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Passage: Ezekiel 23-24

On Sunday, September 14, 2014, Yujin wrote,

Samaria and Jerusalem were the capital cities of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah respectively. Together these constituted the nation of Israel. They are described as virgin daughters, who became harlots. They committed their harlotry with Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon. For this reason these very same nations were used to judge them. 

The attractiveness of these foreign nations is graphically personified and even exaggerated. Their appeal led Israel to forsake the LORD and commit adultery with them. 

Friends, as foolish as immorality, idolatry, and sin are, they are, nevertheless, attractive and enticing. Sometimes, they seem almost irresistable. Oftentimes, it is easier simply to let go and embrace them rather than to resist these natural urges. Paul says that this was our natural bent before we came to know Christ:

Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind (Ephesians 2:3).

Even after we become Christians, we are not free from the almost overpowering influence of sin. Thus, Paul writes,

For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members (Romans 7:22-23).

In fact, the influence of sin and the influence of righteousness constantly battle for control within us, so that we often fail to do the good that we desire to do:

For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please (Galatians 5:17).

All this is to point out that we are no better than the people of ancient Israel. Therefore, let us not dismiss what they experienced as simply an event of past history. Just as God judged Israel with the very things that most appealed to them, we too may find that the very things that we trust, embrace, and indulge may be what God uses to judge us in this life. For Paul also wrote,

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life (Galatians 6:7-8).

Friends, there is a great need for spiritual discipline today. As we read from Paul,

discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:27).

It is clear that discipline is not easy or pleasant, but it is necessary for righteousness:

All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness (Hebrews 12:11).

Friends, I encourage you to pursue spiritual discipline. By this I mean that you should consider what you need to do so that your life is most characterized by Christ-like trust and obedience to God. Are you daily seeking God in His Word, so that, like Chist, when the devil tempts you, you can simply refute his temptations with Scripture? Do you rise early for prayer, as Jesus often did, or, even after a long and hard day, find a solitary place to pray for wisdom and guidance from God? Are you keeping yourself busy obeying what God has gifted and called you to do, just as Christ did to a fault? Is the focus of your life to seek God's kingdom and righteousness, which is what Jesus both commanded and modeled?

Passage: Ezekiel 23-24

On Saturday, September 15, 2012, Yujin wrote,

 You will be judged according to your conduct and your actions, declares the Sovereign Lord.'" (Ezekiel 24:14 NIV)

Throughout history God has always judged in keeping with what people deserve, in accordance to what they had done. This is the basis of every world religion; however, the uniqueness of Christianity is that in the Gospel God judges us not as we deserve nor according to what we have done.

He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. (Psalm 103:10 NIV)

While God condemns on the basis of justice, God saves on the basis of grace. So the apostle John writes,

Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:16, 17 NIV)

Therefore, we have cause for rejoicing because God does not judge us as we deserve but according to His sovereign grace. He does not wait for us to get our act together, but saves us even in the midst of our sins:

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 NIV)

Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! It is by God's grace that we are found in the Lamb's Book of Life. Our names have been inscribed there from the foundation of the world:

All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone  whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain. (Revelation 13:8 NASB)

"And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come. (Revelation 17:8 NASB)

While the Lamb's Book of Life is based on grace and God's sovereign determination from the foundation of the world; the books whereby people will be condemned into the eternal Lake of Fire is based on justice and deeds:

And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is  the book  of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one  of them  according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:12-15 NASB)

Praise God, dear friends, if you have believed in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior today. By this, you can know that your name is written in the Book of Life, that God has chosen you out of billions to be His child, that though you deserve condemnation with the rest of humanity in keeping with your sinful and rebellious deeds, God has extended grace to you through the precious blood of His Son Jesus Christ. Praise God for His wonderful salvation. To Him be all the glory!

Passage: Ezekiel 23-24

On Thursday, September 15, 2011, Stephen wrote,

The word of the LORD came to me: 16“Son of man, with one blow I am about to take away from you the delight of your eyes. Yet do not lament or weep or shed any tears. 17 Groan quietly; do not mourn for the dead. Keep your turban fastened and your sandals on your feet; do not cover your mustache and beard or eat the customary food of mourners.”

 I didn't know in the beginning what "the delight of your eyes" was for the prophet and found out soon enough that it was his wife. I realized that the cost you may pay to be a servant of God can be as high as losing the most cherished thing in your life whatever it may be. I happened to ask myself this morning on the way to work what my response would've been if I were ordered to do what Jesus told the rich, young man to do: to sell everything that he owned and to give it to the poor and follow Him. I paused for a while and thought about my faith in Him. What He demands me is not a partial devotion but a complete submission, giving up whatever the right I may think I have if there's such a thing before God. And that devotion or submission is not demanded only to special people but every single believer. I repented of my lack of faith in Him and asked for strength. Lately I have been looking for my own practice opportunity and downcast in despair because the opportunity I've been looking for seems unreachable or improbable. Once again I came to realization that I had kept asking the Lord to give me what I want instead of asking Him of what He wants me to do. My focus is always on what I can accomplish in this life but His is on molding me into His image through ups and downs in this temporary life that I have on earth. That's what truly matters anyway at the end and for eternity. Lord, I love you and thank you for your faithfulness and patience toward this wretched me.Crying face

Passage: Ezekiel 23-24

On Thursday, September 15, 2011, Yujin wrote,

Friends, we read in Ezekiel 24:14,

I, the LORD, have spoken it;
      It shall come to pass, and I will do it;
      I will not hold back,
      Nor will I spare,
      Nor will I relent;
      According to your ways
      And according to your deeds
      They will judge you,”
      Says the Lord GOD.’”

