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11 September - 2 Kings 17; Ezekiel 7; Luke 3


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Posted 11 September 2007 - 10:06 AM

First Portion

2 Kings 17


17:1 In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah, Hoshea the son of Elah began to reign in Samaria over Israel for nine years. 17:2 He did that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh, yet not as the kings of Israel who were before him. 17:3 Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria; and Hoshea became his servant, and brought him tribute. 17:4 The king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea; for he had sent messengers to So king of Egypt, and offered no tribute to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year: therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison. 17:5 Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years. 17:6 In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away to Assyria, and placed them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. 17:7 It was so, because the children of Israel had sinned against Yahweh their God, who brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods, 17:8 and walked in the statutes of the nations, whom Yahweh cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they made. 17:9 The children of Israel did secretly things that were not right against Yahweh their God: and they built them high places in all their cities, from the tower of the watchmen to the fortified city; 17:10 and they set them up pillars and Asherim on every high hill, and under every green tree; 17:11 and there they burnt incense in all the high places, as did the nations whom Yahweh carried away before them; and they worked wicked things to provoke Yahweh to anger; 17:12 and they served idols, of which Yahweh had said to them, “You shall not do this thing.” 17:13 Yet Yahweh testified to Israel, and to Judah, by every prophet, and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets.” 17:14 Notwithstanding, they would not listen, but hardened their neck, like the neck of their fathers, who didn’t believe in Yahweh their God. 17:15 They rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified to them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and followed the nations that were around them, concerning whom Yahweh had commanded them that they should not do like them. 17:16 They forsook all the commandments of Yahweh their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made an Asherah, and worshiped all the army of the sky, and served Baal. 17:17 They caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh, to provoke him to anger. 17:18 Therefore Yahweh was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only. 17:19 Also Judah didn’t keep the commandments of Yahweh their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made. 17:20 Yahweh rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until he had cast them out of his sight. 17:21 For he tore Israel from the house of David; and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king: and Jeroboam drove Israel from following Yahweh, and made them sin a great sin. 17:22 The children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they didn’t depart from them; 17:23 until Yahweh removed Israel out of his sight, as he spoke by all his servants the prophets. So Israel was carried away out of their own land to Assyria to this day. 17:24 The king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Avva, and from Hamath and Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel; and they possessed Samaria, and lived in the cities of it. 17:25 So it was, at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they didn’t fear Yahweh: therefore Yahweh sent lions among them, which killed some of them. 17:26 Therefore they spoke to the king of Assyria, saying, “The nations which you have carried away, and placed in the cities of Samaria, don’t know the law of the god of the land. Therefore he has sent lions among them, and behold, they kill them, because they don’t know the law of the god of the land.”

17:27 Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, “Carry there one of the priests whom you brought from there; and let them go and dwell there, and let him teach them the law of the god of the land.”

17:28 So one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and lived in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear Yahweh. 17:29 However every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities in which they lived. 17:30 The men of Babylon made Succoth Benoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima, 17:31 and the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak; and the Sepharvites burnt their children in the fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim. 17:32 So they feared Yahweh, and made to them from among themselves priests of the high places, who sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places. 17:33 They feared Yahweh, and served their own gods, after the ways of the nations from among whom they had been carried away. 17:34 To this day they do what they did before: they don’t fear Yahweh, neither do they follow their statutes, or their ordinances, or the law or the commandment which Yahweh commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel; 17:35 with whom Yahweh had made a covenant, and commanded them, saying, “You shall not fear other gods, nor bow yourselves to them, nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them; 17:36 but you shall fear Yahweh, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt with great power and with an outstretched arm, and you shall bow yourselves to him, and you shall sacrifice to him. 17:37 The statutes and the ordinances, and the law and the commandment, which he wrote for you, you shall observe to do forevermore. You shall not fear other gods. 17:38 You shall not forget the covenant that I have made with you; neither shall you fear other gods. 17:39 But you shall fear Yahweh your God; and he will deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies.” 17:40 However they did not listen, but they did what they did before. 17:41 So these nations feared Yahweh, and served their engraved images. Their children likewise, and their children’s children, as their fathers did, so they do to this day.

