October 30, 2022

Ezekiel: Destruction, Holiness and Eternal Hope

Speaker: David Jordan Series: Journey Through the Bible Scripture: Ezekiel 1:1– 48:35

Download the Ezekiel Bible Journal Outline

Open your Bibles, if you would, to the book of Ezekiel. Give you a minute to find that, it's probably not high on your daily reading list. As we get started here. It's so good to be back. Last week I was out, I was able to go to a conference. It was just a wonderful time of spending time with some friends from seminary, guys that I met in the doctorate program. Just, it was just a wonderful time. A guy who's discipled me for many years. I think I wore him out, he was there. He's been preaching for about 30 years. His name is Jack Hughes. If you want to hear a fiery exposition of God's word, just pull up any sermon ever by him. Also got to spend time with Darrell Harrison and Virgil Walker from the Just Thinking podcast. If you haven't heard of them, you can look them up. They are engaging. They're more apologists, engaging cultural issues. It was just a fun time. But I love being back here with you guys. This is my happy place. I love being with my family. And looking forward to preaching this morning to you.

If you have your Bible outline journal, this will help you a little bit this morning. You'll see an overview there in the middle. That will help you figure out where we're at as I go through preaching this amazing, amazing book. The first 24 chapters of Ezekiel are before the Siege.” 25 to 32, are during, and the rest are after. So that'll kind of help you stay engaged. Ezekiel is about the punishment of the Jewish people. It is about the magnitude of God's holiness. And it is about eternal hope in God. You may have heard of these fables, Aesop's Fables, written by a slave in Ancient Greece, alive approximately the same time as the prophet Jeremiah in Jerusalem, and also Ezekiel as he was in Babylon. You know, many of these fables, The Tortoise and the Hare is one of those, the Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs. One you may not know though, is the Fox and the Grapes. See, the fox was hungry. And he came along to this vineyard, and he was trying to jump up and, and get these grapes. And no matter how hard he tried, he just couldn't reach the grapes and his hunger was not satisfied. So, he turned and left and said, “Ah, the grapes are probably sour anyway.” Yes, that's where we get sour grapes from.

Sometimes I think though, that we think, in a sense, the same about the Christian life. We try it for a time, we may even look into a little bit, give it a little bit of effort. And then when it's just too difficult, we say, “Ah, it's not really worth it anyway, it's probably not as good as I thought it was.” So, some people leave it behind. The problem though, is that God has called us to pursue him our entire lives. Every breath you take this morning is sustained by the Father. But when we stop pursuing him, it affects us. Worship is affected immediately. Our usefulness for God is thwarted. God's image in US becomes obscure. Our witness becomes dark. Our purpose even comes into question. And if we remain in this stagnant position, God's judgment may even come upon us on this earth. The Israelites learned this the hard way. They decided God's way was not the best way. And they pursued their own desires. As you know. They pursued their own desires continually. It was like they are on this Carnival Cruise, except they are about to dock at the Port of Judgment for 70 years.

So how do we respond when the grapes are out of reach? Is God still worth serving when life becomes sour? Let me bring you up to speed for the book of Ezekiel to kind of set it in its place in the Old Testament. I've been preaching through the Old Testament book by book, one sermon and one book all in one shot. So, we've seen the creation of the world. We've seen the covenants come forward through Moses at Sinai, the Abrahamic covenant. We've seen the Davidic Covenant out of Second Samuel seven. We've seen God over and over again, try and woo his people back to himself, through his steadfast love. He has laid out his law clearly before them. And when he turns his back for just a little bit, when he's speaking to Moses upon the mountain, you know, just for 40 days, they turn and make a golden calf. They are constantly deviating from God's plan.

Time and again, though God has rescued them, defeated their enemies, brought them into a land that they didn't cultivate, given them homes, they didn't build, given them all kinds of things, a land that is so fertile, it's called flowing with milk and honey. They wanted a king so God raised up a king for them. He raised up Saul. And then Saul didn't work out. And then he raised up David, and David’s hands were so full of blood that he didn't allow David to build the temple. And then his son comes along, and he's got so much gold, they're actually putting the gold on the floor. Not a bad gig, right? But you know what happens with Solomon. After him the kingdom is divided into the Northern 10 Tribes, which we call Israel. And then the Southern two Tribes, Judah and Benjamin are left, and we call those Judah.

