...but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
ISAIAH 40:31

A Blog for Kids and Everyone.

This is a journey through God's word. The Bible is so amazing! There are a lot of great stories. Some that we know well and some will surprise us. We will have a lot of fun as we color, watch short cartoons and tell funny stories.

Saturday, June 22, 2024

The Fiery Furnace Part 2. (Chapter 3 vs. 19-30)

 When we left off last time, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had been tossed into the very, very hot fiery furnace by an extremely upset king Nebuchadnezzar. The 3 boys did not bow down to the statue that Nebuchadnezzar had made so Nebuchadnezzar had the 3 boys brought to him in front of many onlookers who had gathered to dedicate the statue. He gave the boys one more chance to bow down, but they said that they would never bow down to anyone accept for the one true God. And that's why Nebuchadnezzar flew into a rage. He was basically humiliated in front of thousands of people. He ordered that the 3 boys be tied up and tossed into the furnace immediately! 

  As the 3 boys were tossed into the fire, the ropes were burned off of them, and the guards that were doing the tossing, were killed because the flames were so hot! Nebuchadnezzar stood at a safe distance and peered into the furnace. "Didn't we throw 3 men into the fire?" He asked one of the surviving guards who answered, "Why yes we did your majesty.                                                                                               "Then why do I see 4 men casually walking around in there? And one of them looks like a divine being!" Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed. He was absolutely astonished. All he could think of to do, was to call the 3 men out by name. "Shadrach! Meshach! Abednego! Come out of the furnace!"

God surely could have kept Shadrach Meshach and Adednego from the fiery furnace. He could have welded the door shut so that the guards could not open the furnace. But He didn't. He could have put the fire out with one blow. But He didn't. But He allowed them to be tied up and tossed in. As the boys were tossed in, I'm sure it was very scary for them. But they trusted God.

Sometimes God allows us to go through tough things in our lives, rather than take us around the bad thing. We trust God because we know He is good! Now here is the amazing thing! God allows us to go through bad things, but He promises to be with us in it. So who was that fourth man in the fire with the three boys? That was Jesus! Yes, Jesus showed up several time in the Old Testament before he was even born a man! God kept His promise to Shadrach, Meshach, and AbedNego. He was there with them! I don't know about you, but I would much rather be in the middle of something hard with Jesus, than going around that tough thing and waving to Jesus from a distance!

Nebuchadnezzar recognized from a distance that the extra man in the furnace looked like a man, but maybe he had a glow or something. No matter what, Nebuchadnezzar knew something was different about Him. When the 3 men heard their names called by the king, they stepped out of the furnace. The large crowd was really buzzing now! The remaining guards, the statesmen, governors and officials were astonished. They walked up to the 3 men and noticed that their clothes didn't even smell like smoke. However, they saw that the ropes that bound them had been burnt off. The guards looked them over. Not even one hair on their heads had been singed! 

When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, He breaks the chains of sin, just like he freed Shadrach Meshach and Abednego. He frees us from the prison of sin, so that we can live a life that brings Him glory. Jesus not only frees us to live God-honoring lives, He saves us. Just as Shadrach Meshach and Abednego were saved from the fiery furnace, Jesus saves us from hell, which in the book of Revelation is referred to as the Lake of Fire. Jesus is our Savior. His death on the cross for our sins allows all who believe in Him and trust Him to spend eternity with God. Now would be a good time to turn to God and accept what Jesus did for you. It's as easy as A-B-C. Admit, Believe, Commit. You can sincerely pray to God, something like this. Dear God, I admit that I have done wrong things, I believe that you sent Jesus to live a sinless life and die for MY sins. I commit my whole life to you. Thank you Father God for accepting me into your family. If you prayed that prayer, and meant it in your heart, the Bible says that the angels are throwing a party up in heaven right now!

Nebuchadnezzar had a decision to make, try again or embrace the fact that the God of these three boys was in fact God. In an effort to save face. He made this proclamation: “Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue his servants who trusted in him. They defied the king’s command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore, I make this decree: If any people, whatever their race or nation or language, speak a word against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, they will be torn limb from limb, and their houses will be turned into heaps of rubble. There is no other god who can rescue like this!” I'm, sure the 3 men didn't really like the fact that people who talked bad about God would be killed. This showed that Nebuchadnezzar still didn't really know God at all, because God gives us free will to choose Him or not. Then Nebuchadnezzar promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego right there on the spot. From that day forward they held high positions in the king's court.