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Posted 11 September 2007 - 10:08 AM

Second Portion

Ezekiel 7


7:1 Moreover the word of Yahweh came to me, saying, 7:2 You, son of man, thus says the Lord Yahweh to the land of Israel, An end: the end has come on the four corners of the land. 7:3 Now is the end on you, and I will send my anger on you, and will judge you according to your ways; and I will bring on you all your abominations. 7:4 My eye shall not spare you, neither will I have pity; but I will bring your ways on you, and your abominations shall be in the midst of you: and you shall know that I am Yahweh. 7:5 Thus says the Lord Yahweh: An evil, an only evil; behold, it comes. 7:6 An end has come, the end has come; it awakes against you; behold, it comes. 7:7 Your doom has come to you, inhabitant of the land: the time has come, the day is near, a day of tumult, and not of joyful shouting, on the mountains. 7:8 Now will I shortly pour out my wrath on you, and accomplish my anger against you, and will judge you according to your ways; and I will bring on you all your abominations. 7:9 My eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: I will bring on you according to your ways; and your abominations shall be in the midst of you; and you shall know that I, Yahweh, do strike. 7:10 Behold, the day, behold, it comes: your doom is gone forth; the rod has blossomed, pride has budded. 7:11 Violence has risen up into a rod of wickedness. None of them shall remain, nor of their multitude, nor of their wealth. There shall be nothing of value among them. 7:12 The time has come, the day draws near: don’t let the buyer rejoice, nor the seller mourn; for wrath is on all its multitude. 7:13 For the seller shall not return to that which is sold, although they be yet alive: for the vision is touching the whole multitude of it, none shall return; neither shall any strengthen himself in the iniquity of his life. 7:14 They have blown the trumpet, and have made all ready; but none goes to the battle; for my wrath is on all its multitude. 7:15 The sword is outside, and the pestilence and the famine within: he who is in the field shall die with the sword: and he who is in the city, famine and pestilence shall devour him. 7:16 But those of those who escape shall escape, and shall be on the mountains like doves of the valleys, all of them moaning, every one in his iniquity. 7:17 All hands shall be feeble, and all knees shall be weak as water. 7:18 They shall also clothe themselves with sackcloth, and horror shall cover them; and shame shall be on all faces, and baldness on all their heads. 7:19 They shall cast their silver in the streets, and their gold shall be as an unclean thing; their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of Yahweh: they shall not satisfy their souls, neither fill their bowels; because it has been the stumbling block of their iniquity. 7:20 As for the beauty of his ornament, he set it in majesty; but they made the images of their abominations and their detestable things therein: therefore have I made it to them as an unclean thing. 7:21 I will give it into the hands of the strangers for a prey, and to the wicked of the earth for a spoil; and they shall profane it. 7:22 My face will I turn also from them, and they shall profane my secret place; and robbers shall enter into it, and profane it. 7:23 Make the chain; for the land is full of bloody crimes, and the city is full of violence. 7:24 Therefore I will bring the worst of the nations, and they shall possess their houses: I will also make the pride of the strong to cease; and their holy places shall be profaned. 7:25 Destruction comes; and they shall seek peace, and there shall be none. 7:26 Mischief shall come on mischief, and rumor shall be on rumor; and they shall seek a vision of the prophet; but the law shall perish from the priest, and counsel from the elders. 7:27 The king shall mourn, and the prince shall be clothed with desolation, and the hands of the people of the land shall be troubled: I will do to them after their way, and according to their own judgments will I judge them; and they shall know that I am Yahweh.

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Posted 11 September 2007 - 10:10 AM

Third Portion

Luke 3


3:1 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 3:2 in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness. 3:3 He came into all the region around the Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for remission of sins. 3:4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
‘Make ready the way of the Lord.
Make his paths straight.
3:5 Every valley will be filled.
Every mountain and hill will be brought low.
The crooked will become straight,
and the rough ways smooth.
3:6 All flesh will see God’s salvation.’”

