The Curse of God
Would you take your Bibles please and turn to the book of Ezekiel chapter 7:1-27...
As we continue moving right along in this book.
>The 7th chapter of the book of Ezekiel is one of the most difficult chapters in the book.
It is certainly the most difficult chapter that weíve covered so far...
In our pilgrimage through this great OT prophecy.
The book of Ezekiel is a message of the judgment of God...
And today I want us to think about the curse of God upon sin.
And so the 7th chapter of the book of Ezekiel...
Is a continuation of the theme of the judgment of God.
Now it can be outlined I think in a very simple threefold way.
>First of all, in verses 1-11, he gives a prediction of the end that is coming...
A prediction of the end.
In verses 12 through the first part of verse 23, he gives to them an instruction...
To act out another scene and he gives the significance of the scene.
And then the rest of the chapter is a prediction...
Of the whole judgment of God that is about to come on the nation of Israel.
And so letís look at this chapter in those headings.
>First of all, in the first 11 verses, the Bible tells us that God predicts that an end is coming.
Look there with me if you will in chapter 7, verse 2:
(Verse 2) Son of man, this is what the sovereign LORD says to the land of Israel: The end! The end has come upon the four corners of the land.
(Verse 6) The end is come, the end is come.
All the way through the first 11 verses, the prophet is predicting the coming of an end.
>Now you and I live in a world and we experience a life in which there are many beginnings...
And also in which there are many endings.
For example, there comes a time when childhood comes to an end.
Now for some it seems to come woefully late.
But there does come a time in a personís life when childhood comes to an end.
Paul reminds us in the NT that "when I was a child I thought like a child...
And I acted like a child, and I lived my life as a child would live it."
But he said, "When I became am an, I put away those childish things."
And so there comes a time when childhood comes to an end.
There comes a time when formal education comes to an end.
You go through kindergarten and grammar school...
And junior high and senior high and college...
And maybe even on to a graduate level.
But there comes a time when formal education comes to an end.
That doesnít mean you stop learning.
But it means that you no longer go to the classroom and sit at a desk and listen...
To some teacher or professor share the knowledge they have acquired.
There comes an end to formal education.
>There comes an end to a life of singleness in the life of most people.
There was a time in your life when you were single and you were free to do anything you wanted to do...
Under the protection of Godís covering.
You didnít have any responsibilities except for yourself.
But then there came a time when that life of singleness for most of us came to an end...
And we took upon ourselves a helpmate, a spouse, a husband, or a wife...
And then children came.
And all of a sudden that life of singleness was over.
>There comes a time when there comes an end to a personís business career.
Maybe youíve worked hard and maybe you had dreams...
And maybe youíve accomplished most of those dreams.
Maybe youíve made the money you wanted to make.
Maybe your business did do as well as you wanted it to do.
But there comes a day when your name will no longer be on the sign.
There comes a day when your career as a business person is over.
There are many endings.
>There come days when there is an end to a political administration.
There comes a day when the White House changes occupancy.
There comes a day when one political party leaves and another one comes in.
Thereís an end of political administration.
>There comes a day when there is an end to an individualís life.
Weíre not going to live in this life forever.
Weíre not going to forever look like we look.
Weíre not forever going to breathe the air of this world.
Weíre not forever going to eat the food of this world.
There comes an end to this earthly life.
>There comes an end to a nationís existence.
Nations in history have risen and fallen.
Some of them are lost ancient tribes that no longer exist.
There comes an end to a nationís history.
>But also there will come an end to the world as we know it.
The Bible tells us over and over that this world is moving toward a climax...
A climax that has been prearranged and predetermined by God Almighty.
It is not up to the fickle fate of the Republicans or Democrats.
It is not tossed to the winds to the Taliban or any other movement on the face of the earth.
The end that is coming is prearranged and predetermined by God himself.
>Now we live in a world of endings.
What ending is Ezekiel talking about?
I believe he is talking about the end of Israel as a nation as it was then.
I think heís talking about the Babylonian uprising that is about to come...
And absolutely destroy the city of Jerusalem at that particular time in history.
Babylon was a great and mighty nation.
They had already come into Israel on several occasions...
And taken many of their finest, most brilliant young men away in captivity.
Daniel was over there in captivity.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego...
These were men that had already been taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians.
And they were over there as slaves having been taken captive from their homeland.
>But this is not the end of it.
Thereís going to come a time that the nation of Israel is going to be overrun by the Babylonians...
