Ezekiel 14


The attitude of God towards the worshippers of idols, and certainty of judgment

The Lord gives no answer to the idolaters. Ezekiel 14:1-11.

Elders with idols in their hearts. Ezekiel 14:1-5.

The Divine threat, and summons to repent. Ezekiel 14:6-8.

No prophet is to give any other answer. Ezekiel 14:9-11.

The righteousness of the godly will not avert judgment. Ezekiel 14:12-23.

Righteousness can only save the individual. Ezekiel 14:12-20.

This rule applied to Jerusalem. Ezekiel 14:21-23.


Israel’s leaders have idols in their hearts. Ezekiel is shown that God is only doing what He must. One irony of the people’s continued idolatry is their practice of seeking God’s will from the prophets.

They are fascinated and allured by the various idols they have set up in their hearts, but deep down in those same hearts, there is evidently the realisation that only a much greater God can provide the real answers to life. Yet God considers their dual allegiance an affront and orders Ezekiel not to accommodate their curiosity.

‘Some of the elders of Israel came to me and sat down in front of me. Then the word of the LORD came to me: ‘Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces. Should I let them inquire of me at all? Therefore, speak to them and tell them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: When any of the Israelites set up idols in their hearts and put a wicked stumbling block before their faces and then go to a prophet, I the LORD will answer them myself in keeping with their great idolatry. I will do this to recapture the hearts of the people of Israel, who have all deserted me for their idols.’ ‘Therefore, say to the people of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices! ‘When any of the Israelites or any foreigner residing in Israel separate themselves from me and set up idols in their hearts and put a wicked stumbling block before their faces and then go to a prophet to inquire of me, I the LORD will answer them myself. I will set my face against them and make them an example and a byword. I will remove them from my people. Then you will know that I am the LORD. ‘And if the prophet is enticed to utter a prophecy, I the LORD have enticed that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand against him and destroy him from among my people Israel. They will bear their guilt—the prophet will be as guilty as the one who consults him. Then the people of Israel will no longer stray from me, nor will they defile themselves anymore with all their sins. They will be my people, and I will be their God, declares the Sovereign LORD.’ Ezekiel 14:1-11

The Visit of the elders

Perhaps the same group of elders who came in Ezekiel 8:1ff. These were perhaps some of the ‘best’ elders Judah had. Nebuchadnezzar had taken the cream captive in 606 and 597 B.C. Ezekiel saw before him men who were well respected, but God saw they had idols in their hearts. Idols, in their hearts, show the relationship these elders had with idolatry. They may not outwardly show idolatrous practices, but they had an intimate relationship with them. These men come to ask God for His will.

‘No greater insult can be offered to God than for the man who offers Him no allegiance, or at best a divided one, which He will not accept, to come to His prophet and to ask to know His will, which he will only do if it suits him. He may do it to seem respectable in the eyes of man, or out of superstition, or just because it is customary.’ Ezekiel: The Man and His Message. H. L. Ellison.

The prophet’s word to them will of course be from God, the ultimate word for them was the destruction of Jerusalem. But again, the prophet is given the message of warning to all, to remove their idolatry, outward and inward. There is here too, a warning to Ezekiel that he will be punished too if he tries to comfort the people with lies. He knows the true message from God, he must speak it or expect the same judgement. Ezekiel 14:9ff.

How many righteous people does it take to save a nation?

It has been 1500 years since Abram asked that question about Sodom and Gomorrah. Surely at this time, there are righteous believers among both the captives and their Jerusalem kinsmen, who are asking the same question themselves.

God’s answer to Ezekiel is that there comes a time when a nation sins so completely condemns them that not even a remnant of righteous citizens can stop the destruction of inherent evil. God uses as his illustration of a righteous remnant a trio of faithful believers. Noah who saw all mankind, except his own family, destroyed by the great flood.

Job the patient patriarch. Daniel, possibly the Daniel who is in captivity in Babylon and serving in Nebuchadnezzar’s palace, who will distinguish himself even more than he already has.

‘The word of the LORD came to me: ‘Son of man, if a country sins against me by being unfaithful and I stretch out my hand against it to cut off its food supply and send famine upon it and kill its people and their animals, even if these three men—Noah, Daniel and Job—were in it, they could save only themselves by their righteousness, declares the Sovereign LORD. ‘Or if I send wild beasts through that country and they leave it childless and it becomes desolate so that no one can pass through it because of the beasts, as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, even if these three men were in it, they could not save their own sons or daughters. They alone would be saved, but the land would be desolate. ‘Or if I bring a sword against that country and say, ‘Let the sword pass throughout the land,’ and I kill its people and their animals, as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, even if these three men were in it, they could not save their own sons or daughters. They alone would be saved. ‘Or if I send a plague into that land and pour out my wrath on it through bloodshed, killing its people and their animals, as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, even if Noah, Daniel and Job were in it, they could save neither son nor daughter. They would save only themselves by their righteousness. ‘For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: How much worse will it be when I send against Jerusalem my four dreadful judgments—sword and famine and wild beasts and plague—to kill its men and their animals! Yet there will be some survivors—sons and daughters who will be brought out of it. They will come to you, and when you see their conduct and their actions, you will be consoled regarding the disaster I have brought on Jerusalem—every disaster I have brought on it. You will be consoled when you see their conduct and their actions, for you will know that I have done nothing in it without cause, declares the Sovereign LORD. Ezekiel 14:12-23

Judgment inescapable

This message from God seems to be primarily to Ezekiel. The prophet is not convinced that such a harsh judgement is due to his people.

Does God deceive the prophet? 2 Thessalonians 2:11. God allows them to follow their own wiles, their sin is so great. God tells the prophet that he will only send one judgement on a people when it is absolutely necessary.

There is so little righteousness in the land that these 3 righteous men could not avert the judgement. He will give four examples of this, famine Ezekiel 14:13f, wild beasts Ezekiel 14:15f, a sword Ezekiel 14:17f, pestilence Ezekiel 14:19f.

For each one of these judgements, Noah, Daniel, and Job’s righteousness would not be enough to avert that judgement. So, he says, how much more will that be true if God sends his four sore judgements on the land. This small amount of righteousness not being able to save a nation is seen in Sodom and Gomorrah.

Abraham’s interceding for the 50 then eventually 10 righteous is the same principle. Lot’s righteousness was not enough to save Sodom. From the hypothetical land receiving one judgement from God, the prophet is now shown this in relation to Jerusalem.

‘If a land is ravaged by any one of these sore judgements what should one realise? That the nation is too sinful to be permitted to get away with it. And what if all of the four sore judgements fell on a land? That would mean the land was utterly incorrigible and beyond salvation without radical purging. Well, this is exactly the position that Jerusalem was in.’ The book of Ezekiel. J. McGuiggan.

So, the four sore judgements are coming on Jerusalem:

1. Sword

2. Famine

3. Evil beasts

4. Pestilence.

Ezekiel is told in closing, that the remnant from the destroyed city would prove God’s case. The prophet would see in them the characteristics that demanded such judgement.

Note, Noah, Daniel, and Job. Why these 3 are chosen seems unclear. The three together vouch for their historicity, of which Daniel’s and Job’s have been doubted.

Go To Ezekiel 15