We can stand on the promise of God, that even if He allows us to go through fiery trials, He will always be with us. (Deuteronomy 31:8)

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

2 Statues, 1 Dream and a Fiery Furnace (Daniel 2b-3)

 Last time we left off, Nebuchadnezzar issued a death warrant to all the wise men under him because no one could tell him what his dream was and what it meant. When the commander of the king's army showed up to bring in Daniel for execution, Daniel asked for a little more time, so he would be able to give the king what he wanted. The king agreed and Daniel went home and prayed with his 3 closest friends that God would reveal the king's dream to Daniel, and enlighten him about what it meant.

 That night Daniel had a vision. God revealed to Daniel what Nebuchadnezzar's dream was and what it meant. Daniel prayed again, praising God and thanking Him! The next morning Daniel went straight to the commander of the king's army, Arioch, and told him that he had the information that the king was looking for. So Arioch paused his mass execution of all the wise men and brought Daniel before the king. He wanted to score some points with the king, so instead of telling him the truth (that Daniel came to him), he told the king that he found one of the captives from Judah who could tell him and interpret his dream.

"Is this true?" Nebuchadnezzar asked Daniel. "Can you tell me my dream and what it means?"                     "It is not I, but the one true God that wants you to know what your dream means," Daniel answered. “In your vision, Your Majesty, you saw standing before you a huge, shining statue of a man. It was made of many different materials. A rock came flying out of a nearby mountain and hit the feet of the statue. Then the whole statue was crushed into small pieces of iron, clay, bronze, silver, and gold and the wind blew them away without a trace. But the rock that knocked the statue down became a great mountain that covered the whole earth. God has made you a mighty king, in charge of a vast kingdom, but your kingdom will fall and be replaced several times over. Finally, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed or conquered. It will crush all these kingdoms into nothingness, and it will stand forever. That is the meaning of the rock cut from the mountain, though not by human hands, that crushed to pieces the statue of iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold. The great God was showing the king what will happen in the future. The dream is true, and its meaning is certain.”

God speaks to us in many ways, through the Bible, through other people, when we sit quietly and listen, and even in our dreams. We need to not only keep our eyes and our ears open to what God might be telling us, but also our hearts. Ask God if that dream you had last night was from Him and what it meant.

Nebuchadnezzar was amazed that Daniel knew his dream and what it meant! He said, “Truly, your God is the greatest of gods, the Lord over kings, a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this secret.”  Then the king appointed Daniel to a high position and gave him many valuable gifts. He made Daniel ruler over the whole province of Babylon, as well as chief over all his wise men.  At Daniel’s request, the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be in charge of all the affairs of the province of Babylon, while Daniel remained in the king’s court.

Daniel continued to give God the glory, but he was also blessed. Whatever we do, we should do it for the glory of God. 1Corinthians 10:31 Anytime anyone compliments you, say thank you and pass that compliment along to God. After all, He gave you the ability to do whatever you did to get that compliment.

The idea of a statue must have remained in Nebuchadnezzar's brain, because soon afterward, he built a ninety-foot gold statue and commanded that, when the musical instruments rang out, all the people would fall on their faces and worship the statue. Anyone who didn't comply would be thrown into a fiery furnace. So, every time the music sounded the people fell to their knees and worshipped the statue. However, some of the king's wise men noticed that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not worship the statue when the instruments were played and they went straight to the king and told him. (You would think that they would have been so happy that Daniel was able to tell the king his dream and save their lives, that they would have kept their mouths shut) Nebuchadnezzar was furious! He demanded that the three men be brought to him and tossed in the furnace. Remember when we first met Nebuchadnezzar, we said that he was very impulsive. He showed it again when blew up and demanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be executed. But by the time they were rounded up and brought before the king, he had calmed down a bit and gave them one last chance to worship the statue when the musical instruments played. But the three men told the king that they had no intention of worshipping anyone or anything but the One True God. And even more, they told the king that their God was able to rescue them from the fiery furnace, but even if he didn't, they would still never worship the gold statue. Nebuchadnezzar flew into even more of a rage than he had before. He demanded that the furnace be heated to 7 times hotter than usual and that the three men be tossed in. So some guards tied up the men, while other guards fired up the furnace. The furnace was so hot, that when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were tossed in, the guards that did the tossing were killed instantly.