But even though they wanted their own lives and wanted to be served by mortal men, God kept pursuing them. And that is the testimony that is replete throughout all of Scripture. He sent prophet after prophet to guide and warn the people. That's where Ezekiel comes in. We have come to the last couple 100 years before the silent years about 400 BC, are the silent years from there all the way until the birth of Christ, approximately. These are silent years where there's no Scripture. We're coming upon that time. And what we have is Assyria has come and they’re the world power. In about 722 BC they have attacked and ransacked and conquered the Northern 10 Tribes. So, all around Galilee and the surrounding areas, they are gone. All that's left is Judah. In Jerusalem, we have the prophet Jeremiah, and that's what we recently covered. And the people though are beginning to be conquered by Babylon. Babylon conquered Assyria, Babylon is taking over. Egypt tries to take over and Babylon crushes them too at Carchemish. You can read about that.

And so now what do we have? We have the last holdout. Will they finally follow God? And of course, unfortunately, in the books of Jeremiah and Lamentations, and Ezekiel, you know, the answer to that is, “no.” They do not pursue God. So, we have Jeremiah in Jerusalem, but who's going to speak to the people when they're deported to Babylon? You know, across the desert, 700 miles if you just walk straight across. Or well over 1,000 if you go around to the north. And the south would be even further. Who's going to speak to them? Well, God is a loving God. God is a just God. God's love is steadfast. It outlasts our hardheadedness. It out last our disobedience, to his praise. And so, he raises up a prophet to even be with the exiles in Babylon while they're rejecting God. His name is Ezekiel.

Ezekiel, though, needed to know one thing: Is God worth serving, no matter what? Ezekiel was a priest, and he was familiar with the ways of the temple and the sacrifices and yet God calls him to be a prophet. Look in Ezekiel 1:1, I'll be reading out of the ESV, “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.” These are real visions of God. The thirtieth year there, refers to his age. It wasn't the thirtieth year of humanity, or a king's reign. This is how old he was. He was in his thirtieth year, that was the year when you could officially become a priest and serve in the temple.

God here calls this man directly. Look in verse three [Ezekiel 1:3], “the word of Yahweh,” that's the L-O-R-D there, “the word of Yahweh came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the Chebar canal, and the hand of Yahweh was upon him there.” I don't know if you've read through the book of Ezekiel or not. But some of the most fascinating visions of God in all of Scripture, I would say unparalleled in all of Scripture, are recorded in this book. Even though Ezekiel is only mentioned twice. And he's mentioned nowhere else, in any other book, of the Old or New Testaments.

Some of the most amazing visions are in this book. And there's a reason why he needed this fascinating vision. You see, Ezekiel was going to be called to speak to a rebellious people, people who had already determined they were going to rebel against God. Do you perhaps know anyone like that? Do you have any friends who are against God, have set themselves against God. Maybe you've come into a situation where you're trying to share the truth with people who are against the Lord. Or people who are apathetic to it, or people who are indifferent to the Word and God and his glory. And people who just want to pursue their own delights no matter what. Well, Ezekiel is a beautiful example of how to follow God in the midst of these great trials.

See, their hearts had grown cold. They were completely calloused at this point. Though, God showed himself to them, did miracles to them. All the things that common people asked for, even in our day and age, “God, just show me. Show me Lord God, yourself.” God did that. “God, just demonstrate your power.” God did that. “God, just tell me how to live.” He did that. “Give me someone to follow.” He did that. Over and over again, God gave them everything that they would need to be his people and to be a light. But their hearts were solid as granite. They rejected God generation after generation after generation. Ezekiel 3:7 says this, God is still speaking to Ezekiel, and he says, “But the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to me: because all the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart.”

I mean, let's just be honest, we can relate to that some days. Right? We have a hard forehead and people just kind of look at us. You know, like, it's one of those days, you know, just keep your distance. And we become stubborn and more stubborn. And so, we can relate to that. But they were set in staying that way. They were undeterred. God's mercy would not move them. God's grace was not enough in their mind. His love was insufficient. His plan was inadequate, and they wanted to develop their own life. And they did and now was a time of reckoning.

