Getting Ready to Move
Would you take your Bibles please and turn to Ezekiel chapter 12, beginning in verse 1.
>In chapters 8, 9, 10 and 11 we saw one of the most amazing visions youíll find anywhere in the word of God.
God came to where Ezekiel lived in his house in Babylonian captivity.
Ezekiel was leading some kind of a Bible study because the elders were there...
And right in the middle of the Bible study this vision came to Ezekiel.
I donít know how long it took before Ezekiel to see the complete entire vision.
But there was a period of time when in his body he was still sitting right there before these men...
And yet in his spirit he was seeing this great vision.
The Bible said that God carried him and suspended him spiritually somewhere between heaven and earth...
And showed him the vision of what was going on over in Jerusalem hundreds of miles away.
Ezekiel had lived in Jerusalem as well as all of the exiles...
They had also lived there in Jerusalem...
But they had been taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar and his army.
>When that vision came to an end in chapter 11, God said to Ezekiel:
"Now I want you to go back and I want you to tell the things that youíve seen."
Look in chapter 11 verse 24:
The spirit lifted me up and brought me to the exiles in Babylonia in the vision given by the spirit of God. Then the vision I had seen went up from me.
Heís back home now.
His body has always been there, but his spirit is now back there with his body.
(Verse 25) And I told the exiles everything the Lord had shown me.
>You see the vision that God gave to Ezekiel was not just a vision for him to see privately.
It was a vision for him to share with all the people...
And it was a vision of Godís coming judgment upon Jerusalem and all Judea.
And so now Ezekiel does as God has instructed him to do.
He is back there with those elders and he begins teaching them the things he saw in a vision.
Now between chapter 11 and 12, there is an obvious period of time.
I donít know how long...but itís not that same night.
I want you to understand that.
It seems as though Ezekiel spends some time preaching about the vision that God showed him.
>Now what would you say if I was to come to you some Sunday...
And I was to say something like this...
"Folks, this week while I was sitting in my study preparing the message from the word of God...
The spirit of God came unto me and my body remained there in the study...
But my spirit was lifted out of my body and suspended between heaven and earth.
And God showed me the things that are happening in Washington D.C.
He showed me all of the corruption...he showed me all of the idolatry...and all of the adultery...
He showed me all of the ungodliness of our national leaders...
Not just in the White House, but in the Senate and in the Congress.
God personally showed me every bit of it, and God said to me that he is going to bring judgment...
And the city of Washington is going to be wiped off the face of the earth...
That everyone in the White House, everyone in Congress, every Senator, every Congressman, every member of the Supreme Court...
Was either going to be killed or taken captive by some invading force and be led off in chains into captivity."
Now what would you say if I were to come to you and say something like that?
Most people would not believe I had really had a vision like that.
Or if I had a vision like that it was not anything spiritual.
It was probably due to something I ate before I went to bed.
>Well thatís what Ezekiel had confronted.
God had lifted him spiritually between heaven and earth...
And shown him all the things God had said he was going to do.
I mean God showed him all these things.
God talked to him...God showed him these things.
God even interpreted what was going on and what was going to happen.
And so Ezekiel comes back and he begins to preach.
He preaches first of all to those elders that were there in the room with him when he started preaching...
And time passes and he just keeps on preaching.
He preaches in the houses and he preaches in the squares and he preaches publicly.
He preaches privately...
He just continues to tell the people over and over the things that God let him see...
And the things God spoke to him through the vision.
>Well it seems that nobody paid any attention to him.
"Oh, Ezekiel, you didnít really see all that stuff. Youíre just making that up...
Youíre dreaming...Theyíre not really that bad over in Jerusalem.
Those things are really not going on...God really didnít say those things to you.
God didnít really reveal those things...you didnít see that...
Ezekiel, we donít believe you."
Now that was the response that they gave to his preaching, and I want to tell you...
That kind of response to a direct vision of God always gets God upset.
And so in chapter 12 we find God upset.
>The Bible says in verses 1 and 2: The Word of the LORD came unto me (the word "LORD" is in all caps, we know what that means) "Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people."
Now thatís not the first time God has called the exiles that have been taken captive...
And are living over in Babylon, and thatís not the first time God has called them rebellious.
As a matter of fact, if you look back in chapter 2, and I wonít take time to read it.
But youíll find at least four times in the chapter 2 that Ezekiel is told by God...
That those Jews that are over there in Babylon living among them are a rebellious people.
They are a rebellious people.
God is here giving a description of Ezekielís neighbors, his comrades, his fellow Jews.
God says they are a rebellious people.
And because they are a rebellious people, two things result from it.
>He says in verse 2: they have eyes to see but do not see and have ears to hear but do not hear.
Now they could see the physical things of life.
They could see the sand...they could see the flowers and the trees.
