accountability at board meeting August 29 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Ezekiel 33:21–36:38

Holding People Accountable

An organization, business, or even family must hold its members accountable. If it doesn’t, things will get worse. They will experience a loss of productivity, quality, motivation, reputation, and respect. For their name’s sake, the LORD’s, and ours, each of us must be held accountable. In 586 B.C. this is what Israel needed to learn, and today this is what we must learn. If we hold ourselves accountable, God will bless us.

At this time in Israel’s history, most of her people are in exile in the nation of Babylon. They are there because they did not hold themselves accountable. They had sinned greatly—more than all the surrounding nations around them. Because the LORD had been extremely patient, sending them prophets but taking little action, they thought He did not see their misdeeds or He was like a permissive parent. They found out differently. Israel and Judah were held to account for their many sins, and now they will be in exile for seventy years.

In today's Bible reading, the prophet Ezekiel records, “In the twelfth year of our exile, in the tenth month on the fifth day, a man who had escaped from Jerusalem came to me and said, ‘The city has fallen!’” (Ezekiel 33:21, NIV). Although Ezekiel had prophesied about this for twelve years, the Jewish exiles are shocked! Many liked Ezekiel’s preaching style (unlike Jeremiah) but didn't take him seriously. Finally, God closed his mouth for a time because they were not listening. The people continued in their sins and deceived themselves into believing that the nation of Judah could survive Babylon’s attacks as she had previously, and they would soon return to the land. They were wrong. Finally, the day of judgment came.

After Jerusalem's fall, there were some in the land who survived Babylonian destruction. They were poor people and under the control of Babylon. Strangely, however, they become proud. The LORD tells Ezekiel,

“Son of man, the people living in those ruins in the land of Israel are saying, ‘Abraham was only one man, yet he possessed the land. But we are many; surely the land has been given to us as our possession’” (33:24, NIV).

Like some employees in a firm or educational system, they think they will not be removed because of their tenure or relationship. The remnant in Judah had tenure in the Promised Land and a relationship with their Jewish heritage. The Israelites in the land disobey the laws of God yet expect to retain their place. This self-deception causes them to continue and even increase their wicked behavior. The LORD holds them to account, however, and they are removed. Now very few remain in the land, and foreigners occupy it.

God likens Israel’s leadership to bad shepherds, who do not care for their flock (their people). Because they cared only for themselves, their sheep were scattered by war and by exile, and the rest were devoured by Assyria and Babylon. For these sins, the LORD says he holds the shepherds accountable. We may not be shepherds of sheep, but most of have responsibilities over some people. How do we treat them? God will hold us accountable.

Because of their incompetence, the LORD says He will be Israel’s shepherd. He will deliver His people from exile and bring the scattered ones back to pasture in the Promised Land. He will be their protector and provider. This will happen in part when the Israelites are delivered from exile after the seventy years of exile are complete, but this prophecy will find complete fulfillment during the millennial reign of Christ. If we take this literally, as seems to be the intent, the LORD will even resurrect King David to be prince and shepherd over them (2Samuel 7:16; Ezekiel 34:24). We know this prince is not referring to Christ because he will offer up sacrifices for his own sins (Ezekiel 45:22). Before the millennial reign of Christ, God will give Israel a new heart to obey Him (Ezekiel 36:25-27). Do we want God's blessings? It starts with a new heart (more...).

In our last Bible study, we saw how the nation of Tyre was held to account for profiting from Israel’s disaster. In today’s Bible reading, Edom is again held responsible for rejoicing over Israel’s demise. Instead of helping her sister nation, she rejoices and profits by her downfall (the same accusation is made in the book of Obadiah and in Ezekiel 25:8-14).

In the future, the LORD will save Israel physically and spiritually, restore her land and protect her.

You may ask, why would the LORD save Israel? Has she not violated every law of God? Has she not defiled herself by bowing down to all the gods of the surrounding nations? Was she not more wicked than all the nations around her? Yes, yes, yes! Now she suffers for it, but when God’s wrath is complete, He will look upon her again with mercy. It will not be because Israel deserves it, but God in His great love will do this for His own name’s sake. He will change her heart, forgive her sins and restore her because He is faithful to fulfill His promises, and He is kind. It is difficult to love others who have acted wickedly against us, yet God leaves us this example to follow.

Lessons to Live By

  • We need to live responsibly in the fear of the LORD to receive His blessings
  • We should love our neighbor as ourselves.
  • We need to hold people accountable, but take care of those under our charge. Let's shepherd them with kindness, not harshness.
  • Jesus says to love others who have acted wickedly against us. We should act with justice and righteousness but also with mercy and love so they might know the LORD.
  • Do we know God in a personal way? He offers us forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life (more...). If we obey Him we will be in His favor and escape eternal punishment.

Focus Verse

Ezekiel 36: 9a (NIV) “I am concerned for you and will look on you with favor.”

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A Look Ahead: At the end of a storm there is sometimes a rainbow. It is a symbol of Renewed Hope. What hope is there for Israel in days ahead? What hope is there for us?

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