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man with bowed head August 16 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Ezekiel 14, 15, 16

Ingratitude and Unfaithfulness

There are many orphans in the world. Fine upstanding citizens of wealthier countries often adopt children who are in desperate situations. They give them a nice house, bed, clothes, plenty of good food for nourishment, an education, many exciting opportunities, and especially love. These families adopt the orphaned children as their own. Are the orphans thankful? Most are probably thankful, but not all are. The nations of Israel and Judah were like unfaithful and unthankful orphans.

At the time of Ezekiel’s prophecies, the nation of Israel is in exile and most of Judah as well. God used Assyria and Babylon to conquer and take them away from their land because of their extreme wickedness and idolatry. Approximately 13,800 are allowed to remain in Judah, particularly in the city of Jerusalem, and Zedekiah is their king (more...). Although she is a vassal city and small in number, Jerusalem continues in rebellion and wickedness.

Given her attitude and actions, it is surprising that she still wants to hear from the LORD. After all, doesn't she have her own prophets to consult? When Jerusalem’s elite meet with Ezekiel (not that they have any intention of changing their minds), the Sovereign LORD declares His people are beyond any present hope. One day God will bring them to repentance and restoration but not now. God will presently destroy them for their wickedness and idolatry. “I will make the land desolate because they have been unfaithful declares the Sovereign LORD” (Ezekiel 15:8, NIV).

How are they unfaithful? In Ezekiel 16 God shares a parable of how Israel came to be. He says He found her as an orphaned newborn baby, still bloody from birth, and thrown out into an open field to die (a possible reference to the terrible times of slavery in Egypt). The LORD says about Jerusalem, “your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite.” Perhaps this is a reference more to her character than to her lineage (more...). God cares for this orphan. He nourishes her and clothes her, and then when she is old enough, he marries her (i.e., he forms a covenant with her, which is probably a reference to the Mosaic covenant). He adorns her like a queen and she becomes very wealthy. Other people from distant lands come to see her and wonder at her beauty and great wealth (1Kings 10). Is she grateful? No; with her great wealth and beauty she purchases favors. She becomes a prostitute, and even worse than that she offers free sexual favors. This obviously has reference to most of the kings of Israel and Judah which purchased protection, and prostituted themselves (worshipped before all the gods of other nations).

Israel is like an adulterous wife. In the days of King Jehoram (2Chronicles 21:16-17) and King Ahaz (2Chronicles 28:16-19), God reduces Israel’s territory by giving it over to the Philistines, hoping that will get her attention. It does not stop her behavior. There were some good times when she sought the LORD (during the reigns of David and Solomon, and a few of Judah’s kings), but her heart did not change. She went right back to her idolatry. She even sacrificed her own children to other gods (as in the days of King Manasseh). Her wickedness has now become greater than that of her sister city, Samaria, and even Sodom and Gomorrah! Such ingratitude and unfaithfulness endured by her husband, the Sovereign Holy God, for hundreds of years, becomes unforgivable.

God used Assyria, and now He uses Babylon, to strip her bare and leave her naked (this refers to her land, wealth, and people). Babylon will soon destroy Jerusalem and Solomon’s temple, lead many survivors away captive, and then later burn the city. The prophet Ezekiel proclaims,

“This is what the Sovereign LORD says: ‘I will deal with you as you deserve, because you have despised my oath by breaking the covenant. Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you…. Then, when I make atonement for you for all you have done, you will remember and be ashamed and never again open your mouth because of your humiliation, declares the Sovereign LORD.’” (Ezekiel 16:59-60, 63)

What justice! What grace! What love! Let us remember how God saved us from our sins and be thankful to the LORD for all His benefits.

Lessons to Live By

  • If we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior from sin and spiritual death, we are adopted into God’s family, and we inherit all the riches of heaven (Ephesians 1:3-8, 18).
  • Christians are the bride of Christ (Revelation 19:7) and should be faithful to Him.
  • Have we been unfaithful and unthankful to the LORD? He will discipline us if we don't turn from our sins to God (Hebrews 12:10,11). However, there is good news: it is not too late. The same God who extended grace and love to Israel is the same God who extends His love to us. Will we receive it? (more...)
  • We should remember all that God has done for us and live for Him (Romans 8:12-13; Romans 12:1-2).

Focus Verse

Hebrews 12:28 (NIV) “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.”

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A Look Ahead: There will be Repercussions for Israel's Rebellion. Are we in danger of the same thing? How do we avoid it? Find out in our Next Lesson.

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