Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”
© Charles A. Clough 1998
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 4: Disciplinary Truths of God’s Kingdom
Chapter 4: Kingdom Ended: The Discipline of Exile
Lesson 90 – Kingdom Ended: Israel and Judah into Captivity
07 May 1998
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
[Recording does not begin at first of message; when it begins he is talking about Ezekiel 8:7. As background Ezekiel 8:2-6] “Then I looked, and behold, a likeness as the appearance of a man; from His loins and downward there was the appearance of fire, and from His loins and upward the appearance of brightness, like the appearance of glowing metal.  And He stretched out the form of a hand and caught me by a lock of my head; and the Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the north gate of the inner court, where the seat of the idol of jealousy, which provokes to jealousy, was located.  And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, like the appearance which I saw in the plain.  Then He said to me, ‘Son of man, raise your eyes, now, toward the north.’ So I raised my eyes toward the north, and behold, to the north of the altar gate was this idol of jealousy at the entrance.  And 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, that I should be far from My sanctuary? But yet you will see still greater abominations.’ ”]
… Ezekiel is going to be shown this because he’s going to see the glory of God. We’re going to get into some of the secret vaults. I want you to take a little tour with me. Verse 7, “Then he brought me to the entrance of the court, and when I looked, behold, a hole in the wall.” See this probably is a visionary type thing with him. Verse 8, “And he said to me, ‘Son of man, now dig through the wall.’ So I dug through the wall, and behold, an entrance.  And He said to me, ‘Go in and see the wicked abominations that they are committing here.’  So 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.  And standing 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.
Verse 12, “Then 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.  And He said to me, ‘Yet you will see still greater abominations which they are committing.’  Then 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.” Tammuz was sort of like the virgin type goddess, and it was worshiped in the ancient world. Some trace it all the way into modern Mariolatry in the Roman Catholic Church.
Verse 15, “And He said to me, ‘Do you see this, son of man? Yet you will see still greater abominations than these.’  Then 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 son.  And he 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.  Therefore, I indeed shall deal in wrath. My eye will have no pity nor shall I spare; and though they cry in My ears with a loud voice, yet I shall not listen to them.”
He announces here that he is finished with this phase of Israel’s history. This is the basis of what’s now going to take place. Now he’s going to watch, in stages, the Shekinah glory leave. What I want you to look at as we go through these verses is be very observant over the geography and geometry of what’s happening here. What I mean by that is, if you have a map of Jerusalem you usually see that in that biblical day there’s a rift valley that runs down here, the Valley of Kidron, and the old city of David is on this little hill, a very little hill, and then in Solomon’s day Solomon got this whole area up where the temple is. That’s the temple now. The temple had an east gate on it. Keep that in mind, now watch the verses.
Ezekiel 9:1-6, “Then He cried out in my hearing with a loud voice saying, ‘Draw near, O executioners of the city, each with his destroying weapon in his hand.  And behold, six men came from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with his shattering weapons in his hand; and among them was a certain man clothed in linen with a writing case at his loins. And they went in and stood beside the bronze altar.” Now here it comes, watch.  “Then the glory of the God of Israel went up from the cherub on which it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed in linen at whose loins was the writing case.  And the LORD said to him, ‘Go through the midst of the city, even through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst,’  but to the others He said in my hearing, ‘Go through the city after him and strike; do not let your eye have pity, and do not spare.  Utterly slay old men, young men, maidens, little children and women, but do not touch any man on whom is the mark; and you shall start from My sanctuary.’ So they started with the elders who were before the temple.”
The first thing, there’s a judgment happening in this vision that Ezekiel sees. But what’s important to notice is that inside the temple, in the Holy of Holies was the Ark of the Covenant, and on the ark cover were the cherubs, which are artistic renditions of the real cherubs that guard the throne of God. In between these cherubs, whatever they looked like on top of this ark, there was this glowing cloud, and that was the glory of God that was inside the temple. What we’re seeing now is the first motion of God. That’s why in verse 3 the glory moves from the cherub, or from the cherubs “on which it had been, over to the threshold of the temple.” Now there’s a departure. It’s as though God gets up off the throne and he walks to the door of the temple. That’s step one.
Now come to Ezekiel 10:1-5, “Then I looked, and behold, in the expanse that was over the heads of the cherubim something like a sapphire stone, in appearance resembling a throne, appeared above them.  And He spoke to the man clothed in linen and said, ‘Enter between the whirling wheels under the cherubim, and fill your hands with coals of fire from between the cherubim; and scatter them over the city.’ And he entered in my sight.” So he goes through this thing, but now in verse 4, as he scatters it, again a picture of judgment, “Then the glory of the LORD went up from the cherub to the threshold of the temple, and temple was filled with the cloud, and the court was filled with the brightness of the glory of the LORD.” Now he’s at the threshold and the glory of God radiates out. So now it’s leaving the temple.
