How do we empower people so they can seek the spiritual welfare of others? Ezekiel 35 explains the negative: reap death when you harbor hatred. In the positive, receive a new heart to motivate obedience, speak God's word to build up the body of Christ, preserve the unity of the Spirit, trust His sovereignty to defeat spiritual enemies, cleanse the land of sin to display His glory and trust God to free you from the shame of sin.
Reap Death When You Harbor Hatred
God told Ezekiel to prophesy that He was against Edom and ruined their cities to make them desolate. They harbored an ancient hostility and delivered the Israelites to the sword when their punishment reached its climax. God delivered Edom over to bloodshed since they did not hate it. They said two nations were theirs as a possession. God judged their anger and jealousy because of hatred. They would know the Lord heard how they boasted against Him without restraint and rejoiced when Israel became desolate (Ezek. 35;1-15). Reap death when you harbor hatred and boast against God.
Receive a New Heart to Motivate Obedience
God said enemies ravaged Israel to become their possession and object of people's malicious talk. Because they plundered Israel with malice in their hearts, nations around them were scorned like them. Israel produced fruit and God looked upon them with favor. He multiplied the people, inhabited the towns and rebuilt the ruins so they prospered more than before. Israel possessed the nations and never were deprived again of their children. God scattered Israel through the countries because they profaned His name. He cleansed them from all impurities and idols. He gave them a new heart and put a new spirit in them. He removed their heart of stone and gave them a heart of flesh. He put His Spirit in them to move them to obey God's laws. God increased the fruit of trees and crops so they no longer suffered disgrace because of famine. The nations knew that He rebuilt what was destroyed and replanted what was desolate (Ezek. 36:1-38). Receive a new heart of flesh and spirit that motivates obedience, multiplies disciples and rebuilds cities.
Speak God's Word to Awaken Body of Christ
The Lord told Ezekiel to prophesy so dry bones heard God's word in the middle of a valley. He attached tendons, made flesh, covered with skin and put breath in them so they came to life and knew He was the Lord. The bones came together, tendons and flesh appeared, and skin covered them. Ezekiel prophesied that breath came from the four winds and breathed into the slain so they lived as a vast army, representing Israel. He put His Spirit in them to live so they settled in their own land (Ezek. 37:1-14). Speak God's word to awaken the body of Christ to life through the Holy Spirit.
Preserve the Unity of the Spirit
Ezekiel wrote on two sticks of wood, "Belonging to Judah and the Israelites associated with him" and "Ephraim's stick, belonging to Joseph and all the house of Israel associated with him." God commanded Ezekiel to join them together as one stick to become one in his hand. It represented one nation and one king without division into two kingdoms. They no longer defiled themselves with idols for God saved and cleansed them from all backsliding. David became king and one shepherd so the nation could follow God's laws. He made a covenant of peace eternally to make them His dwelling place. The nations knew the Lord made Israel holy (Ezek. 37:15-28). Preserve the unity of the Spirit by obeying God's word and becoming His dwelling place.
Trust God's Sovereignty to Defeat Spiritual Enemies
Ezekiel prophesied against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, Persia, Cush and Put. Israel along with many nations would plunder the land. Gog would attack Israel. God's wrath through a great earthquake would overturn mountains and walls. God would execute judgment upon Gog and many nations with plague, bloodshed, torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur. He would show His greatness and holiness to make Himself known in the nations (Ezek. 38:1-23). Trust God's sovereignty to defeat spiritual enemies and show His greatness and holiness to the world.
Cleanse the Land of Sin to Display God's Glory
God would send fire against Magog and those who lived in safety. He would make known His holy name to Israel. For seven years they would use their weapons as fuel. For seven months Israel would bury Gog's soldiers in the valley of those who traveled east toward the Dead Sea. Men would be regularly employed to cleanse the land. God would call a great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel to eat the flesh of mighty men and drink the blood of the princes of the earth like they were animals. He would display His glory among the nations so Israel knew He was the Lord. Nations would know that Israel went into exile for their sin because they were unfaithful to Him (Ezek. 39:1-24). Cleanse the land of sin to display God's glory to the world so His people know He is Lord.
Trust God to Free You from Shame of Sin
God would bring Jacob back from captivity and be zealous for His holy name. They would forget their shame and unfaithfulness when they lived in safety. God would show His holiness in the sight of many nations so they would know He was Lord. He would pour out His Spirit on the house of Israel (Ezek. 39:25-29). Trust God to free you from the shame of sin through the Holy Spirit and show His holiness to the world.
The following explains how to empower people so they seek the spiritual welfare of others:
1. Understand that you reap death when you harbor hatred
2. Receive a new heart to motivate obedience
3. Speak God's word to awaken the body of Christ
4. Preserve the unity of the Spirit
5. Trust His sovereignty to defeat spiritual enemies
6. Cleanse the land of sin to display His glory
7. Trust God to free you from the shame of sin