For you and I to be called like this of God, in our own day and age, to be sent forth to proclaim his Word, would be like some rich, white, middle-aged man being sent to rebuke a woke rally at CNN headquarters or something. It would just not go well. And that's how it went for Ezekiel, the whole time. But see, there's this idea that no matter what other people say, we are here for Christ. And friends, what I want to get forward and bring to your account this morning, it's the same thing that Ezekiel needed. Because we're so bombarded with other people's sin. We're bombarded with our own sin from inside of us, in our own homes. The students are bombarded with all these kinds of ideologies that lead people away. That dismiss the idea of forgiveness. And what we need is a grand vision of God, himself. You see, because if we have an understanding of who God is, it will be so great that it will diminish all of life's problems. Not that they will go away. Not that they won't be painful. But you will be resolute to follow God with your life, no matter what. That is where we need to get to today. And that is where Ezekiel needed to be for the mission that God called him to.

Look in Ezekiel 1:4, as I read this amazing display of God's glory before his eyes [Ezekiel 1:4-10]:

“As I looked, behold, a stormy wind came out of the north, and a great cloud, with brightness around it, and fire flashing forth continually, and in the midst of the fire, as it were gleaming metal. And from the midst of it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had a human likeness, but each had four faces, and each of them had four wings. Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the sole of a calf’s foot. And they sparkled like burnished bronze. Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. And the four had their faces and their wings thus: their wings touched one another. Each one of them went straight forward, without turning as they went. As for the likeness of their faces, each had a human face. The four had the face of a lion on the right side, the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and the four had the face of an eagle.”

This is not just the picture of a glowing human. This is way beyond what they had ever heard described before. There were constant flashes of fire from the midst of this vision. And it would be like, I don't know if you've ever been in one of those domes where the video is all around you, it encompasses you. This vision would be like you're standing in the middle of this, watching it for real, not at a distance, but like you're participating in this. And in the middle of all these things is shining metal like a jewel. Creatures with multiple wings and multiple heads: a human head, a lion, ox, and eagle faces. The creatures glowed like coals of fire. And out from those creatures came flashes of lightning. This is not just your everyday story.

Each of them had a wheel within a wheel. And verse 14 says they moved as fast as lightning, defying physics. They didn't have to bank around a corner. It's like they just moved every direction, wherever they wanted to go. And each of them in this wheel within a wheel. They were full of eyes all around these wheels. And the artist for our journal, he's just trying to attempt something of what these creatures might have looked like, just some representation. And where the creatures went, verse 20, says, the wheels went. Now get this, “for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.” Not in the creatures, their spirit was in the wheels beside them.

See, I think we have this idea that we can put God in this little box and some people put God in a little box and shove the box over in the corner. And other people say, “Well, God is, he’s this great God, but you know, he's just kind of there, and I can talk to him and pray to him. And he's just kind of this benign thing.” Does this sound benign?

Verse 22, Ezekiel 1:22, “Over the heads of the living creatures,” as if that wasn't enough, “there was the likeness of an expanse, shining with awe-inspiring crystal, spread out above their heads.” Verse 26 [Ezekiel 1:26-28], “And above the expanse over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance. And upward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were gleaming metal, like the appearance of fire enclosed all around. And downward from what had the appearance of his waste I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness all around him. Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around.” Now listen to this, “Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of Yahweh...” If you have ever wondered, what the throne of God looks like, when it is displayed to human eyes? It's right here. You can study that in this passage. “… And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.”

You see, Ezekiel needed to understand his place before God. And I think sometimes we just think, “God is God and I'll meet him one day, and that'll just be great. But I mean, I can't really know what he's like, I can't really understand him. And I mean, there's not really much to know.” There is so much to know about God in his Word. There is such a grand vision of God to be found in his Word. And I think the complacency that Christians have today, many times come from an inadequate view of God. It's not like this is what we think of. Did you think of this the last time you prayed to God? Like all of these things going on? I know I didn't, until I started studying this again. We need to grow in ourselves, in our understanding of God, and not be so satisfied with just peace. See, he got to see God's glory. And he got to see God's throne. There's so many times in life that if we would just have an accurate knowledge of God, life's problems would seem insignificant.