They could see the waters, and they could hear the physical things of earth.
They could hear peopleís voices...they could hear the sounds of birds flying...
They could hear a lot of things.
But they could not see the things of God and they could not hear the things of God.
Why? Because they were a rebellious people.
You know Jesus had a lot to say about "him that hath ears to hear, let him hear."
You see, a man who does not have the spirit of God living inside of him...
He cannot hear the voice of God.
He cannot discern the things of God.
He cannot see the things of God.
>Years ago in the late sixties, John Glenn went into outer space, you saw the movie...
And he came back with the report, "I saw God everywhere up there."
Two Russian cosmonauts went into outer space and they came back with the report...
"We didnít see God anywhere up there."
Now did he have something in his space ship that allowed him to see God?
Itís just that John Glenn was a born again Christian, and he had the Holy Spirit inside of him...
And through that Holy Spirit he could see the things of God.
Well thatís the description God gives to Ezekiel concerning those Jews that were living all around him.
They are rebellious and they are spiritually blind and spiritually deaf.
>But notice not only the description God gives to Ezekiel concerning his neighbors...
Notice secondly the instructions God gives to Ezekiel about his activity.
Beginning there in verse 3 and going down through verse 7, God tells Ezekiel to do four things.
#1 Ė He says, "pack your belongings."
Now understand that Ezekiel probably would not have had many belongings because there were no animals involved.
There were not any cattle...there were not any sheep...
And so more than likely his belongings consisted of a little portable pallet that he could move from place to place.
It consisted of a skin that contained water or wine that he could drink...
And a pouch in which he would carry whatever food he might have.
But God said, "I want you to pack up your belongings because you are fixing to move."
>Now the second thing God says is, "I want you to pack your belongings and I want you to do it very slowly and very obviously."
Over and over in verses 3 through 6, God says do it, "While they watch...while they watch...
I want you to do it in the daytime where they can see it."
Now you have to understand friends, it wouldnít take a very long time to gather up what little bit of stuff weíve just talked about.
I mean it just wouldnít take any time at all, and yet God said...
"I want you to take all day long to do it."
So you can imagine the meticulous manner in which Ezekiel went about doing what God had told him to do.
Very slowly he would walk outside.
He would pick up a container for food and he would very slowly walk back inside.
He would do the same thing for the pallet he slept on.
He would do the same thing for the pouch of food.
And I have an idea that he probably did that over and over and over.
He would carry it inside, and then he would carry it back outside.
And then he would pick it up and carry it back inside and then carry it back outside...
And pick it up and carry it back inside because God said...
"I want you to do this so that everybody will know that youíre going to move...
I want you to do it so they will all know about it."
>Now the third thing God said I want you to do, in addition to packing up your belongings all day long...
Doing it very slowly and publicly and obviously...
God says, "When the evening shadows begin to fall I want you to begin to tear a hole through the wall of your house.
I want you to knock out some of the bricks.
I want you to do whatever you have to do to pull the plaster off.
Get whatever tools you might need.
But I want you to knock a hole out of the side of your house...
Out of one of the walls of your house because thatís going to be the means by which you leave.
Youíre not going to exit through the front door.
Youíre not going to exit through the back door.
Youíre not going to exit through the window."
God says, "I want you to knock out a hole in the wall because thatís the way you are going to go out."
>Now you have to understand, by this time everybody in that little community of Telabib were he lived...
Everybody would be aware that something unusual was going on with this prophet.
What is God doing?
You remember what God did back in the earliest chapters of Ezekiel?
God said to Ezekiel, "Now Ezekiel, Iím calling you to deliver my message but I donít want you to say one word.
I donít want you to preach...I just want you to act out certain scenes."
And Ezekiel acted out this scene and then he acted out that scene and then that scene...
And now God is reverting to that.
God has gone back to this style of communicating with the people.
And so he says, "I want you to pack your belongings. I want you to do it slowly, meticulously and publicly...
And then at nightfall I want you to tear a hole in the side of your house because thatís how youíre going to leave.
And then the fourth thing I want you to do, I want you to cover your eyes as you begin to leave...
Because I donít want you to be able to see the ground...I donít want you to see the ground."
And so that means that this man of God, Ezekiel, is going to feel his way through the hole in the wall heís knocked off.
And then heís going to very slowly feel his way along with his feet so that he wonít fall down...
Because his eyes are covered up.
>Now why is he doing all this?
Why did God tell him to do that?
Well Iím about to tell you that in just a minute, but Iím not ready.
God has given him some instructions to perform.
>Now that brings me to the last thing.
God has given to him a description of his neighbors.
God has given him some instructions to carry out, and now God reveals to him...
And God gives him a revelation about what all of this means.
Now why did God tell him to do all these things?
