Ezekiel 21, Things God’s People Need To Hear
1. God Persistently Invites Repentance (v1-7)
2. God Prepares His Instruments For The Work (v8-17)
3. God Presides Over All Decision Making (v18-23)
4. God Punishes Unrepentant Sinners (v24-27)
Ezekiel 21, Things God’s People Need To Hear
Ezekiel 21, Things God’s People Need To Hear
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Well, as we look at Ezekiel Chapter 21 this evening, I've titled the message Things God People Need to hear, things God people need to hear. And you know, of course I could title any message that way, right? Hopefully, as we are spending time in the scriptures, we're always bringing out the things that the people have got. We need to hear, but, you know, sometimes reading through. Through the Old Testament reading, through the prophets, reading through now, we're almost to the middle of Ezekiel. Sometimes we can begin to wonder, why are we reading these things, and why are we spending some time? And why is it important for us to work through these Old Testament passages that you know are quite redundant as you work through Jeremiah? You know, there's a lot of interesting things, but then there's a lot of repetition, and then you get into Ezekiel, and then there's repetition of Jeremiah, and then Ezekiel repeats himself also. And so there's this overlap and this repetition, and it can leave us wondering sometimes why do we need to? Read through these things. Why do we need to work through these things? But this evening I want to walk through this passage and just call out some things that are really important truths about the Lord and the way that he works, and to help us to remember why we need them, why we need to work through these passages, and we need them for ourselves, for our own. Parts and for our minds to keep us in the right direction and keep us facing the things that the Lord has us to move towards, but we also need these things so that we have them in our hearts for those that we minister. Two. And so we can look at this and be the recipients of this, but also we can look at as equals example and the things the Lord speaks through Ezekiel to understand that we live in a world that is much like Ezekiel's world in a lot of ways. And there's a lot of parallels. And so the people around us, the Lord has placed them around us so that we can. Be an ambassador for him. Uh, lights. Like Ezekiel was a lights to the Exiles there in Babylon. And so we have that opportunity to learn from these things for others, but then also to redirect and re correct our hearts to keep us where God wants us to be. And so four things that we'll look at tonight, things that we need to hear. And be reminded of here's point number one. As we look at verses one through 7, God persistently invites repentance. As we look at this this evening, I want you to be encouraged and consider this God persistently invites repentance in verse one, Ezekiel says. The word of the Lord came to me, and so we're looking at the words, the direct words from the Lord to Ezekiel. That God is calling Ezekiel to share with the people. We're not just looking at, you know, some random truth or things to write down that nobody will see. But this was messages that God gave Ezekiel to deliver to a people that has been in rebellion against God. For their whole. And although they are the people of God, they have been ignoring God and resisting God. And so that's part of the reason why they are there in Babylon in captivity, because of their resistance to the word of God and the things of God. And they're still hoping. For deliverance from this, contrary to all of the things that the Lord has been telling them thus far, at this point in Ezekiel's Ministry, Jerusalem has been conquered twice by the Babylonians. And Zedekiah is now king back in Jerusalem. And the false prophets are saying, alright, Babylon time is about done and the people are going to be rescued out of Babylon and they're going to be able to return to the land of Israel. And God has been consistently saying that's not true, those are false prophets, but the people are still holding on to that. And God is announcing through Ezekiel that's not going to be the case. Jerusalem is going to come under siege for the third time. It's going to be conquered one more time by King Nebuchadnezzar, and then the rest of the people will be taken into captivity, those who survive that battle. And so God begins to address this. Again, we've addressed it many times, but here we are again in verse. Two son of men set your face toward Jerusalem. Preach against the holy places and prophecy against the land of Israel, and say to the land of Israel. Thus says the Lord, behold, I am against you, and I will draw my sword out of its sheath, and cut off both righteous and wicked from you. And so once again, God announces this destruction. Of Jerusalem. But the people were convinced that temples in Jerusalem, and so God won't allow that to be destroyed. He won't allow King Nebuchadnezzar to conquer Jerusalem because they are the people of God and they have this history and legacy of the things of the Lord. But God has been letting them know, telling them over and over again. That is true. You have the temple and it's an important place. It's where I declared I would. Meet with you. But you haven't been meeting with me. You've been ignoring me and fighting against me and resisting me, and this has been going on for a very long time. I just want to give you a quick glance at a little bit of the timeline here. In 722 BC, Assyria conquered Israel and so that was after the Kingdom had been split into a couple 100 years. Prior to that, the Kingdom was one United Kingdom of Israel, but then it was split. After King Solomon. And so there was the Northern Kingdom, Israel and the southern Kingdom. Dove and it was a downward spiral. Spiral from the beginning. Once they split, they were both nations, rebelling against God, working against God. Israel, the northern Kingdom, went a little bit faster in their rebellion