And the whole nation is going to be destroyed.
And so this is talking about something that has already happened as you and I sit here...
But it had not yet happened when Ezekiel was receiving this message from God.
God is simply saying that the nation of Israel that had been a great nation and a mighty nation...
And a nation that was respected was going to be a nation that was going to come to an end.
>Now let me share with you some things about this ending of the nation of Israel.
Again, it already has taken place as we sit here, but at that time it was still yet to come.
What was the reason for it?
Why did God say the nation was going to come to an end?
Well, thatís not a very difficult question...
Because four times the Bible tells us that God was going to bring an end because of their ways.
Look in verse 3: The end is now upon you, and I will unleash my anger upon you. I will judge you according to your conduct.
(Verse 4) I will not look on you with pity or spare you; I will surely repay you for your conduct.
(Verse 8) I am about to pour out my wrath on you and spend my anger against you; I will judge you according to your conduct.
(Verse 9) I will not look on you with pity or spare you, I will repay you in accordance with your conduct.
God said, "Israel, I want to tell you right now, Iím going to bring your nation to an end because of your conduct."
>Now what was their conduct?
What had happened to them?
There was a time when Israel had been in a covenant relationship with God.
There was a time when Jehovah was worshiped and praised by the people of Israel.
There was a time when they were receiving the blessings of God.
He was opening the windows of heaven and pouring down...
Showering down upon them the fullness of his blessings.
But those days were over.
The windows of heaven had closed and they were not receiving the blessings of God.
It seemed as though they were under the curse of God.
They were no longer singing praises to him.
But they were worshiping images and they were committing all kinds of acts of ungodliness.
What had happened?
What was the conduct of Israel?
>Well the first one is found there in verse 10.
The day is here! It has come! Doom has burst forth, the rod has budded, arrogance has blossomed.
He says the first thing that has happened to Israel is they have been overwhelmed by a spirit of pride.
They no longer felt a dependence upon God.
You know itís amazing how many times people will turn to God when trouble comes.
People will turn to God when the threat of war is looming.
Someone has said there are no atheists in foxholes, and I suspect thatís probably true.
Man, when it looks as though the enemy is going to overwhelm us...
Or it looks as though some disease is going to overcome us and the doctor says...
"Man thereís not any hope. You better make your peace with God."
Oh, how oftentimes we recognize our dependence on God when trouble comes.
But sometimes we get to feeling better.
Sometimes weíre not sick any longer.
Sometimes that time of being ill passes and we get better...
And maybe the threat of war passes away.
And we think, "Well maybe it wasnít as bad as I thought it was.
Maybe I really didnít have that disease that I had all the church praying for me about.
Maybe we werenít really going to war like everybody thought we were.
While all of the signs of war and all of the signs of sickness were there, man, people were crying out to God.
But now that everything is better, good old God can go back to his closet...
And if we need him again, weíll call on him."
I want to tell you friend, thatís a spirit of pride.
Pride is an attitude that says, "I donít need God.
Iíll make it myself.
Iím just fine.
I can do what I want to do when I want to do it, with whom I want to do it...
Where I want to do it and it doesnít matter what God says about it."
You see, the nation of Israel had become overwhelmed by a spirit of pride...
And that was some of the conduct that God said he was going to bring judgment upon them for.
>But not only pride, look in verse 11.
Youíll find a second way.
Violence has grown into a rod to punish wickedness.
The people of Israel had become a very violent people.
They had become an agressor nation.
They were no longer a nation that was content to love God and live for God...
And only fight back when they were attacked.
They had become an agressor nation.
They had become power hungry.
They had become blood thirsty in their own right and they had become a violent people...
And their hands had become bloody hands.
Look down in verse 23: Prepare chains because the land is full of bloodshed, and the city is full of violence.
Donít you see?
They were absolutely bloodthirsty people.
Friends, Godís people are to be peaceful people.
Weíre to love peace and weíre to pursue peace...
And weíre to try to be at peace with those around us.
There is no reason for us to be hawks when we can be doves.
Now that doesnít mean we compromise and that doesnít mean we do not stand for what is right.
But Godís people shouldnít be agressor people.
We shouldnít take arms against those simply because we want something they have.
Weíre not to be that kind of people.
But the people of Israel had become a violent people.
>But it also says in verse 11 that violence had bloomed into wickedness.
Not only had they been overcome by a spirit of pride and they had become a violent people...
They had become a wicked people.
