Acting on Godís Word

Explore the Bible Series

June 19, 2005

 

Background Passage: Ezekiel 12:1-17:24

Lesson Passage: Ezekiel 12:17-28; 14:4-6

 

Introduction: The prophecies in this section occurred during the period between the second and third deportation. The Babylonians had already carried away thousands of exiles, but the destruction of Jerusalem did not take place for several years.The captives did not believe their situation was serious.Naively, they assumed that their deportation would soon end, and they would return to Judah.Jeremiah had warned them that their exile would last for many years, but they, of course, disregarded his prophecy.Ezekiel, following in Jeremiahís footsteps, reminded the Israelites of the intensity of Godís displeasure. The captivity would not pass quickly; rather, the exiles would remain in Babylon for seventy years.

 

This portion of the Prophecy of Ezekiel contains several oracles that, at first glance, seem to have no connection; however, they create a kind of thematic mosaic that centered on convincing the exiles of the serious of their situation.Some of the oracles appear as ďliving parables.ĒThese prophecies portray the prophet himself as an example to the exiles.This method of communication has become familiar to us in earlier studies (the clay tablet, the shaving and dividing of the prophetís hair, the cooking of the bread, and the prophet lying on his side.).Other of the oracles came in the form of straightforward preaching.Again and again, in this section, we will encounter the prophetís awareness that he was he was delivering the word of the Lord.††

 

Seven times, in our lesson material, the text includes words similar to these, ďÖ and you shall know that I am the Lord.ĒClearly, God had a gracious propose even in these solemn warnings.His dealings with Judah were meant to reveal something of his glorious character.In particular, the Lord unveiled his Lordship as the sovereign ruler of his people.More than this, he orchestrated the affairs of the kingdoms of the earth, and he wanted his people to understand that they must submit to his governance and worship him in lowliness of heart.God told Ezekiel to include these words to impress upon the people that their circumstances did not occur as happenstance or coincidence; rather, the Lord of Hosts worked all things after the counsel of his will.

 

As you study this section, also note the promises of mercy and reconciliation which God gave to his people.This time of chastening would give way to a glorious period of restoration, a restoration that would culminate in the fulfillment of the covenant promises in the person and work of Christ.In the Old Testament we see Christ in promises, shadows, and types.Thankfully, when we observe these promises and shadows through the lens of the New Testament, the glory of Christ is unmistakable.The darkness of judgment serves to intensify human awareness of their need of a savior, and the light of the Gospel shines brightest against the backdrop of Godís holiness and justice.

 

Outline of the Background Passage:

 

I.                    The ďLiving ParableĒ of Ezekielís Packing his Belongings for a Journey (12:1-16)††

A.     Ezekiel lived among a rebellious and insensitive people (vv. 1-2)

B.     Ezekiel ordered to pack his belongings (vv. 3-7)

C.     The peopleís inquiry concerning the meaning of Ezekielís action (vv. 8-9)

D.     A sign to the people (vv. 10-16)

 

II.                 Judgment Was Imminent (vv. 17-28)

A.     The ďLiving ParableĒ of Ezekiel shaking as he ate a meal (vv. 17-20)

1.      The command to eat bread and drink water while shaking with fear (vv. 17-18)

2.      Godís explanation of Ezekielís action (vv. 19-20)

B.     The insolence of the people (vv. 21-28)

1.      Their false proverb (vv. 21-22)

2.      God negated their proverb (vv. 23-28)

 

III.               A Prophecy Against the False Prophets of Judah (13:1-23)

A.     The source (ďout of their own heartĒ) of the preaching of the false prophets (vv. 1-3)

B.     The futility of the false prophets (vv. 4-16)

1.      The seduction of the ďpositiveĒ message of the false prophets (vv. 4-9)

2.      The ďplastered wallsĒ of Judah (vv. 10-14)

3.      Godís determination to flatten the ďplastered wallsĒ (vv. 15-16)

C.     Godís opposition to the women who proclaimed peace (vv. 17-23)

1.      The superstition of the women (vv. 17-19)

2.      Godís judgment on the women (vv. 20-23)

 