against God, and so their judgment came a bit sooner in 722 BC. Throughout that time there was prophets speaking to the nation, just like there was prophets speaking to the nation of Judah, like Jeremiah and Ezekiel. There were these guys who were bringing forth the word of the Lord and calling Israel to repentance, but they ignored it, persisted in their sinfulness, and so they came to their destruction. There in 7th. 22 BC. Well, in 7:45 BC, 20 years later, Isaiah begins to prophecy and Isaiah brings forth a call to repentance. To the nation of Judah. Now this is not the only time or the only prophet or the first time that they have been called to repentance, but this is one of the prominent ones that we see there through the prophet Isaiah. And so we're looking at 7:45 BC, there is this major ministry, this major call to repentance. Through the prophet Isaiah. And then 625 BC, Jeremiah begins to prophecy and he of course has a long ministry, 40 years of ministering to the people and calling them to repentance as they head towards that final judgment against Jerusalem by Babylon. And so there you can kind of see their listed Babylon conquers Jerusalem three times. The first time they conquer and they take some people captive. But Babylon gives Jerusalem another chance and says, OK, now here's a new king, now be good and pay your taxes and be submitted to me. And they said, OK, we will. And then later on said never mind. And so Babylon came back a second time. And so all of this time, God telling them to submit to Babylon, he's. Giving them, you know, the instruction that they need for where they're at, and they continue to refuse to listen and try to do things their own way and are making things worse and worse and worse and so. The second time Jerusalem is conquered, more people are taking captive, including Ezekiel, and so, as equal as now, they're in captivity with those captives prophesying to them, while Jeremiah is back in Jerusalem prophesying to the people of God there. And so from both sides, the people of God are hearing this message and this call to repentance. In 593 BC, Ezekiel begins to Prophesize. So that's like 150 years after Isaiah started prophesying. And there was more prophets before that. And So what we're looking at here is several 100 years. Of rebellion against God, refusal to listen to God, resisting the word of God. But notice that God persistently invites his people to repentance. And so here we are in chapter 21. We're getting close to 586 BC on the timeline. And the Lord once again gives as equal a new message. Which he doesn't say. You know, here's a message. And repeat that for 30 years. Here's a new message, a fresh opportunity, a fresh occasion for the people of God to hear what I have to say. And so he invites once again, the people of God to repentance. In this announcement of judgment, as I often say, anytime there's an announcement of judgment that God provides, it's always an invitation. Mission to repent. And so you can look at these prophets who were sent, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel all the way leading up to the final destruction of Jerusalem, and and see God persistently, consistently so patient with this people that resist him and are fighting against him. But he's. Back to repentance as he announces he says. Set your face toward Jerusalem in verse 2. Preach against the holy places. Why he's in Babylon? Why is he preaching against Jerusalem so that the people around him will have the opportunity to hear the word of the Lord and repent and be corrected and turned back to? The Lord. In verse three he says, see to the land of Israel. Thus says the Lord, behold, I am against you. I will draw my sword out of its she then cut off. Both righteous and. Wicked from you. Now, this picture of the sword is the picture that God will use all throughout this chapter. Throughout this whole prophecy, he'll be talking about the sword. And so I have a sword also for you here this evening, just to kind of demonstrate some of the things. Now in all truth, this is a Swiffer. All of my lightsabers are at work, so I I didn't have one of those handy, but here's a A swifter handle of sword, right? And and here God is calling Ezekiel to kind of do a little, show Intel, have a little prop and and use this as an illustration. And so God says, I'm drawing my sword out of its sheath, and it's going to cut off both the righteous. And the wicked now. What is this sword that the Lord is talking about? This sword is the nation of Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar. God says, here's Babylon, here's King Nebuchadnezzar. This is my sword. It's my instrument that I will use. I will wield it. And so you can picture a sword you know, if this is the nation of Babylon. And this is King Nebuchadnezzar. God is the one who's got his hand on the handle. And he's saying I'm in control, this is my instrument, and I'm going to use this nation to accomplish my purposes. And so verse four, I will cut off both righteous and wicked. From you therefore my sword, notice God says this is mine. He takes possession of it, shall go out of its sheath that's coming out against all flesh from South to north. That all flesh may know that I the Lord, have drawn my sword out of its sheath, it shall not return anymore. And so God says very clearly here in this chapter, Babylon is my sword. You could see a lot of people understanding, like looking at the situation and thinking, well, Babylon must be the sort of seat and the sword of the enemy. Look at the destruction that they're bringing. God says, no, they're my instrument. To bring about the judgment that is due to the people of Israel for their rebellion, and all throughout this sword being drawn and this nation of Babylon being brought against the nation of Judah, God has been calling his people to say, look, this doesn't have to go this way. Turn back and follow me. Turn back and listen to my words. Start obeying me. And throughout this whole time, he's inviting the people to repent.
