Sermon title:    Ezekiel Bread and the Coronavirus Crisis

Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, April 19, 2020

 

 

 

Our Scripture reading for this morning

is found in the Old Testament book of Ezekiel,

beginning with Ezekiel 4:9

 

9 "...Take wheat, barley, beans, lentils,

millet, and winter wheat.

Put them in a container,

and use them to make bread for yourself.

 

Eat it during the 390 days

that you are lying on your side.

 

10 The food that you eat should be weighed.

Eat eight ounces of food every day at set times.

 

11 Measure out two-thirds of a quart of water,

and drink it at set times.

 

12 Eat the bread as you would eat barley loaves.

Bake the bread in front of people,

using human excrement for fuel."

 

13 Then the LORD said,

"In the same way, the people of Israel

will eat unclean bread among the nations

where I scatter them."

 

14 I answered,

"Almighty LORD, I have never dishonored myself.

 

From the time I was young until now,

I have never eaten an animal

that died by itself

or was killed by other wild animals.

 

No unclean meat has ever entered my mouth."

 

15 He said to me,

 

"I will let you use cow manure

in place of human excrement.

Bake your bread over it."

 

16 He also said to me,

"Son of man, I am going to cut off

the bread supply in Jerusalem.

 

People will anxiously eat rationed bread

and fearfully drink rationed water.

 

17 They will be shocked

at the sight of each other

because of the lack of food and water.

They will waste away because of their sin."

 

And then at Ezekiel 14,Verse 19

 Almighty God is still speaking:

 

19 And suppose I am so angry

that I send a deadly disease

to wipe out the people and livestock

of a sinful nation.

 

And then, continuing in Verse 21,

 

21 I am the Lord God,

and I promise to punish Jerusalem severely.

 

I will send war, starvation, wild animals,

and deadly disease

to slaughter its people and livestock.

 

22 And those who survive

will be taken from their country

and led here to Babylonia.

 

Ezekiel, when you see how sinful they are,

you will know

why I did all these things to Jerusalem.

 

23 You will be convinced that I, the Lord God,

was right in doing what I did.”

 

 

May the Lord    add his blessing

to our reading of his Word.

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I’d like to introduce my message this morning

with this loaf of bread.

 

I don’t have this loaf of bread with me

because I might get hungry during the sermon.

 

Rather, it’s because the wrapper says this is

“Ezekiel 4:9” bread.

 

It’s not Wonder Bread, or Pepperidge Farm bread,

or one of the other popular brands.

 

Ezekiel 4:9 is a lesser-known brand,

and they offer a whole line of products.

 

For example, this cereal, too.

 

I’m not trying to advertise it,

but, rather,

I’m going to talk about its biblical reference.

 

The label says this is “Ezekiel 4:9” bread.

 

The wrapper actually quotes Ezekiel 4:9

from the King James Bible.

 

It says,

“Take thou also unto thee wheat,

and barley, and beans, and lentiles,

and millet, and fitches,

and put them in one vessel,

and make thee bread thereof.”

 

Well, sure enough, those are

 the ingredients listed in this bread.

 

Now you would think,

from the way they quote the Scripture,

that God Almighty was recommending this recipe.

 

And that is what the bakery that sells this bread

seems to be implying.

 

They’re implying that bread made this way

is recommended by God,

perhaps to give you good health,

or, to bring you a blessing from God.

 

But, if you open the Bible to Ezekiel, chapter 4,

look at the context,

you find an entirely different story.

 

We’ll see why

the Almighty God told the prophet Ezekiel

to use this particular bread recipe.

 

God had been patient with the people of Jerusalem

for hundreds of years,

even though they kept sinning against Him.

 

But now God's patience had come to an end.

 

He was going to bring disaster upon that city.

 

But first, God was going to use  Ezekiel,

to announce this coming judgment.

 

And he was going to announce it by acting out

the hardship the people were about to face.

 

 

As we read Ezekiel, chapter 4,

beginning at verse 9, we note

that God was speaking to Ezekiel. 

  

9 "...Take wheat, barley, beans, lentils,

millet, and winter wheat.

 

Put them in a container,

and use them to make bread for yourself.

 

Eat it during the 390 days

that you are lying on your side.

 

10 The food that you eat should be weighed.

 

Eat eight ounces of food every day at set times.

 

11 Measure out two-thirds of a quart of water,

and drink it at set times.

 

12 Eat the bread as you would eat barley loaves.

 

Bake the bread in front of people,

using human excrement for fuel."

 

13 Then the LORD said,

 

"In the same way, the people of Israel

will eat unclean bread among the nations

where I scatter them."

 

14 I answered,

 

"Almighty LORD,

I have never dishonored myself.

