Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Ezekiel, and more specifically, is found in the fifth and sixth chapters of the book. WHEN THE LORD BRINGS HIS JUDGMENT IN THE MIDST OF THE NATIONS AND COUNTRIES OF THE EARTH! When you come to the fifth verse of the fifth chapter, you will find the Lord revealing to Ezekiel the meaning behind that which He had instructed him to do. When the fifth chapter opens, it opens with the Lord giving unto Ezekiel a very specific set of instructions—instructions that would require him to take a sharp knife and use it upon himself. “And thou, son of man, take thee a sharp knife, take thee a barber’s razor, and cause it to pass upon thine head and upon thy beard: then take thee balances to weigh, and divide the hair, Thou shalt burn with fire a third part in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are fulfilled: and thou shalt take a third part, and smite about it with a knife: and a third part thou shalt scatter in the wind; and I will draw out a sword after them. Thou shalt also take thereof a few in number, and bind them in thy skirts. Then take of them again, and cast them into the midst of the fire, and burn them in the fire; for thereof shall a fire come forth into all the house of Israel” (Ezekiel 5:1-4). The prophet Ezekiel was instructed to take both a sharp knife and a barber’s razor, and each would serve there own unique purpose and function. It would be with the barber’s razor Ezekiel would cut off and remove hair form his head and from upon his beard. It would be the sharp knife that would be used to represent the sword the Lord was going to bring upon the city of Jerusalem. It’s worth noting that there were essentially three instruments and tools that were used in this particular passage of Scripture—the barber’s razor which would remove the hair from Ezekiel’s head and beard, the sharp knife, and the balances. The barber’s razor would be used to cut off and remove hair from Ezekiel’s head and beard; it would be the sharp knife that would be used to represent the sword which the Lord would bring against Jerusalem; it would be the balances Ezekiel would use to measure and weigh the hair which was cut, in order that it might be divided.
FIRST COMES THE REMOVAL AND SEPARATION! SECOND COMES THE WEIGHING! NEXT COMES THE DIVIDING! FINALLY, THE FATE AND DESTINY ARE REVEALED! It would be the barber’s razor that would be used to separate the hair from Ezekiel’s head and face, but it would be the balances that would be used to not only weigh, but also divide the hair that was placed within and upon them. It’s interesting to note that Ezekiel himself could not determine the dividing of the hairs, but was instead instructed to use balances to divide the hairs. It would be within and upon the balances the hair which had been removed and separated would be weighed, measured, and ultimately divided. It’s worth noting that first comes the separation and the removal, which is immediately followed up by the measuring and the dividing. What’s more, is that the dividing was not determined by the separation and removal, but by the measuring upon the balances. I can’t help but be reminded of the message the Lord proclaimed unto Belshazzar king of Babylon after he had made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand. It wasn’t enough for Belshazzar to make a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and even to drink wine before the thousand. What Belshazzar proceeded to do would not only provoke the Lord, but would also invoke and induce the judgment of the Lord upon both himself and the kingdom he was given to reign over. In the second verse, we discover that Belshazzar, while he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem, in order that he, his princes, his wives, and his concubines might drink therein. It would be Belshazzar’s defiling and polluting of the vessels of the Lord’s house which would ultimately provoke the Lord to jealousy, and would invoke the judgment of the Lord. PROVOKING TO JEALOUSY AND INVOKING JUDGMENT! WHEN PROVOKING TO JEALOUSY LEADS TO THE INVOKING OF JUDGMENT! It wasn’t enough for Belshazzar to drink from the common and ordinary vessels of the kingdom of Babylon, for he felt it was necessary to take the golden and silver vessels used in the house of the Lord, and to drink from them along with his princes, his wives and his concubines. Belshazzar had taken that which was consecrated, that which was separated, that which was made holy unto the Lord and treated it as common in the presence of all those who were present at and during that feast. It would be as a result of his actions that a mysterious sight would manifest in their midst, for along with their treating as common the vessels of the house of the Lord, they also praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.