I remember a time when I was down visiting family in Tampa, Florida. And I was out on a wave runner with my cousin. And he was, you know, from Florida. So he was used to all that, and I wanted to see how fast that Wave Runner could go on calm water. And it goes pretty fast. And as I flipped off of that thing, and did one of those tumble, you know, and splashing everywhere. And I don't know where my hands and legs were going. But eventually I kind of figured out where I was. And I was freaking out a little bit because, as you may know, Tampa is a breeding ground for sharks. And I don't like to be eaten by a shark. I mean, maybe you know, but I don't like sharks. I don't like to see them in the water. I like to watch them on videos. I don't like to be in the water with them. And so all I could think of when I hit the water was, “I gotta get out of the water.” Except the wave runner was over there and I was way over there. And then I felt something under my feet. Yeah, I had to summon every ounce of, you know, courage. That was gone. And so, I was like, “Where is my cousin?” His name is Chris. He's years younger and dying laughing at this point. He's slowly coming over to get me and I'm like, “Something's under the water, something touched me.” You know what I'm thinking? It's Jaws, of course. It's going to eat me and the wave runner. And he just said, “Dave, put your feet down.” And I was like, “What? No, there's something…” And he said, “Put your feet down.” And I put my foot down. I was like, “Oh, that's the ocean floor.” Right? So, I stood up… in the four feet of water.

You see, sometimes reality is not as bad as we think, when you know God. He's just simply asking you, “Look, just stand on your two feet. I've got this.” Well, Ezekiel, needed to have an amazing understanding of God so that he could hear the Word and preach the Word to the people, unequivocally and without failure. And this is all just chapter one.

Chapter two is where he gets his orders. Look in chapter two, verse one. And remember all this lightning is going on, the fires going on, like gleaming metal is going on. This isn't like a calm, you know, over coffee kind of discussion. God's voice must have been significant to get his attention, Ezekiel 2:1, “And he said to me, ‘Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak with you.’” In this terrifying vision, would you stand up. And verse two, which is pretty interesting, [Ezekiel 2:2-3] “And as he spoke to me, the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and I heard him speaking to me. And he said to me, ‘Son of man, I send you to the people of Israel, to nations of rebels, who have rebelled against me. They and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day.”

He's physically being stood on his feet, by the Holy Spirit. He's not going to do anything on his own. I mean, even just to stand up, he could have done that. He's probably shaking and trembling. And so, the Holy Spirit stands him up and raises him on his feet, to see and to hear from this great vision, the words of God. Verse five [Ezekiel 2:5], God says, “And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that a prophet has been among them.” God in his love, in their rebellion, still sent someone to speak to them. This is the greatest punishment poured out on the people of God in all of history, and God is still sending them prophets in the midst of it. How loving is God? Verse six, do not be afraid of them. Whether they listen or not, speak my words, verse seven. Speak my words. History is replete with preachers who must make a decision, will they speak God's word, or be punished? Societies have had to decide, as a society, will we stand for God and endure the rejection of society? Or are we going to speak his Words? Are we going to stand or not?

In 1662, in England, you can read about one such event that actually lasted multiple years, maybe even a decade or more. This was called, “The Great Ejection.” This is where we get the term nonconformists from. It was used of about 2,000 pastors in England, who were called to conform to the religious rules and regulations set forward upon them by the King of England. Now at that time, it was a religious society. So be careful when you exert all of your energy in life to bring about a religious society because that's what they had. That's what the Israelites had as well. And they rejected the perfect society God had established. And here, the King of England, kind of overstepped his bounds, you could say. What he did was he thought, “I'm going to bring all of these people under religious rule in the exact way that I want, because that will benefit me the most.” So, he had this state sanctioned, “Book of Common Prayer.”

Now, you may have read some of the Book of Common Prayer, and there are good things in it. But these ministers had to read specific prayers out of there on specific days, or they would be banished from their pulpits. They also had a specific liturgy given to them, that is, a specific way that they would carry out the traditions of the church. We do not get to pick if there are two songs and announcements and two songs and a sermon. No, you must follow exactly what we tell you, when we tell you, or you will be in defiance of the king. You will also have to re-ordain anyone that doesn't follow these standards, which are brand new, that we are giving you today. You see, what the king really wanted to do was to get rid of those who preach the unadulterated truth of the Word of God. This was a direct assault on those that would be called, “the Puritans.” They were a godly people. They wanted to serve God without the oversight of the government on them. They did see this coming. But they didn't know to what extent it would have to change their lives. Great preachers like Thomas Brooks, Richard Baxter, Thomas Manton. If you want to know how to systematically deliver a sermon, read any of Thomas Manton’s sermons. They all had to decide if they would conform, or immediately lose their job, never to return, and never to have a parish or a church under their control again. So, in 1662, thousands of them decided, “We will not conform.” It was an amazing point in history. One that has established the thrust of churches and how we do church, even today.

