-For the third time in this book, the elders come to Ezekiel to hear a word from the LORD given through His prophet. This comes in the seventh year of the captivity, which would date it right around the year 590 B.C.. The word came in the fifth month on the tenth day (Ezekiel 20:1). This word concerned God’s displeasure with the elders of the house of Israel, and their audacity to inquire of Him when they really should have known in their hearts why the LORD was angry enough to bring incredible judgment upon them. The text goes through a historical synopsis of their rejection and rebellion against their covenant keeping God. In Egypt, coming out of Egypt, and in the wilderness, God speaks of His frustration in terms of their disobedience, His sworn vengeance, and His mercy to overlook their transgressions with repetitional phrasing for emphasis. His emphasis was on their failures to walk in His ordinances, follow His statutes, and keep His Sabbaths. His mercy and continued blessing was exhibited solely for His good Name among the nations, not for Israel’s merits (Ezekiel 20:2-27).
-When God finally did bring them into the land of promise, the children of Israel continued in their defiance by worshipping idols on “every high hill and every leafy tree,” plus they desecrated their covenant position by making their firstborn “sons to pass through the fire (paganistic child sacrifice).” They offered unholy sacrifices, presented provocation in their offering, made soothing aroma, and poured out drink offerings to foreign and false gods. God necessarily took His stand with them to make them unable to carry on in this manner. They had no right to inquire of Him as He developed and carried on His ultimate Kingdom plan. In other words, God was saying that Israel would not be allowed to act like the barbarian nations of the world serving wood and stone (Ezekiel 20:28-32).
-Now God’s word turns to hope and expectation for His preferred future as He plainly lays out the return to the Holy Land in days to come (Ezekiel 20:33-44). Because He is alive and unstoppable, with a mighty Hand and an outstretched Arm with wrath poured out, He alone will be King over His people. He, Himself, in His unalterable providence will bring Israel back into the land from among the nations after He has again dealt with them severely in the wilderness and in judgment face to face. They will be made to pass under the rod, and then He will bring them back into the bond of the covenant. He will purge all the rebellious at this point and those who transgress against Him. This all is done so that all will KNOW that He is the LORD God (Ezekiel 20:9, 12, 20, 26, 38, 42, 44). They will then be accepted back on His holy mountain as they listen, no longer profaning with their gifts and idols. The whole house of Israel will serve the LORD, and He will receive them, their contributions, their choicest gifts, and their holy things as a soothing aroma that is completely righteous. He will prove Himself holy among them in the sight of all the nations. The people will at that time loathe themselves for their past sins and remember their evil ways and deeds unto repentance and restoration.
-Ezekiel at the end of the chapter has a few words of prophecy towards the areas of the south in Israel toward the Negev. A fire will be kindled in them that will consume every green tree and dry tree. The blazing flame will not be quenched and the whole surface from the south to the north will be burned by it. “All flesh will see that I, the LORD, have kindled it; it shall not be quenched (Ezekiel 20:45-48).” Ezekiel’s expression in the last verse of the passage exposes his exasperation and discouragement with those who refused to listen well to what the LORD was saying. He foreshadowed Jesus Christ as he spoke in parables that were not discerned by the unbelieving (Ezekiel 20:49). At this time, God did not respond to the prophet’s disappointment, but as we will see in the chapter, He goes right into further prophecy.
-*Application* A couple of thoughts here that pertain to us relevantly. Our Christian day of rest, which is typically on a Sunday should be set aside in careful rest, refocus, and remembrance of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Further, God will get His way every time. Our job is to come into conformity with His plan and purpose for ensured eternal blessing. Lastly, have a believing-discerning heart when the Word of God is being spoken. Open up your heart, soul, and mind to the things of God and let His Spirit give you the understanding you will need to keep His messengers encouraged.
Verses to Memorize: Ezekiel 20:33, 42