Ezekiel – 18 & 19
The teaching of national retribution in chapter 16 and other passages seems to have raised doubts as to the justice of God’s dealings with individuals (18:2, 29). This is the subject of chapter 18. Chapter 19 is a lament.
- Two fundamental principal are stated in 18:4 in answer to the people’s
Complaint in 18:2. How would you express these in your own words? What
Verses in the New Testament can you think of which emphasize the same ideas?
- In the remainder of chapter 18 two questions are answered: (a) Is each man Responsible to God for his own acts, and for these alone (see verses 5-20)? (b) If a man turns form his past way of life, will that past affect God’s judgment upon him (see verses 21-29)? How does this teaching reveal not only God’s justice, but also his mercy? Why dose it lead on immediately to the call to repentance of verses 30-32?
- Chapter 19 is a lament over three of the kings of Judah. Try to identify these by comparing verses 3 and 4 with 2 Kgs. 23:31-34; verses 5-9 with 2Kgs. 24:8-15; and verses 10-14 with 2 Kgs. 25:4-11. What did they all have in common?
- 18:6, 11, 15. ‘East at the mountain shrines’: i.e., join in idolatrous forms of worship. Cf. 6:1-4.
- 19:14. The fire which brought destruction sprang from the ruler himself, i.e., Zedekiah. See 17:19-21.
This section is a review of Israel’s history (verses 5-31), with a prophecy of what God will yet do (verses 32-44). The review of history covers: (a) the time in Egypt (verses 5-9); (b) in the wilderness (verses 10-17 and 18-26); and (c) in the land of Canaan (verses 27-31). With verses 1-3, cf. 14:1, 2.
- Analyse the repeated poetical pattern found in verses 5-9, 10-14, 15-17, 18-22. What restrained God from pouring out his wrath? What does this reveal of God’s character? How does it show what is the one and only guarantee of our salvation? Cf. 1 Sam. 12:22.
- To what two conclusions does God say he will ultimately bring his people Israel (verses 42-44)? Has a similar conviction been brought about in us?
- Verse 25 is a Hebrew way of saying, ‘I gave them good statutes but they had a bad effect; I thereby condemned those who were disobedient and I defiled those who performed human sacrifices.’ Cf. Rom. 5:20.
- Verse 37. ‘Pass under my rod’: the eastern shepherd makes his sheep pass one by one under his staff, held horizontally, to count and examine them.
Ezekiel – 20:45 – 21:32
The prophet is bidden to prophecy: (a) against the south (of Palestine) (20:45-49), and (b) against Jerusalem and the land of Israel (21:1-17). The sword of the Lord is drawn from its sheath (21:1-7), sharpened and polished (21:8-13), and smites repeatedly in its deadly work (21:14-17). In 21:18-27, the explanation is given. The king of Babylon is seen, standing at the parting of the ways, seeking guidance by divination – Ammon or Jerusalem? The decision falls of Jerusalem, the city is taken, and the king (Zedekiah) slain. The closing verses of the chapter (verses 28-32) are a short prophecy of utter doom upon Ammon as well.
- Who kindles the fire? Whose sword is drawn? Yet it was by a heathen king that the judgment was affected. What does this teach us concerning God’s methods of accomplishing his purpose of judgment in the world? Cf. Jer. 25:9 (‘my servant’); Is. 25:1-4.
- When human leaders and confidences all fail and are overthrown, where can we still look for the establishment of a reign of peace? See 21:25-27; cf. Ps. 2:6-9; Luke 21:25-28.
- 21:21 refers to three well-known forms of divination practiced by the Babylonians: drawing marked arrows from a quiver (or throwing them in the air to see how they fall); consulting the teraphim, the ancestral household gods, in some form of necromancy; and studying the marks on the entrails of sacrificial victims.
- 21:27. ‘To whom it rightfully belongs’: i.e., the Davidic Messiah who is entitled to the kingship. Cf. Gen. 49:10.