Now come to Ezekiel 10:18, “Then the glory of the LORD departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim.  When the cherubim departed,” in other words, the cherubim themselves are leaving, so “when the cherubim departed, they lifted their wings and rose up from the earth in my sight with the wheels” or the round things actually, the translator’s idea is wheel, “beside them; and they stood still at the entrance of the east gate of the LORD’s house. And the glory of the God of Israel hovered over them.” The cherubs in this vision, after the glory of God got off of their back and came over to the thing, they come out the door, and the glory of God remounts the cherubs, but now they’re outside. Notice the direction.
Ezekiel 11:1, “Moreover, the Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the east gate of the LORD’s house which faced eastward. And behold, there were twenty-five men at the entrance of the gate, and among them I saw Jaazaniah son of Azzur and Pelatiah son of Beniaah, leaders of the people.  And He said to me, ‘Son of man, these are the men who devise iniquity and give evil advice in this city,  who say, ‘Is not the time near to build houses? This city is the pot and we are the flesh.’  Therefore, prophesy against them, son of man, prophesy!’  Then the Spirit of the LORD fell upon me, and He said to me, ‘Say, Thus says the LORD, ‘So you think house of Israel, for I know your thoughts.  ‘You have multiplied your slain in this city, filling its streets with them.  Therefore, thus says the Lord God, ‘Your slain whom you have laid in the midst of the city are the flesh, and this city is the pot; but I shall bring you out of it.  You have feared a sword; so I will bring a sword upon you,’ the Lord God declares.”
In other words, what’s happened here is these people are panicking as they see the nation fall apart. Instead of taking the prophetic clue that the reason everything is falling apart is because of spiritual rebellion, what they’re doing is they see everything is falling apart and at that point it’s a challenge to their faith. The problem is when the pressure comes on, there’s only one way back to God, by confession of sin. They have to acknowledge their sin before Him or it doesn’t do any good. They don’t want to do that. That’d solve the problem. So they’re going to be rebellious about it. Well if they’re going to be rebellious about it they can’t get assurance that when everything falls apart they’ll be okay. So where are they going to get their assurance. Then they start going around and picking up the human gimmicks, going out into the world system, going into pagan religion, “you fear the sword,” but you didn’t come to Me. I told you a sword couldn’t touch you if you would trust Me, but you haven’t trusted Me, you fear the sword, you won’t get right with Me, so now I’m going to bring the sword, the very thing that you fear.
This is a tremendous lesson because all of us are prone to gimmicks. We always want a gimmick solution because in our flesh it fits. The problem is, in the long run it doesn’t fit, and we usually wind up creating our own mess that we’re trying to avoid, exactly the thing we were trying to avoid is the thing we run into. This is an example of it. You fear the sword, you didn’t solve it, you didn’t resolve it, and you didn’t listen to the prophets, you didn’t think that I am sovereign over the sword, you don’t have to fear it if you’re right with Me. But you’re not right with Me so you have to fear the sword, and now you’re going to get the sword because you’re not responding to all these promptings that I’ve been trying to give you.  And I shall bring you out of the midst of the city, and I shall deliver you into the hands of strangers and execute judgments against you.  You will fall by the sword. I shall judge you to the border of Israel; so you shall know that I am the LORD.]
So verse 11, “This city will not be a pot for you, nor will you be flesh in the midst of it,” the idea of the flesh in the pot is protection, the pot protects the flesh, it’s like a citadel, a defense system, “but I shall judge you to the border of Israel.” I’m going to move you out.  “Thus you will know that I am the LORD; for you have not walked in my statutes nor have you executed My ordinances, but have acted according to the ordinances of the nations around you.” Notice the accusation in verse 12, you either go with the Bible or you go with paganism. There is no in between. So he says, clearly verse 12 from all we’ve studied this year, you know when you read the first part of verse 12 what the ordinances and the statutes are. That’s the Sinaitic Covenant, that’s the book of Exodus, the book of Leviticus, Numbers, that’s the commandments. “…but you have acted according to the ordinances of the nations around you.” I gave you the Word, what did I say when I gave you the Word? I said abide in it each day. But no, you want to substitute for the Word of God something out of the world system.
Verse 13, “Now it came about as I prophesied … Then I fell on my face and cried out with a loud voice and said, ‘Alas, Lord God! Wilt Thou bring the remnant of Israel to a complete end?” Are you going to totally destroy the nation? There’s an assurance passage in here, no, the age of Israel is over in one sense,  “Son of man, your brothers, your relatives, your fellow exiles, and the whole house of Israel, all of them, are those to whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, ‘Go far from the LORD; this land has been given us as a possession.  Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God, ‘Though I had removed them far away among the nations, and though I had scattered them among the countries, yet I was a sanctuary for them a little while in the countries where they had gone,” this is a fore view of all of history.