3:7 He said therefore to the multitudes who went out to be baptized by him, “You offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and don’t begin to say among yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father;’ for I tell you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones! 3:9 Even now the axe also lies at the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that doesn’t bring forth good fruit is cut down, and thrown into the fire.”

3:10 The multitudes asked him, “What then must we do?”

3:11 He answered them, “He who has two coats, let him give to him who has none. He who has food, let him do likewise.”

3:12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, “Teacher, what must we do?”

3:13 He said to them, “Collect no more than that which is appointed to you.”

3:14 Soldiers also asked him, saying, “What about us? What must we do?”

He said to them, “Extort from no one by violence, neither accuse anyone wrongfully. Be content with your wages.”

3:15 As the people were in expectation, and all men reasoned in their hearts concerning John, whether perhaps he was the Christ, 3:16 John answered them all, “I indeed baptize you with water, but he comes who is mightier than I, the latchet of whose sandals I am not worthy to loosen. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire, 3:17 whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly cleanse his threshing floor, and will gather the wheat into his barn; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

3:18 Then with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people, 3:19 but Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias, his brother’s wife, and for all the evil things which Herod had done, 3:20 added this also to them all, that he shut up John in prison. 3:21 Now it happened, when all the people were baptized, Jesus also had been baptized, and was praying. The sky was opened, 3:22 and the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily form as a dove on him; and a voice came out of the sky, saying “You are my beloved Son. In you I am well pleased.”

3:23 Jesus himself, when he began to teach, was about thirty years old, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli, 3:24 the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph, 3:25 the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, 3:26 the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Joseph, the son of Judah, 3:27 the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, 3:28 the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmodam, the son of Er, 3:29 the son of Jose, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, 3:30 the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonan, the son of Eliakim, 3:31 the son of Melea, the son of Menan, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David, 3:32 the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon, 3:33 the son of Amminadab, the son of Aram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, 3:34 the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, 3:35 the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, 3:36 the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, 3:37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalaleel, the son of Cainan, 3:38 the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

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Posted 11 September 2008 - 10:38 AM

11 September 2008

2 Kings 17
Ezekiel 7
Luke 3

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Posted 11 September 2009 - 11:03 AM

11 September 2009

2 Kings 17
Ezekiel 7
Luke 3

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 04:28 AM

11 September 2010

2 Kings 17
Ezekiel 7
Luke 3

EZEKIEL’S MESSAGE ABOUT TODAY

Our readings in Ezekiel of the message God sent through him to the people of Israel stresses that the bad things that were now happening in the land were because the people had stopped truly believing in God; many did not serve him at all. It was very like the world is today. As we listen to the news each morning, we can often imagine, without much difficulty, that Ezekiel was writing to us now in some of the verses we read in Ezekiel 7.

“Violence has risen up into a rod of wickedness” [Ezekiel 7:11] “The land is filled with crimes of blood and the city is full of violence” [Ezekiel 7:23] “Disaster will come upon disaster” [Ezekiel 7:26]

We thought about how, 9 years ago today, the planes crashed into the twin towers of the Trade Centre in New York bringing them crashing to the ground. A great many were killed – and the event has spawned its own heritage of hate and fear . Since then God has brought or allowed many more disasters; the Tsunami; the dreadful fires with many deaths in Victoria and now, the worst flooding in decades. As we look at the future there is great anxiety of how we can possibly cope with even greater heat and therefore more and maybe bigger fires because of the way the climate is changing.

Our reading in Luke was about the preaching of John the Baptist and what he said in making forecasts about the work of the Messiah, for whom he was the forerunner. One part of what he said has not happened yet; he did not realize there would be a second coming. When that occurs, that other part will be fulfilled.

