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Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 
Ezekiel 37:4 (NIV)

Most of us are willing to confess that Ezekiel is one of the books of the Bible we know little about. We’ve heard the song about the wheel within a wheel, and maybe the Valley of the Dry Bones, but that’s about it. For a major prophet, Ezekiel doesn’t get a lot of press because the book is so hard to understand. 

What does the Bible tell us about the prophet Ezekiel?

  • He was likely about 30 when he began his ministry.
  • He was taken captive to Babylon in the second deportation of 597 B.C. by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24:14-16).
  • He was both a priest and a prophet (Ezekiel 1:3).
  • He was married, but would later lose his wife (Ezekiel 24:18).
  • He had a home in Babylon in Tel-Abib near the Kebar River, where we find him in the first chapter.
  • His name means “God will strengthen.” The Lord would use Ezekiel to strengthen the people during the siege of Jerusalem, the fall, and the aftermath.

Ezekiel was known for the radical things he did to get his point across:

  • He made a drawing of Jerusalem on a clay tablet and played army against it (Ezekiel 4:1-3)
  • He lay on his left side for 390 days (over a year) as a symbol of Israel’s sin, and then lay on his right side for 40 days for the years of Judah’s sin (Ezekiel 4:4-8).
  • He made bread baked with cow manure in the sight of the people as a symbol of the defiled and unclean food the people would eat in their exile (Ezekiel 4:9-17).
  • He shaved off all his hair, burning some while casting some to the wind to represent what God was going to do to the Israelites (Ezekiel 5:1-4).
  • He lost his wife, but God commanded him not to grieve for her because Israel refused to grieve for her sin (Ezekiel 24:15-19).
  • He packed all of his belongings, dug a hole through the wall, and, as the people watched, crawled through just like a man going into exile (Ezekiel 12:1-7).

As a result of Ezekiel’s bizarre behavior, some have tried to label him neurotic, epileptic, psychotic, or even schizophrenic.  The truth is that Ezekiel knew how close his countrymen were to God’s coming judgment so he did not have the luxury of procrastination.

One of the things to appreciate from this book are the mind-staggering events in the life of Ezekiel:

  • He starts in Jerusalem and then is taken off to Babylon with the captives.
  • He arrives in Babylon, settles, and makes a new but awkward life.
  • As a priest, he thought he knew the spiritual condition of his people, but the Lord would show Ezekiel through visions what was really happening inside the temple and in the hearts of Israel.
  • The Lord would give Ezekiel great oracles to prophesy against Tyre, Egypt, and other surrounding nations, enabling him to see them as God saw them.

 

Ezekiel started in a small part of a much larger world, believing that he understood things.  Suddenly he was thrust from his small world into the greatest nation on the planet at that moment of history, and he was forced to see the world differently. Ezekiel could have chosen to live out his life in a comfortable house on the side of the Kebar River and let Babylon and Israel suffer the consequences.  Instead, he answered God's call, and gave God's message to the people of Israel.  When we look at the life and ministry of the prophet Ezekiel, we find a rare man committed to God’s great life purpose.

How far would we go to follow the Lord?

  • If it cost us our reputation?
  • If it cost us our spouse?
  • If we were asked to eat horrible things?
  • If it required us to make a fool of ourselves?
  • If we were told to do ridiculous things—things so far out that people would wonder if there was something wrong with us?

As we look at our world today, we see an updated version of the same behavior as in Ezekiel's day.  Most of us are very concerned about the future of our country, and we, too, do not have the luxury of procrastination.  Who is the family member, friend, co-worker, or neighbor God want us to tell about His Son Jesus?  Who does God want us to invite to church?  What holds us back?  Complacency, mediocrity, indifference, unconcern, fear?  Those who know the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior have a responsibility to share the Good News with others...but, we have to choose to obey.

Posted by Dee Schneider with 1 Comments
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If you are 55+ -- willing to admit it – and didn’t go with us on this trip, I’d like to tell you just what you’re missing!  First of all, this group takes these trips on a very comfortable Mid-America bus.  You just sit back, tell everyone around you how great your grandchildren are, and leave the driving to them!  Then we stay in very clean, modern hotels with an excellent complimentary breakfast and free cobbler and ice cream before you go to bed!! Do I have your attention yet?? Also, you can’t beat the price, because as a group you get reduced rates that you wouldn’t get otherwise.  If you don’t think that is a good deal, just ask any of the 60 people who went with us on this trip.

