Ezekiel Bible Study

Ezekiel ~ Lesson 13

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Read Ezekiel 26-28

Questions to Consider

1. Review your notes from last week’s lesson and be reminded of the things that lead into, and set the stage for, this week’s passage.

2. Read chapters 26-28. Using a good Old Testament map, locate Tyre, Sidon, and any of the other cities or geographical locations mentioned (if possible). Where were these located in relation to Israel? Recall from lesson 10 (link above) what God said about Israel’s reputation in the eyes of the pagan nations surrounding them.

Read this article. If you are unfamiliar with Tyre, it will help shed some light on this passage.

3. What did Tyre do that brought God’s judgment upon them? (26:2, 27:3b, 28:2-6, 17a) What were the consequences of their actions? (26:3-21) 

4. What metaphor does God use to describe Tyre’s beauty, power, and influence in 27:4-9? How was Tyre the “flagship” city of its time and region? (27:10-25)

Why would the surrounding nations be so appalled at the downfall of Tyre? (27:28-32,35-36)

5. What did Sidon do that brought God’s judgment upon them? (28:24) What were the consequences of their actions? (28:22-23)

6. List the passages in chapters 26-28 which bear out the truths of “The bigger they are, the harder they fall,” and “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall,” (Proverbs 16:18):

The bigger they are… / Pride/a haughty spirit go before…



…the harder they fall. / …a fall.



7. After studying God’s judgment and wrath against Israel for their heinous sins over the past several lessons, why do you think God would exercise judgment against pagan peoples like Tyre for coming against Israel? (28:24) Think about this through the lens of the parent-child relationship, in which God, the Father, is disciplining His rebellious child, Israel. When you are disciplining your own child for her sin, does that mean you are OK with other people being abusive toward her? Why or why not? What is God’s long term goal for exercising judgment against Israel’s neighbors who have stood against her? (28:25-26)

8. What can we learn from Tyre and Sidon about the sins of pride, idolizing wealth and power, trusting in wealth and power instead of trusting in God, and failing to give God thanks and glory for how He has blessed us and the work He has done in our lives?

9. Compare God’s wrath against Tyre and Sidon for pridefully trusting in themselves rather than God to the judgment that awaits individuals, who, in their pride and rebellion think in their hearts, “I sit in the seat of God (28:2) over my own life.” What will be their eternal fate? How should this inform our evangelism?


Homework

• Add 26:6, 28:22, 23, 24, 26 to your “And you/they shall know that I am the Lord” list. Write down who will know that He is the Lord, what will cause them to know He is the Lord, and why God wants them to know He is the Lord.


Suggested Memory Verse

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (The Bible Project, leaving Elevation, Bible study supplements, Attend the study?…)

Welcome to another “potpourri” edition of The Mailbag, where I give short(er) answers to several questions rather than a long answer to one question.

I like to take the opportunity in these potpourri editions to let new readers know about my comments/e-mail/messages policy. I’m not able to respond individually to most e-mails and messages, so here are some helpful hints for getting your questions answered more quickly. Remember, the search bar (at the very bottom of each page) can be a helpful tool!

Or maybe I answered your question already? Check out my article The Mailbag: Top 10 FAQs to see if your question has been answered and to get some helpful resources.


A friend recently recommended your website for guidance with deciphering false teachers. I am wondering what do I do with all the books that I will now be getting rid of. I can’t in my right mind donate them or sell them. Is it enough to recycle them? Should they be trashed or even burned? Thanks in advance for your time and wisdom in this question. Thank you for your site and all the research and resources you have put together. I appreciate you.

How very kind of you to say! It is my absolute pleasure to serve you, and all my readers, in Christ.

I rejoice with you that God is growing you in discernment. Your instinct not to donate or sell these materials is correct. Throwing them out (render them unreadable first) or burning them is the best thing to do. (See section 3 of this article for more – you are not alone!)

