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Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Ezekiel 10-13

Vain Hope

A category five hurricane bears down on the gulf coast, headed straight for one of the coastal or inland cities. A total evacuation is ordered, but there are families that want to wait out the storm. They believe their homes are well-fortified. Most of us would say “they are very foolish; they are deceiving themselves; they will be destroyed.” Yet they tell themselves lies: “The weatherman does not know what he is talking about. We have always been able to weather the storms in previous years. This one will be no different.” They are clinging to a vain hope. What about us? Do we ever lie to ourselves? Maybe it is our home that is about to be torn apart. Maybe we are about to lose our business. The way to safety may have been already offered, and we refuse, although our lives hang by a thread. Where is our hope?

The leaders and people of Jerusalem at the time of King Zedekiah are clinging to a vain hope. Already, the vast majority of God’s people have been forcibly evacuated into exile by Babylon, including the priest and prophet, Ezekiel, the royal family and the army. They are safe in Babylon. They will not experience the last invasion which will destroy their beloved city.

The exiles put off the words of Ezekiel when he relates his vision to them. They simply cannot believe God will allow their city, their land, their friends, and their relatives to be destroyed, no matter how bad things are (meanwhile, Jews in Jerusalem are also putting off the final warnings of Jeremiah; see Jeremiah 37:2). Ezekiel is like a weather forecaster to whom they refuse to listen when the hurricane (Babylon) is bearing down upon their beloved nation. The people feel confident in Jerusalem’s ability to withstand Babylon because Jerusalem is well fortified. They feel safe as a building having steel or iron gates (or as “meat inside a cooking pot,” Ezekiel 11:3, NIV). However, they are not safe. Safety is found in God alone. In Him is forgiveness, peace, spiritual life and blessings. He protects those who look to Him for their salvation (more...).

In a vision, Ezekiel sees God’s presence leaving the temple in Jerusalem. His glorious presence removes from the city because the leaders of Jerusalem plot wickedness and will no longer listen. They continually worship idols, prostituting themselves before them. God will soon put them to death by the army of Babylon. In the vision, Ezekiel also sees a man in splendor (possibly a manifestation of God appearing as a man, a theophany). He was previously described in Ezekiel 8:2, but is now dressed in linen (a priestly garment of humility). He is told to take burning coals from strange heavenly creatures, called Cherubim, and scatter them over Jerusalem, symbolizing the burning of Jerusalem by the invading nation. Jerusalem will soon suffer hunger and disease from the final siege by Babylon. Those who escape the city and try to flee to the mountains will be put to the sword. God will allow the city and its inhabitants to be destroyed but will show kindness and favor to some exiles who are evacuated to safety.

Amazingly, the exiles think Jerusalem will be spared because it is God’s city with God’s temple, but God’s presence leaves them and settles on the Mount of Olives, just outside the city. It is at the Mount of Olives where Jesus will someday return. He will then spiritually and physically save all remaining Jews in the world. He will bring them back to the city, protect it, renew it, reign from the it, and bring peace to the city and the whole world, but not now. Now God will destroy the city in which His people, His presence and His name has dwelt for almost five hundred years.

Because the Jews in Babylon do not believe Jerusalem will be destroyed and its people taken into exile, the LORD resorts back to using object lessons to get their attention. God instructs Ezekiel to dramatize the coming exile. Perhaps, then they may see it and comprehend what is going to happen (12:3). First, Ezekiel packs up his belongings in broad daylight so that all will see what he is going to do. Then, at night he digs a hole through the city wall and escapes through it. This action prophesies what King Zedekiah (referred to as the prince because he is not God's anointed ruler) will try to do, but he will be captured and taken to Babylon where he will die. Next, Ezekiel is to eat his last meal trembling and shuddering to show how Jerusalem will feel with the impending disaster bearing down upon them.

Once again the Jewish people in Babylon deny this, saying Ezekiel is talking of judgment to come some time in the distant future. Instead, they choose to believe deceiving prophets and prophetesses. The prophets try to give the exiles hope for the future of Jerusalem by whitewashing a flimsy wall, saying it is not time for destruction; it is a time to build.

Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “In my wrath I will unleash a violent wind, and in my anger hailstones and torrents of rain will fall with destructive fury. I will tear down the wall you have covered with whitewash and will level it to the ground so that its foundation will be laid bare. When it falls, you will be destroyed in it; and you will know that I am the LORD,” (Ezekiel 13:13 –14, NIV).

The prophetesses use magic charms and veils of various lengths to look mysterious. This causes the people to think the prophetesses know something and thereby they entrap them by deception. The prophetesses give the people what they want to hear in exchange for meager food rations, but God will do away with them for giving the people a vain hope.

What about you? Do you cling to vain hopes? Do you listen to lies or words of comfort when you should be listening to the hard truth? Where is your hope? Is your hope in your talents and abilities, your health, your house, your family, your business, or your wealth? All these things can be destroyed. God brings hope, protection, and renewal of heart and soul. Trust Him today (more...).

Lessons to Live By

  • Be real. Don’t cling to false hopes or listen to lies. God will judge those who are deceptive and perpetrate lies.
  • God is loving; He warns us to flee from wickedness and the ways of destruction so we will not be destroyed.
  • Ultimate safety is found in God alone.
  • Do not cling to a vain hope that because nothing bad has happened yet, nothing will happen, and the storms will just blow over. God is loving, but God does judge sin. Heed His warnings, and leave your life of sin – save yourself (more...).
  • God is a sure hope for those who trust in Him.

Today’s Bible Memory Verse

Psalm 42:5-6a (NIV) “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

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