Sometimes it is hard to be a follower of Jesus. The Bible says that yes, we will have troubles, but God says that He will be with us in those troubles. Jesus said that we will also be persecuted. Which means people will not be nice to us just because we love Jesus. But Jesus said to stay strong because He is stronger than anything this world can throw at us.

As Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego fell into the furnace, the ropes that bound them burned off. Nebuchadnezzar got as close as he could to the furnace without getting burned and he peered into it. Next time we will see what happened to them.

Friday, December 8, 2023

The Book of Daniel (Chapters 1-2a)

 We are now in the book of Daniel. There is a lot more to the Daniel story than"the lion's den". The timeframe is pretty much the same as the book of Ezekiel which we just finished. Daniel was one of the young men who was taken from Jerusalem when the Babylonians first attacked the city and plundered it. Three of his friends were also captured with him. We know them by their Babylonian names, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. The king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, was a very prideful, and eccentric man. He would shower someone with praises and honor one minute, then have them and their families executed the next. It is important for us to know that he was feared not only by his enemies, but also by his friends and all the people in Babylon.

Chapter 1 begins: Nebuchadnezzar ordered his chief of staff to bring some of the young men who had been captured in Jerusalem to him. He wanted only the strongest, healthiest, good-looking, smartest, and wisest young men to be brought to the palace. "Train the young men in the language and the literature of Babylonia for three years. Give them the same food to eat that is served by the royal kitchen. Then I will select a handful of these men to serve as my royal advisors." Nebuchadnezzar ordered.

Daniel and his three friends were some of the young men selected for the king's program. Their names were changed to Babylonian names and they were stripped of their Jewish identity. When mealtime came around, all the other young men were more than happy to indulge in the amazing spread of food and wine that was laid out before them. But Daniel and his buddies knew that this kind of food was not acceptable to eat by Jewish law (which God stated way back in the book of Deuteronomy).

So rather than defile themselves, Daniel called over the chief of staff and asked for permission NOT to eat the unacceptable food. The chief of staff had gained respect for Daniel, but he responded in fear of the king. "The king has ordered that you eat this food. If you become pale and weak, he will have me beheaded!" Daniel was wise and responded with grace. "Test me and my three friends for ten days by giving us only vegetables and water. Then you can observe our condition and make your decision." So the chief of staff agreed.

It would have been so easy for Daniel and his three friends to indulge in the king's food. After all it was just food. But Daniel knew that honoring God begins with little things. He knew all too well about the story of Adam and Eve and the forbidden "food" in the garden. Doesn't the devil test us in "little things" all the time?  He knows that once we start bending away from God just a little bit, eventually we will fall completely away. We are tempted all the time. But just like Daniel, we have to already have "purposed in our hearts" not to stray. In other words, plan ahead of time not to give in, and not when temptation strikes.

After ten days, the chief of staff looked over all the young men. He was particularly interested in Daniel, Meshach, Shadrach, and Abed-Nego. They were healthier and looked better nourished than all the other young men who had been dining on the king's food. Their minds were also sharper! So for the three-year training period, Daniel and his friends ate vegetables and drank water. They didn't have to defile themselves by eating the king's food and then they were brought before Nebuchadnezzar. Out of all the young captives that were trained, none impressed the king as much as Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego. So they became advisors to the king. And they did a fantastic job.

One night Nebuchadnezzar had a troubling dream. He didn't know what it meant, so he brought in his magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers and demanded that they tell him what his dream was, and what it meant. "Tell us what the dream was, and we will tell you what it means." One of the enchanters spoke up nervously. But Nebuchadnezzar got angry and said that anyone could make up a story to fit his dream, but telling him what he dreamt, now that would take special knowledge.

The king got so fed up with all their stalling techniques, that he ordered all his magicians, enchanters, astrologers, sorcerers and, advisors to be killed at once. As advisors to the king, Daniel and his three friends were on the execution list. When the commander of the king's army showed up at Daniel's door to kill him, Daniel politely and respectfully asked him why. The commander explained, and Daniel asked for a meeting with the king to tell the king what his dream meant. Daniel asked the king for time to seek God. He immediately went to the home of his friends and asked them to pray that God would reveal the king's dream to him and the secret of what it meant.

Daniel knew that only God alone could reveal this to him. He also knew that God worked in the king's heart to give him some time. After all, the king was ready to kill his magicians and enchanters on the spot. Are there times when you need wisdom? or knowledge? In James 1:5 it says "If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking". If you are facing a situation remember these two things, 1. God is working in hearts and behind the scenes. 2. God will give you the wisdom you need to make a Godly decision.