He said of Jesus that, at that time “his winnowing fork (threshing implement) is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire” [Luke 3:17]

There is a great amount of chaff in Australia and in all countries of the world. There is intense spiritual darkness. Have we got enough of the right kind of oil in our vessels to keep our lamps burning brightly? We must not neglect the input of God’s word into our minds every day.
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Posted 11 September 2011 - 06:34 AM

11 September 2011

2 Kings 17
Ezekiel 7
Luke 3

"WHO WARNED YOU TO FLEE FROM THE WRATH TO COME"

What would you think if someone said the above words to you? Well – who said them – and who was he talking to? Our Luke 3 reading today tells us that John the Baptist “said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptised by him, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?’” [Luke 3:7] What a way to invite your hearers to be baptised!

When we compare this with Matthew’s Gospel [Matthew 3:7], we see that this comment was provoked “when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism” Luke tells us that John’s next words were, “Bear fruits in keeping with repentance” which we could ‘translate’ as – live a way that shows you really are repentant.

John’s next words are especially significant – they show he is aware of the subtlety of thinking the human mind is capable of. He says, “And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father” [Luke 3:8]. What is the essential point of this comment?

It is the subtlety of human self deception leading them to excuse themselves from doing deeds, from productively working in the Lord’s vineyard, but instead, indulging in a spirit of self satisfaction because of the blessing of their heritage. A modern equivalent could be, ‘I have read all the writings of the pioneer brethren and I have a well marked Bible’.

Bearing fruit is a lifelong work. Think of all the preparation work in tending that which we have planted, keeping it free from disease, well manured and watered – before it bears fruit. Paul is the ultimate example of a worker in the Lord’s vineyard, Finally, what about “the wrath to come”? John was not talking of physically fleeing away but of having confident trust in the Lord’s guiding care – as we read in so many of the Psalms of David,

Today, as the world remembers its horror at events 10 years ago we think of Isaiah’s prophecy, “in the day of great slaughter, when the towers fall” [Isaiah 30:25] and see the point and power of the words of the prophet Zephaniah’s words in Zephaniah 2:2-3.
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Posted 11 September 2012 - 04:39 AM

11 September 2012

2 Kings 17
Ezekiel 7
Luke 3

"WHAT THEN SHALL WE DO?"

Our 3 readings today have, in a sense, a common theme. Luke 3 gives us the message that John the Baptist preached in the wilderness; but first we noted his opening 3 verses. Luke was a real historian and he gives details of 5 different Gentiles who were in power when John began his preaching. Sceptics in the 19th Century, emboldened by the new evolution theory, searched into secular history thinking they would surely find some inaccuracies in Luke, but to their probable dismay, they found his detail fully confirmed. It was the same with his book of Acts and this strengthened the faith of wavering believers in those days.

John “went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance” [Luke 3:3] he was fulfilling what Isaiah had been caused to prophecy, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord’” [Luke 3:4] There had been no prophet since Malachi some 400 years earlier. When we compare Matthew 3:5 onwards we see that his anger in saying, in Luke’s record, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” [Luke 3:7] is directed against the religious leaders.

We saw comparisons with Ezekiel’s message [Ezekiel 7] sent to the people remaining in Jerusalem. Those who had already gone into captivity like himself and Daniel were actually in a better situation. Our reading in 2 Kings 17 is about the collapse of the northern kingdom, this last kingdom was actually so evil that it’s last king had even “burned his son as an offering” [2 Kings 16:3] to the false gods he thought might help him! We note that the remaining godly people in the north had in previous reigns moved south to worship the LORD in Jerusalem. [2 Chronicles 15:9].

