Scripture reading – Ezekiel 20

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Ezekiel 20 – God’s Coming Judgment Against Judah and Jerusalem

Ezekiel’s Consultation with Israel’s Elders (Ezekiel 20:1-4)

Continuing our study of the Book of Ezekiel, the “elders of Israel” came to Ezekiel to “inquire of the LORD, and sat before [him]” (Ezekiel 20:1). The LORD responded to the elders by commanding Ezekiel, “Son of man, speak unto the elders of Israel, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Are ye come to inquire of me? As I live, saith the Lord God, I will not be inquired of by you” (Ezekiel 20:3).

The LORD’s response to the elder’s inquiry is instructive, for He was offended (Ezekiel 20:3). Therefore, the LORD demanded of Ezekiel whether or not he would be bold and asked, “Wilt thou judge them, son of man, wilt thou judge them?” (Ezekiel 20:4).

Ezekiel was instructed to confront the leaders of Israel with “the abominations of their fathers” (Ezekiel 20:4a).


A Cycle of Rebellion (Ezekiel 20:5-29)

 The message for Israel’s elders was that the nation had followed a perpetual cycle of rebellion. Rather than imparting a new revelation, the LORD instructed Ezekiel to remind the leaders how He dealt with Israel’s past rebellion.

Jeremiah’s Consultation with Israel’s Elders

Rebellion in Egypt (Ezekiel 20:5-9)

The LORD chose “the seed of the house of Jacob” (i.e., the sons who were the fathers of the Twelve Tribes) and brought Israel out of Egypt and commanded the people, saying, “I am the LORD your God” (Ezekiel 20:5). He promised them a land “flowing with milk and honey, and admonished them to put away their idols (Ezekiel 20:6-7). Yet, the people rebelled and refused to cast aside their idols and worship the LORD alone (Ezekiel 20:8). Nevertheless, the LORD remembered His promises to Abraham and his seed. He determined to bring Israel “forth out of the land of Egypt, and… into the wilderness” (Ezekiel 20:9).


Rebellion in the Wilderness (Ezekiel 20:10-26)

When Israel encamped at Sinai, the LORD gave them His “statutes, and shewed them [His] judgment, which if a man do, he shall even live in them” (Ezekiel 20:11). Yet, Israel rebelled and “walked not in [His] statutes, and they despised [His] judgments” (Ezekiel 20:13). They “despised” His judgment, and refused to walk in His Commandments, nevertheless the LORD was merciful, and “spared them from destroying them” (Ezekiel 20:17). Though their fathers perished in the wilderness, the LORD spared their children. Yet, their children also “rebelled against” the LORD until He “withdrew” His hand from them (the hand that led, protected, and provided for them as a shepherd his sheep, Ezekiel 20:21-22).

Rebellion in Canaan

Rebellion in Canaan (Ezekiel 20:27-32)

Like their fathers in the wilderness, in Canaan, the people cursed the LORD’s name (Ezekiel 20:27), committed spiritual adultery, and offered sacrifices to idols (Ezekiel 20:28). Tragically, like their forefathers, Ezekiel’s generation was guilty of great evils and followed in their father’s wicked ways. They sacrificed to idols (Ezekiel 20:30) and made their “sons to pass through the fire” (Ezekiel 20:31).

Though the LORD chose Israel to be His people, they rebelled and lived “as the heathen…to serve wood and stone” (i.e., idols, Ezekiel 20:32). For those reasons, the LORD asserted concerning the elders of Israel, “I will not be inquired of by you” (Ezekiel 20:31).


The LORD Promised to Gather Israel from the Nations (Ezekiel 20:33-44)

Despite their wickedness, the LORD promised that He would one day gather His people “out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out” (Ezekiel 20:34). Jeremiah foretold how the LORD would gather Israel from among “the wilderness of the people” (i.e., nations, Ezekiel 20:35-36). He would continue to discipline them “under the rod” until He brought them back to “the bond of the covenant” (Ezekiel 20:37). He would remove the rebels, and they would “not enter the land of Israel,” to the end His people would “know” and confess Him as LORD (Ezekiel 20:38).


Closing thought – Though Israel Forsook the LORD, He Would Not Forsake Israel (Ezekiel 20:45-49)

To what end were God’s judgments, and to what purpose were their sorrows and sufferings? It was that the people would know and confess Him as their LORD (Ezekiel 20:41-42, 44). Indeed, the day would come when “all flesh” would see and know that which was done was the LORD!

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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