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Bible Insights

Why Being a Watchman Is Serious Business

People in positions of authority are liable if they don’t warn their charges of potential danger

The thirty-third chapter of Ezekiel opens with some vague references to upcoming danger, a watchman, and heeding the warnings of the lookout. Who is this watchman, we wonder? Could it be an anticipation of Jesus? Or perhaps John the Baptist who will herald the way for Jesus?

Maybe it’s you and me. It could be all of the above, yet there is nothing to imply that Ezekiel might be God’s lookout.

However, in verse seven, God declares that he has indeed made Ezekiel the watchman. I didn’t see that coming. But since most prophecy—perhaps all biblical prophecy—carries multiple perspectives, one for them then and one for us now—the watchman could be any of these other possible options, in addition to Ezekiel.

The Two Duties of the Watchman

There are two key things to note about the watchman. First, his duty is to be on the lookout and sound the alarm. It doesn’t matter if the people pay attention or not. Their outcome is on them. The key is that the person keeping watch alerts everyone when he sees danger.

The second key is if the watchman is negligent and fails to warn of the danger he sees. Then he must bear the burden of the deaths of all the people who he failed to warn. The people depended on the lookout to do his job and he failed them.

While we may never find ourselves perched in a tower scanning the horizon for an attacking army, our assignment may be looking for other things. Perhaps our job is one to protect, to watch for dangers be it physical, financial, emotional, or spiritual.

Maybe we are in a position of leadership, and those under our care expect us to stand guard to warn them of trouble. This may be for our family, our work, our community, or our church.

We need to be on the lookout and warn people of impending danger. Click To Tweet

Be On the Lookout

We need to be on the lookout and warn people of impending danger. If we fail to sound the alarm, any harm that befalls them rests on us.

Being a watchman is serious business.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Ezekiel 31-33, and today’s post is on Ezekiel 33:1-7.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

When God Says Enough

Despite God’s longstanding patience giving us time to shape up, judgement will eventually come

The book of Ezekiel is an interesting one, packed with evocative prophetic imagery that portrays God’s power, patience, and eventual judgement. As follows through much of the Old Testament the people disobey God. He warns them to turn things around and is patient, hoping they will avoid the consequences of their wayward actions. He wishes for the best, and the people let him down.

But Ezekiel is confronted with a peculiar response to his messages of impending punishment. Like the boy who cried “wolf,” the people dismiss Ezekiel’s warnings (actually God’s warnings). They say, “Time passes on but these threats never happen.”

They stop taking Ezekiel (and God) seriously, which they never fully did to begin with. They feel quite justified in ignoring the word of God because they think there is no downside for disobedience.

There are consequences for disobeying God, and our time is up. Click To Tweet

There are Consequences

To this God says “enough.” He will withhold their punishment no longer and will fulfill all that he said. There will be no more delays.

I wonder how much we today are like these people of old, viewing God’s warnings as meaningless threats that will never happen. Since our wrong behavior receives no immediate punishment, perhaps we’re not so bad after all. Maybe God doesn’t really mean it when he says our wrong actions are sin.

To this I hear God again saying “Enough.”

There are consequences for disobeying God, and I fear our time is up.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Ezekiel 9-12, and today’s post is on Ezekiel 12:21-28.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

The Valley of Dry Bones

Ezekiel Prophesies to Dry Bones and Breathes Life into Them

One of the most evocative images in the book of Ezekiel is him speaking to dry bones scattered before him. It’s a valley of dry bones. The bones animate and reassemble. Tendons connect them. Flesh covers the skeletons. Breath enters these reconstituted bodies, mere corpses, and they live again.

It’s powerful imagery, the dead becoming alive. But what does it mean?

Fortunately, God explains it to Ezekiel

The bones represent the people of Israel. They are dried up. Their hope is gone. Cut off. Effectively, they are dead.

God will open their graves, resurrecting them to bring them home.

In addition to restoring their physical life, he will give them a spiritual life too. He will put his spirit in them. Then they will live. Truly live.

As with most prophecies, this one contains multiple applications.

Israel

The first is for his audience of that day, Israel. The people overflow with discouragement and are without hope. God reminds them that they can place their hope in him. He will restore them as a nation and bring them back from captivity and return them to the land he promised for them.

