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Please turn in your Bibles to Ezekiel chapter 16, as we continue our study through the Word of God. And as you will see, God is going to describe the birth of the nation of Israel, all their blessings and then how they turned from the Lord, the one who created them. The Lord is going to share with us the history of this nation and what happened to this noble vine that was planted.
1. First of all God speaks of Jerusalem, the land He gave to His people. This land, if you remember, was occupied by Canaanites, and specifically, Jerusalem was occupied by the Jebusites before David conquered them in I Chronicles 11:4-9. And the Amorites and Hittites were Canaanites who occupied the land that God is going to give to the Jewish people.
2. And before God made them a people, they were nothing. And as God, in a sense, birthed this nation, the other nations ignored them, had no respect for them, and they just left this new born nation to care for itself.
1. Of course God is using symbolism to describe the birth of this nation. Remember, Abraham was a idol worshiping gentile before God called him. And as Abraham walked through the land that God gave him, he never owned it. And as the nation grew from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob and his 12 sons that became the 12 tribes of Israel, a nation was being born. And as they dwelt in the land, a famine broke out, which caused Jacob and his family to go down to Egypt, where his son Joseph was sent by his brothers years earlier, sold into slavery. But now Joseph was second in charge of this nation, in charge of the food, and in Egypt they grew to some 2 million people. But now that Joseph has died, and the Pharaohs who knew of Joseph also died, and hatred towards the Jews began to grow, they made them slaves.
And they cried out to God and God sent them a deliverer, Moses, to set them free. And as they journeyed, with a side track of 40 years, they entered the land that God had promised to them, the land of Canaan. And God is saying that He not only ordained their survival but He was going to make them His wife!
1. Again, God brought forth this nation, He cleansed them, He anointed them with oil. Why? He was preparing them for this marriage with Him. In fact, She was His queen!
2. Also, God gave them a land flowing with milk and honey. The were very prosperous as we shall see. God truly blessed His people.
1. Look at how God blessed them. He gave them everything. What else could He do for them?
1. During the reign of David and then Solomon, the nation rose to a position of great power, wealth, they occupied almost all the land that God had promised them. If you remember, during the reign of Solomon, the Queen of Sheba came to see if what she had heard was true about this nation. And when she arrived she said that what she was told was only half of what she saw. She was blown away at how prosperous this nation was. Not only did they have much wealth, but God was protecting them from their enemies. Other nations recognized that if you went to war against Israel, you were not only fighting against the people, but their God! Tragically, they grew tired of this relationship with the Lord and are going to try and find fulfillment, satisfaction with other lovers!
1. How easily they forgot that it was the Lord that had bestowed all these blessings upon them. Instead of trusting in the Lord, they trusted in themselves, their own beauty. They forgot it was the Lord who cleaned them up and made them beautiful. They flaunted what they had and went looking for other lovers! And if you go out looking, you will find what you THINK you are looking for. But you will be wrong, just as Israel was.
1. They dressed themselves up, took possessions that God gave them, and used them to make false gods to worship in the high places. And the thought was, the higher up on the hill or mountain you were, the closer you were to these gods. And understand all this pagan idolatry was sexually oriented, it satisfied the flesh, and thus they were drawn into it, played the harlot and left their God.
1. God gave his people different offerings that they would give to Him as a sign of worship, and-so-on. Now, the things they were to use to worship God with, they are using to worship these false gods!
1. What is the result of sexual promiscuity? Children, and many times unwanted children. Such was the case in Israel. And what do you do with all these unwanted children? They offered them as a sacrifice to the god of prosperity, Molech. You see, if you sacrificed your child, you were ensuring prosperity for yourself. Thus, they killed two birds with one stone in a sense. They got rid of all these unwanted children that were being born from their sexual promiscuity and they were securing a blessing, prosperity for themselves.
2. What they would do is go to the south of Jerusalem, to the Valley of Hinnom, and get a fire going. And in this fire they placed these brass idols of Molech with his arms outstretched. And they would drink, yell, bang these drums, working themselves up into an altered state of consciousness. And their children would be placed in these burning hot, outstretched hands of Molech as a sacrifice. They burned them in the fire!
3. Now we dont call this god Molech today, but it is the same god we worship. It is the god of prosperity. You see, with all the sexual promiscuity, the sexual freedom that has been encouraged today, there are a lot of unwanted children being conceived. And because that interferes with our lifestyle, we are not financially ready to have children, these children are aborted, or should I say killed in the womb, a place that is for protection, nurturing! That my friends is not any different than what Israel was doing. You see, God said that they are His children, and like Israel, we are killing His children!
