The Latter Major Prophets – Ezekiel 20-21

In the seventh year, in the fifth month on the tenth day, some of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the Lord, and they sat down in front of me.
Then the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, speak to the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Have you come to inquire of me?  As surely as I live, I will not let you inquire of me, declares the Sovereign Lord.’
“Will you judge them?  Will you judge them, son of man?  Then confront them with the detestable practices of their ancestors and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: On the day I chose Israel, I swore with uplifted hand to the descendants of Jacob and revealed myself to them in Egypt.  With uplifted hand I said to them, “I am the Lord your God.”  On that day I swore to them that I would bring them out of Egypt into a land I had searched out for them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most beautiful of all lands.  And I said to them, “Each of you, get rid of the vile images you have set your eyes on, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt.  I am the Lord your God.”
“‘But they rebelled against me and would not listen to me; they did not get rid of the vile images they had set their eyes on, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt.  So I said I would pour out my wrath on them and spend my anger against them in Egypt.  But for the sake of my name, I brought them out of Egypt.  I did it to keep my name from being profaned in the eyes of the nations among whom they lived and in whose sight I had revealed myself to the Israelites.  Therefore I led them out of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness.  I gave them my decrees and made known to them my laws, by which the person who obeys them will live.  Also I gave them my Sabbaths as a sign between us, so they would know that I the Lord made them holy.
“‘Yet the people of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness.  They did not follow my decrees but rejected my laws—by which the person who obeys them will live—and they utterly desecrated my Sabbaths.  So I said I would pour out my wrath on them and destroy them in the wilderness.  But for the sake of my name I did what would keep it from being profaned in the eyes of the nations in whose sight I had brought them out.  Also with uplifted hand I swore to them in the wilderness that I would not bring them into the land I had given them—a land flowing with milk and honey, the most beautiful of all lands — because they rejected my laws and did not follow my decrees and desecrated my Sabbaths.  For their hearts were devoted to their idols.  Yet I looked on them with pity and did not destroy them or put an end to them in the wilderness.  I said to their children in the wilderness, “Do not follow the statutes of your parents or keep their laws or defile yourselves with their idols.  I am the Lord your God; follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.  Keep my Sabbaths holy, that they may be a sign between us.  Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.”
“‘But the children rebelled against me: They did not follow my decrees, they were not careful to keep my laws, of which I said, “The person who obeys them will live by them,” and they desecrated my Sabbaths.  So I said I would pour out my wrath on them and spend my anger against them in the wilderness.  But I withheld my hand, and for the sake of my name I did what would keep it from being profaned in the eyes of the nations in whose sight I had brought them out.  Also with uplifted hand I swore to them in the wilderness that I would disperse them among the nations and scatter them through the countries, because they had not obeyed my laws but had rejected my decrees and desecrated my Sabbaths, and their eyes lusted after their parents’ idols.  So I gave them other statutes that were not good and laws through which they could not live; I defiled them through their gifts—the sacrifice of every firstborn—that I might fill them with horror so they would know that I am the Lord.’
“Therefore, son of man, speak to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: In this also your ancestors blasphemed me by being unfaithful to me: When I brought them into the land I had sworn to give them and they saw any high hill or any leafy tree, there they offered their sacrifices, made offerings that aroused my anger, presented their fragrant incense and poured out their drink offerings.  Then I said to them: What is this high place you go to?’”  (It is called Bamah to this day.)
“Therefore say to the Israelites: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Will you defile yourselves the way your ancestors did and lust after their vile images?  When you offer your gifts—the sacrifice of your children in the fire—you continue to defile yourselves with all your idols to this day.  Am I to let you inquire of me, you Israelites?  As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I will not let you inquire of me.
“‘You say, “We want to be like the nations, like the peoples of the world, who serve wood and stone.”  But what you have in mind will never happen.  As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I will reign over you with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with outpoured wrath.  I will bring you from the nations and gather you from the countries where you have been scattered—with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with outpoured wrath.  I will bring you into the wilderness of the nations and there, face to face, I will execute judgment upon you.  As I judged your ancestors in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will judge you, declares the Sovereign Lord.  I will take note of you as you pass under my rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant.  I will purge you of those who revolt and rebel against me.  Although I will bring them out of the land where they are living, yet they will not enter the land of Israel.  Then you will know that I am the Lord.
“‘As for you, people of Israel, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Go and serve your idols, every one of you!  But afterward you will surely listen to me and no longer profane my holy name with your gifts and idols.  For on my holy mountain, the high mountain of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord, there in the land all the people of Israel will serve me, and there I will accept them.  There I will require your offerings and your choice gifts, along with all your holy sacrifices.  I will accept you as fragrant incense when I bring you out from the nations and gather you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will be proved holy through you in the sight of the nations.  Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I bring you into the land of Israel, the land I had sworn with uplifted hand to give to your ancestors.  There you will remember your conduct and all the actions by which you have defiled yourselves, and you will loathe yourselves for all the evil you have done.  You will know that I am the Lord, when I deal with you for my name’s sake and not according to your evil ways and your corrupt practices, you people of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord.’”
The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, set your face toward the south; preach against the south and prophesy against the forest of the southland.  Say to the southern forest: ‘Hear the word of the Lord.  This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am about to set fire to you, and it will consume all your trees, both green and dry.  The blazing flame will not be quenched, and every face from south to north will be scorched by it.  Everyone will see that I the Lord have kindled it; it will not be quenched.’”
Then I said, “Sovereign Lord, they are saying of me, ‘Isn’t he just telling parables?’”

