BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday September 28, 2014
TWO MESSAGES OF COMING JUDGMENT
(The coming of the end)
In Ezekiel chapter 6 GOD tells the prophet Ezekiel to turn his head towards the mountains of Israel with hostile intentions, and warn them of the wrath that HE was about to bring upon HIS once beloved nation, Judah. The instrument of GOD’s judgment was now being sharply aimed at its intended target, ready to punish her for all of her idolatry, and the building of pagan shrines in the mountains, valleys, and ravines of Israel.
Instead of worshiping the only wise GOD in the temple at Jerusalem, the Israelites had permeated the land of Israel with all sorts of Canaanite religious practices, and was worshiping in the shrines, in “high places”, of false gods throughout the land. Ezekiel was told by GOD to address his message to the land, but by doing so, in truth, he was really focusing on the people’s immoral use of the land through their idol worship.
Here in Ezekiel 6, verses 4-7, GOD is making it known, just what HIS intentions were for the nation of Judah. Here HE says;
“All of your altars will be demolished, and your incense altars will be smashed. I will kill your people in front of your idols. I will lay your corpses in front of your idols and scatter your bones around your altars. Wherever you live will be in desolation. I will destroy your pagan shrines, your altars, your idols, your incense altars, and all the other religious objects you have made. Then when the place is littered with corpses, you will know that I am the LORD” (NLT).
In verses 8-10, just like in the New Testament book of Acts (Acts 8:1-4 & 18:1-2) GOD uses persecution and judgment to forcefully move HIS people around so that HIS Word may forcefully carried to every part of the world (Matthew 11:12). Here in this passage we see that those people, who receive GOD’s message in their heart, will become the remnant that will receive salvation because they are able to recover their lost faith.
But first, GOD will have to scatter this remnant to various parts of the world (the Jewish Diaspora) so that they will, through experiencing and chasing after idol gods, be reminded of the goodness of the only wise, true GOD. They will then long to return to HIM (repent), and hate themselves (humble themselves) for all of their unfaithfulness and wickedness toward their CREATOR. They will begin to speak, or preach, of GOD’s goodness wherever GOD has forcefully driven them to, and thus, the Gospel of GOD will be forcefully advanced all over creation.
In verses 11-14 GOD instructs Ezekiel to clap his hands and stamp his feet in horror, as a way to ironically express the actual joy that GOD HIMSELF feels whenever HE destroys idolatry, breaks down false god practices and strongholds, and purges sin from HIS greatest creation. However, GOD is always saddened whenever HIS people have to suffer HIS wrath because of their own doing. Ezekiel was to shout a mocking cry of derision that mimicked those who viewed Judah’s destruction from a human standpoint, rather than from a divine one. GOD was determined to purge Judah of her sin despite the terrible cost she would have to pay.
In Ezekiel 7, verses 1-13, another message from GOD comes to Ezekiel. And while this prophecy too, is directed toward Judah in the sixth century, it is also a message that comes to us, from across the spans of time, and it foreshadows a similar eschatological time at history’s end. Here, however, GOD is warning of the final destruction of Judah, which occurred in 586 B.C. GOD unleashed HIS anger upon Judah because of her disgusting behavior towards HIM. And HE showed them no pity, “repaying them” GOD says, for all of their evil.
With one blow after another (605, 597, & 586 B.C.), GOD brought total disaster and destruction upon Judah, completing HIS punishing assault for their detestable practices in a span of less than twenty-years. The day of final judgment did come however, and it came at a time when Israel’s wickedness had reached an all-time high, and their violence fell back on them just when pride and wickedness hit its climax.
This passage of Ezekiel tells us that all of Judah’s wealth was swept away (economic consequences), and both buyers and sellers could find no reason to rejoice over their sell, or, grieve over their losses. In other words, the buyer who normally would rejoice over his acquisition was not happy, because ultimately, he was not able to possess that which he had purchased. And the one who was forced to sell his possessions, did not grieve over them, because he would have lost his them anyway, due to the Babylonian takeover. No one person, whose life was twisted in sin, was ever able to recover his or her loss (v.13).
Here we are also reminded that, in that day, no human effort counted for much, and although Judah called upon her military to stem off the powerful Babylonians, all of their efforts were of non-effect. In fact, she was able to show very little resistance to Nebuchadnezzar, who had been called by GOD to punish the Israelites thoroughly for their spiritual rebellion against HIM.
Verses 17-20, gives us a sad and vivid description of the result of Israel’s response to GOD’s onslaught upon them. Here it tells us that the once powerful Israelite's “hands went limp” and “knees became weak as water”, and the only thing that they could do was to “lament their condition” and began throwing away their money like worthless trash, because they finally realized that their wealth could not save them. In fact, in verse 20 it says that they actually became disgusted with their wealth.
The vivid images of moral and material weaknesses that are seen here, remind us, and indeed, cautions us, of the deceptive impact, that, wealth has on sin. Those who allow themselves to become corrupted by wealth remain arrogant as long as everything is going well. However, when GOD’s judgment arrives, all things that, we once deemed powerful, suddenly becomes the picture, or personification, of utter weakness.
Over the next seven years, Ezekiel spoke several carefully dated prophesies concerning the judgment of Judah, however, after the final destruction of Judah in 586 B.C., Ezekiel fell silent for twelve years. After that period of silence, he resumed his ministry with a new and different message. It was a glowing announcement of GOD’s intention to restore Judah to her glory with the coming of a Messianic Kingdom at a much later date.
The book of Ezekiel will always remain as one of the most fascinating prophetic accounts in Scripture, simply because of the various unusual ways of which GOD commanded him to deliver HIS messages to the people of Israel while in Babylon. GOD’s use of Ezekiel with visions, symbols, and parables make his ministry unique in all of the annals of biblical history.
The message delivered by Ezekiel is based solely on the holiness of GOD, which, by the way, never changes. It serves as both, a warning, and a promise. It warns us that GOD will continue to punish evil, and it promises us that GOD will continue to remain faithful to HIS people. The book of Ezekiel exhibits how GOD’s unbreakable promises are fulfilled in both respects, as we see how the nation of Judah falls to Babylon, and, as we continue our studies through HIS Word, we see exactly how Judah was restored according to HIS promise (also see the books of Ezra and Nehemiah). However, we still have yet to realize the coming eschatological promise of the Millennial Kingdom of CHRIST JESUS that is also prophesied about in this book, and remains an invaluable element of motivation in the ideology of “The Christian Hope”.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website