It has come to our minds as we think back through the last few years. Where we had to determine, are we going to let not only the government decide if we can meet but when. And when we're here, how we will carry out what is described in Scripture for us. Of course, we could do what they asked us to do and kind of sing with muffled masks on. But is there a point at which the government is allowed to tell us how to worship God and in what ways? No, there is not. And no matter how many times we got reported, we were very kind in our responses. We simply said that we must obey God, rather than man. For we serve the living God.

Dear Christian, we must be resolved, determined, in our courage to follow God. Never in my lifetime did I think we would ever have the things that we've had over the last few years. And if we think that's the worst, I think we're fooling ourselves. That is not the worst. I think that's just a prelude. No one willingly gives up power they have gotten which controls the whole world. Are you going to be someone who knows the Word of God so well, that you know exactly where someone is overreaching their bounds and telling you how to worship? Are you going to know God himself so well, that you know exactly how you're called to pray to him, to sing to him, to worship him, to have communion? We do everything we can, as far as it depends on us, to live at peace with all men, and to follow the rules that are given to us. But listen, a political society that is governed by religious views is not perfect. That's exactly what they had in England in the 1600s. That's exactly what the Israelites had, with God as their leader. See, it's about the heart. Is your heart submissive to God?

Ezekiel had to have a heart that was 100% submissive to God, or he would not survive. At the end of this vision, look in Ezekiel 3:12, then he heard behind him the sound of a great earthquake, “Blessed be the glory of Yahweh from its place!” And then the Spirit carries him from where he is to the exiles in Babylon. He was probably already over in Babylon, having been deported already, to the Chebar canal, and sets him down with them. It's this miraculous, boom, here's Ezekiel, and he stays there seven days. And the last thing he heard among the exiles was, “blessed to be the glory of Yahweh.” Verses 14 and 15 of chapter three says that he [Ezekiel 3:15], “sat there overwhelmed among them seven days.” He would never forget what had happened to him.

Let me expand the setting for you a little bit more just to kind of help you understand where we're at. Ezekiel and his wife, according to Second Kings, chapter 24, had been deported already to Babylon. So, Ezekiel was married. And he was deported with his wife, and about 10,000 other people, across the desert, to Babylon. And that's where he lives, the city of Jerusalem would be completely destroyed in 586 BC. This was after enduring about a 20-year attack, and a two year siege, where they would surround the city and basically starve it to death. And what that looked like is recorded in the book of Jeremiah. He and his wife lived in their own house, and they were confined to the house. They weren't allowed to leave for a period of time. And so, people actually had to come to him to hear his word, for a time.

And then, after many years – somewhere around six to eight years of doing this, of preaching to this rebellious people – someone escapes from Jerusalem. And they bring word to Ezekiel of what is happening, turn to chapter 33, if you would, Ezekiel 33. The chapters leading up to this are basically you're bad, you're bad, you're bad. So that's a summary of all of those chapters, and all the nations around them, you're bad, you're bad, you're bad, and you're judged. That's the summary of chapters 1 through 32. There are some chapters in there that if you read out loud, you will blush at the graveness of their sin. So, we have read some of that in the past. I think you can see that on your own. Everything in the book of Ezekiel is chronological, except this chapter, it's a flashback. Ezekiel 33:21, look there if you would with me, please. “In the twelfth year of our exile,” so he's been there 12 years – not 6 to 8 –12 years, “in the 10th month, on the fifth day of the month, a fugitive from Jerusalem came to me and said, ‘The city has been struck down.’”

I think people overseas in the current war with Russia and Ukraine would understand the gravity of such a statement. You and I, you know, the biggest thing that happens to us is maybe our car breaks down or somebody goes in the hospital, that can be devastating. Or we lose our job, that can be devastating. But the people at this point, they are still rejecting his Word. They're rejecting his prophet, Ezekiel, and they're living however they want. And they know that, they know that. Have you ever been in the place where you want to do good, but you still keep doing bad? That's the Israelites. They have cried out to God and he says, “I will not hear you.” He has completely rejected them for a time. They were without hope. They were dead spiritually. They were dead morally. They needed a Savior. And they needed to have a complete revitalization. It's almost like they were a bunch of just dead bones lying around. You know what chapter we're going to next, turn to chapter 37.

