Living by the Lordís Values

Explore the Bible Series

June 12, 2005

 

Background Passage:Ezekiel 4:1-11:25

Lesson Passages: Ezekiel 7:1-2; 15-16; 19-27

 

Personal Note:A few people contacted me about a comment in last weekís Sunday School outline.I observed that Ezekiel, unlike any other Hebrew prophet, carried out the entirety of his ministry outside of Israel or Judah.We have some very good Bible students who read these outlines, and a few asked about possible exceptions to my observation.I should have explained my point more carefully.

 

It is true that several prophets (for instance, Daniel, Jonah, and Nahum) apparently did all of their preaching to nations outside of Canaan; however, only Ezekiel, so far as I can detect, actually received his call to the prophetic office while in Babylon.Therefore, I conclude that the entirety of his work occurred outside of Israel.In this regard, I believe Ezekiel is unique among the prophets.

 

Thank you for your interest and concern about the material.

 

Introduction: The people of Judah and Israel took false confidence in their understanding of the covenant and promises of God.They appear to have embraced the divine promises without acknowledging the responsibilities of the covenant with God.In particular, they based their false confidence on four points.

  1. God made a covenant with Moses at Mount Sinai.Indeed, the Lord made wonderful promises to Israel, but he also gave them great responsibility.They had failed to observe the Lordís commandments, and Ezekiel took great care to remind the Hebrews that they had broken Godís covenant.
  2. God claimed the land of Canaan for his inheritance.The Jews inhabited a land that belonged to Jehovah, and they believed that God would defend them in the land regardless of their disobedience to his commands.The prophet claimed that God could do with his land as he pleased, and he determined to give the land to Babylon, for a time.This forfeiture of the land was, of course, a judicial act of God toward the rebellious Jews.
  3. God chose Jerusalem as the residence of his glorious Temple.The Hebrews reasoned that Jerusalem would remain inviolate because of Godís decision to establish his presence there (in the Holy of Holies).The later portion of this section reveals that Jehovah was; indeed, ready to abandon the city and Temple.
  4. Made established his covenant with David. The Jews believed that Godís promises to David would guarantee the security of the throne, regardless of the ungodliness of Judahís kings. Ezekiel assured the Jews that God would sovereignly depose the royal house of Judah.†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (See Daniel Blockís commentary for a helpful treatment of these misconceptions).

 

I would add that God did not falter in his promises to Israel; rather, he fulfilled those promises in the person and work of Christ.

 

Outline of the Background Passage:

 

I.                    The Second ďLiving ParableĒ (4:1-17): Godís instructions to Ezekiel

A.     Lay a clay tablet (Hebrew word for brick) before you and draw a likeness of Jerusalem on it (4:1).

B.     Lay siege to the city you have drawn (4:2).

C.     Set an iron plate (perhaps a griddle or pan) as an iron wall between the prophet and the city (4: 3).

D.     Lie on your left side for 390 days to represent the number of years Israel had disobeyed God (4: 4-5).

E.      Lie on your right side for forty days to represent the number of years Judah had disobeyed God (4:6).

F.      Bear your arm and prophecy against Judah (4: 7).

G.     God pledged to bind Ezekiel with ropes until the siege was completed (4: 8).

H.     Ration bread and water for the duration of the siege (4: 9-11).

I.        Cook the bread over a fire of feces and dung (4: 12-17).

 

II.                 The Third ďLiving ParableĒ(5:1-17): Godís instructions to Ezekiel

A.     Shave your head and beard with a sharpened sword (5:1)

B.     Weigh and divide the hair into three equal portions (5: 2-3)

1.      Burn on third of the hair.

2.      Strike one third of the hair with a sword.

3.      Scatter one third of the hair in the wind.

4.      Bind a small portion of the hair in the hem of your garment.

C.     God explained the meaning of this oracle (5:4-17)

 

III.               Ezekiel Commanded to Prophecy Against Israel (6:1-7:27)

A.     God would bring utter desolation on Israel (6:1-7)

B.     The Lord promised to leave a remnant of Israelites (6: 8-10).

C.     God commanded Ezekiel to pound his fist and stamp his feet in anguish over the idolatrous abominations of Israel (6: 11-14).