God said, "I want you to do it because I want the people to consider what you are doing.
I want them to wonder about what youíre doing.
I want them to be inquisitive."
God says, "I want them to come and ask you what youíre doing.
Now donít you tell Ďem what youíre doing."
As a matter of fact, Ezekiel couldnít do that because he didnít know what he was doing except obeying God.
>But now on the next morning, look in Ezekiel 12 in verse 8.
The Bible says: in the morning.
Now this is the day after he had packed all of his belongings and done it slowly...
And torn the hole in the wall and exited out with his eyes covered.
All that has already happened.
Now in the morning the word of the LORD came to me and said, "Son of man, did not that rebellious house of Israel ask you what you are doing?"
Now you have to understand that in the Bible sometimes questions are phrased in such a way...
They are presented in such a way that the answer is obvious already to God.
Now this is one of those questions that brings about a "yes" answer.
God already knew that the questions were being asked.
I mean, hereís the preacher...hereís Ezekiel, the prophet of God.
Heís the only preacher in town and heís been talking for weeks now about this vision heís had...
And now all of a sudden he begins gathering up his stuff as though heís going to relocate.
He finally gets it gathered.
He tears a hole in the wall and exits through the wall with his eyes covered.
Now folks, thatís not the way most of us move from one place to another.
>Most of us donít move from one place to another like Ezekiel did.
And so, sure enough, just like God anticipated them doing, they said, "What are you doing?"
And thatís what verse 9 says: Son of man, did not that rebellious house of Israel ask you, "What are you doing?"
>Now verse 10...now this is what I want you to tell them.
Say to them, "This is what the Sovereign LORD says; this oracle (this prophecy) concerns the prince in Jerusalem."
Well now Jerusalem didnít have a prince.
Jerusalem never did have a prince.
Jerusalem only had kings.
Now the prince of Jerusalem is referring to the king of Jerusalem, but he was not a real king.
He was a man by the name of Zedekiah.
Jehoiachin was still in the eyes of God the real king...
But he had been deposed and Zedekiah had been installed as a puppet king...
Not by Godís people, but by Nebuchadnezzar himself.
He was a puppet.
And so hereís what God says.
He says, "I want you to tell these Israelites that are living over here in Babylon...
That the reason youíve done all these things all day yesterday and last night...
Is because what you are doing is a prophecy concerning the king over in Jerusalem, King Zedekiah."
But also he says in verse 10: and the whole house of Israel who are those.
>"What are you doing Ezekiel, what are you doing?
What did you do all day long yesterday and last night?
What did that mean?"
>"Well it was a prophecy."
>"Yes. It was a prophecy concerning King Zedekiah...
And concerning the Jews that are still living over there in Jerusalem."
>"A prophecy. All right."
>Verse 11. God says: Now Ezekiel, you say unto them, I am your sign."
>Iím your sign.
Anybody ever come up to you and ask you, "Whatís your sign?"
Ezekiel is our sign, amen?
"Ezekiel, you tell them I am your sign."
Iím your sign.
You look at me like you would look at a flashing beacon light.
"I am your sign: As I have done, so it will be done unto them: they will go into exile as captives."
Now thatís what he said.
He said, "You want to know what I was doing yesterday and last night?
Well hereís what God told me to tell you.
Everything that I did was a prophecy, a picture, of what God is going to do to King Zedekiah in Jerusalem...
And to the Jews living there.
They are either going to be killed or they are going to go into captivity."
>Verse 12: And the prince.
Who is that?
That is among them will put his things on his shoulder at dusk and leave (that means heís going to try to escape) and a hole will be dug in the wall for him to go through.
He will cover his face so that he cannot see the land. I will spread my net for him and he will be caught in my snare.
>What does that mean?
It means heís not going to get away.
God says, "Iím gonna catch that bird. Iím gonna catch him in my net.
Iím gonna catch him and Iím going to take him to Babylon; yet he shall not see it, but heís going to die there."
Thatís pretty vivid.
>Verse 14: God says: I will scatter to the winds all those around him Ė his staff and all his troops I will pursue them with drawn sword.
There are going to be many of them that are going to die.
>Verse 15: and they will know that I am the LORD, when I disburse them among the nations, and scatter them through the countries.
God said, "Theyíre gonna know who I am.
When I get through with them, theyíre gonna know who I am."
But he says in verse 16: I am going to leave a few there that are not going to die by the sword or by the pestilence or famine.
Iím going to leave a few there so they can be witnesses of what I have done.
I donít want anybody to think when I get through over there in Jerusalem, I donít want anybody to think that it was just a coincidence.
I donít want anybody to think, well this is just the power of the Babylonians.
I want everybody to know that what has happened there is because I, God, have done it.
>Now how long did it take God to do that?
It happened in four years. Four years later.