But now this is going to be the third time that Babylon comes against Jerusalem. God says I'm drawing my sword for the last time and verse 5 at the end he says it shall not return anymore. It's not going back in the sheath any longer. I conquered, you know, Jerusalem. Babylon conquered Jerusalem once before the sword came out, right, but then went back in his sheet. Then there was peace for a little bit of a time, and then Jerusalem rebelled again. And so here comes the sword again, and. Jerusalem is conquered, but then goes back in the sheath. There's a little bit of time, of obedience and peace. But then now the third time, again, we're talking now several 100 years into the history, and God says, OK, that's that's enough. The swords coming out, it's not going back in its sheath, it's going to finish. The work that I set it forth to do. Then notice for six side, therefore son of man with a breaking heart. And sigh with bitterness before their eyes, and it shall be when they see to you. Why are you sighing? That you shall answer because of the news. When it comes, every heart will melt, all hands will be feeble, every spirit will faint, and all knees will be weak as water behold it is coming, and shall be brought to pass, says the Lord. So he calls Ezekiel to deliver this message has the picture of the sword that he's going to be using all throughout the rest of the chapter. But here he calls Ezekiel to behave a certain way that behave kind of weirdly. And of course the Lord does this with Ezekiel and the prophets many times. He wants to give an illustration, something that gets the attention of the people, and so he tells Ezekiel in verse 6 to sigh. You ever been with someone and? There is a prominent sigh that continues to happen. And finally, you're like, OK, what's wrong? You know what's going on? This this is the idea here, zechiel. He's not directly delivering the prophecy yet. He's to be amongst the people. And a sigh. With a breaking heart. I don't know that I could do that. So I didn't try to do that but sigh with bitterness before their eyes. Like, oh bend over like, oh, oh. Like feel the pain, Ezekiel. And then notice what it says in verse 7. And it shall be when they say to you, why are you sighing that? You shall answer. Here's God addressing of people that have been refusing to listen to him for a long time. So what he does is he tells us zechiel, OK, Ezekiel, we're going to flip things around a little bit and we're going to prompt them to ask you to give a message. We're not going to just go announce a message in their face. We're going to cause you to sigh. Obviously repeatedly, until finally they're so curious they can't stand it. Then they say, why are you doing this? Why are you behaving that way? Why are you sighing like that? And so it's putting the people in a position where they are asking. To hear from the Lord asking to hear what the message is and. I think this. Is really interesting to consider it something that God does often. And it's not that I would suggest that, OK, this is now the model for us. Now and tomorrow when you're at work, just sigh really deeply until someone asks you why, and then say, well, 'cause judgments coming. And you know. If the Lord tells you to do that, obviously do that, but it's not like. This is the formula. But at the same time, God often uses. Things in the lives of his people. To be prompts. Because I think, you know, the Lord has a good handle on human nature and where we're, where we're at and what we are like. And I think you could understand this statement. Unsolicited help is not often received. You want to give people advice, but they're not asking for it. It's the rare person who welcomes that and say yes, go ahead, give me the advice. Most of the time when we want to advise people and help people, if they're not asking for it, if they're not inviting that, it's not well received. There's defenses up, there's walls up, there's boundaries. And so there's pushback to the help or advice. That we would. But when there is the question and the invitation, well then there is a new opportunity to really bring forth something valuable. And I think God does this often. And I I want to encourage you to consider it just because perhaps the Lord wants to do something like that with you and put some things in place in your life to give you opportunities to answer when people ask questions. And so I'm going to give you a few examples. Here from the scriptures just to kind of get your mind thinking and you can be praying about maybe if the Lord wants to set up some of these things in. Your life, so the fees. Many times the Lord is he's giving the instructions about the feasts to the people of Israel. He explains with the feast that this is so that you will remember this, so that you'll have an occasion to talk about these things. And this is so that when people ask, you have something to say and you can tell them the story. That accompanies this feast of the work of God in your lives have as the people have gotten so Exodus chapter 12 is the Passover. And so God established the Passover, and all the different elements and pieces and certain structure of it, right? And as he does, he gives a very clear reason for the keeping of it in. These particular ways. He says it shall be when your children say to you, what do you mean by this service? What do you mean by this? Passover service that you're doing and this particular meal and cooking it a certain way and going through all of these processes, what do? You mean by this? Well, here's what you shall say. The Lord says it's the Passover who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when he struck the Egyptians and delivered our households. And so the people bowed their heads and worshipped. And so God set up the feast of Passover, not just to get them out of Egypt, but as a perpetual. Being so that generations down the line, kids would say, why do we do this weird meal once a year anyways? And why do we have to taste this? You know, bitter herb and, you know, go through this and search the house. For any any. Live in and sweep it all out and clean it up. Like why do we have to do all of this and it would prompt. The parents to be able to tell the children here's what the Lord did. Now it's not only an invitation, but it's also like kind of brings it about at the time where a child is able to understand because now when the child is. Old enough to begin to ask those kinds of questions. Now you kind of have some hints that they're now old enough to start. To hear some of the answers right and so you know it's it's that right time and got orchestrating these things to be able to set up these questions that have. Some answers that point people and direct people to the Lord well also in the Old Testament law and Exodus chapter 