Today: [Ezekiel 24] Shouldn’t We Just Dispense with the Prophetic Altogether? In Ez. 24 we find the prophet (unwisely by modern standards) setting dates for events to come. Furthermore, the things that he sees, the people find to be very disconcerting. Ezekiel obeys God, and in obeying troubles the entire population of God’s people in captivity in Chebar. He sets a date. He predicts things that are not desirable. Should’nt we just set the prophetic aside when we experience such things? What does such a thought say about the captives at Chebar and what does it say about the church of our day that so widely rejects prophetic gifting?
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[Eze 24:1-27 KJV] 1 Again in the ninth year, in the tenth month, in the tenth [day] of the month, the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 2 Son of man, write thee the name of the day, [even] of this same day: the king of Babylon set himself against Jerusalem this same day. 3 And utter a parable unto the rebellious house, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Set on a pot, set [it] on, and also pour water into it: 4 Gather the pieces thereof into it, [even] every good piece, the thigh, and the shoulder; fill [it] with the choice bones. 5 Take the choice of the flock, and burn also the bones under it, [and] make it boil well, and let them seethe the bones of it therein. 6 Wherefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe to the bloody city, to the pot whose scum [is] therein, and whose scum is not gone out of it! bring it out piece by piece; let no lot fall upon it. 7 For her blood is in the midst of her; she set it upon the top of a rock; she poured it not upon the ground, to cover it with dust; 8 That it might cause fury to come up to take vengeance; I have set her blood upon the top of a rock, that it should not be covered. 9 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe to the bloody city! I will even make the pile for fire great. 10 Heap on wood, kindle the fire, consume the flesh, and spice it well, and let the bones be burned. 11 Then set it empty upon the coals thereof, that the brass of it may be hot, and may burn, and [that] the filthiness of it may be molten in it, [that] the scum of it may be consumed. 12 She hath wearied [herself] with lies, and her great scum went not forth out of her: her scum [shall be] in the fire. 13 In thy filthiness [is] lewdness: because I have purged thee, and thou wast not purged, thou shalt not be purged from thy filthiness any more, till I have caused my fury to rest upon thee. 14 I the LORD have spoken [it]: it shall come to pass, and I will do [it]; I will not go back, neither will I spare, neither will I repent; according to thy ways, and according to thy doings, shall they judge thee, saith the Lord GOD. 15 Also the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 16 Son of man, behold, I take away from thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke: yet neither shalt thou mourn nor weep, neither shall thy tears run down. 17 Forbear to cry, make no mourning for the dead, bind the tire of thine head upon thee, and put on thy shoes upon thy feet, and cover not [thy] lips, and eat not the bread of men.
Chapter 24 begins with a mention of the date, two and a half years after the message concluded previously in the 23rd chapter. In verse 2 Ezekiel is specifically instructed to mark the date which is the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign just prior to the commencement of the siege of Jerusalem.
To mention a date in a prophecy is not without precedent in the Bible. There are 1817 prophecies in the bible and at times God does give an exact future date when something will take place. Date setting by prophetic discernment is extremely controversial. There have been over the years 242 major incidents of people setting dates for the end of the world and so forth that have not come to pass. For this reason, many who do respect the prophetic and accept it as part of Christian experience, nonetheless absolutely teach against it in their prophetic schools. This could be understood as a measure to safeguard against inexperienced people in prophetic gifting getting themselves in trouble. However, there is, after training and experience no point at which any validation of date setting or time fixing as an accepted practice in prophetic utterance. When asked, so-called experts and recognized authorities in such things will almost to a man say that date setting is not biblical and is inherently unsafe. This is understandable as to why they would say this, to protect the prophetic and to protect their own reputations, but is it true? Ezekiel 24:1-3 stand in dispute against all such protestations.
The stand that Charismatic/Pentecostal and other “full gospel” leaders take against setting dates arises from something other than concern for defending biblical integrity, because as we see in our chapter, Ezekiel is allegedly setting a date at the instruction of God Himself. Should Ezekiel 24:1-3 be redacted from our bible as a mistake? Should Ezekiel be cautioned by religious leaders of our day as immature and unsafe? To be sure, dozens of Christians, leaders and the rank and file have caused unnecessary concern and greatly embarrassed the cause of Christ by setting dates for various things that turn out to be wrong. The question is not if date setting is problematic, because it is – but to suggest it is blatantly wrong and unscriptural amounts to cowardice and dishonesty because, as our passage today demonstrates, occasions of date-setting in the bible.
The explanation that many would give is that these were BIBLICAL prophets who were allowed or inspired to do such things. Perhaps the argument would be advanced that in the O.T. prophecy was of such a nature that setting a date would be accepted but not in the N.T. and certainly not in the present day. However, in the N.T., almost every mention of specific words by specific prophets was known to give certain time lines and time frames. What are we to do? Simply conclude that a biblical prophet is different from the idea of a prophet today (if you accept at all that they exist in the day we live in)? The answer would be this:
1 Date setting is problematic.
2 Date setting is not unknown in the bible.
3 The bible is problematic.
4 If we conduct ourselves in ministry according to such examples found in the bible relating to date setting, our ministry will be problematic.