The word "wickedness" is a word that can mean all kinds of gross immorality.
They had thrown to the wind morality.
They had thrown to the wind "thus saith the Lord, thou shalt, and thou shalt not."
The philosophy of the day was "do what you want to do as long as it feels good."
That was why God said, "The end is going to come because of that conduct"...
The pride and the violence and the wickedness.
That was the conduct of Israel that brought the judgment of God.
>But God said, "Not only am I going to bring an end to you because of your conduct"...
But he says also, "because of your detestable practices."
In verse 3, in verse 4, and in verse 8 and in verse 9...
Four times God reminds them of their "detestable practices".
Now what is a detestable practice, or "abomination" in the KJV?
Let me tell you what it is.
An abomination is a practice that is absolutely hated by God because it is unacceptable to him.
Now in the Bible the phrase "detestable practices" can refer to a number of things.
But there are two primary things that a detestable practice in the Bible would consist of.
>One would be sexual perversion.
In the 18th chapter of the book of Leviticus, he gives three pictures of sexual perversion...
And refers to all of them as detestable.
One is incest, the having of sex with members of your own physical family.
A second one is beastiality, when a human being has sexual relationships with an animal.
And then thirdly, homosexuality, a man lying with a man or a woman lying with a woman.
Those three sexual sins are identified in scripture as an abomination or detestable to God.
>But also in the Bible the word "abomination" or "detestable"...
Is used to speak of idolatry.
It is used when Godís people, people who know the Lord, people who have a relationship with the Lord...
They turn their back on him and they fall on their face and worship pagan idols.
Idolatry is detestable unto the Lord.
And so God says to Israel, "Iím going to bring an end to you.
You are going to cease to exist and there are not any ifs, ands or buts about it.
The reason is because of your conduct and your pride and violence...
And wickedness and also because of your abominations of sexual perversions and gross pagan idolatry".
And so here we find the reason God said the end is going to come.
>Now what was the purpose of the end?
What was God going to do through bringing them an end?
Again, you look in verses 3, 4, 8 and 9 and youíll find God saying this...
"I will repay you."
Folks, I want to tell you, God is the great equalizer.
Sometimes it looks as though the devilís crowd is going to win and Godís people are going to lose.
Sometimes it looks as though the people of God can turn their backs on God...
And live any hellish way they want to live and get away with it.
But folks, I want to tell you, God says, "I will repay you."
Now the book of Galatians puts it like this...
"Be not deceived. God is not mocked. For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."
If you think you as a child of God can sin and get away with it...
And God will just sit back and wink and grin at you while you do it...
If you think that you can do that and get by...
Then you may as well go and plant watermelon seed and expect to get apples.
You may as well plant plum seeds and expect to get cantaloupe...
Because the Bible just cannot be true if a child of God can sin and get by...
Because the word of God says, "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."
And God said, "I will repay you."
>Listen to me now.
Donít expect Jesus to say, "Well done faithful servant"...
If you havenít done well as a faithful servant.
But let me tell you what some people think.
Some people think, "I can be unfaithful as often as I choose to be unfaithful and it really doesnít matter...
Because good old sweet, loving God, heís always faithful...
Just to keep on smiling down upon me and showering me with blessing."
You cannot sin, not even as a child of God and expect the sweet, plentiful blessings of heaven...
To come upon your life.
You are no longer under the curse of eternal damnation.
Youíre no longer under the curse of being punished forever in a place of hell.
Youíre no longer under the curse of being lost and abandoned by God.
But folks, I want to tell you, sin always brings an end to the blessing of God...
Even upon his children.
And so God says, "Iím going to bring an end because of your conduct...
And because of your detestable practices."
And God says, "Iím going to do it because Iím going to repay you."
You cannot reap to the wind and expect to sow anything other than a whirlwind.
You cannot live a life of wickedness and expect to reap the blessing and the fortune of God.
>But notice the nature of this end thatís coming...
Not only the reason for it and the purpose for it...
But the nature of it.
In verse 5 he says: This is what the sovereign LORD says: Disaster! An unheard of disaster is coming.
God says that when the end comes itís going to be a time of disaster.
Look with me if you will down in verse 7.
He says, Doom has come upon you Ė you who dwell in the land. The time has come, the day is near.
God says, "When the end comes, not only is it going to be a time of disaster"...
He says itís going to be a time of panic.
It is going to be a time when the people are panicked...
Because of the horror they see God bringing upon them.
