Jesus’ Kingdom Is Not of This World

TODAY’S READING: EZEKIEL 23-24

“The word of the Lord came to me: ‘Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother. They played the whore in Egypt; they played the whore in their youth; there their breasts were pressed and their virgin bosoms handled. Oholah was the name of the elder and Oholibah the name of her sister. They became mine, and they bore sons and daughters. As for their names, Oholah is Samaria, and Oholibah is Jerusalem.”

Ezekiel 23 is all about God’s people seeking political alliances with the nations of this world. And, if you seek political alliances with other nations, you are also seeking military alliances with other nations. For, politics and militaries and wars go hand in hand. They are inseparable.

The two sisters in Ezekiel’s vision are the two kingdoms – Israel and Judah – that once made up the single kingdom Israel.

Oholah, the older sister, symbolized the kingdom of Israel. Ezekiel said she represented Samaria. Oholah means her tent or she who has a tent. The Hebrew root word of this name translated tent is most commonly translated tabernacle, as in the tabernacle that Moses built in the wilderness. Indeed, Samaria had built its own temple to worship in.

Oholibah, the younger sister, symbolized the kingdom of Judah. Ezekiel said she represented Jerusalem. The name Oholibah has the same root word, tent or tabernacle, as Oholah at the base of its name. But, Oholibah means tent in her or my tent is in her. While Samaria built its own temple, Jerusalem had the temple of God within it.

Both of these sisters played the whore we Egypt. To play the whore in Egypt means that both sisters sought after the gods of Egypt and made idols of them. (See my post Rest, Don’t Work; Or, Don’t Whore After Other Gods.) When both sisters were in Egypt, they sought the gods of Egypt. We know this because even after Israel left Egypt the threatened to go back to Egypt because they believe life was better there.

Most know that Egypt is a type of the world. But, more specifically, I think Egypt is a symbol of our body. That both sisters whored after the gods of Egypt symbolizes the lust of the flesh.

After Israel leaves Egypt and enters the promised land, they are not satisfied with God as their king. This means they were not satisfied living in God’s kingdom. Instead, they wanted a king, and a kingdom, like all the other nations around. In 1 Samuel 8, God said this was a rejection of him. Even here, instead of first seeking the kingdom of God and its righteousness, Israel sought after, or played the whore with, gods and kingdoms of the other nations. And whenever Israel and its king was attacked by one of these other nations, we see them turn back to Egypt in a political/military alliance.

Interestingly, God told Israel exactly what having a king like the other nations would be like. And, as you read through what living under a king like the other nations would be like in 1 Samuel 8, you see that every thing the king would do to the people would be about raising up an army and providing for that army to either maintain or extend his kingdom.

Is it any different today?

Hardly.

Is not the greatest part of many countries’ resources spent on their military to maintain their power?

Most certainly it is in the U.S.

So, Oholah, the older sister, Samari, she who has a tent, played the whore with Assyria just like she did with Egypt. Ezekiel says, “She did not give up her whoring that she had begun in Egypt.”

What did Samaria whore after with Assyria?

  • “warriors clothed in purple”
  • “governors and commanders”
  • “desirable young men”
  • “horsemen riding on horses”
  • “the choicest men of Assyria”

All of these things that Oholah, Samaria, whored after have to do with political and military power.

While Egypt can be thought of as the body, Assyria can be thought of as the mind. Samaria’s whoring after the gods and political/military power of Assyria can be thought of as the lust of the eyes (the eyes are the gateway to the mind).

What was the result for Samaria of whoring after the political and military power of Assyria?

“These uncovered her nakedness, they seized her sons and her daughters; and as for her, they  killed her with the sword; and she became a byword among women, when judgment had been executed on her.”

As Jesus said in Matthew 26:52, “For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”

And, Revelation 13:10, to those who have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, in other words taken on the character of Jesus and his kingdom, John writes, “If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword he must be slain.”

Now, Oholibah, the younger sister, Jerusalem, became even more corrupt. She saw how Oholah, the older sister, whored after the political and military power of Assyria. Oholibah should have known to stay away from these gods. But, Oholibah became “even more corrupt than her sister in her lust and in her whoring, which was worse than that of her sister.”

The meaning of Oholibah’s name reveals why her whoring after Assyria was even worse than Oholah’s. While Samaria had a tabernacle, Jerusalem had God’s tabernacle, his dwelling place, within her. Oholibah, Jerusalem, had a greater revelation of God than her sister and still whored after the political and military power of Assyria.

Like her sister, Oholibah whored after:

  • “governors and commanders”
  • “warriors clothed in full armor”
  • “horsemen riding on horses”
  • “all of them desirable young men”

Oholibah was consumed by the lust of her eyes and the lust of her flesh like her sister.

However, as Ezekiel says, “But she carried her whoring further.” Oholibah, Jerusalem, whored after Babylon Of course, Babylon represents the epitome of the kingdoms of this world and the kingdom of Satan. If there is a defining characteristic of Babylon and Satan’s kingdom it would be pride. So, Oholibah, Jerusalem, had “all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life.” (1 John 2:16)

Oholibah’s whoring after Babylon and its gods, its political and military power, was just as gross and disgusting as it was in Egypt. And, to show just how gross and disgusting it was Ezekiel said, “Yes she increased her whoring, remembering the days of her youth, when she played the whore in the land of Egypt and lusted after her lovers there, whose members were like those donkeys, and whose issue was like that of horses.” Of course, these are euphemisms for Jerusalem’s lust for political and military power being like lusting after the penises of donkeys and the seminal emissions of horses.

You can read through the consequences for Oholibah, Jerusalem of her lusting after all the political and military power of this world and see that they were worse than those of her older sister.

Again, as Jesus said, if you live by the sword, then you will die by the sword.

We must always remember Jesus’ answer to Pilate when Pilate asked Jesus why his own nation and their leaders would have hand Jesus over to the Roman empire. In John 18:36, Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”

From Egypt to Assyria to Babylon, God’s people have always lusted after the political and military power of the kingdoms of this world. But, Jesus says that his kingdom, God’s kingdom is not at all like the kingdoms of this world. In fact, Jesus’ kingdom is not even of this world.

Therefore, whatever we see all the kingdoms of this world doing, we should know that God’s kingdom is not like that. Every kingdom of this world has a ruling hierarchy, an army to protect its border, its right to ruler, to provide for its elite, and to ensure its protection. Since every kingdom of the world does this, then we know this has nothing to do with God’s kingdom. And, based on Jesus’ own words, if we try to have a kingdom like, if we participate in a kingdom like that, one that rules by politics and military power with the sword, then that is exactly how we will die.

Of course, this is exactly what happened to Israel in 70 AD. And, if you study the history of how Israel was reformed in the aftermath of World War 2, then you will see that Israel hasn’t change in its lust for the political and military power of this world.

This should be a stern warning for the church.

