Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Ezekiel, and more specifically, is found in the eleventh chapter. STANDING AT THE GATE OF THE LORD’S HOUSE! When you begin reading this particular chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel, you will notice the Lord is continuing to release visions unto Ezekiel whom He had chosen to stand before Him among the captives as His servant and prophet. This chapter opens with the prophet Ezekiel being lifted once more by the spirit, and brought unto the east gate of the Lord’s house, which looked eastward. At the door of the gate of the Lord’s house Ezekiel was shown five and twenty men—men whom the Lord revealed were the men which devised mischief, and gave wicked counsel in this city. What is actually quite interesting concerning these five and twenty men is the counsel they offered and provided to those who were still living and dwelling in the midst of the city. The Lord revealed unto the prophet Ezekiel that these men proclaimed within the city, saying “It is not near;” and not only did these men proclaim that the end was not near, but they also called those who dwelt within the city to build houses. BUILDING DURING THE TIME OF THE END! I happen to find the words which the Lord spoke unto the prophet Ezekiel quite alarming—not because of that which the Lord was speaking, but because of what the Lord was revealing concerning these men which dwelt in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. The Lord revealed unto the prophet Ezekiel that there were men in the midst of the city who were devising mischief and who were giving wrong counsel during a very dark and dangerous time. As I am sitting here right now I can’t help but think of one central thought that continues to run through my mind—the competing voices during the time of judgment! THE COMPETING VOICES DURING THE TIME OF JUDGMENT! THE COMPETING VOICES DURING THE TIME OF CALAMITY! THE COMPETING VOICES DURING THE TIME OF DEVASTATION! If there is one thing this particular passage reveals, it’s the tremendous number of competing voices that were present during the time and days of the end. The Lord revealed unto the prophet Ezekiel that there were five and twenty men within the city who were not only contradicting the fact that the end was near, but they were also calling those who remained within the city to build. During a time when judgment and calamity were present within the land, there were actually those who were calling the inhabitants of Jerusalem to build houses—in other words, build houses in an attempt to defy that which the Lord had decreed and proclaimed.
I can’t help but be reminded of a passage that is found in the Old Testament book of Genesis concerning an event which took place in the days after the flood. In the eleventh chapter of the book of Genesis Moses records the mindset and actions of the inhabitants upon the earth who existed during the days and time after the flood. Consider the text that is found in the eleventh chapter of the book of Genesis concerning those who dwelt upon the earth during the days after the flood—“And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. And the Lord came down to see the city and the towers, which the children of men builded. And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand on another’s speech. So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth” (Genesis 11:1-9). This particular passage in the book of Genesis reveals something that is truly unique when seeking to understand the passage that is found within the prophetic book of Ezekiel. What we read in the eleventh chapter of the book of Genesis records for us the mindset that was found upon the earth among those who dwelt therein concerning their existence upon the earth. Moses records how those who dwelt upon the earth found a plain in the land of Shinar, and dwelt there in that plain. It was there in the midst of the plain that they spoke among themselves and took counsel with each other to make brick, to burn that brick throughly, and to produce a material that could be used for building. Those who dwelt upon the earth during this time had slime for morter, and with the materials they had, they sought and set out to build a city and a tower. What is so incredibly intriguing about the actions of the inhabitants of the earth during this time was not necessarily their desire to build a city and a tower, but their reason, their logic, and their purpose for seeking to do so.
