Of all the prophets in the Bible, I find Ezekiel the hardest to understand. Since I became a Christian in 2006, I’ve read the same Bible plan. Every summer, I start with Ezekiel and Revelation simultaneously. Talk about a lot to absorb! My understanding of Ezekiel seems to have broadened lately, reflecting my time spent with the text.

Since the Pandemic started, I’ve had the time to go through my reading plan twice a day. First, I listen to the text, and later, I read it. Something I’ve found interesting about this approach is that certain verses will “stick” in my head from listening to it. By the time I’ve sat down to read, there’s a different anticipation about the reading. Although I’ve been reading the same plan for over 15 years, I only started using YouVersion in 2010, so I only have about 12 years’ worth of notes and highlights in the application. However, there are enough of them that sometimes, the verses that stuck out while listening turn out to be ones I’ve highlighted or remarked upon in the past. Here are some from today’s reading that stood out.

So I gave them other statutes that were not good and laws through which they could not live; I defiled them through their gifts—the sacrifice of every firstborn—that I might fill them with horror so they would know that I am the Lord ‘ (emphasis added).

Ezekiel 20:25-26 (NIV)

The Lord was giving Ezekiel a history lesson regarding the Israelite’s history of rebellion because the elders went to Ezekiel to inquire of the Lord (cf. Ezekiel 20:1). The Lord recounts his mercy time and again when the Israelites have turned from him to do their own thing. Specifically, their time in the wilderness. That’s what Ezekiel 20:25-26 is talking about. 

Ezekiel 20:25-26 might be confusing because it might appear that the Lord is talking about the law. However, Ezekiel 20:24 gives us the insight to realize that the Lord isn’t talking about his law.

Because they had not obeyed my laws but had rejected my decrees and desecrated my Sabbaths, and their eyes lusted after their parents’ idols.

Ezekiel 20:24 (NIV)

Therefore, the “other statutes that were not good and laws through which they could not live” refers to the Israelites going their own way. This is like the Lord hardening Pharaoh’s heart, which I discussed early this week here. So, when the Lord said, “I defiled them through their gifts—the sacrifice of every firstborn—that I might fill them with horror so they would know that I am the Lord ‘” it’s referring to the Lord’s permissive will that allowed them to do whatever they wanted. The sacrifice of every firstborn isn’t a reference to the sanctification and dedication of the firstborn to the Lord. Instead, these are references to Moloch worship, where the Israelites would offer their children as sacrifices to Moloch. The King James translation of verse 26 provides us this insight.

And I polluted them in their own gifts, in that they caused to pass through the fire all that openeth the womb, that I might make them desolate, to the end that they might know that I am the Lord (emphasis added).

Ezekiel 20:26 (KJV)

Another reason why I think my understanding has broadened has to do with my motivation. Ever since I started reading the Bible, I have sought to understand what it says and to know God better. However, in the last year, I’ve been able to share what the Lord has been showing me with you. See, I want you to also understand the Bible and to know God better. Words cannot express my gratitude to the Lord for being able to share my devotions with you every day, and to each of you who take the time to stop by and read my thoughts, I want to say, “Thank you.”