Jesus

We can also see this passage looking forward prophetically to Jesus. Consider two items: the prophecy of graves opening and God putting his spirit in his people so they can truly live.

When Jesus dies the curtain in the temple rips in half from top to bottom, symbolically allowing us to directly approach God. There is an earthquake and tombs break open. Bodies of many holy people come to life. We don’t know who they are or have a count, just that there are many, and they lived holy lives (Matthew 27:51-53).

Next, consider Pentecost. Jesus’s squad waits in Jerusalem for the special gift that Papa will send them. A violent wind sounds. Something like tongues of fire hover over each person. And the Holy Spirit fills them with supernatural power (Acts 2:1-4).

When Jesus dies the curtain in the temple is torn open from top to bottom, symbolically allowing us to directly approach God. Click To Tweet

End Times

In John’s epic vision as recorded in the book of Revelation, we also see dead bodies become alive (Revelation 11:7-11 and Revelation 20:11-13), just like Ezekiel said.

To wrap things up, the Holy Spirit and Jesus invites them—and us—to come and receive the gift of life (Revelation 22:17).

These are some of the key things we can learn from Ezekiel and the valley of dry bones.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Ezekiel 37-39, and today’s post is on Ezekiel 37:13-14.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

How Do We React to the Glory of the Lord?

We should Fall on Our Faces in the Presence of God’s Glory

A man brings Ezekiel to the temple. The glory of the Lord fills the place. Overwhelmed, Ezekiel falls facedown, worshiping the Almighty.

How often do we encounter the glory of the Lord? How often do we fall facedown in reverent worship of our all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-present creator? Not often enough, I fear.

Though some people may encounter the glory of the Lord at church on Sunday, it’s been sadly lacking from my church experiences. And I’ve visited a lot of churches: 52 Churches, More Than 52 Churches, and counting.

Yes, I’ve experienced this awe-inspiring spiritual reality at times, but it’s never happened at a Sunday service. Why?

Most of today’s scripted and timed church services leave no room for the glory of the Lord to reveal itself. We have a schedule to keep. We have expectations to leave on time so we can have time for what happens next.

Too often church attendance is something we squeeze into an already packed day. We check it off our list and go on to the next thing. In doing so, we miss the glory of the Lord. In doing so, we miss the opportunity to fall on our face in holy reverent worship.

Experience the Presence of the Glory of the Lord

Seldom have I encountered the presence of the glory of the Lord at a church service. Yet I can’t say never. I do remember one time. It was an unusual service in an atypical setting. Hardly anyone showed up.

The minister launched into her prepared message, but a few minutes later the Holy Spirit sent her in a different direction. She talked for near on an hour about a different topic—one she hadn’t expected to give, but was fully prepared to do so—engaging us in the process and teaching us what God wanted us to hear.

Thank you, Papa.

Overwhelmed by a supernatural encounter with Almighty God, my only response was to kneel and bow in worship. Click To Tweet

She wrapped up her message, gave the benediction, and we stood. I expected the service was over and prepared to leave. Not so fast. “Do you want to stay and worship God?” Most certainly.

Moving to a different space, we sang two songs, lasting forty-five minutes. The glory of the Lord filled the place. We basked in his presence. Overwhelmed by this supernatural encounter with Almighty God, my only response was to drop to my knees and bow down in worship of him.

It’s a church experience I will never forget.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Ezekiel 43-45, and today’s post is on Ezekiel 44:4.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

God Gives Us Living Water

Living Water Flows from God’s Temple and Is for Our Benefit

In the Old Testament, the people perceived that God lived in the temple. They saw this as his residence on earth. To connect with him meant they had to go to the temple.

As Ezekiel winds down his lengthy prophecy, the man in his vision brings him to the doorway of the temple. And we go there with them. The man is about to reveal something extraordinary to Ezekiel—and to us: living water.

Water flows from the temple and produces a river. It’s wide and deep. Many trees grow along its banks, finding sustenance in its life-giving water. Living creatures thrive wherever the river goes. And not just a few.

Ezekiel says that swarms of God’s creation will make their home in this pure water that comes from him.

What’s more, God’s water has restorative properties. When it encounters saltwater, God’s flowing river will make the salty water fresh. Saltwater has little value. It can’t sustain human life. So, God will take something unusable and make it usable. That’s what he does.