The “main attraction” for this trip to Branson was to see the play “Samson” at the “Sight and Sound” theatre.

If you haven’t experienced this theatre, you’re really missing a great experience.  What they are able to do with scenery, sound and special effects is equal to or better than you would see in a “Broadway Theatre”!!  We have seen such plays as “Noah and the Ark,” “Miracle of Christmas,” “Joseph,” “Moses,” “Jonah,” and now “Samson.”  Each time before going, you wonder: “How are they going to ‘simulate’ the ark?”  “How are they going to make the Red Sea divide?”  “How are they going to simulate Jonah being eaten by a fish?”  This time (Samson), I was a little concerned the whole theatre would implode in the last scene.  One of the great things about all of these plays is that at the end they transition to the connection between the story and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It was a great experience and brought the Bible story of Samson to life!

After the play, we took a short ride to Point Lookout, MO. for dinner at the College of the Ozarks.  For many of us, this wasn’t our first time to do this, but it is always very satisfying in many ways.  First of all, this is a college where the students earn their tuition by working 15 hours per week in a vocation that interests them.  So, the restaurant is completely managed and manned by students. We were welcomed into a banquet room with linen covered tables, and just like a five-star restaurant, enough forks and knives that forced you to pay attention to the rules of etiquette. There were screens on the wall that said “Welcome, First Baptist Church of Wentzville.”  The food was great and served with a smile.

Let me just say a little more about this college.  It is a fully accredited liberal arts college.  Students are able to obtain degrees without being burdened afterward with an enormous student loan.  The work program allows students to learn vocational skills in a wide variety of occupations.  Let me just insert their mission, vision and goals from their webpage:

Mission:

The mission of College of the Ozarks is to provide the advantages of a Christian education for youth of both sexes, especially those found worthy, but who are without sufficient means to procure such training.

Vision and Goals:

The vision of College of the Ozarks is to develop citizens of Christ-like character who are well-educated, hard-working, and patriotic. To achieve this vision, the College has Academic, Vocational, Christian, Patriotic and Cultural goals. Even as College of the Ozarks has evolved through secondary and junior college stages to the present four-year liberal arts institution, the fundamental goals of our no-tuition college have remained the same.

We learned that it was highly sought after. They said they receive over four thousand applications a year, but only three hundred fifty students are accepted. So, we not only had a very satisfying meal but felt that we were contributing to worthy students’ education.  After our dinner, we rode back to our hotel in Branson for free cobbler and ice cream before retiring for the night.

 

On Saturday morning, after our complimentary breakfast, we again headed south to Lampe, MO. for a day at Dogwood Canyon Nature Park.  This is a 10,000-acre park, straddling the Missouri – Arkansas line.  Not at all extraordinary, unless you like open-wooded areas, with trout-filled streams, waterfalls, and close up views of deer, elk, bison, and long-horned cattle in their natural habitat.  It was a beautiful morning and we all boarded these open trams (pulled by a truck) for a two-hour tour of the canyon.  There was a guide on each tram that would point out the sites such as the “Glory-Hole” (a cave, beneath and behind a waterfall), a pond filled with “Golden Trout” that can only be found in this park, and another site in California.  The two hours seem to fly by.  We were brought back to a pavilion (beside the “trout-filled stream”) where we had a picnic lunch.  After lunch, while we were waiting for the tram to pick us up and take us back to the entrance lodge, Mark Hodge strolled down along the stream and “lo and behold,” there leaning against a tree was a fishing rod with a fly on the end on the line. With just a few casts and in a matter of minutes, Mark caught two rainbow trout (2+ lbs.).  Pictures were taken and then they were released back into the stream.  When we returned to the lodge, many of us checked out the large treehouse behind the lodge built by “Treehouse Masters” who have a series on TV.  Maybe it’s just because I like the outdoors, but I could have stayed there in that park and explored for at least a couple weeks.  It was a very memorable experience that I would definitely do again.

So, that was the “boring” weekend the “Seniors” had to suffer through.  All of that, plus the fellowship, making new friends, and getting to know each other is priceless.  We’re not at all a club or “closed group”.  You are welcome to join us in the many activities we have each year. Visit our table in the foyer before or after Sunday morning worship.  Find out what is coming up and join in the fun.

God Bless, Dan Hubbell

Posted by Dan Hubbell with

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