Sunday, April 18, 2021 @ 9:45 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.
The Rev. Thomas Nibbe
“…when all this comes true—and it surely will—then they will know
that a prophet has been among them…” (Ezekiel 33:33)
“…when we pray to God we must be seeking nothing—nothing…
we should seek not so much to pray, but to become prayer…”
(Francis of Assisi)
[Think about this statement in light of recent comments about our current
problems that we need to stop praying and start doing something about
them…the Biblical mindset perceives things in a much different light than
the mindset that limits God’s action and the response of the “faither”.]
“…reason is the enemy of faith…” (Martin Luther)
[We need reason to comprehend things in general, but to be truly
successful in life, a person must transcend reason…to deal adequately
with the wide range of challenges in a real day-to-day life.]
“…beating yourself on your head over the consequences of sinning
is not Gospel-centered living…” (William Holland)
“…be a sinner and sin boldly, but more strongly have faith and
and rejoice in Christ…” (Martin Luther)
[Thanks, Brother Marty! Do not wallow in negativity.
Be human. Enjoy life. Be grateful for God’s grace.
Nobody’s perfect, not even y’all out there! Enjoy, Savor!]
“…then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open
your graves and bring you up from them…I will put my Spirit in you
and you will live…then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken,
and I will have done it, declares the Lord…” (Ezekiel 37:13-14)
[The Word doesn’t get more powerful than this…]
“…above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to all those
He loves is that of overcoming self…” (Francis of Assisi)
“…depression is when something in your life has become
more important than God…” (Dr. Jonathan Haidt)
“…you should not believe your conscience and your feelings
more than the Word which the Lord who receives sinners
preaches to you…” (Martin Luther)
Would you join me in prayer?
Gracious God, we want to thank you today for your abiding presence in our lives.
Often, we figure we know the score…that is…what’s happening in our lives.
Sometimes we feel we have overcome our human condition and we don’t need
you anymore…when…all of sudden…we comprehend in the everyday situations of
life that we are overwhelmed…or that we simply haven’t understood what we’ve
gotten ourselves into.
You provide pleasant circumstances for us — and in a growing spiritual maturity —
we recognize that unpleasant situations in our lives are necessary to keep us on
the straight-and-narrow, as well as, within a divine broadening perspective.
We are going to walk with you and know that in all things you will provide abundantly
for us, and those we pray for, and those who we can assist in their journey.
In short, we commend ourselves into your care and keeping. We know that whatever
happens you are there for us and you will reveal your goodness in our behalf.
In Jesus’ name.
The message for this Sunday will fall in line with the “live” return to
the Bible Study at 9:45 a.m. in Pacifica, which began five years ago
and ceased one year ago with our final remarks about the Prophet
Jeremiah. The pandemic took over from there up until the present.
I’ve come to the conclusion that we cannot understand the New
Testament until we have thoroughly experienced and understood
the Old Testament. Marcion, theologian of the fourth century A.D.,
was wrong. We cannot dispense with the rich settings of the Old
Testament, the Hebrew Bible, in light of having the New Testament.
Some folks, tongue in cheek, suggest that we preachers are really
heretics because we normally only teach and preach from “four books”
of the Holy Bible. The attempt here is to focus in upon revelation that
has had a powerful spiritual impact upon God’s people for 2,607 years.
Let’s start to examine and come to terms with “Ezekiel on Steroids”
in preparation for the Bible Study series that begins today. Many Bible
students need something in writing, along with a specific focus that will
create “mind pictures” and study helps that will leave an impression for
years of blessing to come. Let’s start this way…
Is Ezekiel a true prophet of Yahweh?
Let’s turn to the first verse of the first chapter of the book…
“…in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day, while I was among
the exiles by the Kebar River, the heavens were opened and I saw visions
In the first verse of the first chapter of Ezekiel we get our answer.
To understand and appreciate the prophesy of Ezekiel we need to turn to:
This verse will help us to unlock what we need to understand about Ezekiel
and the Bible as a whole.
