Saturday, February 23, 2019

February 23 - Ezekiel 19

Today's reading in our daily plan is Ezekiel 19. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • Today’s passage includes two descriptions of the kingdom of Israel and the royal family which foretells of their downfall. The first line tells us this is a lament, a sad poem of grief of mourning.
  • In the first half of the chapter (verses 2-9), the nation is compared to lioness and the kings are portrayed as her cubs. The first cub refers to Jehoahaz, the son of King Josiah who reigned only for a few months in 609 B.C. His reign was short but evil and brutal and he was taken prisoner to Egypt after 3 months of ruling as king.
  • The second cub was King Jehoiachin of Judah, who reigned from 609 to 597 B.C. When Jehoiachin rebelled against his Babylonian overlords, Nebuchadnezzar brought an army against him from the many nations under his empire. Jehoiachin was taken as prisoner to Babylon in 597 B.C. and never returned to Israel.
  • In verses 10-14, the kingdom is represented as a vine that was fruitful and strong. But after many generations of the people of Israel persistently rebelled against God, God no longer blessed Israel and her kings. As a result of God’s judgment, her strong branches were broken and withered. God transplanted the vine and took it to an unpleasant place: Babylon.
  • And the worst of the corruption and damage came from one of the vine’s own branches (see verse 14). This branch represents Zedekiah, who was king at the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • This chapter tells us that although God delivered righteous judgement on the people of Israel because of their choices and actions, it also pained God to do so. He grieved deeply in his heart for the suffering his people would endure. The beginning and the end of the chapter remind us that this is a passage of sadness.
  • We also see that God wants his people to understand his word and he uses a variety of  poetic illustrations and prose to describe what happens and why.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • If you think of your own life as a vine, does it feel like it’s blooming or withering? Do you tell yourself it’s because of the soil you were planted in, or the fertilizer delivering nutrients (or lack there of)? It’s easy, and sometimes it feels good, to place blame on outside factors but if you take an honest look, is the root of the problem in your own heart? Take a moment to talk to God and ask him for wisdom and clarity in recognizing how to make your vine thrive.
  • One helpful way to make improvements in your life is to surround yourself with people who will support you. If you want to work on strengthening your vine from within, check out Restore on Tuesday nights at Verve. Restore is a group for anyone who is struggling with a pattern in their life that is causing them pain. At Restore you will find a group of people who are working intentionally toward improving their choices and are open about sharing their stories, struggles, and successes. It’s a place you will find companions to journey with!