Verse 27, “Therefore say, ‘Thus says the lord God, ‘I shall gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries among which you have been scattered, and I shall give you the land of Israel.’” You see, that’s the same theme we noticed before in the prophets. As they kind of slam down in judgment, it’s never a total judgment. There’s always the promise that God will pick up the pieces finally. Hope is never totally erased for those who have been elected by God. Ezekiel is a prophet and we see that same theme that we’ve already explored.
Now we want to see the last dramatic act of the glory of God. Verse 22, “Then the cherubim lifted up their wings with the wheels beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel hovered over them.  And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city, and stood over the mountain which is east of the city.” Over here there’s a mountain. The glory of God comes over to this mountain. Verse 24, “And the Spirit lifted me up and brought me in a vision by the Spirit of God to the exiles in Chaldea. So the vision that I had seen left me.” End of story.
I said when we were going through this to check that geometry. Observe the motion. Does this motion suggest a New Testament analogue? This is Old Testament theology, and I want to show you an example of why when Christians don’t read the Old Testament they cannot understand the nuances that are in the New Testament. When you read the Gospel of John and John starts out introducing the logoj (logos) of God, what words does he use? John 1:14, the most theologically packed verse in the New Testament. “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” The very words “we beheld His glory,” He “became flesh,” and the word the English word “dwelt” in verse 14, the Greek [Hebrew] word behind that is shakan, the Shekinah glory has come back, that’s what John’s saying. Anybody who knew their Old Testament would not just read this like we do, very cursorily in our Christian circle, oh yes, that’s a nice sentence. No-no, it’s got a lot more to it than that. This is an announcement by John the Apostle in words unmistakable to a sensitive Jew that that Shekinah glory that left in Ezekiel’s day is back here with us, and it dwelt among us, and it flashed forth from time to time in the Gospels. When certain things happened, there’s suddenly a flashing forth of this glory of God that’s potentially always there with the person of Jesus Christ.
In the New Testament, Jesus comes to where for the central confrontation? Every Gospel has it, all four Gospels. Where does He have one of the most hateful rebellious confrontations in His entire career? What piece of real estate? The temple. At least once, probably twice He goes in and what does He do inside the temple? He cleans house. Where is the scheme that leads to His crucifixion hatched? The guys that run the temple.
He’s crucified, and in Acts He’s going to go, the classic place of the ascension, where He prayed before He was crucified, in Acts 1:12 what do we notice about the terrain, about the picture. “Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away,  And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room….” They returned from the mount. What happened? Where is this mount? This is the mount, the same mount where the glory in Ezekiel departed from. Notice Acts 1:10, “And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was departing, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them,  and they said ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.’ ” Exactly the same real estate, six centuries later the incarnate Son of God, the glory comes back to earth, He has the confrontation at the temple, He is rejected by the nation, He goes across the Kidron Valley and He leaves, same departure route that He left in the Old Testament. This is unmistakable structure and design in Scripture, an unmistakable attestation to the inerrancy of the Bible, of the fact that there’s a sovereign God moving in all of this.
What we’ve seen now is the three signals, the three signals that something is going on in the exile that’s very, very significant. We now had number three, the departure of the Shekinah glory, the dwelling glory. All three announce that a permanent change has occurred in history. There are many, many ramifications of this change.
We want to look at one very potent theme and that is what has happened to the Gentiles. Something occurs here at this point in history. The Gentiles preexisted, obviously, 600 BC. Again let’s look at a time line. Here’s Noah, the dispersion of the nations, the call of Abraham, the Exodus, David, the fall of the kingdom and exile. In here we have the age of Israel, actually the age of Israel goes on but I mean the age of Israel in the sense of a physical viable kingdom. What were the Gentiles doing? All this time that we have spent from Genesis 12 through 2 Kings 24, we have looked again and again at Israel but we haven’t looked much at what’s going on in the nations round about. So we want to review something.
What has happened to these sons of Noah? At this point, which is a forgotten point about world history, all nations, all races, were begun out of one family. We all got off the same boat. All the cultures of the world emanate from these men and these men were geniuses. I showed you evidences of their navigation. These guys could measure longitude in ways which we still don’t know, obviously they had some sort of clocking devices, they appeared to have mapped the entire world before the ice age covered Antarctica, and they had all the trade routes and commerce established. So by the time of Abraham you have basically modern civilization in the sense of cities, architecture, the basic technologies, medicine and all the rest; all of that is established.
But we also noted that Noah, the last picture we have of Noah isn’t a polite one. It is not a nice picture, something’s wrong. The very first family of civilization, the Bible depicts as heroes but as fallen heroes. There’s something wrong in the family. Noah’s drunk. In the agro-technology of his time he grew a vineyard, but he didn’t really subdue the vineyard, the vineyard subdued him, which is a picture of what men do. That’s always the story, it’s a relentless theme because as men of the flesh who rebel we never perfectly subdue. We never carry out the Adamic order of subduing perfectly the environment. It always winds up subduing us.
