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Ezekiel 1-32

"THEY SHALL KNOW THAT I AM JEHOVAH"

by LARRY CORY

 

A SUMMARY OF THE MESSAGE OF
EZEKIEL

 

God's glory and Ezekiel's call (1-3)

Israel's sin and God's judgment on them (4-24)

1.   Israel's sins (4-9)
2.   God's glory departs from the temple. (10)
3.   God's judgment on Israel's pride (11:1-13)
4.   God's grace—Israel will be restored (11:14-21)
5.   God's glory leaves Israel. (11:22-25)
6.   Israel's sins (12:1-17:24)
7.   Israel is accountable for their sin (18)
8.   A symbolic lament for Israel's princes (19)
9.   Israel's rebellion, God's patience, and the end of God's patience (20)
10. Israel's conquest by Babylon predicted (21)
11. Israel's sin and God's judgment (22-23)
12. The siege on Israel compared to a cooking pot (24)

God's judgment on the nations (25-32)

Ezekiel, Israel's watchman (33:1-20)

The fall of Jerusalem (33:21-33)

God's judgment on Israel's shepherds (34)

God's judgment on Edom (35)

The restoration of Israel (36-37)

God's judgment on the future nations that will surround and conquer Israel (38-39)

A future temple and the divisions of Israel at that time (40-48)

 

Introductory Information about the Book of Ezekiel

1. The author?  He was both a priest and a prophet.  "the word of the Lord came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, by the Kebar River in the land of the Babylonians. There the hand of the Lord was upon him." (Ezekiel 1:3)  He was married, but his wife died during his ministry (see 24:15-18), and he lived in his own house (see 3:24, 8:1

"There is no evidence that Ezekiel ever performed any priestly functions in Jerusalem before his deportation to Babylon.  He was taken captive to Babylon with King Jehoiachin (1:2; 33:21) in the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar (597 B.C.: see II Kings 24:14).  Most of the captives deported with Ezekiel were settled at the river Chebar (1:3) which has now been identified as a royal canal of Nebuchadnezzar (cf. Ps 137:1)." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."

He lived in Tel Abib on the banks of the Kebar River.  "In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day, while I was among the exiles by the Kebar River, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God." (Ezekiel 1:1)  "I came to the exiles who lived at Tel Abib near the Kebar River. And there, where they were living, I sat among them for seven days—overwhelmed." (Ezekiel 3:15)

Ezekiel's prophetic ministry began in Zedekiah's reign (7:2).  Zedekiah's reign began in 593 BC.  Ezekiel was 30 years old (1:1).  This was when priests began their duties.

2. The book of Ezekiel?  Stuart Briscoe's commentary on Ezekiel is titled: All Things Weird and Wonderful.  The first three chapters describe a vision of God's glory and God calling Ezekiel into a prophet ministry.  Chapters 4 through 24 describe Israel's sins and God's judgment on them.  The dates given when these chapters were written all fall before Jerusalem was conquered.  Chapters 25 to 32 describe God's judgment on the nations.  Chapter 33 describes Ezekiel's responsibility as a watchman of Israel (33:1-20) and the fall of Jerusalem
(33:21-33).  Chapter 34 describes God's judgment on Edom.  Chapters 36-37 describe the restoration of Israel.  Chapters 38-39 describe God's future judgment on the nations who will surround and attack Israel.  Chapters 40-48 describe a future temple in Israel and the division of the land of Israel.

3. What is the theme of the book?  Baxter gives us these words about the theme of the book of Ezekiel:  "We do not have to look deeply to find the key idea and the focal message of Ezekiel.  They confront us on almost every page.  With slight variations, that expression, 'They shall know that I am Jehovah,' occurs no less than seventy times.  It is used twenty-nine times in connection with Jehovah's punishment of Jerusalem; twenty-four times in connection with Jehovah's governmental judgments on the Gentile nations; and seventeen times in connection with the coming restoration and final blessing of the elect nation.  To see this is to see the heart of the book unveiled.  The elect people, and all other peoples, are to know by indubitable demonstration that Jehovah is the one true God, the sovereign Ruler of nations and history; and they are to know it by three revelations of His sovereign power—first, by the punishment of Jerusalem and the captivity of the chosen people, which came true exactly as foretold; second, by the judgments prophesied on the Gentile nations of Ezekiel's day, which also have come true exactly as foretold; and third, by the preservation and ultimate restoration of the covenant people, which had a partial fulfillment in the return of the 'Remnant' under Ezra and Nehemiah, and which is still being fulfilled in the marvelous preservation of Israel, and which is even now hastening to its millennial consummation.  This, then, is Ezekiel—"THEY SHALL KNOW THAT I AM JEHOVAH." "Taken from Explore the Book by J. Sidlow Baxter.  Copyright 1960 by Zondervan Publishing House."

 

THE MESSAGE OF EZEKIEL

GOD'S GLORY AND EZEKIEL'S CALL (1-3)

1. A vision of God's glory (1)

a. The time and place of the vision (1:1-3)
"In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day, while I was among the exiles by the Kebar River, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. On the fifth of the month—it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin— the word of the Lord came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, by the Kebar River in the land of the Babylonians. There the hand of the Lord was upon him."

Thought Question:  Name a time when you believe that God made Himself real to you.

 

 

"In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day,"  "The thirtieth year" probably refers to Ezekiel's age.  This was the age when a priest began his ministry. See Numb. 4:23,30,39,43

"while I was among the exiles by the Kebar River,"  The "Kebar River" was known by the Babylonians as the grand canal; it flowed southeast from the Euphrates at Babylon." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."

"the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God."  There is a reality that we see and a reality that we do not see.  "The heavens" "opened" for Ezekiel and he saw the reality that we do not see.  In the book of Ezekiel, he shares that reality with us.

"it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin"  It was 593 BC.
See II Kings 24:1-16

"the word of the Lord came to Ezekiel the priest,"  The fact that "Ezekiel" was a "priest" helped form his perspective on this book.  Although he was deported before he was old enough to serve at the temple, the temple was nevertheless of great importance to him.

b. The glory of God approaches Ezekiel (1:4)
"I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north—an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal,"  A bright and "immense cloud with flashing light" comes toward him "out of the north."  Ezekiel was shocked as God revealed His glory to him.  We will see God's glory revealed to Ezekiel as we continue in the book of Ezekiel.  We learn here that what he saw approaching him was huge, powerful, and very bright. See Deut. 4:24; Heb. 12:18-19

"immense cloud"  God's glory is often seen as a cloud. See Exod. 13:21, 19:16; Ps. 18:7-15, 77:16-19; Acts 1:9-11; I Thess. 4:13-18

"What is the significance of this tempest and storm—cloud and fire?  There can only be one answer: these are the symbols of judgment.  This is corroborated by the fact that they came 'out of the north,' for it was from Babylon, via the north that judgment was coming on Jerusalem." "Taken from Explore the Book by J. Sidlow Baxter.  Copyright 1960 by Zondervan Publishing House."

"The center of the fire looked like glowing metal," This also could be a description of judgment.  The revelation of Jesus' glory in the book of Revelation describes His feet in this way:  "His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace . . ." (Revelation 1:15a) See also Dan. 10:6; Rev. 2:18

c. The four living creatures (1:5-14)
"and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was that of a man, but each of them had four faces and four wings. Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze. Under their wings on their four sides they had the hands of a man. All four of them had faces and wings, and their wings touched one another. Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they moved. Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a man, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle. Such were their faces. Their wings were spread out upward; each had two wings, one touching the wing of another creature on either side, and two wings covering its body. Each one went straight ahead. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, without turning as they went. The appearance of the living creatures was like burning coals of fire or like torches. Fire moved back and forth among the creatures; it was bright, and lightning flashed out of it. The creatures sped back and forth like flashes of lightning."

Thought Question: What do you learn from Ezekiel's symbolism about what these "four living creatures" were like?

 

 

Baxter explains that Ezekiel describes what is indescribable in earthly terms.  "Symbols are used to describe as nearly as possible to our human minds the nature and the functions of these wonderful heavenly beings.  Ezekiel himself is careful to say that it was only the 'likeness' of the four living ones which he saw (verse 5).  So very careful is he on this point that he uses the word 'likeness' fifteen times." "Baxter."

So, what does Ezekiel's description of these "four living creatures" tell us about them?  Their "four" "faces" of a "man, a "lion," an "ox," and an "eagle" describe the intelligence of a "man," the majesty of a "lion," the service of an "ox," and the heavenly perspective of the "eagle."  Their "wings" may describe their ability to go "wherever the spirit" led them to go.  The four Gospels' four different emphases match the "four" "faces" of these angels: 1)Matthew, the majesty of the lion—Jesus the King; 2) Mark—Jesus the Servant; 3) Luke—Jesus as a man; and John—Jesus as the heavenly God.

"Their legs were straight;"  This appears to mean that they had no knee joints.  "their feet were like those of a calf "  This may mean that they were nimble like a calf is nimble.

"The appearance of the living creatures was like burning coals of fire or like torches. Fire moved back and forth among the creatures; it was bright, and lightning flashed out of it."  The "burning coals of fire" speaks of complete purity and the purifying fires of judgment.  Satan once had this purity, but in pride he chose against purity and lost it. See Ezek. 28:11-15 See also Heb. 1:7

d. The "wheels" (1:15-21)
"As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the ground beside each creature with its four faces. This was the appearance and structure of the wheels: They sparkled like chrysolite, and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel. As they moved, they would go in any one of the four directions the creatures faced; the wheels did not turn about as the creatures went. Their rims were high and awesome, and all four rims were full of eyes all around. When the living creatures moved, the wheels beside them moved; and when the living creatures rose from the ground, the wheels also rose. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, and the wheels would rise along with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. When the creatures moved, they also moved; when the creatures stood still, they also stood still; and when the creatures rose from the ground, the wheels rose along with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels."

Thought Question: What do you believe the wheels symbolize?

 

 

In my younger years, when we said we had "wheels," we were saying that we had a car.  As a result, it meant that we were able to move around wherever we wanted to drive.  The "wheels" that Ezekiel speaks of here, also symbolically reveal that God is not limited to one spot.  He and His throne of glory are present everywhere.

"Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel."  These "wheels" could move forward and backward; and they also could just as easily go sideward to the right and life.  The "wheels" and the "living creatures" went wherever God's Spirit led them to go. See 1:19-21

"Their rims were high and awesome, and all four rims were full of eyes all around."  Their "eyes" on the "rims" symbolize God seeing all that is happening on earth. See II Chron. 16:9; Prov. 15:3; Zech. 3:9; Rev. 4:6

In chapter 10, we are told that these "four living creatures" were "Cherubim." See also Gen. 3:24; Exod. 25:19; I Sam. 4:4; I Kings 6:23; II Kings 19:15; Ps. 80:1; 99:1; Isa. 37:16; Rev. 4:6-11

e. The wings of the four living creatures (1:22-24)
"Spread out above the heads of the living creatures was what looked like an expanse, sparkling like ice, and awesome. Under the expanse their wings were stretched out one toward the other, and each had two wings covering its body. When the creatures moved, I heard the sound of their wings, like the roar of rushing waters, like the voice of the Almighty, like the tumult of an army. When they stood still, they lowered their wings."

Thought Question: What do you believe the "expanse" represents?

 

 

"Spread out above the heads of the living creatures was what looked like an expanse, sparkling like ice, and awesome."  This "expanse" is similar to what is described in Exodus 24:10, Ezekiel 10:1, and Revelation 4:6:  "and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear as the sky itself." (Exodus 24:10)  "I looked, and I saw the likeness of a throne of sapphire above the expanse that was over the heads of the cherubim." (Ezekiel 10:1)  "Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back." (Revelation 4:6)

"sparkling like ice, and awesome."  This "expanse" "appeared to be a firm, level surface or platform." "Dr. Constable's notes." 

"Under the expanse their wings were stretched out one toward the other, and each had two wings covering its body. When the creatures moved, I heard the sound of their wings, like the roar of rushing waters, like the voice of the Almighty, like the tumult of an army. When they stood still, they lowered their wings."  The angels lower "their wings" before God's glory.

f. God on His throne (1:25-28)
"Then there came a voice from above the expanse over their heads as they stood with lowered wings. Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking."

Thought Question: Who do you believe is the "figure" "on the throne"? (please explain your answer)

 

 

Ezekiel saw a "likeness" of God's "glory" and "fell facedown."  Again, God in His "glory" is pictured as being like "glowing metal," "full of fire," with "brilliant light" surrounding Him. See also Exod. 19:16; Isa. 6:1-7

Dr. Constable has the following to say about Ezekiel's vision of God:  "Most expositors view these cherubim [see 10:15] as forming, supporting, or as pulling a throne-chariot on which Ezekiel saw God riding (cf. Exod. 25:10-22; 2 Sam. 22:11; 1 Chron. 28:18; Ps. 18:11; Dan. 7:9; Heb. 8:5; Rev. 4).  I think this makes sense.  Perhaps the mobility of the wheels suggests God's omnipresence, the eyes His omniscience, and the elevated position His omnipotence." "Dr. Constable's notes."

"When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking." See Ezek. 3:23; Isa. 6:5; Dan. 8:17, 10:8-9; Rev. 1:17

2. Ezekiel's call (2-3)

a. God calls him to be a prophet to a rebellious nation. (2:1-5)
"He said to me, 'Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.' As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me. He said: 'Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their fathers have been in revolt against me to this very day. The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says.” And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious house—they will know that a prophet has been among them.""

Thought Question: Why did God call Ezekiel to minister to a nation that would reject his prophetic message to them?

 

 

"He said: 'Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their fathers have been in revolt against me to this very day. The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says.” And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious house—they will know that a prophet has been among them.'"

We see here that God commissioned Ezekiel to perform a ministry to Israel that they would strongly resist—as they had already rebelled against God.  Ezekiel's success and failure would be based not on whether or not the people would be receptive to him; but, rather, it would be based on whether or not he would be faithful to the task God called him to do. See also Isa. 6:9-10; Zech. 7:11-12; Acts 7:51-53

Why did God call Ezekiel to minister to a nation that would reject his prophetic message to them?  The light is to shine even when the darkness continues on after the light has shined.  "This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all." (1 John 1:5)  We are to be a light in this dark world, even if the dark world does not want to see it.

b. "Do not be afraid of them." (2:6-8)
"'And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house. You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.'"

Thought Question: Do you believe that God's message to Ezekiel is also a message to us?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

Though they resisted him, Ezekiel was not to be afraid of them.  We also are commissioned to preach the word of God, and we also are not to be afraid of those who reject our message.  "Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'" (Matthew 28:18-20)  "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matthew 10:28)

It is true that these words were spoken to Jesus' followers while He was on earth, but He speaks of it being true "to the very end of the age."  Those who followed Him at that time are gone, and we have not reached the "very end of the age"; so, Jesus' words are for today's followers of Jesus who are not gone—His words are for us!

We are, today, those who are called to be faithful to the task of telling the world about God's judgment and His grace through Jesus Christ, regardless of how they respond.  For, we want to hear these words from our Lord: "Well done, good and faithful servant!" (Matthew 25:21) See also I Cor. 4:1-2

c. Ezekiel is given a scroll (2:9-3:3)
"Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out to me. In it was a scroll, which he unrolled before me. On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe. And he said to me, 'Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the house of Israel.' So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. Then he said to me, 'Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.' So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth."

Thought Question: What do you believe is symbolized by the eating of this "scroll"?

 

 

"'But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.' Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out to me. In it was a scroll, which he unrolled before me. On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe. And he said to me, 'Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the house of Israel.' So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. Then he said to me, 'Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.' So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth." (Ezekiel 2:8-3:3)

It appears that the "scroll" represents what Ezekiel must first internalize and then speak to the people of Israel.  Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and John the apostle all had a similar experience.  "When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty." (Jeremiah 15:16)

"Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me once more: 'Go, take the scroll that lies open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.' So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, 'Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey.' I took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour. Then I was told, 'You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings.'" (Revelation 10:8-11)

"which he unrolled before me. On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe."  Ezekiel's message to Israel was a warning message about what was about to happen to them because of their sin and rebellion against God.  It would not be a popular message and, so, he would not be a popular messenger.

Each Christian is to internalize God's word, and then share that message with our world.  Meditating deeply on God's word is an essential part of our relationship with God. See Josh. 1:8; Ps. 119:97-104; Prov. 2:1-15; Col. 2:16-17

d. "Israel will not be willing to listen to you; but I will make you as hardened as them." (3:4-9)
"He then said to me: 'Son of man, go now to the house of Israel and speak my words to them. You are not being sent to a people of obscure speech and difficult language, but to the house of Israel— not to many peoples of obscure speech and difficult language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely if I had sent you to them, they would have listened to you. But the house of Israel is not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for the whole house of Israel is hardened and obstinate. But I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are. I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint. Do not be afraid of them or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house.'"

Thought Question #1:  What do we learn here about why people are not receptive to the teachings of the Bible?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What is God's solution for dealing with hardened people? (How does this apply to us?)

 

 

God predicts that because Israel will not listen to Him, they will not listen to Ezekiel.  But, God would make Ezekiel "as unyielding and hardened as they are."  He would make Ezekiel's "forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint." See also Isa. 50:7; Jer. 1:18, 15:20; Zech. 7:11-12

e. God commissioned Ezekiel to Israel. (3:10-11)
"And he said to me, 'Son of man, listen carefully and take to heart all the words I speak to you. Go now to your countrymen in exile and speak to them. Say to them, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says,” whether they listen or fail to listen.'"

Thought Question: Why do you think that Ezekiel was to preach to them "whether they listen or fail to listen"?

 

 

Ezekiel was to speak God's truth to them, "'whether they listen or fail to listen.'"  Later in Ezekiel, God compares Ezekiel to a watchmen.  Like a watchman, he was to warn Israel of the coming judgment.  If he did not tell them, he would be responsible for not warning them.  If he did warn them and they did not heed his warning, they would be responsible for ignoring his warning. See Ezek. 3:16-21, 33:1-20

f. Ezekiel is lifted up and taken away to the exiles in Tel Abib. (3:12-15)
"Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard behind me a loud rumbling sound—May the glory of the Lord be praised in his dwelling place!— the sound of the wings of the living creatures brushing against each other and the sound of the wheels beside them, a loud rumbling sound. The Spirit then lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness and in the anger of my spirit, with the strong hand of the Lord upon me. I came to the exiles who lived at Tel Abib near the Kebar River. And there, where they were living, I sat among them for seven days—overwhelmed."

Thought Question: Why do you think that Ezekiel left his holy vision of God "in the anger of [his] spirit"?

 

 

Often, I have gone to a Bible conference and returned from my mountaintop experience with God's fire.  Ezekiel returned from seeing God's vision "in bitterness and in the anger of my spirit, with the strong hand of the Lord upon" him.  He appears to have been angry due to Israel's on-going rejection of God and His ways.  Jeremiah had a similar experience.  "But I am full of the wrath of the Lord, and I cannot hold it in. . ." (Jeremiah 6:11)

"Tel Abib"  "The only mention of the specific place where the exiles lived.  In Babylonian the name meant 'mound of the flood [i.e., destruction.],' apparently referring to the ruined condition of the site.  When used of the modern Israeli city, Tel Aviv, this name (Abib and Aviv are the same word in Hebrew) is understood to mean 'hill of grain.'" "NIV Study Bible note."

"I came to the exiles who lived at Tel Abib near the Kebar River. And there, where they were living, I sat among them for seven days—overwhelmed." 

"Overwhelmed" "The word is better translated in stronger terms.  The same word is used to describe a bear's response to losing her cubs.  The men who joined David in the cave Adullam (I Sam. 22:1-21) were more than astonished, they were thoroughly disgruntled and mad about things.  It is more accurate to say that while Ezekiel sat in splendid silence among the exiles, he was thoroughly angry and deeply disturbed." "Taken from All Things Weird and Wonderful by Stuart Briscoe.  Copyright 1977 by Victor Books."

Briscoe goes on to say that Ezekiel was not "angry with God," he was "angry for God." "Briscoe."

g. At the end of seven days, God tells Ezekiel that he was a watchman for the house of Israel to warn them (3:16-21)
"At the end of seven days the word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to a wicked man, “You will surely die,” and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself. Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before him, he will die. Since you did not warn him, he will die for his sin. The righteous things he did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the righteous man not to sin and he does not sin, he will surely live because he took warning, and you will have saved yourself.'"

Thought Question: How does this apply to us today? 

 

 

'Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to a wicked man, “You will surely die,” and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself.'"

Cities of that time had watchmen.  Their job was to watch for the approach of any enemy or danger.  Once they saw the danger approaching, they were to warn the city. See II Sam. 18:24-27 and II Kings 9:17-20  If they warned the city of a danger and the city did not heed their warning, it was not the watchman's fault, but the people's fault for not responding to his warning.

If Ezekiel warned the people of Israel that their wickedness would lead to death, and they did not turn from their "wickedness," their death would be their fault.  If, however, Ezekiel did not give them this warning, they would "die for his sin," for  Ezekiel would be held "accountable" for not warning them.

The "live" and "die" here do not mean that someone can lose his or her salvation.  For example, a Christian who walks with God for years and then turns from God, loses his life-giving fellowship with God, but does not lose his or her salvation. See I Cor. 5:5

h. Ezekiel again sees God's glory. (3:21-23)
"The hand of the Lord was upon me there, and he said to me, 'Get up and go out to the plain, and there I will speak to you.' So I got up and went out to the plain. And the glory of the Lord was standing there, like the glory I had seen by the Kebar River, and I fell facedown."

Thought Question: Has there been a time when you believed that God was speaking to you?  If the answer is yes, describe what took place.

 

 

i. God tells Ezekiel to go to his house where he will be tied up and be unable to speak until God sends him to speak to Israel. (3:24-27)
"Then the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet. He spoke to me and said: 'Go, shut yourself inside your house. And you, son of man, they will tie with ropes; you will be bound so that you cannot go out among the people. I will make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth so that you will be silent and unable to rebuke them, though they are a rebellious house. But when I speak to you, I will open your mouth and you shall say to them, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says.” Whoever will listen let him listen, and whoever will refuse let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house.'"

Thought Question:  Why do you think that God used this dramatic method of warning Israel—had Ezekiel tied with ropes?

 

 

This begins an unusual time in Ezekiel's ministry.  "'Go, shut yourself inside your house. And you, son of man, they will tie with ropes; you will be bound so that you cannot go out among the people. I will make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth so that you will be silent and unable to rebuke them, though they are a rebellious house. But when I speak to you, I will open your mouth and you shall say to them, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says.” Whoever will listen let him listen, and whoever will refuse let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house.'"  Ezekiel is allowed to speak only when God opens his mouth.  Ezekiel appears to have been imprisoned in his own house by those who did not like his warnings.  But, when God opened his mouth, the people certainly wanted to know what he had said.

ISRAEL'S SINS (4-9)

1. God's judgment on Jerusalem (4-5)

a. The siege of Jerusalem symbolized by a clay tablet and an iron pan (4:1-3)
"'Now, son of man, take a clay tablet, put it in front of you and draw the city of Jerusalem on it. Then lay siege to it: Erect siege works against it, build a ramp up to it, set up camps against it and put battering rams around it. Then take an iron pan, place it as an iron wall between you and the city and turn your face toward it. It will be under siege, and you shall besiege it. This will be a sign to the house of Israel."

Thought Question: Why do you believe God directed Ezekiel to use a drawing to warn Israel of His coming judgment on them?

 

 

God's judgment is symbolized first of all by a "clay tablet."  "Jerusalem" was to be drawn on it.  Then, he was to dramatize a "siege" of "Jerusalem" using that "clay tablet" to picture and predict that Jerusalem was going to come "under siege." 

Next, an "iron pan" symbolized the hardness of the armies that would attack Israel.  It appears that Ezekiel was recognized as a prophet.  Though the people were not receptive to his message to them, they were curious about what he would do next.  They certainly heard about the "clay tablet" with the drawing of Jerusalem under "siege" and the "iron pan."  They certainly knew that he was predicting that "Jerusalem" would come under "siege." 

b. The siege of Jerusalem symbolized by Ezekiel lying on his side. (4:4-8)
"'Then lie on your left side and put the sin of the house of Israel upon yourself. You are to bear their sin for the number of days you lie on your side. I have assigned you the same number of days as the years of their sin. So for 390 days you will bear the sin of the house of Israel. After you have finished this, lie down again, this time on your right side, and bear the sin of the house of Judah. I have assigned you 40 days, a day for each year. Turn your face toward the siege of Jerusalem and with bared arm prophesy against her. I will tie you up with ropes so that you cannot turn from one side to the other until you have finished the days of your siege."

Thought Question: Since Ezekiel could not have laid on his sides for 430 days, how do you believe Ezekiel fulfilled what God commanded him to do?

 

 

Ezekiel was to lay on his "left side" for "390 days" to symbolize 390 years of God's judgment on "Israel" for their sins ("Israel" was the name given to the northern part of the nation).  And, he was to lay on his "right side" for "40 days" to symbolize the years of God's judgment for Judah's sin ("Judah" was the name given to the southern part of the nation).  He was to be tied up so that he could not turn from the "side" that he was on during the "390 days" and the "40 days."

Feinberg observes that Bible scholars are not in agreement about what judgment Ezekiel is predicting here.  The NIV Study Bible gives us this possibility:  "The 390 years may represent the period from the time of Solomon's unfaithfulness to the fall of Jerusalem.  Correspondingly, the 40 years of v. 6 may represent the long reign of the wicked Manasseh before his repentance (see 2 Ki 21:11-15; 23:26-27; 24:3-4; 2 Ch 33:12-13)" "NIV Study Bible note."

Ezekiel laying on his side for such long periods of time obviously creates some practical problems.  Feinberg gives us a possible solution:  "It is not necessary to assume that Ezekiel was in the prone position day and night.  It was doubtless part of each day, if he were to prepare his food as stated later in this chapter." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."

c. The siege of Jerusalem symbolized by food eaten while he is lying on his side. (4:9-17)
"'Take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt; put them in a storage jar and use them to make bread for yourself. You are to eat it during the 390 days you lie on your side. Weigh out twenty shekels of food to eat each day and eat it at set times. Also measure out a sixth of a hin of water and drink it at set times. Eat the food as you would a barley cake; bake it in the sight of the people, using human excrement for fuel.' The Lord said, 'In this way the people of Israel will eat defiled food among the nations where I will drive them.' Then I said, 'Not so, Sovereign Lord! I have never defiled myself. From my youth until now I have never eaten anything found dead or torn by wild animals. No unclean meat has ever entered my mouth.' 'Very well,' he said, 'I will let you bake your bread over cow manure instead of human excrement.' He then said to me: 'Son of man, I will cut off the supply of food in Jerusalem. The people will eat rationed food in anxiety and drink rationed water in despair, for food and water will be scarce. They will be appalled at the sight of each other and will waste away because of their sin.'"

