Ezekiel 3:22 – 5:17
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.
Ezekiel – 6 and 7
- Chapter 6, against what sin is the Lord’s anger particularly directed? In what forms is it found today?
- What refrain frequently recurs in these two chapters? What does it teach us about the purpose behind Ezekiel’s prophesying?
- Contrast the phrase “I will repay you in accordance with your conduct’ (7:9) with Ps. 103:10; and see Prov. 1:24, 29-31; 2 Cor. 6:1, 2. What warning for the careless and indifferent does this contrast suggest?
- What can be learnt from 7:14-27 about the right and wrong uses of money? In what ways can it become a stumbling-block to the follower of Christ?
- 6:3. ‘Your high places’: word originally meant a height or eminence, but as these were used as sites of temples and shrines, the word came to mean ‘sanctuaries’, as here. Cf. Deut. 12:2, 3.
- 7:20. ‘They prided themselves upon the beauty of their silver and their gold, and made out of them… idols’. (Hos. 2:8).
Ezekiel – 8
Chapters 8-11 describes what Ezekiel was shown in a prophetic trance fourteen months after his first vision. Cf. 8:1 and 1:1, 2.
- The prophet is carried ‘in visions of God’ (verse 3) to Jerusalem, and is there shown four forms of idolatry, practiced in or at the gate of the temple. If you were asked what these practices were, how would you describe them? Observe also what classes of the community are seen engaging in them.
- The idol-worshipping elders said, ‘The Lord has forsaken the land’ (verse 12). In what sense were their words true (cf. verse 6), and in what sense false? How does this chapter show that all that was happening was under the eyes and under the judgment of God?
- Verse 3. ‘The idol that provokes to jealousy’: i.e., which provoked God’s jealous anger. Cf. Deut. 32:21.
- Verse 14. ‘Women… mourning for Tammuz, taking part in the heathen festival of mourning the death of the vegetation god, Tammuz, later known in Greek mythology as Adonis.
Verse 16. “Between the portico and the altar’: these men must have been priests. Cf. Joel 2:17.