Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives. The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version. At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture. To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.
Questions & Observations
Q. (Ezekiel 24:15-17): Reading that God killed Ezekiel’s wife as a demonstration to the people on what their lives will be like seems cruel. Ezekiel is putting up with a lot from God. The lack of fairness comes to mind, but being fair is not something God has promised. After going past my initial shock of his wife dying and Ezekiel not being allowed to mourn for her, I think how desperate these times are that God had to kill his messenger’s wife to try to get through to the people and how hard it must have been for God to make such harsh demonstrations and punishments. These people are so obstinate.
A. It is a poignant scene, no doubt. The wife’s death appears to coincide with the destruction of the temple, which surely caused Ezekiel a great amount of anguish as a priest. God called upon him to mourn for his wife in a way that would be an example for his people: to carry on despite the crushing loss.
Q. (25:1-17): Has Ezekiel already lain on his side for over a year to take the sins of the Israelites and Judeans? Here he has to travel to give messages to these other kingdoms, so I guess his time bound to bed is finished?
A. The story doesn’t tell us about when he completed the action, but no, I don’t believe that he is traveling to these lands as he’s a captive in Babylon. He’s not allowed to leave. God instructs him to symbolically “face” these nations and issue the statements. He is not delivering these oracles in person.
O From Rob: If there’s any movie buffs out there who are fans of Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction (and I can’t say I am, just passing this along), Ezekiel 25:17 is the verse that Samuel L. Jackson’s hit-man character, Jules, uses when he is about to execute his targets. If you watch the film, however, you will quickly note that the writers, including Tarantino, MADE UP most of the “verse” that Jules “quotes”, though the ending is similar to the King James Version. I’m not linking to the scene, because it is extremely violent, but you might get a laugh out of how exaggerated the verse Jules uses is, and the way that it is played up to “sound” like a wrathful Bible verse. Hollywood is certainly fond of treating the Bible in such a manner, so it is certainly wise of Christians to know what the Bible ACTUALLY says.
Q. (Jeremiah 34:1-7): Zedekiah is captured here, but I thought he was going to suffer for a while. Here, it says he will die peacefully.
A. He will suffer by being sent into exile, rather than dying in the midst of battle. The fall of Jerusalem is the conclusion of Babylon’s war against Judah; after this, “peace” is established by virtue of Judah’s people no longer resisting.
Q. (34:8-22): Is this passage out of order? Zedekiah has been captured. How could he make a ruling when he’s in exile? Did he make it a while ago and now the people are not releasing the slaves? I don’t know who is being addressed. Who is doing the enslaving of Hebrews?
A. It’s not out of order. Jeremiah is saying that Zedekiah’s capture is “about” to happen, and the city will be destroyed. Jerusalem and its surrounding cities were under a long siege, which is about to come to an end. So Zedekiah is not YET in exile. Babylon is the only one enslaving the Judeans, but they are doing it slowly over the course of several years.
O. (Ezekiel 29:16): It’s so interesting to see all the countries at play here to make God’s messages come true, like here when He says that Egypt will be a minor kingdom so Israel will not be tempted to trust it and see how foolish they were to ever have trusted it.
Q. (30:20-26): We see that God is strengthening Babylon and weakening most other countries, like Egypt here. Were there reasons (weather yielding good crops, politics, uprisings, etc.) other than God planned it this way — well, really the peoples’ sinning caused the suffering — that caused all of this turmoil. What I am asking is “is it God’s pure wrath at hand or does He use forces of nature to show His wrath?” I may have mentioned this before that I saw a program on the History Channel or somewhere like that that told about how the plagues could actually be explained through geography.
A. God can do as He pleases with such efforts, and He is certainly capable of using a nation like Babylon to humble His people and the surrounding nations including Egypt. Like His use of messengers, God is capable of using third parties to His own ends, but He can also speak for Himself as He does in His messages to Jeremiah or Ezekiel as we read about in these chapters.
Q. (31:14): Just wondered if the “pit” here is referring to hell?
A. No, just the grave. We won’t see much reference to hell until the NT, which certainly doesn’t jive with the common trope that God is purely wrathful in the OT and peaceful in the NT. The NT, frankly, has MUCH more to say about eternal damnation then the OT does — something to watch for.