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man with bowed head August 16 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: 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, a nice bed, nice 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 it can be assumed that not all are. The nations of Israel and Judah were like unthankful, unfaithful orphans.

At the time of Ezekiel’s prophecies, the nation of Israel was in exile, and most of Judah was also in exile. They were taken away from their land because of their wickedness and idolatry. Approximately 13,800 were allowed to remain in Judah, particularly in the city of Jerusalem, and Zedekiah was their king (more...). Though she was a vassal city and small in number, Jerusalem proceeded in rebellion and wickedness.

Given her attitude and actions, it is surprising that she still wanted to hear what the LORD said. After all, did she not have her own prophets to consult? When Jerusalem’s elite met with Ezekiel (not that they had any intention of changing their minds), the Sovereign LORD declared his people were beyond any present hope. One day God would bring them to repentance but not now. God would 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).

How were 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). God says about Jerusalem, “your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite.” Perhaps this was a reference more to her character than to her lineage (more...). God cared for this orphan. He nourished her and clothed her, and then when she was old enough, he married her (i.e., he formed a covenant with her, probably a reference to the Mosaic covenant). He adorned her like a queen and she was very wealthy. Other peoples from distant lands came to see her and wonder at her beauty and great wealth (1Kings 10). Was she grateful? No, with her great wealth and beauty she purchased favors. She became a prostitute, and even worse than that she offered free sexual favors. This obviously has reference to most of the kings of Israel and Judah as they purchased favors and prostituted themselves or worshipped before all the gods of other nations. Israel was like an adulterous wife. In the days of King Jehoram (2Chronicles 21:16-17) and Ahaz (2Chronicles 28:16-19) God reduced Israel’s territory by giving it over to the Philistines, hoping that would get her attention, but that did 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 into her idolatry. She even sacrificed her own children to other gods (as in the days of King Manasseh). Her wickedness became 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, became unforgivable. God used Assyria, and now Babylon, to strip her bare and leave her naked (this refers to her land and wealth). Babylon would soon destroy Jerusalem and Solomon’s temple, lead many survivors away captive, and then later burn the city. In Ezekiel 16:59-60, 63 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.’”

What justice! What grace! What love!

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 you been unthankful and unfaithful to the LORD? He will discipline you if you do not repent (Hebrews 12:10,11). However, there is good news: It is not too late. The same God that extended grace and love to Israel is the same God who extends his love to you. Will you receive it? (more...)
  • Remember all that God has done for you and live for Him (Romans 8:12-13; Romans 12:1-2).

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

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