(Long time readers- I know you’ve seen me address this question several times, but it is so encouraging to me to hear from women whose eyes have been opened to biblical truth, and I figured it would be encouraging to you, too. I might address this question every time I receive it just for the encouragement factor! :0)


Have you researched The Bible Project?

I have not, but my friend Gabriel Hughes has done a bunch of research on it. The short version is that he doesn’t recommend it. Click here for the long version.


I read your article about leaving Elevation Church. I am interested in hearing more about your experience.

Thank you for asking. I’d love to help you out, but as you can see from the title of the article and other remarks before, after, and in the article, this was a guest post, written by one of my readers who wishes to remain anonymous. I didn’t write it. I’ve never been to Elevation nor laid eyes on Steven Furtick.

If you have a question for the author of the article, I would suggest leaving a comment in the comment box on that article (click “leaving Elevation church” above, and leave your comment there, or she probably won’t see it). I will leave it up to her to check the comments from time to time and reply as she feels appropriate. (Just to save fans of Furtick, Elevation, and false doctrine some time: I will not be publishing your comments.)

Or, seeing as I’ve received several comments and questions about this article, if someone would like to start a “Survivors of Elevation” sort of Facebook group, send me the link. As long as I don’t receive any reports of unbiblical shenanigans, I’ll refer any inquiries I receive to the group.


Do you know if any good resources to study 1 Corinthians? Any good books, sermons, teachings you know about? It’s for my church’s ladies Bible Study. We read from the Bible but always like an extra sound resource.

While I don’t make recommendations for what I call “canned” (book, workbook, DVD, etc.) Bible studies, if you’re already studying straight from the Bible itself it can be helpful to use some good study aids, sermons, etc. as supplements from time to time. Here’s what I’d recommend for 1 Corinthians or any other book of the Bible:

Bible Book Backgrounds: Why You Need Them and Where to Find Them (I would also recommend any of the other materials at these three sites, not just the book backgrounds.)

Study Bibles, Commentaries, Dictionaries, and Bible Study Helps (see #4)

Recordings / transcripts of any previous sermons your own pastor has preached on the passage you’re studying.

Anything John MacArthur / Grace to You has preached, taught, or written on the passage. (Use the search bar)

Anything R.C. Sproul / Ligonier has preached, taught, or written on the passage. (Use the search bar. Also note that this is a Presbyterian ministry, so if you are more in the Baptistic stream, there will be a few perspectives you don’t align with,  but it’s always helpful to hear the other side of the issue from a doctrinally sound source.)

When using these resources (except for the Bible book backgrounds), I would strongly recommend studying the passage yourself first, and then listening to someone else’s sermon, reading someone else’s article, etc. Do the work of digging in by yourself, without being influenced by anybody else’s voice.

Why? A) It’s good discipline. We need to be able to mine the Scriptures and hear God speaking to us through His word for ourselves, without someone else doing the work for us and telling us what the passage means or how it applies. B) It’s such an amazing experience to grasp what God is saying in a particular passage and then turn to other Christians – maybe even Christians who lived hundreds of years ago and thousands of miles away – to whom God revealed the exact same thing by the exact same Holy Spirit. It will help you get a bigger sense of the inspiration of Scripture, the Holy Spirit’s work through His living and active Word, God’s sovereignty, and your connection to, and fellowship with the church catholic (“little ‘c'” / universal).


Regarding the steps listed in “How should I approach my church leaders about a false teacher they’re introducing”: If I talk to the Women’s Ministry Team and they decide to use the wrong teaching regardless, is it best to AVOID the classes or attend and be quiet? Previously, I attended and stayed quiet. I did not like that strategy, but to bow out totally feels uncomfortable as well. Just wondered whether anyone else has this issue. Pretty sure I will bow out next time.

Great question – and yes, it’s an issue for many women, unfortunately.