This is the word of God's judgment on the sins of Judah. The absolute nature is confirmed by the series of expressions: "I have spoken shall come to pass...I will do it." But did you notice also that in the middle of this there is a phrase, "Nor will I relent.." You see, with respect to judgment, it was God's normal practice to "relent" where there was repentance. For example, God relented of judging the Ninevites in the Book of Jonah when they repented at Jonah's preaching. Consider also Jeremiah's perspective: "Now therefore, amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the LORD your God; then the LORD will relent concerning the doom that He has pronounced against you" (Jeremiah 26:13).  Even the LORD says as much earlier in Jeremiah 26:3, "Perhaps everyone will listen and turn from his evil way, that I may relent concerning the calamity which I purpose to bring on them because of the evil of their doings." In fact, this is the general rule for God's pronouncement of judgment:

The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it,  if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it (Jeremiah 18:7-10).

Now, while this is God's general practice, it does not apply to our present context. Here God says that He will not relent. It speaks of the finality of this judgment. In other words, even repentance will not turn God's hand from judging the nation. Even King Josiah's extensive and righteous reforms in the nation merely postponed the beginning of the judgment until his death. Know, therefore, that God's sovereignty trumps even our attempts at holding God to some general practice. As a potter does what he wishes, so the LORD exercises such freedom in judgment (Jeremiah 18:1-6).

Now, if I might touch on an issue that has come to my attention. Some people use passages like those that I mentioned above, that speak of God's relenting of judgment, as evidence that some prophecies do not come true. Then, they proceed to argue that so-called "prophets" today can sometimes be right and sometimes be wrong. And if they are wrong, they say it is probably because the other person, over whom the prophecy was given, had sinned.

But, I would ask them. Did they give their prophecies as conditional prophecies? And the only time God makes "conditional" prophecies, if they can even be called that, is in judgment oracles. Are the prophecies these modern-day "prophets" make today judgment oracles from God? Aren't many of them just visions of future things, whether they will be of prosperity, a happy marriage, or a prediction of some kind of ministry? Yet, when these kinds of prophecies are made, and they do not come true, various unbiblical rationalizations are given. For example, they say, "the prophet is still maturing." When does a prophet mature into his prophecy? Even Samuel, as a youth, who hardly knew the voice of the LORD, accurately prophecied against Eli and his sons. And what merit does a prophecy carry when it can be wrong. Is this something new in the New Testament? Because clearly in the Old Testament, those whose prophecies did not come true were deemed "false prophets." And what of the fulfillment passages in the New Testament regarding Christ. If prophecies can be wrong, certainly the unbelieving Jews might have a case against Jesus being the Messiah.

Some of you may wonder, "Who is uttering prophecies in God's Name today?" Particularly since the sixties, an era that gets more notorious the more I read about it, a movement has a risen that has popularized the idea of modern-day prophets and apostles. They ground their theology in experience and use the Bible to justify their experience, so that what they do can have wider acceptance. And they are growing, not by a movement of the Spirit, but because more and more people are biblically illiterate and so accept anything that is "exciting" and "new." They prey on the growing mass of nominal Christians, who are spiritually undisciplined and prefer quick spiritual fixes over serious Bible study.

Friends, I advise you against going to places like the Prophecy Room of the International House of Prayer (IHOP), or of listening to some preachers and teachers from YWAM that try to prophecy words of knowledge or wisdom over you. There are others that do this, but I am only personally aquainted with people from these groups. Even though some of what they say in their preaching are orthodox and true to Scripture, their attempts at prophecy are both dangerous for them and for you. Many of them do not call themselves "prophets," so the label "false prophets" may not directly apply; however, whether they are prophets or not, their prophecies are more than likely to be false. Some of the leaders of this movement claim that the listeners to prophecy should "test the spirits" and validate the prophecies they receive. This is correct as far as it goes. But once the hearers discern that the prophecies given to them are false, shouldn't they stop listening to that so-called "prophet"? And while we don't stone false prophets today, shouldn't the prophet at least be corrected and told to stop prophecying because he is no prophet of God? Yet, as I read the history of this movement, only a few "high-profile prophets" (e.g. Bob Jones out of Kansas City, whom the current leader Mike Bickle, at one time claimed as one of the greatest modern-day prophets) have been distanced, not only because of repeated and obvious failure of their prophecies in the sight of many people, but also because of immorality and just general bad PR for the movement.

I actually advise against listening to any prophecies from others, whether they claim to be prophet, a pastor, a teacher,  or a missionary.. Instead, trust the Word of God and exercise the wisdom that God has given you to make right decisions. After all, God says in His Word:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

God clearly says here that His Word is all that you need to be "thoroughly equipped" and is sufficient for you to do "every good work." What more do you need?! If you have a penchant for prophecies, at least acknowlege this. This prophecy, that is, God's Word, is always accurate and true and is greater than any word from any so-called "prophet" today.

Passage: Ezekiel 23-24

On Thursday, September 15, 2011, Fernando wrote,

24:27 says he will regain his voice. Ezekiel lost his voice for a while?

Yujin responds... It appears that God made Ezekiel mute on occasions. For instance, we read in Ezekiel 3:26, "I will make your tongue cling to the roof of your mouth, so that you shall be mute and not be one to rebuke them, for they are a rebellious house."