 

From the time I was young until now,

I have never eaten an animal

that died by itself

or was killed by other wild animals.

 

No unclean meat has ever entered my mouth."

 

15 He said to me,

"I will let you use cow manure

in place of human excrement.

Bake your bread over it."

 

16 He also said to me,

"Son of man, I am going to cut off

the bread supply in Jerusalem.

 

People will anxiously eat rationed bread

and fearfully drink rationed water.

 

 

So, this recipe that we find in “Ezekiel 4:9”

was not something Jews would ordinarily bake

for themselves in those days.

 

And it was not a recipe God was recommending.

 

Jews would have taken wheat,

and would have baked a loaf of pure wheat bread.

 

Or, they would have taken barley,

and would have made a pure barley loaf.

 

But told Ezekiel to act out

what the Jews would be forced to do

in the face of shortages and rationing,

when God punished the sinful nation.

 

Maybe this reminds you of the empty shelves

many of us are finding these days

when we go to the grocery store.

 

Under the very difficult conditions

God would put them in,

the Israelites would be forced to scrape together

whatever they could find.

 

Maybe they could find a little bit of wheat,

and maybe a little bit barley –

but not enough to make a loaf of bread.

 

They would need to scrape together

whatever scraps of food they could find –

even beans and lentils, if they could get some –

and mix whatever they could find

to get enough to make a loaf of bread.

 

They wouldn't even be able to find any WOOD

to make a fire for the oven,

so they would have to burn dried manure

to cook with.

 

And, God told Ezekiel, his prophet,

to ACT OUT all of this ahead of time.

 

Ezekiel had to go through what we just read,

to give the people a warning

of what was coming.

 

Why was God going to do that to that ancient nation?

 

The passage we read said

 it was “because of their sin.”

 

What SORT of sin?

 

What sin would cause God

to punish a whole nation like that?

 

Elsewhere in the book of Ezekiel

God listed their sins,

especially murder and sexual sins.

 

They were committing every sort of sexual immorality,

even having male prostitutes

operating at God’s temple.

 

2 Kings 23:7 refers to, what it calls,

“the male temple prostitutes

who were in the LORD's temple.

 

God was patient with them for many years,

but his patience ran out.

 

He wasn’t going to put up with it any longer.

 

Does any of that remind you

of the world we are living in today?

 

God told Ezekiel to use that bread recipe

to show the people back then

that they would soon face food shortages.

 

Instead of the bread they would usually bake,

they would have to scrape together

whatever scraps of food they could find

to have something to eat.

 

God was punishing that ancient nation

because of their sin.

 

God was angry with them,

and was not going to put up with their sin any longer.

 

At Ezekiel 14:19, God said,

 

And suppose I am so angry

that I send a deadly disease...

 

Could God be angry with America?

 

Have you gone to the grocery store,

only to find empty shelves?

 

Could God be angry with this world today?

 

Now, many people dismiss that idea,

because they worship an imaginary ‘Jesus’—

a ‘Jesus’ of popular culture—

who never gets angry.

 

But the real Jesus of the Bible

made a whip out of ropes,

and took that whip into God’s temple.

 

The real Jesus angrily overturned

the tables of the money-changers,

and used that whip

to drive out those selling animals in the temple.

 

Do you know which Bible personality

had the most to say about punishment after death?

 

Who was it that warned people, over and over again,

to repent, or else face punishment after death?

 

Was it Moses? No.

 

Was it Ezekiel?  No.

 

Was it Jeremiah?  No.

 

It was Jesus who warned people,

over and over again,to repent,

or else face punishment after death?

 

The real Jesus—the Jesus of the New Testament—

he was the one

who had more to say

about punishment after death

than anyone else in the Bible.

 

And he said those things

because he doesn’t want

to see people go into punishment after death.

 

He wants people to quit their sins

and turn to him for salvation

--now, while there is still time.

---------------------------------------------------

 

So, yes, Jesus is angry with America.

 

Jesus is angry with this world today.

 

Revelation 19:15 says that it is Jesus

who finally expresses

“the fierce anger of God, the Almighty.”

 

 

And he is disciplining people now,

so that he won’t have to punish them then.

------------------------------------------

 

This nation started leaving God 100 years ago,

when they began taking God out of the schools,

and teaching that we have no Creator—

because we evolved from ape-like animals,

who themselves came from

accidents in a mud puddle

millions of years ago.

 

------------------------------------------

 

In more recent decades,

our modern society

has given up on traditional marriage.

 

That was God’s first gift to mankind.

 

In the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s

only about 1% of couples in America

lived together without being married.

 

99% of couples were married.

 

Among young people age 24 or under,

in 1968 only 1/10th of 1% lived together

without marriage.

 

That number is much, much higher now,

and more young people

live together without marriage than get married.

