BIBLE: Ezekiel Chapter 20 – Headline “Who Do You Think You Are to Question Me!”

Ezekiel 20

The Rebellions of Israel

Ezekiel 20:1 It came to pass in the seventh year, in the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month, that certain of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the Lord, and sat before me.

Ezekiel 20:Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying,
Ezekiel 20:“Son of man, speak to the elders of Israel, and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Have you come to inquire of Me? As I live,” says the Lord God, “I will not be inquired of by you.” ’

The inquiry is a question, the elders appear to be questioning God’s judgement upon them. God’s only answer to them is that He will not be questioned or judged by them. It is similar to Job chapter 40 where God reminds Job of His Power and Wisdom.

  • Job 40:1-2 Moreover the Lord answered Job, and said: 2 “Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? He who rebukes God, let him answer it.”

Moreover, “to inquire” in Hebrew is associated with the meaning “to boil”. They are putting the heat on God to get answers.

Ezekiel 20:Will you judge them, son of man, will you judge them? Then make known to them the abominations of their fathers.

God asks if they, the elders, are going to judge the people of captivity for their abominations when they are not qualified.

Ezekiel 20:“Say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “On the day when I chose Israel and raised My hand in an oath to the descendants of the house of Jacob, and made Myself known to them in the land of Egypt, I raised My hand in an oath to them, saying, ‘I am the Lord your God.’
Ezekiel 20:On that day I raised My hand in an oath to them, to bring them out of the land of Egypt into a land that I had searched out for them, ‘flowing with milk and honey,’ the glory of all lands.

God reminds them of His dedication to bring to them His glorious promises.

Oath 1: To bring them out of Egypt into the promised land.

Ezekiel 20:Then I said to them, ‘Each of you, throw away the abominations which are before his eyes, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.’

God does not reward bad behavior, they were instructed to rid themselves of their idolatry.

Instructions 1: Get rid of the idols of Egypt.

Ezekiel 20:But they rebelled against Me and would not obey (Lit. listen to) Me. They did not all cast away the abominations which were before their eyes, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt. Then I said, ‘I will pour out My fury on them and fulfill My anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt.’

Therefore they were given over to slavery under the Pharaoh of Egypt.

Oath 2: To punish them in Egypt because they did not get rid of the idols of Egypt.

Ezekiel 20:But I acted for My name’s sake, that it should not be profaned before the Gentiles among whom they were, in whose sight I had made Myself known to them, to bring them out of the land of Egypt.

“But!”, the word means there is a flipside. God will not allow profanity to be cast upon His Name and Character. The gentiles are anyone who is not a Jew. The Egyptians and other foreigners in Egypt are considered gentiles.

Refrain 1: God held back His fury for His name’s sake.

Ezekiel 20:10 “Therefore I made them go out of the land of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness.

God is reminding them of His grace among their rebellion. He brought them out of Egypt, out of slavery, to bring them to a promised land flowing with milk and honey.

Milk means cows and goats; cows and goats mean green grass. Honey means bees; bees means flowers, fruit and trees. The land of milk and honey was a land of green grass, flowers, trees; and full of fruit.

Ezekiel 20:11 And I gave them My statutes (laws) and showed (Lit. made known to) them My judgments, ‘which, if a man does, he shall live by them.’

God gave the ten commandments on Mt. Sinai and the feasts and the statues for a perfect government which results in a fruitful and perfect society.

Ezekiel 20:12 Moreover I also gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between them and Me, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them.

Not only is Saturday a Sabbath, a day of rest, but so are some of the Jewish feasts, such as the Passover. It is a time when man trusts God to do his work for him strengthening his faith and discovering God can be trusted.

A “sign” is a mark that attaches a person’s act to his intentions – making an affirmation to the character, power and identity of that person. The sign of a person’s generosity comes by the act of his sharing and giving. It attests to his character. Likewise, God attests to His power, wisdom, and love by performing signs to prove His character. He performs miracles, makes judgments, and even gives His only Son who died on the cross to redeem man from a spiritual slave market.

  • Acts 2:22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—”

When Jesus forgave the paralytic He proved His deity by also healing him. It was a sign of Jesus being who He said He was.