As you continue to read this passage of Scripture you will discover the reason and purpose for their desire to build a city and a tower. The whole earth came together in the plain of Shinar to build a city and a tower whose top may reach unto heaven. Their entire purpose and desire was to build a city that contained within it a tower that was so massive and so large that it reached into heaven itself. In all reality, they were attempting to bridge the gap that existed between heaven and earth, and wanted to build for themselves a city which contained a tower in the midst of it that reached unto heaven. The question that I can’t help but ask is what possible purpose would a tower which stretched unto heaven accomplish for the inhabitants of the earth. I can understand the desire to build a city in the plain of Shinar, but the desire to build the tower in the midst of the city was an attempt to defy the judgment of the Lord, for you will recall the earth had just been covered with flood waters which destroyed all but Noah and his wife, their three sons and their wives, and two of every kind of animal. A tower that would reach unto heaven would essentially provide the inhabitants of the earth a place of refuge they could turn and run to in the events that judgment once more struck the earth. The book of Genesis—while it is a book that deals predominantly with creation and beginning—has within it apocalyptic undertones and currents, for within the book itself we find two distinct judgments of the Lord released upon the face of the earth. In the sixth and seventh chapters of the book we find the Lord destroying all flesh from the face of the earth by bringing upon the whole earth rain from heaven, while at the same time causing the fountains of the deep to be broken up and unleashed upon the earth. Within the book of Genesis we not only find the Lord’s judgment upon the whole earth by bringing a flood which covered the whole face of the earth, but we also find the Lord bringing judgment upon the cities of the plain. In the nineteenth chapter of the same Old Testament book we discover the the Lord bringing judgment upon the cities of the plain—the two most prominent cities of the plain being Sodom and Gomorrah. Within the first twenty chapters of the Old Testament book of Genesis, we not only find the judgment of the Lord through the flood, but we also find the judgment of the Lord through fire. During the days of Noah the Lord brought judgment upon the earth as a result of the flood, while during the days of Abraham and Lot, the Lord brought judgment upon the cities of the plain by causing fire to rain and be brought down upon them.
There is not a doubt in my mind that the building of a city was to serve as a central place where the inhabitants of the earth could live and dwell together. The city was built in order that the inhabitants of the earth could remain in one central place without having to be dispersed or scattered upon the face of the earth. I am convinced the purpose of the city in the plain of Shinar was to defy the command and instruction to be fruitful and multiply upon the face of the earth, for it was never the will or intention of the Lord that man dwell in one central place. It was the divine will of the Lord that man be scattered abroad upon the face of the earth in order that the whole earth might be filled and populated. By seeking to build a city in the plain of Shinar the inhabitants of the earth would seek to defy the will and command of the Lord, and to remain in one place where they could dwell in a single city. In fact, Moses records the inhabitants of the earth as not only seeking to make for themselves a name, but also to prevent themselves from being scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. The reason and purpose for the city and tower was to make a name for themselves, as well as to prevent themselves from being scattered abroad upon the face of the earth. With that being said, I am convinced that the tower—which undoubtedly would have been built directly in the midst and center of the city—was to provide a place of refuge where they could run to in the event that judgment was once more released upon the earth. The Lord had already covered the earth with a flood which covered the highest of all the mountains which were present upon the earth. The very fact that they sought to build a tower which reached unto heaven would essentially provide a singular place they could turn and run to should the Lord once more unleash judgment upon the earth. In all reality, the purpose for building both the city and the tower was to not only defy the command of the Lord to populate and fill the earth, but to also defy the judgment of the Lord should it occur once more upon the earth. I am convinced it is necessary that we recognize and understand what is taking place within this chapter, for the entire purpose of their building both the city and a tower was to defy the judgment of the Lord, and to defy the will and command of the Lord.