  • Ezekiel 20:1-49

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, set your face against Jerusalem and preach against the sanctuary.  Prophesy against the land of Israel and say to her: ‘This is what the Lord says: I am against you.  I will draw my sword from its sheath and cut off from you both the righteous and the wicked.  Because I am going to cut off the righteous and the wicked, my sword will be unsheathed against everyone from south to north.  Then all people will know that I the Lord have drawn my sword from its sheath; it will not return again.’
“Therefore groan, son of man!  Groan before them with broken heart and bitter grief.  And when they ask you, ‘Why are you groaning?’ you shall say, ‘Because of the news that is coming.  Every heart will melt with fear and every hand go limp; every spirit will become faint and every leg will be wet with urine.’  It is coming!  It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign Lord.”
The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy and say, ‘This is what the Lord says:
“‘A sword, a sword,
    sharpened and polished—
sharpened for the slaughter,
    polished to flash like lightning!
“‘Shall we rejoice in the scepter of my royal son?  The sword despises every such stick.
“‘The sword is appointed to be polished,
    to be grasped with the hand;
it is sharpened and polished,
    made ready for the hand of the slayer.
Cry out and wail, son of man,
    for it is against my people;
    it is against all the princes of Israel.
They are thrown to the sword
    along with my people.
Therefore beat your breast.
“‘Testing will surely come. And what if even the scepter, which the sword despises, does not continue? declares the Sovereign Lord.’
“So then, son of man, prophesy
    and strike your hands together.
Let the sword strike twice,
    even three times.
It is a sword for slaughter—
    a sword for great slaughter,
    closing in on them from every side.
So that hearts may melt with fear
    and the fallen be many,
I have stationed the sword for slaughter
    at all their gates.
Look! It is forged to strike like lightning,
    it is grasped for slaughter.
Slash to the right, you sword,
    then to the left,
    wherever your blade is turned.
I too will strike my hands together,
    and my wrath will subside.
I the Lord have spoken.”
The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, mark out two roads for the sword of the king of Babylon to take, both starting from the same country.  Make a signpost where the road branches off to the city.  Mark out one road for the sword to come against Rabbah of the Ammonites and another against Judah and fortified Jerusalem.  For the king of Babylon will stop at the fork in the road, at the junction of the two roads, to seek an omen: He will cast lots with arrows, he will consult his idols, he will examine the liver.  Into his right hand will come the lot for Jerusalem, where he is to set up battering rams, to give the command to slaughter, to sound the battle cry, to set battering rams against the gates, to build a ramp and to erect siege works.  It will seem like a false omen to those who have sworn allegiance to him, but he will remind them of their guilt and take them captive.
“Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘Because you people have brought to mind your guilt by your open rebellion, revealing your sins in all that you do—because you have done this, you will be taken captive.
“‘You profane and wicked prince of Israel, whose day has come, whose time of punishment has reached its climax, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Take off the turban, remove the crown.  It will not be as it was: The lowly will be exalted and the exalted will be brought low.  A ruin!  A ruin!  I will make it a ruin!  The crown will not be restored until he to whom it rightfully belongs shall come; to him I will give it.’
“And you, son of man, prophesy and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says about the Ammonites and their insults:
“‘A sword, a sword,
    drawn for the slaughter,
polished to consume
    and to flash like lightning!
Despite false visions concerning you
    and lying divinations about you,
it will be laid on the necks
    of the wicked who are to be slain,
whose day has come,
    whose time of punishment has reached its climax.
“‘Let the sword return to its sheath.
    In the place where you were created,
in the land of your ancestry,
    I will judge you.
I will pour out my wrath on you
    and breathe out my fiery anger against you;
I will deliver you into the hands of brutal men,
    men skilled in destruction.
You will be fuel for the fire,
    your blood will be shed in your land,
you will be remembered no more;
    for I the Lord have spoken.’”