For, Oholah and Oholibah can be seen as symbols of Judaism and Christianity, the Jews and the church. Both are sisters of the same mother, daughters of one mother. The church saw what happened to the older sister who had a temple, an external temple like Oholah and Samaria. However, like Oholibah, the younger sister, the church is the temple of God and has God dwelling inside her.

But, have we learned the lesson of not seeking political and military power after seeing what happened to our older sister?

I would argue not.

For, I have been in churches, and see it happen all the time, where political leaders, rulers and parties are worshiped. I have seen the military paraded in front of the church to be worshipped. I have seen all stand at the military fight songs. I have seen nationalism and patriotism taken to a fever pitch. All in a church service

If you think Christians can’t be Democrats or Republicans, then you are worshipping political parties.

If you think one side’s leaders are more evil and corrupt than the other, then you are worshiping those political leaders. And, as in in 1 Samuel 8, you have rejected God as king.

If you continually praise the military, military service, and those that “served” for you or “died for your freedom”, then you are worshiping the military. You are whoring after other gods. Only Jesus is God’s servant. Only Jesus died for you and your freedom. Those whom the son sets free are free indeed, Further, Jesus expressly said that his kingdom does not fight. If you are worshiping fighting, then have you thrown your full allegiance into God’s kingdom?

We need to listen to the words of Jesus about his kingdom. We need to take those words seriously. Ezekiel, even the whole Bible, gives us a grave warning about what happens when we disregard the words of Jesus about whoring after political and military power.

“My kingdom is not of this world.”

“If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting.”

“For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”

All the words of Jesus. Listen to him.

What Is the Fire of God’s Wrath?

TODAY’S READING: EZEKIEL 21-22

“And I will pour out my indignation upon you; I will blow upon you with the fire of my wrath, and I will deliver you into the hands of brutish men, skillful to destroy.” – Ezekiel 21:31

“I will gather you and blow on you with the fire of my wrath, and yu shall be melted in the midst of it.” -Ezekiel 22:21

“Therefore I have poured out my indignation upon them. I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath. I have returned their way upon their heads, declares the Lord God.” – Ezekiel 22:31

It seems that for many, if not the majority of, Christians they read the phrase “fire of my wrath” referring to God’s wrath and immediately jump to the notion of unbelievers being tormented in hell or in the lake of fire forever and ever by God. Wrath is an intense anger. Fire destroys. Therefore, it seems safe to assume that this is what God the fire of God’s wrath will be like – an intense anger that destroys all people that don’t believe in Jesus.

But, what if that understanding of “the fire of my wrath” says more about our own evil and wickedness, our own wrath, our own carnal mindset, than it does about what “the fire of my wrath” truly means?

For, the only way we can truly understand “the fire of my wrath” is to see it through the lens of Jesus Christ crucified.

First, we need to see that the New Testament makes a distinction between our wrath and God’s wrath.

Ephesians 2:2-3 says, “The spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” Before Jesus, before God’s mercy made us alive together in with Christ, we were children of wrath, sons of disobedience, because we in Satan’s kingdom, not God’s

Now, in Ephesians 5:6, Paul says, “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.”So, we were sons of disobedience, children of wrath, as Paul says earlier in the letter. But, God’s wrath is going to come upon those that were sons of disobedience, children of wrath.

However, in Ephesians 4:31, Paul says, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” So, God’s wrath is going to come upon the sons of disobedience, but we are told to put away all wrath. Since we are told to be holy as God is holy, we are called to exhibit God’s character. So, clearly the wrath that we display is different than the wrath God displays. Paul even uses two different words for wrath in Ephesians 4:31 and 5:6

We see the same thing in Colossians 3:6-8. “On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.” Again, there are two different Greek words translated wrath – one for God’s and one for ours.

Second, in two of the three verses from Ezekiel that mention “the fire of my wrath,”  God says that he will “blow on you the fire of my wrath.” In other words, God will breathe the fire of his wrath on you.

In the Bible, we only see a few instances where God blows on someone. The first was when God made Adam and breathed into him the breath of life, as if God was breathing the Spirit into Adam. The second was when Jesus breathed on the disciples and told them to “Receive the Holy Spirit.” And, the third was when the Holy Spirit was blown like a rushing mighty wind onto the 120 disciples in the upper room. Not coincidentally, tongues of fire appeared to the disciples and rested on them.

Third, two of the three verses also say that God “will pour out my indignation upon you.” The Hebrew word for “poured out” here also means shed blood. In the light of Christ, we can read this as God will shed the blood of his indignation upon you. And, in Ezekiel 22:24, the word of the Lord came to the son of man and talking about the  day of indignation.

Indignation means anger aroused by something unjust, unworthy, or mean. So, how does God pour out his indignation, his anger, at unjust, unworthy, and mean acts? The same way Jesus did. He shed his blood on the cross. That was how Jesus poured out his indignation aroused by his unjust treatment.

We see these statements in Ezekiel further linked to the cross because God says, “I have returned their way upon on their heads.” On the cross, Jesus turns our own evil ways back upon our heads. Not by doing his own evil to us, but through the conviction of the Holy Spirit as he shows us just what our evil acts have wrought. This is exactly what happened to Paul on the Damascus road.

And, have you ever wondered why Jesus was crucified on Golgotha, the place of the skull? In order for the cross to be stood up, to erected, it had to be pushed down into Golgotha, jammed down into the place of the skull. This is symbolic of God turning our own evil ways back on our heads. Not through physical violence, but through the mental anguish one experiences when they realize an evil act they have performed.

Through the lens of Jesus Christ crucified, we see all of this as the context for “the fire of my wrath.” This wrath, the effect of the shed blood of Christ and the cross being driven into our own skulls, returning on our own evil ways upon our heads, melts our ungodliness, unholiness, and unrighteousness. This wrath melts every work that is not like God and therefore every sin.

This is what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, which says, “Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw – each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”

What does the fire of God’s wrath do?

It identifies what type of work we have done. That’s interesting because the Hebrew word for wrath in “the fire of my wrath,” ebrah, is used 34 times in the Old Testament. The number 34 symbolizes identification, which is just what the function of the fire of God’s wrath is.

This is what Ezekiel 22:22 says, “As silver is melted in a furnace, so you shall be melted in the midst of it, and you shall know that I am the Lord; I have poured out my wrath upon you.”

Silver is melted in a furnace, not to destroy the silver, but to remove the impurities. This is why God pours out his wrath. The fire of his wrath burns away every impurity. But, we must always remember that the fire of his wrath, the pouring out his indignation upon us, and the returning of our own ways upon our heads look like Jesus dying on the cross to save us.

Yes, there is a fire of God’s wrath. It is not a fire that burns people forever in eternal torment to achieve some sort of justice, which really would be just vengeance. But, that the of God’s wrath identifies those things that are not like God and melts, or burns, them away from us. But, we will be saved.

Does God Intend Death for Anyone?

