Ezekiel 22-24

Thursday Evening Bible Study

October 6, 2005

Ezekiel 22

:1-16 Sins of Jerusalem

:1 Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

:2 "Now, son of man, will you judge, will you judge the bloody city? Yes, show her all her abominations!

:3-16 …

… Ezekiel is told to list all the sins of Jerusalem, and that the scattering of the people would be a result of their sins which included …

The leaders have had people killed (vs. 6)

Parents are dishonored.  Foreigners are oppressed.  The weak are taken advantage of. (vs. 7)

No reverence for God, for the Temple, or for the Sabbath (vs. 8)

Telling lies to have people killed.  Eating food sacrificed to other gods on the mountains. (vs. 9)

Sexual sins including incest (vs. 10-11)

Hiring people for murder, charging interest on loans, extortion, forgetting God. (vs. 12)

:17-22 In the furnace

:17 The word of the LORD came to me, saying,

:18 "Son of man, the house of Israel has become dross to Me; they are all bronze, tin, iron, and lead, in the midst of a furnace; they have become dross from silver.

:19 "Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: 'Because you have all become dross, therefore behold, I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem.

Dross – the impurities found in metal ore.

:20 'As men gather silver, bronze, iron, lead, and tin into the midst of a furnace, to blow fire on it, to melt it; so I will gather you in My anger and in My fury, and I will leave you there and melt you.

:21 'Yes, I will gather you and blow on you with the fire of My wrath, and you shall be melted in its midst.

:22 'As silver is melted in the midst of a furnace, so shall you be melted in its midst; then you shall know that I, the LORD, have poured out My fury on you.'"

Lesson

Purifying in trials

(1 Pet 1:6-7 NKJV)  In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, {7} that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,
The metal smith doesn’t destroy the metal by putting it in the fire, he purifies it.  The metal is melted down into a liquid state.  The impurities come to the surface where they are skimmed off.  It is said that a goldsmith knows when the gold is pure when he can see his reflection in the liquid metal.
Illustration
In the pictures of the ancient Roman method of threshing grain, one man is always seen stirring up the sheaves while another rides over them in a crude cart equipped with rollers instead of wheels. Sharp stones and rough bits of iron were attached to these cylinders to help separate the husks from the grain.  This simple cart was called a tribulum—from which we get our word “tribulation.”  When great affliction comes to us, we often think of ourselves as being torn to pieces under the cruel pressures of adverse circumstances. Yet the thresher didn’t ride his tribulum to destroy the grain, only to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Nobody likes trials.  We dread trials.  But sometimes they aren’t as bad and evil as they seem.
Illustration

Dr. Glenn Olds, former President of Kent State University, recalled the sight of Mt. Rushmore as he hitch-hiked cross-country in 1941 during his junior year.  From 10 miles back, he recognized Washington and Lincoln.  But in the middle was a figure that looked like Adolf Hitler.  Once close, instead of hair combed over a forehead, the young man saw guy wires, instead of a moustache, he saw scaffolding.  The image stuck, and he made a note in his journal.

“What was Adolf Hitler at 10 miles away was Thomas Jefferson under construction,” he said.  The experience became a parable: “Almost every major problem at a distance looks bad.  When you get up close, you can see it’s something terribly important under construction.

:23-31 Wicked Leaders

The next section deals with the judgment on the leaders of the nation.  You could develop a list of what God desires for leaders by listing everything these people didn’t do.

:23 And the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

:24 "Son of man, say to her: 'You are a land that is not cleansed or rained on in the day of indignation.'

:25 "The conspiracy of her prophets in her midst is like a roaring lion tearing the prey; they have devoured people; they have taken treasure and precious things; they have made many widows in her midst.

The prophets were rough on the people like roaring lions.

(Prov 28:15 NKJV)  Like a roaring lion and a charging bear Is a wicked ruler over poor people.

(1 Pet 5:8 NKJV)  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

It’s not good when the people that are supposed to be speaking for God are sounding like Satan.

:26 "Her priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished between the holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them.

Priests are supposed to be “holy”, set apart especially for God’s use.  Yet the priests didn’t know how to tell the difference between what was holy and what was unholy.

:27 "Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, to shed blood, to destroy people, and to get dishonest gain.

The leaders were destroying the flock

Ezekiel will write later about how the leaders were abusing their positions, hurting the flock instead of helping it.

(Ezek 34:3 NKJV)  "You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock.

Jesus said,

(Mat 7:15 NKJV)  "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.

And yet Jesus told us what a good shepherd would do:

(John 10:11 NKJV)  "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.

