Jerusalem, under King Zedekiah, had recovered a measure of strength after its capture by Nebuchadnezzar in 597 BC, and false prophets were prophesying a period of divine favor (see Jer. 28:1-4).
These reports reached the exiles in Babylon, and the burden of Ezekiel’s message at this time was that, on the contrary, Jerusalem was about to experience God’s judgments.
The closing verses of chapter 3 are best regarded as an introduction to the prophecies of chapters 4-24, which all relate to the approaching judgment on Jerusalem. During this time the prophet was commanded to live in seclusion, as if bound and dumb, except when God gave him some message to deliver (3:25-27).
- In chapters 4:1- 5:4 the prophet is directed to show by four symbolic actions the impending siege of Jerusalem, with its privations and sufferings, and also the plight of those who would be carried into exile after the city’s fall. What were these actions?
Which of them refer to the siege, and which to the sufferings of those who would be carried into captivity?
Cf. 4:13; Hos. 9:3, 4.
- What is said in 5:5-17 of:
(a) the reasons,
(b) the nature; and
(c) the purposes of the terrible judgment that was about to fall upon Jerusalem?
Some Christians are less Christian in their lives than many who reject or ignore Christ. In the light of these verses, what can we infer to be God’s attitude to this sad fact?
- 4:10, 11. Food restricted to eight ounces, and water to two pints or less. Cf. 4:16.
- 4:15. Animals dung was, and still is, a recognized form of fuel in the East.
The vision of this chapter was of supreme importance in Ezekiel’s life. Note only was it the occasion of his call to be a prophet, but it was also the medium through which a new conception of God was revealed to him which was to mould his prophetic ministry.
- As the vision of God’s chariot-throne is outlined, follow the prophet’s description of it, part by part: first the living creatures (verses 5-14), then the wheels (verses 15-21), with the throne on top, and finally the One who sat there. How is God described, and what does this teach about the nature of God?
- What do you find symbolized by the other features of the vision: the living creatures, the wheels, the throne, etc.?
- Verse 1. ‘In the thirtieth year…’: probably of Ezekiel’s age, i.e., the year when he would have begun to function as a priest had he remained in Jerusalem.
- Verse 3. ‘The hand of the Lord was upon him’: a phrase used elsewhere in the book to signify a prophetic tranc or ecstasy. See 3:22; 8:1; 33:22; 37:1.
- Verse 5. ‘Four living creatures’: heavenly beings, yet representing the highest forms of life on the earth (among birds, domestic animals, wild animals and the whole creation, respectively), and indicating perhaps that all created things are under God’s control.
- Verses 19-21. Observe that there was no mechanical framework to the chariot. All was spiritual, and responsive to the Spirit.
- In Ps.11 why does David not follow the advice of those who see the situation as hopeless (verse 3) and suggest flight?
What givens him confidence to stand firm?
Do you have this confidence?
- How are the word of man and the Word of God contrasted in Ps. 12?
Note. 11:3. See RV mg. The righteous have not been able to effect any change for the bettery; why then remain in the midst of danger?
These psalms were probably originality one, as is shown by the fact of their common ‘alphabetic’ structure.
In the LXX they are one psalm.
The contents are, however, different. Ps. 9 is mainly a song of praise, celebrating victory over foreign nation; but Ps. 10 consists mainly of prayer, pleading for the overthrow of the wicked within Israel.
- Make a detailed list of the truths we can learn about the Lord from these psalms.
- From Ps. 9 what do we learn of the actions and longings of David, and of his experience of the Lord?
Contrast this with the thoughts and actions of the wicked as described in Ps.10.
To what extent is your own action, experience and longing similar to David’s?
Another example of prayer. David seems to have suffered both from sickness and the taunts of his enemies. His sickness gave them occasion to point to him as one ‘smitten of God’.
- Verses 1-7. Explain in your own words the state of David’s heart and mind as he made his prayer.
What does he
(a) confess to God, and
(b) expect from God?
- Note in verses 8-10 how David has come to an assurance of answered prayer and certain deliverance- an assurance which he openly confers before God and men.
Have you had any similar experience?