The more I pause and consider this passage of Scripture, the more I can’t help but consider how many men and women stand guilty before the Lord because they choose to build—either in the time of judgment, or in an attempt to defy judgment altogether. Please note and understand that I am in no way suggesting that there is anything wrong with building. There is nothing wrong with buying a piece of land and building a house upon that land. There is nothing wrong with building a sanctuary within and upon the earth unto the Lord of hosts. There is nothing wrong with building a tower in the midst of a major city in the earth to accommodate businesses and create jobs for countless men and women. There is absolutely nothing wrong with building in and of itself. The underlying issue is not necessarily the building itself, but rather the motive(s) and intention(s) behind the building. The inhabitants of the earth sought to build a city to defy the will and command of the Lord to populate, fill and cover the earth, while the desire and intention to build the tower was an attempt to defy any future judgment of the Lord which would be unleashed and released upon the face of the earth. Those who lived upon the earth after the great deluge and flood which covered the face of the earth were living in a time post judgment. The Lord had just destroyed all flesh from upon the earth save those who were present within the ark, and the animals which were preserved upon the ark. Undoubtedly those who dwelt upon the earth at this time were aware of the judgment of the Lord which had been unleashed and released upon the earth, and perhaps lived—both with the constant reminder of what had happened, but also with the possibility of what could happen in the future during their generation. Their attempt to build both a city and a tower in the midst of it was an attempt to defy that which had taken place in the past, but also to defy that which could possibly and potentially take place in the future. While the inhabitants of the earth were not living during days and a time of judgment, their actions would directly link and connect them to the judgment of the Lord, for they would seek to safeguard themselves from any future judgment of the Lord. In other words, their attempt to build was directly connected to the judgment of the Lord in that they were seeking to defy the judgment of the Lord which could very well strike the earth at any point in time. Despite the fact that the Lord swore on oath that he would never again destroy the earth with a flood—and even provided a sign confirming such a reality—the inhabitants of the earth nonetheless sought to build for themselves a tower which would reach unto heaven. It would be there in the midst of the plain in the land of Shinar that they would seek to make a name for themselves, and to prevent themselves from being scattered abroad.
One of the greatest realities we must recognize when considering this passage of Scripture is that their attempt to build both a city and a tower which reached unto heaven was an arrogant and prideful attempt to make for themselves a name within and a name upon the earth. An incredibly powerful contrast can be found in the eleventh and twelfth chapters of the book of Genesis, for in the eleventh chapter we find the inhabitants of the earth seeking to make for themselves a name within and a name upon the earth. In the twelfth chapter we encounter the first mention of a man by the name of Abram—Abram who was called by the Lord to leave his country, his kindred and his father’s house, and to go unto a land which the Lord would show and reveal unto him. If you continue reading and studying the Lord’s words unto Abram, you will find the Lord declaring unto him, saying, “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, AND MAKE THY NAME GREAT; and thou shalt be a blessing” (Genesis 12:2). Please don’t miss these words, for they provide an incredibly powerful contrast that exists between the eleventh and twelfth chapters. In the eleventh chapter the inhabitants of the earth sought to make a name for themselves, thus taking it upon themselves to create something upon the earth they were never authorized to. In the twelfth chapter, Abram was called to arise and leave his country, his kindred and his father’s house, and to go unto a land which would be shown unto and revealed to him. Through and as a result of Abram’s obedience unto the voice and command of the Lord, the Lord would make of Abram a great nation, would bless Abram, and would also make his name great. Please don’t miss this, for there is a stark and powerful distinction between the Lord giving us a name and/or the Lord making our name great, and our own attempt to make a name for ourselves. Notice in the eleventh chapter of the book of Genesis that the inhabitants of the earth sought to make a name for themselves, while in the twelfth chapter the Lord promised that he would take Abram’s name and make it great. How absolutely incredible it is to consider our attempt to make “a” name for ourselves, and the Lord taking and making our name great. Perhaps the question that must be asked at this juncture is which you are seeking and setting out to accomplish in the earth right now. Are you one who is seeking to somehow make a name for yourself, or are you one who is walking in obedience to the voice and command of the Lord, and allowing Him to make your name great in the earth? There is a vast difference and distinction between these two realities, and we must recognize and understand it if we are to truly walk in obedience before the Lord in the earth.
