Ezekiel Bible Study

Ezekiel ~ Lesson 1- Introduction

Welcome to our new study: Ezekiel!

What is God’s perspective on sin?  What is His posture toward His people when they persist in sin…and when they repent? What was it like to be a prophet of (mostly) doom and gloom? For the next few months we’ll work our way through the book of Ezekiel, learning about the holiness of God and what it’s like to stand on God’s Word even when “God’s people” don’t want to hear it. You might be surprised to find out just how relevant this Old Testament book is to Christians today!

The image in the title pic for this study alludes to Ezekiel 33:7:

So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me.

In Ezekiel’s day a watchman would be stationed in a watchtower in an area with good visibility so he could see if an enemy was approaching the city. The watchman needed good eyes and the ability to distinguish an enemy from an ally. If he spotted an enemy, he was to alert everyone to the impending threat and the need to mount a defense. God appointed Ezekiel a spiritual “watchman” to His people, Israel. The book of Ezekiel is God’s warning to His people – through the prophet Ezekiel – that the enemy of sin is overtaking them.

Parts of the book of Ezekiel can be a little challenging. Your comprehension will be challenged. Your patience might even be challenged. But it’s good to stretch ourselves and choose books that help us to develop discipline in our study of the Word, rather than always choosing the shorter or “easier” books of Scripture. I have complete confidence that you’re up for the challenge and that God will grow you in the grace and knowledge of Christ as you apply yourself to His Word.

Ezekiel is one of the longer books of Scripture, weighing in at 48 chapters. This means that instead of studying approximately one chapter per week in depth (as we usually do in my studies of shorter books), we will be covering at least two chapters (often more) per week with a broader perspective.

As I mentioned in this recent article on study resources, you might – particularly for this book of the Bible – want to invest in a good study Bible or at least check out some of the online resources that can help if you have questions while you’re studying.


If you’re new to using my Bible studies, just a few housekeeping items and helpful hints:

The studies I’ve written (you can find all of them at the Bible Studies tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page) are like “training wheels”. They’re designed to teach you how to study the Bible for yourself and what kinds of questions to ask of the text so that, when you get the hang of it, you won’t have to depend on other people’s books and materials – even mine – any more. To that end, I do not provide answers for the study questions in the studies I’ve written.

My studies are meant to be extremely flexible and self-paced so that you can use them in the way that works best for you. You can do an entire lesson in one day or work on the questions over the course of the week (or longer). You do not need to feel obligated to answer all (or any) of the questions. If the Holy Spirit parks you on one question for several days, enjoy digging deep into that one aspect of the lesson. If He shows you something I haven’t written a question about that captures your attention, dive in and study it! Those are ways the Holy Spirit speaks to us through His Word. This is your time to commune with the Lord, not a school assignment or work project you are beholden to complete in a certain way by a certain deadline.

I will post a new lesson on the blog every Wednesday, so there is nothing to sign up for or commit to. Simply stop by the blog each week, or subscribe to the blog via e-mail to have the lessons delivered to your inbox.

I use hyperlinks liberallyThe Scriptures for each lesson will be linked at the beginning of the lesson and in the lesson questions. As you’re reading the lesson, whenever you see a word in a different color text, click on it, and it will take you to a Scripture, article, or other resource that will help as you study.

All of the studies I’ve written are suitable for groups or individuals. You are welcome to use them as a Sunday school or Bible study class curriculum (for free) with proper attribution.

You are also welcome to print out any of my Bible studies (or any article I’ve written) for free and make as many copies as you’d like, again, with proper attribution. I’ve explained more about that in this article (3rd section).


Introduction to Ezekiel

Before we begin studying a book of the Bible, it’s very important that we understand some things about that book. We need to know…

Who the author was and anything we might be able to find out about him or his background.

Who the audience of the book is: Jews or Gentiles? Old Testament Israelites or New Testament Christians? This will help us understand the author’s purpose and approach to what he’s writing.

What kind of biblical literature we’re looking at. We approach books of history differently than books of wisdom, books of wisdom differently than books of prophecy, etc.

