building spiritual barriers

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building spiritual barriers

Ezekiel 13:20-23

Ezekiel 13:20 ” ‘Therefore, this is what the Lord Yahveh says: Notice I am against your magic bands with which you ensnare throats like birds, and I will tear them from your arms. I will free the throats you have ensnared like birds.
Ezekiel 13:21 I will also tear off your veils and rescue my people from your hands, so that they will no longer be prey in your hands. Then you will know that I am Yahveh.
Ezekiel 13:22 Because you have disheartened the righteous person with lies (when I intended no distress), and because you have supported the guilty person so that he does not turn from his evil way to save his life,
Ezekiel 13:23 therefore you will no longer see false visions or practice divination. I will rescue my people from your hands. Then you will know that I am Yahveh.'”

building spiritual barriers

The female prophets to whom Ezekiel is addressing this prediction are utilizing animistic cult practices to recieve messages from the unseen realm. In response to their false prophecies, God promises to remove their ability to receive those messages. Because they used their influence to dishearten the righteous and support the guilty, God was going to put a barrier between them and the unclean spirits who had been empowering them. God has power over all things. He can most certainly do that.

One of the prayers we should be praying in our regular spiritual warfare is that the LORD put barriers between the animistic practitioners who are at work among us. They are not on the LORD’s side, and he wants to take away their influence. But are we asking him to do that? I think that many of us have fallen for the secularism that chooses to ignore the spirit realm. When we do so, we risk becoming their victims.

LORD, build barriers between us and the unclean spirits who want to destroy us.

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equal wrongs

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equal wrongs

Ezekiel 13:17-19

Ezekiel 13:17 “Now you, son of Adam, face the women among your people who prophesy out of their own imagination, and prophesy against them.
Ezekiel 13:18 Say, ‘This is what the Lord Yahveh says: Tragedy to the women who sew magic bands on the wrist of every hand and who make veils for the heads of people of every size in order to ensnare throats. Will you ensnare the lives of my people but preserve your own?
Ezekiel 13:19 You profane me among my people for handfuls of barley and scraps of bread; you put throats to death who should not die and spare throats who should not live, when you lie to my people, who listen to lies.

equal wrongs

Having condemned the false prophets who were men, Ezekiel is now instructed to condemn the false prophets who were women. Rather than being condemned because they were usurping their role in being prophets, these women were condemned for the same reason their male counterparts were: they were pronouncing false prophecies in the name of Yahveh.

God does not limit the role of prophecy to men, but he holds women who prophesy to the same standard as he does the men. The Holy Spirit is an equal opportunity inspirer. But with equal rights, come equal responsibility.

LORD, keep our lady prophets from engaging in equal wrongs. Give them integrity in their ministries.

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a flimsy wall is being built

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a flimsy wall is being built

Ezekiel 13:8-16 (JDV)

Ezekiel 13:8 ” ‘Therefore, this is what the Lord Yahveh says: You have spoken falsely and had lying visions; that’s why you notice that I am against you. This is the declaration of the Lord Yahveh.
Ezekiel 13:9 My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and speak lying lots. They will not be present in the council of my people or be recorded in the register of the house of Israel, and they will not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord Yahveh.
Ezekiel 13:10 ” ‘Since they have led my people astray by saying, “Peace,” when there is no peace, and since when a flimsy wall is being built, notice they plaster it with whitewash,
Ezekiel 13:11 therefore, tell those plastering it with whitewash that it will fall. Torrential rain will come, and I will send hailstones plunging down, and a storm wind will be released.
Ezekiel 13:12 Notice when the wall has fallen, will you not be asked, “Where’s the whitewash you plastered on it?”
Ezekiel 13:13 ” ‘So this is what the Lord Yahveh says: I will release a storm wind in my wrath. Torrential rain will come in my anger, and hailstones will fall in destructive fury.
Ezekiel 13:14 I will demolish the wall you plastered with whitewash and knock it to the ground so that its foundation is exposed. The city will fall, and you will be destroyed within it. Then you will know that I am Yahveh.
Ezekiel 13:15 After I exhaust my wrath against the wall and against those who plaster it with whitewash, I will say to you, “The wall is no more and neither are those who plastered it–
Ezekiel 13:16 those prophets of Israel who prophesied to Jerusalem and saw a vision of peace for her when there was no peace.” This is the declaration of the Lord Yahveh.’

