EZEKIEL 22:1 – 24:27 and REVELATION 2:18–29
The sins for which the children of Israel are guilty of are many. Ezekiel is told to show forth their many abominations. See if any of these sins sound familiar today. They shed the blood of the innocent, they were defiled by gross idolatry, they had little respect for their fathers or mothers, they oppressed the strangers and did not look after the fatherless or widows. This was not all as they profaned the holy things and they shamed their father’s nakedness in much the same way Ham uncovered his father Noah. Shall we go on? They committed immorality with their neighbour’s wives, accepted money to shed innocent blood and practiced extortion upon their brethren and worst of all forsook the Lord. Is it any wonder that God would have to move in judgement? We could take any of the above mentioned sins and show similar issues playing out today. Today in America there is the selling of body parts of aborted foetuses for profit. Are we today any better than Israel for the punishments that are about to be poured out upon them? The truth is we are much worse. The time has come when we better wake up and cry out for the sins upon the land. The Word of the Lord which had been spoken of by Moses in both Deuteronomy and Leviticus is about to come to pass (Deu 4:27, Lev 26:33-38).
In verses 13-16 the Word of the Lord speaks of the dispersions that will come upon the land. There are many fulfilments to these verses. There will be the initial dispersions under Esarhaddon throughout Assyria before the carrying away of Israel into Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar. There would be the cessation of Israel as a nation at the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 until its recognized status is brought about in 1948. It is amazing to contemplate the accuracy of God’s Word as it pertains to Israel. This should serve as an encouragement regarding the Word of the Lord for the last days.
The Word of the Lord goes on to state that He will gather the people into Jerusalem and melt them like inferior metals. He then goes on to indict the prophets for not speaking the true Word of the Lord to the people. The fruit of their prophetic ministry is that the land is not cleansed. This is the failure of not declaring the Word of Truth but rather one of compromise and mixture. It is a message that the majority of the people actually preferred. Sadly, there are prophets who excel in catering to such a people of uncircumcised hearts.
The priests are then indicted in verse 26 as being profane and vile having failed to teach the precepts of God’s Law as given to them by Moses. Ezekiel is making similar statements that Jeremiah made concerning the false prophets and priests (Jer 5:31). These are priests who allow the people to feel comfortable in their sin due to not making any distinction between that which is clean from the unclean. You then have the princes or elevated class of people who take advantage of the people for their own personal gain. This can only be allowed when you have a faulty prophetic and priestly ministry functioning. Nehemiah would later deal with this kind of corruption in a bold and swift manner after their upcoming time of exile (Neh 5). Nehemiah was successful in dealing with this matter because he was one who did not abuse his position. In his own words, he said that “he feared God” (Neh 5:15). This is the key for each of us as well. The Lord is seeking out for those who will not oppress the poor but do that which is right in the sight of the Lord. The nobles and leaders were self-serving in looking out for themselves at the expense of the poor and needy. How we treat our fellow man is a barometer in how the Lord sees us, especially in times of pending judgement. The Lord is looking for men and women who will stand in the gap for their brethren. This would not be an issue if there were a righteous prophetic stream functioning in tandem with a faithful priesthood.
We will see a contrast of two wayward women which will give a clear contrast between Israel (the 10 northern tribes) and Judah. This allegory will help to put into perspective as to how God views Judah in light His dealings with Israel to the north. These two sisters, named Aholah and Aholibah represent two prostitutes. Aholah will refer to Israel while Aholibah speaks of Judah. The meaning of these two names has significance. Aholah means “her tent” which speaks of an idolatrous sanctuary while Aholibah means “my tent is in her” signifying that the Almighty was still dwelling in Jerusalem. It is important to recall that Israel began by way of a false center of worship at Bethel by Jeroboam. They never had the true God after Jeroboam decided not to honor the house of the Lord at Jerusalem.
In verses 5-10 the description of Aholah’s activities are given which speaks to the 10 northern tribes of Israel. Aholah, whom we can also refer to as Samaria doted upon the Assyrians and their idols. They were never cleansed from their idols throughout their wilderness journeys. The Lord then allowed Samaria to be given over to the Assyrians as a consequence of her actions. There were several Assyrian kings that were used in the various dispersions upon the northern tribes.
In verses 11-21, the account of Aholibah is given and she is even more accountable due to the example of her sister Aholah and all that had happened to her. In other words, Jerusalem saw the consequences of what happened to Samaria and one would think that she would be warned and take heed to avoid a similar fate. Sadly, she became even more enamoured with the ways of the Assyrians and later the Babylonians which has brought her to her (Jerusalem) to her present situation.
