Ezekiel — Restoring Responsibility

Ezekiel – Restoring Responsibility

Readings

Ezekiel 3:1-11, 3:16-21, 14:12-20, 18:1-32, 33:1-9, 34:1-31, 39:25-29

Background

  • Ezekiel is a priest at the time of the Babylonian Captivity.
  • Ezekiel is carried off to Babylon with Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shortly after his 30th birthday.
  • Ezekiel’s prophetic career spans 25 years, 11 before Jerusalem falls and 14 after.
  • Ezekiel’s prophecy is to the captives in Babylon.
  • Ezekiel’s contemporaries are looking for someone to blame.

Key Questions in Ezekiel

  • Whose fault is all of this?
  • Why are we in captivity when there are perfectly evil people running free back home?
  • Didn’t other nations, or other generations of Israelites, deserve this punishment more than we did?
  • Who among our leaders can we trust to keep this from happening again?

The primary issue in Ezekiel is responsibility. Restoration can only happen when responsibility is accepted. “No single raindrop believes it is to blame for the flood.” And as long as the flood happens to somebody else, good. See 2 Kings 20:14-19.

Notes on Passages

3:1-11 – God has given up on getting a message to the house of Israel, but He is not abandoning the relationship. So He’s sending a prophet to the captives.

3:16-21 – God takes responsibility for His people by giving them a message and a chance to respond to it. Ezekiel’s responsibility is to teach that message. But there is a limit; all you can do is all you can do.

14:12-20 – A sinner cannot be saved by someone else’s righteousness. God has no grandchildren.

Chapter 18 – Your sins are your fault, as are the consequences. The righteous are not punished for sins they did not commit. The wicked are punished for their sins. Fathers do not bear the iniquity of their sons, nor the sons that of their fathers. If you change the mind, for good or for evil, you but live with the consequences. That said, it is never too late to change your mind. God takes no satisfaction from punishing the wicked. If you will repent and take responsibility, you too can live.

33:1-9 – The watchman is responsible for the people, so long as they heed his warning.

Chapter 34 – Self-serving leaders will be punished. God will be our shepherd. Sheep have responsibilities to one another. When responsibilities are restored and carried out, there are rewards.

39:25-29 – God’s plan is to restore His people.

Questions for Discussion:

  • What does Ezekiel say about our own responsibility?
  • To what extent are we responsible for other people?
  • What obligations do we have to those who are responsible for us?
  • Who is the New Testament counterpart to the prophetic “watchman?
  • What rewards does God promise us when we take responsibility for ourselves and our obligations?
  • What changes do we need to make to restore our own responsibilities?
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