>But notice a third thing.
Not only is it going to be a day of evil or a day of disaster...
And a day of panic...
He says in verse 9 itís going to be a day of blows.
The last phrase of verse 9: then you will know that it is I that strikes the blow.
>Itís like the little boy who got a spanking and looked up at his mama and said, "that hurt"...
And mama said, "I meant for it to hurt."
It means, "I am the Lord that will hurt you."
Folks, I want to tell you, when someone ends up in the woodshed with Godís disciplinary judgment...
Thatís not ever a fun time.
Itís just not a fun time.
God will hurt us.
Does that mean he doesnít love us? No.
It didnít mean that mother didnít love her son.
It didnít mean that my mother didnít love me when she whipped me.
It simply means, God says, "It is because of my love for you that I will strike you."
>But not only is this end that is coming for Israel...
Not only was it going to be a time of panic and a time of disaster and a time of hurting...
Itís going to be a time of sorrow.
Look down there with me if you will in verses 16 and following.
He says, "All who survive and escape will be in the mountains mourning like doves of the valleys."
Oh it might look like theyíre gonna be all right because theyíve escaped...
But they are like mourning doves in the valleys.
Their sighs are of sorrow and grief and mourning.
God says, "When the end comes itís going to be a time of disaster.
Itís going to be a time of trouble...itís coming to blows...
And itís going to be a time of sorrow."
>Let me move on to the second point.
Not only do we see the end time that is coming...
But he gives now another scene that he wants this prophet to act out.
Now if youíre here for the first time in this series...
Let me just share with you that when God called Ezekiel to preach or to be a prophet...
He did not call him first to be a preacher.
He called him first to be an actor.
Most of the time when God called a prophet the prophet would stand up and preach.
He would preach in the marketplace.
He would preach in the synagogues.
Heíd just preach in the valleys.
I mean anywhere he could find a crowd heíd just go into preaching.
But when God called Ezekiel he said, "I donít want you to preach.
Iím going to give you some messages that I want you to act out."
And we see in this chapter the sixth one of those.
>In chapter 4 we saw the first three.
We saw the acting out of the clay tablet and the acting out of his lying on his side...
And then the acting out of eating that meager bread that was cooked over cow dung.
And then in chapter 5, we saw the acting out of the sign of the hair...
And when he cut off all of his hair off his head and off his face.
A third of it he threw to the wind and a third of it he burned...
And a third of it he cut up in little bitty pieces.
And then in chapter 6, we saw the sign of the clapping of the hands and the stomping of the feet...
Which was a picture of the enemies of Israel...
How they were going to rejoice when they saw the nation of Israel fall.
>But now he comes to the sixth scene.
He says there in verse 23, "Make a chain".
And so here is this man of God making a chain.
How long did he make it?
Well the Bible doesnít say.
Iím going to tell you what I think.
I believe it had three lengths in it.
What is a chain?
A chain is a symbol of strength.
It is a picture of something that is strong and binding.
In the Bible times when they wanted to tie someone up...
They bound him with chains, speaking with the strength with which they were binding him.
A chain is never in the Bible a sign of weakness.
A chain is always a symbol of strength.
And I think what God is saying here is...
"I want you to know Israel that the things you consider that make you strong...
Are not going to be able to stop my wrath when it comes."
>What were the three things they trusted in?
Well first of all they trusted in their economy.
"Our economy is strong, Ezekiel.
Weíre a strong people financially, and nothing matters as long as we have a strong economy."
Look in verses 12 and 13: The time has come, the day has arrived. Let not the buyer rejoice nor the seller grieve, for wrath is upon the whole crowd.
The seller will not recover the land he has sold as long as both of them live.
Look down in verse 19: They will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will be an unclean thing. Their silver and gold will not be able to save them in the day of the Lordís wrath.
Here were people who had been overwhelmed with pride because of the strength of their economy.
That was the first link of their chain that they thought would deliver them from the coming wrath of God.
"Why, who is God to think he can destroy us?
Doesnít God know how strong our economy is?
Doesnít God know that every day the Wall Street is having record setting days?
Who does God think he is to tell us heís gonna bring an end to us?
We are financially strong."
Is this about Israel or is this about America?
>What was the second link in their chain?
Not only did they boast in the strength of their economy...
They boasted in the strength of their military power.
Look there in verse 14: Though they blow the trumpet and get everything ready, no one will go unto battle, for my wrath is upon the whole crowd.