Many scholars believe that this portion of the book of Ezekiel was written about 588 B. C...
And in 584 B. C., I want you to see what happened.
>Look over in the book of II Kings.
Just look back to the book of II Kings 24 and look at the end of the chapter.
II Kings 24:17: And the king of Babylon made Mattaniah his fatherís brother king in his place (in Jehoiachinís place) and changed his name to Zedekiah.
Zedekiah was 21 years old when he became king and he reigned 11 years in Jerusalem.
And look in verse 19: and he did evil in the eyes of the LORD.
Verse 20 says: it was because of the LORDís anger that all this happened to Jerusalem and Judah and in the end he thrust them from his presence. Now Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.
>Now Zedekiah is ruling because of the king of Babylon, and heís been ruling now about 10 years.
And for some reason he gets tired of what Nebuchadnezzar is going, and he rebels against Nebuchadnezzar.
Not a smart move.
Friend, when youíre in a Volkswagen, donít play chicken with an 18-wheeler truck.
This was not the wisest thing Zedekiah could have done.
So in chapter 25: So in the ninth year of Zedekiahís reign on the 10th day of the 10th month Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem, with his whole army.
He encamped outside the city and built siege works all around it.
(Verse 26) The city was kept under siege until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah.
"All right Zedekiah. You want to rebel against me, Iíll just come and tear up your playhouse"...
And thatís exactly what he did.
And by the ninth day of the fourth month the famine in the city had become so severe that there was no food for the people to eat.
Because all around were the armies of Nebuchadnezzar and he wouldnít let them go out and get anything.
They had some things stockpiled, but after two years that was all gone and they were starving to death...
And Nebuchadnezzar wouldnít let them go to the store.
They couldnít go trade and buy anything, and so they began to experience famine and they started starving to death.
>Verse 4: Then the city wall was broken through, and the whole army fled at night through the gate between the two walls near the kingís garden, though the Babylonians were surrounding the city.
They fled toward the Arabah.
(Verse 5) But the Babylonian army pursued the king and overtook him in the plains of Jericho.
There he goes running.
How do you suppose he got out?
Probably knocked a hole in the wall.
All his soldiers were separated from him and scattered and he was captured.
>What did God say in Ezekiel?
God said, "Iím going to scatter all of those that could come to his rescue."
Theyíre all gone.
Theyíre all running with their tails tucked between their legs like whipped dogs.
>Verse 6: and he was captured.
Who was captured?
Who is he?
Heís the prince of Jerusalem.
Ezekiel would not refer to him as a king because he wasnít a real king.
Heís the prince of Jerusalem.
He was taken to the king of Babylon to Riblah; where sentence was pronounced on him.
(Verse 7) They killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes.
His children were brutally murdered before his very eyes.
They killed them.
How many did he have? I donít know.
But they killed all of them.
And then the Bible says: then they put out his eyes.
The last thing he saw was his children being put to death, and then they poked out his eyes.
>What did God say to Ezekiel?
I want you to tear a hole in the side of your house and go out with your eyes covered.
This is a prophecy of the prince of Jerusalem, and four years later hereís the prince.
Hereís King Zedekiah fleeing from Jerusalem, being captured, no army to help him.
His children are slaughtered, and his eyes are poked out.
Then he is carried on into Babylon.
He is there where they will eventually put him to death, but he does not see it with his eyes.
Everything God said would happen four years before happened exactly like God said it would.
>Well in conclusion, let me just say to you, friends, that God holds the governments of this world in his hand.
Donít ever forget that.
I want to tell you, friends, our destiny is not held in the hand of George Bush...
And our destiny is not held in the hands of Democrats or Republicans in congress.
God holds them in his hands.
He can do with them whatever he wants to do.
If he wants to bless them, he can bless them.
If he wants to curse them, he can curse them.
If he wants to let them live, he can let them live.
If he wants to have their children killed and poke out their eyes and let them be put to death, he can do that.
God is in charge of this world.
The devil doesnít run the show.
Demons donít run the show, and Republicans or Democrats donít run the show.
Politicians donít run the show.
God is in control.
That encourages the fire out of me, I want to tell you....
God is in control.
>But not only is he in control of this world, he wants to be in control of your life.
If youíre here tonight and youíve never received Jesus Christ...
Tonight is a wonderful time for you to come and put your life in the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ.
You see, friends, God is not only someone who knows what is going to happen.
God is the one who is going to cause it to happen.
He knows the future because the future has already been designed by him.
Thereís not anything that ever catches God off guard.
And if you would like to be a part of the wonderful future that God has prepared for them that love him...
Then tonight if you will come and give your life to Christ that can be yours.
If youíre here tonight and you need a church home...
This is where youíve been visiting but youíre not a member...
But you know God wants you to be here we invite you to come and move your membership here with us.