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8th July

Ezekiel 19-21; Psalm 34

Bible in a Year
6 minutes
In this article
8th July

Ezekiel 19-21; Psalm 34

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.

Ezekiel had a vision of the presence of God leaving the temple and entering his throne chariot carried by the four living beings. So God declared judgement over the people, their leaders, and the prophets. 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.

Israel was painted as an unfaithful bride. God had rescued her and raised her from infancy, dressing her in finery and committing himself to her. Instead, she took those gifts and gave them to foreign nations so they would sleep with her. God then affirmed personal responsibility. A father wouldn't be punished for his son's sins, and vice versa. Each person was responsible for their own decisions.

Ezekiel 19-21

God tells Ezekiel to lament for his people, Israel. He starts painting a picture of a lioness with her lion cubs. The lioness represents the royal line of David, and the lion cubs represent individual kings.

The first cub is king Jehoahaz. He was violent and oppressive, and so God allowed Egypt to come up and capture him and take him away. The lioness then took another cub. This one represents king Zedekiah. This cub was much more violent and oppressive than the first, and so God allowed Babylon to come and capture him.

This image is meant to produce lament inside of you. These lion cubs come from a powerful and majestic species of animal, and yet they behaved poorly and were taken into captivity, just like the kings of Judah.

God then switches his imagery. Now Israel is like a vine that has been planted near running waters. It has everything it needs to thrive, and it begins to grow in stature and authority. But then it is plucked up and cast aside, to dry up and fade away. It is then replanted in the wilderness where it struggles to survive in the heat. Both of these sets of images show how far Israel has fallen, and how this is worthy of lament.

Some time later, more elders came to Ezekiel to hear from God. So God uses this opportunity to teach them the error of their ways and declare the judgement that is going to befall them. He reminds them of the time he brought them out of Egypt and how God promised them blessing and asked them to turn from their wicked ways.

But they didn't, and God wanted to punish them. Instead, he decided to continue to support them so they could praise his name to the rest of the earth. So God led them into the desert and there gave them his instructions on how to live and the sabbath to be enjoyed and to be honoured. But they ignored his instructions and didn't honour the sabbath, and again he wanted to destroy them for their wickedness. And again, he chose not to. Instead, he let them wander the wilderness for forty years.

After the forty years, he warned them that if they continued to behave this way in the land he was about to bring them, then he would pour out his judgement and scatter them across the nations. And that is exactly what they did. They got into the land promised to them and they immediately began to worship foreign gods. They chose to be like the foreign nations, worshiping their gods and their idols.

God will finally pour out the punishment that he has been withholding. He will send them into exile until they can see the error of their ways. Then, eventually, God will bring them back and they will serve him in their land. They will once again make offerings to him, and he will accept them. His presence will be with them, and they will remember the sins of their past and keep from committing them again.

So God tells Ezekiel to turn to the south, to face Judah and Jerusalem, and pronounce the start of this judgement. His punishment will be like a fire that burns through them and purifies them of all their wickedness.

Then God comes to Ezekiel again to tell him to prophesy against Judah and Jerusalem. He uses the image of God drawing his sword, ready to bring judgement on his people. The people are going to go weak at the knees at just the sight of the sword. This sword is sharp and ready to do its job. Ezekiel is to mourn for his people.

The sword is going to strike three times, to show how complete this judgement will be. The sword is then named. God is going to use the king of Babylon to be his weapon. Ezekiel is to draw out the route that Babylon is going to take to get to Jerusalem to strike it. Then they will come with all their siege weapons. All of this is happening because the wickedness of the people has become so great. But God isn't just focused on his people. He tells Ezekiel to pronounce judgement on the Ammonites as well for their wickedness.

Psalm 34

This psalm is attributed to king David into the category of thanksgiving psalm. We see the psalm dedicated to a specific occasion, though there’s some debate over what it means.

In 1 Samuel 21:10-15, we have a story of David escaping Israel on the run from Saul. Upon entering the land of Gath, some people point out that David is an important leader from Israel and could be useful to them.

Realising the danger he might be in, David pretends to be mad, and the king, Achish, wants nothing to do with him. The problem with this is that Psalm 34 specifically mentions that David did this before ‘Abimelech’, the name of his son. 

It may be that David pulled this same trick with his son, or that the Achish went by two names. Either way, 1 Samuel 21:10-15 gives us an idea of the kind of context this psalm has come from.

The psalm is structured in an acrostic, where each verse begins with a different letter of the alphabet. 

Psalm 34:1-3 - I will bless the Lord

Psalm 34:4-7- The Lord rescues those who call out to him

Psalm 34:8-10 - Seek the Lord, taste and see that he is good

Psalm 34:11-14 - Advice to pursue good and avoid evil

Psalm 34:15-18 - The Lord is toward the righteous and against the wicked

Psalm 34:19-22 - The Lord will redeem the righteous and condemn the wicked

The psalm opens with a call to praise God with the psalmist. They shall praise him continuously, at all times.

We then find out why the psalmist wants to praise God, because they sought the Lord and he answered. Blessed are those who seek God, because he will rescue and deliver them.

The psalmist then encourages others to seek God. Taste and see that he is good. Seek him with appropriate fear. They offer guidance and wisdom.

This is a logical progression, as in Hebrew thinking, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). The wisdom the psalmist offers is to avoid evil and pursue good.

The reason for this is that God is for those who are righteous, but he is against those who do evil. When the righteous cry out for help, he hears and delivers them. He cares for those who are brokenhearted.

The psalmist then ends with and encouragement. Though it may feel like your struggles, your affliction are many, God will deliver you from them all. In fact, the wicked that oppress you will one day get what they deserve, but God will redeem you.

From this psalm, we are reminded of the fact we are to seek God and pursue righteousness. When we do these things, God will redeem and rescue us.

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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