After John the Baptist warned off the religious leaders “the crowds asked him, ‘What then shall we do?’” and his answer is not just to be baptised, but to change their lives and where they have two of anything “to share with him who has none, and whomever has food is to do likewise.” [Luke 3:10] This is a fundamental message of the New Testament. Baptism is an essential step in following Christ, but it must be followed by sharing our faith and doing good works. It is pleasing to live in a country where the Govt also looks after the poor as best it can, including the poor in other countries. With what great efficiency will this happen when Jesus returns – but until then we know the things we should do – against a background of great waste of money and time by so many of the people around us in their pursuit of leisure and pleasure.
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Posted 11 September 2013 - 04:51 AM

11 September 2013

2 Kings 17
Ezekiel 7
Luke 3

“DISASTER AFTER DISASTER: BEHOLD IT COMES”

Our Ezekiel reading [Ezekiel 7] is initially about the disaster coming on the people still living in Jerusalem. Ezekiel was a priest and is among those taken into captivity [Ezekiel 1:1] some years before Jerusalem is destroyed. Those taken away are earnestly hoping to return to the land of their birth, but God gives Ezekiel only bad news for them.

Indeed the words he is inspired to write appear to have an application beyond the destruction of Jerusalem at that time – and we know there was a great and terrible destruction, including its’ Temple, after the time of Jesus, which he prophesied and which we will read later this month. Yet the language of God to Ezekiel is such that we can see a potential application to events in these final days, for more and more are turning their minds away from any belief in a Creator of any kind! Contemplate God’s attitude here and now and the potential for his actions!

So many are living totally for the moment, for opportunities to follow fleshly desires each day. Note some of the words of the LORD that come to Ezekiel, “Now the end is upon you, I will judge you according to your ways, and I will punish you for all your abominations, my eye will not spare you … I will punish you for your ways … Thus says the Lord GOD; Disaster after disaster! Behold, it comes. An end has come; the end has come …” [Ezekiel 7:3-6]

This language is so emphatic that we are convinced it has a wider application than the impending news about the fall of Jerusalem and the Temple. God’s words through Ezekiel are repeated with emphasis in Ezekiel 7:10-11; “Behold it comes! Your doom has come; the rod has budded. Violence has grown up into a rod of wickedness. None of them shall remain, nor their abundance, nor their wealth …” The abundance of Jerusalem had already been dissipated by previous conquests, so this is surely looking to more than the immediate situation.

When we came to our Luke reading [Luke 3] we noted in the preaching of John the Baptist words which have also not yet been fulfilled! They are about the work of the Messiah, that “his winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” [Luke 3:17] That has not happened – yet. Long range prophecies are a feature of God’s word! What shocks await our world!? God says, “I will punish you for all your abominations … disaster after disaster, behold it comes.”

It was 12 years ago TODAY that the massive twin towers collapsed in New York! How long before tomorrow? Are you ready for tomorrow? We will all need “the strength that God supplies” – read 1 Peter 4:7-11.
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Posted 11 September 2014 - 01:16 PM

11 September 2014
 
2 Kings 17
Ezekiel 7
Luke 3  
 
“CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS” 
            
The world is a spiritual wilderness today.  We read today of when John the Baptist appeared on the scene and that he was a “voice crying in the wilderness” [Luke 3:4] – it was a spiritual wilderness then too, there had been no prophet from God for about 400 years – since the days of Malachi.   Today there has been no message from God that people have taken serious notice of since the Bible was translated and printed and became available in all major languages, this was at least 400 years ago. People “listened” to God’s “voice” then and the world underwent a spiritual reformation; but deafness set in again more and more with each generation until today, nearly all are totally ‘deaf.’
            
We saw significant parallels in our Ezekiel reading [Ezekiel 7] today.  The 10 northern tribes that made up the kingdom of Israel, as distinct from Judah in the south, had become so wicked that they were all in the process of being taken away into captivity: the southern kingdom was soon to follow.  However, God’s words through Ezekiel, could be his words to the great majority today.  It seems no one was listening to Ezekiel – and it’s the same today, so few are seriously listening.
            