Peter tells leaders how they should act:

(1 Pet 5:2-3 NKJV)  Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; {3} nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock;

:28 "Her prophets plastered them with untempered mortar, seeing false visions, and divining lies for them, saying, 'Thus says the Lord GOD,' when the LORD had not spoken.

The prophets should have been building up the people, but they used inferior materials.

Instead of using cement in building a wall, they just used whitewash – something that doesn’t strengthen anything.

:29 "The people of the land have used oppressions, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger.

:30 "So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.

:31 "Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; and I have recompensed their deeds on their own heads," says the Lord GOD.

Lesson

In the gap (vs. 30)

Leaders, the princes, priests, and prophets were supposed to be standing in the gap between the people and God.
In Ezekiel’s day, God found no one to stand in the gap.
How can a person “stand in the gap” between God and people?
1.  Speaking the truth from God to the people through witnessing and sharing God’s Word.

Paul said to the Ephesian elders:

(Acts 20:27 NKJV)  "For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.

2. Speaking to God for the people through prayer.

Samuel said to the nation of Israel:

(1 Sam 12:23 NKJV)  "Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way.

You see a picture of this happening with Aaron the high priest.  The people had been led into a rebellion by a man named Korah.  And God allowed plague to fall on the people in response to their rebellion:
(Num 16:44-48 NKJV)  And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, {45} "Get away from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment." And they fell on their faces. {46} So Moses said to Aaron, "Take a censer and put fire in it from the altar, put incense on it, and take it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them; for wrath has gone out from the LORD. The plague has begun." {47} Then Aaron took it as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the assembly; and already the plague had begun among the people. So he put in the incense and made atonement for the people. {48} And he stood between the dead and the living; so the plague was stopped.

Incense is tied very closely to prayer.  Aaron came to “intercede” for the people, to “stand in the gap” between them and God.  And the plague was stopped.

Are there people you need to be standing in the gap for?  I kind of get the idea that it’s not “nice people” that we stand in the gap for, but the rebellious ones.  Will you pray for mercy?  Will you speak for God?

Ezekiel 23

:1-4  Two Prostitute sisters

:1 The word of the LORD came again to me, saying:

:2 "Son of man, there were two women, The daughters of one mother.

:3 They committed harlotry in Egypt, They committed harlotry in their youth; Their breasts were there embraced, Their virgin bosom was there pressed.

:4 Their names: Oholah the elder and Oholibah her sister; They were Mine, And they bore sons and daughters. As for their names, Samaria is Oholah, and Jerusalem is Oholibah.

Oholah‘Oholah – “her own tent”

Oholibah‘Oholiybah – “woman of the tent” or “the tent is in her”

Ezekiel is going to be told a “parable”.  He’s going to be told a story that has symbolism, in order to teach a truth.

Samaria was the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel.

Jerusalem was the capital of the southern kingdom of Judah.

The idea is that all of the Jews learned their “harlotry”, their worship of idols, from Egypt.

:5-10 Samaria

:5-10 "Oholah played the harlot even though she was Mine; And she lusted for her lovers, the neighboring Assyrians …

The Assyrians were the rulers of the world before the Babylonians, roughly between 1100 BC and 700 BC.  They destroyed the northern kingdom of Samaria in 722 BC.

The parable goes on to explain how Oholah (Samaria) committed adultery with the Assyrians and was judged for it.  Samaria was destroyed by the Assyrians in 722 BC.

:11-21 Jerusalem

:11 "Now although her sister Oholibah saw this, she became more corrupt in her lust than she, and in her harlotry more corrupt than her sister's harlotry.

Jerusalem saw what had happened to the northern kingdom, yet they still went down the same road.

:12 "She lusted for the neighboring Assyrians, Captains and rulers, Clothed most gorgeously, Horsemen riding on horses, All of them desirable young men.

:13 Then I saw that she was defiled; Both took the same way.

:14 But she increased her harlotry; She looked at men portrayed on the wall, Images of Chaldeans portrayed in vermilion,

vermilionshashar – red color, vermilion

:15 Girded with belts around their waists, Flowing turbans on their heads, All of them looking like captains, In the manner of the Babylonians of Chaldea, The land of their nativity.

Lesson

The eye gate

Their lusting after the Babylonians started with the pictures on the walls.
Sometimes temptation gets stirred up by what comes through the eyes:
Eve’s temptation involved looking at the fruit of the tree.

(Gen 3:6 NKJV)  So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.

One aspect of the “world” and it’s temptations to lead us away from God involves our eyes:

(1 John 2:16 NKJV)  For all that is in the world; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; is not of the Father but is of the world.

Job had a good idea:
(Job 31:1 NKJV)  "I have made a covenant with my eyes; Why then should I look upon a young woman?