Thought Question: What is this dramatization supposed to predict?  Why would it be an effective dramatization?

 

 

Ezekiel's small allotment of food pictures Israel's scarcity of food during God's judgment on them during the siege of Jerusalem.  "He answered me, 'The sin of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great; the land is full of bloodshed and the city is full of injustice. They say, “The Lord has forsaken the land; the Lord does not see.”'" (Ezekiel 9:9)

Cooking food using "human excrement" as fuel was forbidden by God.  "Designate a place outside the camp where you can go to relieve yourself. As part of your equipment have something to dig with, and when you relieve yourself, dig a hole and cover up your excrement. For the Lord your God moves about in your camp to protect you and to deliver your enemies to you. Your camp must be holy, so that he will not see among you anything indecent and turn away from you." (Deuteronomy 23:12-14)

Ezekiel begs God not to require him to do this indecent thing—eat food that is cooked using "human excrement."  God grants him his request.  "'Very well,' he said, 'I will let you bake your bread over cow manure instead of human excrement.'" (Ezekiel 4:15)

Israel, during the siege by Babylon was no longer able to follow God's dietary requirements.  This resulted in them no longer being a people separated from the other nations.  God's judgment is that they would become no different than the other nations. They were to become just another of the unclean nations.  No longer would they be God's set apart nation.

God dramatized His judgment on Israel—them becoming like the other unclean nations—by requiring Ezekiel to do what to them would be disgusting.  He would eat meager food by cooking it over manure.  Certainly, they got the message; even though they chose to ignore it.

d. The siege of Jerusalem symbolized by Ezekiel's hair. (5:1-4)
"'Now, son of man, take a sharp sword and use it as a barber’s razor to shave your head and your beard. Then take a set of scales and divide up the hair. When the days of your siege come to an end, burn a third of the hair with fire inside the city. Take a third and strike it with the sword all around the city. And scatter a third to the wind. For I will pursue them with drawn sword. But take a few strands of hair and tuck them away in the folds of your garment. Again, take a few of these and throw them into the fire and burn them up. A fire will spread from there to the whole house of Israel.'"

Thought Question: What do you believe Ezekiel was predicting by using his cut hair and cut beard?

 

 

The hair from Ezekiel's hair and beard are shaved off.  Then, the hair and whiskers are divided into three parts.  After he completed laying on his sides, he was to "burn a third of the hair with fire inside the city."  This was to symbolize the coming "fire" inside of "the city" of Jerusalem.  He was "take a third and strike it with the sword all around the city."  This was to symbolize those who would die by "the sword" outside of "the city."  Then, he was to "scatter a third to the wind."  This would symbolize those who would run into the wilderness and be pursued by enemy soldiers.

"But take a few strands of hair and tuck them away in the folds of your garment."  These "few strands of hair" symbolize that some will find safety. See II Kings 25:22; Isa. 6:13, 10:22; Jer. 23:3; Ezek. 6:8-10; 9:8; 11:13;
Zech 13:8-9." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."

Feinberg also points out that "such shaving was forbidden to a priest like Ezekiel and ordinarily meant the loss of priestly status and position.  The hair of a priest was a mark of his consecration to God's service (see Lev. 21:5; 19:27).  Shaving all the hair was a sign of humiliation (II Sam. 10:4-5), catastrophe (Jer. 41:5) and mourning (Job. 1:20; Isa. 22:12; Jer. 7:29)." "Feinberg."

"Again, take a few of these and throw them into the fire and burn them up. A fire will spread from there to the whole house of Israel."  Even some of the godly remnant would face God's judgment on Israel.  "In Jeremiah 40-44 can be found their trials in the land which took place even after the destruction of the city and the sanctuary; in this category are the difficulties after the assassination of Gedaliah by Ishmael and the descent into Egypt under Johanan.  In short, the judgment reached the entire nation." "Feinberg."

e. God explains the reason for His judgment on Israel. (5:5-9)
"'This is what the Sovereign Lord says: This is Jerusalem, which I have set in the center of the nations, with countries all around her. Yet in her wickedness she has rebelled against my laws and decrees more than the nations and countries around her. She has rejected my laws and has not followed my decrees. Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: You have been more unruly than the nations around you and have not followed my decrees or kept my laws. You have not even conformed to the standards of the nations around you. Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself am against you, Jerusalem, and I will inflict punishment on you in the sight of the nations. Because of all your detestable idols, I will do to you what I have never done before and will never do again.'"

Thought Question: In what ways is the modern-day United States similar to Israel of Ezekiel's time, and how do these verses apply to our nation?

 

 

God chose Israel to be "the center of the nations," but they rejected God and His laws.  Because of Israel's "wickedness," rebellion, and "detestable" idolatry, God was going to "inflict punishment" on Israel.

God's judgment on Israel was going to be severe because of the great privilege God had given to them.  They were God's chosen people who, instead of serving and honoring Him, had chosen to be like the godless nations.

f. God reveals the horrors of His punishment of Israel. (5:10-17)
"Therefore in your midst fathers will eat their children, and children will eat their fathers. I will inflict punishment on you and will scatter all your survivors to the winds. Therefore as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, because you have defiled my sanctuary with all your vile images and detestable practices, I myself will withdraw my favor; I will not look on you with pity or spare you. A third of your people will die of the plague or perish by famine inside you; a third will fall by the sword outside your walls; and a third I will scatter to the winds and pursue with drawn sword. Then my anger will cease and my wrath against them will subside, and I will be avenged. And when I have spent my wrath upon them, they will know that I the Lord have spoken in my zeal. I will make you a ruin and a reproach among the nations around you, in the sight of all who pass by. You will be a reproach and a taunt, a warning and an object of horror to the nations around you when I inflict punishment on you in anger and in wrath and with stinging rebuke. I the Lord have spoken. When I shoot at you with my deadly and destructive arrows of famine, I will shoot to destroy you. I will bring more and more famine upon you and cut off your supply of food. I will send famine and wild beasts against you, and they will leave you childless. Plague and bloodshed will sweep through you, and I will bring the sword against you. I the Lord have spoken."

Thought Question:  Why do you believe that God's judgment on Israel is just?

 

 

"Therefore in your midst fathers will eat their children, and children will eat their fathers. I will inflict punishment on you and will scatter all your survivors to the winds."  According to Josephus, the same happened when Rome conquered Jerusalem in AD 70.  Jeremiah in the book of Lamentations states that this also took place when Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem.  "With their own hands compassionate women have cooked their own children, who became their food when my people were destroyed." (Lamentations 4:10) See also Lament. 2:2; Jer. 19:9; Lev. 26:29; Deut. 28:52-53

"Therefore as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, because you have defiled my sanctuary with all your vile images and detestable practices, I myself will withdraw my favor; I will not look on you with pity or spare you."  See Ezek. 8:3, 7-15, 11:18, 21

"Then my anger will cease and my wrath against them will subside, and I will be avenged. And when I have spent my wrath upon them, they will know that I the Lord have spoken in my zeal."  Israel rejected God and chose idolatry, as the nations watched.  Soon, the nations would watch as God judged Israel.  "I will make you a ruin and a reproach among the nations around you, in the sight of all who pass by. You will be a reproach and a taunt, a warning and an object of horror to the nations around you when I inflict punishment on you in anger and in wrath and with stinging rebuke. I the Lord have spoken."   See Lev. 26:31-33; Deut. 29:25-28

Why was God's judgment on Israel a just judgment?  Israel had every opportunity to be different than the other nations.  God protected them from the consequences of sin and evil.  They chose to reject Him.  He, then, removed the wall of protection, and they experienced the normal consequences of choosing evil and the normal consequences of living in the midst of greedy and evil nations.  In   Romans one, the wrath of God is described as the consequences of choosing to ignore God and His ways. See Rom. 1:18-32

2. God's judgment on Israel is described. (6-7)

a. God's judgment on the mountains of Israel (6:1-7)
"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, set your face against the mountains of Israel; prophesy against them and say: “O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Sovereign Lord. This is what the Sovereign Lord says to the mountains and hills, to the ravines and valleys: I am about to bring a sword against you, and I will destroy your high places. Your altars will be demolished and your incense altars will be smashed; and I will slay your people in front of your idols. I will lay the dead bodies of the Israelites in front of their idols, and I will scatter your bones around your altars. Wherever you live, the towns will be laid waste and the high places demolished, so that your altars will be laid waste and devastated, your idols smashed and ruined, your incense altars broken down, and what you have made wiped out. Your people will fall slain among you, and you will know that I am the Lord.”'"

Thought Question: Why do you believe that God was just and was not cruel and unjust in this very harsh judgment on Israel?

 

 

The "high places," where Israel practiced idolatry, were about to be destroyed.  Canaanite religion was practiced on the "high places."  "Canaanite religion, with its emphasis upon polytheism, bloodshed, perverted sexual ritual, child sacrifice and snake worship . . . God continually warned His people against this practice (Num 33:50-56; Deu 18:10-12; 20:16-18) and predicted ultimate judgment on them if they pursued idolatrous Canaanite ritual (Deu 29:16-28; 30:15-20)." "Taken from Ezekiel Ralph Alexander.  Copyright 1976 by Moody Press." See also Lev. 26:30-33; Isa. 65:7; Jer. 3:6; Hosea 4:13

"Your altars will be demolished and your incense altars will be smashed; and I will slay your people in front of your idols. I will lay the dead bodies of the Israelites in front of their idols, and I will scatter your bones around your altars."  "Dead bodies" would defile these places of idolatrous worship, ruining them by making them unclean.

"Hezekiah in the eighth century B.C. and Josiah in the seventh century  removed the high places, but their reformations were temporary in character.  After the death of these godly kings, the people reverted to their old practices (II Kings 18:4, 23:5)." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."

b. Some will escape; and they will remember God while they are in exile. (6:8-10)
"'“But I will spare some, for some of you will escape the sword when you are scattered among the lands and nations. Then in the nations where they have been carried captive, those who escape will remember me—how I have been grieved by their adulterous hearts, which have turned away from me, and by their eyes, which have lusted after their idols. They will loathe themselves for the evil they have done and for all their detestable practices. And they will know that I am the Lord; I did not threaten in vain to bring this calamity on them.”'"

Thought Question: What do we learn about what repentance looks and acts like from these verses?

 

 

"The doctrine of the remnant may be studied from such passages as Isaiah 1:9; 10:20; Jeremiah 42:5; Zephaniah 2:7; 3:13; Zechariah 10:9 and Romans 9:6-13; 11:5." "Feinberg."

"Then in the nations where they have been carried captive, those who escape will remember me—how I have been grieved by their adulterous hearts, which have turned away from me, and by their eyes, which have lusted after their idols. They will loathe themselves for the evil they have done and for all their detestable practices."  Here, we see what true repentance looks like.  True repentance occurs when we "loathe" our sinfulness and eagerly turn from it.  Paul describes this type of repentance in II Corinthians seven:  "Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while— yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter." (II Corinthians 7:8-11) See also Ezek. 20:43, 36:31

c. God's judgment on Israel will make their land a desolate waste (6:11-14)
"'“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Strike your hands together and stamp your feet and cry out “Alas!” because of all the wicked and detestable practices of the house of Israel, for they will fall by the sword, famine and plague. He that is far away will die of the plague, and he that is near will fall by the sword, and he that survives and is spared will die of famine. So will I spend my wrath upon them. And they will know that I am the Lord, when their people lie slain among their idols around their altars, on every high hill and on all the mountaintops, under every spreading tree and every leafy oak—places where they offered fragrant incense to all their idols. And I will stretch out my hand against them and make the land a desolate waste from the desert to Diblah—wherever they live. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”'"

Thought Question: Why do you believe that God uses calamities, so that people "will know that" He is "Lord"?

 

 

"Strike your hands together"  "Clapping was either a sign of joyous praise or one of derision over sin and judgment (cf. Lam 2;15; Eze 21:14-17; 22;13; 25:6; Nah 3:19)." "Taken from Ezekiel Ralph Alexander.  Copyright 1976 by Moody Press."  Ezekiel was to clap his hands and stomp his feet, predicting the judgment on Israel that was coming to them.

"And I will stretch out my hand against them" See 14:13, 16:27, 25:7, 35:3

"and make the land a desolate waste from the desert to Diblah—wherever they live."  "Perhaps the Beth Diblathaim of Jer. 48:22, a city in Moab; or Ribla, a city of north of Damascus on the Orontes River." "NIV Study Bible note."  If it is "Ribla," it would describe the land of Israel from the far north to the south.

d. The end has come (7:1-14)
"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, this is what the Sovereign Lord says to the land of Israel: The end! The end has come upon the four corners of the land. The end is now upon you and I will unleash my anger against you. I will judge you according to your conduct and repay you for all your detestable practices. I will not look on you with pity or spare you; I will surely repay you for your conduct and the detestable practices among you. Then you will know that I am the Lord. “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Disaster! An unheard-of disaster is coming. The end has come! The end has come! It has roused itself against you. It has come! Doom has come upon you—you who dwell in the land. The time has come, the day is near; there is panic, not joy, upon the mountains. I am about to pour out my wrath on you and spend my anger against you; I will judge you according to your conduct and repay you for all your detestable practices. I will not look on you with pity or spare you; I will repay you in accordance with your conduct and the detestable practices among you. Then you will know that it is I the Lord who strikes the blow. The day is here! It has come! Doom has burst forth, the rod has budded, arrogance has blossomed! Violence has grown into a rod to punish wickedness; none of the people will be left, none of that crowd—no wealth, nothing of value. The time has come, the day has arrived. Let not the buyer rejoice nor the seller grieve, for wrath is upon the whole crowd. The seller will not recover the land he has sold as long as both of them live, for the vision concerning the whole crowd will not be reversed. Because of their sins, not one of them will preserve his life. Though they blow the trumpet and get everything ready, no one will go into battle, for my wrath is upon the whole crowd.'"

Thought Question: Why do you believe that God goes from looking on Israel "with pity" to being angry with them?

 

 

"The end" comes when God's patience has reached its "end." See Gen. 15:16; Revel. 14:14-20  See also 7:3-4 and 7:8-9

"Then you will know that it is I the Lord who strikes the blow. The day is here! It has come!"  "The time had come when, in the Lord's view, He would begin to undermine His justice if He continued to express His mercy.  The time had come for the Lord to do what He had been promising to do because if He held off any longer, people would assume He either didn't mean what He said or couldn't do what He promised." "Taken from All Things Weird and Wonderful by Stuart Briscoe.  Copyright 1977 by Victor Books."

"the Lord who strikes"  The Hebrew words are Jehovah-makkeh.  It is a name of God.

e. The result for Israel when the end comes for them and God punishes them for their sin (7:15-22)
"'Outside is the sword, inside are plague and famine; those in the country will die by the sword, and those in the city will be devoured by famine and plague. All who survive and escape will be in the mountains, moaning like doves of the valleys, each because of his sins. Every hand will go limp, and every knee will become as weak as water. They will put on sackcloth and be clothed with terror. Their faces will be covered with shame and their heads will be shaved. They will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will be an unclean thing. Their silver and gold will not be able to save them in the day of the Lord’s wrath. They will not satisfy their hunger or fill their stomachs with it, for it has made them stumble into sin. They were proud of their beautiful jewelry and used it to make their detestable idols and vile images. Therefore I will turn these into an unclean thing for them. I will hand it all over as plunder to foreigners and as loot to the wicked of the earth, and they will defile it. I will turn my face away from them, and they will desecrate my treasured place; robbers will enter it and desecrate it.'"

Thought Question: What could happen in our future that would make all our riches become valueless?

 

 

"All they had held dear would fall apart.  The things they trusted would fold up and disappear." "Briscoe."  All that they had valued was to become valueless to them, and all that they had trusted in would not help them—they were to be become, poor, weak, and destitute.  Their riches were to become their enemy's "loot."

f. What God will do at the time of the end. (7:23-27)
"'Prepare chains, because the land is full of bloodshed and the city is full of violence. I will bring the most wicked of the nations to take possession of their houses; I will put an end to the pride of the mighty, and their sanctuaries will be desecrated. When terror comes, they will seek peace, but there will be none. Calamity upon calamity will come, and rumor upon rumor. They will try to get a vision from the prophet; the teaching of the law by the priest will be lost, as will the counsel of the elders. The king will mourn, the prince will be clothed with despair, and the hands of the people of the land will tremble. I will deal with them according to their conduct, and by their own standards I will judge them. Then they will know that I am the Lord.'"

Thought Question: What can we do now so that we will not come to a day when it is too late for us to cry out to the Lord?

 

 

"'Prepare chains, because the land is full of bloodshed and the city is full of violence."  The "chains" symbolize Israel's captivity. See Jer. 27:2; Nah. 3:10

"I will bring the most wicked of the nations to take possession of their houses; I will put an end to the pride of the mighty, and their sanctuaries will be desecrated. When terror comes, they will seek peace, but there will be none."  Because they had refused to listen to God, God will not listen to them when they cry out to Him.

"Calamity upon calamity will come, and rumor upon rumor. They will try to get a vision from the prophet; the teaching of the law by the priest will be lost, as will the counsel of the elders."  The time will come when they will want to listen to the prophets (like Jeremiah and Ezekiel), but it will be too late!

3. God's judgment on Israel for their idolatry (8-9)

a. Ezekiel is lifted up by an angel to see the detestable idolatry that was being practiced in the temple (8:1-18)
"In the sixth year, in the sixth month on the fifth day, while I was sitting in my house and the elders of Judah were sitting before me, the hand of the Sovereign Lord came upon me there. I looked, and I saw a figure like that of a man. From what appeared to be his waist down he was like fire, and from there up his appearance was as bright as glowing metal. He stretched out what looked like a hand and took me by the hair of my head. The Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and in visions of God he took me to Jerusalem, to the entrance to the north gate of the inner court, where the idol that provokes to jealousy stood. And there before me was the glory of the God of Israel, as in the vision I had seen in the plain. Then he said to me, 'Son of man, look toward the north.' So I looked, and in the entrance north of the gate of the altar I saw this idol of jealousy. And he said to me, 'Son of man, do you see what they are doing—the utterly detestable things the house of Israel is doing here, things that will drive me far from my sanctuary? But you will see things that are even more detestable.' Then he brought me to the entrance to the court. I looked, and I saw a hole in the wall. He said to me, 'Son of man, now dig into the wall.' So I dug into the wall and saw a doorway there. And he said to me, 'Go in and see the wicked and detestable things they are doing here.' So I went in and looked, and I saw portrayed all over the walls all kinds of crawling things and detestable animals and all the idols of the house of Israel. In front of them stood seventy elders of the house of Israel, and Jaazaniah son of Shaphan was standing among them. Each had a censer in his hand, and a fragrant cloud of incense was rising. He said to me, 'Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the darkness, each at the shrine of his own idol? They say, “The Lord does not see us; the Lord has forsaken the land.”' Again, he said, 'You will see them doing things that are even more detestable.' Then he brought me to the entrance to the north gate of the house of the Lord, and I saw women sitting there, mourning for Tammuz. He said to me, 'Do you see this, son of man? You will see things that are even more detestable than this.' He then brought me into the inner court of the house of the Lord, and there at the entrance to the temple, between the portico and the altar, were about twenty-five men. With their backs toward the temple of the Lord and their faces toward the east, they were bowing down to the sun in the east. He said to me, 'Have you seen this, son of man? Is it a trivial matter for the house of Judah to do the detestable things they are doing here? Must they also fill the land with violence and continually provoke me to anger? Look at them putting the branch to their nose! Therefore I will deal with them in anger; I will not look on them with pity or spare them. Although they shout in my ears, I will not listen to them.'"

Thought Question #1:  What do you believe it is in us as people that draws and entices us into worshiping gods and idols rather than worshiping God?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Those who were practicing idolatry said or thought the following:  "They say, 'The Lord does not see us.'"  Is this something that still is said or thought today?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

"In the sixth year, in the sixth month on the fifth day, while I was sitting in my house and the elders of Judah were sitting before me, the hand of the Sovereign Lord came upon me there."  This vision occurred a year and two months after the first vision. See 1:1  "This was August-September 592 B.C., a year and a half after the first vision (1:1)" "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."

Ezekiel was transported from where he was in exile back to the temple so that he could witness what was taking place there. See also 11:22-25 where he is transported back to the exiles in Babylonia. See also 3:12

"It is difficult to know whether he actually was transported there, or merely saw this in a vision.  I am inclined to think the latter." "David Roper in a message on Ezekiel 8."

"We see a group of women right in front of the altar gate of the temple, weeping for Tammuz.  Tammuz was a widely worshipped false god.  His history goes way back into Babylonian and Assyrian and Samaritan and other early Near Eastern religions.  He was the son in one of the well-known mother-son cults which spread throughout the ancient Near East.  Different names were given to the individuals involved, but the elements are always the same.  In Egypt it was Osiris and Isis.  In Greek and Roman mythology they were called Ishtar and Tammuz.  Ishtar was considered to be the queen mother of heaven, the mother of all living, as she is called at times.  Tammuz was her son.  Often they are pictured with the son seated on the mother's lap . . . The mother is believed to have conceived the son miraculously.  The son is likewise able to do supernatural, superhuman things.  He is half god and half man.  He is the redeemer.  The whole world longs for him, he is going to set everything right.  But, eventually he dies a very violent and tragic death.  His mother weeps for him and eventually goes and seeks him and finds him and takes him out of the nether world and thus there is resurrection to life." "Roper."

It is a satanic corruption of the hope of the Messiah predicted shortly after man's fall.  "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."  This prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus' virgin birth, death, and resurrection.

"I looked, and I saw a figure like that of a man. From what appeared to be his waist down he was like fire, and from there up his appearance was as bright as glowing metal. He stretched out what looked like a hand and took me by the hair of my head. The Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and in visions of God he took me to Jerusalem, to the entrance to the north gate of the inner court, where the idol that provokes to jealousy stood. And there before me was the glory of the God of Israel, as in the vision I had seen in the plain."

"The temple faced east so that the main entrance was toward the rising sun.  The normal way of entering the temple was through the east gate.  On the north side was another gate called the Altar Gate [see 8:5] because through this gate the animals were taken to the alter to be slaughtered.  So, a person coming through the north gate to sacrifice an animal would see first the altar.  But as Ezekiel is brought in through the north gate he sees not an altar but an idol." "Roper."

It was to God like one of us seeing our husband or wife with another woman or another man.  Israel was worshiping an idol in the very place where they should have been worshiping God.

"And he said to me, "'Son of man, do you see what they are doing—the utterly detestable things the house of Israel is doing here, things that will drive me far from my sanctuary? But you will see things that are even more detestable.' Then he brought me to the entrance to the court. I looked, and I saw a hole in the wall. He said to me, 'Son of man, now dig into the wall.' So I dug into the wall and saw a doorway there. And he said to me, 'Go in and see the wicked and detestable things they are doing here.' So I went in and looked, and I saw portrayed all over the walls all kinds of crawling things and detestable animals and all the idols of the house of Israel. In front of them stood seventy elders of the house of Israel, and Jaazaniah son of Shaphan was standing among them. Each had a censer in his hand, and a fragrant cloud of incense was rising. He said to me, 'Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the darkness, each at the shrine of his own idol? They say, “The Lord does not see us; the Lord has forsaken the land.”' Again, he said, 'You will see them doing things that are even more detestable.'"

Ezekiel sees "seventy elders" worshiping drawings of "detestable animals" and "idols."  Their excuse for their idolatry was that "the Lord has forsaken the land."  Also, they believed that "the Lord does not see" them.  These "seventy elders" were worshiping these drawings and "idols" in the dark, so God and others would not see them.  But God did see them and Ezekiel saw them also.

"seventy men" See Exod. 24:9-14 and Numb. 11:16  We see from Exodus 24 that those who were meant to be the most devout of Israel were, instead, involved in idolatry.

"In front of them stood seventy elders of the house of Israel, and Jaazaniah son of Shaphan was standing among them." This may have been the "Shaphan" who presented the lost scrolls to King Josiah. See II Kings 22

"Then he brought me to the entrance to the north gate of the house of the Lord, and I saw women sitting there, mourning for Tammuz. He said to me, 'Do you see this, son of man? You will see things that are even more detestable than this.'"  "Tammuz, mentioned nowhere else in the Scriptures, was the Babylonian Dumuzi, beloved of Ishtar, and is to be identified with the Greek Adonis.  He was the god of spring vegetation who died and was revived after the scorching summer heat.  Women joined Ishtar in mourning a dead lover in the drought during our months of June and July, so that vegetation might be assured.  The fourth month of the Hebrew calendar still bears the name Tammuz.  With the worship of this god in ancient times were connected the basest immoralities.  With the greatest of abandon women gave themselves up the most shameful practices.  Idolatry and immorality are inseparable twins through the history of the world." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."

"He then brought me into the inner court of the house of the Lord, and there at the entrance to the temple, between the portico and the altar, were about twenty-five men. With their backs toward the temple of the Lord and their faces toward the east, they were bowing down to the sun in the east. He said to me, 'Have you seen this, son of man? Is it a trivial matter for the house of Judah to do the detestable things they are doing here? Must they also fill the land with violence and continually provoke me to anger? Look at them putting the branch to their nose! Therefore I will deal with them in anger; I will not look on them with pity or spare them. Although they shout in my ears, I will not listen to them.'"

Ezekiel saw "about twenty-five men" worshiping the sun.  Israel had been warned by God not to do this.  "And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars—all the heavenly array—do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the Lord your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven." (Deuteronomy 4:19) See also II Kings 23:5,11

"Look at them putting the branch to their nose!"  We do not know the exact meaning of this phrase, but it does appear to be an act of defiance toward God.

b. A mark is put on the foreheads of those who grieve over the idolatry of Israel, so that they will not be judged. (9:1-4)
"Then I heard him call out in a loud voice, 'Bring the guards of the city here, each with a weapon in his hand.' And I saw six men coming from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with a deadly weapon in his hand. With them was a man clothed in linen who had a writing kit at his side. They came in and stood beside the bronze altar. Now the glory of the God of Israel went up from above the cherubim, where it had been, and moved to the threshold of the temple. Then the Lord called to the man clothed in linen who had the writing kit at his side and said to him, 'Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it.'"

