p1040005

To me, Ezekiel is one of the strangest books in the Bible. The only one stranger is Revelation. When I use the word “strange,” I do not mean that in a negative way at all. It’s just that when I read these two books, my response is, “Wow. What? Really!?”

For many years, one of the Christian jokes about not-clued-in preaching was about a pastor who addressed Ezekiel’s vision the wheel within the wheel in his message. It was supposed to be funny because no one really knew what in the world that vision was all about.

And I still do not know.

I welcome your insights.

However, my recent study of Ezekiel has been very interesting. Ezekiel prophesied to Jews who had been taken captive to Babylonia. He spoke of being near the Chebar, a canal in that country, which may now be called Shatt en-Nil.

His message was not a happy one. Ezekiel was what some people today might call a Johnny Raincloud.

His message was not a happy one because he foretold the destruction of Jerusalem. Jerusalem was not supposed to be destroyed. It was God’s holy city. Nevertheless, the Lord told Ezekiel to pantomime an upcoming attack by drawing a map of that city and then build a siege works against it.

“And you, son of man, take a brick and lay it before you, and engrave on it a city, even Jerusalem. And put siege works against it, and build a siege wall against it, and cast up a mound against it. Set camps also against it, and plant battering rams against it all around. And you, take an iron griddle, and place it as an iron wall between you and the city; and set your face toward it, and let it be in a state of siege, and press the siege against it. This is a sign for the house of Israel. Then lie on your left side, and place the punishment of the house of Israel upon it. For the number of the days that you lie on it, you shall bear their punishment” (Ezekiel 4:1–4).1

The deported Jews thought, of course, that the siege-to-come would be done by the Assyrians. However, to their despair, that was not the case. The one who was besieging Jerusalem would be the Lord Himself. If you read Ezekiel, you will discover why the Lord was doing this. Some very hideous, nasty acts were occurring there, even within the temple itself. When the Lord told Ezekiel to place an iron griddle between himself and the city, He was notifying Israel/Judah that the Lord, represented by Ezekiel, was separating Himself from the city of God. In addition, Ezekiel was to set his face toward the city. This represented the Lord’s firm resolve to complete His will.

What does all of this mean for Christians today?

A movement is afoot preaching that Christians are to set up the kingdom of God on earth. We are to “declare dominion” and take control (not violently) of the earthly powers of government, business, and media. Christians are told to buy banks, hotels, and restaurants. There is a great revival coming, Pentecostal/Charismatic prophets proclaim.

I want to tell you that my desire is to stay as far away from this movement as possible. Why? The reasons are numerous, but the primary reason is that it is clear to me that the New Testament instructs Christians to “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:5–7).

This is the way we are to think, to “have this mind among” ourselves. In Jesus, I see God Incarnate who laid down His life for His Father and for the sake of others. He did not grasp at any earthly power at all. Thus, I see this kingdom-now, dominionism movement to be 180 degrees from the will of God.

When the time comes for judgment to begin at the house of God—and it may have already started, to my great distress—many Christians will consider it an attack from Satan. Or perhaps not recognize it all because bad things will be happening to Christians who somehow deserve it. However, it will in truth be the Lord Himself at work, just as He was when He orchestrated the destruction of Jerusalem.

However, let us take heart.

Look again at Ezekiel 4:4: “Then lie on your left side, and place the punishment of the house of Israel upon it. For the number of the days that you lie on it, you shall bear their punishment.”

Remember that Ezekiel represents the Lord in this act. The Lord will bear the punishment of the house of Israel. This He did in Jesus. He has done the same for His people, the Church. He forgives us. He knows how sinful and clueless we are. That is why He absorbed the full measure of our sin when He died on the cross. He was punished. We are set free. We are now to walk with Him in humility and love.

However, some lessons are very hard to learn.

The difficult time ahead will, if the Church listens and obeys, bring it to repentance and intimacy with and knowledge of the Father and His Son, Jesus.

This has been God’s titanic goal from the beginning.

And still is.

1All Scriptures quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Advertisements