TODAY’S READING: EZEKIEL 18-20

“And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I deal with you for my name’s sake, not according to your evil ways, nor according to your corrupt deeds, O house of Israel, declares the Lord God.” – Ezekiel 20:44

“Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?” – Ezekiel 18:23

“For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.” – Ezekiel 18:32

“Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?” – Ezekiel 33:11

In a previous post on Ezekiel, we saw that the purpose of his ministry was that people should “know that I am the Lord.” In Ezekiel 18:23, we are told that we will know that God is Lord when he deals with us for his name’s sake.

What does it mean for God to deal with us for his name’s sake?

In the Hebrew culture, one’s name was synonymous with one’s character. For God to deal with us for his name’s sake is for God to deal with us for his character’s sake. That is, we will know that God is Lord as he deals with us according to his character, his being, who God is?

How do we know God’s character?

Jesus. Period.

Colossians 1:15, 19 says, “He is the image of the invisible God…For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.”

Hebrews 1:3 says, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.”

God is exactly like Jesus. Therefore, when we see and know the character of Jesus, we will see and know the character of God.

What is the character of Jesus? What is the nature of Jesus? What is the being of Jesus?

1 John 1:5 says, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”

Jesus is the light of the world. He told the disciples that God is light. Because God is light, there is no darkness at all in God. So, we will know that God is Lord when we see he acts in light and light alone.

1 John 4:8-10 says, “God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that the loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

Jesus fully displayed the perfection of God’s love when he suffered and died for us on the cross so that we might know love and live. So, we will know that God is Lord when we see he acts in love and love alone, which means that God suffers and dies rather tortures and kills.

1 John 5:10-11 says, “Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”

Jesus fully displayed the life of God. The fullness of the Godhead was in him. God was able to give us this eternal life because God is life.

So, we see that the character, that nature, the being, the name, of God is light, love, life. We will know that God is Lord when we see him act for the sake of his name.

But, what does the word sake mean?

According to Wester’s, sake means:

  1. end, purpose
  2. the good, advantage, or enhancement of some entity (as an ideal)
  3. personal or social welfare, safety, or benefit

The Hebrew word for sake is lama’an (I’m sure I spelled that completely wrong). It means purpose, intent, for the sake of, on account of, to the intent, in order that.

When God is acting for the sake of his name, he is acting for the end, the purpose, the intent, of his name, his character. God is acting for the sake of his name when he is acting to bring about the end, the purpose, the intent of his character, which is light, love, and life.

So, “Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God?”

The Hebrew word for pleasure in Ezekiel 18:23 also means desire, to be willing, inclined, purpose. We could understand this verse as God asking, “Do I desire the death of the wicked? Do I will, intend, or purpose the death of the wicked?”

If we have come to know that the Lord is God by seeing God act for the sake of his name, then surely the answer to that question is no. Because God is light, love and life, he cannot take pleasure in, desire, will, intend, or purpose the death of the wicked.

In John 14:6-7, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you have known my Father also.”

Jesus is the way, truth, and life. Jesus could just as have easily said, “I am the light, and the love, and the life.” This is the nature, the being of Jesus. And, you can only come to the Father in his being and nature. You can’t get to the Father outside of his being and nature. But, if we see Jesus in his being of light, love, and life, then we see the Father too.

When God asked the question “Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked?”, he answered by saying “not rather that he should turn from his way and live.” God also said, “For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.”

Turn and live.

What is it to turn and live?

To turn is to repent. It is to turn from our evil and wicked ways. To turn from death.

To turn, to repent, is to be resurrected.

Here God is saying that he does will or intend the death of the wicked. Rather his purpose and his will is that we would turn and live, that we would be resurrected and have life.

But, this is exactly what Jesus said is the nature of God.

In John 11, Martha said that believed in the resurrection that would take place on the last day. She believed in the resurrection as an event. But, in John 11:25, Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life.”

The resurrection is not just an event. Jesus, God, is the resurrection and the life. Resurrection and life is God’s nature, God’s being, God’s character, God’s name. Resurrection and life is the purpose and end that God is working toward so that when he does this we will know that he is Lord.

Therefore, if God is resurrection and life, turning and living, then how could it ever be that in this age or the ages to come he would will, intend, purpose, desire, take pleasure in, the death of the wicked, the death of anyone.

Look at how God says it again in Ezekiel.

“Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?”

“As I live.”

God is life. Because he is life, he does not have pleasure, will, intend, or purpose death for the wicked, or anyone else. Rather, his end and purpose is that we turn and live, that we are in his resurrection and life.

Rest, Don’t Work; Or, Don’t Whore after Other Gods

TODAY’S READING: EZEKIEL 16-17

“But you trusted in your beauty and played the whore because of your renown and lavished your whorings on any passerby; your beauty became his.” – Ezekiel 16:15

The Hebrew root word for whore is zanah. Zanah means to commit fornication, be unfaithful; to abandon someone to fornication. Words derived from zanah mean prostitution, harlotry and fornication. While this is the literal meaning of zanah, it seems to be that zanah is almost always used in the context of whoring after other gods.

Israel was considered God’s bride. Therefore, when they whored after other gods, it was as if Israel was committing fornication or adultery against God.

Although not necessarily the case in Ezekiel 16, presumably Israel, at least at some point, whored after other gods for what the other gods could potentially give them. But, these other gods require you to work for what you can get from them.

This reminds me of Adam of Eve. God had provided them everything that was good. God had even given them access to his life. Yet, they chose to go after another god. They failed to believe in God’s good provision and sought what they desired from another. They played the whore.

This also reminds me of what Jesus said in Matthew 6:25-34. He said we are anxious for our life, what we will eat, drink, and wear. But, Jesus told us to look at the creation and see how God provided for what he created. “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and you heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

The implication here is that the Gentiles were seeking after what they should eat, drink, and wear. In their anxiety, the Gentiles sought this from other gods. And to get these things from their gods, the Gentiles had to work for them. But, Jesus told those listening to him to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.

Don’t whore after gods for what you need. Seek the kingdom of God, and God will give you everything you need for life.

Jesus spoke to this another way in John 6:28-29. “Then they said to him, ‘What must we do, to be doing the works of God?’ Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.'”

Today, I think we have taken this to mean that God simply wants to have an intellectual belief in God and that doing any work is wrong. But, we must remember that Adam worked in the garden before sin. It was only after Adam sin, after he whored after another god, that his work became toil and striving, seeking the things he needed for life.

God wants us to work. But, the works are believing in God when the works are rooted in a trust that God will provide and produce the everything necessary for life. Therefore, 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” And, Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

So, we are not to whore after other gods, seeking what is necessary for life. That work is toil and striving. But, we are to work believing that God has provided everything we need. He is in control of the outcome. That work is rest.

Besides what we have seen so far in Ezekiel 16 and the words of Jesus, the book of Ezekiel provides further confirmation of whoring after other gods being a striving work instead of seeking the kingdom and doing a restful work by trusting in the Lord.

