Ezekiel – 16

In this vivid allegory the prophet seeks to break down the pride of Jerusalem. She appears as the bride of the Lord God, who loved her from infancy, and did everything for her, but whose love she requited with persistent and shameful idolatry. The chapter falls into four sections:
(i) Jerusalem as a child and as a bride (verses 1-14);
(ii) her sin (verses 15-34);
(iii) her judgment (verse 35-52);
(iv) her restoration (verses 53-63).

  1. What was God’s complaint against Jerusalem? With verses 22 and 32, cf. Deut. 32:15-18. Notice also that God regards her sin as greater than that of Samaria and of Sodom. See verses 46-52 and cf. Matt. 11:23, 24.
  2. How can the teaching in this chapter be applied to one who has been truly converted, but has backslidden? What can we learn here for our warning of the peril and folly of the sin of unfaithfulness? Cf. Jer. 2:13, 19; Jas. 4:4-10.
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Ezekiel – 14 & 15

  1. 14:1-11. (a) If men whose hearts are inwardly alienated from God come professing to seek guidance from him, will God answer them?
    What must they first do?
    If they do not do so, what will be their end?
    (b) If a prophet should fail to follow this rule, and attempt to give guidance, how will God deal with him?
  2. People might ask, ‘Will not the presence of righteous men among a sinful nation save it from destruction?’
    Cf. eg., Gen. 18:23-26. How does God in reply show that in the present instance the righteous will be saved out of the destruction, but will not be able to save others?
    Cf. 9:4-6; Jer. 15:1. If any should escape, what purpose will this accomplish (see 14:22, 23)?

 Notes

  1. Noah, Daniel and Job are probably all three patriarchal characters. It is not likely that Ezekiel would be thinking of his contemporary in exile, Daniel the prophet. We know of a Daniel from the Ras Shamra tablets of 1400 BC. And this is a more likely identification.
  2. 15:2. For another example of Israel as God’s vine, see Is. 5:1-7.

Ezekiel – 12 & 13

  1. 12:1-20 declares by two vivid symbolic actions on the part of the prophet the doom that was in store both for the people of Jerusalem (verses 3, 4, 18, 19) and for the king (verses 5, 6, 10-16). Having grasped the significance of the prophecy, turn to 2 Kgs. 25:1-7 to see how exactly it was fulfilled.
  2. Note the two scoffing remarks in 12:22 and 27. What does this signify?
    How are they paralleled in modern attitudes to the second coming of Christ?
    Cf. 2 Pet. 3:8-10.
  3. Chapter 13. Condemnation of false prophets. By what two vivid images are they described (see verses 4 and 10, 11), and what is the effect of their prophesying (verses 6, 10a, 22)?
    What phrase differentiating them from true prophets occurs twice in the chapter?

Note

  1. 13:18-21. The magic armbands and veils were devices used by sooth Sayers and clairvoyants to deceive gullible victims. The handfuls of barley and pieces of bread were probably used in forms of divination, forecasting life or death to inquirers.

Ezekiel – 11

  1. The political leaders in Jerusalem thought they were safe within the fortification of Jerusalem, as flesh in a pot is safe from the fire (verse 3).
    What does God say concerning them?
    For the fulfillment of the prophecy, see 2:Kgs. 25:18-21.
  2. The people of Jerusalem thought that they were favored of the Lord, and would be given possession of the land, while those in exile would be cut off (verse 15).
    But what was God’s purpose concerning those in exile (verse 16-20)?
  3. Trace the steps by which the glory of God withdrew from his temple. See 8:3, 4; 9:3; 10:4, 19; 11:1, 23.
    What hint is given in chapter 11 as to the possibility of the return of the glory and under what conditions?
    Cf. 43:1-4, 9.

Notes

  1. Verse 1. ‘Jaazaniah son of Azzur’: a different man from the Jaazaniah of 8:11.
  2. Verse 23b. ‘The mountain’: i.e., the Mount of Olives.

Ezekiel – 9 & 10

Following the prophecy of judgment, with Ezekiel recorded in chapters 6 and 7, and the vision of chapter 8, which illustrated in detail why such a judgment was justified, the prophet here gives a picture of God acting in judgment in the destruction of both the people (chapter 9) and the city (chapter 10) according to his word in 8:18.

  1. Chapter 9. What was God’s answer to the prophet’s cry of distress?
    Cf. Jer. 14:19; 15:1. Who alone were spared, and why?
    How were they distinguished from others?
    Compare the distinguishing marks that similarly brought men salvation, described in Exod. 12:13; Rev. 7:1-3; 14:1.
  2. Chapter 10. To what use were the burning coals put, and what did they symbolize?
    How does this differ from their function in Isaiah’s vision (Is. 6:6, 7)?

Notes

  1. ‘The cherubim’ of chapter 10 are the same as the ‘living creatures’ which featured in the vision of chapter 1.
  2. 10:14. We would expect to find the word ‘ox’ instead of ‘cherub’, and this should probably be understood (cf. 1:10).

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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?

Notes

  1. Verse 3. ‘The idol that provokes to jealousy’: i.e., which provoked God’s jealous anger. Cf. Deut. 32:21.
  2. 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.
  3. Verse 16. “Between the portico and the altar’: these men must have been priests. Cf. Joel 2:17.

Ezekiel – 6 & 7

  1. Chapter 6, against what sin is the Lord’s anger particularly directed? In what forms is it found today?
  2. What refrain frequently recurs in these two chapters?
    What does it teach us about the purpose behind Ezekiel’s prophesying?
  3. 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?
  4. 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?

Notes

  1. 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.
  2. 7:20. ‘They prided themselves upon the beauty of their silver and their gold, and made out of them… idols’. (Hos. 2:8).