The Elders’ Inquiry of God


Text: Ezekiel 20:1-44

 

I.         We begin a new set of prophecies - Ezekiel 20:1-4

            A.        It is now the seventh year, fifth month, and tenth day

                        1.         Previous was Ezekiel 8:1 (sixth year, sixth month, fifth day)

                        2.         It is January 18, 591 B.C.

                        3.         It is still 2-1/2 years before Nebuchadnezzar’s siege of Jerusalem

            B.        Elders came to inquire of God, but God is upset with them - Isaiah 1:12; Ezekiel 20:31

                        1.         This is the third time: Ezekiel 8:1; 14:1

                        2.         The last time God told them they won’t get an answer because of their idolatry, yet they come again - Isaiah 29:13

                        3.         We are not told the question, probably because God refused to answer - Psalm 66:18; Proverbs 28:9

                                    a.          Perhaps they were still looking for a speedy resolution to their exile

                                    b.         Perhaps Ezekiel 20:32 is a hint - they were looking for reasons to worship the idols found in this foreign land

            C.        Ezekiel is invited to judge these elders as God recounts Israel’s history

                        1.         Ezekiel is to tell these people why God will not answer

                        2.         The request is more of a command. God’s people are expected to make judgments - I Corinthians 6:1-11

II.        Israel’s History of Rebellion

            A.        While in the land of Egypt - Ezekiel 20:5-9

                        1.         God made known to Israel His plan to fulfill His promise - Exodus 6:6-8; Deuteronomy 7:7-8

                        2.         God promised to bring them to a good land - Exodus 3:8; Deuteronomy 8:7-9; 11:10-12

                        3.         The promise was not without conditions. God expected them to worship Him and abandoned their idols.

                        4.         But they rebelled - Deuteronomy 9:7

                                    a.         Shown in the warnings after they left - Leviticus 17:7; 18:3

                                    b.         Seen in their lack of trust - Exodus 14:10-12

                        5.         But God lead them out because of His own reputation

            B.        While in the wilderness - Ezekiel 20:10-17

                        1.         Despite the rebellion, God chooses to bring them out of Egypt

                        2.         He gave them laws to live by - Leviticus 18:5

                                    a.         Not of faith - Galatians 3:12

                                    b.         The potential of the law was to give life. In Ezekiel 20:11, God is pointing that He gave Israel a mighty law, though it was one they were not able to keep - Hebrews 7:18-19; 8:7-8

                        3.         God gave them Sabbaths to be a sign

                                    a.         The Sabbath was a representative sample of the law God gave - Nehemiah 9:13-14

                                    b.         It wasn’t just a law, but also a privilege.

                                    c.         It was a reminder of their exodus from slavery - Deuteronomy 5:12-15

                                    d.         It was a sharing of God’s rest with man - Exodus 31:13-17

                                    e.         It was a time to put God before self - Isaiah 58:13-14

                        4.         Yet they rebelled anyway - Nehemiah 9:16-18; Psalm 78:40; 95:8-11

                                    a.         

                        5.         For His own name’s sake - Exodus 32:12

                                    a.         He acted (punished) because He would maintain His reputation

                                    b.         Ezekiel 36:22-23

                        6.         God promised not to bring them into the land of rest - ; Numbers 14:22-23, 28-30; Psalm 95:8-11; 106:19-27

                        7.         But He also did not totally destroy them - Psalm 78:37-38

            C.        While in the wilderness again, but this time with the rebels’ children - Ezekiel 20:18-22

                        1.         He again warned them. Probably a reference to the second reading of the law in Deuteronomy - Deuteronomy 4:3-6; 5:32-6:3; Psalm 78:6-8