The Hebrew root word for whoring is found 38 times in the book of Ezekiel. The number 38 symbolizes work or labor in the Bible. The 38th time the word Elohim is mentioned in the Bible is Genesis 2:7, which says, “Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” This was the completion of God’s most masterful work.

As we move through the lives of the patriarchs, the 38th mention of their names is often associated with work in some form. Further, Israel wandered in the wilderness for 38 years as they tried to work their way to God. Yet, the promised land was a type of the rest we receive from Jesus. Israel’s work ended after 38 years. We see something similar in the man who was lame for 38 years and was healed by Jesus in John 5.

So, 38 can be a period of striving work that at last becomes rest.

This is exactly what we see the 38th time whoring is mentioned in the book of Ezekiel. Ezekiel 43:7-9 says, “And he said to me, ‘Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the people forever. And the house of Israel shall no more defile my holy name, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoring and by the dead bodies of their kings at their high places, by setting their threshold by my threshold and their doorposts beside my doorposts, with only a wall between me and them. They have defiled my holy name by their abominations that they have committed, so I have consumed them in my anger. Now let them put away their whorings [the 38th mention] and the dead bodies of their kings far from me, and I will dwell in their midst forever.”

This was said speaking from the temple, which was a place of rest. The 38th mention of whorings by Ezekiel said they will be put away, the striving work will end, and God will dwell in the midst of the people forever. There will be rest.

Connecting Son of Man, Word of the Lord, and Jesus

TODAY’S READING: EZEKIEL 13-15

“The word of the Lord came to me: ‘Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel, who are prophesying, and say to those who prophesy from their own hearts: “Hear the word of the Lord!”‘” – Ezekiel 13:1-2

In this passage of scripture, we find two of Ezekiel’s favorite phrases – son of man and the word of the Lord. Not only do we have two of Ezekiel’s favorite phrases, but we have them used together in “the word of the Lord came to me: Son of man…” This combined phrasing is unique to Ezekiel and used often in the book.

So how do these phrases and their connection reveal Jesus?

SON OF MAN (BEN ADAM)

The phrase “son of man,” ben adam in Hebrew, is used 106 times in the Old Testament. Abraham had Isaac, the promised son, when he was 100 years old. And, the number 6 often symbolizes man. Hence, in the number 106 we can see the promised son of man. Of course, we know from Paul that Isaac was a type of Jesus, the true promised son of man.

In the book of Ezekiel, the phrase “son of man” is used 93 times. The only two numbers that can be multiplied together to get 93 are 3 and 31.

The number three symbolizes divine perfection in the Bible.

The number 31 is written with the letters lamed aleph in Hebrew. This means the authority of the strength or the authority of the first. Also, aleph lamed spells El in Hebrew, which is the simplest name for God. The numerical value of El is 31.

The son in the house is the heir with the authority of the birthright. Therefore, the number 31 often symbolizes offspring. Several times in the lives of the patriarchs when their names are mentioned for the 31st time it is in relation to their offspring.

So, we can see in the number 93 the divinely perfect offspring of God, Jesus.

Speaking of Jesus, Colossians 1:15 says, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.”

And, Hebrews 1:2-3 say, “But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.”

SON OF MAN (HUIOS TOU ANTHROPOU)

Son of man, huios tou anthropou (with some minor variations in huios) in the Greek, is used 85 times in the New Testament. But, a few of these do not refer Jesus.

Ezekiel chapter 1 presents the four living creatures around the throne. These living creatures have the face of a lion, a face of an ox, a face of a man, and a face of an eagle. These symbolize four faces symbolize Jesus in the four gospels. Matthew is Jesus as the king, the face of the lion. Mark is Jesus as the servant, the face of the ox. Luke is Jesus as man, the face of the man. And, John is Jesus as God, the face of the eagle. So, when we look to the gospels, we find the phrase “son of man” 82 times.

Almost all of the 82 uses of the phrase “son of man” in the gospels are spoken by Jesus in reference to himself. In fact, Jesus refers to himself as the son of man 77 times.

Seven is the number of spiritual perfection. When a number is repeated, it intensifies the meaning of the number. Jesus is the son of man in all his spiritual perfection.

Even the number of times “son of man” is used in each gospel are a fascinating witness to Jesus.

In Matthew, “son of man” is used 30 times. Every time the phrase is said by Jesus. The number 30 symbolizes dedication for rulership. And, Matthew is the gospel of Jesus as king.

In Mark, “son of man” is used 14 times. The number 14 symbolizes deliverance and release. And, Mark is the gospel of Jesus as the servant of God who delivered us from our bondage to Satan, sin, and death.

In Luke, “son of man” is used 25 times. The number 25 symbolizes blessing. Since 25 is 5 x 5, it has the idea of grace multiplied. And, Luke is the gospel of Jesus as the spiritually perfect man who leads us into blessing.

In John, “son of man” is used 13 times. The number 13 is the numerical value of the Hebrew word for love. And, John is the gospel of Jesus as the son of God who came to reveal the Father’s love to us.

By calling himself the son of man, Jesus is linking himself back to the phrase so often used in Ezekiel, ben adam, or son of Adam. This is interesting because of Paul’s comparison of Adam and Jesus in 1 Corinthians 15:42-49.

“What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.”

Adam, the first man, was natural. But, Jesus, the last Adam, the second Adam, the son of Adam, the son of man, is spiritual. First the natural, then the spiritual. Jesus it the spiritually perfect son of man.

We can see that Jesus’ continual referral to himself as the son of man is linked back to Ezekiel’s use of son of man in another way.

In Matthew 20:18, Jesus said, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death.” Mark 10:33 and Luke 6:44 say virtually the same thing.

When the women went to the tomb after Jesus was crucified they ran into two angels. In Luke 24:5-7, the angels said, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”

Jesus, the son of man, had to be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, to men, and to the Gentiles, to be crucified. But, it is in his crucifixion, Jesus Christ on the cross, that God is fully revealed. It is in the cross that we know God is love.

1 John 4:8-10 says, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

We know love because Jesus, the son of man, was crucified for us. God’s love is agape. The numerical value of agape is 93. The same number of times Ezekiel uses the phrase son of man, which is the name Jesus referred to himself more than any other.

THE WORD OF THE LORD (DEBAR YAHWEH)

Ezekiel uses the phrase “the word of the Lord,” debar Yahweh in Hebrew, repeatedly. Of course, we know that Jesus is the word of God. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

This first sentence of the gospel of John has an interesting relation back to the phrase “son of man” in Ezekiel. The numerical value of this sentence is 3,627. This is a multiple of 93.

93 x 39 = 3,627

We’ve already seen how 93 is the divinely perfect offspring of God.

What about the number 39?

It is 3 x 13.

Again, three symbolizes divine perfection.

