There are no key verses for today since we will be examining the entire 22nd chapter of Ezekiel. Prophecy is intended for whom the prophecy was originally delivered to. I see people all the time abuse scripture by falsely interpreting it under the rubric that there are many interpretations of scripture. This is wrong. There is only one correct interpretation and that is what God intended when He wrote it. There may however be multiple applications which we are free to make as long as we do not leave the correct interpretation. For example, to cite Jeremiah 29:11 as proof that God has a plan for your life is a scriptural mugging since this verse was specifically written to the Babylonian exiles. It is an incorrect interpretation to therefore conclude God meant it for the church today. If you wish to use Jeremiah 29:11 as a starting point to illustrate your belief that God does have a plan for our lives, then you are on the right path because you are not changing what God intended that verse for. The problem is most false teachers use this verse to prop up the purpose driven heresy that insists not only does God have a plan but you are a huge part of His larger plan. A truer teaching would be that your marvelous plan, might just be to raise godly children in an ungodly society or be the Christian example at work for people to see Christ on a daily basis. I say this as a backdrop to examining the 22nd chapter of Ezekiel, openly admitting this was written to the nation of Israel and not intended to be interpreted for the church today. There are however interesting parallels for application to the church today. The bible says these things were written down so that we might learn from them. So, are we learning?
"And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, "And you, son of man, will you judge, will you judge the bloody city? Then declare to her all her abominations. You shall say, Thus says the Lord God: A city that sheds blood in her midst, so that her time may come, and that makes idols to defile herself! You have become guilty by the blood that you have shed, and defiled by the idols that you have made, and you have brought your days near, the appointed time of your years has come. Therefore I have made you a reproach to the nations, and a mockery to all the countries. Those who are near and those who are far from you will mock you; your name is defiled; you are full of tumult." -- Ezekiel 22: 1-5 (ESV)
The bloody city of Jerusalem refers to actual blood, judicial killings, and tilted scales of justice. The blood spilled inside the church today is spiritual in nature. The eternal destination of the souls of men lie in the balance as the church fritters time away and is filled with so many false teachings that are literally leading millions of people to hell. Declaring her abominations is easy. Prosperity preaching has made us greedy. Word faith has taught us to usurp God. False signs and lying wonders has taught us to chase the created instead of the Creator. The NAR Dominionism has taught us to idolize our earthly home. We have traded in the inerrancy of scripture for carnal logic. We have traded in our place as a shining city on a hill for relevance with a dying world. We have traded in the worship of God Almighty for vacuous self-praise. The list is endless beloved.
"Behold, the princes of Israel in you, every one according to his power, have been bent on shedding blood. Father and mother are treated with contempt in you; the sojourner suffers extortion in your midst; the fatherless and the widow are wronged in you. You have despised my holy things and profaned my Sabbaths. There are men in you who slander to shed blood, and people in you who eat on the mountains; they commit lewdness in your midst. In you men uncover their fathers' nakedness; in you they violate women who are unclean in their menstrual impurity. One commits abomination with his neighbor's wife; another lewdly defiles his daughter-in-law; another in you violates his sister, his father's daughter. In you they take bribes to shed blood; you take interest and profit and make gain of your neighbors by extortion; but me you have forgotten, declares the Lord God. -- Ezekiel 22:6-12 (ESV)
Now the specifics here may seem incongruent to the church today but they really are not. We just prefer to brush our sins under the carpet. The Lord is speaking against the atrocities of exorbitant sin within the day to day operations of His people. Christians who have sold out to idolize this country are all silent while sojourners are suffering far more than extortion in our midst. A schizophrenic catholic was deported to Iraq recently where he promptly died from not having any insulin. Why couldn't he get any? Maybe because he had never spent one day in Iraq and had no relatives there. Maybe because Christians are not highly regarded in Iraq. Perhaps because he was schizophrenic. The silence from the Christian community is deafening. God speaks about mixing the holy and the profane. Men who commit lewdness in out midst. Abominations beloved are not germane just to the time of Ezekiel. It was the head of the National Evangelicals who was caught several years ago with a decades long relationship with a male prostitute. It was Mark Driscoll who stole 250K from his congregants. It was Kong Hee who stole 40 million. How many pastors fall from grace every day for fiscal or sexual impropriety? The church today has largely forgotten the Lord; let's be honest.
"Behold, I strike my hand at the dishonest gain that you have made, and at the blood that has been in your midst. Can your courage endure, or can your hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with you? I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it. I will scatter you among the nations and disperse you through the countries, and I will consume your uncleanness out of you. And you shall be profaned by your own doing in the sight of the nations, and you shall know that I am the Lord." And the word of the Lord came to me: "Son of man, the house of Israel has become dross to me; all of them are bronze and tin and iron and lead in the furnace; they are dross of silver. Therefore thus says the Lord God: Because you have all become dross, therefore, behold, I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. As one gathers silver and bronze and iron and lead and tin into a furnace, to blow the fire on it in order to melt it, so I will gather you in my anger and in my wrath, and I will put you in and melt you. I will gather you and blow on you with the fire of my wrath, and you shall be melted in the midst of it. As silver is melted in a furnace, so you shall be melted in the midst of it, and you shall know that I am the Lord; I have poured out my wrath upon you." -- Ezekiel 22:13-22 (ESV)
Dross. When one seeks to purify metals such as silver great heat is applied and the portion that is burnt off, the impurities, is called dross. Israel had all become dross to God. Powerful in His condemnation. It is time for the church to really examine itself and see if we are dross yet. Are we nothing but impurity, worthless to our Lord? God, I hope not. I believe there is always a remnant. People who have not bowed their knee to the compromise of the modern apostate church. People who see the impurities and realize how it grieves the heart of the Father. Pay very close attention to the words of God in closing this chapter.
And the word of the Lord came to me: "Son of man, say to her, You are a land that is not cleansed or rained upon in the day of indignation. The conspiracy of her prophets in her midst is like a roaring lion tearing the prey; they have devoured human lives; they have taken treasure and precious things; they have made many widows in her midst. Her priests have done violence to my law and have profaned my holy things. They have made no distinction between the holy and the common, neither have they taught the difference between the unclean and the clean, and they have disregarded my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, shedding blood, destroying lives to get dishonest gain. And her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, 'Thus says the Lord God,' when the Lord has not spoken. The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have oppressed the poor and needy, and have extorted from the sojourner without justice. And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none. Therefore I have poured out my indignation upon them. I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath. I have returned their way upon their heads, declares the Lord God." -- Ezekiel 22:23-31 (ESV)