13 it describes the law of redemption, how the first born belongs to the Lord, and so the first born of every animal, the first born of every. A son or the every first born son shall be redeemed. And so Exodus chapter 13. God says in verse 13, every first born of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, and if you will not not redeem it, you shall break its neck. And all the first born of man among your sons you shall redeem. So it shall be when your son asks you in time. To come saying what is this? That you shall say to him by strength of hand, the Lord brought us out of Egypt, out of the House of *******. And it goes on to give more explanation, but again, it's this whole thing where God established this for, you know, a bunch of reasons. But one of the reasons was so that in due time when there was the appropriate age and they were able to understand and and. Try to like figure out like why are we doing this? Why do we behave this way? You look around at the other nations, no other nations behave like this and do this. Do we do this? And mom and. Dad are able to say here's what the Lord has said and here's what the Lord has done. And it's a teaching moment and invited teaching moment where the child is saying I want to understand this, please explain it to me. And that's a valuable opportunity that God set up for the parents. They're in the nation of Israel now, today, for us as the New Testament Church. It's not that we have to keep the feast of Passover or we don't practice the law of the first born, right? And it's things have changed. But at the same time I would say those principles perhaps are valuable and something that God would lay upon your heart and instruct you in to set up those kinds of things for you to have opportunity that win children or. Neighbors or family members see those things taking place, that there is the opportunity for them to ask a question and receive an explanation that points them to the Lord. We also see this in Deuteronomy, chapter six in regard to the Scriptures themselves. Rules in verse 20 of Deuteronomy 6 when your son asks you in time to come saying, what is the meaning of the testimonies, the statutes, and the judgments? Then you shall say to your son, we were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. The Lord showed us signs and wonders before our eyes, great and severe, against Egypt and Pharaoh and all his household. And it goes on to explain this, children, is why we obey the Lord. These are the things that God gave us when he delivered us, when he brought us. Out of our ******* and so this is another teaching moment. This is why we hold the scriptures in high regard. This is why we read the Scriptures and memorize them and seek to obey them, because this is the work that God has done in our lives. Another great opportunity for questions to be asked and for teaching moments. To take place. In Joshua chapter four we have another one where they moved some stones out of the Jordan River and put them on the bank and put some stones from the bank back in the river so that there would be this tower of rocks. In verse five of Joshua, four and Joshua said to them, crossover before the Ark of the Lord Your God into the midst of the Jordan. Each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of tribes of the children of Israel, that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come saying, what did these stones mean to you? Why is there this big pile of? Stones here on the Bank of the Jordan River. Well, son, well, daughter, let me explain to you. Here's what God did, and this is the very place where God brought us over into the promised land. It was set up by the Lord to give an opportunity for a question and for an answer to be given, and perhaps the Lord would have us to live. Deliberate way. That would prompt people, children, family members, friends, coworkers. To ask questions. That we might provide an answer that directs them. To the Lord. Reminds me of first Peter chapter 3. In the context of talking about suffering, if you're suffering, even if you suffer for righteousness sake, he says you're blessed. But here's how you should handle it. Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you. And the idea here is not a defence like I'm defending myself, but a defence. Is an answer. A reason for why you have hope in the midst of suffering. And so in the midst of suffering, Peter is explaining you should behave in such a way that people ask questions like why do you have so much hope? How are you able to handle these situations in this suffering in this way? Please tell me. How can you? Respond to this situation with hope and joy in the midst of it. Moving on to point #2, looking at verses 8 through 17. Point #2 is that God prepares his instruments for the work. He persistently invites repentance. And gives us opportunities to do that as well. Setting up those occasions for people to ask questions, but also here moving on into these verses, God prepares his instruments for the work. In verse 8 again the word of the Lord came to me saying son of man, prophecy and say thus says the Lord say a sword. A sword is sharpened and also polished. Sharpened to make a dreadful. Slaughter polished to flash like lightning. Should we then make mirth? It despises the scepter of my son as it does all wood. Now, there's a lot of detail in these verses, and we're not going to have time to cover all of these things in depth, but. Here the Lord. Speaks to Ezekiel. Again and talks about the sword and he says look the sword it's sharpened and see how not sharp my sword is, but the sword is sharpened and it's polished. And he repeats this that these two things over and over again in these verses. It's polished as well as. Sharp it, and to me I add those things together. Polished plus sharpened equals prepared. What God is saying is here is he spent some time sharpening this sword. Getting it ready for this work. And then he spent time polishing it, getting it all shiny. It's all it's shiny, it's sharp, it's exactly ready for the work that's at hand and what is necessary as Babylon, being the sword of the Lord, is going against Jerusalem. Verse 10. He says he sharpened to make a dreadful slaughter. What was the work that God needed to do? Well, he needed to make a dreadful slaughter, and so he sharpened Babylon's sword. He equipped Babylon and prepared Babylon, Babylon for this battle. I just did my head Babylon and battle line. That's kind of an interesting it just, I don't know happened to. This weird thing but. It also in verse and he says. Polished to flash like lightning. So it's sharp and ready for the battle and it's polished to flash and so the flashing, I I think what is being into that here is it's going to strike fear in the hearts of the people as Babylon comes