The number 13 can stump us here. Typically, the number 13 represents rebellion, depravity, and Satan. But, 13 is also the numerical value for the Hebrew word for love.

And, where is the word love first used in the Bible?

Genesis 22:2, which says, “He said, ‘Take you son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” This is when Abraham believes he is instructed to offer Isaac, his only son, the son that he loves.

How amazing that the first mention of the word love in the Bible is connected to a shadow of God and Jesus as Jesus laid down his life on the cross to fully reveal God’s love for us.

So, in the number 39 we have the divine perfection of love.

Therefore, John 1:1, which is all about the word of God, Jesus, is 39 x 93, or the divine perfection of love fully revealed in the divinely perfect offspring of God.

Ezekiel uses the phrase “word of the Lord,” debar Yahweh in Hebrew, 57 times. We know Jesus is the Word of God. And, the number 57 related to that.

What is 57?

The number 57 is 3 x 19.

Again, three is the number of divine perfection.

The number 19 symbolizes faith and hearing. I’ll leave that to research yourself.

But, Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” So, the divine perfection of faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ, or the word of the Lord.

THE WORD OF THE LORD CAME TO THE SON OF MAN

Throughout Ezekiel the phrases “word of the Lord” and “son of man” are closely linked. Almost every time they are used together it is like the passage quote at the start of this post, “The word of the Lord came to me: ‘Son of man…'”

How do we see Jesus in this?

Jesus is the son of man. This is Jesus as man, in the flesh.

Jesus is the word of God, or the word of the Lord. This is Jesus as God, part of the trinity.

However, whenever Ezekiel was to prophesy to Israel, the book of Ezekiel says, “The word of the Lord came to me: ‘Son of man…'”

Is this not true of how God came to speak to Israel in Jesus? Is this not true of how God came to speak to us?

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” – John 1:1

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14

The Word of God and the son of man came together and dwelt among us, revealing the grace and truth of God.

In Ezekiel, the direct combination of the phrases “word of the Lord” and “son of man” are used 48 times.

The Levites received no inheritance in the promised land. But, they did receive cities from the other tribes. Joshua 21:41 says, “The cities of the Levites in the midst of the possession of the people of Israel were in all forty-eight cities with their pasturelands.”

What is significant about the number 48?

The number 48 is 3 x 16.

Again, three is the number of divine perfection.

The number 16 symbolizes. In 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, Paul lists sixteen characteristics of love.

So, the number 48 is the divine perfection of love.

While there are no more Levites, there is still a priesthood because every believer is a priest. And, instead of an inheritance of land in the earth we have received the word of the Lord in the son of man, the word of God made flesh, the divine perfection of love, Jesus Christ.

Surely, Ezekiel’s uses of “son of man” and “word of the Lord” were truly inspired to witness to Jesus.

How Do We “Know that I Am Lord?”

TODAY’S READING: EZEKIEL 9-12

“And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” – Ezekiel 11:19-20

This is the third day of reading Ezekiel. On the first day, we saw the start of Ezekiel’s ministry as a shadow of Jesus’ baptism and the start of his ministry. And, one the second day, we saw that the theme of Ezekiel’s ministry was the same as the theme of Jesus’ ministry – “know that I am Lord.”

“Know that I am Lord.”

How will Jesus do that?

How will God fulfill the theme of Jesus’ ministry?

Jesus will give us one heart.

Acts 4:32 says, “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.” This is a description of the first believers, the earliest of the early church. Jesus gave them one heart.

And, because they had one heart, there were one as a people and shared everything with each other. Acts 4:34-35 says, “There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.”

Paul says this same thing another way in Philippians 2:2-5, which says, “Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.”

Jesus will put a new spirit within us.

It was better for us that Jesus, in bodily form, would go back to the Father. Because then he could send his Spirit to live within each one of us. This had never happened before. And, so Jesus truly put a new Spirit within us.

In John 14:16-17, Jesus said, “And I will as the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”

Further, in John 14:25-26, Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that i have said to you.”

But, the Holy Spirit was not just for the disciples. Nor was the Holy Spirit just for the Jews. After the Holy Spirit fell on the 120 disciples on the day Pentecost, Peter said, “But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh.'” (Acts 2:16-17) The Holy Spirit was to be poured out on everyone.

The author quotes from Jeremiah 31 about the new covenant God established through Jesus.  Hebrews 8:10-11 says, “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me.”

Notice how similar this is to Ezekiel 11:19-20. “I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” This is exactly what Ezekiel says. “Know the Lord.” This was the theme of Ezekiel’s ministry. And, it is what Jesus did. Through Jesus’ giving of the Holy Spirit to dwell in our hearts we know the Lord directly without the need for any human teacher.

God will remove the heart of stone and give us a heart of flesh. 

Israel’s law was written on stone tablets. They had a heart of stone. They lived by rules and regulations. This is mine. That is yours. No sharing everything in common. Life was just the opposite of what we saw above for the early church when they received one heart from God. God took out the heart of stone and gave them a heart of flesh.

What does that mean exactly?

In 2 Corinthians 3:2-6, Paul says, “You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such is the confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

Paul goes on to say that law carved in stone of our hearts was a ministry of death and condemnation. But, this was brought to an end. It was brought to an end because there was a better ministry, a better way of living. This better way was to have the Spirit of the living God write on the tablet of our hearts. This is a ministry of life. This ministry of righteousness far exceeds the ministry of condemnation, the law written on stone tablets, in glory. Not only does the Spirit writing on our hearts far exceed the glory of that the law, which was brought to an end, the ministry of the Spirit writing on our hearts, the ministry of life, is permanent.

Jesus and God have indeed caused us to “know that I am Lord” just as Ezekiel wrote.

Jesus and the 72 “Know that I Am Lord” in Ezekiel

TODAY’S READING: EZEKIEL 5-8

“Thus shall my anger spend itself, and I will vent my fury upon them and satisfy myself. And they shall know that I am Lord – that I have spoken in my jealousy – when I spend my fury upon them.” – Ezekiel 5:13

This is the first verse in Ezekiel that the phrase “know that I am Lord” appears in the book. But, this is just the beginning of God saying “know that I am Lord.” In fact, the phrase “know that I am Lord” appears 72 times in Ezekiel.

In yesterday’s post, we saw that the book of Ezekiel beings with the initiation of Ezekiel’s ministry, which is a shadow of the initiation of Jesus’ ministry through his baptism.

In today’s reading, we find the theme of Ezekiel’s ministry. God wants us to “know that I am Lord.” And, this was theme of Jesus’ ministry. He came to reveal the Father. Jesus came to reveal the kingdom of God. Jesus told us he only did and said what the Father did and said. He told us that if we have seen him then we have seen the Father. Jesus told us to seek first the kingdom of God.

In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Why was it that from now the disciples would know the Father?

Because in less than 24 hours Jesus would be crucified, revealing the ultimate display of God’s love.

