Babylon As God’s Sword Of Judgment (Ezekiel 21)

Scripture Text:

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Ezekiel 21

1. As a child, what was your favorite cowboy western? When you played “gun-fights” and “sword-fights”, who were you imitating? How many pretend bullets or stab wounds did it take before you fell dead? What do you think of such “play” now?

2. What kind of things make you cry more? Birthdays? Weddings? Funerals? Saying goodbye or hello? Seeing bad news on TV or hearing good news?

3. What accidents have you had with a sharp-cutting instrument? What stitches do you have to show for it? Which show-and-tell story leaves you all in stitches?

4. In these five “sword oracles”, what is the overall intent and impact of this sharp metaphor on Ezekiel? On his audience? On God Himself?

5. To what or whom does the sword refer (verses 3 and 19)? What does this tell you about God’s use of human instruments to execute His divine purpose?

6. Why will both the righteous and the wicked die in this invasion (verse 4)? How does this square with the teaching of chapter 18? How does John 11:25, 26 help Christian believers resolve this apparent contradiction?

7. How will people respond to the news of this invasion (verses 6, 7, 12, 15)? Compare their response to God’s (see chapter 18:23)?

8. What symbols of royalty do you see (verses 10, 13, 16)? What will the sword do to them? What do these actions represent?

9. In  verses 18 – 32, Ezekiel is supposed to make a model of a road with a fork in it. What lies at the end of each road? How will the king of Babylon decide which fork to take? What false hope do those in Judah loyal to Nebuchadnezzar cling to (verses 10b, 23; chapter 17:14, 15)? Why are they guilty (verse 24)?

10. What ruinous reversal will happen later (586 BC) to the “prince” (verses 25 – 27)? When will this Davidic kingship be restored?

11. What will happen later to those Ammorites on the other fork (verses 28 – 32)? By whom? Why at this time (see chapter 25:1 – 7)?

12. What do you think of God’s “sword dance”? Was this an effective way to get His point across? How so?

13. God controlled the military and political destiny of Babylon and Israel. Do you think He is as involved with today’s nations? What evidence do you have for your answer: Any events from modern history? Or current events? What nations do you think will see God’s wrath somewhere down the road?

14. Have you ever experienced a punishment from God? Or are you hoping God’s sword took the other turn at the fork in the road, never to return your way again? What is your basis for hoping that?

15. God’s Word still cuts “sharper than any double-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12, 13), even though it hurts Him to do so, as well as us. How do you account for that ambivalence in God? How does He want you to respond to His “sword”? How did you respond the last time?

16. Are you responsible for training or supervising others at home or work? What “sword” (pen or tongue) do you wield in your correction of them? How do feel when you do this? What would likely happen if you kept your sword always in its scabbard?

Examining the Liver (verse 21): Additional Comment

This verse shows how an ancient Babylonian king might seek direction from his gods. Casting lots with arrows apparently mean marking arrows with various alternatives, putting them in a quiver, and drawing one out. Consulting idols would mean praying to them, perhaps hoping for a dream or an omen. The liver of animals, like tea leaves today, were often studied in ancient times; their shape or color was supposed to tell the future.

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Prophecy Against the South (Ezekiel 20:45 – 45)

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Ezekiel 20:45 – 49

1. As “fire” commonly refers to an invading enemy, and “forest” refers to Judah in the south, what is God saying here? How do “green” and “dry” trees fare (see chapter 17:24)?

2. Do the hearers heed this warning? Why not?

3. What was God’s purpose in this warning? In the New Testament, what is the “unquenchable (or eternal) fire” (see Luke 3:17; Matthew 25:41)?

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