse man for the choices he makes. This established truth should help us as we approach end time fulfilment of truth. There are things that God’s Word says is going to happen. Some of them are quite specific; can they be changed or altered? In other words, can the landscape be changed to the point where the earth can be totally transformed so that the Lord ends up returning for a redeemed world that goes beyond a redeemed bride? This then would alter a future Armageddon and much of what scripture says is going to happen in the last days. The work that was accomplished at the Cross may allow for such a reality to take place but will it? The Word of the Lord that God spoke to Moses was capable of having Israel being established in the land, driving out their enemies and having Israel as the picture of beauty amongst all other nations, but did it happen? These are interesting questions to ponder over but I feel we should take the Lord at his Word as to what will happen in the last days. It is an amazing thing to consider what Moses spoke of in the above verses. He spoke directly to what Israel was about to experience. As we learned earlier, man is accountable for the choices he makes. When we stand before God, we will have to give an account for the decisions and choices that we have made. The Bible made references to Judas as the future betrayer but he will have to account for being a thief and choosing to betray the Lord. God can declare things concerning the future based on His foreknowledge of what man will do. May the Lord help to give further light on these issues in the days to come.
King Zedekiah, the last king of Judah is referenced in verses 25-27. The throne will now become vacant and will not be given to another until one who is worthy can assume the reign. This chapter closes with various judgements that will come upon some of the nation’s surrounding Israel. At the time of the 2nd coming the Lord Himself will bring judgement against Ammon, Moab and Edom. The nation of the Ammonites will be judged by Nebuchadnezzar when the Babylonians move against Israel. So once again, we see a dual fulfilment in these verses; at the time of the Babylonians and at the time of the 2nd coming. There are many instructional lessons to draw from in these accounts.
Rev 2:12-17 (Pergamos)
The third letter is written to the church at Pergamos. The Lord introduces Himself to this church as the One who has the sharp sword with the two edges. It seems to be a direct reference to the verse in Hebrews which speaks of the Word of the Lord.
Heb 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
We can say that all churches and men would be in need of knowing the Word of God but there seems to be special meaning for this church. It goes on to speak of Satan’s seat in verse 13. What does this mean? This can eventually be tied into what will be spoken concerning Mystery Babylon in chapter 17. From the time of Babylon right through the Roman Empire there were certain ones designated with the title of Supreme Pontiff; a title that even Julius Caesar assumed in the year 63 AD. This continued up to the time of a man named Damascus who was a bishop in Rome in the year 378 AD. The popes have held this position ever since. The church of Pergamos will also figure later in Revelation 17. It is clear that it is in this environment where Satan has his throne while wielding considerable authority.
The Lord goes on to commend these saints because of their ability to hold fast and not deny their faith. Can you imagine the pressure in holding fast to deny Caesar as being Lord while worshipping the Lord Jesus Christ? In fact, there is a man named Antipas who was cited as being a faithful martyr. How would we hold up in the midst of such pressure? Will we bow down to the image of antichrist in the last days? (Rev 13:15) What is seen here is a mini picture of what it will be like in the last days. May God grant that we have such grace to stand strong in that day.
The Lord will now address an area of concern to this church. It is hard to believe that they would have an area of need in light of their standing strong against persecution. What is there area of need and how can it relate to us in our day? The Lord speaks concerning some who hold the doctrine of Balaam and it specifically refers to Balak who cast a stumbling block before Israel. It is clear that this church lacked discernment. One of the greatest needs for the church in the last days is in the area of discernment. What is discernment and how can it be defined? Essentially, it is the ability to determine the source of an operating Spirit. This can be done a number of ways. Joshua simply asked the man with the sword in his hand if he was for them or against them. It turned out to be the Lord Himself (Jos 5:13). Another way is to feed upon the Word of the Lord as referenced in Isa 7:15.
Isa 7:15 Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.
This would reflect the way the Lord introduced Himself to the church with the One who had the sword with the 2 sharp edges. It is the Word of the Lord that is the ultimate discerner of hearts and of motive. The primary problem that is mentioned by the Lord to this church is concerning the doctrine of Balaam. This needs some breaking down. Balaam was a well-known prophet of his day who had the power to curse or bless people. The children of Israel as well as heathen kings recognized his authority. The problem with Balaam was that he was a man of mixture. He wanted the best that the world had to offer while trying to maintain favor with God. It seems that there can be a season of time where there can be coexistence between the two. Is this not true in our own lives? We try and keep one foot in the world while keeping another in the kingdom. There comes a time when a decision has to be made to be one way or the other. This is true of each of our individual lives and it is certainly true with the ministers of God. Balaam came on the scene at a crucial moment in Israel’s history. It was at the time when God was looking to bring them into their inheritance across Jordan. This will certainly be true in the last days which mean that our discerning acumen will have to be at its best.
What though is the Doctrine of Balaam? It is the seducing of the people of God into immorality and idolatry. The remedy for Balaam and his treacherous prophetic ministry was Phineas. He took initiative to stem the wrath and displeasure of God. He was a priest who came from the line of Eleazar, one of the 4 sons of Aaron. He was given the promise of an everlasting priesthood for his actions (Num 25:13). To me this speaks of the significance of the priesthood in confronting the false prophetic teachings of Balaam in the last days. Balaam’s ministry and what he sowed did not end with but perpetuated through the generations. This will be picked up in a bit more detail when we consider the next of the 7 churches (Thyatira). There are many prophetic ministries seen in the worldwide church. What is the spirit that serves as the source of these prophets? In our study through the Old Testament we have seen God raising up false prophets that will speak to the uncircumcised of heart. I feel we can link many of these prophets to the doctrine of Balaam peddlers that are discussed here. They can be best discerned by a wholehearted reading and understanding of the Word of God. If the Word of God is embraced it can get to the root of all sin and where false anointing’s originate. I speak of course of the heart (Heb 4:12, Pro 4:23).
The Lord then charges the church to repent of these works and He will give unto them the promise of the hidden manna. This means that there are treasures that the Lord will reveal unto them if they were to press in and be a seeker of God. This is seen in the 6th Kingdom Parable of the Pearl of Great Price (Math 13:45-46). This man was a “seeker” and for his intentional pursuit of seeking after God was shown the pearl of great price. It also reflects the promise given to those who seek out treasures that God Himself conceals from others (Pro 25:2). A key for overcoming in Pergamos was to be one who had an intentional seeking heart.
Jer 29:13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
The second promise was that of a white stone. This white stone speaks of innocence which helps to give meaning to Jude 1:24 that speaks of being presented faultless before the throne of God. There is one more added blessing which is the giving of a New Name. What a tremendous reward to those who hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches. It can be likened to Jacob who had his name changed to Israel (Gen 32:27-28). It came at a cost and after a prolonged trial but what a blessing it proves to be. The church of Pergamos has many applications for each of us today.