 Next time we will find out Nebuchadnezzar's dream and what it meant.

Monday, November 13, 2023

God Tells of His future plans for Israel, Surrounding Lands, and Us. (Ezekiel 33- 48)

 So Ezekiel spent years in captivity by the Babylonians. He spent all that time warning the remaining Israelites of God's coming judgment and the fall of Jerusalem. Then one day, a Jewish survivor came to Ezekiel from Israel. He told Ezekiel of all the horrible things that were happening there, and that the city of Jerusalem had fallen just as God said it would. We saw in the previous chapters that God had warned Israel time and time again through Ezekiel's words and, sometimes through his strange actions.

God warns us through His word. He wants us to obey Him, not because He is a cosmic killjoy, but because He cares about us. He wants the best for us, and He has a plan for us. In 2 Timothy 2:21 The Bible tells us that If we keep ourselves pure (be obedient to His word), God can use us for His purposes. Don't you want to be used by God? Don't you want to be a blessing to other people? I certainly do! What a blessing it would be to us! That the God of all creation would allow us to be a part of His magnificent plan is amazing!

Well, we have now witnessed God's wrath on surrounding nations, and upon Israel. The Bible says that God is patient and slow to anger. But He is a good God. He is faithful to His word. When He warns of His impending discipline, He cannot go back on His word. But He is also the God of hope. The rest of the book of Ezekiel reveals God's grace and mercy to Israel, the other nations, and ultimately to us. Chapters 34-37 tell of hope for Israel. God promises In Chapter 34 a new David: A new King: A Messianic King! God is letting Israel know that His son, Jesus Christ, is coming. In Chapter 36, He talks about The new King and a new Israel with a new heart for God. These are reminders of what God has promised Israel in Ezekiel chapter 11 and what God said through Moses way back in the book of Deuteronomy. God never changes and His Word is consistent throughout the entire Bible.

In Chapter 37 Ezekiel sees another strange vision. He is standing in a valley filled with dry human bones. God explains to Ezekiel that this is a metaphor for Israel's spiritual state. In other words. It is a symbol of how the Israelites have turned from the true God, and are now like dry bones. But wait! Suddenly a brisk wind blows. The bones begin to assemble themselves into skeletons, and the skeletons are filled with

breath and muscles begin to form around the skeletons. Then skin begins to wrap itself over the muscles. Before too long, Ezekiel is standing among a crowd of living breathing people! Doesn't this kind of remind you of Genesis chapter 2 when God breathed into Adam and gave him life? God will breathe new life, His Spirit, into the people of Israel, and eventually all people.

Chapters 38 and 39 talk about hope for the nations. God promises that evil will be wiped out among all the nations. Ezekiel calls this evil Gog from Magog. Gog is a symbol of all the evil kings and kingdoms. And here in these chapters, Gog will be defeated. Gog is also a symbol of the evil around us every day. Anything that is not of God, is evil. We were evil until we accepted His gift of His son Jesus to live in us. The Bible says that we were actually enemies of God, because we loved the things of this world more than we loved Him. Jesus said, "But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world" John 16:33 Ezekiel uses imagery of earthquakes and fires to show the ultimate defeat of Gog (evil).

In the final 8 chapters of Ezekiel (40-48) God expresses that there is hope for all creation. Ezekiel tells of how, one day, God's presence will one day return to His people and to His temple. Ezekiel has another vision. An angel escorts him to the "new" Jerusalem and gives him a tour of it. It is more amazing, more majestic, and more beautiful than the original temple that Solomon had built with all his riches.

Now, remember that strange vision of the 4 creatures that were unlike anything he had ever seen before? These creatures each had large wings and 4 faces. The wings all touched. Each creature hovered above its own wheel. The wings of these strange creatures supported a platform. On that platform was a throne, and on that throne was a glowing being surrounded by an ember-colored ring. Ezekiel realized at that time that it was the Presence of God. Well it appears again and heads right into the "new" temple.  Then Ezekiel sees a tiny stream pouring out of the doorway of the temple and it cascaded down the front steps. It quickly turns into a raging river, and then flows through the Dead Sea Desert. As it continues to flow through the desert, trees begin to sprout. Animals appear and the river is overflowing with life. The description of this river is the same description of the Garden Of Eden during creation in Genesis chapters 1 and 2. What an amazing vision! God's plan has always been to restore creation and humanity back to the way it was before Adam and Eve sinned. This vision takes us to the future when all will be restored and then back to God's original creation. 