The text reads, “…in the twelfth year of our exile, in the tenth month on the
fifth day, a man who had escaped from Jerusalem came to me and said,
‘…the city has fallen…’ “
Let’s go back to 598 (597) B.C. Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, made
his number-two run (conquest) through the Holy Land. He took back to
Babylon with him a second group of Judah’s “cream of the crop” to administer
the capitol and the country of Babylon. His first trip literally took “the best of
the best” in the Holy Land, in 601 B.C., included Daniel, who had by this time
proved to be a great administrator there. The king wanted more servants to
run his country. In 586 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar would return to the Holy Land,
lay siege to Jerusalem, destroy the temple and all else, and haul off all the
inhabitants of the land, and they’d be in Babylonian Captivity for seventy years.
Now turn to “Lamentations” to get the full effect of the destruction of Jerusalem.
So we note three prophetic voices for God’s people in this section of the Bible.
Daniel was first to arrive in Babylon way before Ezekiel. Ezekiel, by the time
Jerusalem was leveled, had been in Babylon for twelve years. AND…Jeremiah
was in Jerusalem to witness the destruction wrought by the King. The message
for me is…God covers “all the bases” when He needs to direct people to live by
His Word…the destruction of Jerusalem was not an accident, nor was it a means
to punish God’s people, as much as it was a “divine intervention” to save the
people from their own rulers…and from themselves…
[It’s not our purpose to go elsewhere at this point, but, did you know, that God’s
people lost the Torah, the Pentateuch, the Five Books of Moses, including the
Ten Commandments, for eight-hundred years? These sacred works were
recovered in 622 B.C. during the reign of King Josiah, but, after several years
of spiritual revival, the people returned to their old corrupt ways. God needed
to finally do something about it, so He used the enemy of God’s people to
disengage the appearance of holiness and decency, and calls Nebuchadnezzar
“my servant”. Just for future reference, please note 2 Kings 22:1-20…note also
the confusing, head-scratching passage in 1 Samuel 3:1-7 from circa 1000 B.C.]
In my translation of the text, it is written, “The Glory Departs From the Temple”.
This was to all appearance perhaps the greatest tragedy of all Scripture…
other than the picture we may have of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross.
However, we need to envision beyond appearance. Often it’s hard to do
when we witness the terrible things that can happen on planet earth…
especially when it affects us in a very personal way…
Saint Paul says about this, “…and we know in all things God works for the
good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose…”
But…then with the Temple in ruins…and God’s people in captivity…the focus
of the captives was now upon the Word…and it would have a powerful, binding
effect for seventy years of Babylonian Captivity. What would happen…?
Reverence for the Temple would be replaced by awesome respect for the
Scriptures finally recovered in 622 B.C. after being lost for 800 years…
the Passover hadn’t been celebrated since the time of the Judges…because
the Torah had been misplaced or lost during all those years after Moses,
most likely during or shortly after the Conquest of Canaan (15th C.– B.C.)
The people for the first time in centuries would be bound to God’s Word.
(2 Kings 23:22)
A new institution would develop, not in the Holy Land, but in Babylon, and
that would be the synagogue, where God’s people would discuss and
argue the meaning of the Word…focus was upon what the Book said…a big
part of worship became how to interpret what the Book said through dialogue.
So…in retrospect…you may understand why I think Ezekiel 33:21 is so very
important in interpreting the Bible…
God’s people would be called “Jews” for the first time in human history
(Jeremiah 32:12c). This is because Israel was defeated and scattered in
721 B.C., leaving only “Judah” to exist as a nation. Evidently the people
were called “Jews” as a shortened form of some name that identified them.
The name and form of the religion would change. The name of the
religion from the time of Abraham up until the destruction of Jerusalem
was “Yahwism”, after “Yahweh”, the correct name of the God of the Bible.
With the radically new central focus upon the Scriptures and the
development of the Synagogue the new religion would be called Judaism.
The Northern Kingdom, Israel, had been long gone by that time, Judaism
became the religion of the people of the Southern Kingdom, Judah.
The religion would change in form.
The God of the people would remain the same.
“I AM THAT I AM”
…that is to say…
In succeeding messages we’ll focus in upon the colorful language
and images of Ezekiel’s prophesy meant to leave a permanent mark
upon our hearts and minds. We’ll ask the question, “What’s going
on here?” and answer that question several times over.
Best wishes to all of us as we take on Ezekiel on Steroids.