What the purpose of the book is. Was it written to encourage? Rebuke? Warn?

What the historical backdrop is for the book. Is Israel at war? At peace? In exile? Under a bad king? Good king? Understanding the historical events surrounding a piece of writing help us understand what was written and why it was written.

When the book was written. Where does the book fall on the timeline of biblical history? This is especially important for Old Testament books which are not always arranged in chronological order.

So this week, before we start studying the actual text of the book of Ezekiel, we need to lay the foundation to understanding the book by finding the answers to these questions.

Read the following overviews of the book of Ezekiel, taking notes on anything that might aid your understanding of the book, and answer the questions below:

Bible Introductions: Ezekiel at Grace to You

Overview of the Book of Ezekiel at Reformed Answers

Summary of the Book of Ezekiel at Got Questions

1. Who wrote the book of Ezekiel? How do we know this?

2. Approximately when was Ezekiel written? What is the geographical setting of the book of Ezekiel? Here are some maps (scroll down to “Ezekiel”) that may be helpful as you study through the book of Ezekiel.

3. Who is the original, intended audience of the book of Ezekiel? Describe the historical setting (historic events, politics, sociology of the time, etc.) of Ezekiel.

4. Which genre of biblical literature is the book of Ezekiel: law, history, wisdom, poetry, narrative, epistles, or prophecy/apocalyptic? What does this tell us about the approach we should take when studying this book versus our approach to books of other genres?

5. What is the theme or purpose of the book of Ezekiel?

6. What are some of the major topics of instruction or exhortation in the book of Ezekiel? How do these topics relate to the theme of Ezekiel?

7. What are some ways Ezekiel points to and connects to Jesus?

8. What else did you learn about Ezekiel or the setting of this book that might help you understand the text of the book better?

Take some time in prayer this week to begin preparing your heart for this study. Ask God to give you wisdom and understanding for the text and a greater appreciation for his attributes of wrath and mercy as we study Ezekiel together.

Favorite Finds

Favorite Finds ~ October 2, 2018

Here are a few of my favorite recent online finds…

This is the first article I’ve read at Natasha Crain’s blog, so I’m not very familiar with her, but if 10 Signs the Christian Authors You’re Following are (Subtly) Teaching Unbiblical Ideas is indicative of her theology, she’s a keeper. Most of what Natasha writes is on parenting, but this is a helpful discernment article. “Be vigilant. Test everything. And hold fast to what is good and true.”

 

In my article Churchmanship 101: Training Your Child to Behave in Church, I suggest several ways you can teach small (and older) children to “take notes” in church. Recently, I came across these awesome sermon notes pages that incorporate some of those ideas. They are free to download and print out. Maybe your church would even like to make them available on Sundays! Sermon Notes for Younger Kids and Sermon Notes for Older Kids.

 

Before I became a stay at home mom, I was a professional in the field of Deaf Education. It really taught me to be more aware of barriers we can place in the way of someone with a disability. I thought these articles, 3 Barriers Keeping the Disabled from Church, and 10 Things You Should Know about Discipling People with Special Needs, were helpful reminders to be aware of the needs of our brothers and sisters in our church families and the ways we can be a help to them rather than a hindrance.

 

Here’s a great little app! “Looking for a simple way to pray for persecuted Christians in need around the world? Pray for the Persecuted Church will send you regular, specific prayer requests submitted by Christian leaders, field staff and partners living out their faith in the world’s most difficult places. This app allows you to quickly scroll through the prayer request from one screen and then click ‘I prayed’ to let persecuted Christians know that you’re standing with them in prayer.”

 

“’If the claimed revelation/vision is not taken as authoritative or infallible, but just meant for encouragement, then what harm is there in that?’ While it is true that most cautious continuationists (e.g. Wayne Grudem) would agree that the claims of prophecy today are not authoritative or infallible in the way biblical revelation is, there is still harm in having this type of practice in churches.” Check out Clint Archer’s excellent article over at The Cripplegate entitled Are claims of supernatural experience really that harmful?

