Tag Archives: Ezekiel

Ezekiel 18 – Individual Responsibility

‘The word of the LORD came to me: What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, ‘The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’?  As I live, says the Lord GOD, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel.  Know that all lives are mine; the life of the parent as well as the life of the child is mine: it is only the person who sins that shall die.’ (Ezekiel 18:1-4 NRSV)

The whole of this chapter expands upon these opening four verses, and it is well worth a read!

Who is responsible for their sin? A person themselves, their parents or their children? And likewise, who will be punished for that sin?  In this chapter Ezekiel lays the facts out as they are, God holds each person accountable for their sinfulness or righteousness, and neither can it be passed from one generation to the next.

‘The person who sins shall die.  A child shall not suffer for the iniquity or a parent, nor a parent suffer for the iniquity of a child; the righteousness of the righteous shall be his own, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be his own.’ (Ezekiel 18:10 NRSV)

It is true that the life choices of one generation may influence the life choices of another generation, but ultimately each person is responsible for themselves before God.

What about generational curses you may ask?  Paul Scanlon has written an excellent blog on that, here is the link Generational Curses or Choices, like Paul I also believe that in Christ we all start again from square one!

For me the Israelites in the days of Moses and Joshua are all the examples we need as to how God deals with each generation.

Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt and through the Red Sea, yet they still had their hearts in Egypt and made false god, the golden calf, while Moses was still on Sinai with God!  God prevented that generation from entering the Promised Land because of their sin, despite all he had done for them!

The next generation was born just before the Exodus or in the wilderness.  The male children were not even circumcised, so great was the lack or concern for the things of God shown by Moses’ generation.  Yet it was this generation that entered the Promised Land and served God until all those who had seen God working had died!  The generation after them turned away from God once again.

If God had judged the following generation by the acts of the previous one then the story might have been very different!

I have been planning on writing this post for about a week or so but have only just got round to it, and this is definitely something on God’s heart at the moment.  Why?  God is moving the UK into a new season, and a new generation is coming to the fore.  Yes, there are still Joshuas and Calebs who have been waiting and believing for change for a long time , but many others have lost their faith in what God has promised.

It is 45 years this year since Jean Darnall first gave her prophecy concerning revival in the UK, to read it follow this link Jean Darnall Prophecy.  We are not there yet, although there are pockets of fire breaking out, but God is on the move in this land in a new way.

It is imperative that we pray with a new level of urgency and of expectation for God to move and revive this land.  If you struggle to do that, then ask God’s forgiveness for your lack of faith and ask him to renew your faith and he will!  Whys is this so important?  I shall let Ezekiel have the last words, I can put it no better than this:

‘For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, says the Lord GOD.  Turn, then, and live.’ (Ezekiel 18:32 NRSV)

Heavenly Father, forgive us when we have doubted your ability to revive this land and help us to pray and seek your heart with renewed fervour so that we might burn brightly for you.  In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Two Visions of Jesus – Like Revelation 1 and Commissioned by Jesus

About four months after I became a Christian, I had two visions within a short space of time.  You may ask whether these visions were in or out of the body.  Paul says (though speaking in the third person, he is probably talking about himself), ‘whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows’ (1 Corinthians 12:2 NRSV).  If it was not important to Paul then neither should it be important to us, and to be honest I don’t know, but I do know that I was there physically in both cases and that God knows even if I don’t!

By sharing these visions in this blog post I am sharing something that is very personal to me.  When I first had the visions I did share them, but most people did not seem to be able to comprehend what I was talking about and if anything gave me strange looks, or just had glazed expressions since they could not get their heads round it.  As I result I went for many years not sharing these visions, now I understand more that visions in general are well beyond many Christians experience, which is why in my post Ezekiel 1:26-28 – A Vision of The Glory Of God I talk about how ‘like’ is used a lot as you try to describe the heavenly in earthly terms.

In the first vision, I saw Jesus glorified, almost identical to the vision of Jesus that John saw in the book of Revelation.

‘and in the midst of the lampstands I saw one like the Son of Man, clothed in a long robe and with a gold sash across his chest.  His head and has hair were white as white wool, white as snow; his eyes were like flames of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of many waters.  In his right hand he held seven stars, and from his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining with full force.  When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.’  (Revelation 1:13-17a NRSV)

As I have already said my vision was almost identical to that of John, but not quite.  I only saw Jesus, I did not see any candlesticks or stars.  I saw Jesus glorified as John described with his voice like many waters, which I visually saw like transverse waves coming out from his mouth and spreading out.  I did not however see the two-edged sword come out of his mouth, but next to him.