Is there any significance to the fact that “know that I am Lord” is the theme of Ezekiel’s and Jesus’ ministry and the phrase appears 72 times in Ezekiel?

I have answered this in a previous post. But, I want to add another dimension to that in this post.

“After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he was about to go. And he said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace be to this house!” And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near you.” But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, “Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you.”‘” – Luke 10:1-11

Just as God says in Ezekiel “know that I am Lord” 72 times, Jesus sent out 72 disciples to proclaim that the Lord was coming by healing the sick and declaring “the kingdom of God has come near you.”

Later, Luke 10:17-20 says, “The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!’ And he said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.'”

Here we see a further significance of the number 72 and know that I am Lord. Note that Jesus sent out the 72 in pairs of two. This means that were 36 pairs of disciples sent out by Jesus.

What is the significance of 36?

Six is the number of man. Six times six, or six squared, is 36. We could think of 36 as the exalted man since it is six squared. Th exalted man is a man of the flesh. And the flesh, our carnal nature, is our enemy of it is hostile to God.

Romans 8:5-8 says, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but to those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind of the flesh is death. but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

So, we can see in this passage that living according to the flesh makes us an enemy with God.

Further, Revelation 13:18 says, “This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.” There is no article “a” or “the” in the Greek. So, this verse could also read “the number of man.”

We saw above that six squared, 36, is the intensification of man, the exalted, man given over to his flesh. Interestingly, if we add the numbers 1 through 36 together we get the number 666. This is the number of the beast, the enemy of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, and God.

So, a more general meaning of the number 36 is the enemy, the adversary, of God, of which the flesh is one.

Galatians 5:24 says, “And those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” We defeat the flesh by crucifying it.

This is interesting because the number 36 is written with the Hebrew letters lamed and vav, which mean authority and nail. The number 36 then is the authority of the nail, or the crucifixion defeating the enemy.

So, we have 72 disciples sent out by Jesus to proclaim the Lord was coming and the kingdom of God was near. They were to heal the sick. Their mission was for people to know that Jesus is Lord. Yet, they were sent out in 36 pairs. By proclaiming that Jesus was Lord and the kingdom was near, these 36 pairs of disciples would be defeating the enemy.

And that is just what the disciples did on their mission. And, it is why they returned rejoicing and saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!”

Even Jesus’ statement “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” is a reference to the defeat of the enemy. Further, Jesus says that he has given these 36 pairs authority to tread on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of enemy. In other words, when you know that I am Lord you will have authority over the enemy and defeat him.

But, notice what Jesus closes this lesson with. He says do not rejoice in your authority over the enemy, that the spirits are subject to you. Rather, rejoice that your names are written in heaven. Instead, rejoice that you “know that I am Lord” for that is why our names are written in heaven.

Seeing Jesus’ Baptism in Ezekiel by the Chebar Canal

TODAY’S READING: EZEKIEL 1-4

“In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the exiles by the Chebar canal, the heavens were opened, and I saw visions  of God. On the fifth day of the month (it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin), the word of the Lord came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the Chebar canal, and the hand of the Lord was upon him there.” – Ezekiel 1:1-3

The setting of this passage is that Ezekiel the priest is among the exiles of Israel by the Chebar canal in the land of Chaldeans. And, this passage is about the start of Ezekiel’s ministry to the exiles. If we consider the details of the start of Ezekiel’s ministry, then I believe it will reveal to us Jesus’ baptism and the start of his ministry.

EZEKIEL

The name Ezekiel means God strengthens, the strength of God, or strengthened by God. As a priest, Ezekiel mediated God’s strength. In other words, Ezekiel was the go-between that brought God’s strength to the exiles.

According to 1 Corinthians 1:24, Jesus Christ is the power of God. As the power of God, Christ gives us strength. He gives us, or mediates, God’s strength to us.

Ephesians 3:16-18 says, “That according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth.” We are strengthened with power as the Spirit reveals Christ dwelling in our hearts.

In Philippians 4:13, Paul says, “I can do all things through him [Jesus] that strengthens me.”

So, Ezekiel the priest is a picture of Jesus Christ who strengthens us in the power of God.

SON OF BUZI

Ezekiel was the son of Buzi. The name Buzi means my contempt. So, Ezekiel was the son of my contempt. Through this name, we can see Ezekiel was held in contempt by the exiles in the land of the Chaldeans.

One meaning of contempt is the state of being despised.

This most certainly is a description of Jesus as he dwelt among the Jews.

Speaking of God’s servant, Jesus Christ, Isaiah 53:3 says, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” That’s a pretty good description of being held in contempt.

John 1:9-11 says, “The true light, which gives everyone light, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.”

John 3:19 says, “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.”

We all, not just Israel, held Jesus in contempt.

1 Corinthians 1:28 says, “God chose what is low and despised in the world, even the things that are not, to bring to nothing those things that are.” God, Jesus, chose the cross, the thing that is low and despised in the world, to bring to nothing all our previous misconceptions of him.

EXILES IN THE LAND OF THE CHALDEANS

Ezekiel was dwelling among the exiles in the land of the Chaldeans.

The Chaldeans were the learned class, the philosophers, the magicians, the advisors and the interpreters of dreams in Babylon. The Chaldeans were the ones looked to for spiritual revelation.

The term Chaldean is the plural form of the name Chesed. Chesed was the fourth son of Nahor, Abraham’s brother. Remember, Abraham left his family in Ur of the Chaldeans. One meaning of the name Chesed means increase. But, one of the roots of the name Chesed has an element of the demoni associated with it. Therefore, one possible meaning of the term Chaldeans is “as it were demons.”

While the Chaldeans were looked to for spiritual revelation, their wisdom and philosophy did not lead one to God. Rather, it was the wisdom and philosophy of the world. Hence, the Chaldeans were the learned class of Babylon, which pictures the kingdom of the world.

The Jews, the exiles, were dwelling in the land, the thoughts, of the Chaldeans.

And, this is a picture of the state of the Jews when Jesus appeared. Sure, the Jews were living in the promised land. But, the land was controlled by the Roman Empire, which was an empire in the line of succession from Babylon. In effect, the Jews were still exiles, at in their thoughts and hearts as in relation to God.

John 1:14 says, “And the Word become flesh and dwelt among us.”

Jesus dwelt, literally tabernacled, among the Jews while they were in exile under the Roman Empire. The Jews were wanting to regain their land and their kingdom through a military messiah. This was the same means of the world, the same means the Roman Empire used to build their empire. This was the wisdom and philosophy of the world. But, Jesus dwelt among us to show a different way, God’s way, for God’s kingdom to be established.

Notice, too, that Ezekiel 1:3 says, “the word of the Lord came to Ezekiel the priest.” So, here we have a picture of the Word becoming flesh in the son of man, Jesus. Ezekiel is filled with references to the son of man, and this was Jesus’ favorite title, or description, of himself.