  • Ezekiel 21:1-32

Noted Biblical Scholars, Teachers, and Preachers Comments

Ezekiel 20 ‘introduction’: “In one chapter, the Lord gives a concise history of the nation of Israel and her rebellion against Him.  Ezekiel 20 summarizes in 44 verses what is described through the books of Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, I and 2 Samuel, and J and 2 Kings.  It will be a long chapter to study, but it will be a short study compared to reading or studying the history described in the books just mentioned!
“The last mention of a date was in Ezekiel 8:1, which stated that Ezekiel was in his house on the fifth day of the month, in the sixth month, in the sixth year (of his captivity), and received the Word of the Lord at that time.  The date given in Ezekiel 20:1 is approximately eleven months later, according to the scholars who can understand the various ancient calendars of the times!  According to the Thomas Nelson Study Bible footnotes, this new date was at a point in time when King Zedekiah, on the throne in Jerusalem, made an alignment with Egypt against Babylon in hopes of deliverance from Nebuchadnezzar’s attacks.  It seems that the elders who came to Ezekiel wanted a divine explanation of the current events.  The Lord gave them an explanation, but it wasn’t what they wanted to hear.”

  • Elizabeth Bagwell Ficken, that you may know the Lord, an in-depth study of Ezekiel
  • For more information go to https://elizabethficken.com

Ezekiel 20:3-44 ‘elders … come to inquire’: “Cf. the similarity in 14:1—3.  The prophet responds with a message from the Lord that gives a historical survey of Israel, featuring its uniform pattern of sin.  Israel rebelled in Egypt (vv. 5-9), then in the wilderness trek (vv. 10-26), and the entry into the land of promise (vv. 27-32).  Through all this, God kept delivering them to save His reputation (vv. 9, 14, 22).  Yet, sinful obstinacy finally led to His judging them (vv. 45-49).  Verses 33-44 speak of His regathering Israel to their land in the future time of Christ’s Second Advent.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Ezekiel 20:5-10 ‘Egypt’: “Verses 5-29 are about the detestable practices of the exiles’ fathers.  This section is presented in four subunits.  The first is verses 5-10 and covers the fathers in Egypt.  Although chosen by God, the people still rebelled and held onto their images.  Only for the sake of his reputation is the Lord restrained from destroying them.”

  • Walter A. Elwell, editor, Baker Commentary on the Bible

Ezekiel 20:11-17 ‘Wilderness’: “The second subunit (vv. 11-17) covers the first wilderness generation.  To these God gave his decrees and laws.  But rebellion, started in Egypt, persists in the wilderness.  Again, for his name’s sake God does not destroy them, but he disallows entry into the Promised Land.  Their children will be spared.”

  • Walter A. Elwell, editor, Baker Commentary on the Bible

Ezekiel 20:18-26 ‘Children in the Wilderness’: “The third subunit (vv. 18-26) covers the second wilderness generation.  It is much like the preceding.  Guidelines are given, but rejected.  God’s reputation restrains him a third time.  What is novel here is the promise of exile, which is surprising given the fact that the people have not even entered the land.  Also novel, and perhaps mysterious, is that God will mislead the people into sin by replacing genuine laws with statutes that are not good and laws they cannot live by (v. 25).”

  • Walter A. Elwell, editor, Baker Commentary on the Bible

Ezekiel 20:27-29 ‘Occupying the Promised Land’: “The fourth subunit is verses 27-29.  The people have moved beyond Egypt (subunit 1) and the wilderness (subunits 2-3), and are now settled in the land of Canaan.  Particularly they are charged with worshiping at high places (Barnah means “high place”).  They imitate the Canaanites and other Gentile nations in their worship.”