Thought Question: How can we tell, today, whether or not we are like those who grieved over what was detestable? (What do you grieve over?)

 

 

No country is completely corrupt.  There are always those who grieve over the evil that their country tolerates and promotes.  That was true of Israel in Ezekiel's time.  "A man clothed in linen" was to "put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it." 

There is an obvious application to us, as we see the United States reject God and go against His ways one step at a time away from Him.  Are we among those who grieve over our country's moral and spiritual descent toward Sodom?

Feinberg suggests that the seventh man, the one "clothed in linen," was the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ.

"put a mark on the foreheads"  In Revelation seven, 144,000 Jews are sealed and protected from God's judgment in the last days. See Rev. 7:1-8, 9:4, 14:1  God had promised Ezekiel that some would be spared from judgment in his time.  "But I will spare some, for some of you will escape the sword when you are scattered among the lands and nations." (Ezekiel 6:8) See also Exod. 12:24-30 where the blood of the Passover lambs protected God's people the Jews from His judgment on Egypt.  We are told that believers will be spared the final judgment of God.  "and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath." (I Thessalonians 1:10)  "For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." (I Thessalonians 5:9)

c. Idolaters are killed, but those with the mark are saved. (9:5-8)
"'Slaughter old men, young men and maidens, women and children, but do not touch anyone who has the mark. Begin at my sanctuary.' So they began with the elders who were in front of the temple. Then he said to them, 'Defile the temple and fill the courts with the slain. Go!' So they went out and began killing throughout the city. While they were killing and I was left alone, I fell facedown, crying out, 'Ah, Sovereign Lord! Are you going to destroy the entire remnant of Israel in this outpouring of your wrath on Jerusalem?'"

Thought Question #1:  Why do you believe Ezekiel was so distressed as God began judging Israel for their despicable sins?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Why do you believe that God ordered the killing even of children?

 

 

God's judgment on idolatrous Israel is done through six men with weapons.  The judgment began at God's 'sanctuary" "with the elders who were in front of the temple." 

"The Lord stipulated that the awful judgment was to begin where the repentance ought to have begun." "Taken from All Things Weird and Wonderful by Stuart Briscoe.  Copyright 1977 by Victor Books."

"While they were killing and I was left alone, I fell facedown, crying out, 'Ah, Sovereign Lord! Are you going to destroy the entire remnant of Israel in this outpouring of your wrath on Jerusalem?'"  God had promised that some would be spared His judgment (see 6:8); nevertheless, Ezekiel feared that His judgment would consume all of Israel.  This show Ezekiel's compassion.  He was not at all a hard-hearted prophet.  He was greatly saddened by God's judgment. See Exod. 32:31-32; Amos 7:1-6; Rom. 9:3
Why was God's anger against Israel poured out even on children?  This is a question that non-believers use as a reason for not believing in the God of the Bible.  The commentaries that I searched through did not mention this subject.  There are a number of reasons that I can give for why God included children in His judgment on Israel.  First of all, older and even younger children had already been influenced by the idolatry of their parents.  Secondly, the children would grow up to be influenced by the idolatry of their culture.  Only families who were true worshipers of God would raise their children to worship God.  God's judgment was severe, because Israel's sin had reached such a state of depravity that severe measures were needed to remove idolatry from His nation.  When the people were restored to the land God had given to them, they did deplore idolatry.  So, God's severe measures were successful in cleansing Israel of idolatry.

d. God will show no pity (9:9-11)
"He answered me, 'The sin of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great; the land is full of bloodshed and the city is full of injustice. They say, “The Lord has forsaken the land; the Lord does not see.” So I will not look on them with pity or spare them, but I will bring down on their own heads what they have done.' Then the man in linen with the writing kit at his side brought back word, saying, 'I have done as you commanded.'"

Thought Question: Why did Israel's attitude that "the Lord does not see" make it necessary for God to be severe in His judgment against Israel?

 

 

Sin is done in darkness.  For sin to be done as a way of life, God must be continually ignored until the one who sins lives as if there is no God.  The people of Israel had come to a place where they lived as if there was no God—as if "the Lord does not see." See Rom. 1:18-32; Eph. 4:17-19  Israel had reached this stage of darkness.  As a result, God would "not look on them with pity."

GOD'S GLORY DEPARTS FROM THE TEMPLE (10)

1. A "man clothed in linen" scatters coals from "among the cherubim" over the city. (10:1-2)
"I looked, and I saw the likeness of a throne of sapphire above the expanse that was over the heads of the cherubim. The Lord said to the man clothed in linen, 'Go in among the wheels beneath the cherubim. Fill your hands with burning coals from among the cherubim and scatter them over the city.' And as I watched, he went in."

Thought Question: What do you believe was symbolized by the "burning coals" being scattered "over the city"?

 

 

"I looked, and I saw the likeness of a throne of sapphire above the expanse that was over the heads of the cherubim."  The "throne" he saw had the  "likeness of a throne of sapphire."  It was not 'sapphire," but it was like "sapphire."  What Ezekiel saw was not easily described in earthly terms.  All we can know is what it was like.  The "expanse" under the "throne" was described in 1:22:  "Spread out above the heads of the living creatures was what looked like an expanse, sparkling like ice, and awesome."

So, again, Ezekiel also saw the "cherubim."  Beneath the "cherubim" were the "wheels."  The Lord said to the man clothed in linen, 'Go in among the wheels beneath the cherubim."  The "man clothed in linen" was instructed by the Lord to take "burning coals and scatter them over the city." "Fill your hands with burning coals from among the cherubim and scatter them over the city. And as I watched, he went in."

As Isaiah's unclean lips needed to be purified, so the city of Jerusalem needed to be purified with fire.  "'Woe to me!' I cried. 'I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.' Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, 'See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.'" (Isaiah 6:5-7)

Isaiah was purified after acknowledging his sins.  Israel was going to be purified by the fire of judgment, because they had not acknowledged their sins and repented. See Isa. 1:18

2. The glory of the Lord moved to the threshold of the temple (10:3-5)
"Now the cherubim were standing on the south side of the temple when the man went in, and a cloud filled the inner court. Then the glory of the Lord rose from above the cherubim and moved to the threshold of the temple. The cloud filled the temple, and the court was full of the radiance of the glory of the Lord. The sound of the wings of the cherubim could be heard as far away as the outer court, like the voice of God Almighty when he speaks."

Thought Question: How do you believe Israel was different after God's "glory" departed from them?

 

 

"Now the cherubim were standing on the south side of the temple when the man went in, and a cloud filled the inner court."  "The reason for the right side ["the south side"] may have been because it was more directly toward the city than the north or east side." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."

"Then the glory of the Lord rose from above the cherubim and moved to the threshold of the temple."  The "threshold of the temple" is the "temple" doorway.  If someone has been visiting with you and then moves to your doorway, it is apparent that that person is about to leave.  So, when "the glory of the Lord" moved to the doorway "of the temple," it was apparent that God's "glory" was about to depart from the "temple," Jerusalem and Israel. See 10:18-19, 11:22-24

3. A cherubim puts fire into the hands of the man in linen. (10:6-8)
"When the Lord commanded the man in linen, 'Take fire from among the wheels, from among the cherubim,' the man went in and stood beside a wheel. Then one of the cherubim reached out his hand to the fire that was among them. He took up some of it and put it into the hands of the man in linen, who took it and went out. (Under the wings of the cherubim could be seen what looked like the hands of a man.)"

Thought Question: Give examples of when "fire" is used to describe God's judgment.

 

 

Once, again, "fire" is a sign that God's judgment was to be poured out on Israel due to their sin.  "Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens." (Genesis 19:24)  "On the seventh day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard, an official of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He set fire to the temple of the Lord, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building he burned down." (II Kings 25:8-9)  "By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men." (II Peter 3:7)  "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives" (II Peter 3:10-11)  "Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake." (Revelation 8:5)

4. The wheels and the cherubim described (10:9-14) Compare to 1:4-28
"I looked, and I saw beside the cherubim four wheels, one beside each of the cherubim; the wheels sparkled like chrysolite. As for their appearance, the four of them looked alike; each was like a wheel intersecting a wheel. As they moved, they would go in any one of the four directions the cherubim faced; the wheels did not turn about as the cherubim went. The cherubim went in whatever direction the head faced, without turning as they went. Their entire bodies, including their backs, their hands and their wings, were completely full of eyes, as were their four wheels. I heard the wheels being called 'the whirling wheels.' Each of the cherubim had four faces: One face was that of a cherub, the second the face of a man, the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle."

Thought Question: Compare this description of this vision of heaven with the description in 1:4-28.  Do you see any differences?  How do you explain the differences that you see?

 

 

First, there is a description of the "wheels."  "I looked, and I saw beside the cherubim four wheels, one beside each of the cherubim; the wheels sparkled like chrysolite. As for their appearance, the four of them looked alike; each was like a wheel intersecting a wheel. As they moved, they would go in any one of the four directions the cherubim faced; the wheels did not turn about as the cherubim went. The cherubim went in whatever direction the head faced, without turning as they went. Their entire bodies, including their backs, their hands and their wings, were completely full of eyes, as were their four wheels."  Compare this description with the description in 1:16-18.  How are the two descriptions the same and how are they different?

The "cherubim" are described in 1:12-14.  "Their entire bodies, including their backs, their hands and their wings, were completely full of eyes, as were their four wheels. I heard the wheels being called 'the whirling wheels.' Each of the cherubim had four faces: One face was that of a cherub, the second the face of a man, the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle."  In chapter one, we are told that the "rims" of the "wheels" "were full of eyes all around." (1:18)  Here, we learn that "their entire bodies, including their backs, their hands and their wings, were completely full of eyes, as were their four wheels."  Their entire bodies symbolize that they were able to see in every direction at the same time.

"I heard the wheels being called 'the whirling wheels.'"  "'Whirling' (hagalgal) means rolling or revolving. Thus the wheels were named for their function: they set God’s throne-chariot in motion by revolving." "Taken from The Bible Knowledge Commentary.  Copyright 1983-1985 by Victory Books."

"Each of the cherubim had four faces: One face was that of a cherub, the second the face of a man, the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle."  This differs from the description of the "cherubim" in 1:10.  "Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a man, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle." (Ezekiel 1:10)   The "face" of an ox in 1:10 is replaced by the "face" of a "cherub" in this chapter.  There are a number of explanations given by different commentators for this difference.  These "cherbim" are also described in Revelation 4:6-9:  "Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.' Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever," (Revelation 4:6-9)  Here, in Revelation, the four "cherubim" are like the four "cherubim" in Ezekiel 1:10.

The explanations given by the commentators that I have read did not give me a satisfactory explanation for the differences in the "cherubim" in Ezekiel 1 and 10.  Nevertheless, here are some of them:  "It is clear that each cherub had four faces (1:10).  Ezekiel is evidently speaking only of the face that was turned toward him at the time." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."  "Evidently the cherubim appeared more like bulls than anything else.  This conclusion harmonizes with ancient Near Eastern art that pictured winged bulls and lions with human or bird heads guarding palaces." "Dr. Constable's notes."  Neither of these explanations or other explanations that I read give me a satisfactorily explanation for the additional face of a cherub.  The Bible Knowledge Commentary has this to offer:  "Ezekiel then described the faces of the cherubim a second time . . . However, an apparent discrepancy exists between these two descriptions. In chapter 1 the cherubim had the faces of a man, a lion, an eagle, and an ox; but in chapter 10 they had the faces of a cherub . . . a man . . . a lion, and an eagle.  Some have suggested that a later scribe mistakenly copied 'a cherub' in place of 'face of an ox.' A second view is that the face of an ox was, in fact, the normal understanding of the face of a cherub. In Akkadian literature the kuribu (cognate of 'cherub') appear to have nonhuman faces."

5. The cherubim rise upward (10:15-17)
"Then the cherubim rose upward. These were the living creatures I had seen by the Kebar River. When the cherubim moved, the wheels beside them moved; and when the cherubim spread their wings to rise from the ground, the wheels did not leave their side. When the cherubim stood still, they also stood still; and when the cherubim rose, they rose with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in them."

Thought Question: What is predicted by the rise of the "cherubim"?

 

 

The "cherubim" rise above Jerusalem and the temple, describing their preparation and God's preparation to move away from Israel.

6. The glory of the Lord departed from being over the threshold of the temple and stopped above the cherubim. (10:18-22)
"Then the glory of the Lord departed from over the threshold of the temple and stopped above the cherubim. While I watched, the cherubim spread their wings and rose from the ground, and as they went, the wheels went with them. They stopped at the entrance to the east gate of the Lord’s house, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them. These were the living creatures I had seen beneath the God of Israel by the Kebar River, and I realized that they were cherubim. Each had four faces and four wings, and under their wings was what looked like the hands of a man. Their faces had the same appearance as those I had seen by the Kebar River. Each one went straight ahead."

Thought Question: What do you believe is the significance for God's "glory" stopping "at the entrance to the east gate of the Lord's house"?

 

 

"The glory of the Lord" leaves the "threshold of the temple" and settles "above the cherubim" that were above the temple.  God had warned Israel that their sin would lead to God's "glory" leaving them.  "And the Lord said to Moses: 'You are going to rest with your fathers, and these people will soon prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they are entering. They will forsake me and break the covenant I made with them. On that day I will become angry with them and forsake them; I will hide my face from them, and they will be destroyed. Many disasters and difficulties will come upon them, and on that day they will ask, “Have not these disasters come upon us because our God is not with us?” And I will certainly hide my face on that day because of all their wickedness in turning to other gods." (Deuteronomy 31:16-18) See also I Sam. 4:21-22

As God's glory left by the "east gate of the temple," so He will one day return in the very same way.  "Then the man brought me to the gate facing east, and I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east. His voice was like the roar of rushing waters, and the land was radiant with his glory. The vision I saw was like the vision I had seen when he came to destroy the city and like the visions I had seen by the Kebar River, and I fell facedown. The glory of the Lord entered the temple through the gate facing east. Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple." (Ezekiel 43:1-5)

GOD'S JUDGMENT ON ISRAEL'S PRIDE (11:1-13)

1. Ezekiel is lifted by God's Spirit to the gate of the house of the Lord where he sees the men "who are plotting evil." (11:1-3)
"Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the gate of the house of the Lord that faces east. There at the entrance to the gate were twenty-five men, and I saw among them Jaazaniah son of Azzur and Pelatiah son of Benaiah, leaders of the people. The Lord said to me, 'Son of man, these are the men who are plotting evil and giving wicked advice in this city. They say, “Will it not soon be time to build houses? This city is a cooking pot, and we are the meat.”'"

Thought Question: What do you believe is meant by "this city is a cooking pot, and we are the meat"?

 

 

Ezekiel is transported to the east gate.  This is where God has moved to.  "While I watched, the cherubim spread their wings and rose from the ground, and as they went, the wheels went with them. They stopped at the entrance to the east gate of the Lord’s house, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them." (Ezekiel 10:19)  There at the east gate, Ezekiel sees a meeting taking place.

"Gates were traditional places where city elders administered justice and conducted legal matters." "Dr. Constable's notes."  The "Jaazaniah" mentioned here is not the "Jaazaniah" of 8:16, for they had different fathers.  These "twenty-five men" were conspiring against Jeremiah the prophet's instructions to Israel.  "'Furthermore [Jeremiah], tell the people, “This is what the Lord says: See, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death. Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine or plague. But whoever goes out and surrenders to the Babylonians who are besieging you will live; he will escape with his life. I have determined to do this city harm and not good, declares the Lord. It will be given into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will destroy it with fire.”'" (Jeremiah 21:8-10)  "This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 'Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.'" (Jeremiah 29:4-5)  Jeremiah's instructions came from God, so these "twenty-five men" were guiding the people of Jerusalem to ignore God's instructions and build houses in Jerusalem.

"'“This city is a cooking pot, and we are the meat.”'"  Just as meat is safe in a cooking pot from the fire outside, so they believed that they would be safe inside the walls of Jerusalem.  So, they would instruct the people to go ahead and build houses.  They were saying that the troubled times would soon blow over, and life was to get back to normal.

2. God tells Ezekiel to prophesy against these false leaders (11:4-12)
"'Therefore prophesy against them; prophesy, son of man.' Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon me, and he told me to say: 'This is what the Lord says: That is what you are saying, O house of Israel, but I know what is going through your mind. You have killed many people in this city and filled its streets with the dead. Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: The bodies you have thrown there are the meat and this city is the pot, but I will drive you out of it. You fear the sword, and the sword is what I will bring against you, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will drive you out of the city and hand you over to foreigners and inflict punishment on you. You will fall by the sword, and I will execute judgment on you at the borders of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord. This city will not be a pot for you, nor will you be the meat in it; I will execute judgment on you at the borders of Israel. And you will know that I am the Lord, for you have not followed my decrees or kept my laws but have conformed to the standards of the nations around you.'"

Thought Question: Why do you believe that God says throughout this book of Ezekiel that His judgment will result in them recognizing the following: "And you will know that I am the Lord"?

 

 

God changes their illustration of the "meat" and the "pot."  The innocent people whom they have killed are the "meat."  And, because of their wickedness, God is going to drive them out of the city by the "sword" that they feared.  When the judgment came, they would realize that the warnings through the prophets of judgment were from God. See II Kings 25 and Jer. 52:4-30

3. One of the wicked men dies immediately (11:13)
"Now as I was prophesying, Pelatiah son of Benaiah died. Then I fell facedown and cried out in a loud voice, 'Ah, Sovereign Lord! Will you completely destroy the remnant of Israel?'"

Thought Question: Why do you believe that after one man's death, Ezekiel thought that God's judgment would continue until all the people of Israel would die?

 

 

"Now as I was prophesying, Pelatiah son of Benaiah died."  In ll:1, two men are specifically named.  "Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the gate of the house of the Lord that faces east. There at the entrance to the gate were twenty-five men, and I saw among them Jaazaniah son of Azzur and Pelatiah son of Benaiah, leaders of the people." (Ezekiel 11:1)  This man, "Pelatiah" died as Ezekiel was predicting God's judgment against these false leaders.

"Then I fell facedown and cried out in a loud voice, 'Ah, Sovereign Lord! Will you completely destroy the remnant of Israel?'"  Ezekiel learned that it is one thing to speak about God's judgment, it is another thing to fully realize what God's judgment is like.  The book of Revelation is often seen as an exciting book, but few have grasped what it will be like for those who will be living at the time of the horrible and world-wide judgments that are predicted by God in that book.

Why was Ezekiel so terrorized at the death of one man that he thought all Israel would die?  He saw and experienced how powerful God is and how serious it is for men to defy Him.  We see, today, God not responding to men's defiance of Him.  So, the people of our time have become complacent and believe that it will always be this way.  Here, Ezekiel sees how quickly that can change.  As we face the future, we also may see a time when God righteously and powerfully responds to man's defiance toward Him.  If that happens, we also will respond in fear as Ezekiel did—when the Holy God reveals His power and justice in our earthly world.

GOD'S GRACE—ISRAEL WILL BE RESTORED (11:14-21)

1. Those in exile will return to the land (11:14-17)
"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, your brothers—your brothers who are your blood relatives and the whole house of Israel—are those of whom the people of Jerusalem have said, “They are far away from the Lord; this land was given to us as our possession.” Therefore say: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Although I sent them far away among the nations and scattered them among the countries, yet for a little while I have been a sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone.” Therefore say: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will gather you from the nations and bring you back from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you back the land of Israel again.”'"

Thought Question: There have been two restorations since God said these words to Ezekiel—the restoration described in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah and the restoration that took place in 1948 when Israel again became a nation.  There is also the final restoration predicted in the Old Testament. See Zechariah 14  Which restoration do you believe God is speaking of here?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, your brothers—your brothers who are your blood relatives and the whole house of Israel—are those of whom the people of Jerusalem have said, “They are far away from the Lord; this land was given to us as our possession.”'"  Those in Jerusalem did not see themselves, like Ezekiel and Daniel did, as being "far away from the Lord."  In their minds, God had given them the land of Israel as their "possession."  So, those that said that God was going to take it away from them were the ones that they saw as being "far away from the Lord."  Of course, those in Jerusalem saw themselves as being close to the Lord.  The opposite, of course, was true: Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Daniel were close to the Lord and the people of Jerusalem were the ones who were far from the Lord.

"The attitude of those still in Jerusalem toward the exiles was one of pride and disdain.  For them exile from the land was tantamount to departure from the Lord and His protecting care (cf. I Sam. 26:19; Jer. 16:13; Hosea 9:3)." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."

"'Therefore say: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will gather you from the nations and bring you back from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you back the land of Israel again.”'"  God promises to bring the exiles back to the land.  "The promise of restoration to the land, though declared in the blessings of the Mosaic covenant (Leviticus 26:40-45; Deuteronomy 30:1-10), was based on eternal covenants to Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3), David (2 Samuel 7:12-16), and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:31-34)." "Dr. Constable's quotes Alexander in his notes."

"God had not just departed from Jerusalem, he had departed to the exiles, to be their sanctuary."  "Taken from The Holman Commentary on Ezekiel by Rooker."

2. They will turn from idolatry and be given a new heart. (11:18-21)
"'They will return to it and remove all its vile images and detestable idols. I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose hearts are devoted to their vile images and detestable idols, I will bring down on their own heads what they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord.'"

Thought Question:  Has God's promise here to give Israel a new heart already taken place?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

"'They will return to it and remove all its vile images and detestable idols."  Israel, in exile, recognized that God had judged them because of their idolatry.  When they later did come back to their land, they came back deploring idolatry.  Perhaps, in distant lands, they saw paganism for what it was, and yearned to be a people separate from idolatry; and they also appeared to have come to a place where they yearned to be back in Israel worshiping God at His temple.

"'I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.'"

Israel did return to the land as described in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, and they did change their attitude toward idolatry. "After the exile, when many Jews returned to a restored province of Judah in fulfillment of prophecies (Ezra 1:1), they were careful to avoid idolatry (Ezra 4:1-3; 6:19-21; Nehemiah 8-10).  Nevertheless, their obedience was not complete (Ezra 9:1-2, Ezra 10:15, Ezra 10:44; Nehemiah 5:1-9, Nehemiah 13:7-29), nor was their experience of promised blessings (Ezra 9:8-9; Nehemiah 9:32-37)  Thus the radical spiritual transformation of the people and associated physical blessings promised in this and other promises of the new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 34:20-31; Ezekiel 36:24-38; Ezekiel 37:15-28) await fulfillment in a future messianic age." "Cooper is quoted in Dr. Constable's notes."

Therefore, it appears that the promise of these verses point to the new covenant brought in by Jesus' death, His resurrection, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.  The results of the beginning of the fulfillment of the new covenant are described in the New Testament (New Testament is another way of saying new covenant).  "On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, 'If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.' By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified." (John 7:37-39)  "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8)  "When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them." (Acts 2:1-4) See also Jer. 31:33-34; Ezek. 36:24-32; Jn. 3:3-8

"'But as for those whose hearts are devoted to their vile images and detestable idols, I will bring down on their own heads what they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord.'"  Those who are unrepentant, though, will surely receive the judgment of God promised throughout the book of Ezekiel.

GOD'S GLORY DEPARTS FROM JERUSALEM (11:22-25)

1. God's glory leaves Jerusalem (11:22-23)
"Then the cherubim, with the wheels beside them, spread their wings, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them. The glory of the Lord went up from within the city and stopped above the mountain east of it. [the Mount of Olives]"

Thought Question: Why do you believe that the "glory of the Lord" stopped at the Mount of Olives?

 

 

God's "glory" leaves Jerusalem.  Israel is no longer God's kingdom.  They had fully rejected God's rule in Israel; and, now, He rejects them as His kingdom.  This description of God's "glory" leaving Israel is only found in Ezekiel.  God's protection of Israel was removed and they were about to experience the attack of Babylon minus God's protection.  May our nation not allow this to also become true of us—God removing His protection of us due to our turning away from Him.

It is interesting that Jesus also stopped while He was on the Mount of Olives, as He was approaching Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  He stopped and wept for Israel, for He knew that the city, as it was seen by Him on that day, would be destroyed by the Romans in a few decades (AD 70).  "As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, 'If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.'" (Luke 19:41-44)

2. God returns Ezekiel to the exiles in Babylonia where he tells them everything that he has seen. (11:24-25)
"The Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the exiles in Babylonia in the vision given by the Spirit of God. Then the vision I had seen went up from me, and I told the exiles everything the Lord had shown me."

ISRAEL'S SINS (12:1-17:24)

1. Israel's exile predicted by Ezekiel's departure (12:1-16)
"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people. They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people. Therefore, son of man, pack your belongings for exile and in the daytime, as they watch, set out and go from where you are to another place. Perhaps they will understand, though they are a rebellious house. During the daytime, while they watch, bring out your belongings packed for exile. Then in the evening, while they are watching, go out like those who go into exile. While they watch, dig through the wall and take your belongings out through it. Put them on your shoulder as they are watching and carry them out at dusk. Cover your face so that you cannot see the land, for I have made you a sign to the house of Israel.' So I did as I was commanded. During the day I brought out my things packed for exile. Then in the evening I dug through the wall with my hands. I took my belongings out at dusk, carrying them on my shoulders while they watched. In the morning the word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, did not that rebellious house of Israel ask you, “What are you doing?” Say to them, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: This oracle concerns the prince in Jerusalem and the whole house of Israel who are there.” Say to them, “I am a sign to you.” As I have done, so it will be done to them. They will go into exile as captives. The prince among them will put his things on his shoulder at dusk and leave, and a hole will be dug in the wall for him to go through. He will cover his face so that he cannot see the land. I will spread my net for him, and he will be caught in my snare; I will bring him to Babylonia, the land of the Chaldeans, but he will not see it, and there he will die. I will scatter to the winds all those around him—his staff and all his troops—and I will pursue them with drawn sword. “They will know that I am the Lord, when I disperse them among the nations and scatter them through the countries. But I will spare a few of them from the sword, famine and plague, so that in the nations where they go they may acknowledge all their detestable practices. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”'"

Thought Question: How would today's media cover what Ezekiel did (digging his way through a wall) and how would people respond to it today?

 

 

"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people. They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people.'" See Isa. 6:9-10, Ezek 2:3-8

In the rest of this section of verses, God instructs Ezekiel to "pack" his "belongings," dig through the "wall" with his "hands," and go into "exile"; as a "sign" for Israel that they will also go into "exile."