The Word of the Lord is then directed to Aholibah (Jerusalem) in verses 22-35 regarding the judgements that will soon come her way. They will be attacked from every side and they will be mocked and abused by their captors. They were privy to the events that came upon their brethren to the north and what they went through by way of judgement which will now be added to their woe. One of the greatest deceptions that exist in the church is the self-imposed immunity we declare over ourselves from the judgement that others go through. This would be true provided we were not guilty of the same things. Jerusalem saw what happened to Samaria; they understood the reasons why they were judged and yet did the very same things themselves. Jerusalem is so much more accountable due to Israel’s example and the persistent warning of the prophets.
God is calling for a church and for a priesthood that can address sin and put things right. It is essential that the priesthood has allowed God to do that internal work of circumcision before pointing out the sin in others. The people of God were at ease and they did not know their level of deficiency as seen in the above allegory. They could take issue with Aholah but they could not see themselves as being Aholibah. It was no different in the days of our Lord when he spoke of Sodom standing in judgement against His generation (Luk 10:12). Is it any different for our day? When we hear about other ministries failing in areas of corruption are we totally clean ourselves? One of the first things the Apostle John saw when he was given the Revelation of Jesus Christ was the Lord with eyes as flames of fire (Rev 1:14). He has the ability to see right through us even to the point of seeing our motive of heart. We do well to seek the Fear of the Lord and to live with these things in mind.
In verses 36-44 we see Ezekiel called upon to judge between these two sisters and speak out concerning the sins they were guilty of. This is what a true priest is called to do. He is called upon to judge in accordance to the laws of God. We will later see this with the priesthood that will emerge from the upcoming exile (Joshua and Ezra). The upcoming captivity is for the purpose of judging Israel for their rebellion and idolatrous ways. At the same time, it affords a people who are willing to hear the Word of the Lord to be changed, cleansed and established after their exile. There is the additional promise of coming forth with a heart that knows that knows the heart of God (Jer 24:6-7).
Ezekiel will now speak forth another prophesy that is in parabolic form. It is a parable of a boiling pot which is covered in verses 1-14. This is the last chapter with a directed judgement given to Israel. The prophet will begin prophesies towards other nations from chapter 25-32. The Lord wants the exact day to be recorded with regard to the final siege of Babylon that will come upon Jerusalem. It would be during the ninth year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity which would be the ninth year of King Zedekiah’s reign. The reference for this would be Jer 52:4.
The pieces of the flock that were to be put into the pot represent the choicest men of Judah. One can note a certain meticulousness in the way the description is given. The judgement that will come upon Judah will be thorough without anyone escaping. In verses 7-8 there is the symbolizing of blood upon a rock which denotes their shedding of innocent blood upon others contrary to the Laws of God. Their blood would be shed openly before the people in shameful humiliation. The fire and burning will be severe and it will be spiced with the fury of God (vs 9-10). There is a horrible truth conveyed in verse 12 whereby the scum is not burned out of the people. In a normal boiling pot the scum would rise to the surface so that it could be scooped out. This can be likened to the work of the Holy Spirit when he begins to apply His fire within a believer. The latent and hidden sins begin to rise to the surface. It is here where we need to acknowledge and confess our sin so that the Lord can remove it. In this case, the scum is not removed and is forever emblazoned upon the people. It speaks of an eternal torment in hell without remedy from their iniquity. The Lord pleaded over and over again with His people that they might repent and turn back to Him. It has fallen on deaf ears and now they are about to reap the consequences. The Lord will one day restore Israel but will not restore the people who have rebelled and refused to hearken to God’s warnings. The Lord then makes clear that this judgement is determined and now irrevocable (vs 13-14). It is a very solemn situation.
As a prophet, Ezekiel can only handle so much. Jeremiah went through the pains of this ordeal as well. The next several verses will now express the heart and lament of Ezekiel (vs 15-27). The Lord will allow His people to go through trials that will touch the root of our affections. This is especially true concerning those who respond to the call of Zion. Who is most important in our life? Father Abraham was tested in the most severe way. His son of promise Isaac was required upon the altar of sacrifice. There was nothing more precious to Abraham seeing that he had waited so long for the fulfilment of the promise. God tested Abraham as to who was most important to Him, was it Isaac or was it God? Ezekiel was not guilty of the sins that plagued Israel but he had come to know the heart that God had for the people. His heart was breaking as he was speaking forth the pending judgments of God to them. He is now about to experience the sudden loss of his wife and he is told to not weep or lament for her. Why was this required of Ezekiel? Any person would mourn and grieve for the loss of a loved one. Ezekiel was told to do this as a sign that the Jews would not be able to mourn for the slain that had fallen in Jerusalem. Do you know how costly this was to Ezekiel? There would be a period of 11 years where Ezekiel would not be able to speak anything unless the Lord was to open his mouth. There were no more reproofs that God would speak seeing that the judgements have been determined. This ends the section of Ezekiel’s messages to Israel. He will now turn his attention under the inspiration of God to the surrounding nations regarding the destruction that is about to come their way.