This is the Valley of Dry Bones. Because instead of reading to you 32 chapters of, “your bad,” I think we need to set our hope on what is to come. And if you've ever felt like there is absolutely no way forward, like I have zero understanding of how to move forward at all. I know God wants me to live for him, but I fail. I know God wants me to glorify him, but I'm horrible at it. I know he wants me to read, and pray, and have this wonderful relationship with him. But I just feel spiritually dead. That's chapter 37.

Ezekiel 37:1, “The hand of Yahweh was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of Yahweh and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones.” Picture yourself there, in this broad valley, just full of dry bones. Skulls everywhere, just all crumbled together. And there you are right in the middle of all of them. They are around your feet, they are nearby, maybe you're even walking on them, there's so many of them. And as he shows him this, God asks him, if they can live. Can these live? God is asking us to consider things that are impossible to understand that God doesn't play by the same rules you and I do.

God told Ezekiel, to tell the bones to hear the word of the Lord. Ezekiel 37:4, tell the bones to hear the Word of the LORD. Do we have latitude in our relationship to God for him to speak to us in ways that seem to defy what we know as reality. Because he did that time and again. And before you know it, there is flesh coming back on these bones. The sinews are appearing. The skin is coming over them. Ezekiel 37:10-14, “So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army. Then he said to me, ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD, Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you…” Where? Where does it say in verse 14? “… in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD.”

This is amazing. “You are so wicked, you are under the full weight – those of you that have not been killed – you're under the full weight of my judgment. I'm going to bring you home. I'm going to put you back in your land. I'm going to protect you and love you and take care of you. And this is not anything you are going to do. I am going to do this to you.” God promised the people good. He promised that the two nations in verse 22, Israel and Judah, would become one again. He promised that they would dwell in the land. This is not some metaphorical, allegorical, type of understanding. He says, “on the mountains of Israel,” Ezekiel 37:22. God even promised, listen to this, God promised to save them from backsliding, in verse 23.

You know, when you feel like you're sinning more than moving forward. When you feel like you're just indulging in sin, whether it's outright sin, or whether it's sins of the mind and the heart. And it's not only just that he's going to bring them back and collect them from where they were. Look in Ezekiel 37:24, “My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall have one shepherd.” This is approximately around 580 to 570/560 BC, somewhere in there. David had been dead 400 years, King David. Who is “my servant David”? Well, from David was promised the Messiah, right, Second Samuel seven. Promised to have a king who would reign forever. You see, God is not just saying here, that I'm going to stick you back in your land and put a king over you. They already had that, they rejected that. This is taking it to another level. “I'm going to give you one shepherd, and I'm going to unite all of the tribes of Israel, the two shall become one.” That is the Northern 10, which they called Israel, and the Southern 2, “I’m going to unite them.” The Messiah will be king over them. You can correlate this with chapter 34, as well, the same language is used.

[Ezekiel 37:24] “… They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes.” “We're going to listen to you? How is this going to happen?” [Ezekiel 37:25-28] “They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your father's lived…” Very specific. “…They and their children and their children's children shall dwell there forever, and David my servant shall be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Then the nations will know that I am Yahweh who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.” This is the best news they could have ever, ever heard.

“God's going to restore us completely, to the land. And he's going to dwell with us, and we're going to be obedient, and we're going to have a great relationship with God, then there's going to be this covenant of peace that he makes with us. And it's going to be one shepherd, you know, this Great Shepherd, the Messiah, who's going to come.” [Ezekiel 27:28] And all the nations will know that God is Yahweh, “when my sanctuary is in their midst…”

See, you can't read Ezekiel and then in the New Testament think the Church has replaced Israel. Now if that's a foreign concept to you, anyway, good, it should be. But if it's not, Ezekiel is one of the books you have to wrestle with verse after verse after verse. That God still has promises that need to be fulfilled to ethnic Israel, to those people, that are not fulfilled in the Church. The New Testament says that they have been set aside for a time and the Gentiles have been grafted in, until the fullness of them has come in, and then all Israel will be saved. What does that look like? It looks like that, in Ezekiel, “my servant David,” when you see this as a reference to Christ. And it can't be the literal King David because he's dead. In our study this morning in Grace Equip, we learned, how do you know if it's literal or not? Well, he's dead, so you have to look for another meaning, right? Unless he's raised from the dead, and then he has to be the prince forevermore, which would usurp Jesus Christ. So, the Great Shepherd who rules over them all is Jesus Christ.