IV.              Godís Judgment on Those with a False Heart (14:1-23)

A.     False men inquired after the Lord (vv. 1-11)

1.      Their approach to Ezekiel (v.1)

2.      Godís recognition of their false motives (vv. 2-5)

B.     A call to repentance (vv. 6-11)

1.      Godís intolerance of a false heart (vv. 6-8)

2.      Godís prohibition of the prophet to satisfy to these false-hearted people (vv. 9-11)

C.     Godís opposition to a persistently unfaithful people (vv. 12-20)

1.      Godís hand of judgment (vv. 12-13)

2.      Even the presence of godly men would not avert judgment on Judah (vv. 14-20)

D.     The promise of the restoration of a remnant (vv. 21-23)

 

 

 

V.                 The Analogy of the Unworthy Vine (15:1-8)

A.     The worthlessness of the fruitless vine (vv. 1-5)

B.     Judah, the unworthy vine, given to the fires of judgment (vv. 6-8)

 

VI.              The Analogy of the Orphaned Child (16:1-63)

A.     Godís pity on the abandoned ďchildĒ (16:1-5)

B.     Godís nurture of the abandoned child (16:6-14)

1.      spread his garment (or wing) over her (vv. 6-8)

2.      washed her and anointed her with oil (v. 9)

3.      clothed her with the finest garments (vv. 10-14)

C.     The Harlotry of Jerusalem (vv. 15-43)

1.      soiled her beautiful garments with prostitution and gave her blessings to her lovers (vv. 15-22)

2.      offered herself to any lover who enticed her (vv. 23-30)

3.      her adultery worse than harlotry (vv. 31-34)

4.      her lovers turned against her (vv. 35-43)

†††† Note: This section reminds me of the story of Hosea and his adulterous wife Gomer. Perhaps a brief review of that material might enrich your understanding the imagery Ezekiel employed in this chapter.

D.     Judah worse than Samaria and Sodom (vv. 44-59)

1.      the adultery of Samaria (vv. 44-47)

2.      the adultery of Sodom (vv. 48-59)

E.      Godís remarkable mercy toward a sinful people (vv. 60-63)

1.      God remembered his covenant (v. 60)

2.      Godís mercy will bring humility and shame to his people (vv. 61-62)

3.      God promised to atone for the sins of his people (v. 63)

 

VII.            The Riddle of the Vine and the Eagle (17:1-24)

A.     The riddle posed (vv. 1-10)

1.      a great eagle and the cedar top taken from Lebanon (probably a reference to Babylon taking captive Jehoiachin and the people of Judah) (vv. 1-6)

2.      a second eagle takes the vine (probably a reference to Zedekiah) (vv. 7-10)

B.     The riddle explained (vv. 10-21)

C.     Godís promise of restoration (vv. 22-24)

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

 

Observations Concerning the Lesson Passage:

 

1.      God keeps his promises.Often, the Scriptures reveal promises that comfort and encourage the heart.God is rich in mercy, and he will remember his people. Every wise Christian should read, mark, and memorize the great promises of grace.These promises will strengthen our assurance and prepare us for the bliss of heaven.However, many of Godís promises should strike fear in the hearts of the wicked.God will keep his pledge of justice, and he will bring exact and perfect retribution upon those who have not fled to Christ for salvation.The people of Ezekielís day lightly regarded Godís promise of judgment (See 12:21-28).They composed a little proverb that mocked the promises of judgment (v. 22), but God warned that he would soon bring an end to their contempt for the divine promises.The delay of the hour of judgment was a mark of Godís great patience and kindness toward sinners; yet, these men saw Godís patience as weakness.

2.      Three times, in chapter twelve, God affirmed his sovereignty (See 12:15, 16, and 20).The hardheartedness of the people of Judah had blinded them to his lordship; nevertheless, at the appointed time, God pledged to reveal his divine prerogative and unimpeachable character.Even sinners would know that Jehovah was the Lord God.

3.      Idolatry is a matter of the heart (See 14:4-6).Perhaps modern Protestants place too much emphasis on the image itself, but Ezekiel implies that idolatry rises in the heart.As we see in this passage, even men who give pretense to seeking the counsel of the Lord may, in their hearts, bow to false gods.††