Ezekiel 20:13 Yet the house of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness; they did not walk in My statutes; they despised My judgments, ‘which, if a man does, he shall live by them’; and they greatly defiled My Sabbaths. Then I said I would pour out My fury on them in the wilderness, to consume them.

And yet, in spite of all God had done for them they continued in their ways.

When they did not keep God’s commandments, when they defiled His Sabbaths, they turned their back on God and His blessings.

Ezekiel 20:14 But I acted for My name’s sake, that it should not be profaned before the Gentiles, in whose sight I had brought them out.
Ezekiel 20:15 So I also raised My hand in an oath to them in the wilderness, that I would not bring them into the land which I had given them, ‘flowing with milk and honey,’ the glory of all lands,

“The Glory of all lands” is Israel, the place of God’s temple and His presence.

Oath 3 Not to bring that generation into the promised land.
With the exception of Joshua and Caleb every single male from Egypt died in the wilderness because of their rebellion.

Ezekiel 20:16 because they despised My judgments and did not walk in My statutes, but profaned My Sabbaths; for their heart went after their idols.
Ezekiel 20:17 Nevertheless My eye spared them from destruction. I did not make an end of them in the wilderness.

This same grace is extended to the Hebrews throughout history and into the future.

Refrain 2.
God spared them from His own Wrath.

Ezekiel 20:18 “But I said to their children in the wilderness, ‘Do not walk in the statutes of your fathers, nor observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols.
Ezekiel 20:19 I am the Lord your God: Walk in My statutes, keep My judgments, and do them;
Ezekiel 20:20 hallow My Sabbaths, and they will be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God.’

The Sabbath is a sign between God and those He calls His children. He proves Himself when He acts on their behalf, doing their work for them while they rest.

A repeat of verse 13.

Ezekiel 20:21 “Notwithstanding, the children rebelled against Me; they did not walk in My statutes, and were not careful to observe My judgments, ‘which, if a man does, he shall live by them’; but they profaned My Sabbaths. Then I said I would pour out My fury on them and fulfill My anger against them in the wilderness.

The opposite of “living by them” is “dying without them”.

A repeat of verse 13.

Ezekiel 20:22 Nevertheless I withdrew (Refrained from judgment) My hand and acted for My name’s sake, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the Gentiles, in whose sight I had brought them out.

For the sake of God’s name and character, He held back. He wanted the gentiles to know Him.

A repeat of verse 17.

Ezekiel 20:23 Also I raised My hand in an oath to those in the wilderness, that I would scatter them among the Gentiles and disperse them throughout the countries,

When God makes an oath, or covenant, He keeps it. It is decided and done.

Oath 4. With the conquest of Judah by the Babylonians, this oath came to pass. This is why they are sitting in a foreign land listening to Ezekiel.

Ezekiel 20:24 because they had not executed My judgments, but had despised My statutes, profaned My Sabbaths, and their eyes were fixed on their fathers’ idols.
Ezekiel 20:25 “Therefore I also gave them up to statutes that were not good, and judgments by which they could not live;

There is no vacuum. When God withdraws, Satan moves in with his statutes and judgments with which men die by.

  • Matthew 12:43 “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. 44 Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.”

Personal Application: When you buy one lie, you begin on a path of buying more.

Ezekiel 20:26 and I pronounced them unclean because of their ritual gifts, in that they caused all their firstborn (Lit. that open the womb) to pass through the fire, that I might make them desolate and that they might know that I am the Lord.” ’

The firstborn is special. They were instructed to consecrate the first born to God:

  • Exodus 13:2 “Consecrate to Me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and beast; it is Mine.”
  • Luke 2:23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”)

They took that which is holy and used it to spit in God’s face. Prophetic of how Jesus, God’s firstborn was treated.

God promoted the Jews over the gentiles, but they insisted on following the pagan ways of the gentiles, therefore God withdrew and gave them over to the consequences of their own ways in their own destruction.

Personal application: Today we abort our children. When we abort our children we abort our future. We teach our children by our actions that life is cheap and worthless when it interrupts our lives. So, what will our children do with us?

