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traffic exiting before hurricane August 15 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: 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, though our lives hang by a thread. Where is our hope?

The leaders and people of Jerusalem at the time of King Zedekiah were clinging to a vain hope. Already the great majority of God’s people had been forcibly evacuated into exile by Babylon, including the priest and prophet, Ezekiel, the royal family and the army. They were safe in Babylon. They would not experience the last invasion which was to destroy their beloved city. The exiles put off the words of Ezekiel when he related his vision to them. They simply could not believe that God would allow their city, their land, their friends, and their relatives to be destroyed, no matter how bad things were (later, Jews in Jerusalem would also put off the final warnings of Jeremiah; Jeremiah 37:2). Ezekiel was like a weather forecaster to whom they refused to listen when the hurricane (Babylon) was bearing down upon their beloved nation. The people felt confident in Jerusalem’s ability to withstand Babylon because Jerusalem was well fortified. They felt safe as a place having steel or iron gates (or as “meat inside a cooking pot,” Ezekiel 11:3, NIV). However, they were 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 saw God’s presence leaving the temple in Jerusalem. His presence removed from the city because the leaders of Jerusalem plotted wickedness and would no longer listen. They continually worshipped idols, prostituting themselves before them. God would soon put them to death by the army of Babylon. In the vision Ezekiel saw an appearance of God (a theophany). A man in splendor, previously described in Ezekiel 8:2, was now dressed in linen. He was 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 would soon suffer hunger and disease from the final siege by Babylon. Those who escaped the city would be put to the sword. God would allow the city and its inhabitants to be destroyed but would show some kindness and favor to the exiles who were evacuated to safety.

Amazingly, the exiles thought Jerusalem would be spared because it was God’s city with God’s temple, but God’s presence left them and settled 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 would destroy the city in which his people, his presence and his name had dwelt for hundreds of years.

Because the Jews in Babylon did not believe Jerusalem would be destroyed and its people taken into exile, Ezekiel was told to dramatize the coming exile. Perhaps, then they might see it and comprehend what God said was going to happen (12:3). First, Ezekiel was to pack up his belongings in broad daylight so that all would see what he was going to do. Then, at night he was to dig a hole through the city wall and escape through it. This action prophesied what King Zedekiah would try to do, but he would be captured and taken to Babylon where he would die. Next, Ezekiel was to eat his last meal trembling and shuddering to show how Jerusalem would feel with the impending disaster bearing down upon them.

Once again the Jewish people in Babylon denied this, saying that Ezekiel was talking of judgment some time in the distant future. They instead chose to believe deceiving prophets and prophetesses. The prophets tried 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 would use magic charms and veils of various lengths to look mysterious. This would cause the people to think the prophetesses knew something and thereby entrap them by deception. The prophetesses would give the people what they wanted to hear in exchange for meager food rations, but God would 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 that 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, that 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 “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, ” (NIV).

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