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purged by fire

Purging Evil, Ezekiel 22

Recommended Procedure. Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading

What is the purpose for purging metals with fire? It is to remove the dross so that the metals will be pure. The dross is useless and is thrown away. That, unfortunately, is what the people of Israel had become, but hopefully, that is not what we will become. Sometimes through the fires of affliction God's purpose is to remove the dross in our lives so that we might live a pure, useful life before him. We need to submit to the fire. What is some of the dross that needs to be removed from your life?

Review. In our last lesson we learned that it was now 591 B.C. and once again the elders of Israel in Babylon gather to hear what the prophet Ezekiel has to say. They are looking for favors from God. However, he is very offended and refuses to give them an answer they want to hear because in addition to their other wickedness and idolatry, they were now offering their children as burnt offerings to the god Molech! Instead, Ezekiel is asked to take the place of a prosecutor in a courtroom. Like a prosecuting attorney he tracks their history of their crimes, their idolatry, and when he is done, God the judge renders his decision. His decision is to let the Babylonian nation come and destroy Jerusalem. In yesterday's Bible reading, the swords were made ready for the slaughter of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and through the smacking of his hand and thigh Ezekiel dramatized the slashing of them. Still, it did not move the exiles to repentance. In today's reading, Ezekiel returns to his position as a prosecuting attorney, cataloguing the sins of the leaders, the princes, the prophets, the priests, and the people of Israel. This provides evidence enough of why God wants to melt them (kill them) when the Babylonian army attacks and destroys them.

Idea for the Bible teacher or discussion leader: If it is possible, perhaps a sample of pure metal and dross can be displayed, and if not perhaps a youtube video of the smelting process can be shown, or at least pictures of it.

This chapter can be easily divided into three sections, introduced by "the word of the LORD came to me". The first division is 22:1-16, the second division is 22:17-22, and the third division is 22:23-31. Read these divisions and summarize what is in these sections.

Answer 1


What kind of bloodshed and other crimes was Israel guilty of? 22:3-12
Are you guilty of some crimes? How might they affect you and others?

Answer 2


What would be the reaction of neighboring nations when they would see Jerusalem come to an end? 22:4-5, 16
What might be the reaction of your neighbors if you fall?

Answer 3


What would be God's response to Israel's many crimes? 22:13-15
Will God let us get away with our sins? (Hebrews 12:5-11)

Answer 4


Israel's crimes corrupted them like dross on different forms of metal. What would God do to them? 22:17-22

Answer 5


Because of he drought and famine in the land, what additional things are the princes, priests, prophets, and people of Israel guilty of? 22:23-29

Has desperation ever made you act like a wild animal or unjustly? Has it made you give less than your best to God? Have you ever used or cheated people to get what you want?

Answer 6


Unlike the days of Lot when he would not spare Sodom and Gomorrah if there were but ten righteous people with in it (Genesis 18:22-32), how much more mercy did God wish to show to Jerusalem? 22:30-31

Answer 7


Lessons to Live by: (ask for members' input first)

Today's Bible memory verse:

Isaiah 1:25 "I will turn my hand against you; I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove all your impurities."

You do not have to experience the judgment of God. God offers forgiveness, peace, and new spiritual life (more...)

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A1: Chapter 22:1-16 describes the bloodshed of the city; Chapter 22:17-22 describes the dross of the city; Chapter 22:23-31 describes the sins of the leaders, the princes, the prophets, the priests, and the people.

A2: The Israelites were guilty of murder, idolatry, adultery, incest, slander, extortion and other crimes.

A3: The other nations around Jerusalem would mock them and they would become a laughingstock.

A4: God's response was striking his hands in derision, and committing to exile the survivors, scattering them to different nations, and putting an end to their uncleanness.

A5: He would gather all the Israelites in the area into Jerusalem and melt them. This is probably a reference to the invasion of Babylon when they would destroy a third of them who had not been destroyed by famine. The other third would be destroyed by the fire of the sword and the last third who would survive pursuit and starvation would be scattered to different nations and exiled (Ezekiel 5:12)

A6: The princes, priests, prophets, and people were guilty of acting like wild animals and extorting the weakest among them or killing them to seize their possessions, profaning the sabbaths and offerings to the LORD, whitewashing their deeds, robbing their own people, oppressing the poor and needy and aliens and giving them no justice.

A7: God looked for just one person who was righteous to stand in the gap, but could find no one to do it. Jeremiah was a righteous prophet in Jerusalem, but apparently was hindered in his influence. Is God calling you to stand in the gap in your culture or circle of influence? Perhaps God wants to show his mercy through you. Will you pray for God to intercede? Will you speak up at opportune times?

Lessons to Live by:

  • Are you guilty of crimes against man or God? He will not let you get away with it forever. Repent today and God will be merciful (more...)
  • Are you experiencing the fires of affliction? Perhaps God is purging you to make you a pure, useful vessel for his use.
  • Will you stand in the gap in your culture or circle of influence? Will you pray? Will you speak up at opportune times?

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