First, just in case you or another reader might need clarity on this part of the article (in #4a), when I say “approach [the women’s ministry leader] first before going over her head to the elders or pastor. You want to win your sister over to the truth, if possible, not simply force her to change things because a superior tells her she has to,” and “it’s usually best to approach the lower level leader, if any, before going over his head,” I don’t mean to approach only the women’s ministry leader or other lower level leader(s).

If you go to the women’s ministry leader, following the steps in the article, and she ends up saying, “Sorry, but I think you’re wrong and we’re going to do this study anyway,” you don’t stop there. You start over at step 1 with the next person up the chain of command – for example, the elder or associate pastor who handles discipleship/Bible study. You go through all the steps with him. If he gives you the same answer as the women’s ministry leader, you keep going up the chain of command until somebody listens and does what’s biblical or until you get to the top of the chain (in most cases, the pastor), whichever comes first.

If you’ve gotten all the way to the pastor and he, despite the evidence you’ve given him essentially says, “I don’t care. I’m going to allow the women’s ministry to keep using materials by false teachers,” it is then time for you (and your husband, if you’re married) to start considering whether or not you need to move your membership to another, more doctrinally sound church.

Deciding whether or not to attend the “Bible” study class is only necessary if you can’t find a more doctrinally sound church to move to, or if it’s something like, for example, you and your husband prayerfully come to the conclusion that you need to give this church six more months before you decide to leave it.

If you’re in a similar situation to one of those scenarios, I would not recommend attending the study and remaining quiet about the false doctrine being taught. This makes it appear that you either aren’t discerning enough to know there’s false doctrine in the study, or worse, that you either don’t care about the false doctrine being taught, or that you actually agree with it. I think you’ll find my article The Mailbag: Should I attend the “Bible” study to correct false doctrine? to be helpful.


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.

Ezekiel Bible Study

Ezekiel ~ Lesson 12

 

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

Read Ezekiel 24-25

Questions to Consider

1. Review your notes from last week’s lesson and be reminded of the things that lead into, and set the stage for, this week’s passage. How does the theme of chapters 22-23 give us background for the beginning of chapter 24? What is the setting for chapter 24? (24:2) Recall- where is Ezekiel right now that God has to tell him what’s happening in Jerusalem?

2. Usually, when God has Ezekiel warn the people through a parable, He gives the explanation of the parable afterwards. This time, God gives the explanation beforehand, in 24:2b. What is the general idea this parable in 24:3-14 is about? Read 24:1-14 in through the lens of 24:2b to help you understand it, and be sure to use your cross-references as you read.

(If you do not understand the Old Testament concept and tactics of siege as a military attack strategy, I would strongly recommend that you read this article.)

It may also help you understand 24:1-14 better to get a particular visual in your head: Which city is being besieged in this parable? (24:2b) And by what was Jerusalem completely encircled? Picture that structure: a piece of land with a wall around its circumference. Now picture one of your cooking pots – a flat bottom with “walls” around its circumference. See the structural similarity? So, if Jerusalem is the “pot,” what is in the pot? (24:4-5) What does the fire underneath the pot (24:10) represent? (Hint: In lesson 10 {link above} we recalled that God’s _____ is often represented by fire.) Once the fire of God’s wrath is lit by the Babylonian siege, what’s going to happen to the Israelites in the “pot” of Jerusalem?

What does it mean that the “pot” has “corrosion” in it? (24:6, 11-12) What is God going to do to the “pot” because of that corrosion? (24:11-14)

In 24:7-8, use your cross-references and explain the significance of the blood shed in Jerusalem being “poured out on the bare rock” instead of poured out on the ground and covered. (Hint: Think back to the concept of shame over sin from lesson 10 {link above}.) Since Israel has shed blood publicly and unashamedly, how will God execute His wrath upon them (24:8)? Think about this passage in light of your own repentance for sin and Christ’s blood covering your sin and shame. Look at 24:13: “I would have cleansed you…” and compare this with 18:23, 31-32 (you may also want to revisit lesson 9 {link above}). Describe God’s heart toward the sinner. Does He take pleasure in exercising wrath against sinners?

