Ezekiel 21:1-4 apparent contradiction?

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charispistis

Puritan Board Freshman
Hello brothers and sisters,

I'm going through Ezekiel, and came up to this passage at Ezekiel 21:1-4 where he says:

Ezekiel 21:1-4
"The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, set your face toward Jerusalem and preach against the sanctuaries. Prophesy against the land of Israel and say to the land of Israel, Thus says the Lord: Behold, I am against you and will draw my sword from its sheath and will cut off from you both righteous and wicked. Because I will cut off from you both righteous and wicked, therefore my sword shall be drawn from its sheath against all flesh from south to north."

This statement seems to contradict what was said in Ezekiel 18:1-24, where only the wicked would die and the righteous would live. And it also brings back the conversation Abraham had with God in Genesis:

Genesis 18:25
"Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?”

Any thoughts?

Maybe they are righteous and the wicked from the people's perspective since the judgment seems to include idolaters and followers of God? And in reality only the wicked are actually being "punished"?

Or maybe "cut off" means "captivity" instead of death?

I'm trying to think of some solutions to better understand this passage.
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
My NT prof in seminary always said when you see an apparent contradiction in Scripture...work harder.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
First off you are quoting Abraham and not God in Genesis 18:25. It was his intercessory prayer which was tied to his nephew Lot. Where did God say He wouldn't allow the righteous to suffer with the wicked? I am just not familiar with that concept.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Also remember...

Eze 22:29    The people of the land have used oppression, and exercised robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy: yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully.Eze 22:30    And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.Eze 22:31    Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord GOD.
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
I'm glad you are going through Ezekiel. I always tell my students that the answer to every question is in Ezekiel...

In regards to your specific question, it is a general principle that God is able to preserve the righteous while also judging the wicked (2 Pet 2:9). As the context shows, Peter explicitly has Lot in mind. The same principle is evident in Ezekiel 9:4, where the angel is told to mark those who sigh and mourn over Jerusalem's abominations, presumably to keep them safe in the destruction (though we aren't told how many, if any the angel found). But Biblical truths have a way of being twisted by unbelievers, and there would have been many in Ezekiel's day who would have argued that God wouldn't judge Jerusalem because of his commitment to his people. Ezekiel 21 is aimed at confounding that misplaced trust by showing the comprehensiveness of the coming judgment - so great that it would sweep away even those whom you would expect to survive.

Of course, the Lord does preserve the righteous ultimately. He had already preserved some by taking them into exile at an earlier date, though those left behind in Jerusalem might scorn them. Others he might preserve through death itself, which is not the great enemy for those who trust him that it is for unbelievers. So the conflict is more apparent than real, born out of the preacher's obligation to afflict the comfortable as well as comfort the afflicted.

Does that help?
 

charispistis

Puritan Board Freshman
Thank you all for your help!

Iain, your post really helped me on my study. By the way, what commentary would you recommend on the book of Ezekiel?
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
Thank you all for your help!

Iain, your post really helped me on my study. By the way, what commentary would you recommend on the book of Ezekiel?

Well, there is always my commentary in the NIVAC series...

For academic help, there is no equal to Dan Block in the NICOT. For more popular help, Chris Wright in the Bible Speaks Today or Derek Thomas in the Welwyn series.

Iain
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
Well, there is always my commentary in the NIVAC series...

Since Pastor Duguid is probably not willing to tout his own commentary too much, allow me to put in a plug for it... by way of a story.

A few years back I befriended a guy who was a brand new believer with little exposure to the Bible. Unknown to me, he had decided to start reading the Bible straight through from the start. We got to talking one day and he told me about his Bible reading, and that a few weeks before he'd reached the book of Ezekiel and got bogged down. He just couldn't understand it, so he quit reading the Bible. I suggested he jump to the New Testament but he asked if I could help him make sense of Ezekiel instead. I tried to explain some of the major themes but mostly just stammered a lot. Eventually I let him borrow my Iain Duguid commentary on Ezekiel. It was clear enough, simple enough, and pastoral enough that it really helped my friend. He got through Ezekiel and eventually finished the entire Bible.
 
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