CHEBAR

The name Chebar means binding together, joining, force, strength, abundance. There is some evidence that the Chebar canal was the royal canal of King Nebuchadnezzar. So, perhaps we could think of the Chebar canal as that river that joined one in strength with the king of this world.

But, here we see Ezekiel among the exiles of Israel in the land of the Chaldeans “by” the Chebar canal. He was not in the canal as if being taken to the king of this world.

However, I believe what we are given of glimpse of is that Ezekiel is going to lead the exiles through Chebar from the land of Chaldeans back to their own land. So, Ezekiel is going to lead the exiles from the wisdom of this world to the wisdom of God.

Interestingly, the word Chebar is only found in Ezekiel. And, it used in Ezekiel eight times. Eight is the number of new beginning and new creation. So, when we are led from the wisdom of the world and joined or bound together with the wisdom of God, we have a new beginning and are a new creation.

30TH YEAR, 4TH MONTH, 5TH DAY

Ezekiel says that everything I have mentioned so far happened in the 30th year, the fourth month, and the fifth day of the month of the exile. This was the start of Ezekiel’s ministry.

The number 30 is a symbol of authority and leadership. In particular, it is the number of dedication for rulership. David was 30 years old when he became king. Priests could begin serving in the temple when they were 30 years old.

Not coincidentally, Jesus’ ministry began when he was 30 years old. Remember, the gospels, particularly John, tell us that Jesus was the temple of God. So, Jesus began serving God in the temple of his body at 30 years old.

And, what happened in Jesus’ 30th year to launch his service and his ministry?

He was baptized.

He was the first to go through the Chebar canal as symbol of his leading us from the wisdom of the world to the wisdom of God.

What does Ezekiel say happened by the Chebar canal?

“The heavens were opened.”

“I saw visions of God.”

“The hand of the Lord was upon him there.”

Matthew 3:16-17 says, “And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

The account of Jesus baptized is exactly what we read in the first three verses of Ezekiel 1.

The number four symbolizes the creation, the material world.

Prior to being baptized, Jesus did no miracles. In other words, he exercised no authority over creation.

But, in the 30th year when he was baptized and the heavens were opened and God’s hand was upon him, Jesus did all kinds of miracles. And, his miracles – whether healing the sick, opening the eyes of the blind, or calming the storm – had a direct, visible, tangible effect on the relation. In the 30th year and fourth month, Jesus began to exercise his authority over creation.

It is well known that the number five symbolizes grace throughout the Bible.

So, how did Jesus exercise his authority over creation?

Not destructively. Not condemningly.

But, with grace. With favor. Doing good.

John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Notice what happened after Jesus’ baptism.

Acts 10:37-38 says, “You yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.”

Back in Ezekiel, we are told that this happened on the fifth day of the month and in the fifth year exile of King Jehoiachin.

Five and five.

Grace upon grace.

John 1:16 says, “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”

So, we see that the start of Ezekiel the priest’s ministry is a shadow of the ministry of our great high priest, Jesus Christ. In the start of Ezekiel’s ministry, we see the beginning of Jesus’s ministry at his baptism when he began to exercise his authority over all creation to usher in a new creation with grace upon grace.

Who Sinned Is the Wrong Question

TODAY’S READING: LAMENTATIONS 3-5

Lamentations 5:7 says, “Our fathers sinned, and are no more; and we bear their iniquities.”

This verse says that the fathers sinned. But, the fathers are no more, they have died. However, without saying anything about the children sinning, the children bear the iniquities of the fathers’ sins.

The question of sin, parents, and children and who bears guilt and who suffers consequences is a significant question for many people. For some, this question has kept them from coming to God altogether.

Why is this question so difficult?

Because the Bible, even within the same book, seemingly gives different answers. For example, Deuteronomy seems to say two different things.

Deuteronomy 5:9-10 says, “For I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

Deuteronomy 24:16 says, “Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin.”

Or, take a look at Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 32:18 says, “But you repay the guilt of fathers to their children after them, O great and mighty God, whose name is the Lord of hosts.”

Jeremiah 31:29-30 says, “In those days they shall no longer say: ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’ But everyone shall die for his own iniquity. Each man who eats sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge.”

So, out of curiosity, I did a google search to see what others say about these contradictions. I read through all the articles on the first page of the search results.

Most of the articles said there is no contradiction in the Bible about the question of sin, parents, children. These articles cited the verses in Deuteronomy and pointed to the fact that in one case God was talking about the children suffering as a result of the parents’ iniquity or sin (Deuteronomy 5:9-10) while in the other case God was talking about each individual bearing the guilt, being put to death, for their own sin (Deuteronomy 24:16).

That is what these verses are saying. So, there is some truth in this. Children do suffer from the bad decisions of their parents. But, not just children. All sorts of people suffer from the bad decisions we make. And, it is true that we each bear the guilt or responsibility of our own decisions.

However, this does not address the two passages in Jeremiah. Both of these passages are addressing the bearing the guilt, the consequence of death, of sin. One says God will repay the guilt of parents on children and the other says each person bears their own guilt. This is clearly a contradiction.

Further, these articles failed to adequately address the idea that God will visit the iniquity of parents on children or repay the guilt of parents on children. All of these articles took for granted that God causes the consequences of sin – illness, famine, war, destruction, and, most significantly, death – or makes children bear the guilt of sin.

Basically, these are articles are attempting to answer the wrong question. And, if you try to answer the wrong question, then you will get the wrong answer.

Why are these articles attempting to answer the wrong question?

They are trying to use the Old Testament to interpret the Old Testament. Jesus specifically says we should do not this. In John 5:39-40, Jesus says, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they they bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” Search the scriptures. Interpret the Old Testament by the Old Testament all you want. But, Jesus says it won’t give you life. You have to go to him for that.

Interpreting the Old Testament with the Old Testament is like me trying to use a dirty mirror to tell if my face is dirty. Pretty tough to do.

Also, in 2 Corinthians 3 and 4, Paul says that there is a veil over the Old Testament. That veil is only removed through Jesus Christ crucified. So, if you don’t read the Old Testament through the lens of Jesus Christ crucified, then you are still reading the Old Testament with the veil over top of it.

Therefore, in 2 Corinthians 4:4, Paul said, “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” In other words, if you do not read the Old Testament through the lens of Jesus Christ crucified, then you cannot see the light of the gospel in it and it will not lead you to life. You will remain blinded by the veil over the Old Testament.

Hence, Jesus said in Matthew 15:14, “Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

So, in some of the most popular articles that attempt to answer the significant question of sin, parents, and children, they hardly every turn to the New Testament for light. And, even more significantly, only one of the articles brought up Jesus in any significant way.

There are two things that sadden me about this.

First, Jesus is the perfect revelation of God and the only one we should turn to for answers to our questions about what God is like.

John 1:18 says, “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.”

“He is the image of the invisible God,” says Colossians 1:15.

And, Hebrews 1:1-3 says, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.”

