Reading through the Bible together

Saturday, June 28, 2014

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The Book of Ezekiel takes us back to the time of Judah (c. 593-571 BC) before and after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonian army under King Nebuchadnezzar.  Just as the prophets had predicted, God allowed Judah to be conquered because of their repeated idolatry.

It was the practice of the conquering Babylonians to take prisoners, like Daniel and his three friends, back to Babylon. The brightest youth were taken into exile to be trained in science, philosophy and religion, and then to place them in advisory and leadership positions.

In the first three verses of the Book of Ezekiel, the prophet finds himself not at home in occupied Judah, but in enemy territory, in Babylon itself. He was taken there after Daniel and his three friends. While in Babylon, God reveals Himself to Ezekiel through a vision. The description of the vision in verses 4-18 is awesome. It is hard to imagine what all of this looked like to Ezekiel.  Movie-makers today would struggle, even with all the modern cinematic special effects available, to reproduce the fire, cherubim with spinning wheels and multiple wings, and the throne of God with the Lord Himself seated on it in all His glory.

As beautiful and frightening as this vision is, one fact should be brought home to us. Despite that Judah is conquered and oppressed, despite that Ezekiel is a captive and sits by the Chebar River in a foreign land with other exiles, God knows exactly where he is and appears and Himself speaks to Ezekiel!

Do you ever feel like you reside in foreign territory, where the culture which surrounds you is alien and contrary to your walk with Christ? Or do you ever feel that you are living in “enemy territory,” lost, alone or forgotten?  You may even be facing the natural consequences for your own idolatry. Not idolatry as in the worship of images of wood and stone, but 21st century idolatrous worship of things, people, or the desires of the flesh.  Or you may be a victim suffering from attacks of the enemy who has been ruling this planet some 6,000 years. 

Whether you feel isolated and alone due to uncontrolled circumstances or from your own choices, as a child of God you know one thing—God has not forgotten you.  He knows exactly where you are and through His Word and His Spirit, He will come to where you are and speak to your heart. He will redeem you and your circumstances and He will bring you to His eternal home (Hebrews 13:14).  This is wonderful news!  Amen.

Dr. Eric Bates, Pastor
Gulf States Conference