“40 Days and 40 Nights of God’s Word”
DAY 28: AUGUST 19
EZEKIEL 44 – HOSEA 14:9
Over the next few days, we’ll be plowing through multiple prophets during our daily readings. The timeline of each prophet is important, as their prophecies directly concern what is going on with the Israelites at any given time. Some of the prophets start their prophecies by stating which king(s) they prophesied under, while other don’t. If you have time, it might be helpful to do some background reading to find out the dates (and the relevant kings) of the prophets who don’t mention a king. Note that some of them don’t mention a king because there wasn’t one (i.e., during the Babylonian exile).
We’ll be bouncing back and forth in the timeline over the next few days. Some of the upcoming prophets prophesied before the exile, some during, and some after, but they don’t appear in the Bible in chronological order. This is where knowing which king(s) the prophets prophesied under is important. It provides context and a sense of where you are, time-wise.
- The final section of Ezekiel provides more details toward the building of the second temple. Remember that this is all still prophecy and many years must pass before the rebuilding begins. There are also details about the sacrifices that will be required and who is (and who isn’t) allowed access to certain parts of the temple, and why. Ezekiel also presents a vision of a river flowing out from the temple, with trees on either side that are always in bloom. The fruit of the trees is for food and the leaves are for medicine. We’ll see these trees again in the book of Revelation.
- Along with instructions on what the temple should look like, what should be done there, and who is allowed to serve (and in what capacity), the final section of the book of Ezekiel sets forth instructions on the division of land when the Israelites return to the Promised Land. Again, this is all prophecy; the Israelites during the time of Ezekiel’s prophecies are still in exile with no apparent end in sight. I haven’t looked at the details of the land division, so I’m not sure how much they differ from the pre-exile division. If you have time, it might be helpful to do some background reading on this as well, since I’m guessing the land division in Ezekiel’s prophecy forms the blueprint for the expansion plans of the current geopolitical state of Israel. It’s always good to know what your enemy is up to.
- Daniel’s is another thunderous voice among God’s prophets. Like Joseph in Egypt, Daniel lived his adult life under the authority of heathen rulers and was given an important position in the governing of the foreign kingdom. Also like Joseph, Daniel continued to put God first in everything he did, even if it meant spending a night in a lion’s den.
- Both Joseph and Daniel earned favor with their respective rulers through their God-given ability to interpret dreams. If you remember, Joseph’s interpretation of the Pharaoh’s dream concerned an upcoming seven-year famine. Heeding Joseph’s warning and following his advice made Pharaoh even richer after the famine than before it. Daniel’s talent initially enabled him to keep his head (literally), and then earned him progressively more important positions in the foreign kingdom. In some cases, Daniel declined to take any reward for his interpretations, but they were given to him, anyway.
- Daniel’s end-times visions form the basis for our understanding of the tribulation under what Paul calls the “man of perdition”, or what is more popularly known as the anti-christ. In fact, many of Daniel’s prophecies appear again in the book of Revelation. Jesus also mentions them in the Gospels and Paul in his letters. There is nothing positive about the man of perdition or the times he is prophesied to rule over. Whenever he’s mentioned in prophecy, he is described as warring against God’s people and killing them. He is the ultimate ruler who “does that which is evil in the sight of the Lord”. Nonetheless, he, too, despite his seeming infinite power, gets what’s coming to him. As Daniel prophesies: “he shall come to his end, and none shall help him”.
- It’s worth noting that the anti-christ kingdom in Daniel’s prophecy is also equated with the end of the world. Nothing good comes after it. There is no 1000-year golden rule with a benevolent ruler and everyone living in peace and harmony. There is only terror and destruction that marks the physical end of the planet. However, Daniel does mention an eternal kingdom that comes to fruition during and amidst the reigns of other kings preceding this one. This eternal kingdom is, of course, God’s Kingdom on Earth that we’re now living in, if we’re born-again. It’s the one established by Jesus and is briefly described in Daniel 2:44.
- What happened to King Nebuchadnezzar is a very curious cautionary tale. Despite being warned by Daniel’s interpretation of his dream about what was going to happen to him, Nebuchadnezzar continues in his delusion that all his wealth and power came from his own efforts. Because of his pride, the former “servant of the Lord” is then brought down as low as he can go this side of death. The seven years of his insanity find him sleeping rough in open fields and eating grass like an animal. But at some point the penny drops for him that God is the one who gives people their wealth and power; these things do not come from the people’s own efforts. (Jesus says more or less the same to the authorities during his trial.) When he finally acknowledges God’s supremacy, Nebuchadnezzar is reinstated as king and receives his kingdom back. This story has a bit of the feel of Job about it, although Job wasn’t operating in pride, just assumption.
- The book of Hosea begins the parade of what are referred to in the literature as “minor prophets”, though I personally don’t like that designation. The books of these prophets are shorter than those of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel, but it doesn’t mean that their prophecies are minor. All prophecies from God carry the same weight, as they’re all God’s Word.
- Hosea’s prophecies were more or less concurrent with those of Isaiah. As we saw in Isaiah, things were going from bad to worse for the children of Israel at that time, but there was still some hope that they could avert the full disaster of losing their kingdom. Hosea prophesied against the ongoing backslidings of the Israelites, even going so far as to marry, upon God’s advice, a non-Jew as a symbol of the “whorings” of the children of Israel, in giving their devotion to demon gods and the people who serve them. These whorings are later given a twist, when God himself promises through the prophet: “I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God.” So God shows that he isn’t against non-Jews per se; he’s against those who choose sin, as reflected in their desire to serve demon gods.
- Most of Hosea is a litany of all the things that Israel does to defy God, along with God’s urgings to turn back to him. This is a recurrent theme throughout the books of the prophets in the OT. The role of prophets was/is to advise the ruling class as well as people in general, but few people took/take their advice. We all see some mention in Hosea of the eternal Kingdom, such as “ye are the sons of the living God” / “I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely, and I will betroth thee unto me forever” / “and [they] shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days”. He also makes a prophecy about Jesus: “after two days he will revive us: in the third day he will raise us up.”
This BIBLE READ-THROUGH is intended for people to get as much of God’s Word into them as they can for what lies ahead. How much time you spend each day on the readings is up to you; obviously, the more time you spend, the more you’ll get out of it. But even a quick read-through will benefit you. God will show you what’s important to you and what you need to focus on in the increasingly despotic weeks and months to come.
All of the upcoming readings are incredibly rich. We’re now nearly three-quarters of the way through the Bible, which means the home stretch will be starting just around the bend. It would be good for you to spend as much time as you can on the rest of the readings, especially the Gospels. They are definitely not “fly-over scripture”. None of what’s coming is. But again, how much time you choose to invest in God’s Word is up to you. Even the fact that you’ve been reading the Bible every day already separates you from most Christians. That you’re reading it from cover to cover puts you in a very tiny minority.
God blesses and protects those who take the time to read and study his Word not for gain or credit or out of personal or professional obligation, but because they want to read it and it’s the right thing to do.
The schedule for the BIBLE READ-THROUGH is directly below: