“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:18
U-TURNS, PROCESS, CHANGE, AND TRANSITION ARE THE WAY OF LIFE!
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U-TURNS EZEKIEL & SAUL/PAUL
EZEKIEL, an Old Testament Prophet and Saul a young hard-core, temple worshiping, law abiding, Christian killing, member of the highest religious order in the day that our Messiah appeared, both had something in common. Both Ezekiel and Saul were raised, lived and supported the present day accepted spiritual system and our Lord not only showed them what was wrong with it but also told them to speak of the future changes needed to put things in order. This is what I call Spiritual U-turns. Let’s take a look at what God showed Ezekiel and what he was told to do. The following passages of scripture speak for themselves.
Ezekiel Chapter 8
6And He said to me, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations which the house of Israel are committing here, so that I would be far from My sanctuary? But yet you will see still greater abominations.”
7Then He brought me to the entrance of the court, and when I looked, behold, a hole in the wall. 8He said to me, “Son of man, now dig through the wall.” So I dug through the wall, and behold, an entrance. 9And He said to me, “Go in and see the wicked abominations that they are committing here.” 10So I entered and looked, and behold, every form of creeping things and beasts and detestable things, with all the idols of the house of Israel, were carved on the wall all around. 11Standing in front of them were seventy elders of the house of Israel, with Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan standing among them, each man with his censer in his hand and the fragrance of the cloud of incense rising.
12Then He said to me, “Son of man, do you see what the elders of the house of Israel are committing in the dark, each man in the room of his carved images? For they say, ‘The LORD does not see us; the LORD has forsaken the land.’” 13And He said to me, “Yet you will see still greater abominations which they are committing.”
14Then He brought me to the entrance of the gate of the LORD’S house which was toward the north; and behold, women were sitting there weeping for Tammuz. 15He said to me, “Do you see this, son of man? Yet you will see still greater abominations than these.”
16Then He brought me into the inner court of the LORD’S house. And behold, at the entrance to the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men with their backs to the temple of the LORD and their faces toward the east; and they were prostrating themselves eastward toward the sun. 17He said to me, “Do you see this, son of man? Is it too light a thing for the house of Judah to commit the abominations which they have committed here, that they have filled the land with violence and provoked Me repeatedly? For behold, they are putting the twig to their nose. 18“Therefore, I indeed will deal in wrath. My eye will have no pity nor will I spare; and though they cry in My ears with a loud voice, yet I will not listen to them.”
Ezekiel Chapter 34
Prophecy against the Shepherds of Israel
1Then the word of the LORD came to me saying, 2“Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to those shepherds, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock? 3“You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without feeding the flock. 4“Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them.
5“They were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast of the field and were scattered. 6“My flock wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill; My flock was scattered over all the surface of the earth, and there was no one to search or seek for them.”
7Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: 8“As I live,” declares the Lord GOD, “surely because My flock has become a prey, My flock has even become food for all the beasts of the field for lack of a shepherd, and My shepherds did not search for My flock, but rather the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock; 9therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: 10‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will demand My sheep from them and make them cease from feeding sheep. So the shepherds will not feed themselves anymore, but I will deliver My flock from their mouth, so that they will not be food for them.”’”
The Restoration of Israel
11For thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. 12“As a shepherd cares for his herd in the day when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will care for My sheep and will deliver them from all the places to which they were scattered on a cloudy and gloomy day. 13“I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries and bring them to their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the streams, and in all the inhabited places of the land.
14“I will feed them in a good pasture, and their grazing ground will be on the mountain heights of Israel. There they will lie down on good grazing ground and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15“I will feed My flock and I will lead them to rest,” declares the Lord GOD. 16“I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken and strengthen the sick; but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with judgment.
Prophecy against the Flock
17“As for you, My flock, thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Behold, I will judge between one sheep and another, between the rams and the male goats. 18‘Is it too slight a thing for you that you should feed in the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pastures? Or that you should drink of the clear waters, that you must foul the rest with your feet? 19‘As for My flock, they must eat what you tread down with your feet and drink what you foul with your feet!’” 20Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD to them, “Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. 21“Because you push with side and with shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns until you have scattered them abroad,
22therefore, I will deliver My flock, and they will no longer be a prey; and I will judge between one sheep and another. 23“Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd. 24“And I, the LORD, will be their God, and My servant David will be prince among them; I the LORD have spoken. 25“I will make a covenant of peace with them and eliminate harmful beasts from the land so that they may live securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. 26“I will make them and the places around My hill a blessing. And I will cause showers to come down in their season; they will be showers of blessing. 27“Also the tree of the field will yield its fruit and the earth will yield its increase, and they will be secure on their land. Then they will know that I am the LORD, when I have broken the bars of their yoke and have delivered them from the hand of those who enslaved them.
28“They will no longer be a prey to the nations, and the beasts of the earth will not devour them; but they will live securely, and no one will make them afraid. 29“I will establish for them a renowned planting place, and they will not again be victims of famine in the land, and they will not endure the insults of the nations anymore. 30“Then they will know that I, the LORD their God, am with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are My people,” declares the Lord GOD. 31“As for you, My sheep, the sheep of My pasture, you are men, and I am your God,” declares the Lord GOD.