3. Read 24:15-27. Explain in your own words what would happen to Ezekiel’s wife, how Ezekiel would act in response, and what this was to communicate to the people. Use your cross-references to understand why things like putting on his turban and shoes would have seemed strange to the people for someone whose wife had just died. Why would God not allow the people to mourn over the desecration of temple and the loss of the sons and daughters they had left behind in Jerusalem when they went into exile?

4. Read chapter 25. Using a good Old Testament map, locate Ammon, Moab/Seir, Edom, and Philistia, and any of the other cities or geographical locations mentioned. Where were these located in relation to Israel? Recall from lesson 10 (link above) what God said about Israel’s reputation in the eyes of the pagan nations surrounding them.

What was the main sin God judged each of these nations for, and what was their punishment?

Ammon (25:1-7)-

Moab/Seir (25:8-11)-

Edom (25:12-14)-

Philistia (25:15-17)-

Consider the mockery of God’s people by Ammon, and the punishment God meted out for this mockery, and compare this to the New Testament mentions of mockers and scoffers against Jesus, Christians, and the church.

5. What group of people is God exercising His wrath upon in chapter 24? In chapter 25? When it comes to God’s wrath against sin, if you’re an unrepentant sinner does it matter whether or not you say you’re one of God’s people? Does God view you any differently than a pagan?


Homework

• Add 24:24, 27, and 25:5, 7, 11, 17 to your “And you/they shall know that I am the Lord” list. Write down who will know that He is the Lord, what will cause them to know He is the Lord, and why God wants them to know He is the Lord.

• Think about God’s Father/child relationship to Israel in light of earthly parent/child relationships (if you don’t have children, think back to when you were a child or think about other parents you know). When your child has misbehaved, have you ever said, “I expect better from you than that,” or, “You know better than that.”? What did you mean when you said that? Explain why God would take that same posture with His “child,” Israel, compared with His “I might have expected that from the neighbor kid,” posture toward the pagan nations surrounding Israel.


Suggested Memory Verse

Celebrity Pastors, Discernment

Throwback Thursday ~ Stricter Judgment, Even for MY Favorite Teacher

Originally published September 29, 2017

It’s a funny thing that it’s so easy for us to see the far away faults and foibles of others, but the ones in our own hearts – the sins and hypocrisy we know most intimately – are constantly in our spiritual blind spot. Jesus understood this all too well and admonished us to make sure our own hands are clean before taking the tweezers to the mote in a sister’s eye.

Often, it’s not that we’re ignoring the plank that’s obscuring our vision, we’re just not even aware that it’s there. When I evaluate my own heart to confess my sins to the Lord, the ones that weigh heaviest on my spirit are not those that I know I’ve committed and need to repent of, it’s the ones I’m sure are lurking somewhere… but I can’t quite put my finger on them.

One of the subtle hypocrisies theologically orthodox, blameless and upright, discerning Christians can have trouble seeing in ourselves is our failure to hold our favorite pastors and teachers to the same biblical standards we apply to other pastors and teachers.

We correctly criticize Steven Furtick and Beth Moore for palling around with the likes of Joyce Meyer and T.D. Jakes, but when Lauren Chandler speaks at IF:Gathering several years in a row, co-hosts a summer Bible study with Beth Moore, and publicly declares her desire to meet Christine Caine, suddenly, it’s “touch not mine anointed” just because she’s married to our darling Matt?

What if John MacArthur decided it would be a good idea to invite Joel Osteen to speak at ShepCon next year?

Or R.C. Sproul annually celebrated Reformation Day by getting snockered at a local pub?

Or you found out Alistair Begg’s style of “shepherding” was to intimidate his staff and church members through outbursts of rage?

