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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

 Notes

  1. 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.
  2. 21:27. ‘To whom it rightfully belongs’: i.e., the Davidic Messiah who is entitled to the kingship. Cf. Gen. 49:10.
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Ezekiel 20:1-44

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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?

Notes

  1. 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.
  2. 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 – 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.

  1. 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?
  1. 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?
  2. 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?

Notes

  1. 18:6, 11, 15. ‘East at the mountain shrines’: i.e., join in idolatrous forms of worship. Cf. 6:1-4.
  2. 19:14. The fire which brought destruction sprang from the ruler himself, i.e., Zedekiah. See 17:19-21.

Ezekiel – 17

In 588 BC Zedekiah rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar who, nine years previously, had installed him as puppet-king of Judah, at the time when Jehoiachin had been taken captive to Babylon. His rebellion encouraged false hopes among the exiles of speedy end to their captivity, but Ezekiel silenced these with this parable about the eagle, the cedar and the vine. The first eagle (verse 3) was Nebuchadnezzar, removing the Davidic King Jehoiachin (the cedar twig, verse 4). Those who remained in Jerusalem under Zedekiah (the vine, verse 6) flourished for a time, but then turned towards the king of Egypt (the second eagle, verse 7), whose influence caused them to wither away.

  1. What sin is the prophet specifically rebuking here?
    With verses 13-16, cf. 2 Chr. 36:13; and with verses 7 and 15, cf. Jer. 37:5-8.
  2. How do verses 22-24 show that neither the ambitious designs nor the perfidies of men can frustrate the purposes of God?
    Notice the emphatic and repeated ‘I’. Cf. Prov. 19:21; Is. 46:8-13.

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.

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.