Rev 2:18-29 (Thyatira)
The 4th of the 7 churches would be the church of Thyatira. It was an affluent city that had a reputation for its coloured dyes. One of the most well-known converts from here would be Lydia who later was instrumental in the birthing of the church of Ephesus (Acts 16:14). This church (Thyatira) came into being during the few years that Paul spent teaching at Ephesus (Acts 19).
The Lord’s introduction to this church is that of a judge having eyes of fire and feet likened unto brass. This introduction reminds us of what Peter mentions concerning judgement beginning in the house of the Lord (1 Pet 4:17). To the extent we allow judgment to be first exercised in our own lives is to the extent we can begin to judge others and matters concerning the church. There can be reluctance on the part of many to be positioned in the place of judgement due to fears about being judged ourselves. It is a healthy fear especially if we do not allow God to work within us. On the other hand, if we are clear before God we then can be used of God as His instrument to bring judgement into other situations. Let us not forget the following verse from 1 Corinthians.
1Co 6:3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
The church at Thyatira was one that majored in good works. They grew wiser and more mature as time passed by. They were a church that was strong in faith, charitable toward others and commended for their patience. These are very healthy characteristics for any church. The Lord then speaks to a serious error that existed in the church. The primary problem with Thyatira was that they were not a separated church. There were attachments to the world and there was a teaching being propagated that was out of balance. She is called a Jezebel due to her ability in having access to the church. Her influence was very strong and it was subverting the leadership and overall direction of the church. How do we properly define a Jezebel spirit seeing there are many connotations that could be given? One of the primary keys in understanding Jezebel is her ability to wield power behind and through the authority of her husband. In order for a Jezebel spirit to have life and viability there needs to be a breakdown of true authority which can make allowance for the spirit of Jezebel to operate. Let’s consider the women’s liberation movement from the 1970’s in the USA. How was it possible for women to all of sudden exert their independence beyond God given boundaries? It was due to the failure of men assuming their God given role of loving their wives as Christ loved the church. Let’s bring this truth into the working of a church. If a husband who serves as the senior pastor does not manage his home and the matters of his marriage well there could be potential problems. She (the wife) will be in a position of great influence in being able to wield power and authority under the mantle of her husband. This is what happened to King Ahab. She was empowered through the corruption and authority of her husband who served as king. She was a strong proponent of Baal worship who became a primary antagonist to Elijah. Together with Ahab they produced a daughter named Athaliah who was able to marry into the godly reign of Judah. Athaliah nearly destroyed all of the royal seed of Judah through her treachery. Where did Athaliah’s power come from? It came from Jezebel who was a Baal worshipper. Where did the empowerment that worked in Jezebel come from? She was motivated and influenced through the worship of Baal that has its origins through the ministry of Balaam. Is it not interesting that we see Balaam mentioned in the church letter to Pergamos (Rev 2:14)? We now have Jezebel mentioned in the Lord’s rebuke to Thyatira (Rev 2:20). It is an interesting connection that is seen and I believe there are truths that can be gleaned from them.
The church today is being bombarded with all kinds of prophetic ministries. We need to seek the Lord for the ability to discern and root out this evil. She (Jezebel spirit) is clever, manipulative and seductive. Her doctrines and her ways will introduce more worldliness and immorality into the church. This was a battle that the church was engaged in. To counter this spirit and her teachings requires discernment and boldness to stand for what is right. There will be tremendous pressure exerted on the last day church and we will need to be rooted deeply in Christ.
The promise to the overcomer is given in verse 26-28. There is the promise of having power over nations. This is a millennial promise when we will see Christ ruling and reigning for 1000 years. There is a partial fulfilment in this life as well as authority will be given to some over nations and lands. This is an authority to rule with a rod of iron. As Jezebel attacked and sought to wear out Elijah so to will this spirit wage war against the saints. It is the spirit of Elijah that must arise to help counter this treachery. This is a picture of the overcomer. The overcomer will also receive the morning star which is a title of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet 1:19). Once again the exhortation is given to those who have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying. The challenge and promise that was given to Thyatira has real meaning for us today. Do we have ears to hear?