Would you make excuses for them? Sweep this stuff under the rug and continue to listen to their sermons and read their books without batting an eye?

Pastors and teachers don’t get a pass on sin just because they’re Reformed, or discerning, or have a virtually unblemished record of doctrinal soundness, or because they’re “one of the good guys.” If they’re called to account, and they repent and strive toward holiness, hallelujah! That’s what God requires of all Christians – that we walk before Him blamelessly and bear fruit in keeping with repentance. But if they unrepentantly persist in sin despite biblical correction, there’s a problem there- with their own hearts, and with ours, if we knowingly turn a blind eye to their willful disobedience just because they’re our favorites.

God makes it clear throughout His Word that pastors, teachers, and others in positions of spiritual leadership bear a grave responsibility to set a godly example for those who look to them for teaching and guidance. And, in certain ways, God requires a higher standard for those in spiritual leadership than He requires of Christians He has not called to lead.

…No man of the offspring of Aaron the priest who has a blemish shall come near to offer the Lord’s food offerings; since he has a blemish, he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God. He may eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy and of the holy things, but he shall not go through the veil or approach the altar, because he has a blemish, that he may not profane my sanctuaries, for I am the Lord who sanctifies them…
Leviticus 21

…And Moses said to Aaron and to Eleazar and Ithamar his sons, “Do not let the hair of your heads hang loose, and do not tear your clothes, lest you die, and wrath come upon all the congregation; but let your brothers, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning that the Lord has kindled. And do not go outside the entrance of the tent of meeting, lest you die, for the anointing oil of the Lord is upon you.” And they did according to the word of Moses…
Leviticus 10:1-11

Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
1 Timothy 4:12

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.
Titus 2:7-8

not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.
1 Peter 5:3

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.
Philippians 3:17

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:1

But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.
Luke 12:45-48

you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 
Romans 2:21-23

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 
James 3:1

As the passages above allude to, sound doctrine, while crucial, is not God’s only requirement for pastors and teachers. They are also required to rebuke those who contradict sound doctrine (not befriend them or join them on the conference dais). And Paul outlines the numerous behavioral requirements for pastors, elders, and deacons not once but twice, even going so far as to say that deacons must “prove themselves blameless” and that “an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach.” Right theology does not excuse wrong behavior.

Why, then, when God’s standards for those who lead are so high, are we quick to sweep aside unrepentant wrongdoing by the teachers we hold most dear, sometimes even holding them to lower standards than we would hold ourselves? “I would never preach to men, but I’ll give Teacher X a pass on it.” “There’s no way I’d partner with a false teacher, but it’s not a big deal that Preacher Y does it.”

The Jesus who says “be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect,” who says that even one sin is one sin too many, is not a God who is OK with His people glossing over disobedience. God wants sin dealt with, repented of, and forsaken, especially in those who lead, because receiving correction and repenting of sin sets a rare and phenomenal biblical example for Christians to follow.

Do we go off the deep end and reject a trustworthy teacher the first time she does something a little iffy? Of course not. But should we step back, keep a closer, more objective eye on her and her trajectory as time goes by to see if she corrects her course? Yes. Should we stop following her if she continues to dive deeper and deeper into sin with no signs of turning around? Even if she’s always been doctrinally sound? Even if she’s complementarian? Even if she attends a church with a good theological reputation? Even if we’ve enjoyed all of her books thus far? Definitely.

Let’s shed some light on those blind spots our favorite teachers occupy and let our highest loyalty be to Christ, His Word, and His standards for leadership.

Ezekiel Bible Study

Ezekiel ~ Lesson 11

 

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Read Ezekiel 22-23

Questions to Consider

1. Review your notes from last week’s lesson and be reminded of the things that lead into, and set the stage for, this week’s passage.