Let me ask you. Have you rejected Jesus Christ? I mean, most of us are believers in here. Not all, but most. How have we set God aside? How have we said, “You know, God, this much and no further.” You see, God wants all of you. He wants to know you and to love you in this deep and grand way. And to have a communion with you through prayer and through observing the elements that we do with communion. And then have this fellowship of people, who the greatest thing we have in common is Jesus Christ. How have you set that God aside? Because I think your life is going to be so much better, if you take God for who he is. If you understand that God is there to show you the pure and the right way. That you can't come up with a better life than God could craft for you. I really don't know anyone, and I think I can say this just fully and honestly, who's rejected Christ, who's not engrossed in daily sin. They reject Christ, Scripture says, because they love their sin. They love everything about whatever proclivities they like to have. And whatever desires they like to have, whatever desires they like to think of, whether it's, you know, things they shouldn't be looking at on the internet, or relationships they shouldn't have, or you name it. Pursuing wealth, whatever it is: power, money, fame, peace at home, there's, you know, the reasons to reject God are endless. But it's never rejecting God because God is so loving, or rejecting God because he's so merciful.

Well, the greatest thing about this vision that Ezekiel sees, is God's glory is going to one day return to the temple, and never leave. Earlier in chapter 10, we didn't look there, Ezekiel has this vision of the glory of God departing from the temple. And the cherubim are set in front of the east gate so that no one can return. Chapter 43, God's glory returns. Look there with me, if you would. This is yet future. There's nothing like this that has ever happened in their history. Ezekiel 43:1-3, “Then he led me to the gate, the gate facing east. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east. And the sound of his coming was like the sound of many waters, and the earth shone with his glory. And the vision I saw was just like the vision that I had seen when he came to destroy the city, and just like the vision that I had seen by the Chebar canal. And I fell on my face.” The lightning, the fire, the burning coals, these creatures, that move as fast as lightning. All this, returning with the glory of God as he comes to fill his temple, which we have already read about in Chapter 37.

Verse four [Ezekiel 43:4], “As the glory of Yahweh entered the temple by the gate facing east, the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the temple.” The creatures, the glowing wheels covered with eyes, the wings, the lightning, the glowing jewels and the throne. Ezekiel 43:4, says it was just like that. In verse seven [Ezekiel 43:7], “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 of Israel 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.”

Christian, there will come a day, when all is set right. No one can stop the return of God, and his glory returning. Ezekiel 43:10 says all of these things: the temple, and all of the descriptions of the temple and the holy place, and the Holy City, we're all written so that they may be ashamed of their sins, to see the difference between themselves and God. Only through that once-for-all sacrifice, friends, can we have any kind of a relationship with a God as holy as this. This is what awaits. I want to ask you, is your view of God big enough? Is it capable? Is it capable to guide you each and every day, in the small things and the big things, no matter what.

I pray that we may set our hearts to know and to serve God for his glory, all our days. And that he may give us a huge, big, accurate vision of himself. Let's pray.

Father God, we love you and pray that you would show us yourself. Reveal yourself to us in your Word. Lord, all we need to do is read your Word. I pray that by the Holy Spirit, you would give us understanding, to contemplate who you are. To not love our sin more than you. To not reject you for things that are so fleeting, for pleasures that don't last. For a life that is anemic, at best.

Lord God, I pray that you would give us the courage to know you and to pursue you with all abandon. For those here who don't know you, Lord God, I pray that you would convict them of their sin. That they may turn and repent of their sin and turn to you. Lord, that you may save them and change them, even right now.

If that's you, I just asked you to just cry out to God and ask for forgiveness of your sins. That God, himself, may save you.

Lord, I pray for the Christians who are complacent. That you would peel us up off of our couch and help us to get on our knees, Lord. Father, you are so loving and so kind to us.

Let’s just take a moment and pray to God and ask him to show himself to us through his Word.

Lord, I thank you that you are merciful. You meet us where we're at and give us the truth that we need to love you. Father, be with us today as we go about our days. Help us, Lord God, to live for you, even right now. In your Holy Name, Amen.