In the eleventh chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel, we find five and twenty men devising mischief and providing wrong counsel to those who remained within the city of Jerusalem. It was revealed unto the prophet Ezekiel that these men were not only declaring that it was not the end, but they were also encouraging those who remained in the city to build houses. Pause for a moment and consider this reality—the reality that those who remained within the city of Jerusalem were encouraged to build for themselves houses. Those who remained in the city of Jerusalem were encouraged to build for themselves houses during a time of judgment within and judgment upon the land. These five and twenty men were encouraging men and women to build for themselves houses as a sign that judgment was not and had not come nigh unto them. Their encouragement to build houses was in all reality an attempt to defy the words which the Lord had spoken concerning judgment which would be released and brought upon the land of Judah. I can’t help but wonder what it was like during those days as men and women attempted and set out to build houses thinking and believing they would live in them. I can’t help but wonder at what cost it was to build houses in the land of Judah during this time, and how many men and women invested a great deal of personal wealth into the construction and building of houses. How many men and women set out to build houses in the midst of the land thinking and believing they would be able to live and dwell within those houses? How many men and women invested time, energy, wealth and materials to build houses for themselves within the land without even considering the fact that the Lord would, and the Lord was going to bring judgment upon the land? BUILDING DURING A TIME OF JUDGMENT! BUILDING BEFORE THE SWORD! The Lord had already declared that He would judge the city of Jerusalem, and the Chaldeans had already entered into the land and carried away captive certain of the inhabitants, and brought them into their own land. Despite the fact that the prophets were rising early and warning them both day and night, there were voices in the land and voices in the city that were declaring unto them that the end had not come, and actually encouraged them to build for themselves houses. It’s almost as if these five and twenty men encouraged houses to be built in order that by building them within the land, the Lord would not bring judgment. “Surely the Lord would not bring judgment upon the land, for He has seen these houses we have built in the midst of it.” I can’t help but wonder how many men and women built houses in the land thinking and believing they would actually have the chance to live in them. I can’t help but wonder how many men and women were utterly and completely shocked when the Babylonians entered into the land and began destroying houses and homes, and putting countless to the sword. How many men and women listened to the false and competing voices that were present during this generation, and yet perished as a result of the famine and pestilence which had broken out in the midst of the city?
The more I read and consider this passage of Scripture, the more I can’t help but consider and be confronted by the fact that there are voices just like this within our generation who are providing the same wicked counsel. There are voices within this generation that are proclaiming that the end is not near, and that everything will continue going on as it always has. There are men and women who are encouraging men and women to continue living their lives as if nothing is at all wrong, and as if danger, destruction, devastation and judgment aren’t looming around the corner and just over the horizon. I can’t help but be reminded of the words of Jesus which He spoke during His Olivet discourse. Consider the words which Matthew recorded for us and are found in the twenty-fourth chapter of the book which bears his name. “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be bringing at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matthew 24:36-42). BUILDING INSTEAD OF WATCHING! EATING RATHER THAN PRAYING! DRINKING RATHER THAN WATCHING! MARRYING RATHER THAN PRAYING! If there is one thing we must learn and take away from this passage, it’s that those who lived during the days of the flood continued on living life as if nothing at all was wrong. Those who lived during the days of the flood continued to eat, to drink, to marry and give in marriage, and did so until the day that Noah entered the ark and the flood came upon the face of the earth. Jesus made it very clear that the days prior to the coming of the Son of man would be just like the days of Noah, for men would be eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, thinking and believing—either that the end is not yet near, or the end cannot and will not come. It’s worth noting and pointing out that in the forty-second verse of this chapter Jesus encouraged and instructed His hearers to watch, and to do so because they did not and would not know the hour which the Lord would come. In the forty-fourth verse Jesus goes on to encourage them to be ready, for in such an hour as they think not the Son of man cometh.
I am also reminded of the words which the beloved physician Luke records in the seventeenth chapter of the book which bears his name. “For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day. But first must He suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation. And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they would, they planted, THEY BUILDED; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed” (Luke 17:24-30). Consider the words which James the brother of Jesus wrote which are recorded in the fifth chapter of the epistle which bears his name—“Go to now, ye rich. Men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cantered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the Last days. Behold the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crime the: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoath. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just; and He doth not resist you. Be patient therefore, brethren, unto to the coming of ther Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience of it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh” (James 5:1-8). Consider also the words which the Lord spoke through His servant Joel in the second chapter of the prophet book of Joel—“Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. Who knoweth if He will. Return and repent, and leave a blessing behind Him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the Lord your God? Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare they people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God” (Joel 2:1 2-17).