2.  Read chapter 22.

Which city is “the bloody city”? (22:2) How did it earn this nickname? (22:3,4,6)

Make a list of every sin God charges people with in this chapter:

The People’s (Israel’s) Sin

 

 

 

The Princes’ Sin

 

The Prophets’ Sin

 

The Priests’ Sin

 

How does listing out these sins impact you? What impact should it have had on each of these groups of people for their sins to be publicly enumerated and exposed? How did God say the surrounding nations would regard Israel? (22:4-5,16) What was God’s desired end result in publicly shaming these groups of people? Is shame always a bad thing? Has feeling guilty or ashamed over a sin ever led you to repent of that sin?

3. Explain the dross metaphor in 22:17-22. Why do you think God’s wrath is so often compared to fire in Scripture?

4. Compare the false prophets and sinning priests in 22:25-28 to false teachers and wayward pastors today. What are some similarities and/or differences you see? What about false teachers (for example, Paula White) who advise governmental leaders (22:28)?

5. Take a moment and let 22:30 really sink in. When God searched for a righteous man to stand in the breach in Genesis 6, how many did He find? In Genesis 18-19? Read 2 Chronicles 16:9a. Contemplate the weight of Israel’s sin and the level of depravity they had sunk to as you consider that they were God’s covenant people – not pagans, as in the stories of Noah and Lot  –  and God could not find a single righteous person in their midst.

6. Read chapter 23. (Brace yourself, this chapter is not for the faint of heart. If you are doing this study with a younger child, you may want to read the chapter first and consider how you will address the adult themes it contains.)

Were Oholah and Oholibah real people, or is this story a parable/metaphor? (23:4b) What do each of the “sisters” represent? (23:4b)

Explain “Oholah’s” sin in your own words. (23:5-10)

Explain “Oholibah’s” sin in your own words. (23:11-21). How did Oholibah’s sin compare to Oholah’s sin? (23:11)

Why does God use such gross and explicit (yet, non-sinful) language to describe Samaria’s and Jerusalem’s sin? (23:5-21, 36-45) What does this teach us about how God views sin, and thus, how we should view sin? What was God’s response to their sin? (23:18) Consider the amount of sin Jesus bore in His body on the tree – far more than just the sins of chapter 23. How does God’s response to sin in 23:18 help you better understand Mark 15:34? Have you ever been as disgusted by your own sin as you were when you read the depiction of sin in chapter 23? Why or why not?

7. Describe the consequences 23:22-35, 46-49 spells out for Jerusalem and Samaria. Compare these consequences to the depiction of Jerusalem’s sin earlier in the chapter. Is God being unfair or punishing Jerusalem too harshly? What do these consequences tell us about how seriously God takes sin? Does God take your sin just as seriously as He took Jerusalem’s sin? Why or why not? If God was willing to execute judgment this extreme against sin on earth, what does that tell you about the judgment He will exercise against unbelievers in eternity? What does it tell you about the mercy and grace of God that Christ absorbed this extreme wrath and judgment against your sin in your place? Think about how you might convey these ideas to someone you’re sharing the gospel with.

8. Why does God consider idolatry to be spiritual adultery? (23:37) Have you ever considered your own sins of idolatry as spiritual adultery?

9. How should these horrific descriptions of sin, wrath, and judgment lead Christians to worship God and  be thankful to Him?


Homework

• Add 22:16, 22 and 23:49 to your “And you/they shall know that I am the Lord” list. Write down who will know that He is the Lord, what will cause them to know He is the Lord, and why God wants them to know He is the Lord.

• Read my article Guilt and Shame- Burden or Blessing?, and consider any biblically appropriate or biblically inappropriate guilt and shame you may be experiencing, and what your godly response should be.

• Note how many times in these chapters that God talks about the sin of “disregarding” His Sabbaths. Compare this to Hebrews 10:24-25. Which principles (if any) regarding God’s wrath toward those disregarding His Sabbaths, apply to New Testament Christians forsaking the gathering of the church body?


Suggested Memory Verse