  • Walter A. Elwell, editor, Baker Commentary on the Bible

Ezekiel 20:30-32 ‘present day in Ezekiel’s time’: “From a survey of the past Ezekiel shifts to the present, but only for three brief verses (vv. 30-32).  Here he addresses his immediate audience.  That generation continues in the way of its fathers, and therefore they will not get a response from God any more than their forefathers.  To be informed that God is not available, that he disallows the seeking of his face, is reflective of the miserably unregenerate state of the people.”

  • Walter A. Elwell, editor, Baker Commentary on the Bible

Ezekiel 20:33-44 ‘Gathering the Remnant’: “In this text a time of judicial deliverance is predicted through the figure of the Lord’s ‘mighty hand and outstretched arm.’  This divine intervention will result in Gods theocratic rule being reestablished over Israel (verse 33; cf. Jeremiah 33:14-18). The process of reestablishing theocratic rule begins with a regathered remnant of Israel being brought to national repentance and restoration (verses 34-38) and the rebuilding of the temple on the Temple Mount and the restoring of the sacrificial service (verses 39-40).  The reason for God’s restored rule over a restored Israel is two-fold: 1) as a witness to Israel and the nations of God’s sovereignty (verses 38,41-42; cf. Isaiah 12; Ezekiel 36:16-38; 37:15-28), and 2) to give Israel grounds for glorifying God’s grace throughout the age of the millennial kingdom (verse 44; cf. Isaiah 25-26).”

  • Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson, Exploring Bible Prophecy from Genesis to Revelation (quoted Greek without bold/italics)

Ezekiel 20:34 ‘from 2 Corinthians’: “Paul alludes to this in 2 Corinthians 6:17.  God will someday rule over Israel in the glorious kingdom of Messiah, after the people have repented and been saved (cf. Zech. 12-14).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Ezekiel 20:35 ‘Wilderness of the peoples?’: “Other lands where the scattered people of Israel live are pictured as a wilderness in which the Jews will suffer.  This is analogous to God’s bringing His people from Egypt through the wilderness long ago, before thrusting them into the Promised Land (v. 36).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Ezekiel 20:37 ‘pass under the rod’: “God used a shepherd figure, being apt since He was their great Shepherd (34:11—13; Jer. 23:5-8).  As a Shepherd, God brings His sheep home to their fold (cf. Jer. 33:13), has them file in, and separates sheep from goats (cf. Matt. 25), passing under His shepherd’s rod to be noted and checked for injury.  He will bring them into the bond of the New Covenant by giving them His Spirit with life (36:24—27; 37:14; 39:29).  This is lsrael’s final salvation (Rom. 11:26-33).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Ezekiel 20:41 ‘’: “God does not cease to observe the sins of his people.  As the eyes of Moses never grew dim, so the eyes of God do not grow dim with regard to the sins of his chosen.  He looks down from heaven and sees their wanderings, the hardness of their hearts, the stubbornness of their will, their daily and continual violations of his statutes and commands.  Mercy has some other source than that of laxness in the memory of God.  He knows the sins of humanity, and he hates the sins of his people just as much as the sins of other people.  He freely pardons those he reserves.  He casts their sins behind his back and forgets their iniquity.  He blots out their transgression like a cloud and their iniquities like a thick cloud.  He has a time to chasten, but he has also a set time to bless.  He afflicts, but he does not afflict from the heart; and when he turns in a way of grace to his people, he then seems to be flying on the wings of the wind.  Then he comes with all his soul, most heartily and richly to display his favor and his love toward the objects of his choice.  One would have thought the persons described in this chapter never would have been acceptable to God.  They had so thoroughly defiled themselves and after so many trials had been so desperately incorrigible that one would have supposed the chapter would have concluded with thunderbolts of vengeance and a terrible voice condemning them to be driven forever from face of the Most High.  Instead of this it concludes with mercy.  The trumpet ceases its loud swell, and the melodious tone of the harp is heard in gentle notes of melody.  The thunder and the lightning are over, the storm is past, and the still small voice in refreshing calm proclaims the infinite pardon that proceeds from a tender Father’s heart.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from his sermon notes