5 If we refuse to accept the incidents of biblical prophecy regarding date setting, we lack courage.
What to do then, if God (seemingly in your best understanding) gives you a date? The first thing is to know that you can be wrong, and judging by the vast majority of date setting in modern religious history you will be proven wrong and as a result be embarrassed. Prophets have to admit no matter how clearly you think God has spoken to you regarding a date or anything else, you only see through a glass darkly. No matter how anointed you are or how anointed you think the prophet is that is speaking to you they at best according to Paul “hear in part, and see in part…” Yet at the same time Peter said we should prophesy “as the oracle of God Himself…” We don’t have the privilege of vacillating and equivocating as form of false or mock humility. We must boldly give what God gives us in respect and in the fear of God. As Jer. 23:28 says about such things, “what is the wheat to the chaff?”. Stay sensitive, listen to the Holy Spirit, walk in humility and obey God, even in these controversial areas. Do not let anyone tell you that something practiced in bible days in this regard is illegitimate today because that is a lie, it is not true.
We see then in our chapter Ezekiel setting a date and then to give a continuance of the boiling pot metaphor. Jerusalem is about to undergo a siege that God Himself describes as treating the entire city like a pot set to boil a portion of meat. The people are the meat to be boiled. Verse 6 says that this is because Jerusalem has become what God calls “a bloody city”. Specifically, we know that child sacrifice is not unknown in Jerusalem and Judea. For centuries, going back to the time of Joshua and even during Solomon’s reign, children were passed through the fire to Chemosh and Molech. Countless infants were vaporized on the white hot arms of the god Molech, and otherwise dispatched sacrificially to various Canaanite deities that the Hebrews worshipped alongside of worshipping Jehovah. This, unthinkably was a known fact in their day, yet something that the people, even the godly people were in deep denial concerning, as v. 12 states they had wearied themselves with lies, as though such things did not take place. For this reason the city of Jerusalem will be without inhabitant and the land of Judah will be completely emptied and destroyed and lie waste for over 70 years before the judgment of God is lifted.
This is a terrible picture, yet one that is not without comparison to the modern day holocaust of abortion in the western world that is so commonly practiced that it continues unabated and after many years almost without objection to in the pulpits of our churches. The destruction of ancient Jerusalem stands as a mute witness to what befalls all as fall into to such callous disregard for the life of our young.
18 So I spake unto the people in the morning: and at even my wife died; and I did in the morning as I was commanded. 19 And the people said unto me, Wilt thou not tell us what these [things are] to us, that thou doest [so]? 20 Then I answered them, The word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 21 Speak unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will profane my sanctuary, the excellency of your strength, the desire of your eyes, and that which your soul pitieth; and your sons and your daughters whom ye have left shall fall by the sword. 22 And ye shall do as I have done: ye shall not cover [your] lips, nor eat the bread of men. 23 And your tires [shall be] upon your heads, and your shoes upon your feet: ye shall not mourn nor weep; but ye shall pine away for your iniquities, and mourn one toward another. 24 Thus Ezekiel is unto you a sign: according to all that he hath done shall ye do: and when this cometh, ye shall know that I [am] the Lord GOD. 25 Also, thou son of man, [shall it] not [be] in the day when I take from them their strength, the joy of their glory, the desire of their eyes, and that whereupon they set their minds, their sons and their daughters, 26 [That] he that escapeth in that day shall come unto thee, to cause [thee] to hear [it] with [thine] ears? 27 In that day shall thy mouth be opened to him which is escaped, and thou shalt speak, and be no more dumb: and thou shalt be a sign unto them; and they shall know that I [am] the LORD.
Ezekiel receives the word of the Lord and delivers it faithfully to the elders and the people who are with him in captivity in Chebar. The response is one of astonishment and rejection. Surely God would not allow this to happen. Rather than equivocate or restate the word given in a toned-down manner, Ezekiel declares that God Himself will profane His very sanctuary and that the loved ones of these captives back in the homeland will fall by the sword. Apparently at this point Ezekiel is struck dumb and unable to speak for a time. The last word he gives in this instance is that the dumbness he is stricken with will not be lifted until an escapee from the siege of the city of Jerusalem arrives with news that will signal the fulfillment of all that Ezekiel prophesies in this instance. In the mute condition that comes upon Ezekiel it is apparent that it isn’t voluntary. He will be unable to speak as a sign until the word is proven to be true.
What about yourself? If you are a prophetic person, (and all God’s people are to some extent), you may find yourself in a situation where you see things that those around you would rather not know about and certainly won’t agree to if you speak up. Agabus in the New Testament was a faithful prophet, who saw things on occasion that were not pleasant. He saw a dearth coming upon certain areas and was so insistent that a campaign to raise funds to relieve the saints was put together and executed by his word that it was going to be needed. He prophesied that the most powerful and favored minister of that day, the apostle Paul was going to be imprisoned and ultimately die at the hands of the Romans. It is too convenient to suggest that God doesn’t work this way through people today. The objection to the prophetic in churches and in Christian culture today is a metric that betrays the depth of the idolatry of control and iron fisted possessiveness that leaders exercise over God’s husbandry. The prophetic IS problematic. It is fraught with difficulty and the presence of prophetic influence does result at times in consternation about God’s people. Nonetheless to deny the validity of the prophetic and even the necessity of the prophetic in our lives is to deny the very authority of the scriptures that commend the prophetic as a gift to God’s people for their good.
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