DAILY DISCIPLINE #97
By Colleen Donahue

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Around 623 B.C. a baby-- Ezekiel-- was born in Judah to a family with priestly heritage. He grew up during the bright reformation period of King Josiah and probably had a normal youth until one day in 597 B.C.

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had invaded Judah once and taken people into exile, but now he was back again and this time Ezekiel found himself in the group being forced to Telabib, a town near Babylon. The threat of exile was not a surprise. He had heard warnings of the Prophet Jeremiah probably most of his life. But, now it was all coming true!

Sin had caused the exile. The stench of idolatry and unfaithfulness had reached the nostils of God until He could stand it no longer. Warnings had gone unheeded and there was nothing more to do but allow a measure of punishment so that the people once again would turn back to Him. The exile was set in God's timing to last 70 years. Before the Jews could return to Jerusalem they must return to the Lord.

Unfortunately, captivity hadn't brought the people to repentance. They could not believe Jeremiah's message that they should submit to Babylon, settle down in the land and live. So they fell to the evil influences around them and lost faith in God's promises.

Ezekiel was part of a small remnant that had remained faithful to God and continued so after arriving in Telabib. His name means "God strengthens" -- and he was indeed strong amidst a defeated people.

Five years after being taken to exile, Ezekiel, (now 30 years of age) received a vision from God that would change his life. He had been chosen and was now called to be a prophet to these exiles. He was to be a channel of communication between the people and God.

While false prophets were predicting an early return to Jerusalem, Ezekiel was to speak the truth. Sin had caused the exile and this exile would last for 70 years. The people must repent and turn back to God for God had promised a future restoration of Israel for a believing remnant.

Ezekiel's tone in the book is austere and impressive. The sovereignty and glory of God is a recurring theme expressed in lofty visions, parables, allegories, apocalyptic imagery and various symbolic acts. He is methodical and orderly with a love for what is simple, clear and direct. Much of the book contains direct addresses from the Lord.

In our study of Ezekiel's book it will not be his life that we look at this time but what we learn about God himself, the coming Messiah and the Holy Spirit of God. Ezekiel was like a pipe available for water to flow through. While we appreciate the pipe and its importance , it is the water that matters most to us. Ezekiel was willing to just be a channel and for that we honor him as he now points us to.....

The Book of Ezekiel- Part 1: Revealing God the Father

Note: Because we will look at God's character over these next months, we will be studying passages from the book of Ezekiel in varying order as well as passages throughout the Bible as a whole.

GOD LOVES US

Day 1- God loved the nation of Israel very much and saw them as His treasured possessions.
Exodus 19: 5 / Deuteronomy 7: 7-8 / Jeremiah 31:3

Day 2 -But, His love didn't stop with Israel and the Jewish nation. It is extended to the whole world!
John 10: 16/ Romans 10:12 / I Timothy 2: 3-4

Day 3- As tangible proof of His love, God sent the world His own Son, Jesus Christ, to show that He loves us and wants to be with us.
John 3:16/ I John 4: 9-10

Day 4- And that "whole world" filters down to you and me.
Romans 5:8/ Ephesians 2:4-5

GOD WANTS TO LIVE WITH US

Day 5- The fact that the God of the universe has set His eye of affection upon us is incredible! But, He goes much further than that. He wants to live with us!!
Ezekiel 43: 7-9

Day 6- In Old Testament times (the years before Jesus Christ lived), God lived with his people in the temple and the people came to Him there. But, when God sent the world His Son Jesus, He turned the tables and went to live as a man amongst the people.
Matthew 1:23 / John 1:14

Day 7- For God to dwell as a man among men was like a giant becoming part of an ant colony. It had its limitations.
Philippians 2: 6-7

Jesus Christ came to earth and lived for 33 years. He walked in a limited locality and interacted only with the people in that locality. These were the limitations of His being a man and He knew that. Already, He was thinking of you and I that would live centuries later in another part of the world.

Day 8- So, the plan of God from eternity was set in motion. After Christ's death , God would dwell with man in the form of a Spirit.
I Corinthians 3:16 / 6:19 / 2 Timothy 1: 14b

Day 9- This Spirit called the Holy Spirit would enable every man to have all the fullness of God living within.
John 14: 16-20 / 16: 15 / 17: 22-23, 26 / I John 3: 24

Day 10- The Holy Spirit has no limitations. He transcends time and space and thus enables you and I in this current century whereever we live to have God dwelling-- not just with us- but within us.
John 14: 17 / Galatians 4:6/ I John 14:13

We'll talk more about the Holy Spirit later. For now, let's continue to look at the character of God the Father.....