Oh they said, "Why if God thinks heís gonna bring an end to us...
All we have to do is blow the trumpet and our armies will gather.
And theyíll come with their torches and theyíll come with their swords...
And theyíll come with their spears and theyíll come with their bows and arrows...
And theyíll come with their battering rams and theyíll come with their catapults.
And who does God think he is to try and tell us what to do?
If he tries to put an end to us, weíll blow the alarm and all of our armies will rise up against him...
And weíll show him a thing or two."
God said, "Blow your trumpet....gather your armies.
But when the battle comes, you wonít even show up because that link of the chain will be broken."
>Oh but there was a third link.
Not only were they strong they though because of their economy...
And they were strong they thought because of their armies...
But they thought they were strong because of their religious worship.
Oh they were religious people and they worshiped all gods.
Oh they were not bigots and they were not narrow-minded and they were not fundamentalists.
Those that wanted to worship Jehovah could worship Jehovah...
Those that wanted to worship a moon god could worship a moon god.
Those that wanted to worship a night god could worship a night god...
Those that wanted to worship the day god could worship the day god.
Those that wanted to worship a rain god could worship a rain god...
"Oh, weíre broad minded here in Israel, and if God Jehovah thinks he can come and bring an end to us...
Well there are other gods in this land that will rise up against him and run him out of town."
>But look what it says in verse 20:
They were proud of their beautiful jewelry and used it to make their detestable idols and vile images. Therefore, I will turn these into an unclean thing for them.
(Verse 21) I will hand it over as plunder to foreigners and as lost to the wicked to the earth and they will defile it.
>"Ezekiel, I want you to make a chain of three links, these three things that the nation trusts in.
They think they are great because of their economy.
They think theyíre great because of their military might.
They think theyíre great because of their religious pluralism."
And friends, the three things that made them great were the three things God did Ďem in for.
>The last part of this chapter says that when the judgment of God came...
It came upon the land and it came upon the city.
It says in verse 27: it came upon the king. It came upon the prince and it came upon the man out there in the field.
You see, when the judgment came, when the end came, none were exempt.
It didnít matter how important you were.
It didnít matter how many people looked to you as a great leader.
When the judgment came, the nation was over.
>We live in a world like that.
Many today say, "Oh, the end is not coming preacher. Youíre an alarmist.
Youíre an extremist.
Well donít you know, preacher, that weíre living in the 21st century?
Donít you know Bro. Joe, that weíre in a brand new millennium?
Donít you know that weíre just a few years away from curing cancer...
And then weíre going to cure AIDS...
And then weíre going to cure the common cold?
And preacher, donít you know that weíre about to enter into the new age?
Donít you know that the age of Aquarius has finally arrived and weíre going to have utopia...
And men are going to love everybody and people are going to get along...
And the lion is going to lie down by the lamb?"
Not until Jesus comes theyíre not.
Folks, I want to tell you, we live in a world when people say, "The end is no coming."
And because they say the end is not coming, no one is getting prepared for it.
And because theyíre not getting prepared for it, more and more people of our planet are ending up in hell.
Because you see, while the end of the world as we know it hasnít come yet...
The end of the individual life still clicks off day after day after day...
And people stand before God unprepared for eternity.
>Youíre going to experience an end one day.
It may be when Jesus comes.
It may be when death comes.
But youíre going to experience an end one day.
It wonít matter how much money you have.
It wonít matter how big the house you live in.
The only thing that is going to matter is, "What have you done with Jesus?"
Do you belong to him?
If you donít, you need to come to him.
Sometimes people ask, "Bro. Joe, where do you see America in prophecy?"
I mean the Bible talks about Israel.
The Bible talks about Russia.
The Bible talks about Iran and Iraq, Babylon.
But what does the Bible say about America in prophecy?
Not one word.
Because you see, it appears as though America is destined to die of dry rot.
Americaís greatest enemy is not without.
Our greatest enemy is within.
It is not the Chinese or the Russian or the Japanese we must fear.
It is the Christ-less American system that we need to be afraid of.
America has always sent missionaries to other lands.
Now other lands are sending Christian missionaries to America.
We have become the most ungodly, immoral, pagan nation on the face of the earth.
We are the king of pornography.
We are the king of gambling.
We have become the haven of homosexuality.
We have become the haven of pedophile and child abusers.
We have become the nation of drunkenness.
We have become the nation of drug addiction.
I tell you, our enemy is not without.
Our enemy is within.
The end is coming.