Apologetics, Movies

Movie Tuesday: The Bible vs. Joseph Smith

 

“In this unique documentary, produced entirely in Israel, a Christian and a Mormon sit down to dialogue about one of the most important questions of faith: How do we know if a prophet is speaking the truth? Listen in on their fascinating discussion and follow along as they travel throughout the Holy Land in search of the facts. They will put Biblical prophets and Mormon prophets to the test in order to find out if their predictions actually took place in history. If even one prediction fails to come true, then that prophet fails the test!”

First John 4:1 says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” How do Mormonism’s prophecies stack up to the Bible’s prophecies? Watch as both are put to the test and find out!

Mailbag, New Apostolic Reformation

The Mailbag: What is the New Apostolic Reformation?

mailbag

 

I keep seeing you and other discerning Christians mentioning the “NAR” or “New Apostolic Reformation.” Is that some sort of new church denomination? Is it bad? What is it, and what do they believe?

This is one of those questions that others have answered so much better than I could ever hope to, so I’m going to give a brief synopsis and then urge you to study the articles and videos in the “Additional Resources” section.

Yes, the NAR is bad. Extremely bad. In my opinion, it is the worst form of false doctrine in the United States today because so many people think it is biblical Christianity and unknowingly import it into reasonably doctrinally sound churches. I mean, I’ve never heard of Anytown Baptist Church teaching (as Christianity) that Mohammed was a prophet or that God lives next door to the planet Kolob, but you’ll certainly see NAR beliefs and practices like dominionism, unbiblical manifestations of the “Holy Spirit” and NAR prayer practices gradually creeping into many average evangelical churches.

The NAR is not a denomination in the way we would typically think of, say, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), etc. There’s no headquarters building, no national president or leadership structure, no official creed or statement of beliefs, no membership criteria for admitting or dismissing churches. It’s more of a movement or a “denomination by imitation.” Pastors and/or church members of non-NAR churches generally discover an NAR church, book, or personality, decide they like what they see, and begin importing NAR beliefs and practices into their own church.

What are those beliefs and practices? Since there’s no official NAR creed or statement of faith, beliefs and practices can vary from church to church, but, loosely speaking, what it looks like externally is that the NAR takes the Word of Faith (prosperity gospel) heresy and kicks it up a notch with outlandish “supernatural” manifestations, blasphemously attributed to the Holy Spirit, such as: holy laughterstrange “anointings,” glory clouds of gold dust, tremoring, false prophecy, grave sucking, raising the dead, trips to Heaven, and being “drunk in the Spirit.”

The NAR is also largely responsible for many of the corrupt teachings on prayer that have become popular in recent years, such as: contemplative/centering prayer (which we see creeping into churches through the teachings of Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Lysa TerKeurst, Christine Caine, and others), lectio divina, Sozo prayer, healing rooms, and soaking prayer, as well as the false teaching of dominionism and the restoration of the church offices of apostle and prophet.

A Few NAR Organizations and Personalities
Bethel Church (Redding, CA.) led by Bill Johnson
Bethel Music (a music performance/production company of Bethel Church)
Jesus Culture (an arm of Bethel) led by Kim Walker Smith
International House of Prayer (Kansas City, MO) led by Mike Bickel

(You could sort of call these entities “Ground Zero” for the NAR. Much of what is believed and practiced in NAR churches trickles down in some form from these organizations.)

Todd White
Kenneth Hagin
Dutch Sheets
Ken and Gloria Copeland
Todd Bentley
Patricia King
Wendy Alec (GodTV)
Jennifer LeClaire (Charisma Magazine)
Beni Johnson
Cindy Jacobs
Rick Joyner
Amanda Wells
Rod Parsley
Jen Johnson
Kris Valloton
Heidi Baker

Two of the main ways NAR false doctrine begins infiltrating otherwise healthy churches is through the music ministry and the women’s ministry. Many churches use Jesus Culture music, Bethel music (or other music by NAR musicians) in their worship services, which can introduce church members to the band, and, subsequently, to their false doctrine. Examine the materials your women’s ministry is using and the conferences they’re attending. It’s likely that the authors and teachers your women’s ministry follows are either proponents of NAR false doctrine, partnering with proponents of NAR false doctrine, or at least being influenced by proponents of NAR false doctrine.