Although God wants to live within us.....
GOD AND SINFUL MAN CAN'T DWELL TOGETHER!

Day 11- We aren't talking about an occasional mistake or sinless perfection. We are speaking of men and women that willfully reject God and walk in disregard and independence of Him.
Ezekiel 5: 5-8 / 8:17 / 13: 1-8, 18-19 / 14:3 / 20:8, 13,21

Day 12- A society that operates without regard to God and in open defiance of Him will drop to the lowest levels.
Ezekiel 5:10a / 20:30-31a, 32 / 22:6-12

Day 13- The sin of idolatry - the worship of other gods - cut through the heart of God. It meant utter rejection of Him.
Ezekiel 8: 5-17 / 14: 1-5

WE may not worship a statue on a hill , yet WE may be practicing idolatry! In essence idolatry is anything that takes the place of God in our life.
--Who or to what do you turn to first when you need help?
--Who or what takes up most of your thoughts and energy?
--How much of your time is given to God?

These questions may help you to see who or what you place before God.

Day 14- Whatever form idolatry takes , it is forbidden by God.
Exodus 20:4 / Leviticus 26:1 / I John 5:21

Day 15- Why is idolatry so insulting to God?
Deuteronomy 4:28 / Isaiah 45:20 /Jeremiah 10:5 / Acts 17: 29 / Romans 1: 22-23

GOD AS OUR JUDGE NEVER JUDGES WITHOUT WARNING FIRST

God does not want to punish and actually goes to amazing measures to warn us and give us the opportunity to change our ways.

Day 16- God may send us a person that He'll use to warn us.
Ezekiel 3: 16-21

Day 17- Or... He may create an object lesson that will get the point across to us.
Ezekiel 4: 1-8

Day 18- However God communicates with us He will be specific so we will be in no doubt as to our sins.
Ezekiel 13: 1-16

GOD IS LONGSUFFERING

Day 19- It is proof of our Heavenly Father's love for us that He gives us "so much rope". Read this summary of the nation of Israel and count how many times God gave them another chance!
Ezekiel 20: 5-26
Yet--- God WILL NOT be trampled over by man. He WILL exercise judgement!

GOD DOES WHAT HE SAYS

Day 20- God's warnings to us are meant to lead us to repentance -- ie. to turn around 180 degrees and walk the other direction.
Ezekiel 14:6 / 18:21-23

Day 21- But, when over time we disregard His voice and go our own way we can expect God to act.
Ezekiel 21: 1-32 / 22:13.16

GOD KNOWS EVERY MAN AND JUDGES ONE BY ONE

Day 22- Although a whole society may seem to be walking without regard to God, God does not judge people in a big group. He looks at each heart and holds us individually accountable.
Ezekiel 18: 4-20 / 26-28

Day 23- Throughout history, the Bible has repeatedly mentioned a "remnant". These are the few that have remained faithful to God when most of society has not. Or, they are the ones that God has spared because He knows they will turn back to Him.
Ezekiel 6: 8-10 / 9:4-6 / 12:16

Day 24- The fact that there is a remnant shows that God knows every man and judges one by one.
Ezekiel 14: 12-20

GOD PUNISHES SO HE CAN RESTORE

Day 25- God has no pleasure in our pain and punishment. He allows it so that we can be restored to life in Him. Restoration begins with our repentance.
Ezekiel 18: 30-32 / 14: 6,11 / Ezekiel 33:10-11

Day 26- The forgiveness and commitment of God should melt our heart so that we would be ashamed of our sins.
Ezekiel 16: 62-63

Day 27- Restoration means that our relationship with God is renewed. With the Israelites, God went beyond this by also giving them back their land and their dignity amongst their neighbors.
Ezekiel 28: 25-26 / 36:8-15 / 39:25-29

Our restoration is living proof that....

GOD IS NOT ONLY A GOD OF LOVE BUT OF MERCY...

Day 28- From the beginning of our life, God is watching over us. This allegory compares Israel to a baby and then a young woman. When we are most helpless, insecure and afraid, God comes when no one else does.
Ezekiel 16: 1-14

Day 29- Sin and Self kill our relationship with God and our spirit dies. We may look alive physically but if our spirit is cut off from God we are dead just the same. When we are as dead and brittle as dry bones it is only God that is able to restore us to Himself.
Ezekiel 37: 1-14

Day 30- God does not just clean up our old sinful life but He gives us a new life in Himself.
Ezekiel 11: 19-20 / Ephesians 2: 4-9

Day 31- God wants more than a relationship with us. He wants to live in us.
Ezekiel 37: 26-27 / Exodus 25:8 / 29:45-46

Such mercy and love is incomprehensible to us, yet real. We may not understand it but we can accept it.

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