Ezekiel 20:27 “Therefore, son of man, speak to the house of Israel, and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “In this too your fathers have blasphemed Me, by being unfaithful to Me.

To blaspheme is to curse.

Ezekiel 20:28 When I brought them into the land concerning which I had raised My hand in an oath to give them, and they saw all the high hills and all the thick trees, there they offered their sacrifices and provoked Me with their offerings. There they also sent up their sweet aroma and poured out their drink offerings.

After everything God did on their behalf, they refuse to acknowledge Him or give Him His due honor.

Ezekiel 20:29 Then I said to them, ‘What is this high place (Place for pagan worship) to which you go?’ So its name is called Bamah (Lit. High Place) to this day.” ’

Strong’s H1117 Bamah: Place of idolatrous worship. Same as H1116

high place, heights, waves, also proud or haughty (elite)
Satan is the king of the children of pride; he is the global “elite”.

  • Luke 10:18 And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning (Barak) from (O) heaven/high place (bama).” (I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven/the high place).
Ezekiel 20:30 Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Are you defiling yourselves in the manner of your fathers, and committing harlotry according to their abominations?
Ezekiel 20:31 For when you offer your gifts and make your sons pass through the fire, you defile yourselves with all your idols, even to this day. SO! shall I be inquired of by you, O house of Israel? As I live,” says the Lord God, “I will NOT be inquired of (boiled) by you.

There is passion in the word “inquire” also be translated “to boil”. Satan, the leviathan, in Job 41 causes the sea of people to “boil”. It appears the Leaders are being led by Satan to question and boil God in their arrogance.

Ezekiel 20:32 What you have in your mind shall never be, when you say, ‘We will be like the Gentiles, like the families in other countries, serving wood and stone.’

God cannot allow them to go the way of the gentiles when His Name is associated with them; therefore God is scattering them to all the nations.

God Will Restore Israel

Ezekiel 20:33 As I live,” says the Lord God, “surely with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out (finished, done), I WILL rule over you.
  • Psalm 2: 6 “Yet I have set (installed) MY King On MY holy hill of Zion.” 7 “I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, ‘YOU (Jesus) are MY Son, …I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. … 12 Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way,

Oath 5. God’s outstretched Arm is His Son. He will pour out His fury during the seven year tribulation also known as Daniel’s 70th week. A time of affliction that will bring the Jews to their knees and recognition of God’s Son, Jesus. At the end of seven years of tribulation, Jesus will return to earth to set up His kingdom. He will then rule over the Jews and the entire world.

Ezekiel 20:34 I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out (emptied).
Ezekiel 20:35 And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will plead My case with you face to face.
  • Revelation 12:6,14 Then the woman (the remnant of Jews) fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days... But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.

In the middle of the seven year tribulation the Jews will be scattered, betrayed, and running for their lives. God will hide a remnant in the wilderness of people. When Jesus returns at the end of the seven year tribulation He will gather them back for the final time. Then He will judge the nations who turned their back on them.

Ezekiel 20:36 Just as I pleaded My case with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will plead My case with you,” says the Lord God.
Ezekiel 20:37 “I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant;

A Christian missionary gives the following interesting explanation of this figurative expression:

” In Syria, just below my house, which stood facing the Mediterranean Sea, there was a sheepfold; a large area surrounded by high walls. It had but one entrance, a little gateway near the corner. It was low and narrow, and a man must stoop to get into it. Every night the shepherd brings home his flock from outside the city, or from the distant field, or the mountain side, to be gathered into this fold.

And as they pass into this narrow gateway, they must go one by one. No huddling, and crowding, and jostling, as boys do sometimes at play; and as they pass in, the shepherd stands by the gate and holds his crook over them, to count them one by one as they go in. Every night the shepherd does this, and so he knows if any are left out in the field or on the mountains.”

  • Leviticus 27: 32 KJV—’ And concerning the tithe of the herd and of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord.’

The remnant of Israel during the seven year tribulation is the tithe God reserves for Himself.

