Ezekiel 14 – When Righteousness Saves

14:1-5 – “Some of the elders”. This group represents the rest of the elders who seek the LORD outwardly but are inwardly idolaters. What does it mean when the LORD says He will answer such persons Himself? In what way is this not what the seekers desire? (see 14:8) “Answer Himself” refers to the fact that He will not answer their inquiry, but will instead answer their idolatry (see Block NICOT 427). Note that the LORD is not about having a people unless He also has their hearts.

14:6 – What does repentance entail in this context? Turning and renouncing.

14:7-8 – Who is included as outwardly belonging to the LORD and therefore needing to hold only to Him in adoration and worship? How might persons be separated from the LORD? Compare Paul’s teaching in Romans 8:38-39 and consider how these two teachings might belong together. What is the LORD’s judgment of the inward idolater who only outwardly seeks Him?

14:9-11 – What does it mean for a prophet to be “enticed to utter a prophecy”? (cf. Num. 22-25; 31:16; Deut. 23:4-5; 1 Kings 22:19-23; Jer. 20:7, 10) Who actually entices the prophets to lie? What is the result? Who bears the guilt? (cf. 2 Thess. 2:9-12) Why would the LORD do such a thing? He does this so that His people will truly be His people: a people without sin and with God.

14:12-20 – What does it mean for another country to be “unfaithful” to the LORD? Why are Noah, Daniel and Job named as paragons of virtue? They are mentioned because they stood faithfully in the midst of much ridicule, rejection and wickedness (Gen. 6:9; Job 1:8; Dan. 1:8). Ezekiel is using them as ideal examples of those whose righteousness would not be sufficient to save anyone but themselves in the Day of Judgment. Dan Block (NICOT 449fn49) believes the “children” refers not to their children, but to children in general who would be thought worthy of being spared. The name “Danel” (which is noted as being the original spelling in Ezekiel – see also 28:3) is sometimes thought to refer to a Near Eastern legend of one Danel who was faithful to carry out justice despite his suffering (see Aqhat), but this seems unlikely. While Noah and Job were ancient examples, Daniel would be a contemporary one (and the Danel of the Aqhat legend was not considered faithful to the LORD, but to various other deities of the Ugaritic pantheon). It is more probable that this is simply a variant spelling of Daniel who was a contemporary of Ezekiel (Block NICOT 447-9; contra Duguid NIVAC 193-4). Daniel had been taken into exile in about 604BC and would have been in Babylon for over 15 years by this point and risen to some considerable level of notoriety among the exiles.

14:21-23 – Note the “four dreadful judgments” – sword (Lev. 26:25), famine (Lev. 26:26), wild beasts (Lev. 26:22) and plague (Lev. 26:25). (cf. Jer. 15:2-3; Rev. 6:8) Why do the animals suffer punishment as well? (cf. Jonah 4:11; and Yael Shemesh’s “‘And Many Beasts’ (Jonah 4:11): The Function and Status of Animals in the Book of Jonah,” JHS, Vol.10 Art.6, 2010). In the midst of judgment there is hope in “some survivors” not because they were more resilient or more righteous than the rest, but because the LORD wanted to show the exiles (who were perceived to have been the wicked and thus exiled already) that those left in Jerusalem and Judah were idolatrous and wicked. This was to demonstrate both the justice and mercy of the LORD.

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