"dig through the wall"  "Not the city wall, which was made of stone and was many feet thick, but the sun-dried brick wall of his house." "NIV Study Bible note." 

"Cover your face so that you cannot see the land,"  "In the dark, Ezekiel was to carry forth his belongings with covered face so that he might not see the land.  The covering of the face was also in order to avoid recognition, a mark of humiliation for a person of noble birth." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."

"Say to them, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: This oracle concerns the prince in Jerusalem and the whole house of Israel who are there.” Say to them, “I am a sign to you.” As I have done, so it will be done to them. They will go into exile as captives. The prince among them will put his things on his shoulder at dusk and leave, and a hole will be dug in the wall for him to go through. He will cover his face so that he cannot see the land. I will spread my net for him, and he will be caught in my snare; I will bring him to Babylonia, the land of the Chaldeans, but he will not see it, and there he will die. I will scatter to the winds all those around him—his staff and all his troops—and I will pursue them with drawn sword."

The "prince in Jerusalem" was King Zedekiah.  Ezekiel was to predict Zedekiah's forced exile.  II Kings describes Babylon's conquest of Jerusalem.  In  II Kings we discover how this conquest compared to what Ezekiel predicted would happen.  "Then the city wall was broken through, and the whole army fled at night through the gate between the two walls near the king’s garden, though the Babylonians were surrounding the city. They fled toward the Arabah, but the Babylonian army pursued the king and overtook him in the plains of Jericho. All his soldiers were separated from him and scattered, and he was captured. He was taken to the king of Babylon at Riblah, where sentence was pronounced on him. They killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes. Then they put out his eyes, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon." (II Kings 25:4-7) See also II Kings 24:20-25:26; Jer. 39:1-10; 52:1-14

"As Ezekiel went out in darkness through a hole dug in the wall, covering his face, so Zedekiah and his army would flee from the Babylonians during the night." "Taken from Ezekiel Ralph Alexander.  Copyright 1976 by Moody Press."

"he will not see it, and there he will die."  Zedekiah's eyes were blinded before he was taken to Babylon.  So, he did not "see" the place where he died; just as Ezekiel has predicted.  And there he did stay until he died. "Then he put out Zedekiah’s eyes, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon, where he put him in prison till the day of his death." (Jeremiah 52:11) See also II Kings 25:7; Jer. 39:7

2. Israel's judgment predicted (12:17-20)
"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, tremble as you eat your food, and shudder in fear as you drink your water. Say to the people of the land: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says about those living in Jerusalem and in the land of Israel: They will eat their food in anxiety and drink their water in despair, for their land will be stripped of everything in it because of the violence of all who live there. The inhabited towns will be laid waste and the land will be desolate. Then you will know that I am the Lord.”'"

Thought Question: What do you believe Ezekiel trembling as he ate and drink symbolizes?

 

 

"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, tremble as you eat your food, and shudder in fear as you drink your water."  "Ezekiel's trembling must have been particularly violent, because the Hebrew for 'tremble' is used elsewhere to describe an earthquake (see Am 1:1 1Ki 19:11)." "NIV Study Bible note."

Ezekiel's trembling as he is eating symbolizes and predicts that Israel will eat a meager supply of food while fearing the Babylonians.

3. False proverbs and false visions will end. (12:21-25)
"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, what is this proverb you have in the land of Israel: “The days go by and every vision comes to nothing”? Say to them, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am going to put an end to this proverb, and they will no longer quote it in Israel.” Say to them, “The days are near when every vision will be fulfilled. For there will be no more false visions or flattering divinations among the people of Israel. But I the Lord will speak what I will, and it shall be fulfilled without delay. For in your days, you rebellious house, I will fulfill whatever I say, declares the Sovereign Lord.”'"

Thought Question: Why do you believe that visions and proverbs would stop?

 

 

There was a proverb that was being said in Ezekiel's time that "the days go by and every vision comes to nothing."  In other words, "You predict God's judgment and time passes and nothing happens.  So, they thought: "We can ignore your warnings about God's judgment."  Does not this describe the attitude of unbelievers today, as they ignore and mock the predictions that God will judge sin?  "First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, 'Where is this “coming” he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.' But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men." (II Peter 3:3-7)

God tells Ezekiel to tell the people, "The days are near when every vision will be fulfilled."  Also, he is to tell them that there will be an end to "false visions." See Jer. 23, 28

4. God's predictions through Ezekiel are not for the distant future, for they are about to take place. (12:26-28)
"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, the house of Israel is saying, “The vision he sees is for many years from now, and he prophesies about the distant future.” Therefore say to them, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: None of my words will be delayed any longer; whatever I say will be fulfilled, declares the Sovereign Lord.”'"

Thought Question: What can lead us to have the same type of attitude that the people of Israel had when they heard Ezekiel's warnings—think that nothing is going to happen?

 

 

Jerusalem fell during Ezekiel's lifetime.  "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)

"On the fifth of the month—it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin—" (Ezekiel 1:2)  So, if we put the date given above and the date Ezekiel began his prophetic predictions that Jerusalem would fall together, Jerusalem fell seven years after he began predicting its fall.

5. False prophecies will be exposed as being false. (13:1-9)
"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who are now prophesying. Say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination: “Hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! Your prophets, O Israel, are like jackals among ruins. You have not gone up to the breaks in the wall to repair it for the house of Israel so that it will stand firm in the battle on the day of the Lord. Their visions are false and their divinations a lie. They say, “The Lord declares,” when the Lord has not sent them; yet they expect their words to be fulfilled. Have you not seen false visions and uttered lying divinations when you say, “The Lord declares,” though I have not spoken? Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because of your false words and lying visions, I am against you, declares the Sovereign Lord. My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations. They will not belong to the council of my people or be listed in the records of the house of Israel, nor will they enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign Lord.'"

Thought Question: How does this apply to those who call themselves modern-day prophets? (Can there be false prophets today?)

 

 

A relationship with God should benefit others, result in God's truth being shared, and glorify God.  But, there will always be those who use a professed relationship with God for totally selfish purposes.  Some of these people have learned that they can gain in selfish ways from saying that they are receiving messages from God.  Then, they tell people what they want to hear.  There were false prophets like this among the Jewish people in Ezekiel's time.  They were prophesying "out of their own imagination."  Ezekiel told the people of his time the following: "'Their visions are false and their divinations a lie. They say, “The Lord declares,” when the Lord has not sent them.'"  As a result, God's "hand" was against them. See II Kings 22:1-28; Jer.5:30-31, 14:13-16, 29:8-10, 21-22, and all of Jeremiah 23 See also Matt. 24:9-13; I Tim. 4:1

"are like jackals among ruins."  "Jackals" sneak their way into someone's property and steal food and do damage, so these "false" "prophets" sneak into God's work and steal and do damage.

6. The false prophets will be exposed as false when God's judgments come on Israel. (13:10-16)
"'Because they lead my people astray, saying, “Peace,” when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall. Rain will come in torrents, and I will send hailstones hurtling down, and violent winds will burst forth. When the wall collapses, will people not ask you, “Where is the whitewash you covered it with?” Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: In my wrath I will unleash a violent wind, and in my anger hailstones and torrents of rain will fall with destructive fury. I will tear down the wall you have covered with whitewash and will level it to the ground so that its foundation will be laid bare. When it falls, you will be destroyed in it; and you will know that I am the Lord. So I will spend my wrath against the wall and against those who covered it with whitewash. I will say to you, “The wall is gone and so are those who whitewashed it, those prophets of Israel who prophesied to Jerusalem and saw visions of peace for her when there was no peace, declares the Sovereign Lord.”'"
 
Thought Question: What do we learn here about the difference between and a true and a false prophet?

 

 

Ezekiel, first of all, sums up the message of the false prophets in two ways:  "'Because they lead my people astray, saying, “Peace,” when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash.'"  They (1) promise the people "peace" and (2) they cover up their insecure state by painting over its weaknesses.

First of all, those who promise people "peace" and prosperity are more likely to gain a following than men and women like Ezekiel that promise God's judgment on their sins. 

Secondly, they "whitewash" a "flimsy wall."  They were telling Israel that they were favored by God and He had built a wall of protection around them when they were actually going to be judged by God.  God, rather, was going to send "rain" and "hailstones" on this "flimsy wall," and then it will become obvious what kind of wall it is as it collapses.  "'Rain will come in torrents, and I will send hailstones hurtling down, and violent winds will burst forth. When the wall collapses, will people not ask you, “Where is the whitewash you covered it with?”'"

The false prophet creates a false sense of security.  He or she tells those that listen that all is well, when all is not well.  Instead of people learning of their need to repent, they are told that they are doing well and that all will go well for them.  Years ago, a lady influenced by one of these false prophets in Seattle, Washington, nearly committed suicide because the promises of prosperity she had been told about by this false prophet were suddenly not taking place, when she suddenly lost her job.  She was driving by our city and had strong feelings of giving up and driving her car off a cliff and into the river.  Then, she saw a highway patrol office sign.  She pulled in there.  They called a local church.  I happened to be in the church office, though it was not the church that I worked for at that time.  I took her to a godly woman's home and we, together, were able to clear it up for her that trials are also a part of God's plan.  She returned to her home in Seattle, no longer in distress.

"'So I will spend my wrath against the wall and against those who covered it with whitewash. I will say to you, “The wall is gone and so are those who whitewashed it, those prophets of Israel who prophesied to Jerusalem and saw visions of peace for her when there was no peace, declares the Sovereign Lord.”'"

Contrary to the rosy picture painted by false prophets, God's judgment was going to come on Israel.  And the false prophets would also experience that judgment.

What is a major difference between a false prophet and a true prophet?  The true prophet tells us what we need to hear, even if we do not want to hear it; a false prophet will often tell us what we want to hear, usually so that he or she will profit in some way (gain financially in some way, gain power over those they prophesy to, gain fame, etc.).

7. Ezekiel is to prophesy against false prophetesses and their magic (13:17-23)
"'Now, son of man, set your face against the daughters of your people who prophesy out of their own imagination. Prophesy against them and say, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to the women who sew magic charms on all their wrists and make veils of various lengths for their heads in order to ensnare people. Will you ensnare the lives of my people but preserve your own? You have profaned me among my people for a few handfuls of barley and scraps of bread. By lying to my people, who listen to lies, you have killed those who should not have died and have spared those who should not live. Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against your magic charms with which you ensnare people like birds and I will tear them from your arms; I will set free the people that you ensnare like birds. I will tear off your veils and save my people from your hands, and they will no longer fall prey to your power. Then you will know that I am the Lord. Because you disheartened the righteous with your lies, when I had brought them no grief, and because you encouraged the wicked not to turn from their evil ways and so save their lives, therefore you will no longer see false visions or practice divination. I will save my people from your hands. And then you will know that I am the Lord.”'"

Thought Question: What are some ways that modern-day false prophetesses lure and entice people?

 

 

Now, Ezekiel focuses on women who were prophesying using magic.  "This is the only place in the Old Testament where false prophetesses are mentioned."  "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."

It appears that these prophetesses were similar to our fortune tellers.  "You have profaned me among my people for a few handfuls of barley and scraps of bread."  This small amount appears to be what they were being paid for their false prophecies.

"I will set free the people that you ensnare like birds."  These women were able to lure people to come to them; and then they entrapped with their "magic charms."

Practicing "magic" is forbidden in the Bible.  ". . . Do not practice divination or sorcery." (Leviticus 19:26b)  "A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads." (Leviticus 20:27)  "When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord, and because of these detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the Lord your God. The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the Lord your God has not permitted you to do so." (Deuteronomy 18:9-14) See also Lev. 19:31, 20:6; Isa. 8:19-22, 47:9-10

"'“Because you disheartened the righteous with your lies, when I had brought them no grief, and because you encouraged the wicked not to turn from their evil ways and so save their lives, therefore you will no longer see false visions or practice divination. I will save my people from your hands. And then you will know that I am the Lord.”'"

Their false "divinations" "encouraged" those that were following a path of sin, when they should have been warned; and they also discouraged those that were on the right path.  As a result, God was going to punish them.  "When a trumpet sounds in a city, do not the people tremble? When disaster comes to a city, has not the Lord caused it? Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets." (Amos 3:6-7) See also Zech. 13:1-6)

8. Ezekiel is told by God to tell the idolaters to repent. (14:1-8)
"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 Israelite sets up idols in his heart and puts a wicked stumbling block before his face and then goes to a prophet, I the Lord will answer him myself in keeping with his 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 house of Israel, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices! When any Israelite or any alien living in Israel separates himself from me and sets up idols in his heart and puts a wicked stumbling block before his face and then goes to a prophet to inquire of me, I the Lord will answer him myself. I will set my face against that man and make him an example and a byword. I will cut him off from my people. Then you will know that I am the Lord.”'"

Thought Question: What are some idols that can be in our hearts today?

 

 

"Some of the elders of Israel came" to Ezekiel, but they were idolaters in their hearts.  They were like those who come to a church service, but their hearts are not at all into it.  "The Lord says: 'These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.'" (Isaiah 29:13)  Though these "elders" had been forced out of Israel because of their idolatry, it was still in their hearts.

In response to their idolatrous hearts, God had judged them and was going to judge them.  His purpose for judging them is given here.  "I will do this to recapture the hearts of the people of Israel, who have all deserted me for their idols."  God's message to them is also given here.  "'Therefore say to the house of Israel, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices!”'"  Until they repented, God would be against them and would judge them.  "I will set my face against that man and make him an example and a byword. I will cut him off from my people. Then you will know that I am the Lord." See also Lev. 20:3-6;          Deut. 28:36-37

9. False prophets will be destroyed by God. (14:9-11)
"'“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.”'"

Thought Question:  Why would God entice a false "prophet" to prophesy?

 

 

"'“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.”'"  Here, God is speaking of false prophets who were saying what the idolaters wanted to hear.  "I the Lord have enticed that prophet,"  When people want lies, God gives them what they want to hear.  Micaiah the prophet explains how God gave Israel their lying prophets.  "Micaiah continued, 'Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the host of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left. And the Lord said, “Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?” One suggested this, and another that. Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the Lord and said, “I will entice him.” “By what means?” the Lord asked. “I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,” he said. “You will succeed in enticing him,” said the Lord. “Go and do it.” So now the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The Lord has decreed disaster for you.'" (I Kings 22:19-23) See also Rom. 1:24; II Thess. 2:9-12

These verses also emphasize God's sovereign rule.  Even disasters are caused by Him.  "When a trumpet sounds in a city, do not the people tremble? When disaster comes to a city, has not the Lord caused it?" (Amos 3:6)

10. If God judges a nation, nothing and no one can save them from it. (14:12-20)
"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 men 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 men 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 upon it through bloodshed, killing its men 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."

Thought Question: Why do you believe that the presence of godly men and women cannot save a country from being judged? (How does this apply to our country?)

 

 

"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 men 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."

This theme is repeated three times throughout this section with different calamities given as examples. See 14:15, 17, and 19  When a nation reaches a stage where God chooses to judge it, even the presence of godly men like "Noah, Daniel, and Job" will not prevent it from being judged.  Their righteousness will only save themselves.  The righteousness of these three men is described in Genesis 6:8-9; Job 1:1, and Daniel 6:4-5, 22

These verses show us that Ezekiel was aware of "Daniel."  "Daniel" was a fellow prophet who was also in exile.

The four judgments here are "famine," "wild beasts," "sword," and "plagues."  These curses were predicted by Moses as consequences of disobedience to God. See Lev. 26:20,22,25,33; and Deut. 32:34

11. How much worse it will be when God judges Israel. (14:21)
"'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!'"

Thought Question: Why would God's judgment be worse for Jerusalem than the other cities that God would judge?

 

 

God's judgment on Israel will be even worse, for "Noah, Daniel, and Job" were not in Israel.  Godly men like "Daniel" and Ezekiel were gone. See Gen. 18:22-32; Jer. 5:1-4  "In short, Israel was beyond the help of any human mediation, even of the most righteous." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."

12. God's judgment on Jerusalem will be seen as necessary when the exiles see the wickedness of those who live through the judgment of Jerusalem. (14:22-23)
"'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 upon Jerusalem—every disaster I have brought upon 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.'"
Thought Question: What type of behavior by those surviving the judgment would convince the righteous in Israel that God's punishment of Israel was just?

 

 

It appears that a significant number of those who would survive God's judgment would continue to practice the evil that God judged Israel for.  The righteous in Israel would see their sin and realize why God found it necessary to judge Israel.  After 9/11, there was a change of attitude toward God in our country for a while; but after a short time, it was back to what it had been like before this national tragedy.  So, that was true in Israel.  Certainly, God's judgment had some effect on Israel.  But, after a while, the people were back doing what they had done before the judgment.

13. Israel is like a useless vine (15:1-5)
"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, how is the wood of a vine better than that of a branch on any of the trees in the forest? Is wood ever taken from it to make anything useful? Do they make pegs from it to hang things on? And after it is thrown on the fire as fuel and the fire burns both ends and chars the middle, is it then useful for anything? If it was not useful for anything when it was whole, how much less can it be made into something useful when the fire has burned it and it is charred?'"

Thought Question: How do God's words about the vine apply to us as Christians?

 

 

God points out to Ezekiel that a "vine" that does not fulfill its primary purpose of producing grapes is worthless.  It cannot be used to build furniture, as the "wood" of a tree can be used for that purpose.  It is not even good for burning for it does not burn, but only "chars."

There, though, is disagreement among commentators as to whether or not a "vine" is useful as "fuel" to be burned.  Some say it is useful as a "fuel" and others say it is not even useful for fuel for burning in a "fire."  Briscoe is one who believes that God is saying a vine is even useless as "fuel" for a "fire."  "Well, we can always use it for firewood.  Try.  It won't even burn, the ends will char but all you get is smoke and smoldering." "Taken from All Things Weird and Wonderful by Stuart Briscoe.  Copyright 1977 by Victor Books."

Of course, God was telling Ezekiel that when Israel was not bearing God's fruit, it was good for nothing.  So, a church or a Christian that is not bearing fruit from God and for God is not good for anything.

A "vine" was used as a figure of speech to describe Israel a number of times in the Bible. See Deut. 32:32; Ps. 80:8-19; Isa. 5:1-7; Hos. 10:1-2

15. Israel will be burned up like a useless vine. (15:6-8)
"'Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: As I have given the wood of the vine among the trees of the forest as fuel for the fire, so will I treat the people living in Jerusalem. I will set my face against them. Although they have come out of the fire, the fire will yet consume them. And when I set my face against them, you will know that I am the Lord. I will make the land desolate because they have been unfaithful, declares the Sovereign Lord.'"

Thought Question: What is meant by, "although they have come out of the fire, the fire will yet consume them"?

 

 

Israel's judgment will be a judgment of "fire."  "Although they have come out of the fire, the fire will yet consume them."  Those that escape the fire in Jerusalem will not be able to run from God's judgment.

16.  God traces Israel's history and God's love for her. (16:1-14)
"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, confront Jerusalem with her detestable practices and say, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says to Jerusalem: Your ancestry and birth were in the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. On the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to make you clean, nor were you rubbed with salt or wrapped in cloths. No one looked on you with pity or had compassion enough to do any of these things for you. Rather, you were thrown out into the open field, for on the day you were born you were despised. Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, ‘Live!’ I made you grow like a plant of the field. You grew up and developed and became the most beautiful of jewels. Your breasts were formed and your hair grew, you who were naked and bare. Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign Lord, and you became mine. I bathed you with water and washed the blood from you and put ointments on you. I clothed you with an embroidered dress and put leather sandals on you. I dressed you in fine linen and covered you with costly garments. I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms and a necklace around your neck, and I put a ring on your nose, earrings on your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. So you were adorned with gold and silver; your clothes were of fine linen and costly fabric and embroidered cloth. Your food was fine flour, honey and olive oil. You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen. And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign Lord”'"

Thought Question: What does this story tell us about God's relationship with Israel?

 

 

God describes the birth of Israel using the birth of a child "in the land of the Canaanites," whose "father was an Amorite and" whose  "mother" was "a Hittite."  The Amorites and the Hittites lived in the land of Canaan before Israel invaded and conquered the land. See Gen. 10:16, 15:16; Numb. 13:29; Josh. 24:18; Amos 2:10

God describes, here, Israel as an unwanted and abandoned child.  "No one looked on you with pity or had compassion enough to do any of these things for you. Rather, you were thrown out into the open field, for on the day you were born you were despised."  "Such exposure of infants to die prevailed as a cruel custom in the ancient world, where children were cast out into the open field; even worse, female children among the Arable were buried alive." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."

But God saw Israel and had compassion.  He adopted her and she grew up into a beautiful woman.  God fell in love with her and married her and she "'“became very beautiful and rose to be a queen.  And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign Lord”'"

"I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness."  "He spread his skirt over her; a custom which meant espousal (see Ruth 3:9)." "Feinberg."

"'“I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign Lord, and you became mine.”'"  The marriage covenant appears to symbolize the Mosaic covenant. See 16:59-63

Starting with Abraham and the Abrahamic covenant and, later through Moses and the Mosaic covenant, Israel grew to become a great nation. See Exod. 1:6-9, 12:37-38

17. But Israel forgot God's love for her and turned to other lovers. (16:15-34)
"'“But you trusted in your beauty and used your fame to become a prostitute. You lavished your favors on anyone who passed by and your beauty became his. You took some of your garments to make gaudy high places, where you carried on your prostitution. Such things should not happen, nor should they ever occur. You also took the fine jewelry I gave you, the jewelry made of my gold and silver, and you made for yourself male idols and engaged in prostitution with them. And you took your embroidered clothes to put on them, and you offered my oil and incense before them. Also the food I provided for you—the fine flour, olive oil and honey I gave you to eat—you offered as fragrant incense before them. That is what happened, declares the Sovereign Lord. And you took your sons and daughters whom you bore to me and sacrificed them as food to the idols. Was your prostitution not enough? You slaughtered my children and sacrificed them to the idols. In all your detestable practices and your prostitution you did not remember the days of your youth, when you were naked and bare, kicking about in your blood. Woe! Woe to you, declares the Sovereign Lord. In addition to all your other wickedness, you built a mound for yourself and made a lofty shrine in every public square. At the head of every street you built your lofty shrines and degraded your beauty, offering your body with increasing promiscuity to anyone who passed by. You engaged in prostitution with the Egyptians, your lustful neighbors, and provoked me to anger with your increasing promiscuity. So I stretched out my hand against you and reduced your territory; I gave you over to the greed of your enemies, the daughters of the Philistines, who were shocked by your lewd conduct. You engaged in prostitution with the Assyrians too, because you were insatiable; and even after that, you still were not satisfied. Then you increased your promiscuity to include Babylonia, a land of merchants, but even with this you were not satisfied. How weak-willed you are, declares the Sovereign Lord, when you do all these things, acting like a brazen prostitute! When you built your mounds at the head of every street and made your lofty shrines in every public square, you were unlike a prostitute, because you scorned payment. You adulterous wife! You prefer strangers to your own husband! Every prostitute receives a fee, but you give gifts to all your lovers, bribing them to come to you from everywhere for your illicit favors. So in your prostitution you are the opposite of others; no one runs after you for your favors. You are the very opposite, for you give payment and none is given to you.”'"

Thought Question: From this story, how did Israel respond inappropriately to God's love for her?

 

 

God describes Israel's ingratitude and spiritual adultery through the beautiful woman in His story turning into a prostitute and even sacrificing the children that came from their marriage to idols.  "'“And you took your sons and daughters whom you bore to me and sacrificed them as food to the idols. Was your prostitution not enough? You slaughtered my children and sacrificed them to the idols.”'"  See II Kings 16:3, 21:6, 16;  Jer. 7:31, 19:5-6, 32:35

"'“Woe! Woe to you, declares the Sovereign Lord. In addition to all your other wickedness, you built a mound for yourself and made a lofty shrine in every public square. At the head of every street you built your lofty shrines and degraded your beauty, offering your body with increasing promiscuity to anyone who passed by. You engaged in prostitution with the Egyptians, your lustful neighbors, and provoked me to anger with your increasing promiscuity. So I stretched out my hand against you and reduced your territory; I gave you over to the greed of your enemies, the daughters of the Philistines, who were shocked by your lewd conduct. You engaged in prostitution with the Assyrians too, because you were insatiable; and even after that, you still were not satisfied. Then you increased your promiscuity to include Babylonia, a land of merchants, but even with this you were not satisfied.'”"  Instead of influencing the nations to worship God, they were influenced by the nations to share in their idolatry.

"'“You adulterous wife! You prefer strangers to your own husband! Every prostitute receives a fee, but you give gifts to all your lovers, bribing them to come to you from everywhere for your illicit favors. So in your prostitution you are the opposite of others; no one runs after you for your favors. You are the very opposite, for you give payment and none is given to you.”'"  Israel was like a prostitute who paid her lovers.  "Her giving of bribes to her paramours refers to the heavy tribute and exactions Israel had to pay as the price for her godless consorting with forbidden powers and practices (see II Kings 16:8-9)." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press." See II Kings 17:4

18. God is going to turn Israel's lovers against her. (16:35-48)
"'“Therefore, you prostitute, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because you poured out your wealth and exposed your nakedness in your promiscuity with your lovers, and because of all your detestable idols, and because you gave them your children’s blood, therefore I am going to gather all your lovers, with whom you found pleasure, those you loved as well as those you hated. I will gather them against you from all around and will strip you in front of them, and they will see all your nakedness. I will sentence you to the punishment of women who commit adultery and who shed blood; I will bring upon you the blood vengeance of my wrath and jealous anger. Then I will hand you over to your lovers, and they will tear down your mounds and destroy your lofty shrines. They will strip you of your clothes and take your fine jewelry and leave you naked and bare. They will bring a mob against you, who will stone you and hack you to pieces with their swords. They will burn down your houses and inflict punishment on you in the sight of many women. I will put a stop to your prostitution, and you will no longer pay your lovers. Then my wrath against you will subside and my jealous anger will turn away from you; I will be calm and no longer angry. Because you did not remember the days of your youth but enraged me with all these things, I will surely bring down on your head what you have done, declares the Sovereign Lord. Did you not add lewdness to all your other detestable practices? Everyone who quotes proverbs will quote this proverb about you: ‘Like mother, like daughter.’ You are a true daughter of your mother, who despised her husband and her children; and you are a true sister of your sisters, who despised their husbands and their children. Your mother was a Hittite and your father an Amorite. Your older sister was Samaria, who lived to the north of you with her daughters; and your younger sister, who lived to the south of you with her daughters, was Sodom. You not only walked in their ways and copied their detestable practices, but in all your ways you soon became more depraved than they. As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, your sister Sodom and her daughters never did what you and your daughters have done.”'"