“Behold the day! Behold it comes!  Your doom has come” [Ezekiel 7:10] wrote Ezekiel, adding, “Violence has grown up into a rod of wickedness” [Ezekiel 7:11]  He continues, “The time has come; the day has arrived.  Let not the buyer rejoice, nor the seller mourn, for wrath is upon all …” [Ezekiel 7:12] “When anguish comes they will seek peace, but there shall be none.  Disaster comes upon disaster….” [Ezekiel 7:25-26]  
            
Thankfully, wonderfully, there is an end coming to the disasters that will surely multiply in today’s world’. Those who know God’s word and have established a relationship with him, will know where to “seek peace” and that “the prince of peace” will return “and the government shall be upon his shoulder” [Isaiah 9:6] and “the wilderness” will be no more – but only those who have heard (by reading and thinking and believing) “the voice crying in the wilderness” will experience the everlasting wonders that “that day” will bring.  Are you listening? What effect is it having on your heart?
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Posted 11 September 2015 - 09:35 AM

11 September 2015
 
2 Kings 17
Ezekiel 7
Luke 3  
 
"DISASTER ... RUMOUR" – EZEKIEL'S MESSAGE ABOUT TODAY
 
The message God sent through Ezekiel to the people of Israel stressed that the bad things that were then happening in and around Jerusalem were because the people had stopped truly believing in God; they were acting as if he did not exist - they ignored him, they did not serve him at all.  How like that is our world!  As we listen to the news each morning, we can often imagine, without much difficulty, that Ezekiel was writing to us today.  Consider some of the verses we read today in Ezekiel 7.
        
“Violence has risen up into a rod of wickedness” [Ezekiel 7:7] “The land is filled with crimes of blood and the city is full of violence” [Ezekiel 7:23]  “Disaster comes upon disaster; rumour follows rumour” [Ezekiel 7:26]     
         
We thought about how, 14 years ago today, planes deliberately hit the twin towers of the Trade Centre in New York bringing them crashing to the ground.  Since then God has brought or allowed many more disasters; the tsunamis; massive Japanese earthquakes, the worst flooding in decades in parts of Australia, violent storms in Vanuatu and horrific earthquakes in Nepal.  And today, the huge refugee crisis in the Middle East, but this is man-made!.
            
As we look at the future there is great anxiety, especially among leaders of how the world can possibly cope with even greater heat and therefore more and maybe bigger fires because of the way the climate is changing – also  the awesome effects of the rising sea levels because the Arctic and Antarctic ice is melting.
             
Our reading in Luke was about the preaching of John the Baptist and what he said in making forecasts about the work of the Messiah, for whom he was the forerunner.  One part of what he said has not happened yet; John did not realize there would be a second coming of the Messiah.  When that occurs, that other part will be fulfilled.  
            
What he said was that, at that time Jesus would have “his winnowing fork (threshing implement) in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire” [Luke 3:17]    Chaff is everywhere! That is, wickedness, total godlessness in all countries of the world.  We are surrounded by intense spiritual darkness.  
            
Have we got enough of the right kind of oil in our vessels to keep our lamps burning brightly?  We must not neglect the input of God’s word into our minds every day so that we are spiritually strong and able to cope with the disasters and the rumours the news brings to us each morning. Jesus said, before he returns there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now...” [Mark 13:19]
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- DC


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Posted 11 September 2016 - 06:13 AM

11 September 2016
 
2 Kings 17
Ezekiel 7
Luke 3 
 
“DISASTER AFTER DISASTER: BEHOLD IT COMES”
 
Our Ezekiel reading [Ezekiel 7] is initially about the disaster coming on the people still living in Jerusalem. Ezekiel was a priest and is among those taken into captivity [Ezekiel 1:1] some years before Jerusalem is destroyed. Those taken away are earnestly hoping to return to the land of their birth, but God gives Ezekiel only bad news for them.
 
Indeed the words he is inspired to write appear to have an application beyond the destruction of Jerusalem at that time – and we know there was a great and terrible destruction, including its’ Temple, after the time of Jesus, which he prophesied and which we will read later this month. Yet the language of God to Ezekiel is such that we can see a potential application to events in these final days, for more and more are turning their minds away from any belief in a Creator of any kind! Contemplate God’s attitude here and now and the potential for his actions!
 