I was in a time of prayer when I saw the vision, and like John I also had the same reaction, I fell as dead before Jesus, I lay prostrate on my bed unable to move for about 4 hours.  The first prophetic word I had given a month or so earlier was of a picture I saw of Jesus saying, ‘Come to me’.  Jesus in this picture had been gentle, and was asking us to draw closer to him.  In this vision however I saw another side of Jesus.  This was Jesus glorified, he was almighty and all-powerful, this was no gentle Jesus meek and mild, but Jesus as he will be when he comes to judge the world.

Whenever I think of this vision I am still filled with holy fear, Jesus is not to be messed with!  He is our best friend, but he is also our Lord, our King and most of all our God and we should never forget that.

In the second vision I was among a crowd of worshippers and was commissioned by Jesus.

In the second vision I was kneeling near what was like an altar in a church, behind me there were crowds of people as far as the eye could see worshipping and praising God.  Jesus came to me, he anointed me placing his hands upon my head and spoke one word to me, ‘Go!’.  My reaction to this vision was the same as the first, I was prostrate in worship and unable to move.

At the time, I did not really understand what this vision meant, but now I do understand it.  Jesus is saying that it is he who has:

  • Called me – I was there with him and not with the rest of the worshippers because he wanted me to be there.  Jesus has called me to a close walk with him;
  • Anointed me – It was Jesus who was anointing and enabling me, not anyone else.  After all, it is Jesus who baptizes us in the Holy Spirit, and I was baptised in the Spirit on conversion (read Prayer is … #1 Adventure for more information);
  • Commissioned me – Jesus has sent me out to work in his church, and now I know in what way.  I have always known that my heart is primarily in this country, and that I have always had a focus on church, up until now I always assumed that would be on one local church, but now I know that God is calling me to itinerate ministry to the whole church.  What God is calling me to do is to grow prayer, both personal and corporate prayer in churches.  I will share more about that in the future.

Psalm 74 – When God Gives No Answers

‘… there is no longer any prophet,
and there is no one among us who knows how long.’ (Psalm 74:9 NRSV)

You may wonder what a psalm is doing in a series from the book Ezekiel, well I read this yesterday as I am working through the Psalms but haven’t read one for a while, and this fitted so perfectly with what I shared yesterday from Ezekiel so I though I would share too.

In this psalm Asaph asks how long Judah, Jerusalem and the temple will be laid waste and over-run by its enemies.  He asks the questions, but there will be no answers.  Why? Because there are no prophets left.  Yesterday I looked at how God condemned the false prophets and prophetesses who were prophesying in Ezekiel’s day.  God was against them and they would experience his wrath (see Ezekiel 13).

This psalm seems to have been written by an eye-witness of the destruction of Jerusalem that Ezekiel (among others) prophesied.  God’s presence had left (see Ezekiel 10), so what had once been God’s land, city and temple were now over-run and destroyed’ and ‘desecrated’ by foreigners.

All the prophets who had been left in Jerusalem and had been prophesying lies were now gone.  God had fulfilled his word!  But this meant that Asaph did not know how long this would last for, he was a priest, not a prophet, and there were now no prophets left for him to go to in order to seek God’s word!

We can see the effect this has on him, he is perplexed and confused, he can only cling on to what God has done in the past and ask God to act again for his people and against the enemy.

I have had times in my Christian life when I have had no answers.  When I was became unwell just over 10 years ago, I was also confused and perplexed, I asked God questions, but got no answers.  Through everything I held onto one thing, no matter how bad things got the Father was with me, whereas the Father had to turn his face away from Jesus when he was on the cross as a consequence of my sin.  Jesus was forsaken by his Father, but I would never be, because of what Jesus had done for me.  That was my only hope at times, but like Asaph it sustained me.

Heavenly Father, help me to be honest with you in prayer, like Asaph was.  If all I have is questions then let me bring them to you.  In dark times help me to cling onto, and praise you for, what you have done, and still be able to ask you to do it again in an uncertain future.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Ezekiel 13:1-10 – False Prophets in Old and New Testaments.