Thought Question: How could Israel have become just like the people that God had judged for their perverse immorality and idolatry?  How is this a warning to us?

 

 

"'“therefore I am going to gather all your lovers, with whom you found pleasure, those you loved as well as those you hated. I will gather them against you from all around and will strip you in front of them, and they will see all your nakedness. I will sentence you to the punishment of women who commit adultery and who shed blood; I will bring upon you the blood vengeance of my wrath and jealous anger. Then I will hand you over to your lovers, and they will tear down your mounds and destroy your lofty shrines. They will strip you of your clothes and take your fine jewelry and leave you naked and bare. They will bring a mob against you, who will stone you and hack you to pieces with their swords. They will burn down your houses and inflict punishment on you in the sight of many women. I will put a stop to your prostitution, and you will no longer pay your lovers. Then my wrath against you will subside and my jealous anger will turn away from you; I will be calm and no longer angry.”'"

Because Israel had prostituted herself to the nations, God is going to treat her as a man treated a wife who had turned from him to prostitution.  He "will strip you in front of them, and they will see your nakedness."  "The public degradation of a prostitute by stripping her naked is mentioned in Hosea 2:10; Nahum 3:5; and Jeremiah 13:22,26.  This humiliation was often followed by stoning (Deut. 22:21)." "Taken from Holman Old Testament Commentary by Mark Rooker 2006."

"they will tear down your mounds and destroy your lofty shrines."  "Centers of idol worship." "NIV Study Bible note on 16:24."

"'“Everyone who quotes proverbs will quote this proverb about you: ‘Like mother, like daughter.’ You are a true daughter of your mother, who despised her husband and her children; and you are a true sister of your sisters, who despised their husbands and their children. Your mother was a Hittite and your father an Amorite. Your older sister was Samaria, who lived to the north of you with her daughters; and your younger sister, who lived to the south of you with her daughters, was Sodom.”'"

Israel had become like the Canaanites who had lived in the land before they lived there.  Israel acted like the Canaanite people were their mother, for they were acting just like them.

‘Like mother, like daughter.’  This proverb is similar to our proverb, "Like father, like son."  We tend to be like our parents.  Israel was like the nations that had lived in the land before them.

"You not only walked in their ways and copied their detestable practices, but in all your ways you soon became more depraved than they. As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, your sister Sodom and her daughters never did what you and your daughters have done."

Israel had become even worse than the Canaanites and the Sodomites who were in the land before them.  Why Israel's sins were even worse than the Canaanites and Sodomites is explained in the coming verses.

19. Israel's sins were greater than Sodom's and Samaria's sins (16:49-52)
"“‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen. Samaria did not commit half the sins you did. You have done more detestable things than they, and have made your sisters seem righteous by all these things you have done. Bear your disgrace, for you have furnished some justification for your sisters. Because your sins were more vile than theirs, they appear more righteous than you. So then, be ashamed and bear your disgrace, for you have made your sisters appear righteous.”'"

Thought Question: How could Israel, whom God had reached out to in love, become worse than "Sodom"?

 

 

"“‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.”'"  When we think of Sodom's sins, we usually think of homosexual sins.  But, here, we see what led up to the homosexual sins—pride and self-centeredness.

"the association with Sodom must have been shocking since Sodom was the epitome of wickedness (Deut. 29:23; Isa. 3:9; Lam. 4:6; Matt. 11:23-24)." "Rooker."

We have two possible ways to understand what is meant here by Israel's sins being "more detestable" than Sodom's sins.  (1) Their sins were actually worse sins than Sodom's sins.  (2) Israel's sins were worse because of their greater privilege.  That made their sins more reprehensible than Sodom's sins. See Matt. 10:15, 11:23-24  (3) A third possibility is that both were true.

"'“Samaria did not commit half the sins you did. You have done more detestable things than they, and have made your sisters seem righteous by all these things you have done. Bear your disgrace, for you have furnished some justification for your sisters. Because your sins were more vile than theirs, they appear more righteous than you. So then, be ashamed and bear your disgrace, for you have made your sisters appear righteous.”'"  I add Jeremiah's words to Ezekiel's words here.  "'I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery. Because Israel’s immorality mattered so little to her, she defiled the land and committed adultery with stone and wood. In spite of all this, her unfaithful sister Judah did not return to me with all her heart, but only in pretense,' declares the Lord. The Lord said to me, 'Faithless Israel is more righteous than unfaithful Judah.'" (Jeremiah 3:8-11)

20. God will restore Sodom, Samaria, and Israel. (16:53-63)
"'“However, I will restore the fortunes of Sodom and her daughters and of Samaria and her daughters, and your fortunes along with them, so that you may bear your disgrace and be ashamed of all you have done in giving them comfort. And your sisters, Sodom with her daughters and Samaria with her daughters, will return to what they were before; and you and your daughters will return to what you were before. You would not even mention your sister Sodom in the day of your pride, before your wickedness was uncovered. Even so, you are now scorned by the daughters of Edom and all her neighbors and the daughters of the Philistines—all those around you who despise you. You will bear the consequences of your lewdness and your detestable practices, declares the Lord. This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will deal with you as you deserve, because you have despised my oath by breaking the covenant. Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you. Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed when you receive your sisters, both those who are older than you and those who are younger. I will give them to you as daughters, but not on the basis of my covenant with you. So I will establish my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the Lord. Then, when I make atonement for you for all you have done, you will remember and be ashamed and never again open your mouth because of your humiliation, declares the Sovereign Lord.”'"

Thought Question: How does the pattern God used and is using to bring Israel back to Himself parallel what God does in bringing people like ourselves back to Him?

 

 

"'“However, I will restore the fortunes of Sodom and her daughters and of Samaria and her daughters, and your fortunes along with them, so that you may bear your disgrace and be ashamed of all you have done in giving them comfort. And your sisters, Sodom with her daughters and Samaria with her daughters, will return to what they were before; and you and your daughters will return to what you were before.”'"

"The restoration of Sodom is not mentioned elsewhere in Scripture, and this presents an apparent problem since Sodom was to have been totally destroyed (cf. Gen 19:24-27; Is 1:9)  Though there is no biblically stated solution, certainly an omniscient God knows how this can occur." "Taken from Ezekiel Ralph Alexander.  Copyright 1976 by Moody Press."  A possible solution is the restoration of Sodom during the millennial rule of Jesus.

"'“You would not even mention your sister Sodom in the day of your pride, before your wickedness was uncovered.”'"  This refers to a time, probably during Solomon's reign, when Judah felt superior to Israel ("Samaria") and "Sodom." 

"'“Even so, you are now scorned by the daughters of Edom and all her neighbors and the daughters of the Philistines—all those around you who despise you. You will bear the consequences of your lewdness and your detestable practices, declares the Lord.”'"  Israel was no longer seen as a pure and godly nation by the nations surrounding her.  They saw her sinfulness and despised her.

"'“Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you. Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed when you receive your sisters, both those who are older than you and those who are younger. I will give them to you as daughters, but not on the basis of my covenant with you. So I will establish my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the Lord. Then, when I make atonement for you for all you have done, you will remember and be ashamed and never again open your mouth because of your humiliation, declares the Sovereign Lord.”'"

Here, we see a promise that one day Israel will repent and God's promise to her will be experienced.  This repentance and restoration of Israel was predicted in the book of Deuteronomy.  "When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come upon you and you take them to heart wherever the Lord your God disperses you among the nations, and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back. He will bring you to the land that belonged to your fathers, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers. The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live. The Lord your God will put all these curses on your enemies who hate and persecute you. You will again obey the Lord and follow all his commands I am giving you today. Then the Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your fathers, if you obey the Lord your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul." (Deuteronomy 30:1-10) See also Ezek. 37:24-38; Isa. 61:7-9; Jer. 32:36-41

God has used and is using the curses that come as a result of Israel's defiance of God to draw Israel back to Himself.  So, God uses the consequences of sin in our lives and the pain that comes from it, to draw us to Himself.  

AN ALLEGORY OF TWO EAGLES, A CEDAR, AND A VINE (17)

1. The allegory (17:1-10)
"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, set forth an allegory and tell the house of Israel a parable. Say to them, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: A great eagle with powerful wings, long feathers and full plumage of varied colors came to Lebanon. Taking hold of the top of a cedar, he broke off its topmost shoot and carried it away to a land of merchants, where he planted it in a city of traders. He took some of the seed of your land and put it in fertile soil. He planted it like a willow by abundant water, and it sprouted and became a low, spreading vine. Its branches turned toward him, but its roots remained under it. So it became a vine and produced branches and put out leafy boughs. But there was another great eagle with powerful wings and full plumage. The vine now sent out its roots toward him from the plot where it was planted and stretched out its branches to him for water. It had been planted in good soil by abundant water so that it would produce branches, bear fruit and become a splendid vine.” Say to them, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Will it thrive? Will it not be uprooted and stripped of its fruit so that it withers? All its new growth will wither. It will not take a strong arm or many people to pull it up by the roots. Even if it is transplanted, will it thrive? Will it not wither completely when the east wind strikes it—wither away in the plot where it grew?”'"

Thought Question: What do you believe is the meaning of the allegory?

 

 

2. The meaning of the allegory (17:11-21)
"Then the word of the Lord came to me: 'Say to this rebellious house, “Do you not know what these things mean?” Say to them: “The king of Babylon went to Jerusalem and carried off her king and her nobles, bringing them back with him to Babylon. Then he took a member of the royal family and made a treaty with him, putting him under oath. He also carried away the leading men of the land, so that the kingdom would be brought low, unable to rise again, surviving only by keeping his treaty. But the king rebelled against him by sending his envoys to Egypt to get horses and a large army. Will he succeed? Will he who does such things escape? Will he break the treaty and yet escape? As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, he shall die in Babylon, in the land of the king who put him on the throne, whose oath he despised and whose treaty he broke. Pharaoh with his mighty army and great horde will be of no help to him in war, when ramps are built and siege works erected to destroy many lives. He despised the oath by breaking the covenant. Because he had given his hand in pledge and yet did all these things, he shall not escape. Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: As surely as I live, I will bring down on his head my oath that he despised and my covenant that he broke. I will spread my net for him, and he will be caught in my snare. I will bring him to Babylon and execute judgment upon him there because he was unfaithful to me. All his fleeing troops will fall by the sword, and the survivors will be scattered to the winds. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken.”'"

Thought Question: What was Israel to learn from what Ezekiel predicts in these verses?  What are we to learn?

 

 

I will combine the parable (verses 1-10) with the meaning of the parable (verses 11-24)  "'“A great eagle with powerful wings, long feathers and full plumage of varied colors came to Lebanon.”'"  This eagle pictures "the king of Babylon."(17:12) See also Dan. 7:4,17; Jer. 48:40, 49:22

"came to Lebanon. Taking hold of the top of a cedar, he broke off its topmost shoot and carried it away to a land of merchants, where he planted it in a city of traders."  The "top of the cedar" was king Jehoiachin who was taken to "Babylon," "the city of traders."  The "cedar' described the kingly line of David.  King Jehoiachin was the "top" of the line of David at that time. II Kings 24:15 describes King Jehoiachin being taken to Babylon.  "Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiachin captive to Babylon. He also took from Jerusalem to Babylon the king’s mother, his wives, his officials and the leading men of the land." (II Kings 24:15)  "Babylon" was "the great center of commerce in all Asia." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."

"'“Say to this rebellious house, “Do you not know what these things mean?” Say to them: “The king of Babylon went to Jerusalem and carried off her king and her nobles, bringing them back with him to Babylon.”'" II Kings 24:16 tells us that the "king of Babylon" not only took king Jehoiachin to "Babylon," but he also took the leading men of Israel to "Babylon."  "The king of Babylon also deported to Babylon the entire force of seven thousand fighting men, strong and fit for war, and a thousand craftsmen and artisans." (II Kings 24:16)

"'“He took some of the seed of your land and put it in fertile soil. He planted it like a willow by abundant water, and it sprouted and became a low, spreading vine. Its branches turned toward him, but its roots remained under it. So it became a vine and produced branches and put out leafy boughs.”'" 

"'“Then he took a member of the royal family and made a treaty with him, putting him under oath. He also carried away the leading men of the land, so that the kingdom would be brought low, unable to rise again, surviving only by keeping his treaty. But the king rebelled against him by sending his envoys to Egypt to get horses and a large army. Will he succeed? Will he who does such things escape? Will he break the treaty and yet escape?”'"

The "king of Babylon" made Zedekiah king.  His kingdom was weak ("a low, spreading vine").  It was not like a mighty "cedar" tree like the Davidic kingdom was meant to be.  The "king of Babylon"—Nebuchadnezzar—made a treaty with Zedekiah.  "He made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king in his place and changed his name to Zedekiah." (II Kings 24:17)

"He also carried away the leading men of the land, so that the kingdom would be brought low, unable to rise again, surviving only by keeping his treaty."  Nebuchadnezzar's strategy was deport leaders from a conquered country, and leave it with weak leaders, so they could easily be ruled over.

"'“But there was another great eagle with powerful wings and full plumage. The vine now sent out its roots toward him from the plot where it was planted and stretched out its branches to him for water.”'"

"'“But the king rebelled against him by sending his envoys to Egypt to get horses and a large army. Will he succeed? Will he who does such things escape? Will he break the treaty and yet escape?”'"  Zedekiah broke the treaty with "Babylon" by reaching out to "Egypt."  "He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him take an oath in God’s name. He became stiff-necked and hardened his heart and would not turn to the Lord, the God of Israel." (II Chronicles 36:13) See also Jer. 37:5-7, 44:30

"'It had been planted in good soil by abundant water so that it would produce branches, bear fruit and become a splendid vine. Say to them, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Will it thrive? Will it not be uprooted and stripped of its fruit so that it withers? All its new growth will wither. It will not take a strong arm or many people to pull it up by the roots. Even if it is transplanted, will it thrive? Will it not wither completely when the east wind strikes it—wither away in the plot where it grew?”'"

"'“As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, he shall die in Babylon, in the land of the king who put him on the throne, whose oath he despised and whose treaty he broke. Pharaoh with his mighty army and great horde will be of no help to him in war, when ramps are built and siege works erected to destroy many lives. He despised the oath by breaking the covenant. Because he had given his hand in pledge and yet did all these things, he shall not escape. Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: As surely as I live, I will bring down on his head my oath that he despised and my covenant that he broke. I will spread my net for him, and he will be caught in my snare. I will bring him to Babylon and execute judgment upon him there because he was unfaithful to me. All his fleeing troops will fall by the sword, and the survivors will be scattered to the winds. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken.”'"

Israel was in good shape, but then she revolted against "Babylon."  She should have yielded to God's judgment through "Babylon."  But, because of Zedekiah's rebellion, he was captured by "Babylon" and blinded.  Both "Egypt" and Israel were conquered.  "Then the city wall was broken through, and the whole army fled at night through the gate between the two walls near the king’s garden, though the Babylonians were surrounding the city. They fled toward the Arabah, but the Babylonian army pursued the king and overtook him in the plains of Jericho. All his soldiers were separated from him and scattered, and he was captured. He was taken to the king of Babylon at Riblah, where sentence was pronounced on him. They killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes. Then they put out his eyes, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon." (II Kings 25:4-7) See also Jer. 52:6-11

3. The future restored kingdom symbolized (17:22-24)
"'“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will take a shoot from the very top of a cedar and plant it; I will break off a tender sprig from its topmost shoots and plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it; it will produce branches and bear fruit and become a splendid cedar. Birds of every kind will nest in it; they will find shelter in the shade of its branches. All the trees of the field will know that I the Lord bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall. I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.”'"

Thought Question: What is God predicting in these verses?

 

 

"'“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will take a shoot from the very top of a cedar and plant it; I will break off a tender sprig from its topmost shoots and plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it; it will produce branches and bear fruit and become a splendid cedar. Birds of every kind will nest in it; they will find shelter in the shade of its branches. All the trees of the field will know that I the Lord bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall. I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.”'"

God "will take a shoot from the very top of a cedar."  This is a prediction, by Ezekiel, of the future Messiah who will come from the line of David.  "Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.'" (Luke 1:29-33)  "regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David," (Romans 1:3)

"On the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it" This predicts that Jesus the Messiah will reign on Mt. Zion.  "In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.' The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore." (Isaiah 2:2-4)  "In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and peoples will stream to it. Many nations will come and say, 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.' The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the Lord Almighty has spoken." (Micah 4:1-4)  "I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill." (Psalm 2:6)

"I will break off a tender sprig from its topmost shoots and plant it on a high and lofty mountain."  The "tender sprig" describes Christ's birth as a tiny child.  This prediction is found throughout the Bible.  "A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord—" (Isaiah 11:1-2)  "'The days are coming,' declares the Lord, 'when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness.'" (Jeremiah 23:5-6)
"In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness." (Jeremiah 33:15-16)  "'I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.'" (Revelation 22:16) See also Zech. 3:8, 6:12

"Birds of every kind will nest in it; they will find shelter in the shade of its branches."  This final kingdom will rule over all the nations of the world, and people of every nation will choose to be a part of it—to find safety in it.  "The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name." (Zechariah 14:9)

"'“All the trees of the field will know that I the Lord bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall. I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.”'"  The whole world will humble themselves before the Messiah; and the humble will be lifted up.  In Isaiah 2, Isaiah speaks of the same time.  "The eyes of the arrogant man will be humbled and the pride of men brought low; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day. The Lord Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled), for all the cedars of Lebanon, tall and lofty, and all the oaks of Bashan, for all the towering mountains and all the high hills, for every lofty tower and every fortified wall, for every trading ship and every stately vessel. The arrogance of man will be brought low and the pride of men humbled; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day," (Isaiah 2:11-17)

So, the allegory ends with hope for Israel and hope for all mankind through the righteous Branch from David.

ISRAEL IS ACCOUNTABLE FOR THEIR SIN (18)

1. The one who sins is accountable to God for it. (18:1-4)
"The word of the Lord came to me: 'What do you people mean by quoting this proverb about the land of Israel: “The fathers eat sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge”? As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, you will no longer quote this proverb in Israel. For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son—both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die.'"

Thought Question: Ezekiel reveals here that the people of Israel were grumbling.  What were they grumbling about?

 

 

"At this point in Ezekiel's argument the exiles were probably thinking: 'What hope do we have?  If we are reaping the results of our father's sins of the past and those of our present rulers, what can we do about it?  Even if we repent, it will not help us.'  This way of thinking already had begun to manifest itself in a proverb which was becoming famous; 'The fathers eat the grapes and the children's teeth are blunt (or dull)' (cf. Jer 31:27-30)." "Taken from Ezekiel Ralph Alexander.  Copyright 1976 by Moody Press." See also 3:16-21; Deut. 24:16; II Kings 14:6

Jeremiah reports that Israel had the same attitude in his time.  "Our fathers sinned and are no more, and we bear their punishment." (Lamentations 5:7)  This is a "poor me" victim mentality.  They saw God as being unfair to them by punishing them for the sins of their fathers.

"'The soul who sins is the one who will die.'"  God is speaking here of physical death and physical life.  In the Old Covenant, the punishment for rebellion against God was physical death; and that death could come in many different ways.  "If in spite of these things you do not accept my correction but continue to be hostile toward me, I myself will be hostile toward you and will afflict you for your sins seven times over. And I will bring the sword upon you to avenge the breaking of the covenant. When you withdraw into your cities, I will send a plague among you, and you will be given into enemy hands." (Leviticus 26:23-25)  "You will perish among the nations; the land of your enemies will devour you." (Leviticus 26:38)

God placed the responsibility for their sin on them.  They were trying to blame their parents.  Can that type of thing happen today?  While volunteering in an inner city ministry, where the home environments were not the best, I learned from a long-time worker in the Red Shield Center that some of the hardest working and responsible young people came from very bad home situations.  They were dedicated to being successful citizens in spite of the poor examples that were all around them.  Whatever our influences were, we do not have to be like them.  We are the one who ultimately make our choices.  And, we alone are responsible for those choices.  The people of Israel were blaming their fathers for their sins and for God's judgment on them.  They, though, could stop the patterns of the past by choosing not to be like the people of their past.  If they did choose to repent and go in another direction, God would forgive them.

It is true that a pattern of sinning is passed on to the next generation.  "You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me," (Exodus 20:5)  "The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation." (Numbers 14:18)  But, even though a pattern of sinning is passed on to the next generation, no one has to do what their parents did.  Anyone can choose to be different than their parents—in a good way or a bad way.

"'As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, you will no longer quote this proverb in Israel.'"  Why will this proverb cease to be quoted?  God will make it clear that His judgment on them is due to their own sins, not their fathers' sins.

2. The one who does what is right will live. (18:5-9)
"'Suppose there is a righteous man who does what is just and right. He does not eat at the mountain shrines or look to the idols of the house of Israel. He does not defile his neighbor’s wife or lie with a woman during her period. He does not oppress anyone, but returns what he took in pledge for a loan. He does not commit robbery but gives his food to the hungry and provides clothing for the naked. He does not lend at usury or take excessive interest. He withholds his hand from doing wrong and judges fairly between man and man. He follows my decrees and faithfully keeps my laws. That man is righteous; he will surely live, declares the Sovereign Lord.'"

Thought Question: In what ways are these words an encouragement to you?

 

 

This "one who does what is just and right" is not someone who is perfect, but "one who" is seeking to do what is right, confesses his or her sins, and trusts in God's forgiveness through a blood sacrifice being given—the blood sacrifices of the Old Testament times pointed to the blood sacrifice of Jesus.

"'Suppose there is a righteous man who does what is just and right.'"  Ezekiel gives us a description of what "righteous man" looks like.  "He does not eat at the mountain shrines or look to the idols of the house of Israel. He does not defile his neighbor’s wife or lie with a woman during her period. He does not oppress anyone, but returns what he took in pledge for a loan. He does not commit robbery but gives his food to the hungry and provides clothing for the naked. He does not lend at usury or take excessive interest. He withholds his hand from doing wrong and judges fairly between man and man. He follows my decrees and faithfully keeps my laws. That man is righteous; he will surely live, declares the Sovereign Lord.'"  He does not join in with those who are idolatrous, immoral, and illegal.  Rather, he or she seeks to obey God.  We can easily see how this description of a righteous man of that time tells us how we are to live today as Christians.

"That man is righteous; he will surely live, declares the Sovereign Lord.'"  There is no punishment from God for those live like God describes in these verses.  Instead of blaming their fathers for their sinful behavior, they needed to seek to do right, and God would not punish them.  Ezekiel, Daniel, and Jeremiah did not fear God's punishment, for they feared God and sought to obey Him.  So, those who chose to be like them also did not need to fear that God would punish them.

3. The one who sins will die for it. (18:10-13)
"'Suppose he has a violent son, who sheds blood or does any of these other things (though the father has done none of them): He eats at the mountain shrines. He defiles his neighbor’s wife. He oppresses the poor and needy. He commits robbery. He does not return what he took in pledge. He looks to the idols. He does detestable things. He lends at usury and takes excessive interest. Will such a man live? He will not! Because he has done all these detestable things, he will surely be put to death and his blood will be on his own head.'"

Thought Question: Whom do these words of God describe today?

 

 

"A righteous man" can have a "son" who chooses to be rebellious.  This "son" will be punished by God for his sin.

4. The son who does not do his father's sins will live. (18:14-18)
"'But suppose this son has a son who sees all the sins his father commits, and though he sees them, he does not do such things: 'He does not eat at the mountain shrines or look to the idols of the house of Israel. He does not defile his neighbor’s wife. He does not oppress anyone or require a pledge for a loan. He does not commit robbery but gives his food to the hungry and provides clothing for the naked. He withholds his hand from sin and takes no usury or excessive interest. He keeps my laws and follows my decrees. He will not die for his father’s sin; he will surely live. But his father will die for his own sin, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother and did what was wrong among his people.'"

Thought Question: How should these words be an encouragement to us?

 

 

Here, the "son" chooses not to be like "his father."  He will not be punished by God for his father's sins.  So, we can turn from our sin and avoid God's judgment.  "'Come now, let us reason together,' says the Lord. 'Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken." (Isaiah 1:18-20)   "For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment." (I Corinthians 11:29-31)

5. The one who sins is the one who will die. (18:19-20)
"'Yet you ask, “Why does the son not share the guilt of his father?” Since the son has done what is just and right and has been careful to keep all my decrees, he will surely live. The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him.'"

Thought Question: How do these words make invalid their "poor me" attitude that they were being punished for the sins of their fathers and they could do nothing about it?

 

 

We will individually receive the consequences of our choices, whether they are good choices or evil choices.

6. But if a wicked man turns from his wicked ways, he will live. (18:21-23)
"'But if a wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, he will surely live; he will not die. None of the offenses he has committed will be remembered against him. Because of the righteous things he has done, he will live. Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?'"

Thought Question: How do God's words that He takes no "pleasure in the death of the wicked" help us to better understand God?

 

 

"The implication is clear that man has the ability to determine his final condition." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."  This goes against the Calvinistic view that a man is born into a predestined state of being either one who will be saved or one who will be lost no matter whatever he or she does.  If we choose to do what is right, we will live.

 "God 'will give to each person according to what he has done.' To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.'" (Romans 2:6-11)  "The standing of the individual is determined by his final choice of good or evil . . .What is God's ultimate objective in human life?  He does not delight in the death of the wicked.  His pleasure is that the wicked turn from his evil way and live (cf. John 5:40; I Tim 2:4; II Pet 3:9)." "Feinberg."

7.  But if a righteous man turns to wickedness, he will die. (18:24)
"'But if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked man does, will he live? None of the righteous things he has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness he is guilty of and because of the sins he has committed, he will die.'"

Thought Question: Is God saying here that a true believer can lose his her salvation by turning back to wickedness?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

People who once presented themselves as Christians but then turned away from God are not now remembered for the Christian lifestyle they once led, but for the life of sin that they since have chosen.  God also treats them as he treats all the other rebellious persons.

