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August 9, 2019
Ezekiel Chapter 22 - Interpretation for Israel and Application for the Church
By Anthony Wade
When we examine the state of Israel in Ezekiel 22 we see stark parallels to the church today...
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)
Beloved, as stated in the opening, this chapter was not written for the church today, but it can be prophetic not only for the days of Ezekiel but what we are now facing as well. The church today is not unlike a land that is not cleansed or rained upon in the day of indignation. Now, that day refers to the day of God's coming wrath. Rain indicates the blessing of God and not cleansed means defiled. Beloved, Jesus is coming back and what will He find? Yes, there is always a strong remnant who refuses to bow to idols and worships the true and living God but the church as a whole is already in the great apostasy foretold in Thessalonians. This apostate church is filthy from being polluted by a world they strove for relevance with over the past several decades. Not only is she not cleansed but she has no desire to be cleansed. She refuses to listen to those who would help in the cleansing. The bible warned about this when it said it in the end people will gather around for themselves teachers that would scratch their itching ears and tell them what they want to hear. The church says they will not even tolerate sound doctrine. As for not rained upon the modern church fancies itself as being blessed but as Jesus warned that church of Laodicea, they are actually poor and blind:
For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. -- Revelation 3:17 (ESV)
Walk into any mega church today and you will find a people who believe they are blessed beyond measure because the enemy has prospered them materially. They have all the fancy bells and whistles. They have all the cooked statistics to assuage themselves that they are doing something for the kingdom. The only sacrifice they had to make was the Gospel. The problem is without the Gospel, no one gets saved. These churches are barren wildernesses led by waterless rainclouds speaking of the power of God while denying it in word and deed. God is coming back and He has much to be indignant about.
What does God say about the prophets in the days of Ezekiel? They conspire to devour human lives. Matthew Poole describes it as so, "A contrivance, or framing among themselves a design, to speak all alike flattering, smooth words, and give out promises of peace and safety, when there was no peace." You would have to blind to not see the parallels to todays merry band of false prophets that litter the church landscape. Every word is glowing and positive as if Joel Osteen himself wrote them for the prophet to speak. How do they take human lives? By falsely claiming God spoke to them! There are always victims of false prophets beloved. People who give up on God, blame God, or walk away from the bride of Christ because what was promised to them as a word from God never came true. God likens this to a roaring lion tearing its prey. These false prophets have also taken treasure for their services. They make merchandise of the sheep. For $500 Jenifer LeClaire will teach you how to be a false prophet. For another $500 she will teach you how to be a "seer." Tuition at Bethel's school for supernatural nonsense will set you back 5 grand a year to have them declare you are a false prophet. Itinerant prophets ask for love offerings manipulated by false words from the Lord. I saw one live claim that God showed him that 10 people would sow $300 into his ministry that night. Translation? He wanted $3000 dollars.
What about the priests? What about the people in charge of the word? They have done violence to God's law! They have profaned the holy and made no distinction between the holy and the common. Once again, the parallels are stark. The pastors today follow a purpose driven, seeker friendly model that waters down the Gospel. Violence to the law of God? How about eviscerating it! Teachers like Joseph Prince actively teach willful ignorance to God's law. Most others simply never preach it. Holiness? Never preached on anymore in the church today. Clean and unclean? In their desperate efforts to seem relevant, the church is now filthy with the world. One mega church sang Highway to Hell during worship. Another performed I Like to Move It, Move It, while a third produced an erotic Silent Night for Christmas. Hillsong had their youth pastor appear as the naked cowboy at their Women's Conference. Sermons based on secular movies. Sermons based on carnal needs and desires. Self help sermons. Motivational sermons. God is openly and brazenly mocked in churches today. He is turned into your wingman or a wallflower hoping for a dance at a high school prom. We sing songs about how God just couldn't stand heaven without us or how much He loves us. The created as shaped God into his own human image and worships at a mirror.
Next, we see the scam of the network working together to defraud God and His people. The princes, or people in charge, tear the prey, destroying lives for dishonest gain. These represent those in charge of the church system today, or what I refer to as the Seeker-Friendly Industrial Complex. Their primary concern is protecting the brand. Do you realize the billion-dollar industry Christianity is today? The false prophets run cover for these charlatans smearing whitewash over the false doctrines to make them seem true. But they are seeing false visions divining lies saying thus sayeth the Lord when the Lord has not spoken. With the cost associated with this the Lord has declared this is nothing short of extortion and robbery. When you see someone like Paula White with a 5 million dollar net worth -- where do you think that money came from? When Kenneth Copeland brags about being worth over a billion dollars -- where do you think that came from? There is a wealth redistribution going on alright but it is flowing from the pockets of the sheep into the wolves jowls.
How sad that the Lord could find no one to stand in the gap to stay His wrath. Today, modern discernment ministries are attacked and marginalized and those that partake cannot see the hand of God rising up against the land -- against the apostate church. Again, prophecy is not interpreted outside what God intended but all scripture is for our edification and learning. There are applications to examine and parallels to draw that should be corroborated by the canon of scripture. God is love but He most certainly is wrath and He is not coming back as the lamb. We need to discern false from true and stand in the gap and declare so that some might come out from among them before it is too late. The apostate church chasing revival is like a dog chasing its tail -- it wouldn't know what to do with it if it was ever caught. But we do. Preach the Gospel and stand in the gap. There is still time for some to be saved and heaven rejoices over each single one. Never forget that.
Reverend Anthony Wade -- August 9, 2019