TREATING AS COMMON THAT WHICH WAS HOLY AND USING THAT WHICH IS HOLY TO WORSHIP THAT WHICH IS COMMON. Belshazzar took that which was holy unto the Lord and used it in a common manner to worship that which was common and ordinary. Belshazzar commanded that the holy, sacred and consecrated vessels of the Lord be used and treated as a common thing in the presence of his princes, his wives, his lords, and his concubines. That which was holy and consecrated before the Lord would be used by those who were giving themselves over to the drinking of wine and the praising of the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone. We dare not, we cannot, we should not, we must not miss and lose sight of this reality, for Belshazzar was not only guilty of taking that which is holy and treating it as common, but he was also guilty of worshipping and praising the false gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone. It would be in response to this that there came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace. When Belshazzar saw the part of the hand that wrote, his countenance was changed, his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his. Knees smote one against another. The king immediately sought for someone to interpret the words of the writing which had appeared upon the wall. Eventually and ultimately Daniel would be brought into the presence of the king, and would not only reveal the words which appeared on the wall, but would also proceed to interpret the words and their message for Belshazzar and the kingdom he was given to reign. “O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour: and for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down. But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingdom throne, and they took his glory from him; and he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the most high God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that He appointeth over it whomsoever He will. And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast don’t humbled thine heart, thou thou knewest all this; but hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified: then was the part of the hand sent from Him; and this writing was written. And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and are found wanting. PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians” (Daniel 5:1-6, 18-28).
What we must take from this passage of Scripture is the meaning and intpretation of the word TEKEL, for the meaning and interpretation of this word means that Belshazzar was weighed in the balances, and was found wanting. The Lord had taken account of Belshazzar, had weighed and measured His life upon. His scales and balances, and Belshazzar had come up and found to be wanting. Ezekiel was to take the hair which had been removed and separated from his head and face, and that hair was to be weighed and measured upon the balances. The sole purpose of the balances being used to was to determine the total weight of the hair which had been removed in order to divide it according to it’s purpose. DIVIDED ACCORDING TO ITS PURPOSE. It’s worth noting and pointing out that the hair which had been removed had been weighed so it could be divided, and it had been divided according to its purpose. The Lord of hosts revealed that a third part of Jerusalem would die with the pestilence, and with famine would they be consumed in the midst of the city. A third part of Jerusalem would fall by the sword which was round about them, while a third would be scattered into all the winds and would have a sword drawn out after them. The entire purpose of Ezekiel’s actions in this particular chapter was to reveal to the inhabitants of Jerusalem three distinct fates—one fate would be death by pestilence and famine, another fate would be death by the sword within, another fate would be being scattered among the nations and lands of the earth with a sword brought out after them. The hair which had been separated and removed from Ezekiel’s head and face was weighed in order that it might be divided—a division that would bring about a certain fate for each group of people. There would be those who would die from the pestilence and famine which would manifest within the city, while there would be others that would escape the famine and pestilence within the city only to be devoured and consumed by the sword that would enter into the midst of it. There would be another group of individuals that would escape both the famine and pestilence within, as well as the sword within, yet would be scattered among the nations with a sword at and upon their heels. There would be a people that would be scattered with a sword being sent out after them to pursue them in order to overtake them and bring upon them the judgment of the Lord.