‘The word of the LORD came to me: Mortal, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who are prophesying; say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination: ‘Hear the word of the LORD!’  Thus says the Lord GOD, Alas for the senseless prophets who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!  Your prophets have been like jackals among ruins, O Israel.  You have not gone up into the breaches, or repaired a wall for the house of Israel, so that it might stand in battle on the day of the LORD.  They have prophesied falsehood and lying divination; they say, ‘Says the LORD’, when the LORD has not sent them, and yet they wait for the fulfilment of their word!  Have you not seen a false vision or uttered a lying divination, when you have said, ‘Says the LORD’, even though I did not speak?
Therefore thus says the Lord GOD:  Because you have uttered falsehood and prophesied lies, I am against you, says the Lord GOD.  My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations; they shall not be in the council of my people, nor be enrolled in the register of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter the land of Israel; and you shall know that I am the Lord GOD.  Because, in truth, because they have misled my people, saying ‘Peace’, when there is no peace; and because, when people build a wall, these prophets smear whitewash on it.’  (Ezekiel 13:1-10 NRSV)

In the Old Testament the people of God were not filled with the Holy Spirit, and therefore they did not have any way of testing what was said by the prophets of the day.  Whatever they were told by a prophet they would assume was correct as the prophet would say, ‘Thus says the LORD’ when he prophesied.  In those days God called his prophets to be absolutely right, absolutely all of the time, as when God spoke to a prophet they were to speak his actual words.  Because this was the nature of Old Testament prophecy God was very harsh on false prophets in the Old Testament.

This was fine as long as prophets were honest and truly spoke when God spoke, but this was not always the case.  Some prophets lied, whether it was to fill their bellies or to increase their popularity, or because they themselves were deceived was irrelevant.  They lied and spoke ‘out of their own imagination’, rather than speaking God’s word.

What did God do about this?  He was ‘against’ those prophets, they would have no inheritance in him.  Later on in this chapter we also read how God is against lying prophetesses and well as prophets, God judges both sexes alike, do we share what God has shared with us, or do we share things that he did not say, them attribute those things to him?

What about prophets and prophecy in the New Testament?

In the New Testament things are different.  We see fulfilled what Moses wished for, ‘Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit on them!’ (Numbers 11:29 NRSV).  God goes beyond that and fills us with his Spirit, ‘As for you, the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you.’ (1 John 2:27 NRSV).  In the New Testament and now, ‘we prophesy only in part’ (1 Corinthians 18:9 NRSV), prophecy is no longer absolute, which means we must no longer be 100% accurate 100% of the time, but we still should always be responsible when we prophesy and aim to listen to God as accurately as possible.

Under the New Covenant we should never take prophecy for granted, or in any way abuse it.  It is a gift from God, and that is true of both the charismatic gift and the ministry gift, the role of prophet in the Old Testament sense does not exist either in the New Testament or today.  The main reason for this is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as I said earlier, this means that both the person giving a prophecy, and the person or people receiving the prophecy are both to test what they are hearing.  Prophetic people who get things wrong are no longer immediately condemned, but should be given chances to grow, learn and get better at listening, but God will still judge real false prophets today just as harshly, as they lead Christians away from God, and do not confront sin where they see it.

The prophetic word may be completely right, partially right or slightly right or completely wrong.  Another thing is the emphasis may be wrong, or a prophetic interpretation may be wrong, or if it is a predictive word it is wrong if it does not happen in the given time frame, unless of course any conditions (either given or implied) are unfulfilled.  Another important thing in seeing a prophecy fulfilled is to pray into it and do God calls you to do.  Prophecies are not inevitable and will not just be fulfilled without our co-operation.

Lord Jesus, give us discernment to know what you are saying when you speak prophetically, and help us to know what is true and what is false.  Help those of us who speak prophetically to say what are saying, not to speak from our own imaginations like the false prophets Ezekiel is talking about here, Amen.

Ezekiel 6:7-10 – Redemptive Justice

‘… then you shall know that I am the LORD.
But I will spare some.  Some of you shall escape the sword among the nations and be scattered through the countries.  Those of you who escape shall remember me among the nations where they are carried captive, how I was crushed by their wanton heart that turned away from me, and their wanton eyes that turned after their idols.  Then they will be loathsome in their own sight for the evils that they have committed, for all their abominations.  And they shall know that I am the LORD…’ (Ezekiel 6:7b-10a. NRSV)

God’s judgement is always redemptive and restorative, it is never vindictive.

When God has to act in judgement he always does do for one reason, ‘then you shall know that I am the LORD’.  God never acts in judgement lightly, it is always a last resort when nothing else will work!  But when God judges we always see his mercy and grace at work as well.  God will always ‘spare some’ and will keep a remnant for himself.

It is through God’s judgement that some people and nations will realise their sin and turn away from it and back to God, which is what God wants.  God wants to display his mercy even if to do that he has to first act in judgement.

 How does God get to this point?  He has normally tried gentle correction first of all, then leaving people to the consequences of their sin, before he gets to actively judging a person or people.  But he still does not judge in order to destroy completely, he normally has some saved for himself.  We see this elsewhere, God saved Lot and his family from Sodom (Genesis 19), he saved Rahab and her household from Jericho (Joshua 6:17-27).

