Samaria’s shame

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Samaria’s shame

Ezekiel 23:1-10 (JDV)

Ezekiel 23:1 The word of Yahveh happened to me again. This is what it said:
Ezekiel 23:2 “Son of Adam, there were two women, daughters of the same mother,
Ezekiel 23:3 who acted like prostitutes in Egypt, behaving promiscuously in their youth. Their breasts were fondled there, and their virgin nipples caressed.
Ezekiel 23:4 The older one was named Oholah, and her sister was Oholibah. They became mine and gave birth to sons and daughters. As for their names, Oholah represents Samaria and Oholibah represents Jerusalem.
Ezekiel 23:5 “Oholah committed fornication even though she was mine. She lusted after her lovers, the Assyrians: warriors
Ezekiel 23:6 dressed in blue, rulers and governors, all of them desirable young men, horsemen riding on steeds.
Ezekiel 23:7 She offered her sexual favors to them; all of them were the best of Assyria. She defiled herself with all those she lusted after and with all their idols.
Ezekiel 23:8 She didn’t give up her obscenity that began in Egypt, when men slept with her in her youth, caressed her virgin nipples, and poured out their lust on her.
Ezekiel 23:9 Therefore, I handed her over to her lovers, the Assyrians she lusted for.
Ezekiel 23:10 They exposed her nakedness, seized her sons and daughters, and killed her with the sword. Since they enacted judgment against her, she became notorious among women.

Samaria’s shame

This is another one of those PG passages in Scripture. Samaria had lusted after the young studs of Assyria. She had allowed herself to be used until that was all she was.

LORD, may our desire be for you and your word. Purge from us the lust for other things.

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repairman search

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repairman search

Ezekiel 22:23-31 (JDV)

Ezekiel 22:23 The word of Yahveh happened to me. This is what it said:
Ezekiel 22:24 “Son of Adam, say to her, ‘You are a land that has not been cleansed, that has not received rain in the day of curse.’
Ezekiel 22:25 The conspiracy of her prophets within her is like a roaring lion tearing its prey: they devour throats, seize wealth and valuables, and multiply the widows within her.
Ezekiel 22:26 Her priests do violence to my instruction and profane my devoted things. They make no distinction between the devoted and the common, and they do not explain the difference between the clean and the unclean. They close their eyes to my Sabbaths, and I am polluted among them.
Ezekiel 22:27 “Her officials within her are like wolves tearing their prey, shedding blood, and destroying throats in order to make profit dishonestly.
Ezekiel 22:28 Her prophets plaster for them with whitewash by seeing false visions and lying lots, saying, ‘This is what the Lord Yahveh says,’ when Yahveh has not spoken.
Ezekiel 22:29 The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have oppressed the poor and needy and unlawfully exploited the resident alien.
Ezekiel 22:30 I searched for a man among them who would repair the wall and stand in the gap before me on behalf of the land so that I might not destroy it, but I found no one.
Ezekiel 22:31 So I have poured out my curse on them and consumed them with the fire of my fury. I have brought their conduct down on their own heads.” This is the declaration of the Lord Yahveh.

repairman search

Our church has a very old parsonage, so things break down every once in a while. I don’t have to worry about finding a repair technician because we have members who have the expertise and are willing to help with repairs. They come to mind as I think about what the LORD was saying through Ezekiel in today’s text.

He was looking for someone who could make the necessary repairs. He first looked among the prophets. Surely those who spoke for God could find a way to protect the people from the coming wrath. But no prophet was found who could fix the hole.

Next, he looked among the priests. He couldn’t even find a priest who had not neglected the basics of religion.

Next, he searched among the officials. No ruler could be found who had the necessary skill to repair the damage in the wall.

Finally, he searched among the commoners — the hoi polloi. Still no repairman.

What a sad state we are in when things are broken and there is no one who can address the problem.

LORD, make us the kind of men and women who can stand in the gap, repair what needs to be fixed in the spiritual lives of people in our community.

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merely dross to me

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merely dross to me

Ezekiel 22:17-22 (JDV)

Ezekiel 22:17 The word of Yahveh happened to me. This is what it said:
Ezekiel 22:18 “Son of Adam, the house of Israel has become merely dross to me. All of them are copper, tin, iron, and lead inside the furnace; they are just dross from silver.
Ezekiel 22:19 Therefore, this is what the Lord Yahveh says: Because all of you have become dross, notice I am about to gather you into Jerusalem.
Ezekiel 22:20 Just as one gathers silver, copper, iron, lead, and tin into the furnace to blow fire on them and melt them, so I will gather you in my anger and wrath, put you inside, and melt you.
Ezekiel 22:21 Yes, I will gather you together and blow on you with the fire of my fury, and you will be melted within the city.
Ezekiel 22:22 As silver is melted inside a furnace, so you will be melted inside the city. Then you will know that I, Yahveh, have poured out my wrath on you.”

merely dross to me

A coming siege is described by picturing Jerusalem as a melting pot, and all the people will be gathered inside it. Pressure will be applied, and heat. God’s wrath will come, and only the pure metals will survive. Unfortunately, there are no pure metals. The house of Israel had become merely dross to him. May this never happen among us. May each of us reflect the gold of our Savior’s love, and come out of the present suffering intact.