1. They forgot where they came from and what God had done for them. That is a dangerous place to be. Never lose sight of what God has done, is doing and will do in your life! In Jeremiah 2:2-3 we are told, "Go and cry in the hearing of Jerusalem, saying, Thus says the LORD: "I remember you, the kindness of your youth, the love of your betrothal, when you went after Me in the wilderness, in a land not sown. Israel was holiness to the LORD, the firstfruits of His increase..." God wanted them to remember the joy they had when they were first in love with Him. It was a beautiful relationship and that is the kind of relationship that the Lord wants with us.
1. This lust for these gods continued to grow and still they were not satisfied. The land was filled with pagan worship sites.
2. Look how far they had fallen from the Lord. In Jeremiah 2:21-22 we read "Yet I had planted you a noble vine, a seed of highest quality. How then have you turned before Me into the degenerate plant of an alien vine? For though you wash yourself with lye, and use much soap, yet your iniquity is marked before Me, says the Lord GOD." God did everything He could to make them a vine that would produce good fruit. But they turned from Him and their sins were before the Lord. They were born to produce fruit, and as Ezekiel said back in chapter 15, the grape vine is good for nothing except to produce fruit, to produce grapes. And that is true in our own life, we were created to bring forth good fruit to the glory of God.
1. Do you see how bad they had gotten. Even the pagan nations around them were blushing, they were embarrassed at what Gods people were doing. It shocked them!
1. They had become addicted to these practices, and yet, it was still not enough for them. What once satisfied them wasnt doing it anymore. And they degenerated farther and farther into wickedness to try and satisfy their fleshly desires. It is as Jesus said in John 8:34, "...Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin." May we not forget that truth. You have been set free in Christ, dont place yourself back into that bondage that He has delivered you from.
1. Think about this one. A portion of the nation was already in captivity, taken to Babylon because of their idolatry, and yet, even in Babylon they were doing these abominations before the Lord, and still they were not satisfied.
2. I think that this is an important lesson for us to learn. You will never satisfy the flesh. You will always need a bigger home, fancier car, better job, more money, more possession, and-so-on. And if you drink from this well, you will thirst again. Jesus tells us we need to drink from Him, because if we do, we will not thirst again. We will find satisfaction, joy, contentment in our lives. The choice is ours, to be satisfied in Christ or to lust after other things, play the harlot, and never be completely satisfied!
1. God had made these people His queen but they degenerated into noting more than a tramp. And God is amazed at the depths they were willing to sink to. He is saying that at least a harlot got paid for her service. But His people were paying others to show them how to satisfy their flesh, how to worship their gods. God gave them much wealth, protection, and-so-on, and they were giving it all away!
1. All these nations that once saw Israel governed by God, were now going to see their nakedness, how they are when they are apart from God and joined to idols. And the judgment for committing adultery, murder and idolatry was death! There was judgment for these wicked activities. (See Leviticus 20:1, Leviticus 20:10, Numbers 35:16-21).
1. When both the Northern Kingdom of Israel was taken captive by the Assyrians, and the Southern Kingdom of Judah was taken captive by the Babylonians, that is how they were brought into captivity - all their possessions were taken away.
1. God was bringing this judgment upon them so He could awaken them from their spiritual sleep. And the proverb they were saying is that as wicked as their parents were, the children were no different. Idolatry, immorality, the sacrificing of their children to the god Molech, they were all involved in.
1. They were no different than the nations they drove out as they entered the land of Canaan. In fact, they became worse, so much so that the pagan nations blushed at the things this nation was now doing.
1. Remember, the Northern Kingdom of Israel had no good kings, they all were wicked. The Southern Kingdom of Judah had several good kings. And, of course, Sodom was wicked and judged by God for her wickedness. And the Lord is saying that the Southern Kingdom of Judah was more wicked than Samaria to the north and Sodom to the south!
1. When we think of Sodom we think of homosexuality, but that was only part of their wickedness and just a symptom of their disease. You see, before the judgment of God fell upon them, the land was very fertile all year long. They didnt have to work hard. Thus, all these blessings lead to idleness, they had no compassion on those in need, and they became very prideful. And as the saying goes, "Idle hands are the devils workshop!" That is what we see here. All that idle time lead them into all kinds of wickedness and judgment came upon them, the land was destroyed, which remains barren today, it looks like the lunar landscape!
1. Compared to the Southern Kingdom of Judah, Samaria and Sodom looked Good!
1. This is looking into the future, a time or restoration when the nations will be restored, which is ultimately seen in the kingdom age. And it is prior to the kingdom age, during the tribulation period, that they will recognize how wicked, how sinful the children of God were.