Ezekiel 20:46-58 ‘preach against the south’: “The south is Palestine, particularly Judah, usually invaded from the north.  Though Babylonia was to the east (19:12), its army would swing west toward the Mediterranean Sea and then come south out of the north to invade Judah.  The invader (Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C.) will overwhelm the land as a sweeping fire (cf. 15:1—8; 19:12; Zech. 11:1—3), devouring trees indiscriminately, green or dry (cf. 21:3, 4).  Palestine had much more forest in biblical times.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Ezekiel 20:49 ‘back to the elders…’: “This demonstrates the elders’ (v. 1) refusal to comprehend Ezekiel’s clear message.  To the unwilling heart, there was no understanding.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Ezekiel 21 ‘introduction’: “While the account of Nebuchadnezzar’s superstitious actions is not recorded in the Scriptures, history itself agrees with the truth of the Word of the Lord.  Nebuchadnezzar first attacked Jerusalem according to the direction from his oracles, then turned to attack Ammon. (Ezekiel 21:22, 28)
“The nation of Israel was clearly not to use divination, sorcery, or witchcraft for any reason; but consulting something or someone other than the Lord has been a common practice from the earliest days of mankind.  The Lord is not helpless against the spiritual wickedness involved in occultic activities; instead, He is completely able to control the outcome of such divinations to suit His sovereign will.
“We believers are to seek the Lord and His will, and He has already provided answers to our questions through His written word.  ‘A sword!  A sword sharpened and also polished!’  When the Israelites didn’t obey the Word of the Lord, He used a sword to punish. correct, and lead them to repentance.  He also uses a sword in our lives today.
“The sword of the Lord, whether wielded as a weapon of slaughter or as an instrument of instruction, is ultimately for the good of man and the glory of the Lord.
“This chapter of the book of Ezekiel dramatically describes the coming slaughter of the Israelites through the sword of Nebuchadnezzar.  It also describes the judgment that the country of Ammon will receive through the sword of Nebuchadnezzar because it sided with Babylon against Israel.  And in this chapter, Ezekiel himself is commanded to react dramatically to the prophecy.”

  • Elizabeth Bagwell Ficken, that you may know the Lord, an in-depth study of Ezekiel
  • For more information go to https://elizabethficken.com

Ezekiel 21:1-7 ‘the word … came’: “This is the sign of the sword against Jerusalem (vv. 1-17).  God depicts His judgment in terms of man unsheathing his polished sword for deadly thrusts.  God is the swordsman (vv. 3, 4), but Babylon is His sword (v. 19).  The historical background for this prophecy is Nebuchadnezzar’s 588 B.C. campaign to quell revolts in Judah, as well as Tyre and Ammon.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Ezekiel 21 ‘summary’: “Both Ezekiel and Jeremiah expressed extreme grief – Ezekiel on behalf of the destruction coming to Israel and Jeremiah on behalf of the sins of Israel.  There was a time when Israel could have repented with grief for her sins and could have turned to the Lord, and could have been restored to Him.  But she did not.
“Throughout this book of prophecy, we have seen the foretelling of certain judgment on the people of Israel because of their disobedience to the Lord.  The judgment of the Lord would cause the people to repent, to know the Lord as their God and to have a personal relationship with Him.  The same call is given to us today, for the times when we have strayed from the way of the Lord.”

  • Elizabeth Bagwell Ficken, that you may know the Lord, an in-depth study of Ezekiel
  • For more information go to https://elizabethficken.com

My Thoughts

The leaders of Israel visited Ezekiel before, and it did not go well.  Now they return and they get a history lesson, but basically the same message.  The people of Israel have chased idols and false gods from the beginning.

The concept of God sticking with His people due to protecting His reputation is that God is God.  He is Holy.  He is slow to anger.  Thus, hundred of years of His chosen people doing all the wrong things means that He loved them and stayed true to His word, but also the eventual punishment was part of His word.  Thus, God remains true to Himself in punishing His people, and for their own good, so that they will know that God is God, and they need to repent.

Then God will gather together the Israelites from where they have been scattered.  And they will know that God is God.

The end of Ezekiel 20 is really the introduction to the parable in Ezekiel 21.  Ezekiel laments that the leaders of Israel are thinking that he is just speaking in parables.  He then gives the parable of the sword.  He eventually speaks of the sword finding resting in the hands of the One who is worthy, meaning Jesus.  But the sword, Babylon in the short term, is there for slaughter.

Could the leaders now understand what these parables all mean, that Judah, the nation, will be burned to the ground?  The people will be put to the sword.