What I so love and appreciate about this passage is that it brings us face to face with the reality of what we are doing in this generation. There are those among us in this generation who do not believe that the end is near, and that it is just over the horizon. There are those among us in this generation who believe they can continue on living life they way they have been—completely and totally oblivious to the fact that the coming of the Son of man draweth nigh. There are men and women who are building rather than watching, building rather than waiting, building rather than praying, and building rather than making themselves ready. There are men and women who are continuing to live life just like those during the days of Lot, and just like those during the days of Noah did—completely unaware of the fact that the coming of the Son of man is going to come as a thief in the night. I absolutely love that this chapter opens and begins with the prophet being shown men who proclaimed that the end was not near, and encouraging men and women to build houses, yet it concludes with a word that is found in the prophetic book of Jeremiah, and is even found later on within this prophetic book. When you come to the final set of verses within this chapter, you will find the prophet proclaiming these words—“Thus saith the Lord God; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel. And they shall come thither, and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof and all the abominations thereof from thence. And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: that they may walk in my statues, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God” (Ezekiel 11:17-20). Towards the end of this chapter we find something that must be earnestly desired by us in this generation—one heart, a new spirit within us, the removal of the stony heart of flesh, and the giving of an heart of flesh in order that we might walk in the statutes of the Lord, and keep His ordinances. The ultimate purpose and desire of the Lord within and upon the earth is to have a people that can and will be His, and a people whose God [and Lord] He might be. The Lord is actively seeking men and women who truly desire to be the people of God, and truly desire the Lord to be their God. Oh that the Lord would remove the stony heart out of us, and that He would give us a heart of flesh—a heart that will walk in His statutes, and will keep His ordinances.
WHEN THE GLORY DEPARTS, THE END IS NEAR! One thing that’s worth noting within this passage is how the chapter concludes, for the chapter not only concludes with a commentary on the glory of the Lord, but also with Ezekiel being brought back among the captives in Babylon to reveal unto them all the words the Lord had spoke. “Then did the cherubim lift up their wings, and the wheels beside them; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above. And the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city, and stood upon the mountain which is one the east side of the city” (Ezekiel 11:22-23). Please don’t miss or lose sight of this passage, for it is of great significance and importance. If you reread the previous three or so chapters within the book of Ezekiel you will notice the gradual progression of the glory of the Lord away from the sanctuary which was in the midst of Jerusalem. One of the most striking realities of the prophetic book of Ezekiel is the vision he saw concerning the glory of the Lord removing itself from the sanctuary of the Lord. In the previous chapter we read of the glory of the Lord standing above the threshold of the house, and the entire house filled with the cloud of the glory of the Lord, and the court being full of the brightness of the Lord’s glory. Towards the end of the chapter we find the glory of the Lord moving from the threshold of the house and moving to the door of the east gate of the Lord’s house. In this chapter, however, we find the glory of the Lord not at the threshold of the house, nor at the east gate of the house, but actually moving upon the mountain which is on the east side of the city. It’s necessary that we recognize and understand this, for one of the signs of the judgment of the Lord drawing near was the glory of the Lord being removed. The prophet Ezekiel not only saw the glory of the Lord being removed from the sanctuary, but the prophet also saw the glory of the Lord being removed unto the mountain which is on the east side of the city. In other words, the removal of the glory of the Lord is a sure sign that the judgment of the Lord is on the horizon—a reality that is expressed in the Old Testament book of First Samuel. You will recall that the Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Philistines, and that when Eli’s daughter-in-law gave birth to her son, she named him Ichabod, which means “The glory of the Lord has departed.” Do you want to know the status and health of the sanctuary and house in which you worship? You need only look at the measure and degree of the glory of the Lord within your midst. Do you want to be able to gauge the status and health of your own personal Temple? You need only look at the degree and measure of the glory of the Lord that is present within and upon it. Is the glory of the Lord filling the sanctuary in which you worship? Is the glory of the Lord filling and consuming your Temple within the earth? If you don’t know the answer to this question, I would strong urge you to get alone with the Lord of hosts in the secret closet of prayer and earnestly seek the manifestation of His glory, and not only ask what is hindering the manifestation of His glory, but also be willing to remove anything that is revealed unto you by the Spirit of the living God.