In this period we have a paganization that sets in, apostasy grows, and you have all kinds of pagan religions that begin to form. That’s going on in the background, some more potent than others. For example, the Canaanites become viciously negative in their volition toward God, they harden their hearts, they do all kinds of abominations, they self-destruct. Out of this we have fragmented pieces. At this point in history something starts anew. What God does, since Israel is gone, we go back to Gentiles, and the kingdom of man that was begun back at Babel takes on a new form.
On page 59 of the notes that’s what I mean when I put the title there, “The Ascent of the Imperial Kingdom of Man.” I used the word “imperial” for reasons you’ll see. “Simultaneous with the loss of the Kingdom of God were the revival and rise of the Kingdom of Man. Just as the global flood in Noah’s day and subsequent drop inhuman longevity drew a curtain over the antediluvian past, so now the exile of Israel another curtain fell over the supernatural prophetic past history of Israel.” History has forgotten. Today historians and all historical records have forgotten the super-naturalness of the centuries prior to 600 BC. The stories are all in a haze, in a lost memory; there’s no viable memory on earth of an interfering God in dramatic points as He did in Israel’s history. Point 1 I have just reviewed for you, the tower of Babel, how it all started.
Coming to page 60, Israel’s function during this period was to testify to God. There was to be a counterculture established. We want to notice one fruit, because this is what is left of the exile. Israel was ordained to be a worldwide blessing to the nations. Even in her exile she is a blessing to the nations and I want you to see this.
“The exile would give the last bit of preparation for the coming global Messiah: a finished canon of Scripture with a prophetic panorama of human history. The exile, then, would not only be the means of disciplining Israel but would complete Israel’s role of preparing the world for Christ by dispersing her citizens throughout the Gentile world, spreading biblical truth and the Scriptures among men everywhere. Josephus notes that by his day in the first century it could be said that Jews lived in every part of the earth since very early times.”
“Great church fathers long recognized this function of the exile. Augustine wrote: ‘That same nation … was afterwards dispersed through the nations in order to testify to the Scriptures in which eternal salvation in Christ had been declared.’ The brilliant French mathematician, Blaise Pascal (whom secular historians treat with great embarrassment because of his biblical beliefs)” because he’s a brilliant mathematician but a stubborn believer, and this embarrasses the heck out of historians of science and math, “commented: ‘As His Gospel was to be believed by all the world, it was not only necessary that there should be prophecies to make it believed, but that these prophecies should exist throughout the whole world, in order to make it embraced by the whole world.’ ”
So we conclude with one of the strange after effects of Israel’s existence and this very exile is that the Jews begin to move out. They were clustered and kept inside this nation. Now they become the world’s merchants. Do you know how powerful they are? In the Tribulation when God wants to evangelize the human race quickly, when there are only a few years left in the final Tribulation before Christ, which group does He call upon to do the evangelizing? The 144,000. Why do you suppose He reverts to Jews to do evangelism? A Hebrew Christian friend of mine made it perfectly clear one day when he said, Charlie, it’s very easy, because we Jews are in every country on earth and we already know the culture and the language and we have all the business connections. You don’t have to send missionaries. In the seven years of the Tribulation there isn’t any time to send missionaries; there isn’t time to learn languages. The time is quick and the gospel must go out very rapidly. There’s only one group on earth that can do that, that have a biblical background built in, that know the languages and know the cultures that are already in position to do it. That’s what’s ultimately going to happen.
But what we’re saying on pages 60-61 is that in 586 BC the seeding of the world’s cultures began. That’s why you can go to Argentina, to Brazil and you can see Jewish families, Jewish businessmen, Jewish bankers, you can go to Europe and see them, Australia, you can even go to the Orient. It’s very amazing, my daughter-in-law who is Japanese was saying that in Japan there’s a big mystery about some of the implements and furniture in the Emperor’s home, and they’ve got a new Empress now, she graduated from Harvard or something, but she’s very much a 20th century lady and it’s going to be interesting to see how Japanese culture deals with this lady because she’s quite an independent woman. What they’re all excited about is that the believers in Japan have this tradition that there’s a mirror that the Emperors use in Japan and have used for centuries and there’s a mysterious thing written on this mirror, and it’s written in the Hebrew script. It’s supposedly the Tetragrammaton. What she was telling us was that the thing that the Japanese believers don’t understand is it came into the royalty of Japan centuries and centuries ago, obviously from Jewish sources. What was the line of this? Jews must have visited Japan.
This is the after effect, the planting of Jewish citizens who carry the Torah with them, who carry a biblical memory with them. We will watch what happens as these Jewish citizens begin to interact with the growing Gentile kingdoms.