Why? Why would all of this be manifested in the midst of the city of Jerusalem? Why would the Lord divide the city into thirds and destine a third to famine and pestilence, a third to the sword within, and a third to the sword without? The answer is actually found in this very same chapter beginning with the fifth verse—“Thus saith the Lord God; This is Jerusalem: I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries that are found about her. And she hath changed my judgments into wickedness more than the nations, and my statutes more than the countries that are round about her: for they have refused my judgments and my statues, they have not walked in them. Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Because ye multiplies more than the nations that are round about you, and have not walked in my statues, neither have kept my judgments, neither have done according to the judgments of the nations that are found about you; therefore thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, am against thee, and will execute judgments in the midst of thee in the sight of the nations. And I will do in thee that which I have not done, and whereunto I will not do any more the like, because of all thine abominations. Therefore the fathers shall eat the sons in the midst of thee, and the sons shall eat their fathers; and I will execute judgments in thee, and the whole remnant of thee will I scatter into all the winds. Wherefore, as I live, saith the Lord God; Surely, because thou hast defiled my sanctuary with all thy detestable things, and with all thine abominations, therefore will I also diminish thee; neither shall mine eye spare, neither will I have any pity” (Ezekiel 5:5-11). With these words the Lord reveals the case He had brought against Jerusalem and the inhabitants which dwelt within and in the midst of it. What we must recognize and understand before we even look at and examine that which Jerusalem was guilty of, it’s imperative that we first understand Jerusalem’s place in the earth. In the fifth verse of this chapter the Lord of hosts makes this declaration—“This is Jerusalem: I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries that are round about her” (Ezekiel 5:5). The Lord had deliberately and intentionally set Jerusalem in the midst of the nations and countries, and had not only placed the Temple in the midst of it, but He also placed the palace of the king of Israel in the midst of it as well. With Jerusalem being set in the midst of the nations and countries of the earth, that would mean that the place of the altar and the place of the throne would be set of the nations and the countries of the earth. Jerusalem was set in the midst of the. Nations and countries of the earth in order that the glory and presence of the Lord might flow forth from it, and in order that the kingdom, the dominion and authority of the Lord of hosts could be manifested and flow forth from it. With Jerusalem set in the midst of the nations and countries, the throne and the altar would be set in the midst of all the inhabitants of the earth.
THE LORD SOUGHT TO SET HIS HIS THRONE IN THE MIDST OF THE NATIONS AND COUNTRIES OF THE EARTH! THE LORD SOUGHT TO SET HIS ALTAR IN THE MIDST OF THE NATIONS AND COUNTRIES OF THE EARTH! We must recognize and understand this, for the sole purpose of Jerusalem being set in the midst of the nations and countries was so the government and glory of the Lord might be manifested in the midst of and flow forth from it. THE GOVERNMENT AND GLORY OF THE LORD! I am convinced that the city of Jerusalem is a powerful prophetic picture of the people of God, for the Lord has set the people of God in the midst of the nations and countries of the earth in order that His government and His glory might be manifested in the midst of them. Did you know that the Lord has set you and has placed you right where you are in order that His glory and government might flow forth from your life? It is not by accident or coincidence the Lord has set and placed out where you are, for the Lord desires that from your life might flow His government and His glory. It is His government that flows forth from the place of His throne, and it is His glory that flows forth from the place of His altar. Did you know that you were designed, created and destined to be the Temple of the Lord—the place of His altar—and the palace one King—the place of His throne. The Lord has specifically called and chosen you in order that within your life He might set His throne and His altar. Make no mistake about it—you have been called, you have been chosen, you have been created to house the throne of the Lord, as well as the altar of the Lord. The Lord has set His throne in the midst of your life in order that from your life His government—the dominion and authority of His kingdom—might be manifested in the midst of, and upon the earth. Just as Jerusalem was set in the midst of the nations and countries of the earth, so too has the Lord set and placed you upon the earth in order that from your life might flow forth His glory and His government. In all reality, the Lord desires that through you and from your life His glory and His government might be established in the midst of the earth. The Lord has placed you in the exact and specific job you are in, for He desires that from your life and in that place His glory and His government might flow forth and be manifested. Zion was set forth in the midst of the earth in order that it might indeed be the joy of the whole earth. We must recognize that as being so, for when you read the words of the prophet Ezekiel in this passage of Scripture, you will find that they had transgressed and violated their purpose in the earth. The Lord through the prophet Ezekiel spoke of Jerusalem as having changed His judgments into wickedness, and changing His statutes more than the countries that are round about it. Jerusalem had refused His judgments and His statutes, and they chose to not walk in them.