God is the god of restoration and redemption. He has restored us and redeemed us through the blood of His son, Jesus. God is the god of everything. The world will be restored. He is also the god of individuals. He loves each of us on a one to one basis. We can commune with Him, walk with Him, and talk with Him. We can trust Him. God is faithful and trustworthy. He never changes and He never gives up on us.

Friday, April 28, 2023

Ezekiel Warns of God's Judgement (Chapters12-32)

 We ended chapter 11 with Ezekiel seeing a vision of Jerusalem. It wasn't a vision of the future, but it was a glimpse into what was happening there. Ezekiel was still in Babylon, but God showed him that even though the Babylonians came in to Jerusalem and took many of its citizens captive, the people were still hard-hearted and turned to other gods. This is important to remember, because God is going to have Ezekiel act out a few more scenarios; not for the Jews that had been captured and brought back to Babylon, but for the Jews that were still left in Jerusalem.

Chapter 12: God told Ezekiel to start packing some of his belongings. He wasn't to pack like he was going on vacation, or moving to a new place, but pack a few things like he was in a hurry to get away. He was to place these things out in his front yard for everyone to see. God knew that people passing by would start to wonder what was going on, and they did. Then God told Ezekiel to wait till evening came and bring your belongings in from the front yard. Then dig a hole through the front wall of your house and crawl through it carrying your belongings on your back. (these houses were made of clay and straw) So Ezekiel did just as the Lord had commanded, and the people came to see and try to figure out what Ezekiel was doing.

 God said to Ezekiel, "When the people ask you what this means, tell them this is a sign that the remaining Jews in Jerusalem will be carried away in captivity, and the king will sneak out in the middle of the night by having a hole dug in in the wall and crawling through with his belongings. He will have guards and many of his men with him, but I will let the king be captured, and I will scatter his men. Many of them will die, but a few will survive so that they can come and bring to you the message that I have done exactly what I said I would do because I am the Lord."

In the next for chapters, God reminds the Jews, through Ezekiel, how they have turned their backs on Him. He mentions that they are following false prophets. These are the prophets that only tell them what they want to hear and not the truth about the coming judgement. God reminds them about how their leaders turned to false idols and led all in Judah to worship these idols as well. He reminded them of their unfaithful ness to Him and how, time and time again, they broke their promise to Him. God says that He has no choice, but to execute justice upon the Jews, and it will be soon.

Chapter 17: God told Ezekiel a riddle. It was the riddle of the 2 Eagles:  A large eagle with strong wings and beautiful feathers broke the top branch off a cedar tree, then carried it to a nearby country and left it in one of their cities. The eagle also took a seed from Israel and planted it in a fertile field with plenty of water, like a willow tree beside a stream. The seed sprouted and grew into a grapevine that spread over the ground. It had lots of leaves and strong, deep roots, and its branches grew upward toward the eagle. There was another eagle with strong wings and thick feathers. The roots and branches of the grapevine soon turned toward this eagle, hoping it would bring water for the soil. But the vine was already growing in fertile soil, where there was plenty of water to produce healthy leaves and large grapes. Now tell me, Ezekiel, do you think this grapevine will live? As Ezekiel pondered the riddle, God told him to tell the people the answer. No! The grapevine will not live. Here is what the riddle symbolized. The king of Judah was captured by the Babylonians. So the Babylonians place a new king in charge of the rest of the people that were left in Judah. This was Zedekiah. They could have put one of their own in charge, but they elected to give them a Jewish king as long as he signed a treaty, or a promise, that Judah would remain loyal to Babylonia. Well after king Zedekiah signed the treaty, he went back on his word and sent ambassadors to Egypt and asked for horses and men. He broke his promise. 

God is really big on keeping promises. Not only to Him, but to each other. Did you know that when you willfully break a promise that you made to someone, it is a sin. You either lied at the time of the promise, or you lied with your actions when you broke your promise. God says in Ecclesiastes 5:5-6  that it is better not to promise anything, than to promise and not do it. Don't let your words cause you to sin.