D.     God would not have pity on Israel (7:1-9)

E.      The day of judgment was at hand (7:10-15)

F.      Israelís escape from judgment would prove impossible (7:16-19)

G.     God promised to give the beautiful ornaments, tokens of Israelís idol worship, to the hands of strangers (7:20-22)

H.     Ezekiel was commanded to make a chain to symbolize the impending slavery of Israel (7:23-27).

 

IV.              Ezekielís Vision of the Temple and the Throne of God (8:1-11:25)

A.     God took Ezekiel, in a vision, to the Temple in Jerusalem (8:1-4).

B.     God forced Ezekiel to look on the abominations of the people (8:5-6).The idol is called the ďimage of jealousyĒ because it provoked the jealousy of Jehovah.

C.     The Lord commanded Ezekiel to dig a hole through a wall to observe the concealed sins of Judahís religious leaders (8:8-12).

D.     God instructed Ezekiel to turn to see even more abominations (8:13-18).

E.      God carried out the sentence on the city (9:1-11).

1.      Six executioners appear (9:1-2a).

2.      A scribe appears with a full ink horn and is commanded to mark the heads of all who grieve for the abominations in Jerusalem (9:2b-4).

3.      God directed the executioners to destroy all of the city and its inhabitants (9:5-11).

F.      The glory of the Lord departed from the Temple (10:1-22)

1.      Godís righteous fires of judgment were scattered over Jerusalem (10:1-2).

2.      The glory of the Lord filled the Temple (10:3-17).

3.      The Lordís glory departed from the Temple (10:18-22)

G.     Judgment would not be final (11:1-25)

1.      The false teachers and leaders displeased the Lord (11:1-13).

2.      God planned to restore his children to the land of Israel (11:14-22).

3.      Ezekiel spoke all of these words to the captives in Babylon (11: 22-25).

 

 

Observations on the Lesson Passages:

 

  1. (Ezekiel 7:1-3):Very often, wicked men acknowledge that they deserve judgment, but they see the Lordís retribution as a distant, remote thing.They flatter themselves that they will repent before it is too late.Judgment often catches them off guard.The Savior compared his generation to the era of Noah (See Matthew 24: 36-44).Ezekiel highlighted the imminence of Godís judgment.
  2. (Ezekiel 7: 15-16):Ingenious people often believe that they can, through their own resourcefulness, escape the judgment of God.Surely, they reason, the Lord will bring his justice upon someone else.Ezekiel reminded the people that Godís judgment would find them.Calamity would fall on those in the cities and in the country.All would know the bitterness of his wrath.Some might believe that they could escape to the mountains, but God would find them there.
  3. (Ezekiel 7: 19-27):The people of Judah had placed their confidence in their wealth and idols, but, when the day of the Lord came, they saw the futility of their ways.The things they once had valued now seemed so worthless that the people would throw their possessions in the street.What good would gold and silver prove to them when disaster fell upon them?They had fashioned beautiful idols for themselves, but the religious ornaments would not help them in the hour of destruction.The people they admired and the institutions they treasured would be brought to ruin.The Hebrews built their lives on a value system that eventually failed them, like the man who built his house upon the sand (See Matthew 7: 24-27).

 

 

More than twenty five centuries have passed since the life of Ezekiel.In some ways, we live in a very different world than the Old Testament prophets.Some things, however, remain constant.The misery, corruption, and defilement of sin trouble modern man as much as any time in history.Technological advancement has not brought moral progress.Perhaps the sophistication of contemporary idolatry blinds modern man to his desperate spiritual condition; but, I see a great deal of relevance in this Old Testament book.

 

We have studied this week about the imminent judgment that loomed on Judahís horizon.Is the judgment of God any less imminent for sinners today?How great is our sin, and how foolishly does the natural man disregard the condition of his soul.The Lordís presence departed from Jerusalem in Ezekielís day, but few men seem to fear the abandonment of God today.Judicially, God has warned that he will leave men to their sin and its consequences if they do not repent of their sins and trust in Christ for salvation.The situation is desperate.†† Thankfully, God has offered eternal life and full pardon of sins through Christ.The Savior died for the sins of men, and he has risen from the dead that he might be a mighty and compassionate Savior for his people.Get a full and accurate view of the blackness of your sin and its consequences; then, look up from the darkness and behold the Light of the World.