The issue that this verse immediately brings us is about whether or not a Christian can lose their salvation if they turn back to a life of sin.  One answer that is given is that they chose to go back to a life of sin because they never fully chose God in the first place—they never really became a Christian.  They could have been one of the tares or weeds that Jesus speaks of in Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43.  A person can look like a Christian but not be a Christian.  The other answer is that he or she was a Christian but lost their salvation when they turned back to sin.  Sections in the Bible appear to me to teach that a true Christian will not lose his salvation, even if they turn back to sin. See Rom. 8:28-30; Jn. 10:25-30; I Cor. 5:1-5  Those who are truly Christians but turn back to sin can be those who Paul turned over to Satan.  They do go to heaven, but they take with them no rewards. "hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord." (I Corinthians 5:5)  "his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames." (I Corinthians 3:13-15) See also I Cor. 11:29-30

8. Israel says that God's way is not just. (18:25-29)
"'Yet you say, “The way of the Lord is not just.” Hear, O house of Israel: Is my way unjust? Is it not your ways that are unjust? If a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin, he will die for it; because of the sin he has committed he will die. But if a wicked man turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he will save his life. Because he considers all the offenses he has committed and turns away from them, he will surely live; he will not die. Yet the house of Israel says, “The way of the Lord is not just.” Are my ways unjust, O house of Israel? Is it not your ways that are unjust?'"

Thought Question: Give one modern-day argument that is used to claim that God is unjust?  How do these verses help you to answer that claim?

 

 

God's just ways are often considered to be unjust by those who experience the consequences of their sin.  God, here, predicts Israel's rationalization that God is not just.  Actually, God provides an opportunity for all to repent.  And if they repent, He will forgive their former sin.  God allows a wicked person who repents to be forgiven.  Men tend not to do this.  If someone lives a life of sin, they tend to be branded with that title, no matter how they might change later.  God is more just than we are, for He is eager to forgive; whereas, we are not usually eager to give someone a second chance.

9. Repent, for I take no pleasure in the death of anyone." (18:30-32)
"'Therefore, O house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!'"

Thought Question: How is God's attitude toward those who repent different from the attitude of most people?

 

 

"Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel?"  God wants us to turn from our sin, so that He can give us a new start with a new heart. See also 11:19, 36:25-27

"For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!'"  God delights to forgive us, not to punish us.  Isaiah tells us that punishment is God's "strange work." (Isaiah 28:21)

A SYMBOLIC LAMENT FOR ISRAEL'S PRINCES (19) See Gen. 49:9

1. Israel was like a lioness and her princes were like lion cubs who devoured people and God will punish them for it. (19:1-9)
"'Take up a lament concerning the princes of Israel and say: “What a lioness was your mother among the lions! She lay down among the young lions and reared her cubs. She brought up one of her cubs, and he became a strong lion. He learned to tear the prey and he devoured men. The nations heard about him, and he was trapped in their pit. They led him with hooks to the land of Egypt. When she saw her hope unfulfilled, her expectation gone, she took another of her cubs and made him a strong lion. He prowled among the lions, for he was now a strong lion. He learned to tear the prey and he devoured men. He broke down their strongholds and devastated their towns. The land and all who were in it were terrified by his roaring. Then the nations came against him, those from regions round about. They spread their net for him, and he was trapped in their pit. With hooks they pulled him into a cage and brought him to the king of Babylon. They put him in prison, so his roar was heard no longer on the mountains of Israel.”'"

Thought Question: Why do you believe lions are used to describe Israel's kings?

 

 

The "lioness" or Israel gives birth to lion "cubs."  One of her "cubs" grows up to be a "lion."  This "lion" was king Jehoahaz.  "Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother’s name was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah; she was from Libnah. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, just as his fathers had done." (II Kings 23:31-32)  Ezekiel describes this lion's fate in 19:4:  "The nations heard about him, and he was trapped in their pit. They led him with hooks to the land of Egypt."  This is what happened to Jehoahaz.  "Pharaoh Neco put him in chains at Riblah in the land of Hamath so that he might not reign in Jerusalem, and he imposed on Judah a levy of a hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold. Pharaoh Neco made Eliakim son of Josiah king in place of his father Josiah and changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim. But he took Jehoahaz and carried him off to Egypt, and there he died." (II Kings 23:33-34)

The second "lion" is Jehoiachin.  Ezekiel also describes his fate in these verses: "Then the nations came against him, those from regions round about. They spread their net for him, and he was trapped in their pit. With hooks they pulled him into a cage and brought him to the king of Babylon. They put him in prison, so his roar was heard no longer on the mountains of Israel."

II Kings gives us additional details about Jehoiachin's fate.  "Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother’s name was Nehushta daughter of Elnathan; she was from Jerusalem. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father had done. At that time the officers of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon advanced on Jerusalem and laid siege to it, and Nebuchadnezzar himself came up to the city while his officers were besieging it. Jehoiachin king of Judah, his mother, his attendants, his nobles and his officials all surrendered to him. In the eighth year of the reign of the king of Babylon, he took Jehoiachin prisoner. As the Lord had declared, Nebuchadnezzar removed all the treasures from the temple of the Lord and from the royal palace, and took away all the gold articles that Solomon king of Israel had made for the temple of the Lord. He carried into exile all Jerusalem: all the officers and fighting men, and all the craftsmen and artisans—a total of ten thousand. Only the poorest people of the land were left. Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiachin captive to Babylon. He also took from Jerusalem to Babylon the king’s mother, his wives, his officials and the leading men of the land." (II Kings 24:8-15)

Ezekiel skips Jehoiakim, the king between Jehoiahaz and Jehoiachin.  We are not told why, but he may not have been as wicked as the two other kings.

2. Israel was like a vine that was uprooted and planted in a desert. (19:10-14)
"'“Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard planted by the water; it was fruitful and full of branches because of abundant water. Its branches were strong, fit for a ruler’s scepter. It towered high above the thick foliage, conspicuous for its height and for its many branches. But it was uprooted in fury and thrown to the ground. The east wind made it shrivel, it was stripped of its fruit; its strong branches withered and fire consumed them. Now it is planted in the desert, in a dry and thirsty land. Fire spread from one of its main branches and consumed its fruit. No strong branch is left on it fit for a ruler’s scepter.” This is a lament and is to be used as a lament.'"

Thought Question: Why do you believe that God uses a "vine" to describe Israel?

 

 

The stories of the "lioness" and her "cubs" and this story of the "vine" are laments—they are sad and mournful tales of a nation's demise.  They are like funeral dirges.

A "vine" was also used by Ezekiel to describe Israel's demise.  The "vine" begins as a "vine" in a lush "vineyard."  "'“Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard planted by the water; it was fruitful and full of branches because of abundant water. Its branches were strong, fit for a ruler’s scepter. It towered high above the thick foliage, conspicuous for its height and for its many branches." See also Gen. 49:22; Ezek. 15, 17:5-8

"Its branches were strong, fit for a ruler’s scepter."  Israel had many strong kings—such as David, Solomon, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah.

But the "vine" met with harsh circumstances.  "But it was uprooted in fury and thrown to the ground. The east wind made it shrivel, it was stripped of its fruit; its strong branches withered and fire consumed them. Now it is planted in the desert, in a dry and thirsty land. Fire spread from one of its main branches and consumed its fruit. No strong branch is left on it fit for a ruler’s scepter.” This is a lament and is to be used as a lament.'"

"Fire spread from one of its main branches and consumed its fruit."  Zedekiah was judged for breaking his covenant with Nebuchadnezzar. See Jer. 52:1-11; II Kings 24:18- 25:7

"'“No strong branch is left on it fit for a ruler’s scepter.”'"  In other words, there was no one in Israel that was fit to be Israel's king. See Gen.49:10

So, Israel was once a bountiful nation, but due to its rebellion against God, it would be ripped out of its land, burned with "fire," and planted in a distant land.  Our country has been rich and free for many years.  But, we are turning away from God.  Sadly, God's judgment is also ahead for us, unless we repent and turn back to God and His ways.

ISRAEL'S REBELLION, GOD'S PATIENCE, AND THE END OF GOD'S PATIENCE (20)

1. The history of Israel's rebellion (20:1-38)

a. Israel rebelled against God in Egypt (20:1-9)
"In the seventh year, in the fifth month on the tenth day, some of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the Lord, and they sat down in front of me. Then the word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, speak to the elders of Israel and say to them, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Have you come to inquire of me? As surely as I live, I will not let you inquire of me, declares the Sovereign Lord.” Will you judge them? Will you judge them, son of man? Then confront them with the detestable practices of their fathers and say to them: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: On the day I chose Israel, I swore with uplifted hand to the descendants of the house of Jacob and revealed myself to them in Egypt. With uplifted hand I said to them, ‘I am the Lord your God.’ On that day I swore to them that I would bring them out of Egypt into a land I had searched out for them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most beautiful of all lands. And I said to them, 'Each of you, get rid of the vile images you have set your eyes on, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.' But they rebelled against me and would not listen to me; they did not get rid of the vile images they had set their eyes on, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt. So I said I would pour out my wrath on them and spend my anger against them in Egypt. But for the sake of my name I did what would keep it from being profaned in the eyes of the nations they lived among and in whose sight I had revealed myself to the Israelites by bringing them out of Egypt."

Thought Question: Why do you believe that God would not respond to the elders of Israel when they inquired of Him?

 

 

"In the seventh year, in the fifth month on the tenth day, some of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the Lord, and they sat down in front of me."  This event occurred about one year after the prophecy of chapter 8:  "In the sixth year, in the sixth month on the fifth day, while I was sitting in my house and the elders of Judah were sitting before me, the hand of the Sovereign Lord came upon me there." (Ezekiel 8:1)

"some of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the Lord, and they sat down in front of me. Then the word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, speak to the elders of Israel and say to them, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Have you come to inquire of me? As surely as I live, I will not let you inquire of me, declares the Sovereign Lord.”'"  God does not respond to a group of elders who inquire of Him.  We are not told what they asked for.  But, God does give them Israel's history of rebellion against Him, starting with their rebellion in Egypt.

In the beginning God chose Israel to be in a covenant relationship with Him.  "God also said to Moses, 'I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the Lord I did not make myself known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they lived as aliens. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant. 'Therefore, say to the Israelites: “I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.”'" (Exodus 6:2-8)

Israel did not choose God, but they chose the idolatry of Egypt.  "And I said to them, 'Each of you, get rid of the vile images you have set your eyes on, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.' But they rebelled against me and would not listen to me; they did not get rid of the vile images they had set their eyes on, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt. So I said I would pour out my wrath on them and spend my anger against them in Egypt." 

"From no other source do we learn of Israel's idolatry in Egypt as explicitly as here.  However, intimations to this effect are not lacking (see 23:3; Lev. 17:7; 18:3; Joshua 24:14; Amos 5:25-27)  The incident of the golden calf (Exodus 32:4) was not without background gained in Egypt." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."

b. Israel rebelled against God during the wilderness journey (20:10-26)
 "'Therefore I led them out of Egypt and brought them into the desert. I gave them my decrees and made known to them my laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them. Also I gave them my Sabbaths as a sign between us, so they would know that I the Lord made them holy. Yet the people of Israel rebelled against me in the desert. They did not follow my decrees but rejected my laws—although the man who obeys them will live by them—and they utterly desecrated my Sabbaths. So I said I would pour out my wrath on them and destroy them in the desert. But for the sake of my name I did what would keep it from being profaned in the eyes of the nations in whose sight I had brought them out. Also with uplifted hand I swore to them in the desert that I would not bring them into the land I had given them—a land flowing with milk and honey, most beautiful of all lands— because they rejected my laws and did not follow my decrees and desecrated my Sabbaths. For their hearts were devoted to their idols. Yet I looked on them with pity and did not destroy them or put an end to them in the desert. I said to their children in the desert, “Do not follow the statutes of your fathers or keep their laws or defile yourselves with their idols. I am the Lord your God; follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Keep my Sabbaths holy, that they may be a sign between us. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.” But the children rebelled against me: They did not follow my decrees, they were not careful to keep my laws—although the man who obeys them will live by them—and they desecrated my Sabbaths. So I said I would pour out my wrath on them and spend my anger against them in the desert. But I withheld my hand, and for the sake of my name I did what would keep it from being profaned in the eyes of the nations in whose sight I had brought them out. Also with uplifted hand I swore to them in the desert that I would disperse them among the nations and scatter them through the countries, because they had not obeyed my laws but had rejected my decrees and desecrated my Sabbaths, and their eyes lusted after their fathers’ idols. I also gave them over to statutes that were not good and laws they could not live by; I let them become defiled through their gifts—the sacrifice of every firstborn—that I might fill them with horror so they would know that I am the Lord.'"

Thought Question: What do we learn here about God's longsuffering?   

 

 

Because of His pity, God did not destroy them in Egypt.  "'Therefore I led them out of Egypt and brought them into the desert. I gave them my decrees and made known to them my laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them. Also I gave them my Sabbaths as a sign between us, so they would know that I the Lord made them holy.'"  God could have justly destroyed Israel in Egypt.

The point that God is making here to these elders of Israel is that He had been patient with Israel for a long time; even though they had not repented.  This time, though, there would be no mercy unless Israel repented.  "'Yet the people of Israel rebelled against me in the desert. They did not follow my decrees but rejected my laws—although the man who obeys them will live by them—and they utterly desecrated my Sabbaths. So I said I would pour out my wrath on them and destroy them in the desert. But for the sake of my name I did what would keep it from being profaned in the eyes of the nations in whose sight I had brought them out. Also with uplifted hand I swore to them in the desert that I would not bring them into the land I had given them—a land flowing with milk and honey, most beautiful of all lands— because they rejected my laws and did not follow my decrees and desecrated my Sabbaths. For their hearts were devoted to their idols. Yet I looked on them with pity and did not destroy them or put an end to them in the desert. I said to their children in the desert, “Do not follow the statutes of your fathers or keep their laws or defile yourselves with their idols. I am the Lord your God; follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Keep my Sabbaths holy, that they may be a sign between us. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.” But the children rebelled against me: They did not follow my decrees, they were not careful to keep my laws—although the man who obeys them will live by them—and they desecrated my Sabbaths. So I said I would pour out my wrath on them and spend my anger against them in the desert. But I withheld my hand, and for the sake of my name I did what would keep it from being profaned in the eyes of the nations in whose sight I had brought them out.'"

Again, God could have justly destroyed them in the desert for their rebellion against Him and for their idolatry.  After all, God's Ten Commandments were presented to them in a very dramatic way.  "On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled." (Exodus 19:16)  "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below." (Exodus 20:4)  But, in spite of their idolatry and rebellion against Him, God again, in "pity," withheld His judgment on them.  But He did promise that judgment would come in the future.

"'Also with uplifted hand I swore to them in the desert that I would disperse them among the nations and scatter them through the countries, because they had not obeyed my laws but had rejected my decrees and desecrated my Sabbaths, and their eyes lusted after their fathers’ idols. I also gave them over to statutes that were not good and laws they could not live by; I let them become defiled through their gifts—the sacrifice of every firstborn — that I might fill them with horror so they would know that I am the Lord.'"

The scattering of them among the nations had already begun in Ezekiel's time, for Ezekiel himself was in another land when he wrote these words.  This scattering of the people of Israel into other lands was predicted in the book of Deuteronomy.  "Then the Lord will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other. There you will worship other gods—gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known. Among those nations you will find no repose, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the Lord will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart. You will live in constant suspense, filled with dread both night and day, never sure of your life. In the morning you will say, 'If only it were evening!' and in the evening, 'If only it were morning!'—because of the terror that will fill your hearts and the sights that your eyes will see. The Lord will send you back in ships to Egypt on a journey I said you should never make again. There you will offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you." (Deuteronomy 28:64-68) See also Lev. 26:33-34

"They did not follow my decrees but rejected my laws—although the man who obeys them will live by them"  See also Lev. 18:5; Deut. 30:11-20  Obeying God's "laws" leads to life.  If we obey God's "laws," we also will experience God's life.  The only problem is that both Israel and we are only able to obey God's "laws" if God gives us a new heart and provides us with His Spirit's strength and ability to do it. The people said that they were going to obey God.  They told Moses to listen to God, and they would do whatever He told them to do.  "Go near and listen to all that the Lord our God says. Then tell us whatever the Lord our God tells you. We will listen and obey." (Deuteronomy 5:27)  But God knew that it was not in their hearts to be able to obey Him.  "The Lord heard you when you spoke to me and the Lord said to me, 'I have heard what this people said to you. Everything they said was good. Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!'" (Deuteronomy 5:28-29)

Paul learned of his own inability to obey God's law; he discovered by experience that he could not obey God's law, no matter how hard he tried.  "What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, 'Do not covet.' But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead." (Romans 7:7-8)  "I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing." (Romans 7:18-19)  "For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?" (Romans 7:22-24)  What Paul learned from this is found in Romans 8: "For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit." (Romans 8:3-4)  He, like all of us, was only able to obey God when He was enabled to do so by trusting in God's Spirit to do it.

In spite of what Israel said, it was not long before they had gone back to idolatry.  "When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, 'Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.' Aaron answered them, 'Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.' So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, 'These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.'" (Exodus 32:1-4)

"'I also gave them over to statutes that were not good and laws they could not live by; I let them become defiled through their gifts—the sacrifice of every firstborn—that I might fill them with horror so they would know that I am the Lord.'"  When we stubbornly refuse to obey God, He finally chooses to give us over to our choices.  We see this pattern throughout the Bible.  "Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another." (Romans 1:24)  "Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done." (Romans 1:28)  "hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord." (1 Corinthians 5:5)  " . . . They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness." (II Thessalonians 2:10a-12)

c. Israel also rebelled against God in the Promised Land. (20:28-31)
"'When I brought them into the land I had sworn to give them and they saw any high hill or any leafy tree, there they offered their sacrifices, made offerings that provoked me to anger, presented their fragrant incense and poured out their drink offerings. Then I said to them: What is this high place you go to?’” (It is called Bamah to this day.) Therefore say to the house of Israel: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Will you defile yourselves the way your fathers did and lust after their vile images? When you offer your gifts—the sacrifice of your sons in the fire—you continue to defile yourselves with all your idols to this day. Am I to let you inquire of me, O house of Israel? As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I will not let you inquire of me.'"

Thought Question: What is similar today to the high places in Israel—where we can take some practice that is practiced outside of the church and take it into the church as our modern-day "high place"?

 

 

Israel did not leave their idolatry in the wilderness.  They brought it with them into the Promised Land.  "You burn with lust among the oaks and under every spreading tree; you sacrifice your children in the ravines and under the overhanging crags. The idols among the smooth stones of the ravines are your portion; they, they are your lot. Yes, to them you have poured out drink offerings and offered grain offerings. In the light of these things, should I relent? You have made your bed on a high and lofty hill; there you went up to offer your sacrifices. Behind your doors and your doorposts you have put your pagan symbols. Forsaking me, you uncovered your bed, you climbed into it and opened it wide; you made a pact with those whose beds you love, and you looked on their nakedness. You went to Molech with olive oil and increased your perfumes. You sent your ambassadors far away; you descended to the grave itself!" (Isaiah 57:5-9)

What is there today that can be like the high places in Israel?  Are there any secular and godless practices that can make their way into the church and become accepted and affect our Christian practices?  Here are some secular practices that can become our modern-day high places: evolutionary science, secular psychology, the world's immoral practices, post-modern thinking, relativism, and more.

d. God judges Israel for their sin. (20:32-38)
"'You say, “We want to be like the nations, like the peoples of the world, who serve wood and stone.” But what you have in mind will never happen. As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I will rule over you with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with outpoured wrath. I will bring you from the nations and gather you from the countries where you have been scattered—with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with outpoured wrath. I will bring you into the desert of the nations and there, face to face, I will execute judgment upon you. As I judged your fathers in the desert of the land of Egypt, so I will judge you, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will take note of you as you pass under my rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant. I will purge you of those who revolt and rebel against me. Although I will bring them out of the land where they are living, yet they will not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord.”'"

Thought Question #1:  How did God purge "those who" revolted and rebelled "against" Him?  

 

 

Thought Question #2: Was this promise to Israel meant to be fulfilled when Israel returned from the Babylonian exile as described in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, or will it be fulfilled in our future when Jesus returns to set up the 1000 year reign that is predicted in Revelation 20 and Zechariah 14?  Please explain your answer.
 

 

 

Because Israel had chosen to be "like the nations," God's wrath had resulted in them being "scattered" among "the nations."  But, one day, God would bring them from where they were "scattered," and bring them back to the Promised Land.  Their presence among the "nations" will purge them of those who desire to be like the "nations."  "I will purge you of those who revolt and rebel against me." 

Was this promise to Israel meant to be fulfilled when Israel returned from the Babylonian exile as described in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, or will it be fulfilled in our future when Jesus returns to set up the 1000 year reign that is predicted in Revelation 20 and Zechariah 14?  It appears that a partial fulfillment took place in Ezra's and Nehemiah's time, but the complete fulfillment will take place in our future. See Deut. 30:1-10; Isa. 11:11-16, 49:17-23; 60:1-22, 61:4-9; Jer. 23:1-8; Ezek. 36:22-31; Amos 9:11-15; Zech. 10:8-12  See also Ezek. 37:15-28; Zech. 14:16-21; Rev. 20:1-5

2. God predicts that Israel will one day turn to Him; that God will be gracious to them; and that they will return to the land. (20:39-44)
"'“As for you, O house of Israel, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Go and serve your idols, every one of you! But afterward you will surely listen to me and no longer profane my holy name with your gifts and idols. For on my holy mountain, the high mountain of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord, there in the land the entire house of Israel will serve me, and there I will accept them. There I will require your offerings and your choice gifts, along with all your holy sacrifices. I will accept you as fragrant incense when I bring you out from the nations and gather you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will show myself holy among you in the sight of the nations. Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I bring you into the land of Israel, the land I had sworn with uplifted hand to give to your fathers. There you will remember your conduct and all the actions by which you have defiled yourselves, and you will loathe yourselves for all the evil you have done. You will know that I am the Lord, when I deal with you for my name’s sake and not according to your evil ways and your corrupt practices, O house of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord.”'"

Thought Question #1:  What time is God predicting here?

 

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Why do you believe God puts such a strong emphasis on Israel's sin and His judgment on their sin?

 

 

These verses are clearly a prediction of the future millennial rule of Jesus Christ.  Why is it so clear?  Israel has returned to Israel, both after the Babylonian captivity and in 1948 when she became a nation, but it is yet to be true that the "entire house of Israel" has served God.

Though God knew that Israel would continue in their idolatry, there will come a time in the future when Israel will turn from its idolatry.  At that time, their worship will no longer be a worship of idols, but there will be a worship of God.  They will return to the land; and in the land, they will finally see the ugliness of their sin and idolatry.  "There you will remember your conduct and all the actions by which you have defiled yourselves, and you will loathe yourselves for all the evil you have done."

Why all this emphasis on Israel's sin?  This can be a depressing message.  The message of Ezekiel is not, in the end, about Israel's sin, but about God's grace.  But, until Israel sees their sin for what it is, they will not see their need for God's grace.  Until we see our sin for what it is, we also will not see our need for God's grace and help.  Jeremiah explains God's purpose in the following verse: "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" (Jeremiah 29:11)

"Despite Judah's wickedness and rebellion, God pursued her in order to accomplish His purpose for that nation (cf. Phil 1:16)." "Taken from Ezekiel Ralph Alexander.  Copyright 1976 by Moody Press." In spite of our sins, God has a grace-abased plan for our lives!

3. Fire is used to symbolize God's judgment on the southern part of Israel (20:45-49)
"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, set your face toward the south; preach against the south and prophesy against the forest of the southland. Say to the southern forest: “Hear the word of the Lord. This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am about to set fire to you, and it will consume all your trees, both green and dry. The blazing flame will not be quenched, and every face from south to north will be scorched by it. Everyone will see that I the Lord have kindled it; it will not be quenched.”' Then I said, 'Ah, Sovereign Lord! They are saying of me, “Isn’t he just telling parables?”'"

Thought Question: Why do you believe that the people of Judah did not get it, and thought that he was "just telling parables"?

 

 

God predicts His coming judgment on the southern part of Israel—the southern kingdom of Judah with her capital in Jerusalem.  This judgment will be like a forest fire that burns up everything and everyone—"every face from south to north will be scorched by it." See also Isa. 10:16-19; Jer. 21:1-7  This "fire" symbolizes the Babylonian attack on Jerusalem that will completely destroy Jerusalem.

"Everyone will see that I the Lord have kindled it; it will not be quenched.”' Then I said, 'Ah, Sovereign Lord! They are saying of me, “Isn’t he just telling parables?”'"  Still, Israel's leaders do not get it, and they do not get it because they do not want it to be true.  They want to be able to continue their sinful and rebellious ways without any consequences.

JERUSALEM'S CONQUEST BY BABYLON PREDICTED (21)

1. God's judgment of Jerusalem symbolized by a drawn sword (21:1-5)
"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, set your face against Jerusalem and preach against the sanctuary. Prophesy against the land of Israel and say to her: “This is what the Lord says: I am against you. I will draw my sword from its scabbard and cut off from you both the righteous and the wicked. Because I am going to cut off the righteous and the wicked, my sword will be unsheathed against everyone from south to north. Then all people will know that I the Lord have drawn my sword from its scabbard; it will not return again.”'"

Thought Question: Why does God's judgment fall on "both the righteous and the wicked"?

 

 

Chapter 20 ended with these words: "Then I said, 'Ah, Sovereign Lord! They are saying of me, “Isn’t he just telling parables?”'" (Ezekiel 20:49)  Though Israel was not taking God seriously, God's "sword" would soon be drawn and used against them.  God's "drawn" "sword" would be Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. See Isa. 31:8, 34:6-8, 66:6

God's coming judgment on Israel will not spare anyone.  "I will draw my sword from its scabbard and cut off from you both the righteous and the wicked."  Did not God say that the person who sins will die.  "The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him." (Ezekiel 18:20) See also 9:4-8

Is not God contradicting Himself by saying that He is going to punish "both the righteous and the wicked"?  Here is Feinberg's explanation:  "Just as a forest fire consumes the green and the dry (20:47), the judgment would be indiscriminate to all outward appearances, which is always true when an invading army takes over a land.  In national calamities, of necessity, the godly suffer the same temporal woes as the ungodly." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."

It is a sad necessity when there is an infestation of some sort, that the good needs to be destroyed to get rid of the bad.  It is hard to weed out an infestation of weeds without destroying some of the good plants.  It is hard to rid a land of terrorists without some innocents dying.

2. Ezekiel's groaning over Israel (21:6-7)
"'Therefore groan, son of man! Groan before them with broken heart and bitter grief. And when they ask you, “Why are you groaning?” you shall say, “Because of the news that is coming. Every heart will melt and every hand go limp; every spirit will become faint and every knee become as weak as water.” It is coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign Lord.'"