We must pay careful attention to those words, for when the Lord speaks of His judgments and His statutes, He is speaking of His government, which doesn’t merely include His dominion and authority, but also His law and statutes. When speaking of the government of the Lord of hosts, it’s necessary that we don’t merely understand it in terms of dominion and authority, but also of His Law, His statutes, His commands, His judgments, etc. Jerusalem was set in the midst of the nations and countries of the earth in order that the Law of the Lord might flow forth from it. Jerusalem was not only the seat of the glory of the Lord which would be manifested in the midst of the nations, but Jerusalem would also be the seat of the government of the Lord, for the desired that His law, His statutes, His commands, His judgments might be manifested in the midst of the nations and countries of the earth. The problem and danger lied in the fact that they changed His judgments into wickedness more than the nations round about it, as well as His statutes. The problem was that they refused His judgments and His statutes, and they chose not to walk in them. IT was revealed unto Ezekiel that they not only changed His judgments, they not only chose not to walk in His judgments, but they also chose not to keep His judgments. The inhabitants of Jerusalem had taken the judgments of the Lord—that which was the direct manifestation and representation of the Law and government of the Lord—and had deliberately chosen to despise, neglect, reject and ignore them. The judgment the Lord was going to bring upon Jerusalem would be directly connected to the fact that they changed His judgments, they refused His judgments, they would not walk in His judgments and they would not keep His judgments. When you reject the government of the Lord in your midst, the only thing left to do is to experience the judgment of the Lord upon and against you. The Lord would divide Jerusalem in thirds in order that He might bring His judgments upon the inhabitants of the city. The Lord would bring famine, pestilence and the sword upon inhabitants of the city as a manifestation and demonstration of His judgment. What is so incredibly unique and intriguing is that it almost seems like captivity was a sign and display of mercy to those who were willing to surrender themselves before the sword that was brought to and against the city. We tend to think of the captivity of Judah as that which is negative, yet I believe with everything inside of me that captivity was actually a divine act and manifestation of mercy from the Lord, as it would be through captivity the Lord would preserve a remnant in the earth.
When you come to the eighth verse of the sixth chapter you will find the Lord speak to and of this concept of remnant, for as much as the Lord was going to allow a third to perish before famine and pestilence, and as much as the Lord was going to allow a third to perish before the sword He would bring against it, the Lord would preserve a remnant in the earth. “Yet will I leave a remnant, that hue may have some that shall escape the sword among the nations, when ye shall be scattered through the countries. And they that escape of you shall remember me among the nations whither they shall be carried captives, because I am broken with their whorish heart, which hath departed from me, and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols: and they shall loathe themselves for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations. And they shall know that I am the Lord, and that I have not said in vain that I would do this evil unto them” (Ezekiel 6:8-10). The Lord would bring the sword against and upon the city of Jerusalem, and the Lord would cause famine and pestilence to be manifested in the midst of the city, yet there would be a remnant that would be preserved in the earth—a remnant that would be preserved through captivity. The more I consider the captivity which is mentioned in Scripture, the more I can’t help but see not only the judgment of the Lord being manifested at this time, but also Hid judgment also being manifested. His judgment would be manifested upon those within the city who would perish according to the famine, the pestilence and the sword, but His mercy would be manifested upon those who would be carried away captive into the land of the Chaldeans. It would be there in the land of the Chaldeans—even though they sat by the rivers of Babylon and wept—the Lord would preserve a remnant in the earth, for the Lord was not willing to make a complete and total end of His people. Despite the fact that they had changed the judgments of the Lord, and had chosen not to walk in or keep them, the Lord would gather from among them a remnant which would be preserved and watched over in a strange and foreign land. The Lord would allow the land to remain fallow and to enjoy its rest for seventy years, for during that time period, the Lord would not only preserve and prepare a people to return to the land, but the Lord would preserve and prepare the land for the people to return to it. For seventy years the Lord not only carefully watched over and preserved the land, but He also carefully watched over and preserved the people as well. .The Lord would allow His holy Temple and sanctuary to be destroyed and to lie in ruin and rubble for seventy years, yet the Lord would preserve His people there in the midst of the land of their captivity. In fact, I would dare say the danger lie not in their entering into the land of the Chaldeans as captives, but after becoming aware of the decree that permitted them to return to their own land, they chose to remain in the midst of that land. The Lord would preserve and watch over them for seventy years in order that once the seventy years were completed, the Lord might return and restored them to the land—restore them to the place of their inheritance, promise and blessing.
