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14 11 May 2006

Ezekiel chapter 20:1-44

Israel – video rewind and fast forward
With acknowledgements to Chris Wright The Message of Ezekiel, IVP, 2001
Ezekiel is retelling the story the people knew well, but they misplaced their
confidence while Jerusalem was still standing and had a grievance after it fell.
Compare this with Stephen’s retelling of the same story in Acts 7. before his
1. Ezekiel 20:1. What was the date in our terms? How long was this after the
vision in the Temple and how long after since Ezekiel’s initial call? Ezekiel
judged and confronted the people. They were put on trial. List 2 or 3 other
Biblical trials in which the person in the dock became the judge.

2. Give headings to the 4 periods of Israel’s history listed here:

Ezekiel 20:5-9
Ezekiel 20:10-17
Ezekiel 20:18-26
Ezekiel 20:27-31
What are the common factors in these 4 sections?
What do “so” and “but” signify in each section?

3. Ezekiel 20:5-9. Why does Ezekiel not trace Israel’s election back to Abraham
not to Egypt?

4. Ezekiel 20:10-17. The wilderness: first generation.

The Israelites experienced the revelation of the law and the covenant at Sinai but
failed to move on to the promised land. The Law was a source of life – see verses
20:11, 13, and 21. The Sabbath was a “sign”, see 20:12 – a sign of the covenant, a
memorial of both creation and redemption. Exodus 20:8-11 and Deuteronomy
5:12-15. The Sabbath included the sabbatical and jubilee years related to
economic institutions connected with the relief of debt and slaves, illustrating
justice and compassion in Israel’s economic structures. See Leviticus chapter 25.
Ezekiel telescopes history and traces Israel’s rejection of Yahweh’s laws and
Sabbaths right back to the generation to whom they were first given, therefore
they will not enter the promised land. Ezekiel 20:15-16. Compare this with
Deuteronomy 1:28. One form of rebellion is as bad as another so there was no
problem in substituting later ones for earlier ones.

5. Ezekiel 20: 18-26. The wilderness: second generation.

The great speeches of Deuteronomy were addressed to this generation and
Ezekiel was influenced by them. Deuteronomy 4:25-31. They were like their
fathers. The entry into the promised land is now seen as happening under the
suspended anger of God just like the exodus. See verses 20:21-22. What other
twist to the story is added in 20:23?

6. Who actually entered into the promised land?

7. Ezekiel 20:25-26. How do you explain these verses? See Romans 1:24, 26 and

8. Ezekiel 20:27-31. Conquest to exile.

See 1 Kings 18:21. Ezekiel 20:30-31 implies that the worst of Israel’s idolatries were
continued by some exiles – even child sacrifice. It seemed to be the end. It was
for the present generation as there was no suspension of judgment. But even so
there was a sequel.

9. Ezekiel 20:32-44.
What was the sequel for the sake of God’s name?
What was the purpose of God’s mercy? Look up Moses’ intercession after the golden
calf episode and after the rebellion at Kadesh Barnea. Exodus 32:11-14; Numbers
14:13-24 and Deuteronomy 9:26-29. Quote paragraph in Wright p.163. How was the
paradox resolved at the cross of Jesus Christ?

10. Give further evidences of the persistence of God’s grace. Read relevant sections
from Wright pp.165-8.