LORD, give us lives worthy of your grace.

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the clapping is due

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the clapping is due

Ezekiel 22:13-16 (JDV)

Ezekiel 22:13 ” ‘Now look, I clap my hands together against the dishonest profit you have made and against the blood shed among you.
Ezekiel 22:14 Will your courage endure or your hands be strong in the days when I deal with you? I, Yahveh, have spoken, and I will act.
Ezekiel 22:15 I will disperse you among the nations and scatter you among the countries; I will purge your uncleanness.
Ezekiel 22:16 You will be polluted in the sight of the nations. Then you will know that I am Yahveh.'”

the clapping is due

The nature of the uncleanness that led the LORD to punish his own people is identified here as two sins: dishonest profit and violence. God claps his hands as if to say “that’s enough” and the people are scattered throughout the nations. How long will our nations last? Brace yourselves. The clapping is due.

LORD, thank you for your patience.

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profanity, depravity, brutality

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profanity, depravity, brutality

Ezekiel 22:6-12 (JDV)

Ezekiel 22:6 ” ‘Notice, every prince of Israel within you has used his strength to shed blood.
Ezekiel 22:7 Father and mother are treated triflingly, and the resident alien is exploited within you. The fatherless and widow are oppressed in you.
Ezekiel 22:8 You think lightly of my devoted things and profane my Sabbaths.
Ezekiel 22:9 There are men within you who slander in order to shed blood. People who live in you eat at the mountain shrines; they commit depraved acts within you.
Ezekiel 22:10 Men within you have sexual intercourse with their father’s wife and violate women during their menstrual impurity.
Ezekiel 22:11 One man within you commits a repulsive act with his neighbor’s wife; another defiles his daughter-in-law with infamy; and yet another violates his sister, his father’s daughter.
Ezekiel 22:12 People who live in you accept bribes in order to shed blood. You take interest and profit on a loan and brutally extort your neighbors. You have forgotten me. This is the declaration of the Lord Yahveh.

profanity, depravity, brutality

These three words describe the kind of people the prophet was called to address. These are the kind of people who have forgotten God — living as if he does not exist. We read of such people in our newspapers and watch stories about them. They are the direct results of a society’s embrace of atheism. In Ezekiel’s day, the temple was still there, and the sabbaths were still being observed — although being profaned as well.

Disaster awaited these people. Can we imagine a scenario in which our own generation can be spared? Not without true repentance and a return to faith and obedience.

LORD, have mercy on us.

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robe and gavel

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robe and gavel

Ezekiel 22:1-5 (JDV)

Ezekiel 22:1 The word of Yahveh happened to me. This is what it said:
Ezekiel 22:2 “And you, son of Adam, will you pass judgment? Will you pass judgment against the city of blood? Then explain all her repulsive practices to her.
Ezekiel 22:3 You are to say, ‘This is what the Lord Yahveh says: A city that sheds blood within her walls so that her time of judgment has come and who makes idols for herself so that she is defiled!
Ezekiel 22:4 You are guilty of the blood you have shed, and you are defiled from the idols you have made. You have brought your judgment days near and have come to your years of punishment. Therefore, I have made you a disgrace to the nations and a mockery to all the lands.
Ezekiel 22:5 Those who are near and those far away from you will mock you, you infamous one full of turmoil.

robe and gavel

As God’s prophet, Ezekiel had the responsibility of condemning sin and making God’s people accountable for their actions. So, in this context, it is only right that God calls on Ezekiel to pass judgment.

Often today’s culture attacks the Christian who dares to speak out against the slaughter of the innocent, or the acceptance of sexually immoral lifestyles. They throw Jesus’ words in our face and tell us that he taught us “don’t judge” (Matthew 7:1). But they ignore what Jesus was actually teaching — that we should not judge hypocritically.

Both our Lord and this prophet teach that there is a time when believers are responsible to point out evil and hold people accountable for their sins. Perhaps there are many of us today who need to hear the Lord’s words to Ezekiel: “will you pass judgment?”

There is a time when the robe and gavel are appropriate.

LORD, forgive us for failing to condemn blatant sin in our land.

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what about Ammon?

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what about Ammon?

