BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
BIBLE STUDY LESSON
THE IDOLATRY OF ISRAEL’S LEADERS
(The certainty of the LORD’s judgment)
In Ezekiel chapter 14, the LORD, once again, visits Ezekiel at his home at the exact same time that the religious leaders of Israel were also paying him a visit. Here in verses 1-11, the LORD again warns HIS prophet of their wicked hearts, and their evil intentions and agenda.
False religious leaders, who have embraced many doctrines that have led them, both wittingly and unwittingly, out of the will of GOD, often consult true men of GOD, not seeking to know how they can get back in the good graces of the LORD, but rather, to find out if there is a “loophole” that they can get through, or establish (i.e. denominations), in order to get around doing the will of GOD exactly as HE commands.
Their success in these evil schemes requires them to be able to achieve their goals without exposing their ill-intentions and disobedience to the people that they are trying to deceive. They have literally convinced themselves that whatever things they decide to introduce into their churches (human ingenuity) will be okay with GOD. That’s how it was back then, and that is especially how it still is in religions today.
Here in this passage (Vs.1-8) GOD tells Ezekiel that;
"Son of man, these leaders have set up idols in their hearts. They have embraced things that lead them into sin. Why should I let them ask ME anything? Give them this message from the Sovereign LORD: I, the LORD, will punish the people of Israel who set up idols in their hearts so they fall into sin and then come to a prophet asking for help. I will do this to capture the minds and hearts of all MY people who have turned from ME to worship their detestable idols. "Therefore, give the people of Israel this message from the Sovereign LORD: Repent and turn away from your idols, and stop all your loathsome practices. I, the LORD, will punish all those, both Israelites and foreigners, who reject ME and set up idols in their hearts so they fall into sin, and who then come to a prophet asking for MY advice. I will turn against such people and make a terrible example of them, destroying them. Then you will know that I am the LORD” (NLT).
And so we see, while these leaders were sitting before Ezekiel, GOD informed his prophet of how they had already set up idols of other gods in their hearts, and by doing so, had automatically set up stumbling blocks to themselves, and, to the people of Israel. In fact, the idolatry of Jerusalem was now being displayed openly, even in the church house.
These hypocritical leaders were now coming to the “True GOD” for advice, while, at one and the same time, worshiping other gods in their hearts. Here, instead of giving them the information they requested and desired, GOD instructs Ezekiel to give them this more urgent information that they needed to know, so that they might, even at this late date, change their thinking.
GOD says HE will stand against false prophets and cut them off from the Christian community (v.9) in the last days, then and now, because GOD doesn’t change. What GOD expected of HIS people then, HE still expects from HIS people now. False prophets and hypocrites, who claim to want GOD’s advice, and in reality, only seek to use the knowledge for personal gain, will be punished for their sins (v.10). They will be used as an example to show others not to stray from GOD, polluting themselves with sin (v.11).
In verses 12-20 the LORD highlights the very four forms of punishment that HE was about to pour out on Judah, they are;
Here in this passage, GOD tells us that HE would no longer delay punishing the wicked for the sake of the righteous living among them. In fact HE says that, even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were living there, HE still wouldn’t spare Judah (Vs. 14, 16, 18, & 20). This, of course, is an allusion to the time of Abraham when he attempted to intercede for Sodom and Gomorrah and the wicked cities of the plains (Genesis 18).
That occasion in history introduced the thought that if only 10 righteous people could be found among them, GOD would spare those cities. Here, however, GOD leaves Judah with no such hope, as HE uses two of history’s most righteous men of the past (Noah and Job), and one who currently lived among them in Babylon (Daniel), as examples of GODly men who could not change Israel’s fate, because of their righteousness.
Here GOD is clearly stating that, HE will only spare those who are righteousness seekers, from judgment, and HE will, by no means, spare the wicked, for the sake of the righteous. GOD does, however, give the wicked more time to get right, because of the righteous people living among them, but ultimately, HE punishes those who are evil, as HE judges every man according to his own sins.
In Ezekiel 15, we see one of six Old Testament biblical analogies of “the vineyard” being used to depict “the moral degeneration of the human race” (the others are Psalm 80:8-18, Isaiah 5:1-7, Jeremiah 2:21, Ezekiel 19:10-14 & Hosea 10:1). These analogies represent the steady, persistent, continuing moral decline of mankind since the beginning of creation.
Here in verses 1-5, the LORD presents us a picture of mankind as being something that was once fruitful, but now, has died and become useless to GOD in the world. HE opens up this chapter by posing a series of questions to HIS prophet, Ezekiel;
“ Son of man, how does a grapevine compare to a tree? Is a vine’s wood as useful as the wood of a tree? Can its wood be used for making things, like pegs to hang up pots and pans? No, it can only be used for fuel, and even as fuel, it burns too quickly. Vines are useless both before and after being put into the fire!”
The LORD goes on to explain to Ezekiel that the people of Jerusalem are like grapevines growing among the trees of the forest, and since they have rendered themselves useless under GOD, by way of their sins, HE has set them aside to be burned like fuel. Even if they were able to escape from one fire, the LORD says, HE will cast them into another one. GOD was intent on desolating the land completely because of Israel’s sin, and leaving it to rest for 70 years, before starting all over again, just as HE had warned the nation, through HIS prophet, Jeremiah (Vs.6-8).
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website