a flimsy wall is being built

That flimsy wall was a symbol of a people who were trying to fix what only God can fix. they were not doing a very good job of it, and it masked a rebellion that was too blatant for God to ignore.

Oh, believer, don’t let your commitment to God be a flimsy wall. It will not hold up. It will only bring judgment upon yourself and lead others to go astray.

LORD, draw us into a deep relationship with you that is not propped up by our own attempts at getting by. Instead, may we yearn for a holiness that reflects you, as we trust in your grace.

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folk religion among the people of God

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folk religion among the people of God

Ezekiel 13:1-7

Ezekiel 13:1 The word of Yahveh happened to me:
Ezekiel 13:2 “Son of Adam, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who are prophesying. Say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination, ‘Hear the word of Yahveh!
Ezekiel 13:3 This is what the Lord Yahveh says: Tragedy to the foolish prophets who follow their own breath and have seen nothing.
Ezekiel 13:4 Your prophets, Israel, are like jackals among ruins.
Ezekiel 13:5 You did not go up to the gaps or restore the wall around the house of Israel so that it might stand in battle on the day of Yahveh.
Ezekiel 13:6 They saw false visions and their lots were a lie. They claimed, “This is Yahveh’s declaration,” when Yahveh did not send them, yet they wait for the fulfillment of their message.
Ezekiel 13:7 Didn’t you see a false vision and speak a lying divination when you proclaimed, “This is Yahveh’s declaration,” even though I had not spoken?

folk religion among the people of God

Where did these false visions come from? The problem was more than simply people saying what they wanted to say. Ezekiel was addressing full-blown animism – folk religion among the people of God. The false visions came from unclean spirits, and the magic bands were a form of divination that purported to enhance hunting skills. It was actually hunting the souls of the hunters. It was all lies – coming from Satan’s realm. The LORD is the protection of his people. Looking for protection elsewhere is a grievous sin.

LORD, forgive us for looking for spiritual protection and power in the wrong places.

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no more gap

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no more gap

Ezekiel 12:26-28

Ezekiel 12:26 The word of Yahveh happened to me:
Ezekiel 12:27 “Son of Adam, notice that the house of Israel is saying, ‘The vision that he sees concerns many years from now; he prophesies about distant times.’
Ezekiel 12:28 Therefore say to them, ‘This is what the Lord Yahveh says: None of my words will be delayed any longer. The message I speak will be fulfilled. This is the declaration of the Lord Yahveh.'”

no more gap

Ezekiel’s generation was used to prophets who covered themselves by saying that their predictions might not be fulfilled immediately. They suggested a gap — a period of time between their predictions and the fulfillment of their predictions. The LORD said that Ezekiel was not going to be that kind of prophet. That put a lot of pressure on him. If there was no immediate fulfillment of his predictions, he would risk being branded a false prophet.

There are believers today who have the prophetic gift. They have been gifted with a call to challenge people to take God seriously and to challenge evil and hypocrisy in their generation. There are also imposters who claim to be prophets but are not. They might cover themselves the way the false prophets did in Ezekiel’s time. The gap may be a sign that the prediction is not from God.

LORD, give us eschatological discernment.

