Among the Nations
And they shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall scatter them among the nations, and disperse them in the countries. (Ezekiel 12:15)
AFTER SOLOMON DIED, the twelve tribes of the Nation of Israel divided into two nations called Israel and Judah: Ten tribes in the north and two tribes in the south. Israel, the northern ten tribes, forsook God and followed idolatry until God brought the nation of Assyria upon them and deported them north. There the ten tribes were scattered among the people of Assyria and were never heard from again. A small remnant of them migrated back down to Judah so they could continue to worship Jehovah at the Temple in Jerusalem.
BUT, AFTER 150 YEARS, JUDAH WAS AS BADLY STEEPED IN IDOLATRY as her sister, Israel. They both wanted to be like their neighbors and serve their gods. We must remember that idolatry included the presence of demons and the demons manifested their power in ways to convince people to submit to them. The Jewish men liked the religious prostitutes that were a prominent part of the picture. Many children were born by the religious prostitutes and they were subject to human sacrifice, “passing them through the fire.”
THIS WAS HAPPENING IN HE VALLEY OF HINNOM just outside of Jerusalem. Under the reforms of Josiah this valley of child sacrifice became the garbage dump of Jerusalem. Fires were always burning there, trying to dispose of the city’s garbage. Maggots (worms) were always working in the dead animals that had not yet been consumed by the fires. Jesus used this scene to picture hell as a place where the fires is not quenched and the worm dieth not. (Mark 9:44)
TO THE JEWS, GOD WAS NOT SOVEREIGN. He was not above all. The covenant God laid out for them was in Deuteronomy 28. The promises, commands, and warnings of God are spelled out in those 68 verses. Moses wrote it just before his departure. “Deuteronomy” means: “second law.” Again: it was a summary of the Law of God until the time of the death of Moses. But, they would not have it. They would not believe it. They would not have God ruling over them.
THEY WOULD NOT TEACH THEIR CHILDREN THE LAW OF GOD as they had been commanded. Therefore, when the children were grown, they had no spiritual back bone, no trained conscience.Hosea wrote: My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. (Hosea 4:6)
IS THIS NOT THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA? We have become a culture of death and perversion. What will God do with us and how long will He allow us to slaughter a thousand unborn babies a day? Every mother has to sign a paper to give her doctor permission to murder her baby. The government does not make her do that.
OUR FOUNDING FATHERS FEARED THE NATION WOULD DRIFT AWAY FROM GOD. Thomas Jefferson said: “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.” Other prominent leaders of our nation have declared the same belief.
WE HAVE BEEN READING EZEKIEL IN OUR MORNING DEVOTIONS. When God could no longer tolerate the wickedness of southern Judah, he sent the army of Babylon (modern-day Iraq) to Jerusalem to destroy the city of Jerusalem and the treasured Temple. The people believed that God would never allow the Temple to be destroyed. They also believed that the dynasty of David’s descendants would always continue, and these things encouraged them to ignore the warnings of Jeremiah. Rebellious people think God’s preachers are dummies and low class.
HOWEVER, NEBUCHADNEZZAR SENT HIS ARMY AND IN 597 B.C. the first deportation took place. Young Daniel was in that first deportation and he spent the rest of his life in Babylon. Young Ezekiel was in the deportation of 586 B.C. You notice that there are eleven years between these two deportations. King Jehoiachin was deported in 597 B.C. and he was the last king in the line of David, enthroned in the proper way. After that, came the puppet kings of Nebuchadnezzar. They were called princes. Zedekiah was the last puppet king of Judah before the city and temple were destroyed. There was a “mop-up” deportation about 581 B.C.
WHEN GOD'S JUDGMENT BEGAN TO BE POURED OUT ON JERUSALEM, the king, and his counselors and the false prophets did not believe the preaching of Jeremiah. They had been sinning the same way for 150 years and nothing had happened to them. They told themselves that God was paying no attention to them and that Jeremiah was an inconvenient nuisance. So, they locked him up in an empty water cistern and Jeremiah sank in the muck up to his elbows.
MEANTIME, EZEKIEL WAS PREACHING TO THE EXILES IN BABYLON. They were not settling down, building houses, and planting gardens and settling in for the long haul of 70 years of exile. There were false prophets among the exiles and false prophets back in Jerusalem.
KEEP IN MIND THAT THE EXILES CONSISTED OF ROYAL SEED OF THE KING and the upper crust of society. There were few common people among them. They were being allowed to stay together as families and familiar groups, unlike what had happened to the ten tribes in Assyria. The tallies of how many were taken to Babylon only counted the males. Altogether, there was as many as 48,000 people in the first two deportations.
THE PEOPLE IN JERUSALEM AND THE EXILES IN BABYLON thought their inconvenient exile would be short-lived…until….Jerusalem was destroyed and the Temple was leveled to the ground and all the Temple treasures were carried away to Babylon. (586 B.C.) There was a fantastic amount of wealth stored in the gold, silver, and brass in and around the Temple. The Babylonians hauled it all off on wagons, horses, and camels. Anything that could move a piece of precious metal was pressed into service. It was a special day in Babylon when this treasure trove arrived in the city.
THEN, AND THEN ONLY, DID THESE AFFLUENT SINNERS BELIEVE GOD was paying any attention to them. Jeremiah was right after all. In our text for today, God had said that when they were scattered among the nations and dispersed among the countries, THEN, they would know that the Lord is God. Today we would say that these people were not the brightest bulbs in the chandelier.
PRIDE HAS ALWAYS GONE BEFORE HE FALL. They could have kept their children and families alive, could have maintained their standard of living, could have played with their grandchildren, if only they had not been so proud, stubbornly defiant, and rebellious. (Does that cover it?)
NOW THEN, HOW IS IT AT YOUR HOUSE? How are you and God getting along? A proud man cannot be saved. Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18) …but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. (Isaiah 66:2) Ω
Read Through the Bible in a Year
JULY 11-12, 2018 – WEDNESDAY-THURSDAY
A.M. Psalms 4-9 P.M. Acts 16:16 – 17:15
(Bible Gateway will read this to you if you like. Look for the speaker icon.) If you are behind in reading, read the passage for today and then go back.
●Good Memory Verse:
For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. (Philippians 1:23-24) (Write verse on scrap of paper and put in your pocket to memorize.)
●Song for Today:
Beyond the Sunset (4:17) (Gaither Group)