Some of the remnant will be those involved in the sins themselves, others will be those who are only guilty by being a part of the same people, but one hallmark of them will be true God-led repentance (I shall look at what I mean by this in another post sometime), when they see things and their sin from God’s perspective.

Heavenly Father, when you judge something in me help me to see that you only do so to bring me back to you, and help me to see my sin from your perspective so I may truly repent. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Ezekiel 3:4-6 – Home or Away?

‘He said to me: Mortal, go to the house of Israel and speak my very words to them.  For you are not sent to a people of obscure speech and difficult language, but to the house of Israel – not to many peoples of obscure speech and difficult language, whose words you cannot understand.’  (Ezekiel 3:4-6a NRSV)

On the popular TV program ‘A Question of Sport’ they have a round called ‘Home or Away?’ where they are asked a question either about their own sport or about another sport.  For a ‘home’ question they get fewer points, but for an ‘away’ question they get more.

We also see this in many sections of the church where overseas missionary work is still considered the highest calling, and is worth more than service at home.  This is completely WRONG!

The questions are, ‘Are you where God has called you to be?  And are you speaking to whom God has called you to speak to?’  If you are in the centre of God’s will for your life, then there is no higher calling than that!

For me, God has always had my heart firmly in this country.  This is no lesser calling than that of someone called abroad!

If God has called you to foreign parts, I praise God for that.  If God has called you to a street, or workplace, I praise God for that also.

What is important is that you do the work that God has called you to do and be wherever he has called you to be.  Whether it is Mongolia or Manchester, Preston or Peru is irrelevant as long as you are serving God in the place of his choosing!

Heavenly Father, help me to speak your words to the people you have called me to.  And whether it is at home or away help me to do it in the power of your Holy Spirit.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Ezekiel 2:1-2 – Holy Spirit Enabled.

‘He said to me: O mortal, stand up on your feet, and I will speak with you.  And when he spoke to me, a spirit entered into me and set me on my feet; and I heard him speaking to me.’  (Ezekiel 2:1-2. NRSV)

Ezekiel is unique in the Old Testament in saying that the Holy Spirit ‘entered into’ him.  Elsewhere we read of the Spirit being upon people, but not entering into them.

We do, however, read of one other person in the Old Testament who was ‘filled … with the divine spirit’ (see Exodus 31:2-5), and he was filled with the Spirit to design and create everything for the tabernacle, God’s dwelling place on earth which was based on the heavenly pattern. God filled Bezalel with the Spirit to build his tabernacle, and we are filled with the Spirit to build his church!

I came to know Jesus by asking God to baptize me in the Holy Spirit, which he did.  I know nothing except a Spirit-filled Christian life.  What some people consider not necessary is normality for me, and always has been!

God shared a great vision with Ezekiel, but it overwhelmed him.  It was only when the Spirit then entered into him that he was able to respond God and listen to him, and go on from there to prophesy to the Jews in Exile as God asked him to.  Like him we need the Spirit in us to enable us to do the work God has called us to do!

Heavenly Father, fill me afresh with your Holy Spirit.  So that when you speak I am able to hear and receive what you say, and then to go out and speak and do it. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Ezekiel 1:26-28 – A Vision Of The Glory Of God

‘And above the dome over their heads there was something like a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of the throne was something that seemed like a human form.  Upwards from what appeared like the loins I saw something that looked like fire, and downwards from what looked like the loins I saw something that looked like fire, and there was splendour all round.  Like the bow in the cloud on a rainy day, such was the appearance of the splendour all round.  This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD.  When I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of someone speaking.’  (Ezekiel 1:26-28. NRSV)

Ezekiel was very much a seer, God spoke to him visually and he also experienced the hand of the Lord on him, the heavens opened and visions of God.  If you have ever experienced the glory of God or a vision of it then you would say, ‘WOW!!! What more can I say?  Nothing!!!’, as you can connect with what Ezekiel is saying.

If, however, you have never experienced God in this way then it can be a bit difficult to get your head around it.  I’ll look at three things to help you get your head round it a bit, at what is in this chapter in Ezekiel, from elsewhere in the Bible and from my own experience to help you connect with what he says more.

What is a vision?

What Ezekiel saw was a vision of heavenly beings (the living creatures with their wheels that he described in Ezekiel 1:5-22) and of God himself on his heavenly throne.  But what is a vision?  Is it just like a dream or a day-dream or is it different.

With a vision you are definitely awake, it is not an idle day-dream where your mind just wanders, it is God touching you and all your senses physically.  Dreams and pictures can be gentle, but there is nothing gentle about having a vision, it is God touching our physical reality with heaven’s reality (which if anything is actually more real than this physical reality).  You are there physically, and all your physical senses are working and you also can physically interact in the vision, as Ezekiel did when he ate the scroll in Ezekiel 3:2.

