Daily Bible Reading for July 4, 2014, with Commentary: Ezekiel 19-24
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Context: Chapter 19 contains two funeral laments: one for two leaders (1-4, 5-9), and one for the people or nation of Judah (10-14). Note that Ezekiel refuses to address the final rulers of Judah as kings, instead calling them princes, because Ezekiel does not recognize the legitimacy of their rule. Chapter 20 is similar to previous chapters in that it contains a historical review of the sins of Judah. In 1-4 the prophet speaks to the elders, in 5-9 the lessons learned during the exodus are remembered, in 10-14 the lessons learned during the wilderness days are remembered, in 15-22 the lessons learned during the 40 years of wandering are remembered, in 23-29 the past rebellions are remembered, in 30-39 present rebellions and the coming exile are foretold, in 40-44, the purification after the exile is foretold, and in 45-49 the call for judgment to begin is stated. Chapter 21 describes how the Lord's sword has been drawn against Judah (1-7), the destruction of the sword (8-17), and Nebuchadnezzar's decision (18-27). The remaining verses foretell the judgment on the Ammonites. Chapter 22 again addresses the sins of Judah: God knows the sins (1-5), specific sins (6-12), promise of judgment for the sins (13-22), and the total disintegration of society following the judgment (23-31). Chapter 23 is a parable, similar to the harlot queen in chapter 16. We are introduced to two sister (1-10), told of the harlotry of Oholah, who represents Samaria (11-21), told of the oracles of judgment (22-35), and given and review and prediction of judgment (36-49). Chapter 24, written the day Nebuchadnezzar began his siege, tells of the assignment of the message to the messenger (1-5), the announcement of woe (6-8), and the announcement of judgment (9-14). Chapter 24 ends with Ezekiel's wife dying. Her death is an example, but not an arbitrary death or one used simply to prove a point. Suffering is a part of following Christ, yet God is aware and knows of our suffering and cares that we are suffering.
World History: Chapter 20 occurs shortly after Egypt was victorious over Babylon and King Zedekiah was negotiating with Egypt to revolt against Babylon. Most likely the elders wanted to know if Zedekiah and Egypt would be successful. Chapter 24 was written the day Nebuchadnezzar began his siege on Jerusalem in 588 BC. The siege would ultimately end with the destruction of the temple in 586 BC.