It is obvious according to this passage that God not only showed Ezekiel that their spiritual system was out of order, bankrupt and abusive but also the change that was demanded. The change was a U-Turn back to God’s original purpose. God’s judgments come when the “cup is full” but always gives the next step of redemption! In this case the prophecy of the coming shepherd, Jesus the Messiah who will come through King David.
This is a good place to take a quick look at the background of Saul before he accepted Christ and became the Apostle to the Gentiles. Looking at Saul’s U-turn might help to understand the depth of the words written by him, who later is Paul, the one who defines “The Church” to both Jew and Gentile.
Saul was born about the same time as Jesus. “Saul” was his Hebrew name and “Paul” was his name for use in the Gentile world. He was a native of Tarsus, the capital of Cilicia, a Roman province in the south-east of Asia Minor. The City of Tarsus was a wealthy trade centre in the Mediterranean Sea as well as having one of the three greatest universities in the known world.
His father was of the strict sect of the Jews, a Pharisee, of the tribe of Benjamin, of pure and unmixed Jewish blood Acts 23:6, Philippians 3:5-6. His father was also a Roman citizen, making his son, Saul, a freeborn.
When he was about thirteen years of age Saul went to the great Jewish school of sacred learning at Jerusalem as a student of the law. There he became a pupil of the celebrated rabbi Gamaliel, and spent many years in an intense study of the Scriptures. Saul became a rabbi, that is, a minister, a teacher, and a lawyer all in one.
Later, we find Saul back again at Jerusalem very soon after the death of Jesus. It was at this time he learned the particulars regarding the crucifixion of Jesus and the rise of the new sect of the “Nazarenes.”
Now called Saul of Tarsus and a member of the great Sanhedrin, he took a prominent part in the persecution of the Believers in Christ, seeking to exterminate Christianity. He was young, driven, educated and ready to make a name for himself by defending the religious views he was trained in. Then on Saul’s persecution quest, Jesus appearing out of the sky meets him on the road to Damascus and Saul/Paul does a “U-Turn”.
The point is this, who better to establish the church of Jesus Christ and write most of the New Testament? A young man who has been trained in the letter of the law which “kills” and now has been completed by experiencing the One who fulfilled the law and offers us grace and mercy which gives life, Jesus the Son of the Living God, the Chosen One, the Messiah! Paul brings us the spirit of the law which brings life. A man chosen of Jesus Himself who has lived and breathed the law will now give us the greatest contrast of walking in grace and mercy.
After spending some years in the wilderness receiving personal revelation from Jesus, Saul/Paul appears in public for awhile, on the isle of Crete, to put into practice what has just been revealed to him by our Lord. Next we find him in Jerusalem with the Apostles sharing what has happened, then “Paul” ministers in Antioch with Barnabas for a year and after that, he traveled to spread the message across the then known world.
So this Paul who has been trained in the law and now trained in grace was writing to people about circumcision in particular, but freedom from the law as a whole, (of which temple worship is a major part), makes this powerful statement:
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty where with Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage…” ~ Galatians 5:1 (KJV)
Part one. The liberty is that the law has been fulfilled; God doesn’t hold man’s sin against him anymore because of Christ. We don’t have to go to the temple anymore for worship or cutting the throats of animals. The veil that separated us from the presence of God in the Holy of Holies has been taken away! Jesus was sacrificed for us and now as we accept Him as Savior and Lord, His Spirit enters us and we are the temple of the presence of God or put another way, we are the temple of the Spirit! His Holy Spirit IS the new wine and the Kingdom of God is the new wine skin.
Part two. Be not entangled again. Don’t be manipulated into returning to the “old way” or let anyone shame or confuse you into going back to traditions, symbols, types, shadows, when you can have the real thing! Why limit your worship in a building with beautiful stain glass windows that pictorially tell the story of Christ when you can worship Christ at any moment in any place because HE LIVES WITHIN YOU! Oh, there is a place for corporate gatherings but the point is you don’t have to wait for a professional clergy to get you to your Lord. You already have it NOW! Wow, was that preaching or what? Sometimes it is hard to hold back.
Again, I asked myself the same questions you might be pondering, “Lord, do I dare to believe this? Did you really intend it to be this easy?” We were very encouraged with the radical U-turns of these two giants in God’s Word, along with the amazing contrast between the two messages of Law verses Grace and the two systems of temple and Kingdom. Now how do we live it out? How do we apply this truth?
“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” ~ John 1:14
How do we make this Word become flesh in our lives? The next step in our process took us to look at some of the strongholds that put the church in the position it is today in our country.
What have we discovered in Chapter Five?
22. U-turns are OK!
23. Old Testament prophet Ezekiel lived under the law, saw the abuse of the priests in the system used to speak of God’s immediate judgment and a new system to come.
24. New Testament apostle Paul, who loved the law, lived and preached the transition from legalism to faith.
25. Stand in our liberty in Christ
26. Not to be entangled again with the yoke of bondage of trying to live under the law; which always equals death.
Personal Journal Insert:
“My Lord, at times I have felt much like Ezekiel in that I have been taken to the very heights of the performance based, temple worship system in America. I have seen with my own eyes the abuse and corruption that happens “behind the scenes” in the minister’s chambers. Where there should have been prayer and the seeking of Your Will there was unspeakable darkness and abominations. Tonight I feel like Paul, You have given me a U-turn. Seeing not only what has gone wrong but also seeing how to encourage things back to order. Give me the strength to carry on.”