So many are living totally for the moment, for opportunities to follow fleshly desires each day. Note some of the words of the LORD that come to Ezekiel, “Now the end is upon you, I will judge you according to your ways, and I will punish you for all your abominations, my eye will not spare you … I will punish you for your ways … Thus says the Lord GOD; Disaster after disaster! Behold, it comes. An end has come; the end has come …” [Ezekiel 7:3-6] 
 
This language is so emphatic that we are convinced it has a wider application than the impending news about the fall of Jerusalem and the Temple. God’s words through Ezekiel are repeated with emphasis in Ezekiel 7:10-11; “Behold it comes! Your doom has come; the rod has budded. Violence has grown up into a rod of wickedness. None of them shall remain, nor their abundance, nor their wealth …” The abundance of Jerusalem had already been dissipated by previous conquests, so this is surely looking to more than the immediate situation.
 
When we came to our Luke reading [Luke 4] we noted in the preaching of John the Baptist words which have also not yet been fulfilled! They are about the work of the Messiah, that “his winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” [Luke 3:17] That has not happened – yet. Long range prophecies are a feature of God’s word! What shocks await our world!? God says, “I will punish you for all your abominations … disaster after disaster, behold it comes.” 
 
It was 15 years ago TODAY that the massive twin towers collapsed in New York! How long before tomorrow? Are you ready for tomorrow? We will all need “the strength that God supplies” – read 1 Peter 4:7-11.
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- DC


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Posted 12 September 2017 - 09:25 AM

11 September 2017
 
2 Kings 17
Ezekiel 7
Luke 3 
 
"WHAT THEN SHALL WE DO?"
 
Our 3 readings today have, in a sense, a common theme. Luke 3 gives us the message that John the Baptist preached in the wilderness; but first we noted his opening 3 verses.  
 
Luke was a real historian and he gives details of 5 different Gentiles who were in power when John began his preaching. Sceptics in the Nineteenth Century, emboldened by the new evolution theory, searched into secular history thinking they would surely find some inaccuracies in Luke, but to their dismay, they found so much of his historic detail fully confirmed. It was the same with his book of Acts and this strengthened the faith of wavering believers a hundred and more years ago.
 
John "went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance" [Luke 3:3] he was fulfilling what Isaiah had been caused to prophecy, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness, 'Prepare the way of the Lord'" [Luke 3:4] There had been no prophet since Malachi some 400 years earlier. When we compare Matthew 3:5 onwards we see that his anger in saying, in Luke's record, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" [Luke 3:7] is directed against the religious leaders.
 
There are comparisons with Ezekiel's message [Ezekiel 7] from captivity which we also read today which he sent to the people remaining in Jerusalem. Those who had already gone into captivity like himself and Daniel were actually in a better situation. 
 
Our reading in 2 Kings 17 was about the collapse of the northern kingdom, this last kingdom was actually so evil that it's last king had even "burned his son as an offering" [2 Kings 16:3] to the false gods he thought might help him! We note that the remaining godly people in the north had in previous reigns moved south to worship the LORD in Jerusalem. [2 Chronicles 15:9].
 
After John the Baptist warned off the religious leaders "the crowds asked him, 'What then shall we do?'" and his answer was more than - to be baptised, although that is essential (as practised after Jesus ascended to heaven [Acts 2:41]). It was to be followed by a change to their lives and where they have two of anything "to share with him who has none, and whomever has food is to do likewise." [Luke 3:10] This is a fundamental message of the New Testament. Baptism is an essential step in following Christ, but it must be followed by sharing our faith and doing good works. 
 
What a blessing it is to live in a country where the Government also looks after the poor as best it can, and also tries to give some help the poor in other countries. Finally we ponder the great efficiency in doing this when Jesus returns – but until then we know the things we should do against a background of great waste of money and time by so many of the people around us in their pursuit of leisure and pleasure. We know the right answer to the question - "What then shall we do?"
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- DC





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