Ezekiel 21:28-32 (JDV)

Ezekiel 21:28 “Now you, son of Adam, prophesy, and say, ‘This is what the Lord Yahveh says concerning the Ammonites and their contempt.’ You are to proclaim, ‘A sword! A sword is drawn for slaughter, polished to consume, to flash like lightning.
Ezekiel 21:29 While they offer false visions and lying lots about you, the time has come to put you to the necks of the profane guilty ones; the day has come for final punishment.
Ezekiel 21:30 ” ‘Return it to its sheath! ” ‘I will judge you in the place where you were created, in the land of your origin.
Ezekiel 21:31 I will pour out my curse on you; I will blow the fire of my fury on you. I will hand you over to brutal men, skilled at destruction.
Ezekiel 21:32 You will be fuel for the fire. Your blood will be spilled within the land. You will not be remembered, for I, Yahveh, have spoken.'”

what about Ammon?

While the LORD is declaring his imminent judgment upon the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem, one obvious thought the people of Judah might be thinking is “What about Ammon — that wicked neighbor nation who will be gloating over Judah’s destruction? Ezekiel is instructed to tell the Ammonites that they should not gloat because the same sword appointed to strike Judah will someday strike them as well. The difference is that once Babylon is through with Judah, there will still be a Judah left. But once the sword is unsheathed and aimed at the Ammonites, it will destroy utterly. Ammon will not be remembered.

LORD, give us the wisdom to refrain from envying the wicked around us who seem not to suffer as much. May we realize that your justice will be done, and leave it in your hands.

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hats off

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hats off

Ezekiel 21:24-27 (JDV)

Ezekiel 21:24 “Therefore, this is what the Lord Yahveh says: Because you have drawn attention to your guilt, exposing your rebellions, so that your failures are revealed in all your actions – since you have done this, you will be captured by them.
Ezekiel 21:25 And you, profane and guilty prince of Israel, the day has come for your punishment.
Ezekiel 21:26 “This is what the Lord Yahveh says: Remove the turban, and take off the crown. Things will not remain as they are; exalt the lowly and bring down the exalted.
Ezekiel 21:27 A ruin, a ruin, I will make it a ruin! Yet this will not happen until he comes; I have given the judgment to him.

hats off

God’s instruction for the priest was “remove the turban” and the king was to “take off the crown.” Both leaders were being judged because they had led the people astray. In every generation, there comes a time when leaders must be evaluated based on whether they are leading people toward God, or away from him.

LORD, give us righteous leaders who seek to please you more than advance themselves.

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like false divination

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like false divination

Ezekiel 21:18-23 (JDV)

Ezekiel 21:18 The word of Yahveh happened to me:
Ezekiel 21:19 “Now you, son of Adam, mark out two roads that the sword of Babylon’s king can take. Both of them should originate from the same land. And make a signpost at the fork in the road to each city.
Ezekiel 21:20 Mark out a road that the sword can take to Rabbah of the Ammonites and to Judah into fortified Jerusalem.
Ezekiel 21:21 You see, the king of Babylon stands at the split in the road, at the fork of the two roads, to practice divination: he shakes the arrows, consults the idols, and looks at the liver.
Ezekiel 21:22 The answer marked Jerusalem appears in his right hand, indicating that he should set up battering rams, give the order to slaughter, raise a battle cry, set battering rams against the gates, build a ramp, and construct a siege wall.
Ezekiel 21:23 It will seem like false divination to those who have sworn an oath to the Babylonians, but it will draw attention to their guilt so that they will be captured.

like false divination

Like the Jews in Ezekiel’s day, we are so ready to claim that other people’s ideas are false and misleading, but also so ready to trust in our own false divination. The threads that hold together our worldviews are often just as flimsy. God used the Babylonian’s divination to condemn his own people, who had forsaken him for idols, just like Babylon had.

LORD, teach us your ways and give us the wisdom to trust you, not our own ideas.

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flash and slash

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flash and slash

Ezekiel 21:14-17 (JDV)

Ezekiel 21:14 “So you, son of Adam, prophesy and clap your hands together: Let the sword slap two times, even three. It is a sword for massacre, a sword for great massacre – it surrounds them!
Ezekiel 21:15 I have appointed a sword for slaughter at all their gates so that their hearts may melt and many may stumble. Yes! It is ready to flash like lightning; it is drawn for slaughter.
Ezekiel 21:16 Slash to the right; turn to the left – wherever your blade is directed.
Ezekiel 21:17 I also will clap my hands together, and I will satisfy my wrath. I, Yahveh, have spoken.”

flash and slash

When the passers-by saw this prophet brandishing his sword, they probably thought he was loony. But it was a symbol of a coming massacre — a prophecy of a terrible ordeal in which many would lose their lives. When those who claim God for their God rebel against him, his wrath comes upon their nation.

Reading through the Old Testament gives a person perspective. As much as I want to brag about my religion being a happy message of love, I am confronted with a God of love who must act against those who rebel against him. His arms are open for those who repent and return to him, but if not, there is a sword.

LORD, we hear the sound of the prophet clapping his hands together. We see the flash and slash. Bring us all back to you, Lord, before your day of judgment comes.

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