 In Chapter 24 God has Ezekiel perform another sign. He tells Ezekiel to fill up a pot with water and the best meat he can find. Then empty the pot and scorch the pot over an open flame. This is another sign of Judgement on Jerusalem (the pot) and the captivity of the Jews (meat) that will be removed from "the pot" which will them be destroyed. 

The next 8 chapters are God's judgement on the nations surrounding Israel. The nations mentioned by name are Edom, Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Egypt and Tyre. Right in the middle of these nations being judged, God throws in 2 verses that don't seem to fit. 

Chapter 28 verses 25-26 The Lord God said: Someday I will gather the people of Israel from the nations where they are now scattered, and every nation will see that I am holy. The Israelites will once again live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob. They will be safe and will build houses and plant vineyards. They will no longer be in danger, because I will punish their hateful neighbors. Israel will know that I am the Lord their God. (Cev version) In Chapter 33 we will see God's plan for restoring Israel, and the effect it will have on the rest of the world, including us.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Ezekiel :1-11 Strange behavior Pt 2

 In part 1 of these chapters, we saw Ezekiel confronted by a strange being that he now realizes was God. He was given instructions on a scroll. Then he ate the scroll. He went to Israel and tied himself up in his house. God closed his mouth so Ezekiel could not speak until God allowed him to say "Those with ears, let them hear." Ezekiel built a small replica of Jerusalem and attacked it like a child playing war with their toys. Then we saw Ezekiel cut of all his hair and put it in three piles. He burned one pile, struck another with a sword and toss the last pile into the wind. All these things that were done by Ezekiel were direct orders from God. They were signs of judgement on Israel. But God was not through with these strange requests. We will look at the rest of these 11 chapters and what else God had in store for Israel through Ezekiel's actions.

God had Ezekiel lay on his left side while he was tied up for 390 days! Then on his right side for another 40 days! Each day of the 390 was to represent one year that Israel had turned it's back on God. Similarly, each of the 40 days was to represent the years that Judah turned from God. Although he was tied up, Ezekiels right arm was free and outstretched as a symbol of God's mighty arm of judgement. God gave Ezekiel a bread recipe that he would eat during this time. It would amount to almost exactly 8 ounces of bread per day. The water measurement 

would be equal to about a pint, barely enough to keep a man alive! As a symbolic sign of what was to come for the Jews.
Food would be so scarce. men could barely survive. Finally God had Ezekiel bake this bread, using animal poop as fuel for the fire. Ezekiel was not happy about it, but it symbolized the misery that would accompany Israel during the siege. God explained to Ezekiel each point of this strange request so that Ezekiel could relay the warning to the people. Ezekiel was a good and faithful servant. He did as God requested, knowing full well, because God told him so, that the Israelites would not listen. 

  That is a great lesson for us. God desires faithfulness from us. When He wants us to do something, we are not to weigh the pros and cons. We should't do it with a great expectation of amazing results. God knows what He is doing. If He asks us to do something..... just do it and leave the results up to Him. Example: God wants me to tell that kid over there that He loves him and Jesus died for him. I think to myself, "That kid is bigger than me. I don't want to. He probably won't listen anyway. He is kind of a bully, so I'm not sure if God really wants me to say that to him." Don't call a committee meeting in your head to determine "if you should" Just know that God is good, and do what He wants. It frees us from all the internal debate. And if you don't get a positive response.... it's OK God has got this!

In Chapter 8, God brings Ezekiel to Jerusalem in a vision. He is virtually escorted to God's temple there in the holy city, however it is not good. Ezekiel sees a large statue, an idol sitting just outside the temple doors. And he see the elders of the church worshipping this idol outside the temple and inside the temple! Remember when Moses came down with the Ten Commandments and the people were worshipping a golden calf? Well here they are again. Not only that, but the women of Israel are worshipping another idol near the temple wall. God doesn't like it and, with a sad heart, He shows Ezekiel. Finally the vision ends with the cloud of God's glorious throne chariot drifting out of the temple and going east.... toward Babylon! Remember last time Ezekiel wondered why God's glory was there with him in Babylon and not in His temple? Well now we know. God answered Ezekiel's question with this vision.

So why did God have Ezekiel do all this? God new the Israelites wouldn't listen, but maybe, just maybe, He knew that we would be reading about this. We would see how the prophesies revealed to and through Ezekiel would come to pass. And that through this story, our faith would be strengthened as we get to know God and His infinite power, wisdom, mercy and grace just a little bit better.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Ezekiel: 1-11: The message and his bizarre behavior Part 1

 The book of Ezekiel is a book, pretty much like other prophetic books of the Bible. God is warning His people about His judgement. However, Some of the very unusual things that Ezekiel sees and does, makes this book stand out among some of the others. Remember when we talked in Lamentations about how Babylon came in, gutted Jerusalem, and took many of the Jews into captivity? Well, Ezekiel was one of those taken.