The New Apostolic Reformation is heresy and has no place in a Christian church in any way, shape, or form. Stay far away from it.


Additional Resources:

New Apostolic Reformation by Apologetics Index

New Apostolic Reformation by Berean Research

What is the New Apostolic Reformation? by Sola Sisters

False Spirits Invade the Church: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3  A Documentary by Andrew Strom

The Six Hallmarks of a NAR Church by Berean Examiner

The New Apostolic Reformation Cornucopia of False Doctrine, Dominionism, Charismania and Deception  by Messed Up Church

Drunk in the Spirit by Todd Friel

Popular False Teachers see links for “International House of Prayer (IHOP)” and “Jesus Culture/Bethel Music/Bethel Church (Redding, CA)/Bill Johnson”

God’s Not Like “Whatever, Dude,” About The Way He’s Approached in Worship

The Mailbag: Should Christians Listen to Reckless Love?

What is the International House of Prayer? (IHOP) by Got Questions

The Dangers of the International House of Prayer (IHOP) by CARM

Love and Death in the International House of Prayer by Rolling Stone

Leaving the NAR Church testimony series by Amy Spreeman


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Wednesday's Word

Wednesday’s Word ~ Zechariah 7

zech 7 13

Zechariah 7

In the fourth year of King Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month, which is Chislev. Now the people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regem-melech and their men to entreat the favor of the Lord, saying to the priests of the house of the Lord of hosts and the prophets, “Should I weep and abstain in the fifth month, as I have done for so many years?”

Then the word of the Lord of hosts came to me: “Say to all the people of the land and the priests, When you fasted and mourned in the fifth month and in the seventh, for these seventy years, was it for me that you fasted? And when you eat and when you drink, do you not eat for yourselves and drink for yourselves? Were not these the words that the Lord proclaimed by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and prosperous, with her cities around her, and the South and the lowland were inhabited?”

And the word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, 10 do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” 11 But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear. 12 They made their hearts diamond-hard lest they should hear the law and the words that the Lord of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets. Therefore great anger came from the Lord of hosts. 13 “As I called, and they would not hear, so they called, and I would not hear,” says the Lord of hosts, 14 “and I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations that they had not known. Thus the land they left was desolate, so that no one went to and fro, and the pleasant land was made desolate.”

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Questions to Consider:

1. What is the theme or purpose of the book of Zechariah? Which other Old Testament, post-exilic prophet was a contemporary of Zechariah’s? What is the historical backdrop for the book of Zechariah?

2. What is the “weeping and abstaining in the fifth month” referred to by Sharezer and Regem-melech? (2-5) Instead of saying, “Yes, keep the fast,” or “No, forego the fast,” what does God say instead? (4-7) During the seventy years of exile, were the people keeping the fast out of love and reverence for God or simply as a self-pitying ritual? (5-6) Which is more important to God, the outward actions of obedience, or obedience from a heart of love for Him?

3. Examine your motives for going to church, worship, serving others, giving offerings, studying your Bible, and praying. Do you do these things out of rote obedience or because you love God? Pray and ask God to change your change your heart in any area in which you are not acting out of love for Him.

4. What instructions did God give the people in verses 9-10? What does the word “they,” the use of the past tense (refusED, turnED, etc.), and the phrase “former prophets” in verses 11-14 indicate about the previous recipients of these instructions? Who were these recipients? What was Israel’s response to God’s instructions before the exile? (11-12) What was God’s response to Israel’s disobedience? (13-14)

5. Why did God have Zechariah tell the people about Israel’s past disobedience and His punishment of that disobedience? (11-14) What can we, as Christians learn from this passage about the importance God places on obedience from the heart? Though verses 9-10 were written specifically to Israel, does God want Christians to carry out these same principles? How do you know? What are some examples of ways you can carry out the spirit of God’s instructions in verses 9-10?