I would dare say that it was there in and there at Jerusalem—there in the midst of and in the center of the nations and countries of the earth—where both the judgment and the mercy of the Lord would be manifested. It’s hard to comprehend that the chains which were placed upon those who were carried away as captives could actually be chains of mercy, but I see those chains as chains of mercy, for those who found themselves in chains were actually being led to a place where the Lord would carefully watch over and preserve them. CHAINS OF MERCY! We must come to the knowledge and understanding that there at the city of Jerusalem—there in the midst of and in the center of Jerusalem—both the judgment and the mercy of the Lord would meet. There would be those who would find themselves experiencing the judgment of the Lord, for they would perish by way of and as a result of the famine, the pestilence, and/or the sword. Conversely, and at the same time, the mercy of the Lord would be demonstrated and manifested, for those who surrendered themselves before the sword which was brought against them would find themselves at the mercy of the Lord of hosts. The Lord of hosts would bring the sword against them as an instrument of mercy to and for those who were willing to surrender themselves before it. Those, however, who would refuse to surrender themselves before the sword would ultimately and inevitably find themselves perishing by way of the sword, the pestilence, and/or the famine. While the words of the prophet Ezekiel in this chapter speaks of the judgment of the Lord upon those who changed the judgments of the Lord into wickedness, and those who refused to keep and walk in the judgments of the Lord, there would be a message of mercy. The message of mercy would be that the Lord would not make a complete end of Judah, for He would preserve in the earth a people who would loathe themselves for the evils they committed against the Lord. The sword which the Lord would bring against and upon the city of Jerusalem would consume some, and for those be an instrument of death, but that same sword would be an instrument of mercy for others—those who would choose to surrender themselves before it. I have written before the concerning the sword as an instrument of salvation, as an instrument of mercy, as an instrument of deliverance, and it’s absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand it. The sword of the Lord can either be an instrument of judgment within and upon your life, or the sword can be an instrument of mercy. The Lord can and will cause His sword to be released and manifested within the earth, yet the question is whether or not the sword will be an instrument of judgment, or whether it will be an instrument of mercy.
The Lord would bring His sword upon and against the city of Jerusalem, for it would be the sword that would bring to an end all the abominations, all the evil, all the wickedness that was found within the city. The Lord brought the sword against and in the midst of the city in order that He might separate and cut off that which needed to be removed from the midst of the city, in order that He might at the same time preserve a remnant within the earth. When we read this passage of Scripture, it’s necessary that we recognize and understand that the Lord not only sought to purge the land, but also to preserve a people. THE PURGING OF THE LAND AND THE PRESERVATION OF A PEOPLE! The sword, the famine, and the pestilence the Lord would being against, upon and in the midst of the city would purge the land of that which defiled, corrupted and polluted it, yet at the very same time the Lord was also displaying a tremendous act of mercy, as the Lord would preserve a people in and through the chains of their captivity. Their being removed from the land was not in and of itself an act of judgment, but rather an act of mercy, for it would be through those chains the Lord would bring them into that place He could preserve and watch over them. The Lord would carefully watch over and preserve them in order that at the appointed time He might bring them back into the land which was theirs as an inheritance. It was there at Jerusalem where judgment and mercy met before the sword which the Lord had brought against and in the midst of it. WHEN JUDGMENT AND MERCY MEET BEFORE THE SWORD OF THE LORD! In these Last Days, the Lord can and still does bring a sword in and a sword against houses, nations, homes, churches, companies, relationships, and the like, and it is there before the sword where both judgment and mercy meet. There will be those who will find themselves facing and experiencing the judgment of the Lord before the sword that was brought against them, while there will be others who will experience the mercy of the Lord, as they will surrender themselves before the instrument which would actually bring about their preservation. Oh that would recognize that there is a place where judgment and mercy meet, yet the Scripture is and has always been true when the Spirit declares that mercy triumphs over judgment. Let us never forget that mercy has always and will always triumph over judgment within our lives. Let us pursue the divine mercy of the Lord, and the mercies of the Lord which are indeed new every morning.