Second, Jesus directly addressed the question of sin, parents, and children. The Jews knew these contradictions existed for hundreds of years before Jesus appeared on the scene. So, they asked Jesus about the very question that we are still asking today – “Who sinned, the parents or the children?”

If only we would just listen to what Jesus said. In effect, he said, “You are asking the wrong question.”

“As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” – John 9:1-3

The disciples asked Jesus the question “Who sinned, this man or his parents?” because they were still struggling with the contradictions of the Old Testament. They wanted and need to know the cause of this man’s blindness. Whose sin brought it about?

Jesus answered by saying that was not the question they should be asking. Instead of asking whose sin brought about the man’s blindness (and it could have been any other illness or tragedy), the disciples should have been looking for the works, the glory of God, to be revealed.

Further, Jesus is not saying that God struck this only blind only for Jesus to heal him decades later. That would be a sick and perverse God to serve. We saw above in 2 Corinthians 4 that it is Satan brings blindness, whether physical or spiritual. And, it is God that heals blindness. Jesus never once caused someone to be blind, but he opened the eyes of many everywhere he went.

My friend Richard Murray has written an excellent interpretation of this passage in John 9 here. See the answer to question 42.

So, when we ask the wrong question, we are going to get the wrong answer. We typically ask the wrong questions and get the wrong questions because we focus on the Old Testament, which is a muddied and incomplete revelation of God. But, when we look through the lens of Christ crucified, then we being to ask the right questions. And, Jesus then gives us the right answers. And, those right answers are always the glory of God being revealed.

Who Leaves Who Lonely?

TODAY’S READING: LAMENTATIONS 1-2

“How lonely sits the city that was full of people! How like a widow has she become, she who was great among the nations! She who was a princess among the provinces has become a slave.” – Lamentations 1:1

As the first verse of the book shows, Lamentations is an expression of the grief of the fall of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is the place where Solomon built the Lord’s temple. As such, Jerusalem was the dwelling place of God. The city was once full of people, but now Jerusalem sits alone. Because the people have abandoned God’s dwelling place, in a sense it is God who has been left alone. It is God who is lonely.

I believe this is an important key to seeing Jesus in Lamentations. While Jeremiah writes that God is doing and/or allowing all these things terrible things to happen to Jerusalem, the reality is just the opposite. For, it is Jerusalem doing all these terrible things to Jesus. And, Jesus willingly bears all the sin that Jerusalem can dish out in order to reveal the fullness of God’s love.

The Hebrew word for lonely is badad. It means alone, solitary, lonely, desolate.

“How desolate sits the city that was full of people!”

In Matthew 23:37-39, Jesus said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under wings, and you were not willing! See your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'”

Who is the one that is truly lamenting? Who is the one lamenting in Lamentations?

Not Israel.

Jesus.

Jesus reveals that God has always been trying to gather and protect his people like a mother hen that puts her chicks under her wings to protect them.

Who is the one doing the violence?

Not God.

Israel.

Jerusalem was the city that killed the prophets and stoned all those that God sent to her in an attempt to get her to turn from her evil and wicked ways.

Go on to read Matthew 24 and you will read of the destruction of Jerusalem. But, it’s not God that destroys it. Rather, nation rises against nation, kingdom against kingdom. Other nations, not God, deliver Israel to tribulation and death. It is because lawlessness increases and the love of many grows cold.

The first time badad is used is in Leviticus 13:45-46, which says, “The leprous person who was the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he cover his upper lip and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean.’ He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone [badad]. His dwelling shall be outside the camp.”

Israel camped around the tabernacle, God’s dwelling place. But, the leprous person had to dwell outside the camp. He had to live alone.

Israel camped in Jerusalem, God’s dwelling. But, Jesus identified himself with the leprous person, the unclean person. Jesus was touched by the woman with the issue of blood for 12 years. This would have made him unclean too. Jesus was asked why his disciples did not wash before eating for this would make them unclean. The question presumes that Jesus was promoting uncleanness among his disciples.

Importantly, as one who identified himself with the unclean, the Bible never records Jesus spending one night in Jerusalem. Jesus, the son of God, never spends one night in God’s dwelling place, Jerusalem. He lived alone. He had no place to lay his head. He dwelled outside the camp.

Badad is used 11 times in the Old Testament. The number 11 symbolizes imperfection, disorder, incompleteness. Jerusalem, God’s dwelling place, sits desolate, lonely, because of the actions of God’s people. The number 11 symbolizes the imperfection and disorder brought by man’s works apart from God.

However, man attributes his own works apart from God that make him lonely to be the works of God himself, thereby blaming God for his loneliness. This is what we see in Lamentations. But, as I said the reality of what we read in Lamentations is just the opposite. It’s not God doing the destroying, killing, etc. to Jerusalem. We are the one’s doing it to God. We have projected our own violence onto God.

This is what Jesus reveals on the cross. And, it’s the revelation of Jesus as the innocent son of God being tortured, persecuted, destroyed, and killed by us on the cross then forgiving us that reveals the reality of the situation. God loves us. He does not destroy us. We destroy ourselves.

Just look at some of things Lamentations says God does to Jerusalem, and to us, but in reality are what Jerusalem, and we, did to Jesus.

“Because the Lord has afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions.” – Lamentations 1:5

Isaiah 53:4-5, speaking of Jesus, says, “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for [because or by] our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”

God does not afflict us because we sin. We afflicted Jesus because of our sins, our lawlessness, our transgressions.

“All her people groan as they search for bread; they trade their treasures for food to revive their strength. ‘Look, O Lord, and see, for I am despised.'”

Isaiah 53:3, speaking of Jesus, says, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

We are not despised because we can’t find bread and food to revive our strength. Instead, we are the despisers and rejecters of Jesus. Israel was given the choice between Jesus and Barabbas. They rejected Jesus and chose Barabbas. Jesus was spat upon. He was mocked on the cross by all.

This should bring a different understanding to Lamentations 1:12, which says, “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow, which was brought upon me, which the Lord inflicted on the day of his fierce anger.”

We blame God for inflicting us on the day of his anger and wrath, causing us great sorrow. But, the reality is just the opposite. We inflict God with our anger and wrath. And, Jesus is the one on the cross saying, “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow, which was brought upon me.”

“He [God] did not restrain his hand from destroying.” – Lamentations 2:8

Was God the one doing the destroying?

In John 10:10, Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

Satan destroys. And, we destroy. Jesus was tabernacled among us. He was the dwelling place of God. He was the true temple. And, we destroyed him, the true temple, on the cross.

When we truly understand the reality of the cross, we realized that all of conceptions of who God is are wrong. This is why Jesus started his ministry by saying, “Repent [change your mind], for the kingdom of God is at hand.” And, this is why Paul said we must “be transformed by the renewal [a continual renewing] of your mind.”

Through the cross we see that left God and Jesus alone and desolate.

But, he never leaves us or forsakes.