and goes. So they're they're polished. They're flashing. They're causing people to be afraid. And again, all of this is still opportunity for people to repent. And so should we make mirth. Should we goof off right now? Is this the time to mess around for the people in Jerusalem? No, the the sword despises the scepter of my son, God says. The scepter of Jerusalem, the rulers and authorities in Jerusalem, the sword, despises that as it does all wooden. So he's basically saying here Jerusalem is weak, the leaders are weak because they don't trust in me, and so the swords going to have no problem cutting through the wood and defeating Jerusalem. Verse 11 he has given it to be. Polished that it might be handled. The sword is sharpened and it is polished to be given into the hand of the Slayer. And so again, God is saying it's Polish. I I I made it nice and shiny. I sharpened it. It's fully prepared. I've spent a lot of time preparing this instrument to be the perfect tool for the job at hand. Verse 12. Cry and wail, son of man. For it will be against my people, against all the Princess of Israel terrors, including the sword will be against my people. Therefore strike your thigh. And so earlier we saw Ezekiel. Sighing now he's to cry. He's to strike his thigh out hurt so that people say what are you doing? Ezekiel again, getting their attention, giving opportunity to hear and receive. The word of the Lord. Verse 13 because it is a testing. And what if the sword despises even the scepter? The Scepter shall be no more, says the Lord God. I'm going to break the lineages. Of the Kings of Jerusalem. In this the scepter will be no more. There's not going to be another time where the new king is placed, you know, by Babylon on the throne. And they continue on. No, no, that that we did that a couple times. That's over. The scepter is now going to going to be no more. There will be no king in Israel. Because that people will be destroyed and taken captive completely. Verse 14. You therefore son of man, prophecy and strike your hands together. The third time, let the sword do double damage. It is the sword that slays, the sword that slays the great men that enters their private chambers. Again, God is calling Ezekiel to act, to get peoples attention, to behave in a way that invites them to repentance as they ask the question and seek explanation. For the behavior, so strike your hands. And now he says the third time, let the sword do double damage. Again, Jerusalem is conquered in total three times by Babylon. This will be the third time. The first two times there was damage, but now there's going to be double damage this third time. And so God is saying I've prepared this sword for that, it's going to be double damage. It's going to be the final destruction. The sword that slays, the great men that enters their private chambers, nobody is going to be excluded. The highest and loftiest of all the people will be included in this attack and in this defeat by Babylon. How is it that the sword can do double damage this time around? Well, 'cause God spent time preparing it, sharpening it, polishing it, and now Babylon is ready for this attack, verse 15. I have set the point of the sword against all their gates, that the heart may melt and many may stumble. Ah, it is made bright. It is grass for slaughter. Awe it is made bright. He says. How was it made bright? It was polished. It is grasped for slaughter. The instrument is prepared. It's bright. It's in the hand of the Lord. Babylon is ready to go. It's at the gates and ready to attack. Verse 16 swords at the ready, thrust right. Set your blade thrust left wherever your edge is ordered. I also will beat my fists together, and I will cause my fury to rest. I, the Lord, have spoken. This is going to finish the work and the fury of the Lord is going to rest because Jerusalem is going to be conquered and all the inhabitants are going. Inhabitants are going to be taken away captive because God prepared Babylon for this work. Babylon is his source. Word to do this work that he has been. Calling the people. To repent so that they don't experience it. But in their refusal to repent, God must execute the judgment that is necessary to bring them to the place where they can have an opportunity to repent later on because of the judgment that he brings. And so here we see a good pattern here, God. Prepares his instruments for the work. He prepared Babylon for this work and everything. That they needed. God set it in motion and set it in place and we could look at countless examples here in the scriptures. Jonah, you know, there was speaking about the prepared fish that was prepared for Jonah, right. And then? Afterwards, when he's on the hill, then God prepared a plant and he's shaded for a little bit. And then God prepared a worm that eat the plant and got prepared, prepared, prepared, prepared because he's really preparing Jonah for the work and the word that. God is speaking to. To him God prepared, Moses got prepared, Joshua. God prepares his instruments for the work, and so not suggesting that we are going to be a sword like Babylon and bring destruction in that way, but at the same time we are his instruments. And so there is the opportunity and the need for God to prepare. Us for the work that he calls us to. And sometimes there is a discipline work that he calls us to, and so we are a sword in that way, but of course we are also called. To be the invitation and the opportunity for people to repent and delivering the gospel message and so as instruments of the Lord, we need to understand that he is preparing us. Second Timothy Chapter 3 tells us Scripture is given by inspiration of God. Profitable for doctrine reproof correction instruction. In that the man of God, that the woman of God, may be complete and thoroughly equipped for every good. And so here again we get reminded why we spend much time in the scriptures, because it's one of the ways that God is preparing us and equipping us everything that we need to be his instruments for the work at hand. And second, Peter, chapter one, the Lord promises that his divine power has given to us everything that we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of him. And it's through knowing God and a real, deep and and real and vibrant relationship with God that we obtain everything that we need for life and whatever we face. In life and all the different roles and responsibilities we have in the home and in the. Workplace in the community. And also for godliness. In our relationship with the Lord and developing in the things of God, we have everything that we need for all aspects of life. Through the knowledge of him who called us, that is our Lord. And so God prepares his instruments, and we can be prepared by knowing him, by walking with him, by drawing