                        2.         But they did not keep God’s law - Num 25:1-2; Deuteronomy 31:27

                        3.         For His own name’s sake

                                    a.         He had promises to keep

            D.        While in the wilderness again - Ezekiel 20:23-26

                        1.         Israel did not get the land because of their righteousness - Deuteronomy 9:4-5

                        2.         God promised to scatter them - Leviticus 26:33; Deuteronomy 28:64-65; Psalm 106:27

                        3.         The fault was totally their own

                        4.         God allowed them to stray - Psalm 81:11-13; Acts 7:42; Isaiah 63:17

                                    a.         As He allowed the Gentiles - Romans 1:24-28

                                    b.         As He will allow Christians - II Thessalonians 2:9-12

                        5.         For His own name’s sake - Deuteronomy 9:27-29

                                    a.         Punished so that they would know that He is Lord

            E.        While in the land of Canaan - Ezekiel 20:27-29

                        1.         These people also rebelled

                        2.         What is blasphemy? - Numbers 15:30-31

                                    a.         One translator says “insulting God”

                        3.         Israel quickly fell into idolatry - Psalm 78:55-58; Isaiah 57:4-6; Jeremiah 2:7, 3:6

                        4.         God called the high places “Bamah” or “Infamy”

            F.        Their current rebellion - Ezekiel 20:30-32

                        1.         The current Israelites are as bad or worse than their fathers - Jeremiah 7:26; 16:12

                        2.         Why should God be questioned by such people? - Isaiah 1:15; Jeremiah 14:12; Zechariah 7:13

                        3.         Secretly, they continue to desire to serve idols and God will not allow it to happen - Proverbs 19:21

                                    a.         They wanted to be like those they now lived among, to conform to those around them

                                    b.         But God will keep them distinct

                        4.         As before, God will not totally destroy - Jeremiah 4:27; 5:18; 30:11

                        5.         For His name sake - Jeremiah 14:7, 21; Isaiah 48:9-11

III.       God’s Response - Ezekiel 20:33-44

            A.        God will rule over Israel - Ezekiel 20:33

                        1.         He has the right, the power, and the will to do so - Jeremiah 21:5

                        2.         Even though they are scattered among the nations, God can still reach them

                                    a.         Note that God is willing to demonstrate His reasonableness - Jeremiah 2:9, 35; Micah 6:1-2

                                    b.         He will put them into a spiritual wilderness composed of foreign people - Hosea 2:14

            B.        In fury, God will separate the good from the bad - Ezekiel 20:37

                        1.         Passing under the rod: refers to Leviticus 27:32; Jeremiah 33:13; Matthew 25:32-33

                        2.         Amos 9:9-10 - A sieve

                        3.         Jude 5 - A purging

                        4.         A rod also refers to disciplining - Micah 7:14; Proverbs 10:13; 26:3; Psalm 89:30-32

                        5.         Just as the rebels died in the wilderness, so will the unbelievers die in exile - Hebrews 3:12-19; Zechariah 13:8-9

            C.        Those kept, the tithe, the remnant, will be brought into God’s covenant - John 10:27-29

            D.        God tells them to make a clean break. If they will not serve Him, go serve the idols - Ezekiel 20:39

                        1.         God will let the stubborn sin - Psalm 81:12; Romans 1:24-28; II Thessalonians 2:11

                        2.         It is the pretense that God finds wearying - Isaiah 1:13-15; Proverbs 21:27; Jeremiah 7:9-11; Revelation 3:15-16

            E.        A day will come when God will accept the offerings on His holy mountain - Ezekiel 20:40-41

                        1.         A reference to the church - Isaiah 2:2-3; 56:7

                        2.         Acceptable offerings - I Peter 2:5; Romans 12:1; Hebrews 13:15

                        3.         A sweet-smelling aroma: a reference to the burnt offerings (a voluntary offering from the heart) - Philippians 4:18; Ephesians 5:2

            F.        God will bring a remnant out - Jeremiah 23:3; 30:3

                        1.         It will impress the nations, causing God to be hallowed in their eyes

                        2.         It will also impress the Jews. God will not be a story but real - Jeremiah 24:7

                                    a.         A foundation for Christianity - Jeremiah 31:34; I John 5:20

                        3.         They will be disgusted at their own sins - Ezekiel 6:9; Hosea 5:15; II Corinthians 7:11 (indignation)

            G.        They will acknowledge that God dealt with them for His own sake - Psalm 79:9

                        1.         Not as their deeds required