Five years later, on his birthday, Ezekiel goes and sits down by a river and begins to ponder all that had happened. Suddenly, one large storm cloud rolls in. He is watching this cloud and 4 creatures begin to appear. They were unlike anything he had ever seen before!These creatures each had large wings and 4 faces. The wings all touched. Each creature hovered above its own wheel. The wings of these strange creatures supported a platform. On that platform was a throne, and on that throne was a glowing being surrounded by an ember colored ring! It took a few minutes, but suddenly Ezekiel realizes that he is in the presence of God! And he fell on his face in reverence. Ezekiel was a bit perplexed however. He knew that the glory of God was always above the Ark of the Covenant in Jerusalem. What was He/God doing in Babylon. Ezekiel learned that God cannot be put in our mind-conceived boxes. He is God, and not limited to our human notions. 

                                                                                                                                                                        We do this all the time. Have you ever thought something was too small for God to care about, or too big for Him to do? How about our prayers? Does God hear so many prayers that He cannot possibly answer them all? Am I too bad that God can't save me? These are all ways that we put God in a box. Nothing is too bog or too small for God. He is all powerful, and He loves each and every single person so much that, no matter how bad we are, He sent his son Jesus to die for us.  

                                                                                                                                                                 Ezekiel was told by God to stand up and listen to what He was going to say. Ezekiel had trouble standing and the Holy Spirit placed Ezekiel on his feet. "I want you to go back and speak to the Israelites. Many of them will not listen to my message to them. They are a rebellious and stubborn people. They will insult you and maybe even try to harm you. But don't worry about that." God said to Ezekiel. Then He continued. "Whether they listen or not, continue with the message that I am giving you."  

                                                                                                                                                                      God wants us to share the good news with others. He knows that some will ignore us or even worse, but we are called to be faithful and not be concerned about the results. Ultimately it is the Holy Spirit that changes hearts, not us. Just like Ezekiel, we are called to share God's message.  

                                                                                                                                                                     Now begins some of Ezekiel's strange behavior. God gives Ezekiel a scroll with His message to the Israelites, and He tell Ezekiel to eat it! So he ate it. He said it was delicious! It was very sweet like honey! 

  That is how we should be with the Bible. No not literally eat it! LOL! But God's word is nourishment. We should savor it, and put it in us. The Bible tells us to keep God's word in our hearts. And one day, when we really need a certain scripture, the Holy Spirit will bring it to our minds for comfort or direction.  

  Ezekiel is now headed to Israel to confront the people left there, and those that have been scattered by the invasion of Babylon. He is going to tell them that because of their rebellion and the worshipping of other gods, there will be another invasion, and this time, Jerusalem will be completely destroyed and the temple will be in complete ruins, and the wall surrounding the city will be left in shambles. Ezekiel tell the people everything that God had asked him to, but then God asks His prophet, Ezekiel, to do some more bizarre things. First, Ezekiel was to go into his house and tie himself up.

God said that He would make it so that Ezekiel could not speak as a symbol of doom and helplessness that would fall upon the city. Then finally God allowed Ezekiel to speak these words. "He who has ears, let him hear." (the same words that Jesus used when talking in parables) Next, God wants Ezekiel to build a small replica of the city, then stage an attack on them, just like a child playing war with his or her toys. This was like a visual parable to the people of what was coming. Next God had Ezekiel cut off all his hair with a sword and shave his beard. Then divide all the hair into 3 piles. I'm sure this strange behavior drew quite a crowd as Ezekiel was out in the street in front of his house. Then Ezekiel burned one pile, struck another pile with a sword and finally the last pile, he threw up into the air and a brisk wind carried it off. God told Ezekiel that the few remaining hairs that fell to the ground, he was to tie them to his robe, then pull them off and toss them into the fire as well. This was a picture of how the people would be scattered after one third were killed by soldiers and another third would die of plagues and famine. And the few that survived would suffer.

 God is so merciful! he warned the people over and over again what would happen if they refused to turn back to Him. We should continually thank God for His mercy, grace and patience with us.