1. This is speaking of the surrounding towns and villages being restored.
1. They did pay for their sins with the judgment of God coming upon them.
2. Now we are going to see God temper His judgment with His mercy. We never fully get what we deserve!
1. God is going to restore the nation, not because of their faithfulness, but because of His. Remember the covenant that God made with Abraham in Genesis chapter 15. How Abraham cut the animals in half and the idea was that both parties of the covenant would walk through them, ratifying the covenant. The word "covenant" means "to cut." Now if someone broke the rules of that covenant, it would make it null and void. But this was a serious commitment you were getting into, and it was not broken just like that. But if you remember, when this covenant was sealed, Abraham was asleep, and the glory of God, the Shekinah glory passed through these cut animals, and thus, this was a unilateral covenant based totally on Gods faithfulness, not mans. If you dont understand that, you could come to the wrong conclusion that God has forsaken Israel and has now given all the promises to the church. That is totally wrong. Galatians 3:15-18 points that out. Paul said "Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man's covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it. Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, And to seeds, as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ. And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise."
Also, in Romans 11:25-27 Paul picks up on how the nation of Israel will be restored one day. Paul said "For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins."
2. The same is true when it comes to our salvation. You see, it is based totally upon Gods faithfulness, not mine. If it was up to me to sustain it, I would be in trouble and so would you. All we must do is receive it by faith. Remember what Jesus said in John 10:28, "And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand." Now it does seem very clear, but the Greek is even stronger in making this statement. You see, it is written in the middle voice. Let me explain. If it was in the active voice you would say "I threw the ball." If it was in the passive voice you would say "The ball was thrown to me." And if it is in the middle voice you would say "I threw the ball to myself." You see, God not only gives us salvation, but He sustains it. John 10:28 could be read this way, "And they shall never ever do anything to cause them to perish." God has given to us eternal life, and there is no fear, because perfect love, Gods love towards us, casts out that fear. Our salvation is not dependant upon us, but God, and He is faithful!
1. Gods covenant here probably refers to the Mosaic covenant which they broke.
2. When will the nation recognize Jesus as their Messiah? During the tribulation period. In Zechariah 12:10 we read "And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they have pierced; they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn." And in the New Testament, in Matthew 23:37-39 Jesus says, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!" They will recognize Jesus as Lord and call upon Him and Israel will be saved!
1. Jehoiakim was an evil king in the Southern Kingdom of Judah. And the Babylonians tried to get him to be their vassal king, but after 3 years he rebelled against them. He listened to the false prophets rather than the true prophets of God that were warning judgment was coming, that they were going into captivity. So he was taken out of power and Jehoiachin reigned, but only for 3 months, and then the Babylonians placed Zedekiah as their vassal king.
2. And so, that great eagle is speaking of king Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians. When "He cropped off its topmost young twig..." he is speaking of Jehoiachin. And after him, his short reign of 3 months, the Babylonians placed Zedekiah as a vassal king, and he lasted for 11 years.
1. This second eagle was Egypt. And if you remember, under the reign of Zedekiah, he turned against the Babylonians and made an alliance with Egypt to help her destroy the Babylonians. He forgot or didnt care that God ordained this judgment and thus, he was trying to fight against the will of God. And this plan will not thrive, it will be put down. And that is what did happen, the Babylonians put down the Egyptians and then returned to Judah and destroyed them.
2. God is now going to explain this for us with a little more detail.
1. This was the first eagle, king Nebuchadnezzar. And he came and took Jehoiachin and others to Babylon with him. Nebuchadnezzar was trying to weaken the nation, humble them so they would not cause anymore trouble for him.
1. In the place of Jehoiachin was Zedekiah, a vassal king appointed by the Babylonians. Again, this was done to keep the nation in check, so they would not rebel against Babylon.
1. Zedekiah broke his covenant that he made with Babylon when he sought help from Egypt to defeat Babylon. And so the Babylonians came, put down the Egyptians, and then came and destroyed Judah. And Zedekiah was taken captive to Babylon, where he eventually died there.
1. He tried to go against the will of God, and of course that did not work. God called Nebuchadnezzar "His servant" because he was carrying out the plan of God against His people. And so when Zedekiah broke his covenant with Babylon, he was breaking the covenant with God.
1. You cant escape, you cant fight against the will of God and win. And even if you could, you would still lose because God has what is best for our life.
2. The last 3 verses speak of Jesus and His kingdom.
1. God is saying that He is going to take all the kingdoms of the world and bring them down and Israel will once again be lifted up. And on the mountain the stem of Jesse, the root of David, will be planted and this is speaking of Christ and the establishment of His kingdom. In Daniel chapter 2, Daniel is interpreting a dream that Nebuchadnezzar had which represented all gentile world kingdoms and in verse 44 we read "And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold-- the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure." Daniel 2:44-45. Gods kingdom will be established - THE DREAM IS CERTAIN AND ITS INTERPRETATION IS SURE!