You can find a one-year Bible reading plan here.
It is a familiar prophetic refrain: judgment against Jerusalem and judgment against the nations. Ezekiel picks up that torch and carries it all the way. Fortunately, judgment was only half of God’s plan. We know from Chapter 11 that God also planned restoration.
“I will gather you from the nations and bring you back from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you back the land of Israel again. They will return to it and remove all its vile images and detestable idols. I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose hearts are devoted to their vile images and detestable idols, I will bring down on their own heads what they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord.” Ezekiel 11:17-21
But judgment comes first. Ezekiel records a long list of Israel’s sins. Jerusalem is the abandoned, adopted baby girl who is unfaithful to her loving parent. Her kings are young lions that are carried away, first to Egypt and later to Babylon, because of the sins of the nation and their own rebellion. Though Jerusalem complains that she is suffering for the sins of her ancestors, God makes it clear that each person suffers for their own transgressions and will be judged accordingly. The repeated sin of Israel and Judah, portrayed as two sisters, is their spiritual prostitution exemplified by their idolatry and by their alliances with pagan nations. The sins of the nation are so great that the exiles are forbidden to mourn for the Jerusalem and its people. God makes this clear to them by forbidding Ezekiel to mourn for his wife when she dies.
You can read these illustrations and easily write off the condemnations as meant for someone long ago and far away. But the history of Israel’s idolatry is meant to teach us at least two important truths:
- No human being or nation, except for the God-man Jesus Christ, has succeeded in keeping covenant with God by obeying the Law. Only grace offers us hope.
- Even modern day believers perform spiritual prostitution when they put God below greater loves of power, pleasure, or possessions, or seek their security in any other place than God’s grace.
God’s judgment doesn’t stop with the Israelites but reaches all the nations that have interacted with them. Israel was judged for failing to keep the covenant. The pagan nations are condemned for their pride, cruelty, and so that they will know God. Finally, in Chapter 33, Ezekiel and his fellow exiles receive the message from an escapee that Jerusalem has fallen. Once again God’s word is proven true, and both we and the exiles learn that God’s promises are trustworthy.
About this blog
During 2020 I plan to post weekly writings covering the material you would read during each week as you proceed from Genesis to Revelation in one year. And so for this week I have covered Ezekiel 16 – 33. Next week I will write about Ezekiel 34 – Daniel 6. I hope you will continue along with me. You can find daily posts about these chapters archived here on the Bible in a Year blog. For your convenience here are the previous posts covering Ezekiel 16 – 33.
God’s Old Testament Love: Ezekiel 16
You can’t blame others for your sins: Ezekiel 18
No one stood in the gap: Ezekiel 22
Adultery and anger: Ezekiel 23
A great ship sinks: Ezekiel 27
Ezekiel 28: A prideful king, or Satan?