Summary: This book was written to encourage the Israelites in their most difficult hour. But it is also designed to encourage each of us, no matter how dead or lifeless your present situation appears to be, there is still hope for the future. God knows how to strengthen you.
God has an answer for the dead situations of life. Because God’s presence there is hope for the future. There seems to be common knowledge that God’s people need to experience the abundant life that Jesus came to bring in a greater measure. No matter what denomination, independent or traditional, there seems to be something missing. The church seems to have more programs than Presence of God. Whenever the Spirit of the Lord is manifest in our programs, real ministry can take place. This lesson is taken from the book of Ezekiel. The word Ezekiel means "God will strengthen". This book was written to encourage the Israelites in their most difficult hour. But it is also designed to encourage each of us, no matter how dead or lifeless your present situation appears to be, there is still hope for the future. God knows how to strengthen you.
Ezekiel was a prophet/priest with an unusual calling who understood public ministry and divine isolation. He was carried away into Babylon with thousands of the Israel's brightest and best, those who had been successful Politicians, military leaders, skilled craftsmen and a host of others. The favor of God enables Ezekiel to acquire a home by the River Chebar. The River Chebar was the royal canal of Nebuchadnezzar, the greatest canal in Mesopotamia, which connected the Tigris with the Euphrates. The Jewish captives were probably employed in the excavation of the canal. Ezekiel maintained his religious fervor and was been labeled by some as neurotic, paranoid, psychotic or schizophrenic because of his usual behavior. For example, God command him to prophesy to Judah and to also demonstrate his message. Long before the day of mime ministry, Ezekiel demonstrated his message. (390 days lying on one side, 40 days on the other side; shaving off his hair; and mixing his food with dung.) The book of Ezekiel has 48 chapters of the book, 17 are prophetic visions. By the River Chebar, his wife, the desire of his heart, died suddenly of a massive choke, but because of his assignment, Ezekiel was not allowed to mourn her death publicly because God told him that his experience would be used as a message to Judah.
A better explanation of his strange behavior is that anyone who conscientiously obeys God’s commands fully will probably be considered strange. Despite his preaching and demonstrations of his life, he still saw Judah continue in sin until they were carried into Babylon. Now their homeland has been destroyed, the temple burned with fire, their joy is gone for they hang their harps in the willow trees saying, “How can we sing the Lord's song in a strange land.”
The present crisis has plunged our world into a strange land. It strange to see our media bombarded with sickness, death and destruction. It is strange when answers are being proclaimed from politicians, medical professionals nor the church. It is a strange land when confusion is on every side. Ezekiel’s message is a message sent to a strange lane proclaiming hope for the future. Some portion of Ezekiel’s message and prophecies were difficult to understand that in the early centuries. Biblical scholar’s suggest that those under 30 years old were not allowed to read chapters 1, 40-48. I am preaching from the third major portion of Ezekiel's prophecy. The first portion are messages of Judgment on Judah and Jerusalem; the second, messages of Judgment on other nations; the third deals with the coming restoration. God has a plan of restoration for his people. The vision of the valley of dry bones dramatically proclaims a future resurrection. There is hope for the future! Jeremiah 29: 10, 11 ...I will visit you and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." One translations says, ..to give you hope and future! Can God revive your situation? Can God breathe new life in your crisis? There is hope for a bright future.
There is hope for the future, if we allow God’s Spirit to come upon us, lead us out and assess the needs around us. (Eze. 37:1-4) There is hope for the future if we allow God’s Spirit to fill our mouths and declare his word. (Eze. 37:5-8) God’s word will lift us, change us, empower us and enable us to think God’s kind of thought and produce Life changing results. Israel has become a hissing, a byword, a thing of the past. They are experiencing the Babylonian Captivity; they have lost their song. Their names have been changed; they have lost their identity. They have lost their heritage, their temple and their worship. They have lost their homeland and have become hopeless, lifeless, and then God sends a word of deliverance.