  • Revelation 7:4 And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed:
  • Revelation 14:1 The Lamb and the 144,000: Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads
  • Revelation 14:3 They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth.
Ezekiel 20:38 I will purge the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the country where they dwell, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord.
  • Revelation 21:27 But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Ezekiel 20:39 “As for you, O house of Israel,” thus says the Lord God: “Go, serve every one of you his idols—and hereafter—if you will not obey Me; but profane My holy name (at least DO NOT give Me) no more with your gifts and your idols.
Ezekiel 20:40 For on My holy mountain, on the mountain height of Israel,” says the Lord God, “there all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, shall serve Me; there I will accept them, and there I will require your offerings and the firstfruits of your sacrifices (offerings), together with all your holy things.
  • Zechariah 14: 16-20 The Nations Worship the King: 16 And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. 17 And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, on them there will be no rain. 18 If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the Lord strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. 19 This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. 20 In that day “HOLINESS TO THE LORD” shall be engraved on the bells of the horses.
  • Jeremiah 2:3 Israel was holiness to the Lord, The firstfruits of His increase. All that devour him will offend; Disaster will come upon them,” says the Lord.’ ”
Ezekiel 20:41 I will accept you as a sweet aroma when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered; and I will be hallowed in you before (in the face of) the Gentiles.
  • Zephaniah 3:20 At that time I will bring you back, Even at the time I gather you; For I will give you fame and praise Among all the peoples of the earth, When I return your captives before your eyes,” Says the Lord.
  • Micah 2:12 Israel Restored: “I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob, I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together like sheep of the fold, Like a flock in the midst of their pasture; They shall make a loud noise because of so many people.
  • Joel 2:16 Gather the people, Sanctify the congregation, Assemble the elders, Gather the children and nursing babes; Let the bridegroom go out from his chamber, And the bride from her dressing room.
  • Ezekiel 28:25 Israel’s Future Blessing: ‘Thus says the Lord God: “When I have gathered the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and am hallowed in them in the sight of the Gentiles, then they will dwell in their own land which I gave to My servant Jacob.
Ezekiel 20:42 Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I bring you into the land of Israel, into the country for which I raised My hand in an oath to give to your fathers.

God will have fulfilled His oath to Abraham.

Ezekiel 20:43 And there you shall remember your ways and all your doings with which you were defiled; and you shall loathe (Or despise) yourselves in your own sight because of all the evils that you have committed.
Ezekiel 20:44 Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have dealt with you for My name’s sake, not according to your wicked ways nor according to your corrupt doings, O house of Israel,” says the Lord God.’ ”

Fire in the Forest

Ezekiel 20:45 Furthermore the word of the Lord came to me, saying,
Ezekiel 20:46 “Son of man, set your face toward the south; preach (proclaim, lit. drop) against the south and prophesy against the forest land, the South (Heb. Negev),
Map of Negev Desert, with sites indicated | Download Scientific Diagram

Note: Read Isaiah Chapter 21

Ezekiel 20:47 and say to the forest of the South, ‘Hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I will kindle a fire in you, and it shall devour every green tree and every dry tree in you; the blazing flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be scorched by it.

Currently hundreds of palm trees are planted in the Negev desert. However this verse can is symbolic as well as literal. The kindled fire in Isaiah 21 describes an ocean of armies descending on Israel. The green trees and the dry trees represent men. Green trees have sap while Dry trees are void of sap. Sap is like the pitch on Noah’s ark and its Hebrew definition is “atonement”. It seals the container in the same way the Holy Spirit seals the believer.

  • Genesis 6:14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch.
    Pitch kāp̄ar h3722 :
  1. to cover over, pacify, propitiate
  2. to cover over, atone for sin, make atonement for
  3. to cover over, atone for sin and persons by legal rites
Ezekiel 20:48 All flesh shall see that I, the Lord, have kindled it; it shall not be quenched.” ’ ”
Ezekiel 20:49 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! They say of me, ‘Does he not speak parables?’ ”

Judgment on unbelieving Israel. Withholding mysteries. The same with tongues which are words they cannot understand.

Daniel 2:21 He (only) gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.

He does not give wisdom to a fool because the fool will refuse it or abuse it.
He does not give knowledge to the ignorant, because they will IGNORE it.
Those who have will get more. Those who do not have will get less.

  • Matthew 13:12 For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.
  • Matthew 13:13 Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.

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