I wonder how much trouble we could avoid if we exercised a little more control over the things we expose our eyes to?

Be careful little eyes what you see.

:16 As soon as her eyes saw them, She lusted for them And sent messengers to them in Chaldea.

:17 "Then the Babylonians came to her, into the bed of love, And they defiled her with their immorality; So she was defiled by them, and alienated herself from them.

Politicians use the phrase “get into bed with” to talk about political alliances.  This is describing a political and spiritual alliance between Judah and Babylon.

:18-21

… continues to talk about Jerusalem acting like a prostitute …

:22-35 Jerusalem to be judged

:22 "Therefore, Oholibah, thus says the Lord GOD: 'Behold, I will stir up your lovers against you, From whom you have alienated yourself, And I will bring them against you from every side:

:23 The Babylonians, All the Chaldeans, Pekod, Shoa, Koa, All the Assyrians with them, All of them desirable young men, Governors and rulers, Captains and men of renown, All of them riding on horses.

Pekod[email protected] – “visitation”

ShoaShowa‘– “rich”

KoaQowa‘– “he-camel”

These are all tribes that were a part of the Babylonian kingdom.

:24 And they shall come against you With chariots, wagons, and war-horses, With a horde of people. They shall array against you Buckler, shield, and helmet all around. 'I will delegate judgment to them, And they shall judge you according to their judgments.

:25 I will set My jealousy against you, And they shall deal furiously with you; They shall remove your nose and your ears, And your remnant shall fall by the sword; They shall take your sons and your daughters, And your remnant shall be devoured by fire.

They shall remove your nose and your ears – gross!!

:26-30 …

… talks about how the harlot would be stripped naked …

:31-35 'You have walked in the way of your sister; therefore I will put her cup in your hand.' …

Because you followed the example of the northern kingdom, you’ll get what they got.

:36-49 The sins of the sisters

:36 The LORD also said to me: "Son of man, will you judge Oholah and Oholibah? Then declare to them their abominations.

:37 "For they have committed adultery, and blood is on their hands. They have committed adultery with their idols, and even sacrificed their sons whom they bore to Me, passing them through the fire, to devour them.

:38 "Moreover they have done this to Me: They have defiled My sanctuary on the same day and profaned My Sabbaths.

:39 "For after they had slain their children for their idols, on the same day they came into My sanctuary to profane it; and indeed thus they have done in the midst of My house.

Hypocrisy – after sacrificing their own children to other gods, they had the nerve to show up in God’s Temple as if nothing had happened.

It would be as if a husband or wife had been out committing adultery and then comes home as if nothing had happened.

:40-46

… describes more of the actions of a prostitute, even though she was getting old, she kept enticing men and committing adultery with them …

:47 'The assembly shall stone them with stones and execute them with their swords; they shall slay their sons and their daughters, and burn their houses with fire.

:48 'Thus I will cause lewdness to cease from the land, that all women may be taught not to practice your lewdness.

:49 'They shall repay you for your lewdness, and you shall pay for your idolatrous sins. Then you shall know that I am the Lord GOD.'"

This was the punishment for adultery – public stoning (Deut. 22:22-24).

Nowadays, we call it having an “affair” and file for a divorce.  I wonder what would happen to the divorce rate and the rate of people being unfaithful to their spouse if we practiced public stoning.

Lesson

What’s the big deal?

The purpose of a parable is usually to teach a single truth.
What’s the truth being taught in this chapter?
It speaks to the reason that Jerusalem is going to be destroyed.

Jerusalem isn’t compared to a little gnat that bothers a man until he squishes it.

Jerusalem isn’t compared to an inanimate object like statue being made by a sculptor, who doesn’t like what he’s doing and destroys the work.

Jerusalem is compared to a wife that turns into a prostitute.  And instead of heading all the warning signs of what happened to her older sister who did the same thing, she goes right on doing what she does.

Harlotry and adultery speak to gut-wrenching issues.

Who could blame someone for the pain that’s caused with these things?

Ezekiel 24

:1-14  The cooking pot

:1 Again, in the ninth year, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

:2 "Son of man, write down the name of the day, this very day; the king of Babylon started his siege against Jerusalem this very day.

(2 Ki 25:1 NKJV)  Now it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army came against Jerusalem and encamped against it; and they built a siege wall against it all around.

How did Ezekiel know that the siege of Jerusalem had started?  God told him.

:3 "And utter a parable to the rebellious house, and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Put on a pot, set it on, And also pour water into it.

:4 Gather pieces of meat in it, Every good piece, The thigh and the shoulder. Fill it with choice cuts;

:5 Take the choice of the flock. Also pile fuel bones under it, Make it boil well, And let the cuts simmer in it."