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meaningless memes

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meaningless memes

Ezekiel 12:21-25 (JDV)

Ezekiel 12:21 Again the word of Yahveh happened to me:
Ezekiel 12:22 “Son of Adam, what is this proverb you people have about the land of Israel, which goes, ‘The days keep passing by, and every vision fails’?
Ezekiel 12:23 Therefore say to them, ‘This is what the Lord Yahveh says: I will put a stop to this proverb, and they will not use it again in Israel.’ But say to them, ‘The days have arrived, as well as the fulfillment of every vision.
Ezekiel 12:24 Because there will no longer be any false vision or flattering divination within the house of Israel.
Ezekiel 12:25 But I, Yahveh, will speak whatever message I will speak, and it will be done. It will no longer be delayed. Because in your days, rebellious house, I will speak a message and bring it to pass. This is the declaration of the Lord Yahveh.'”

meaningless memes

Ezekiel’s audience was a people who didn’t take prophets seriously. They kept hearing meaningless memes. The prophets fell over themselves trying one positive message after another, all of them predicted that things were going to turn around and get better. Since things never got better, nobody valued prophecy anymore.

False proverbs might be popular from time to time, but only the truth will last. Today’s popular meme is tomorrow’s embarrassing memory.

God tells Ezekiel that things are going to change. Starting with him, some prophets are going to emerge that everyone will take seriously because their words will come true. They won’t be popular, because they will prophesy of coming judgment. But they will command respect.

Looking at our Old Testament as it appears today, we might get the impression that there were many prophets like Ezekiel who called on an evil generation to repent. But this incident reveals that most of Ezekiel’s contemporaries were pretending. They kept trying to convince their audience that things were going to get better.

In today’s religious environment, there are prophets who also constantly come up with positive and encouraging messages — in spite of reality. They would rather create clickbait than create change. History will prove the shallow and temporary nature of their memes.

LORD, give us the courage to speak your truth to a generation used to being lied to.

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ordinary events

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ordinary events

Ezekiel 12:17-20 (JDV)

Ezekiel 12:17 The word of Yahveh happened to me:
Ezekiel 12:18 “Son of Adam, eat your bread while trembling and drink your water while anxious shaking.
Ezekiel 12:19 Then say to the people of the land, ‘This is what the Lord Yahveh says about the residents of Jerusalem in the land of Israel: They will eat their bread with anxiety and drink their water in dread because their land will be stripped of everything in it because of the violence of all who live there.
Ezekiel 12:20 The inhabited cities will be destroyed, and the land will become dreadful. Then you will know that I am Yahveh.'”

ordinary events

For Ezekiel, even his ordinary meals became an opportunity to proclaim God’s word to his generation. The same can be true for you and me as well. All those ordinary events — things that happen every day — can become means of radiating the light of the gospel to the darkness in our community.

Jesus came into a world of darkness and he radiated God’s light there. Of course, because he is God’s unique Son, many of the things he did were extraordinary. But not everything he did was a miracle. He came “eating and drinking” (Matthew 11:19). He found ways of radiating God’s light in the thousands of ordinary events that made up his day. We can follow that example.

A meal is one of those ordinary events. Ezekiel’s ordinary meals became means of prophesying. Every time he stopped to eat and drink, he was ministering the word.

LORD, our lives are filled with ordinary events that we have not been using to radiate your light. Teach us how to turn these ordinary events into means of communicating your message to those who see and hear us.

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doing something weird

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doing something weird

Ezekiel 12:7-16 (JDV)