nearer to him and spending time with him in his word. Those are a couple quick ways that God prepares us as his instruments. For the work. Well, God persistently invites repentance. He prepares his instruments for the work, moving on to verses 18 through 23. God provides overall decision making. God provides presides over all decision making. Verse 18 says. The word of the Lord came to me again saying and son of man, appoint for yourself. Two ways for the sword of the King of Babylon to go. Both of them shall go from the same land. Make a sign, put it at the head of the road to the city. Appoint a road for the sword to go to rob a of the ammonites, and to Judah into fortified Jerusalem. What seems to be happening here? If you remember back early on in Ezekiel's ministry, the Lord had him on his side for a good amount of time, and then on the other side for a good amount of time, and he was to position himself laying siege to Jerusalem. But Jerusalem was a little clay drawing of Jerusalem that he had drawn out. And he. Was to build up the. The dirt around to make like these siege mounds and all of that, right, that whole play that he was kind of acting out to deliver that message before, it seems like that is still in place and so here. Kind of connected to it. He's now going back to it and putting a sign there with two arrows, going two ways to point to these two options for the King of Babylon. And so here's a quick look at the geography to just kind of help picture Babylon, of course, was to the east, but they wouldn't go directly across the desert to attack Jerusalem. Or that region they would go up the Euphrates, so they would go far north, up where Lehman was and Jacob was up there. So that was all on the Euphrates, and then they would come down from the Euphrates S to the region of Israel, and Israel was on one side of the Jordan River. And the nation of Ammon was on the other side of the Jordan River and Babylons going to deal with both nations. But they can't do both nations at the same time. And so they're coming to a decision point. As they come down from the north, they they kind of reach the tip of the Galilee and they're going to have to decide are we going to go to the left or to the right? And and that's the picture here that the Lord is painting in verse 19. Appoint for yourself two ways for the sword. Of the King of Babylon to. And so you can kind of picture Nebuchadnezzar with his armies and they're coming down from the South and you can kind of picture the scouts for for the City of Jerusalem and for the city of Robin Dam in and and they're tracking along right there. OK, Babylon getting closer. OK, they turn now. They're heading South. And Oh no, they're almost to the Sea of Galilee and. And both nations. Kids are wondering, stressing, fretting. Which way are they going to go? Are they going to come towards our side? Are they going to come towards the other side and so both sides are are kind of freaking out and and and zechiel here is kind of walking through this. God says make a sign to picture all of this to show here's a fork in the road and a decision. Has to be made. Verse 20 Appointer road for the sword to go terroba of the ammonites and to Judah. Into fortified Jerusalem. And so now the sign that Ezekiel makes has two arrows. From that point there's two options, head down to Jerusalem or head down to rob a verse. 21 for the King of Babylon stands at the parting of the road, at the fork of the two roads, to use divination, he shakes the arrows. He consults the images. He looks at the liver. And so Nebuchadnezzar is at this fork in the road and he's got to decide which way am I going to go. I'm going to attack one or the other. Which one will I attack? Jerusalem or Robinow the way that Nebuchadnezzar decided this as someone who didn't know the Lord and as a as a Pagan king? It was these practices of divination, and so it describes here the shaking of the arrows. There's lots of different conversations that could be had about what this is, and different scholars have different ideas. You know, kind of throw some arrows up in the air and see which way they're pointing, and maybe that's a way. Or maybe there was something else going on, consulting the images, and these might be little idols. Some history says that they were shrunken heads or preserved heads of. Child sacrifices and that they use those somehow and trying to ascertain, you know, answers and information. He looks at the liver. You can kind of think of this like palm reading only like at a deeper level they would take out the liver of an animal they sacrifice. Listen, analyze the veins and, you know, have some kind of system for understanding. You know what they thought the the false gods were telling them in the the instruction that they were looking for. Now, none of this is God's instruction for people to make decisions. This isn't. He hasn't never instructed anybody to behave. This way, right? But this is what idolatry is and involves. This is what a lot of people do, practicing divination and coming up with all kinds of ways to look at the stars, to think about when they were born, to think about, you know, all of these things, to try to determine their course. And none of those things are God's instruction for us to make decisions. And yet we see that God overrides and has authority over all of those things, even though that's not his method, and he doesn't instruct us to behave that way or to make decisions like that. Proverbs, chapter 16. Verse 33 says the lot is cast into the lap, but it's every decision, every decision is from the law. Now, that doesn't mean you should roll the dice, you know, just to try to see like, well, should I go to church today? Let me roll the dice, right, like that. Again, that's not God's instruction to us. But we need to have this understanding, this realization that God is able to override and influence all of those decision making processes that, even the ones that. He hasn't ordained and called us to, and so here's Nebuchadnezzar practicing divination to get direction, and God is going to work out. That direction, in spite of the paganis of King Nebuchadnezzar, the scripture says in another place that the the heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord, and he turns it whichever way he wants it to go. And it's important for us to remember that God presides over all decision making. Or not. You know, authorities are making decisions by biblical means or basis. You know, looking at things because of what the scriptures say or what the Lord has said, or what the Lord has done. If they're looking at it, you know, and making decisions by divination, by witchcraft, by Satanism, by sorcery, by reading palms, by, you know, tarot cards, or or. Astrology, astronomy, astrology, you know, whatever