Thought Question: What do we learn about the heart of Ezekiel and the heart of God from these words? See Luke 19:41-44

 

 

Ezekiel was not delighted that Israel was going to be judged.  The very opposite was true.  He was deeply saddened at God's judgment of them.  He wished that they had heeded God's many warnings about what would happen to them if they did not repent.

3. God's sword is being sharpened and polished. (21:8-17)
"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, prophesy and say, “This is what the Lord says: A sword, a sword, sharpened and polished— sharpened for the slaughter, polished to flash like lightning! Shall we rejoice in the scepter of my son Judah? The sword despises every such stick. The sword is appointed to be polished, to be grasped with the hand; it is sharpened and polished, made ready for the hand of the slayer. Cry out and wail, son of man, for it is against my people; it is against all the princes of Israel. They are thrown to the sword along with my people. Therefore beat your breast. Testing will surely come. And what if the scepter of Judah, which the sword despises, does not continue? declares the Sovereign Lord.” So then, son of man, prophesy and strike your hands together. Let the sword strike twice, even three times. It is a sword for slaughter— a sword for great slaughter, closing in on them from every side. So that hearts may melt and the fallen be many, I have stationed the sword for slaughter at all their gates. Oh! It is made to flash like lightning, it is grasped for slaughter. O sword, slash to the right, then to the left, wherever your blade is turned. I too will strike my hands together, and my wrath will subside. I the Lord have spoken.'"

Thought Question: What do you believe is meant by the striking of the "hands together" "three times"?

 

 

God's "sword" Babylon is about to cut down "the scepter of Judah"—the rule of David's line of kings was about to come to an end at Nebuchadnezzar's hands. See Gen. 49:10  It is a temporary end, for it will one day be restored through Jesus Christ.  "'I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.' I will proclaim the decree of the Lord: He said to me, 'You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.'" (Psalm 2:6-9)  "I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. 'He will rule them with an iron scepter.' He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND Lord OF LordS." (Revelation 19:11-16)

"'So then, son of man, prophesy and strike your hands together. Let the sword strike twice, even three times. It is a sword for slaughter— a sword for great slaughter, closing in on them from every side.'"  The "strike your hands together" may refer to the three deportations of Judah.  In the time that Ezekiel wrote his book, "two had already occurred in 605 and 597 B.C.  The third and final deportation would occur in 586 B.C." "Taken from Ezekiel Ralph Alexander.  Copyright 1976 by Moody Press."

"I too will strike my hands together, and my wrath will subside. I the Lord have spoken.'"  With the attack by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C., God's wrath against Israel and their sins was completed.

4. Babylon chooses to attack Jerusalem rather than choosing to attack Rabbah of the Ammonites. (21:18-23)
"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, mark out two roads for the sword of the king of Babylon to take, both starting from the same country. Make a signpost where the road branches off to the city. Mark out one road for the sword to come against Rabbah of the Ammonites and another against Judah and fortified Jerusalem. For the king of Babylon will stop at the fork in the road, at the junction of the two roads, to seek an omen: He will cast lots with arrows, he will consult his idols, he will examine the liver. Into his right hand will come the lot for Jerusalem, where he is to set up battering rams, to give the command to slaughter, to sound the battle cry, to set battering rams against the gates, to build a ramp and to erect siege works. It will seem like a false omen to those who have sworn allegiance to him, but he will remind them of their guilt and take them captive.'"

Thought Question: What do these verses teach us about God's sovereignty?

 

 

Both Israel and the Ammonites had rebelled together against the Babylonians.  "These two peoples together conspired against Babylonia in 589/588 B.C. (Jer 27:3)."  Taken from The Holman Commentary on Ezekiel by Rooker."  Feinberg and Alexander said that this took place in 593 B.C. See 17:16-18

"'For the king of Babylon will stop at the fork in the road, at the junction of the two roads, to seek an omen: He will cast lots with arrows, he will consult his idols, he will examine the liver. Into his right hand will come the lot for Jerusalem, where he is to set up battering rams, to give the command to slaughter, to sound the battle cry, to set battering rams against the gates, to build a ramp and to erect siege works.'"  Feinberg gives the following explanation of what is said here.  "Three kinds of magic were specified.  Each arrow was marked with a name, a form of casting lots.  They were put in a quiver, whirled about, then the one falling out first was the decision of the god.  According to rabbinic tradition the teraphim was a mummified child's head.  It is generally accepted that the reference was to household images supposed to be connected with good fortune (see Gen. 31:19; I Sam. 15:23; 19:13, 16; II Kings 23:24).  The liver was considered the seat of life because it is filled with blood.  Sheep were sacrificed for this kind of divination (called hepatoscopy), then the judgment was made on the basis of the color or marks on the liver.  This was the most common method of divination practiced in Babylon.  In all this divination there was no tacit approval from God on these heathen practices; rather, all of it was overruled of God to execute His judgmental purposes on Judah." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."

So, Babylon used sorcery to make their decision about whom to attack, yet they fulfilled what God predicted that they would do.  No matter how men make their decisions, even if they use witchcraft, God is still completely in charge.

5. The line of David is brought to an end. (21:24-27)
"'Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “Because you people have brought to mind your guilt by your open rebellion, revealing your sins in all that you do—because you have done this, you will be taken captive. O profane and wicked prince of Israel, whose day has come, whose time of punishment has reached its climax, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Take off the turban, remove the crown. It will not be as it was: The lowly will be exalted and the exalted will be brought low. A ruin! A ruin! I will make it a ruin! It will not be restored until he comes to whom it rightfully belongs; to him I will give it.”'"

Thought Question: Who is the "wicked prince of Israel" Ezekiel speaks of here, and who is the one coming "to whom it rightfully belongs"?

 

 

"“'O profane and wicked prince of Israel, whose day has come, whose time of punishment has reached its climax, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Take off the turban, remove the crown. It will not be as it was: The lowly will be exalted and the exalted will be brought low.”'"  The fall of King Zedekiah is predicted—the last of the kings in the Davidic line.

"'“It will not be restored until he comes to whom it rightfully belongs; to him I will give it.”'"  This is a clear prediction of a future king in the line of David who will resume David's kingly line over Israel.  It a clear prediction of Jesus Christ, the future King of Israel and the world.  "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”" (Luke 1:32-33) See also Gen. 49:10; II Sam. 7:11-16; Ps. 2:7-12, 45:6; Jer. 23:5-6; Zech. 6:12-14

6. The sword will also come against the Ammonites. (21:28-32)
"'And you, son of man, prophesy and say, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says about the Ammonites and their insults: A sword, a sword, drawn for the slaughter, polished to consume and to flash like lightning! Despite false visions concerning you and lying divinations about you, it will be laid on the necks of the wicked who are to be slain, whose day has come, whose time of punishment has reached its climax. Return the sword to its scabbard. In the place where you were created, in the land of your ancestry, I will judge you. I will pour out my wrath upon you and breathe out my fiery anger against you; I will hand you over to brutal men, men skilled in destruction. You will be fuel for the fire, your blood will be shed in your land, you will be remembered no more; for I the Lord have spoken.”' See Ezekiel 25

EZEKIEL IS TOLD BY GOD TO SPEAK TO ISRAEL ABOUT HER SINS (22:1-12)

1. God speaks to Israel about her bloodshed and idolatry (22:1-6)
"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, will you judge her? Will you judge this city of bloodshed? Then confront her with all her detestable practices and say: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O city that brings on herself doom by shedding blood in her midst and defiles herself by making idols, you have become guilty because of the blood you have shed and have become defiled by the idols you have made. You have brought your days to a close, and the end of your years has come. Therefore I will make you an object of scorn to the nations and a laughingstock to all the countries. Those who are near and those who are far away will mock you, O infamous city, full of turmoil. See how each of the princes of Israel who are in you uses his power to shed blood.”'"

Thought Question: Do you believe that Israel was more or less sinful than our own country?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

"Will you judge this city of bloodshed?"  "O city that brings on herself doom by shedding blood"  "See how each of the princes of Israel who are in you uses his power to shed blood."  "Bloodguiltiness, which hung so heavy over the city, was brought about because of the children offered to idols and on account of judicial murders (notices vv. 6, 9, 23:27, 24:6, 9)." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."

How do Israel's sins compare to the sins of the modern-day U.S.?  Is our government responsible for the unjust shedding of blood?  Sadly, the answer is "Yes."  millions of unborn children have died legally, due to a decision by our Supreme Court.  What is written about Israel by Ezekiel can also be said today about our own country!

2. God speaks to Israel because of their disrespect toward their parents, the aliens, the fatherless, and widows. (22:7)
"'In you they have treated father and mother with contempt; in you they have oppressed the alien and mistreated the fatherless and the widow.'"
See Exod. 20:12, 21:17, 22:21-22, 23:9; Lev. 20:9; Deut. 14:29, 24:17, 27:19

3. God speaks to Israel because they were despising the Sabbath. (22:8)
"'You have despised my holy things and desecrated my Sabbaths.'" See Exod. 20:8-11, Ezek. 20:12

4. God lists other sins in Israel. (22:9-12)
"'In you are slanderous men bent on shedding blood; in you are those who eat at the mountain shrines and commit lewd acts. In you are those who dishonor their fathers’ bed; in you are those who violate women during their period, when they are ceremonially unclean. In you one man commits a detestable offense with his neighbor’s wife, another shamefully defiles his daughter-in-law, and another violates his sister, his own father’s daughter. In you men accept bribes to shed blood; you take usury and excessive interest and make unjust gain from your neighbors by extortion. And you have forgotten me, declares the Sovereign Lord.'"

Thought Question: Again, could these words be said today about our own country?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

"'In you are slanderous men bent on shedding blood; in you are those who eat at the mountain shrines and commit lewd acts. In you are those who dishonor their fathers’ bed; in you are those who violate women during their period, when they are ceremonially unclean. In you one man commits a detestable offense with his neighbor’s wife, another shamefully defiles his daughter-in-law, and another violates his sister, his own father’s daughter. In you men accept bribes to shed blood; you take usury and excessive interest and make unjust gain from your neighbors by extortion. And you have forgotten me, declares the Sovereign Lord.'"

Israel was doing what God had prohibited Israel from doing.  Israel, therefore, was the very opposite of the holy people God had called them to be.  "The Lord said to Moses, 'Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.'" (Leviticus 19:1-2)  In Leviticus 18 are listed the abominable sins of the Canaanites that Israel was not to do.  Then, in Leviticus 10, the Lord said that they were His nation and they were not to be like the other nations; rather, they were to be holy like Him.  But, we see in this chapter in Ezekiel, that they chose to do the "lewd acts" of the other nations.

EZEKIEL IS TO TELL ISRAEL ABOUT GOD'S JUDGEMENT ON THEIR SINS (22:13-31)

1. God will judge Israel because of her sins (22:13-16)
"'“I will surely strike my hands together at the unjust gain you have made and at the blood you have shed in your midst. Will your courage endure or your hands be strong in the day I deal with you? I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it. I will disperse you among the nations and scatter you through the countries; and I will put an end to your uncleanness. When you have been defiled in the eyes of the nations, you will know that I am the Lord.”'"

Thought Question: Why do you believe that it was a just judgment for God to "scatter" Israel among the "nations"?

 

 

God will "scatter" Israel "among the nations."  Israel had become like the other "nations," so God's judgment is to "scatter" them "among the nations."  They were just like the other "nations," so why not mix them with the "nations" that were just like them?  During the time that they are "among the nations," they will learn that they have lost the special place with God, due to their own actions. See 12:15, 20:23, 36:18-21 See also Deut. 28:64-68 

Jesus' Parable of the Prodigal Son pictures all of us wandering away from God and then returning to Him.  It also pictures Israel leaving God and ending up in a far away place where they can think back to the time when they were with God.

2. God will treat Israel as a metal that needs to be melted to separate the dross from the pure metal. (22:17-22)
"Then the word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, the house of Israel has become dross to me; all of them are the copper, tin, iron and lead left inside a furnace. They are but the dross of silver. Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “Because you have all become dross, I will gather you into Jerusalem. As men gather silver, copper, iron, lead and tin into a furnace to melt it with a fiery blast, so will I gather you in my anger and my wrath and put you inside the city and melt you. I will gather you and I will blow on you with my fiery wrath, and you will be melted inside her. As silver is melted in a furnace, so you will be melted inside her, and you will know that I the Lord have poured out my wrath upon you.”'"

Thought Question: How does this compare to what God does to all who become Christians?

 

 

Israel had become like salt that had lost its saltiness.  "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men." (Matthew 5:13)  Israel was like the worthless "dross" of metals that floats to the top when it is melted.  It is then skimmed off and thrown away.  So, Israel would be burned in the fires of war and thrown away into the nations. See Isa. 1:22; Jer. 6:27-30; Zech. 13:9; Mal. 3:2-3

God also uses trials in our lives to remove the dross in our lives and purify us.  "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." (I Peter 1:6-7)

3. Israel's troubles are due to God's wrath on them for their many sins. (22:23-31)

a. God lists Israel's sins. (22:23-29)
"Again the word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, say to the land, “You are a land that has had no rain or showers in the day of wrath.” There is a conspiracy of her princes within her like a roaring lion tearing its prey; they devour people, take treasures and precious things and make many widows within her. Her priests do violence to my law and profane my holy things; they do not distinguish between the holy and the common; they teach that there is no difference between the unclean and the clean; and they shut their eyes to the keeping of my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. Her officials within her are like wolves tearing their prey; they shed blood and kill people to make unjust gain. Her prophets whitewash these deeds for them by false visions and lying divinations. They say, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says”—when the Lord has not spoken. The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery; they oppress the poor and needy and mistreat the alien, denying them justice.'"

Thought Question: How is our country today like what Israel was like when God described them in these verses?

 

 

"Their princes" "devour people, take treasures and precious things and make many widows."

"Her priests do violence to my law and profane my holy things; they do not distinguish between the holy and the common; they teach that there is no difference between the unclean and the clean; and they shut their eyes to the keeping of my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. Her officials within her are like wolves tearing their prey; they shed blood and kill people to make unjust gain. Her prophets whitewash these deeds for them by false visions and lying divinations. They say, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says”—when the Lord has not spoken. The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery; they oppress the poor and needy and mistreat the alien, denying them justice.'"

God describes the corruption in Israel.  While I am writing these words, there have been many complaints about the presence of corruption in our country—the IRS treating politically conservative groups differently than progressive groups, veterans' hospitals keeping people on waiting lists while documenting that people are not on these waiting lists, problems with the secret service, and much more.  Israel's corruption was leading to God's judgment; what is ahead for the U.S.?

b. God looks for someone to stand in the gap, but finds no one. (22:30-31)
"'I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none. So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord.'"

Thought Question:  How can we "stand" "in the gap" today?

 

 

"'I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none.'"  Often, when a nation turns from God, people watch and do nothing.  Here, we learn that God looks for someone to take a stand for Him; but, at this time, He found no one.  What type of "man" was God looking for?  He was looking for someone who would call the nation to repentance.  Certainly, God had Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel.  He said these words to Ezekiel: "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me." (Ezekiel 33:7)

Stuart Briscoe gives a possible explanation as to why God was unable to find any man to "stand" "in the gap" when He had Jeremiah and Ezekiel.  "Some people have had a little difficulty squaring God's statement that He couldn't find anyone to stand in the gap when Ezekiel and his contemporary, Jeremiah, seemed to be doing just that!  Obviously the Lord was not counting them, possibly because He was looking for someone in Jerusalem.  Ezekiel, as we know, was in Tel-abib, and Jeremiah was probably in prison." "Taken from All Things Weird and Wonderful by Stuart Briscoe.  Copyright 1977 by Victor Books." 

God was using Ezekiel as He had used Isaiah to describe the type of man or woman that He needed, who would "stand" for Him and "stand" for what is right.  Here is how Isaiah and Ezekiel took a stand for God:  "Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey. The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm worked salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him." (Isaiah 59:15-16)  "I looked, but there was no one to help, I was appalled that no one gave support; so my own arm worked salvation for me, and my own wrath sustained me." (Isaiah 63:5)  "Yet your countrymen say, 'The way of the Lord is not just.' But it is their way that is not just. If a righteous man turns from his righteousness and does evil, he will die for it. And if a wicked man turns away from his wickedness and does what is just and right, he will live by doing so." (Ezekiel 33:17-19)

God is still seeking those who will fearlessly "stand" "in the gap" for Him.  Will each of us who are Christians take that stand?

"'So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord.'"  Because Israel had closed their ears to God's warning, they were about to experience the full fury of God's wrath.

ISRAEL IS LIKE TWO PROSTITUTES (23)  Israel's history is traced using two prostitutes to symbolize it.

1. Oholah or Samaria gave herself to the Assyrians, so God gave her to the Assyrians. (23:1-10)
"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, there were two women, daughters of the same mother. They became prostitutes in Egypt, engaging in prostitution from their youth. In that land their breasts were fondled and their virgin bosoms caressed. The older was named Oholah, and her sister was Oholibah. They were mine and gave birth to sons and daughters. Oholah is Samaria, and Oholibah is Jerusalem. Oholah engaged in prostitution while she was still mine; and she lusted after her lovers, the Assyrians—warriors clothed in blue, governors and commanders, all of them handsome young men, and mounted horsemen. She gave herself as a prostitute to all the elite of the Assyrians and defiled herself with all the idols of everyone she lusted after. She did not give up the prostitution she began in Egypt, when during her youth men slept with her, caressed her virgin bosom and poured out their lust upon her. Therefore I handed her over to her lovers, the Assyrians, for whom she lusted. They stripped her naked, took away her sons and daughters and killed her with the sword. She became a byword among women, and punishment was inflicted on her.'"

Thought Question: Israel was drawn away from God because they were awed by the Assyrian soldiers and armies.  What can we admire today that can draw us away from God?

 

 

Israel's prostitution started with their love for Egypt.  The two sisters—northern and southern Israel—are named by God as "Oholah" and "Oholibah."  "Oholah means 'her tent.'  [Probably referring to the fact that Samaria had its own unauthorized sanctuary]  Oholibah means 'my tent in her [probably referring to the Lord's sanctuary in Jerusalem]." "NIV Study Bible note." See also Jer. 3:6-12; Jn. 4:20-24

"The older was named Oholah, and her sister was Oholibah. They were mine and gave birth to sons and daughters. Oholah is Samaria, and Oholibah is Jerusalem."  "Samaria" was the capital city of the northern portion of Israel, called Israel; and "Jerusalem" was the capital city of the southern portion of Israel, called Judah.

There are similarities between Ezekiel 16 and this chapter.  In both chapters, Israel is described as acting like a prostitute.  "There [Ezek. 16] the emphasis was on idolatries as breaking the marriage relationship and the sacred covenant with God, here it is on the nations' worldly spirit and worldly alliances for safety and national security." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."

"Oholah engaged in prostitution while she was still mine; and she lusted after her lovers, the Assyrians—warriors clothed in blue, governors and commanders, all of them handsome young men, and mounted horsemen. She gave herself as a prostitute to all the elite of the Assyrians and defiled herself with all the idols of everyone she lusted after. She did not give up the prostitution she began in Egypt, when during her youth men slept with her, caressed her virgin bosom and poured out their lust upon her."

When did "Samaria" engage in "prostitution" with the "Assyrians"?  One occasion is given in II Kings 15:19-20.  "Then Pul king of Assyria invaded the land, and Menahem [the king of Israel] gave him a thousand talents of silver to gain his support and strengthen his own hold on the kingdom. Menahem exacted this money from Israel. Every wealthy man had to contribute fifty shekels of silver to be given to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria withdrew and stayed in the land no longer." (II Kings 15:19-20)  Hosea the prophet described Israel's relationship with Assyria as follows: "When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah his sores, then Ephraim turned to Assyria, and sent to the great king for help. But he is not able to cure you, not able to heal your sores." (Hosea 5:13)  "Ephraim is like a dove, easily deceived and senseless— now calling to Egypt, now turning to Assyria." (Hosea 7:11)  "For they have gone up to Assyria like a wild donkey wandering alone. Ephraim has sold herself to lovers." (Hosea 8:9)

"Oholah doted on the Assyrians because of their striking apparel, their high offices, and their costly means of travel." "Feinberg."  God desired His nation to be attracted to Him and His ways.  But, they were attracted by what attracts men—money, power and "handsome young men."  They wanted the "Assyrians" as their lover, as they were allured by the "Assyrians" and Assyria's "idols."  We, today, can be drawn away from God by our admiration of movie, television, and sports idols.

"'Therefore I handed her over to her lovers, the Assyrians, for whom she lusted. They stripped her naked, took away her sons and daughters and killed her with the sword. She became a byword among women, and punishment was inflicted on her.'"  Assyria conquered Israel (the northern part of Israel) in 722 BC.  See II Kings 17:3-6, 18:9-12

2. Oholibah lusted after both the Assyrians and the Babylonians. (23:11-21)
"'Her sister Oholibah saw this, yet in her lust and prostitution she was more depraved than her sister. She too lusted after the Assyrians—governors and commanders, warriors in full dress, mounted horsemen, all handsome young men. I saw that she too defiled herself; both of them went the same way. But she carried her prostitution still further. She saw men portrayed on a wall, figures of Chaldeans portrayed in red, with belts around their waists and flowing turbans on their heads; all of them looked like Babylonian chariot officers, natives of Chaldea. As soon as she saw them, she lusted after them and sent messengers to them in Chaldea. Then the Babylonians came to her, to the bed of love, and in their lust they defiled her. After she had been defiled by them, she turned away from them in disgust. When she carried on her prostitution openly and exposed her nakedness, I turned away from her in disgust, just as I had turned away from her sister. Yet she became more and more promiscuous as she recalled the days of her youth, when she was a prostitute in Egypt. There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses. So you longed for the lewdness of your youth, when in Egypt your bosom was caressed and your young breasts fondled."

Thought Question: Why do you think that Judah did not learn from what happened to Israel through the Assyrians, but made the same mistake as they did?

 

 

Did Jerusalem and the southern kingdom learn from their sister's fatal attraction to Assyria?  No!  "'She too lusted after the Assyrians—governors and commanders, warriors in full dress, mounted horsemen, all handsome young men. I saw that she too defiled herself; both of them went the same way.'"

But she did not stop there.  "But she carried her prostitution still further. She saw men portrayed on a wall, figures of Chaldeans portrayed in red, with belts around their waists and flowing turbans on their heads; all of them looked like Babylonian chariot officers, natives of Chaldea. As soon as she saw them, she lusted after them and sent messengers to them in Chaldea. Then the Babylonians came to her, to the bed of love, and in their lust they defiled her."  "The Assyrians (and probably the Babylonians as well) ornamented their stately rooms with marble panels which were colored and carved with reliefs." "Feinberg."  It appears that they saw the carvings or paintings that glorified the Babylonians and they yearned for them.

"After she had been defiled by them, she turned away from them in disgust. When she carried on her prostitution openly and exposed her nakedness, I turned away from her in disgust, just as I had turned away from her sister. Yet she became more and more promiscuous as she recalled the days of her youth, when she was a prostitute in Egypt. There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses. So you longed for the lewdness of your youth, when in Egypt your bosom was caressed and your young breasts fondled."  God shows, here, His disgust for Israel after other nations used coarse language to describe Israel's unholy desires.

3. God's punishment on Judah for their prostitution (23:23-35)

a. Israel's lovers will turn on them. (23:22-29)
"'Therefore, Oholibah, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will stir up your lovers against you, those you turned away from in disgust, and I will bring them against you from every side— the Babylonians and all the Chaldeans, the men of Pekod and Shoa and Koa, and all the Assyrians with them, handsome young men, all of them governors and commanders, chariot officers and men of high rank, all mounted on horses. They will come against you with weapons, chariots and wagons and with a throng of people; they will take up positions against you on every side with large and small shields and with helmets. I will turn you over to them for punishment, and they will punish you according to their standards. I will direct my jealous anger against you, and they will deal with you in fury. They will cut off your noses and your ears, and those of you who are left will fall by the sword. They will take away your sons and daughters, and those of you who are left will be consumed by fire. They will also strip you of your clothes and take your fine jewelry. So I will put a stop to the lewdness and prostitution you began in Egypt. You will not look on these things with longing or remember Egypt anymore. For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am about to hand you over to those you hate, to those you turned away from in disgust.

Thought Question: What do we learn here about what happens if we choose to ignore God and do what we know that He does not want us to do? See also Rom. 1:24-32; I Cor. 5:5;   II Thess. 2:10-12

 

 

Israel will learn the hard way that her lovers were just using her.  In the end, they will turn on her.

"the men of Pekod and Shoa and Koa"  Bible scholars are not certain about whom God is speaking of here.

"They will come against you with weapons, chariots and wagons and with a throng of people; they will take up positions against you on every side with large and small shields and with helmets. I will turn you over to them for punishment, and they will punish you according to their standards. I will direct my jealous anger against you, and they will deal with you in fury. They will cut off your noses and your ears, and those of you who are left will fall by the sword. They will take away your sons and daughters, and those of you who are left will be consumed by fire. They will also strip you of your clothes and take your fine jewelry."  "Cutting off the nose and ears did not signify the treatment of prisoners by their captives; rather, it was the punishment of an adulteress, a horrible deformity.  Such was the custom in Egypt, Chaldea, and elsewhere." "Feinberg."

b. God's cup of wrath (23:30-35)
"They will deal with you in hatred and take away everything you have worked for. They will leave you naked and bare, and the shame of your prostitution will be exposed. Your lewdness and promiscuity have brought this upon you, because you lusted after the nations and defiled yourself with their idols. You have gone the way of your sister; so I will put her cup into your hand. “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: You will drink your sister’s cup, a cup large and deep; it will bring scorn and derision, for it holds so much. You will be filled with drunkenness and sorrow, the cup of ruin and desolation, the cup of your sister Samaria. You will drink it and drain it dry; you will dash it to pieces and tear your breasts. I have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord. Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Since you have forgotten me and thrust me behind your back, you must bear the consequences of your lewdness and prostitution.'"

Thought Question: The consequences for Israel's and Judah's sin was be conquered and mistreated by the countries that they were seeking after.  What are times today, when the punishment for sin is experiencing the consequences of the sin?