In this description of Babylon attacking Judah first and then Ammon, Ezekiel mentions battering rams and a combination of ramps and siege works.  Battering rams are fairly simple.  Take a large tree with the limbs removed.  Have men on either side holding it and they ram it against the city gates until the gates collapse.  But while the men are ramming the gates, the people on top of the wall could take flaming oil and pour it on their heads.  Having catapults to throw large rocks and archers to fire arrows could provide a means to keep people away from the walls.  But the siege works are usually towers on wheels.  You could have stairs going up the tower, but if your built a ramp up to the top of the siege works, you could get more soldiers over the top of the wall faster.  With the siege works on wheels, you can bring more soldiers to the front faster and possibly simply open the gates from the inside.  The same defenses can be used against the siege works.  The siege works, however, stay far enough back until they are ready.  They are rolled forward and with lightning speed, the soldiers ascend, but as time goes on, the defenders will run out of oil for their fire and they will be defenseless.  Yet, there is possibly the most cruel method of getting “over” the wall.  You wait.  Countless stories of sieges end with people eating other people or the rats that they can find.  And their water runs short eventually.  People starve, having their supplies cut off from them.

A sword!  A sword!  The people of Jerusalem will die by the sword, or they will wish they had died.  God’s punishment is spelled out in Ezekiel 21.  Will the parable of the Sword be clear enough to be understood?

Some Serendipitous Reflections

“1. Why do you think God is so concerned for his name or reputation?  How is God’s name dragged through the mud every time his people rebel?
“2. If a later generation of believers only had stories of your experience with God to go by, would they say your life story enhances, or would they say your life story detracts, from God’s reputation?  How so?
“3. Do you think God minds as much now, as he did in the Old Testament era, if we do not ‘keep the Sabbath holy’?  Why or why not’?
“1. What do you learn from this passage about God‘s character and plan of salvation?  About God’s permissive will and his perfect will’?
“2. How do you think God’s mercy and his wrath work together toward the same purpose?  Do you see them working together for good in your particular generation?  How so?
“3. Which could you use more of now: God’s “carrot” or “stick”?  Why?
“1. What was God’s purpose in this warning?  In the NT, what is the ‘unquenchable (or eternal) fire’ (see Lk 3:17; Mt 25:41)?
“2. Do you ignore or concentrate on the bad news God has for our culture?  How will you survive God‘s ‘scorched earth’ policy?
“1. What do you think of God’s ‘sword dance’?  Was this an effective way to get his point across?  How so?
“2. God controlled the military and political destiny of Babylon and Israel.  Do you think he is as involved with today’s nations?  What evidence do you have for your answer: Any events from modern history?  Or current events?  What nations do you think will get it in the neck somewhere down the road?
“3. Have you ever experienced a punishment from God?  Or are you hoping God’s sword took the other turn at the fork in the road, never to return your way again?  What is your basis for hoping that?
“4. God’s Word still cuts ‘sharper than any double-edged sword’ (Heb 4:12-13), even though it hurts him to do so, as well as us.  How do you account for that ambivalence in God?  How does he want you to respond to his ‘sword’?  How did you respond the last time?
“5. Are you responsible for training or supervising others at home or work?  What ‘sword’ (pen or tongue) do you wield in your correction of them?  How do you feel when you do this?  What would likely happen if you kept your sword always in its scabbard?”

  • Lyman Coleman, et al, The NIV Serendipity Bible for Study Groups

There are three sets of questions for Ezekiel 20 and one set for Ezekiel 21.

In the last set of questions, on Ezekiel 21, question 3 speaks of punishment, but God has removed our sins from His sight – nothing left to “punish.”  Yet, God redirects our activities and priorities at times in a way that may feel like punishment – doors shut, but other doors open.  So, this might expand upon the “punishment discussion.”

The last question 4 uses the word “ambivalence.”  Ambivalence is a human characteristic where we can feel to a degree to have opposing, or contradictory, feelings about something.  Often seen as a negative characteristic.  In this case, God punishes His chosen people and withholds mercy, and He does so out of love to correct them and get them back on the right path.  When we question God’s ambivalence, we are, in a way, judging that God contradicts Himself.  When we punish our children, even though we hurt and the children hurt, that does not mean that we no longer love them.  We punish because we love them.  We simply do not like their behavior at that moment.  If we can overcome that “contradiction” with our sin nature at play within us, can we not understand even more a holy God administering love and punishment?  Regardless of how we treat any subject, God’s way is with Holiness, and that is, at times, something that we may not be able to fathom.

If you like these Thursday morning Bible studies, but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Thursday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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  1. I hope sometime to follow through on one of your Bible studies. Be bless as you consume and pass on the word of the Lord.

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