When he makes salty water fresh, he redeems it to make it pure again, to make it good, and to make it capable of supporting life. That’s what God’s water does.

We also see this idea of life-giving water elsewhere in the Bible.

Living Water in the Beginning

During creation, God proclaims that the water will team with living creatures (Genesis 1:20). As part of God’s amazing creation, he places within it life-giving water.

Living Water at the End

In Revelation, we see Jesus sitting on his throne as a shepherd. He will lead us to springs of life-giving water (Revelation 7:17). In doing so he brings us back to God’s perfect, idyllic creation. To the world as he met it to be.

God’s living water gives us eternal life. Click To Tweet

Living Water through Jesus

Jesus—who was there at creation and will be there at the end—connects these two bookends. He says, “If you’re thirsty, come to me, and I will give you something to drink. If you believe in me, living water will flow from you” (John 7:38).

Imagine that. God’s living water flowing through us because we came to Jesus and believed in him.

And when Jesus talks to the Samaritan woman at the well, he offers to give her a special kind of water (John 4:9-14). She—and everyone else—who drinks of Jesus’s water will never be thirsty again. A spring will well up inside her, and us, to produce eternal life.

God’s living water gives us eternal life.

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Ezekiel 46-48, and today’s post is on Ezekiel 47:1-9.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Consider God’s Punishment

God Had a Purpose for His People and They Let Him Down

God established Jerusalem as the center of all nations. This suggests he intended them to set an example and be a global leader, showing everyone how to live right and pointing them to him. But this isn’t what they did.

In their wickedness, they rebelled against him, even more so then everyone else. They rejected God’s ideals. In their disobedience they were worse than all the countries around them (Ezekiel 5:5-8). Talk about an epic fail.

Finally, God had enough. Punishment will come. Here’s what he’s going to do:

He Will Turn Against Them

The idea of God turning against us is a horrific thought. As an all-powerful being, he can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. Though we hope he will use his vast power for our benefit, it’s not guaranteed.

If we turn against him, don’t we realize he has every right to turn against us?

Just as this applied to God’s chosen people thousands of years ago, by extension doesn’t it apply to us today? Click To Tweet

He Will Punish Them Openly

God says he will discipline his people for what they did. More frighteningly, he says he will inflict punishment on them. And this won’t happen privately, it will occur publicly for all to see, heaping embarrassment upon their penalty.

He Will Do Something Unprecedented

And this punishment he plans to inflict upon them will emerge as something so intense that it’s unfathomable. It’s something he’s never done before and will never do again. This suggests how angry he is with his people for not living up to his expectations.

What is this vast punishment God plans for them? Though it’s hard to write, they’ll resort to cannibalism—of their own family members (Ezekiel 5:9-10).

What About Punishment for Us?

Ezekiel directs this punishment at Jerusalem, but as the political center of the nation, Jerusalem is a metaphor for the whole country. The nation doesn’t do what God expects of them: to advance his kingdom and influence the world.

The result is severe punishment. Just as this applied to God’s chosen people thousands of years ago, by extension doesn’t it apply to us today?

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Ezekiel 5-8, and today’s post is on Ezekiel 5:5-10.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Do Ezekiel’s Words in the Bible Apply to Us Today?

Ezekiel was a prophet at a time when the people had little to do with God. God told him what to say and do. Sometimes the Holy Spirit would physically move Ezekiel to show him things.

In Ezekiel 18, God grabbed his prophet by the hair, lifted him up, and brought him to the outer court in Jerusalem and then later to the entrance of the temple. There, at the temple, Ezekiel saw men literally turn their back to God and bow to gods in the east.

God detested what they were doing. By seeking other things to worship, they aroused his anger. So, he ignored them, to “not look on them with pity.” Despite their shouts, God said he would “not listen to them.”

Consider this carefully: In our churches today, do we do things that God detests? Do our actions arouse him to anger? Do we cause God to ignore us?

Certainly, we would say, “no.” But when God seems distant, when he doesn’t listen to our pleas, I wonder if we might be the cause.

[Ezekiel 8:3 and Ezekiel 8:16-18]

[Discover more about the Bible at A Bible A Day.com: Bible FAQs, Bible Dictionary, Books of the Bible Overview, and Bible Reading Plans.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.