means that those authorities are making decisions. We need to be reminded sometimes that God presides all over, over all those things, even when those are not his methods that he would call us to. So he's still sovereign and over all of those things, and able to, in the midst of it, direct according to what he wants to be accomplished. And so here's Nebuchadnezzar at the fork in the road, practicing divination and God says. I'm going to make it. So that he goes to Jerusalem, he's not going to go. To rob a. And all the people of Jerusalem are hoping and praying. Surely Babylon is gonna go to rob and not to Jerusalem because we have the temple and you know, we're gods people and so we're going to be preserved. God says no. I am working it out so he will head to Jerusalem to bring forth what I have appointed. Verse 22. In his right hand is the divination for Jerusalem. To set up the battering Rams, to call for a slaughter, to lift up the voice with shouting, to set battering Rams against the gates, to heap up a siege mound and to build a wall. So what he's going to find in this divination is the call to Jerusalem. God says I'm going to lead him down. And so I'm going to answer that divination that he's practicing and work it out so that he believes that he needs to go to Jerusalem. And he will be led there now. Babylon will come back. To rob. And there's a prophecy against Rob at the end of Chapter 21, the prophecy against AM in there and that in 582, a few years after Jerusalem is conquered, they come back and they conquer Rabba. But not right now because first on the list. As God ordained, as God said, because he presides over all of these things, Jerusalem is going to be conquered first, Pastor Warren Wiersbe says. God uses unbelievers to accomplish his purposes and can even overrule their Pagan methods of making decisions. God's people did not obey the declared word of God, but the Pagan nations obeyed God and did not know it. What? A paradox. How backwards we are sometimes. Where the pagans obey God unaware, and we who know the Lord and seek to walk with the Lord. But if we're resistant to the Lord, we find ourselves. In rebellion to the Lord not doing the will of God, while unbelievers around us are precisely where God wants them to be and where they need to be. Verse 20. Three it will be to them like a false divination in the eyes of those who have sworn oaths with them. But he will bring their iniquity to remembrance that they may be taken. The people of Jerusalem will be like, no, that was false divination. God not calling you to come down to Jerusalem. It's false divination. That's that's a lie. That's not the truth. But God says he will bring their iniquity to remembrance. It is the work of the Lord to deal with the sin of the nation of Judah. And that brings us to point number. Four final point tonight, Verses 24 through 27, God punishes unrepentant sinners. Again, this is something that God people need to hear. And sometimes God people slip into this mode of thinking that, well, you know, there's grace and there's mercy because of the cross. And so I can just persist and I can just continue. Doesn't seem to be really any bad things happening in my life and in spite of this. Sin that I'm practicing and engaged in, and sometimes we need to be reminded God addresses sin and he punishes unrepentant. Saint Sinners, verse 24 through 27 says therefore. Thus says the Lord God, because you have made your iniquity to be remembered, in that your transgressions are uncovered. So that in all your doings your sins appear, because you have come to remembrance, you shall be taken in hand. Now to you, oh profane, wicked Prince of Israel, whose day has come, whose iniquity shall end. Thus says the Lord God removed the turban, and take. Off the crown. Nothing shall remain the same exalt the humble and humble. I will make it overthrown. It shall be no longer. Until he comes whose right it is, and I will give it to him. Here in verse 24 God leads out this. Issue of transgressions, and and it's the remembrance and the uncovered state of their transgressions that. Is the problem. Here in verse 24 he says you have made your iniquity to be remembered. We cherish, of course, Psalm 103 as far as the east is from the West. That's how far he's cast our sins away from us, right? But but Israel is an estate. Judah is in the state at this time, where their sins are not cast as far as the. East is from the West. And they have behaved in such a way so that their iniquity is remembered. It's not cast away from them, it's just. Been gathered and gathered and gathered. Then as we talked about. Recently the storing up of wrath. So it's like a bulge in the wall about to break because there's just been this mass accumulated accumulation of iniquity and transgression and verse 24 he says your transgressions are uncovered. They're not covered. With the sacrifices, even though they were offering sacrifices, it wasn't covering their sin. It wasn't removing or addressing their sin. And so you here, you have a pile of sins that are uncovered, that are remembered at the top of mind, in the forefront of the mind. They're not forgotten in the back of the mind there. They're in remembrance. They're uncovered. Verse 24 he also says in all of your doings your sins appear. And everything you do, your sins are apparent there. There is this iniquity, this transgression, that that is part of everything that you're involved with, including the things that you're doing at the temple in the things that the. Lord had instructed. Verse 24 again says, because you have come to remembrance, and so you see this. Pattern you remember remembered you're in the forefront of the mind. Your sins are uncovered, and they they taint everything that you do at all of your doings. And so God here is. Saying it must be dealt with. Verse 24 at the end says you shall be taken in hand. I have to deal with the sin that is going on here. Verse 25 now to you, a profane, wicked Prince of Israel, whose day has come, whose iniquity shall end. Thus says the Lord removed the turban. Take off the crown. Nothing shall remain the same king Zedekiah. You're done. Take off your crown. Take off your turban. Nothing will stay the same. Nobody gets away with rebellion. Every sin will be accounted for. Nothing will remain the same. And it will remain that way, overthrown. Verse 27 says. I will make it overthrown. It shall be no longer. But then notice the until. Until he comes whose right it is. And I will give it to him. A few moments ago this was a sword. Now it's a sceptre. The sceptre of the King of Judah, the symbol of authority and power, Zedekiah, stripping you of that. And that scepter is essentially no more until. The Savior comes until the Messiah comes, the one to whom it belongs, so the one to whose right