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7th July

Ezekiel 16-18; Psalm 33

Bible in a Year
6 minutes
In this article
7th July

Ezekiel 16-18; Psalm 33

Bible in a Year
6 minutes


So far in Ezekiel we’ve read through Ezekiel’s commissioning, his prophetic acts, and started the accusations against Judah. The book started five years after the first group of Israelites had been exiled to Babylon. Jerusalem was still standing, and many Israelites still lived there. Ezekiel received a vision of God, sat upon his throne over Babylon. The throne was carried by four creatures that had, amongst other features, wheels for feet. The symbolism here was that God is not restricted to just being the God of Israel. He can move, because he has authority over all the earth.

God charged Ezekiel with speaking to the Israelites still in Jerusalem to repent and change their ways before it was too late. But God also warned Ezekiel that the people would likely not listen to him. After taking a week to process all he had seen and heard, Ezekiel started acting out prophetic declarations.

He made a miniature model of Jerusalem and acted out sieges against it. He laid on his left side for 390 days and then on his right for forty, representing the years God would punish both Israel and then Judah for. He was to eat unclean food to represent the unclean food the people would eat in exile. Ezekiel shaved his head and beard, and the divided the hair into three groups which represented the three different ways God would punish his people.

After more time passed, God gave Ezekiel a vision of what the people were doing to his temple back in Jerusalem. From the outer gates to right inside the inner temple, the people were worshipping false gods and idols. They had desecrated the space that had been reserved for God.

So God declares destruction over the people gathering seven executioners together. He told one to mark those who were loyal to God, and then the other six to kill everyone who wasn't marked. Ezekiel had a vision of the presence of God leaving the temple and entering his throne chariot carried by the four living beings.

God declared judgement on all the leaders that had told the people everything was fine and not to worry. We then got two more prophetic acts from Ezekiel. He was to pack as those he was about to go into exile, and then dig a hole in the wall. In the same way the Babylonians will break through Jerusalem's walls and lead its people in to exile. God judged the false prophets for their lies. Particularly the female prophets as they seemed to be engaging in witchcraft.

Ezekiel 16-18

God comes to Ezekiel and paints a picture of Israel and an unfaithful bride. Initially, when God first came to Israel, she was like an orphan, a baby rejected by her parents. Hurting and alone. And so God picked Israel up and cleaned her off. He spoke life to her and provided for her.

Then as she got older, God committed himself to her, taking her as his bride. We see in this imagery the classic rags to riches story. Through God’s care and love, Israel was transformed from an unloved orphan, to a strong and healthy queen, loved by her king.

But unfortunately this queen became unfaithful. Her new position and riches made her proud. She took all that God had given her and used it to chase after other men, putting her trust in foreign nations and foreign gods. All of her wealth, and even her own children were sacrificed in this pursuit. In many ways she was worse than a prostitute. Prostitutes accept money for sex, but Israel paid other nations to have sex with her.

Because Israel has behaved this way God will uncover her nakedness, and the blood that is on her hands. He will judge her as guilty, and all the foreign nations that she had chased after as lovers, will now come and bring judgement on her. This judgement will be so potent, that the people will remember this time always through a proverb. They will use sayings like "like mother, like daughter" (Ezekiel 16:44).

Israel has been just as bad as the nations that have come before her. Worse in many cases. Even Sodom wasn't as corrupt and evil as Israel is now. Samaria was another name for the northern kingdom, and even the northern kingdom, who had been taken into exile a long time a go, did not behave as wickedly as the people are now.

So God will punish his people just like he punished Sodom and the northern kingdom in the past. But after he has punished his people, they will realise the error of their ways and turn back to him. God will reestablish his covenant with Israel, and he will wipe away her sins.

In another vision, God picks up the imagery of Israel being like a plant, this time like a cedar tree. In this vision, a great eagle, representing Babylon, will come chop off the top of the cedar (Judah), and take it back home to plant it there. This represents those taken into exile. He will then take some seeds and cast them in fertile soil so that they grow into vines. This represents those that have started new lives in Judah after the conquest. Those that were looking to start afresh.

Then a second eagle came. This one represents Egypt. This time the vines reached out to the eagle, in the hope that this one will pull them up and replant them like the first eagle did with the tip of the cedar tree. The thing is, these vines, the people still in Judah, were already planted in fertile soil next to a stream of water. They already had all they needed. But once again, they were looking to a foreign nation to give them what God was already offering them.

So God will pull up these vines by the root and let them whither in the sun. God explains all this to Ezekiel after giving him the vision. He then declares that he will punish Egypt for encouraging his people to turn away from him. God will go to the top of the cedar that had been replanted in Babylon and take a branch off of that. He will then replant this branch back in Israel. This is to symbolise how God will bring back a portion of those who were exiled in Babylon and will restore them in Isreal.

Then comes a word from God on individual responsibility. It was commonly believed at the time that children should be punished for their parents' sin. This was demonstrated by the well-used proverb, "The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge" (Ezekiel 18:2).

God proceeds to talk about how wrong this is. If you have a man that lives righteously, and he has a son that is wicked, the wicked son will be punished, but the righteous man will live. Likewise, say you have a wicked man who has a righteous son. In that case, the wicked man will be punished and the righteous man will live.

Then, in a similar vein, if a wicked man was to repent of his wicked way and turn back to God, he will also be saved. But if a righteous man turns from his way and starts being wicked, he will be punished. Each person is responsible for their own behaviour, and each person has the option to turn to God if they choose.

Some of the Israelites don't like this, and argue that this isn't fair. But God points out that their idea of fair has become warped because of their wickedness. They can't see that God's actions are actually the fairest.

Because the people have so warped what justice means, God will punish them. Though God continues to give them the option to repent. The chapter ends with the line, "For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.” While God does punish his people for their wickedness, it is not his desire to kill and destroy. His desire is always life.

Psalm 33

This is the first psalm we’ve read since Psalms 1-2 that isn’t attributed to king David. Instead, this psalm is anonymous. It falls into the category of praise psalm.

Psalm 33:1-3 - A call to praise

Psalm 33:4-9 - Praising the word of the Lord

Psalm 33:10-12 - Praising the counsel of the Lord

Psalm 33:13-19 - Praising the Lord’s eye and his might

Psalm 33:20-22 - concluding declaration of trust

The psalm opens with a call to those who are upright and righteous to praise God. They are to shout for joy, give thanks, sing songs, and play instruments. It then lists a number of reasons why.

The first is the word of the Lord. God’s word maintains order through righteousness and justice. It is one of the primary ways that we see God’s faithful love as we read of his promises. 

It is also through God’s word that heaven and earth and all that are in them are created. Because of this, everyone should fear God and be in awe of him.

Next up is the Lord’s counsel. His plans, purpose, and leading. While the plans of humans will often lead them to be frustrated, blessed are those allowed themselves to be counselled and led by God.

After that, we see a connection between the eye of the Lord and his might. God sees all things. Nothing is missing from his sight. He evens sees the intentions of our hearts. 

Humans might look to kings to save them, but the reality is a king isn’t saved by a great army, or strong warriors, or war horses. Might belongs to God, and with his eye he is able to see the hearts of all. Those who love him and those who do not.

And so the psalm draws to a conclusion on a declaration of trust. We will wait on the Lord as we trust in him. Finally, we end with a request of God. Be faithful and loving to us.

From this psalm, we see the power and authority of God in every area of our lives. As we read through these words, this truth should lead us to a place of praise and trust.

Anything you think I've missed? Maybe you've got a question that still needs answering. Send me a message over on my Instagram (@brynjoslin). I'd love to talk it through with you some more.

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