Ezekiel 12:7 So I did just as I was commanded. In the daytime, I brought out my bags like an exile’s bags. In the evening I dug through the wall by hand; I took them out in the dark, carrying them on my shoulder in their sight.
Ezekiel 12:8 In the morning the word of Yahveh happened to me:
Ezekiel 12:9 “Son of Adam, hasn’t the house of Israel, that rebellious house, asked you, ‘What are you doing? ‘
Ezekiel 12:10 Say to them, ‘This is what the Lord Yahveh says: This pronouncement concerns the prince in Jerusalem and the whole house of Israel living there.’
Ezekiel 12:11 You are to say, ‘I am a sign for you. Just as I have done, it will be done to them; they will go into exile, into captivity.’
Ezekiel 12:12 The prince who is among them will lift his bags to his shoulder in the dark and go out. They will dig through the wall to bring him out through it. He will cover his face so he cannot see the land with his eyes.
Ezekiel 12:13 But I will spread my net over him, and he will be caught in my trap. I will bring him to Babylon, the land of the Chaldeans, yet he will not see it, and he will die there.
Ezekiel 12:14 I will also scatter all the partners who surround him and all his troops to every direction of the wind, and I will draw a sword to chase after them.
Ezekiel 12:15 They will know that I am Yahveh when I disperse them among the nations and scatter them among the countries.
Ezekiel 12:16 But I will spare a few of them from the sword, famine, and epidemic so that among the nations where they go they can tell about all their repulsive practices. Then they will know that I am Yahveh.”

doing something weird

After going through the motions of packing his bags regularly and pretending to go into exile, naturally, the people around him started asking him what Ezekiel was doing. The LORD instructed him to explain his actions. He was predicting that the king would go into exile and that the nation would be laid waste by war, famine, and epidemic.

If Ezekiel had not done something out of the ordinary, he would not have gotten the people’s attention.

If you and I stay on the ordinary track, we might not get the chance to tell our people what they need to hear. We should not be afraid to do something weird once in a while, just to get people asking.

LORD, show us how to get our generation’s attention, so we can share your gospel.

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luggage

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luggage

Ezekiel 12:1-6 (JDV)

Ezekiel 12:1 The word of Yahveh happened to me:
Ezekiel 12:2 “Son of Adam, you are living in the middle of a rebellious household. They have eyes to see but do not see, and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious household.
Ezekiel 12:3 “Now you, son of Adam, get your bags ready for exile and go into exile in their sight during the day. You will go into exile from your place to another place while they watch; perhaps they will understand, though they are a rebellious house.
Ezekiel 12:4 During the day, bring out your bags like an exile’s bags while they look on. Then in the evening go out in their sight like those going into exile.
Ezekiel 12:5 As they watch, dig through the wall and take the bags out through it.
Ezekiel 12:6 And while they look on, lift the bags to your shoulder and take them out in the dark; cover your face so that you cannot see the land because I have given you as a sign to the house of Israel.”

luggage

Ezekiel was told to pack his luggage daily and nightly. He was to pretend to go into exile while the people looked on. God was trying to get their attention. He was telling the people that the way they were going, exile was the next step.

I have lived in lots of different places, but everywhere I go I find locals who have never moved from the house they were born in. Ezekiel probably knew lots of people like that — people that cannot imagine living someplace else. Nothing is guaranteed.

LORD, give us hearts that long to stay in your will, so we don’t have to experience the uncertainty of exile.

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in our dreams

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in our dreams

Ezekiel 11:22-25 (JDV)

Ezekiel 11:22 Then the cherubs, with the wheels beside them, lifted their wings, and the impressive appearance of the God of Israel was above them.
Ezekiel 11:23 The impressive appearance of Yahveh rose up from within the city and stopped on the mountain east of the city.
Ezekiel 11:24 The Breath lifted me up and brought me to Chaldea and to the exiles in a vision from the Breath of God. After the vision I had seen left me,
Ezekiel 11:25 I spoke to the exiles about all the things Yahveh had shown me.

in our dreams

This passage reminds me of some of my best sermons — which I preached in my sleep! I felt so good during those dreams where I shared the word to a ready audience and connected so well. I felt so strange waking up and realizing that it was a dream.

Ezekiel had the opportunity to preach to the exiles in Chaldea. It was in the middle of a vision. Those exiles didn’t hear what he said. But it must have felt wonderful for Ezekiel.

Thank you LORD, for giving us a chance to encourage others — even if it is sometimes in our dreams.

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