[Now one word of warning, some people say there are different levels of visions and differentiate between visions in and out of the body as if it is important – it is not.  I say this with confidence as this was Paul’s view, ‘I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven – whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows.’ (2 Corinthians 12:2 NRSV).  If Paul didn’t consider it important as God is the only one who really knows the answer anyway, then neither do I!]

Indescribable glory!

If you have had a vision yourself, or you talk or read about one that is in the Bible then you get ‘like’ coming up a lot.  In the NRSV we read ‘like’ 23 times, and that is just in Ezekiel 1!  There is always a difficulty describing a vision because there is difficulty in expressing heavenly things in our earthly language, we don’t have a frame of reference of heavenly things, only of earthly things so there is always this difficulty in describing a what has been seen and experienced in a vision.

Another aspect of God’s indescribable glory is the fact that God’s glory has physical weight.  This is one reason why when people encounter it they are very soon flat on their faces, on the floor and unable to get up like Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:28)  was until the Spirit lifted him up (Ezekiel 2:2).

When the prophet Isaiah was called we read, ‘In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple.’ (Isaiah 6:1 NRSV).  Royal regalia is heavy, it is not just for show that Queen Elizabeth II had Maids of Honour carrying her train when she was crowned, that is the picture here and gives a good description of the glory of God.

God’s glory has a physical weight and presence.  If you have a vision of God then you will experience it, and you may experience it at other times as well, both in corporate gatherings and alone.  Even in corporate gathering not everyone will experience the same thing.  There are occasions when God’s glory falls in a mighty way, such as times when he is moving in revival power, when this happens then everyone will be flat on the floor and will know it is God who is present in a mighty way.

If God does have his hand upon you and you experience the weight of his glory then you won’t be able to move until he either removes it or until he enables you to stand in his presence by the Spirit raising you up, we see examples of both in Scripture.

The Fear of the Lord.

A vision is never like a nightmare!  When you have a vision you experience the fear of the Lord in a very real way, this is completely different from the frightened fear that you have when you have a nightmare.

What do I mean? For one thing, ‘perfect love casts out fear’ (1 John 4:18 NRSV), for another, under the New Covenant God is our Father.  If I watch my young 3¾ year old son interact with my husband, his father, we see what this means, he is bold with his dad and loves him beyond measure, he does not fear him, but he does know that his dad is the ultimate authority, and that what his dad says goes!  This is how it should be with God, and is why the fear of God is so different from a frightened fear.  You could say that it is perfectly rational fear, it is the awe we were created to experience, not an irrational fear that fears punishment that is a result of the fall of humankind.

Have you ever seen a vision or experienced God’s glory like Ezekiel?  Do you know what it really is to know the fear of the Lord?  If you haven’t, has this post helped you understand better what Ezekiel is talking about?  I would love to hear your views.

Ezekiel 1:1-3 – God Speaks To A Refugee.

‘In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the exiles by the river Chebar, the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.  On the fifth day of the month (it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin), the word of the LORD came to the priest Ezekiel son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was on him there.’  (Ezekiel 1:1-3. NRSV)

No matter where you are, God can speak to you there!  God can speak to you just as well if you are in the Promised Land, or if you are in Exile!

In fact, the whole book of Ezekiel was spoken to him while he was in exile (if I remember correctly).  Ezekiel was in exile, in modern terms he was a refugee.  There are many refugees around the world today, the obvious ones are those displaced by war in various places of the world.

But there are refugees in the UK too, and I am not just thinking about those who have come here to escape war in their native countries.  Who are the refugees in this country?  I would say the homeless.  Think about it, they have been forced to leave their home, and whether it is their own fault or not, they are now refugees in their own country.  This is a life with no certainty, even in a hostel they are officially there for one night at a time, and the council can force them to leave if they don’t fit the criteria for being helped.

Ezekiel was a refugee in Exile in Babylon but God spoke to him there and the place where God spoke to him was by a river, by the river Chebar.  No matter where you are God can still speak to you there.

But what do we know about Ezekiel.  He was a priest, so he was a Levite and possibly a descendant of Aaron.  That is one thing about refugees, you can’t say who they are because they are no longer living their normal life, and you might get a surprise when you find out who someone really is.

Looking back can you remember times when God spoke to you in unlikely places.  Do you know any refugees or homeless people?  If you do then pray that God will speak to them where they are, and that they will hear what he is saying.  Pray that they will get the help they really need to get them back into a proper place to live and a permanent home again.