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Ezekiel chapter 17 is a great story of the two eagles! This is basically a story of the city of Jerusalem's vacillating foreign policy between Babylon and Egypt. The first eagle is King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and the treaty Jerusalem makes w/ Babylon is in the story. Then, the second eagle represents a pharaoh from Egypt, whom Jerusalem makes another treaty with subsequently, which goes against Babylon. The bad part of this is that the Babylon treaty was sworn to by the king of Jerusalem/Judah in the Lord's name - then broken. This is a very bad idea to swear something in the Lord's name and then not uphold it... Below is a map to give you a quick snapshot of the Babylonian empire, Judah, and Egypt at this time:
The close of this chapter is phenomenal when it takes a Messianic turn, foreshadowing Jesus in verses 22 and 23: "And the Sovereign LORD says: I will take a tender shoot from the top of a tall cedar, and I will plant it on the top of Israel's highest mountain. It will become a noble cedar, sending forth its branches and producing seed. Birds of every sort will nest in it, finding shelter beneath its branches." Do these verses sound like Jesus to you?
Ezekiel chapter 18 is a powerful chapter! What we are seeing in this chapter is the Old Covenant - which I do believe was compassionate & "fair", but different from the New Covenant, which I believe is compassionate & graceful (which may not necessarily be "fair" - but which is good news - Gospel - for us sinners!). Verse 30 is a good look at the Old Covenant: "Therefore, I will judge each of you, O people of Israel, according to your actions, says the Sovereign LORD. Turn from your sins! Don't let them destroy you!" Verse 4 of course stands out too with: "And this is my rule: The person who sins will be the one who dies." You read this at a high level and you'll get a bit nervous, no? :) Indeed this is the Old Covenant: your actions will dictate your death or your life. It's up to your actions. It's up to you. You'll get what you deserve. And this is certainly "fair." However, this changes through Jesus Christ's atonement for our sins once and for all on the cross. Under the New Covenant, through God's gift of grace, we now simply need to have faith that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, died for our sins and rose from the dead. As we've been reading in Hebrews currently - we simply need to have faith in Christ as our High Priest. God's grace and our faith becomes the key (regeneration). Not our actions on their own. This being said, after our salvation (justification) through grace and faith, God is very interested in our actions and wants us to live a life of holiness (sanctification). This is a lot of theology here... and more than I can blog on without goofing it up - actually I probably already have. :) Check out a good overview of justification and sanctification (and regeneration!) on bible.org at this link. Also, I'll copy this image below, which I found interesting. I may not agree with every point on this image, but overall I find this useful: (though, I'd say you could take a thick black magic marker and just write "Jesus" and "Grace" all over this image below too, and that would really be all you need to know :)
Verse 32 can be argued to be the single most important point in all of the book of Ezekiel - "I don't want you to die, says the Sovereign LORD. Turn back and live!" This is a powerful verse. Think this verse shows us that God is compassionate? Think this might be the single most important point in the book of Ezekiel? Think this verse can apply to our lives today? Are their areas of sin in your life which God is calling you to turn back from? Calling you to turn toward true Life? And to be free from the slavery of sin? Will you turn back? Will you repent?
Ezekiel Chapter 19 is a funeral song and allegory about the land of Judah and Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the lioness and the lions are two of her sons, two kings - one who ended up trapped and deceived by Egypt and the other by Babylon. The last sentence of verse 14 is a sad one... "This is a funeral song, and it is now time for the funeral." As we know, it is now time for the funeral for Jerusalem in Ezekiel's time. However, of course, there is the redemption to come and the continuation of the house of David. The promise to Abraham won't die here! There is another Lion of Judah yet to come...
Worship Video: Today's readings in Ezekiel 17 reminded me of this song by Brandon Heath called "Love Never Fails:"
Are you experiencing love that never fails? Click here for true Love!
Comments from You: What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
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