It sounds like Ezekiel is making dinner.

:6 'Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "Woe to the bloody city, To the pot whose scum is in it, And whose scum is not gone from it! Bring it out piece by piece, On which no lot has fallen.

On which no lot has fallen – or, “in no particular order”.  God orders the pot to be emptied.

:7 For her blood is in her midst; She set it on top of a rock; She did not pour it on the ground, To cover it with dust.

When blood was spilled, it was supposed to be covered up with dirt.  Jerusalem was filled with wickedness, she did not try to cover up her bad deeds, such as when King Manasseh had the prophet Isaiah put to death.

:8 That it may raise up fury and take vengeance, I have set her blood on top of a rock, That it may not be covered."

She gets done to her what she did to others.  Her fall will be out in the open, public.

:9 'Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "Woe to the bloody city! I too will make the pyre great.

:10 Heap on the wood, Kindle the fire; Cook the meat well, Mix in the spices, And let the cuts be burned up.

:11 "Then set the pot empty on the coals, That it may become hot and its bronze may burn, That its filthiness may be melted in it, That its scum may be consumed.

:12 She has grown weary with lies, And her great scum has not gone from her. Let her scum be in the fire!

Nobody ever did the dishes.  The pot was filthy.  God would let the pot just stay in the fire and burn up all the dirt.

:13 In your filthiness is lewdness. Because I have cleansed you, and you were not cleansed, You will not be cleansed of your filthiness anymore, Till I have caused My fury to rest upon you.

:14 I, the LORD, have spoken it; It shall come to pass, and I will do it; I will not hold back, Nor will I spare, Nor will I relent; According to your ways And according to your deeds They will judge you," Says the Lord GOD.'"

:15-27 Ezekiel’s wife dies

:15 Also the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

:16 "Son of man, behold, I take away from you the desire of your eyes with one stroke; yet you shall neither mourn nor weep, nor shall your tears run down.

desire of your eyes – Ezekiel’s wife

I like the way she is described.  Who is the “desire of your eyes”?

God is telling Ezekiel that his wife is going to die.  “With one stroke” means that it will be suddenly.  It’s not like she had been sick for a long time.

God often uses Ezekiel’s life to teach lessons to the people.  I don’t know if I like this lesson.

:17 "Sigh in silence, make no mourning for the dead; bind your turban on your head, and put your sandals on your feet; do not cover your lips, and do not eat man's bread of sorrow."

turban … sandals … etc. – these were apparently things done in mourning, a way of expressing grief.  It’s as if God is saying to Ezekiel not to wear any black clothes.  Ezekiel isn’t supposed to display any type of sadness or mourning over the death of his wife.

:18 So I spoke to the people in the morning, and at evening my wife died; and the next morning I did as I was commanded.

:19 And the people said to me, "Will you not tell us what these things signify to us, that you behave so?"

:20 Then I answered them, "The word of the LORD came to me, saying,

:21 'Speak to the house of Israel, "Thus says the Lord GOD: 'Behold, I will profane My sanctuary, your arrogant boast, the desire of your eyes, the delight of your soul; and your sons and daughters whom you left behind shall fall by the sword.

:22 'And you shall do as I have done; you shall not cover your lips nor eat man's bread of sorrow.

:23 'Your turbans shall be on your heads and your sandals on your feet; you shall neither mourn nor weep, but you shall pine away in your iniquities and mourn with one another.

:24 'Thus Ezekiel is a sign to you; according to all that he has done you shall do; and when this comes, you shall know that I am the Lord GOD.'"

Ezekiel wasn’t supposed to mourn for his wife, even though he loved her very much.  This was to be an example of what would be happening when the people found out about Jerusalem.

The people wouldn’t be doing the obvious, mourning for Jerusalem.  Instead, they would be mourning over their sins, realizing that their sins were a part of what had happened to Jerusalem.

:25 'And you, son of man; will it not be in the day when I take from them their stronghold, their joy and their glory, the desire of their eyes, and that on which they set their minds, their sons and their daughters:

:26 'on that day one who escapes will come to you to let you hear it with your ears;

:27 'on that day your mouth will be opened to him who has escaped; you shall speak and no longer be mute. Thus you will be a sign to them, and they shall know that I am the LORD.'"

A messenger will come telling the people about the siege of Jerusalem (and confirm the date mentioned in Ezek. 24:1).

Ever since Ezekiel 3:26, Ezekiel had been unable to speak whenever he wanted to.  He could only speak when God gave him a specific message for the people.  When the news of the destruction of Jerusalem comes, Ezekiel will be able to speak freely.