 

85% of Americans now say it is OKAY

for couples to live together without being married.

 

So, 85% of Americans

have thrown God’s view of marriage

out the window.

 

Has God given up on that original marriage plan?

 

At Mark 10:6, Jesus said,

 

... at the beginning of creation

God ‘made them male and female.’

 

7 ‘For this reason a man

will leave his father and mother

and be united to his wife,

8 and the two will become one flesh.’

 

So they are no longer two, but one flesh.

 

9 Therefore what God has joined together,

let no one separate.”

 

So, God the Father and the Son of God

have kept one-man/one-woman marriage

as the standard for all mankind

for thousands of years.

 

But people in our current generation

have thrown out God’s arrangement.

 

85% of Americans now say it is OKAY

for couples to live together without being married.

 

85% of Americans just ignore

what Jesus says.

 

And, if that weren’t enough,

a significant percentage of young people

now use the internet or other means

to “hook up” for casual sex

with no relationship commitment at all.

 

How could we think God isn’t angry about this?

 

-----------------------------------------

 

First, they took prayer out of the schools.

 

God was patient.

 

Then they introduced sex education for little kids.

 

God was patient.

 

And then they turned those sex education classes

into classes on how kids could practice homosexuality

and how to become trans-gender.

 

Not only did they teach children

that perverted sex was okay,

but also they taught

that it was wrong to criticize

homosexual or transgender behavior.

 

Now God has closed all the schools. 

 

He shut them down.

--------------------------------------

 

First, the public libraries

stopped reading Bible stories to the kids.

 

God was patient.

 

They introduced secular stories, without God.

 

God was patient.

 

Then they brought in perverted men,

dressed as women,

to teach “Drag Queen Story Hours.”

 

Libraries all over this country

gathered little children for “Drag Queen Story Hours.”

 

Little children sat at the feet

of these perverted men, dressed up as women,

 

Now the public libraries are all closed.

 

God shut them down.

---------------------------------------------------------------

 

Murder was another sin

that led God to punish ancient Jerusalem

in Ezekiel’s day.

 

Our modern society doesn’t call it murder,

when abortion clinics crush a baby’s skull

or do some other unspeakable cruelty

to stop the baby’s beating heart.

 

But God calls it murder.

-------------------------------------------------------------

 

I could go on and on

about the sins that God has put up with

on the part of our modern society.

 

But his patience has run out.

 

He’s not going to put up with it.

 

And, if people think what’s happening now

with the coronavirus crisis

is devastating this country

and this world today,

just read the Apocalypse,

the Bible book of Revelation,

to see what else is coming.

 

As the popular saying goes,

“You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”

--------------------------------------------------

 

God had Ezekiel bake bread from scraps of food

as a warning example

of what was to come.

 

Romans 15:4 says,

Such things

were written in the Scriptures long ago

to teach us.”

 

1 Corinthians 10:11 says,

 

“These things happened to them

as examples for us.

They were written down to warn us”

 

Jude 1:7 says,

“Sodom and Gomorrah

and the surrounding towns

gave themselves up to sexual immorality

and perversion.

 

They serve as an example

of those who suffer the punishment

of eternal fire.”

---------------------------------

 

This world may be doomed.

 

There is still time for you to be saved.

 

Jesus came to earth

and he is alive today

to save you from your sins

and to give you rest for your soul.

 

The Son of God will hear you,

if you speak to him—

either out loud or in your heart.

 

Tell him that you repent of your sins,

and that you want to follow him as your Lord.

 

Then make a public declaration of your faith

through Christian baptism.

 

Jesus will honor your repentance

and will welcome you as his follower.

 

At John 6:37, Jesus said,

 

“I will never turn away

anyone who comes to me.”

 

Do you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior?

 

If you don’t know Jesus,

you need to turn to him in prayer

and tell him that you accept his free gift

of salvation from your sins,

and tell him that you will follow him

and obey him as your Lord.

 

It’s very simple:  Trust and obey.

 

Trust Jesus to save you,

and obey him as your Lord and Master.

 

You can speak that prayer in your heart right now.

 

You can just say to him,

“Jesus, I trust you to save me,

and I’ll follow you as my Lord.”

 

It’s a very simple prayer:

 

“Jesus, I trust you to save me,

and I’ll follow you as my Lord.”

 

You can put it as simply as,    “I’m yours, Lord Jesus, save me.”

 

He will accept your simple prayer.

 

At John 6:37, Jesus promised,

“I will never turn away

anyone who comes to me.”

 

Don’t put it off.

 

Do it now.

 

God is angry with America.

 

God is angry with this world.

 

But, if you repent and turn to Christ for salvation,

he will shield you from the full force of God’s anger,

and give you the free gift of eternal life.