Study Guide

Book of Ezekiel Compassion and Forgiveness

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Compassion and Forgiveness

Although Ezekiel is a pretty wrath-intensive book, it also has compassion and forgiveness in evidence. God eventually promises that he'll be a kind shepherd who will lead his people out of darkness. However, Ezekiel's version of God isn't really merciful in the commonly accepted, modern day sense of the word "mercy." He's not going to forgive anyone unless they basically deserve it. He's still very concerned with justice, with measuring out what people can and can't have. So, there aren't any "Get Out of Jail" free cards in this book. Suffering and punishment pay for everything.

At the same time, God says that children won't be punished for the sins of their parents; everyone will be judged based only on their own deeds. He also promises that he'll forgive wicked people for all their sins if they start to shape us, so they won't have to suffer the consequences of their previous actions. So he strikes a kind of compromise between justice and mercy.

Questions About Compassion and Forgiveness

  1. Is Ezekiel's God merciful? To what extent does he balance the claims of justice with those of mercy? 
  2. How do people merit God's forgiveness in this book? What kind of change is the most important?
  3. What role does God's forgiveness play in helping the House of Israel regain its territory and return from exile?
  4. Why does God insist on punishing people before forgiving them? Could he have changed their ways without punishment? He's God, after all.

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