it is. This is a reference to Jesus coming in the line of David. There is no Davidic king after Zedekiah until Jesus comes on the scene that that is the fulfillment. Of this, and it is the fulfillment, of course, of the sin issue that he's addressing here as well. And so we need to be reminded. The Lord's going to show up. He has to deal with unrepentant sin. He has to deal with ongoing perpetual sin. He punishes unrepentant sinners. There is a future. There's a potential in the future, you know, for the Lord to come and for the scepter to be placed in the right hands and for there to be a restoration. God's always dealing with people with the eye towards restoration and the opportunity, even at the judgment that is unleashed, for there to be a restoration and a reconciliation afterward. Kids and so God's always working towards that. But he can't leave it undone, he can't leave it UN dealt with. He must deal with sin. And so there's that old saying. We need to keep short accounts with the Lord now. I'm going to confess my ignorance. Here a little bit. All my life, you know, I've been around the church, so I've heard that saying many times. Keep short accounts with the Lord. And I always understood it incorrectly because when I think of short I think of like not long so. The idea here is a short account, just has a few things on it. There's just a few outstanding things on this list of, you know, things I need to deal with before the Lord. Just a few things I need to confess, just a few as. Long as that list doesn't get too long. You know that I'm OK. But we keep short accounts, so only keep, you know, three to five things that you need to repent of in your life. At one time. Otherwise, you know you're in trouble. But I've come to understand in having a little bit more exposure to the world, that keeping short accounts is not in length but in time. And so when you are overdue and that library book you know is 4 weeks overdue, six weeks overdue, now you've not kept a short account. When it's one day overdue and you realize, Oh my, my library book is one day overdue, I need to get it back as soon as I can and you take it back and you say I'm sorry. It's late and I'll pay the fee, but here is this late library book that's a short account because you realized it and then you promptly. Turned it, but a long account is talking about the duration of time and that's Oh yeah, I know I'm supposed to get that back, but another week goes by, another week goes by and there is not the dealing with the situation. There is not the repentance in regards to that late library book. In a similar way, we need to keep short accounts with the Lord. Like don't have a list of things that are outstanding that you need to deal with with the Lord. As soon as there's one thing on the list, realize it and repent promptly. It's not that well, as long as there's not too many things or two, you know, really big, too many big things, you know, happening in my life that need to be dealt with now. The idea here is keep a short. Account don't let. Be delayed or pushed back while that rebellion persists, repent promptly. And this is important to consider, 'cause God punishes unrepentant sinners when we have those long overdue things. We can expect God has to deal with and bring consequences for that ongoing disregard of his word, and so there is the need for us to recognize those things quickly and repent. Promptly. And so that's my take on Ezekiel Chapter 121 tonight. Some of the things that we as God's people need to hear. We need to be reminded that God persistently invites repentance. Sometimes we are much less patient than God with others. And God is persistent, and he repeats the same message over and over and over again for hundreds of years now. Hundreds of years for the nation, right? But think about for the lives of the individuals that means for their whole life. God has been calling them to repentance out of the things that they learned in their culture and their upbringing, everything that they've ever known for their whole life. God's been calling them out of that in a variety of ways, but over and over and over again, calling them to turn from sin and to hear from him #2 God prepares. His instruments for the work, whatever it is that God has for us and God is calling us to, we can trust that he is doing the preparation that is necessary. He's sharpening us, he's polishing us. We may not feel sharp or polished, but. The work that God calls us to always comes with the preparation ahead of time. So that like Moses, like Joseph, like Jonah worm, you know, God prepared us for the work that he calls us to. #3 God presides over all decision making. Those things that are out of our hands, that are in the hands of the authorities, we need to trust in the sovereignty of God. Now, of course, we have an election coming up and some things to vote on, and so we have the blessing and the privilege of being able to have a say in that. That doesn't mean we just depart from that and say it's all in God. We get to contribute and participate in that, but at the same time we do our part and then we leave the rest to the sovereignty of God and we say, Lord, it's in your hands. And all of those decisions that are being made, ultimately we trust you to work in the midst of that and in spite of those things, perhaps, that we. Don't like or don't think are good decisions. And then finally God punishes unrepentant sinners. We need to be mindful. Of and remember. For ourselves, but then also for those around us, as we see unrepentant sinners, as we talk to and walk with unrepentant sinners, recognizing the need for them to hear and receive the. Persistent, patient invitation to repentance, because otherwise God will bring the punishment that is deserved, and so for ourselves, keep short accounts and repent, but also to be prompted by those around us and the repentance that is needed to spur us onto the work that God has for us. In there. Wife, let's pray. Lord, I thank you for this opportunity to hear from you once again and to be reminded of these important truths. I pray, Lord, that each one would land right where it needs to, and our hearts, Lord, that we would be mindful of the way that you work, the way that you do things, and how you want to use us to further your Kingdom and be part of. Your work for all of eternity and so God, I prayed that you would draw us nearer to you. I pray, Lord, that you would reveal to us our list. Of accounts, Lord. Is there anything outstanding past due? 306090 days overdue? Lord, I pray that you would help us to spot those things, catch those things and turn them over to you quickly, Lord, that we might walk in fellowship. Experiencing the preparation, the blessing and the work that you want to do in us and through us. I pray this in Jesus name.