 

 

God will give the southern kingdom the same "cup" as He gave to the northern kingdom. See Isa. 51:17-22; Jer. 25:15-29; Hab. 2:16

4. Because of both northern Israel's adultery and southern Israel's adultery with other nations, both sisters will be punished by the nations that they were adulteress with. (23:36-49)

a. A summary of God's charges against Israel (23:36-41)
"The Lord said to me: 'Son of man, will you judge Oholah and Oholibah? Then confront them with their detestable practices, for they have committed adultery and blood is on their hands. They committed adultery with their idols; they even sacrificed their children, whom they bore to me, as food for them. They have also done this to me: At that same time they defiled my sanctuary and desecrated my Sabbaths. On the very day they sacrificed their children to their idols, they entered my sanctuary and desecrated it. That is what they did in my house. They even sent messengers for men who came from far away, and when they arrived you bathed yourself for them, painted your eyes and put on your jewelry. You sat on an elegant couch, with a table spread before it on which you had placed the incense and oil that belonged to me.'"

Thought Question: How can we today mix our worship of God with practices that God finds detestable?

 

 

"The Lord said to me: 'Son of man, will you judge Oholah and Oholibah? Then confront them with their detestable practices, for they have committed adultery and blood is on their hands. They committed adultery with their idols; they even sacrificed their children, whom they bore to me, as food for them. They have also done this to me: At that same time they defiled my sanctuary and desecrated my Sabbaths. On the very day they sacrificed their children to their idols, they entered my sanctuary and desecrated it. That is what they did in my house."

In some countries, today, people will begin to worship Jesus, but they will add Him to the idols that they already worship.  Judah (the southern kingdom) added Molech to their worship of God; putting Jehovah and Molech on the same level.  Molech demanded that "children" be sacrificed to him.  This was clearly demonic. Listen to what Paul said about this practice of combining Christianity with paganism:  ". . . the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons. Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Are we stronger than he?" (I Corinthians 10:20-22)  So, the people of Judah were putting demons and God on the same level. See II Kings 21:1-11

"'They even sent messengers for men who came from far away, and when they arrived you bathed yourself for them, painted your eyes and put on your jewelry. You sat on an elegant couch, with a table spread before it on which you had placed the incense and oil that belonged to me.'"  The two sisters (see 23:3-8) tried to make themselves attractive to foreign nations like prostitutes trying to dress in a seductive way. See Prov. 7:1-23

b. God's punishment (23:42-49)
"'The noise of a carefree crowd was around her; Sabeans were brought from the desert along with men from the rabble, and they put bracelets on the arms of the woman and her sister and beautiful crowns on their heads. Then I said about the one worn out by adultery, “Now let them use her as a prostitute, for that is all she is.” And they slept with her. As men sleep with a prostitute, so they slept with those lewd women, Oholah and Oholibah. But righteous men will sentence them to the punishment of women who commit adultery and shed blood, because they are adulterous and blood is on their hands. This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Bring a mob against them and give them over to terror and plunder. The mob will stone them and cut them down with their swords; they will kill their sons and daughters and burn down their houses. So I will put an end to lewdness in the land, that all women may take warning and not imitate you. You will suffer the penalty for your lewdness and bear the consequences of your sins of idolatry. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign Lord.'"

Thought Question: What do these words of God about Israel pursuing other gods like a prostitute tell us about how God feels about it when His people today choose sin over Him?

 

 

Israel (the northern kingdom) and Judah (the southern kingdom) were allowed to make their choice to be adulteresses with foreign nations.  "'The noise of a carefree crowd was around her; Sabeans were brought from the desert along with men from the rabble, and they put bracelets on the arms of the woman and her sister and beautiful crowns on their heads. Then I said about the one worn out by adultery, “Now let them use her as a prostitute, for that is all she is.” And they slept with her. As men sleep with a prostitute, so they slept with those lewd women, Oholah and Oholibah." See Deut. 22:21-24  Great immorality calls for strong action, "put an end to lewdness in the land." 

THE SIEGE ON JERUSALEM—SHE BECOMES LIKE A COOKING POT (24:1-14)
"In the ninth year, in the tenth month on the tenth day, the word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, record this date, this very date, because the king of Babylon has laid siege to Jerusalem this very day. Tell this rebellious house a parable and say to them: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Put on the cooking pot; put it on and pour water into it. Put into it the pieces of meat, all the choice pieces—the leg and the shoulder. Fill it with the best of these bones; take the pick of the flock. Pile wood beneath it for the bones; bring it to a boil and cook the bones in it.  For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to the city of bloodshed, to the pot now encrusted, whose deposit will not go away! Empty it piece by piece without casting lots for them. For the blood she shed is in her midst: She poured it on the bare rock; she did not pour it on the ground, where the dust would cover it. To stir up wrath and take revenge I put her blood on the bare rock, so that it would not be covered. Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to the city of bloodshed! I, too, will pile the wood high. So heap on the wood and kindle the fire. Cook the meat well, mixing in the spices; and let the bones be charred. Then set the empty pot on the coals till it becomes hot and its copper glows so its impurities may be melted and its deposit burned away. It has frustrated all efforts; its heavy deposit has not been removed, not even by fire. Now your impurity is lewdness. Because I tried to cleanse you but you would not be cleansed from your impurity, you will not be clean again until my wrath against you has subsided. I the Lord have spoken. The time has come for me to act. I will not hold back; I will not have pity, nor will I relent. You will be judged according to your conduct and your actions, declares the Sovereign Lord.”'"

Thought Question: What do we learn from these verses about why Israel had reached a point where a complete judgment on her was necessary?

 

 

"In the ninth year, in the tenth month on the tenth day, the word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, record this date, this very date, because the king of Babylon has laid siege to Jerusalem this very day.'"  "The prophecies of chapters 20-23 were given in the seventh year of King Jehoichin's captivity (20:1)  This prophecy was given two years later, the ninth year after the deportation in 597 B.C.  Interpreters understand it to be January, 588 B.C." "Feinberg."  So, the date when Babylon attacked Jerusalem was 588 B.C.  "So in the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army. He encamped outside the city and built siege works all around it. The city was kept under siege until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah. By the ninth day of the fourth month the famine in the city had become so severe that there was no food for the people to eat. Then the city wall was broken through, and the whole army fled at night through the gate between the two walls near the king’s garden, though the Babylonians were surrounding the city. They fled toward the Arabah," (II Kings 25:1-4) See also  Jer. 39:1-2; 52:4-5

Ezekiel is instructed by God to tell a "parable" to describe God's judgment on Jerusalem through the Babylonians.  "'Tell this rebellious house a parable and say to them: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Put on the cooking pot; put it on and pour water into it. Put into it the pieces of meat, all the choice pieces—the leg and the shoulder. Fill it with the best of these bones; take the pick of the flock. Pile wood beneath it for the bones; bring it to a boil and cook the bones in it.”'"  Israel was about to be put into the "cooking pot."  This is what it would be like when they were completely surrounded and under constant siege by the Babylonians.  "The choice pieces" were probably Jerusalem's leaders.

"'“For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to the city of bloodshed, to the pot now encrusted, whose deposit will not go away! Empty it piece by piece without casting lots for them. For the blood she shed is in her midst: She poured it on the bare rock; she did not pour it on the ground, where the dust would cover it. To stir up wrath and take revenge I put her blood on the bare rock, so that it would not be covered.”'"  The "pot" is clearly describing Jerusalem.  The "encrusted" "deposit" that "will not go away" is the sins of Israel that she refused to repent of and it was these sins that were the reason for which she needed to be judged.

"'“Empty it piece by piece without casting lots for them.”'"  "Lots" may have been cast to see who would stay in Jerusalem and who would leave.  Now, that option is over.  All must stay in the city and be judged. See Nahum 3:10

"'“For the blood she shed is in her midst: She poured it on the bare rock; she did not pour it on the ground, where the dust would cover it. To stir up wrath and take revenge I put her blood on the bare rock, so that it would not be covered.”'"  Leviticus teaches how blood was to be treated so that it would not defile the land.  "Any Israelite or any alien living among you who hunts any animal or bird that may be eaten must drain out the blood and cover it with earth," (Leviticus 17:13)  Israel's sin had defiled the land, so "blood" would be left on the "bare rock" to declare Israel's uncleanness.

"'“Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to the city of bloodshed! I, too, will pile the wood high. So heap on the wood and kindle the fire. Cook the meat well, mixing in the spices; and let the bones be charred.”'"  These verses predict that Jerusalem would be burned to the ground. The total burning of a city declared the total defeat of that city.  See Josh. 6:24, 8:28

"'“Then set the empty pot on the coals till it becomes hot and its copper glows so its impurities may be melted and its deposit burned away. It has frustrated all efforts; its heavy deposit has not been removed, not even by fire. Now your impurity is lewdness. Because I tried to cleanse you but you would not be cleansed from your impurity, you will not be clean again until my wrath against you has subsided.”'"  Why was it necessary for Israel to be judged so severely?  Israel was warned by many prophets, yet she had refused to turn from her perverseness, so God chooses to do what they had not chosen to do—purify them by fire.  It had become too late for Israel to clean herself of her sin.

"'“I the Lord have spoken. The time has come for me to act. I will not hold back; I will not have pity, nor will I relent. You will be judged according to your conduct and your actions, declares the Sovereign Lord.”'"  The judgment was from God and would be executed on Israel.

 THE DEATH OF EZEKIEL'S WIFE SYMBOLIZES THE DEATH OF GOD'S OWN SANCTUARY (24:15-27)

1. God predicts the death of Ezekiel's wife. (24:15-16a)
"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, with one blow I am about to take away from you the delight of your eyes.'"  God predicts that Ezekiel's wife would die suddenly, possibly from some type of disease.  This is one more example of God doing something that does not make sense to us.  Ezekiel's wife was faithful to him.  Why does God allow him to experience this personal tragedy?  We think in terms of what is important to us now; God thinks in terms of what is important eternally.  "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'" (Isaiah 55:8-9)

2. Ezekiel is not to mourn her death (24:16b-17)
"'Yet do not lament or weep or shed any tears. Groan quietly; do not mourn for the dead. Keep your turban fastened and your sandals on your feet; do not cover the lower part of your face or eat the customary food of mourners.'"

Thought Question: Why do you believe that God commanded Ezekiel to not publicly mourn the death of his wife?

 

 

Certainly, Ezekiel did "mourn" for the one who was "the delight of" his "eyes."  But, according to God's instructions, he mourned "quietly."  He was not even allowed to "shed any tears." 

God lists the ways mourning took place at that time.  "Keep your turban fastened.  Mourners normally removed their turbans  and put dust on their heads (see Jos. 7:6; I Sam. 4:12). "NIV Study Bible note."  "your sandals on your feet" Mourners also went barefoot.  See II Sam. 15:30; Isa. 20:2-3; Micah 1:8

"do not cover the lower part of your face"  Mourners were to "cover the lower part of" their faces. This was to be pattern for those in various types of mourning.  "The person with such an infectious disease must wear torn clothes, let his hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of his face and cry out, 'Unclean! Unclean!'" (Leviticus 13:45)  "The seers will be ashamed and the diviners disgraced. They will all cover their faces because there is no answer from God." (Micah 3:7)

"or eat the customary food of mourners.'"  As in our society, food was brought to help the grieving after the death of a family member. See Jer. 16:7

3. Ezekiel does as he was commanded to do after his wife's death, and the people inquire about what it means. (24:18-19)
"So I spoke to the people in the morning, and in the evening my wife died. The next morning I did as I had been commanded. Then the people asked me, 'Won’t you tell us what these things have to do with us?'"  We see here the price that Ezekiel was willing to pay to fully obey God.

4. Ezekiel explains that God is about to experience the death of His sanctuary (24:20-24)
"So I said to them, 'The word of the Lord came to me: Say to the house of Israel, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am about to desecrate my sanctuary—the stronghold in which you take pride, the delight of your eyes, the object of your affection. The sons and daughters you left behind will fall by the sword. And you will do as I have done. You will not cover the lower part of your face or eat the customary food of mourners. You will keep your turbans on your heads and your sandals on your feet. You will not mourn or weep but will waste away because of your sins and groan among yourselves. Ezekiel will be a sign to you; you will do just as he has done. When this happens, you will know that I am the Sovereign Lord.”'"

Thought Question: According to these verses, why was the death of Ezekiel's wife and his being unable to mourn for her death necessary?

 

 

Ezekiel explains that the death of his wife and God's instructions that he was not to mourn her death was to picture the death of "the delight of" their "eyes"—the destruction of the temple.  But because the destruction of the "sanctuary"—the temple—could have been avoided and is God's judgment, they were not to mourn over its destruction.

5. God predicts that a fugitive will come from Jerusalem to report to him the destruction of Jerusalem. (24:25-26)
"'And you, son of man, on the day I take away their stronghold, their joy and glory, the delight of their eyes, their heart’s desire, and their sons and daughters as well— on that day a fugitive will come to tell you the news.'"

Ezekiel gives us more details on this fugitive who comes to him in Ezekiel 33:21-22.  "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!” Now the evening before the man arrived, the hand of the Lord was upon me, and he opened my mouth before the man came to me in the morning. So my mouth was opened and I was no longer silent." (Ezekiel 33:21-22)  "Jan. 8, 585 B.C., five months after the Jerusalem temple was burned.  See date on 2Ki 25:8, which in modern reckoning is Aug. 14, 586." "NIV Study Bible note on Ezek. 33:21."  Feinberg says it was "six months after the destruction of the city." "Feinberg."

6. Then Ezekiel will be able to speak. (24:27)
"'At that time your mouth will be opened; you will speak with him and will no longer be silent. So you will be a sign to them, and they will know that I am the Lord.'" 

In Ezekiel 3:25-27, we learned that Ezekiel was unable to speak, except when God gave him a message from Him.  "''And you, son of man, they will tie with ropes; you will be bound so that you cannot go out among the people. I will make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth so that you will be silent and unable to rebuke them, though they are a rebellious house. But when I speak to you, I will open your mouth and you shall say to them, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says.” Whoever will listen let him listen, and whoever will refuse let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house.'" (Ezekiel 3:25-27)

So, Ezekiel's time of being mute would end.  Next, he will proclaim God's judgment on the nations outside of Israel.  After his time of being mute ended, his messages to Israel became more conciliatory in nature.

THE SINS OF THE NATIONS (25-28)

1. God's judgment on Ammon (25:1-7)
"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, set your face against the Ammonites and prophesy against them. Say to them, “Hear the word of the Sovereign Lord. This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because you said ‘Aha!’ over my sanctuary when it was desecrated and over the land of Israel when it was laid waste and over the people of Judah when they went into exile, therefore I am going to give you to the people of the East as a possession. They will set up their camps and pitch their tents among you; they will eat your fruit and drink your milk. I will turn Rabbah into a pasture for camels and Ammon into a resting place for sheep. Then you will know that I am the Lord. For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because you have clapped your hands and stamped your feet, rejoicing with all the malice of your heart against the land of Israel, therefore I will stretch out my hand against you and give you as plunder to the nations. I will cut you off from the nations and exterminate you from the countries. I will destroy you, and you will know that I am the Lord.”'"

Thought Question: Ammon gloated when Israel was punished by God.  How does this apply to us? See
Prov. 24:17-18

 

 

"Ammon" was located east of the Jordan River and north of Moab.  The "Ammonites" were descendents of the incestuous relationship between Lot and his younger daughter. See Gen. 19:30-38   "Ammon" is located today in modern-day Jordan.

"'“I will turn Rabbah into a pasture for camels and Ammon into a resting place for sheep. Then you will know that I am the Lord.”"  "Rabbah" is modern-day Amman.  "Pasture" appears to symbolize the city being so demolished that it returned to the "pasture" it had once been. See Isa. 34:13-15

"Ammon" was to be judged for celebrating God's judgment on Israel.  "'Say to them, “Hear the word of the Sovereign Lord. This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because you said ‘Aha!’ over my sanctuary when it was desecrated and over the land of Israel when it was laid waste and over the people of Judah when they went into exile . . .  For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because you have clapped your hands and stamped your feet, rejoicing with all the malice of your heart against the land of Israel,”'" See also II Kings 24:1-2

"The Ammonites were known for their idolatry (1 Kgs. 11:7,33), cruelty (Amos 1:13), pride (Zeph. 2:9-10), and opposition to God's people. (Deut. 23:3-4)." ""Taken from The Holman Commentary on Ezekiel by Rooker.  He quotes Cooper, 245-46."

Because the "Ammonnites" had rejoiced at Israel's fall, they would also fall to the same "people of the East."  "'“therefore I am going to give you to the people of the East as a possession. They will set up their camps and pitch their tents among you; they will eat your fruit and drink your milk . . . therefore I will stretch out my hand against you and give you as plunder to the nations. I will cut you off from the nations and exterminate you from the countries. I will destroy you, and you will know that I am the Lord.’”" See also Ezek. 21:28; Lam. 2:15-16; Amos 1:13-15

As the Ammonites were judged by God when they gloated over Israel's judgment by God, so we need to be careful not to gloat when someone who has done wrong to us falls.  "He who mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker; whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished." (Proverbs 17:5)  "Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice, or the Lord will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from him." (Proverbs 24:17-18)

The "people of the East" could be the Babylonians or some other some desert tribes or some other group "east" of Israel. See also Jer. 9:26; 25:11

"'“I will cut you off from the nations and exterminate you from the countries. I will destroy you,”'"  God predicts here that they would cease to be a nation,  and there no longer is an Ammonite nation.  In Genesis 12:3, we find this promise.  "'I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.'" (Genesis 12:3)  "Ammon" cursed God's people Israel, and they have been cursed.  There are those who delight in Israel's troubles and attack them in many ways.  The promise of Genesis 12:3 still applies today.  May we be among the nations that bless Israel and are blessed because of it.

"'“and you will know that I am the Lord.”'"  We become wise in two ways: (1) We become wise through listening to the wise—especially through listening to God and God's people. ( 2) We become wise the hard way—by experiencing the consequences of being foolish.  Also, we become wise at two times: (1) when it is not too late; and (2) when it is too late.  "Ammon" would learn the hard way and when it was too late.

2. God's judgment on Moab (25:8-11)
"'This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “Because Moab and Seir said, ‘Look, the house of Judah has become like all the other nations,’ therefore I will expose the flank of Moab, beginning at its frontier towns—Beth Jeshimoth, Baal Meon and Kiriathaim—the glory of that land. I will give Moab along with the Ammonites to the people of the East as a possession, so that the Ammonites will not be remembered among the nations; and I will inflict punishment on Moab. Then they will know that I am the Lord.’”"

Thought Question: When we rejoice when someone experiences a calamity, according to these verses, what might be coming on us?

 

 

"Moab" was located east of the Jordan River to south of Ammon and to the north of Edom.  The "Moabites" were descendents of the incestuous relationship between Lot and his older daughter. See Gen. 19:30-38; Zeph. 2:8-9

"Moab" also enjoyed the fall of Israel.  "'This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “Because Moab and Seir said, ‘Look, the house of Judah has become like all the other nations,’'"  See also II Kings 24:2; Jer. 48:26-31; Zeph. 2:8-11  As a result of Moab's relishing of the fall of Israel, God was to judge them.  "Therefore I will expose the flank of Moab, beginning at its frontier towns—Beth Jeshimoth, Baal Meon and Kiriathaim—the glory of that land. I will give Moab along with the Ammonites to the people of the East as a possession, so that the Ammonites will not be remembered among the nations; and I will inflict punishment on Moab. Then they will know that I am the Lord.’”"

God will allow "Moab" to be vulnerable to attack.  God will also give "Moab" "to the people of the East."  "The Jewish historian Josephus records that Nebuchadnezzar came to fight against Ammon and Moab in the fifth year after the destruction of Jerusalem." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press. See Josephus Antiquities 10:9.7"

"Moab" also ceased to exist as a nation. See also Isa. 11:14  "Moab," also will learn the hard way that the God of Israel is "the Lord."  At the end, Moab will be restored.  "'Yet I will restore the fortunes of Moab in days to come,' declares the Lord. Here ends the judgment on Moab." (Jeremiah 48:47)

3. God's judgment on Edom. (25:12-14)
"'This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “Because Edom took revenge on the house of Judah and became very guilty by doing so, therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will stretch out my hand against Edom and kill its men and their animals. I will lay it waste, and from Teman to Dedan they will fall by the sword. I will take vengeance on Edom by the hand of my people Israel, and they will deal with Edom in accordance with my anger and my wrath; they will know my vengeance, declares the Sovereign Lord.”'"

Thought Question: What may happen, according to these verses, when we take personal revenge on someone?

 

 

"Edom" was located south of  Moab.  They were descendents of Jacob's brother Esau. See Gen. 25:23; Deut. 23:7

But "Edom" grew to hate Israel.  See Numb. 20:14-21

"Remember, O Lord, what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell. 'Tear it down,' they cried, 'tear it down to its foundations!'" (Psalm 137:7)

"Like the Moabites and Ammonites, the Edomites were a warring (Gen. 27:40) idolatrous (2 Chr. 25:14,20), cruel (Amos 1:11-12), and vengeful (Ezek 25:12-14) people." "Rooker again quotes Cooper."

"'“Because Edom took revenge on the house of Judah and became very guilty by doing so, therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will stretch out my hand against Edom and kill its men and their animals. I will lay it waste,”'" See Ps. 137:7; Obadiah; Isa. 49:7-22; Ezek. 35, 36:5; Amos 1:11-12; Mal. 1:2-5

"Teman" and "Dedan" are cities in "Edom" that "cannot now be pinpointed with accuracy." "Feinberg." See also Jer. 25:17-21, 49:10; Ezek. 32:29; Mal. 1:2-5

"'“I will take vengeance on Edom by the hand of my people Israel, and they will deal with Edom in accordance with my anger and my wrath; they will know my vengeance, declares the Sovereign Lord.”'"  "This reference undoubtedly pertains to the future end times when Isaiah 11:14 and Amos 9:12 declare that Israel shall possess Edom at the time of Messiah's reign (cf. Eze 35; Ob 18; Dan 11:41)." "Taken from Ezekiel Ralph Alexander.  Copyright 1976 by Moody Press."

4. God's judgment on Philistia (25:15-17)
"'This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “Because the Philistines acted in vengeance and took revenge with malice in their hearts, and with ancient hostility sought to destroy Judah, therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am about to stretch out my hand against the Philistines, and I will cut off the Kerethites and destroy those remaining along the coast. I will carry out great vengeance on them and punish them in my wrath. Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I take vengeance on them.”'"

Thought Question: What is the modern-day area of the Philistines called?  What has not changed?

 

 

The "Philistines" were located to the west of Judah between Judah and the Mediterranean Sea—in a similar location to our modern-day Gaza Strip.

"'This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “Because the Philistines acted in vengeance and took revenge with malice in their hearts, and with ancient hostility sought to destroy Judah,”'"  The hatred of the "Philistines" toward Israel was similar to the hatred of the modern-day Hamas toward Israel. See Judges 3:31 I Sam. 17; II Sam. 5:17-25

"The Philistines, who traditionally inhabited the southern coastal plain of Judah, were depicted as those who had acted with contemptuous and perpetual vengeance and enmity against Judah.  This can be observed during the times of Samson  (Judg 13), Eli (I Sa 4), Saul (I Sa 13,31), David (2 Sa 5), Hezekiah (2 Ki 18), Jehoram (2 Ch 21), and Ahaz (2 Ch 28)." "Alexander." 

"therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am about to stretch out my hand against the Philistines, and I will cut off the Kerethites and destroy those remaining along the coast. I will carry out great vengeance on them and punish them in my wrath. Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I take vengeance on them.”'" See Isa 14:38-31; Jer 47; Amos 1:6-8; Zeph 2:4-7

"Kerethites"  This is either another name for the "Philistines" or a name for some of the "Philistines." See I Sam. 30:14; II Sam. 8:18, 15:18, 20:23

5. God's judgment on Tyre (26:1-28:19)

a. Tyre's conquest by the nations predicted (26:1-6)
"In the eleventh year, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, because Tyre has said of Jerusalem, “Aha! The gate to the nations is broken, and its doors have swung open to me; now that she lies in ruins I will prosper,” therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, O Tyre, and I will bring many nations against you, like the sea casting up its waves. They will destroy the walls of Tyre and pull down her towers; I will scrape away her rubble and make her a bare rock. Out in the sea she will become a place to spread fishnets, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord. She will become plunder for the nations, and her settlements on the mainland will be ravaged by the sword. Then they will know that I am the Lord.'"

Thought Question: How do you believe this prophecy was fulfilled?

 

 

God's judgment on "Tyre" and Egypt is covered in more detail than God's judgment on the other nations described in chapter 25.

"In the eleventh year, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me:"  The number of the month is omitted.  Scholars do not agree as to whether this prophecy was made before or after the fall of Jerusalem.  It may be a prediction of the fall of Tyre's response after the fall of Jerusalem or a description of Tyre's enjoyment of Israel's fall.

"'Son of man, because Tyre has said of Jerusalem, “Aha! The gate to the nations is broken, and its doors have swung open to me; now that she lies in ruins I will prosper,”'"  "Historical records concerning Tyre and Sidon are relatively sparse.  However, enough evidence can be scraped together from a skeleton history of Tyre.  From the time of Solomon, Tyre, a prominent city of Phoenicia, had been known both for its sea trade and merchant activity on land.  Tyre was looked upon as the queen of the sea merchants, being politically strong and gaining much wealth and prosperity from her trade.  The city was divided into two parts: the main land section and the island.  The walled city on the island provided an almost impregnable fortress in times of war . . . Tyre had become independent and politically and commercially strong." "Alexander." See Joel 3:46

Israel's fall benefitted "Tyre."  It opened up access through what had been Israel to markets to the south; for it opened up a free passage for their goods without having to gain the right of access.  Then, there was also the spoils of war.  Of which, they took full advantage.

"'therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, O Tyre, and I will bring many nations against you, like the sea casting up its waves.'"  "History supports this prediction, for Babylon, Persia, Greece, the Ptolemies, the Seleucids, and Rome all had dominion over Tyre." "Alexander."

"'They will destroy the walls of Tyre and pull down her towers; I will scrape away her rubble and make her a bare rock. Out in the sea she will become a place to spread fishnets, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord. She will become plunder for the nations, and her settlements on the mainland will be ravaged by the sword. Then they will know that I am the Lord.'" 

The part of the city that was on the mainland was attacked by Nebuchadnezzar, but he was unable to conquer the island part of the city.  The Greek Alexander the Great used the rubble from the mainland part of the city to build a roadway to the island.  Then, he conquered the island-part of the city.  So, as Ezekiel predicted "Tyre" became a "bare rock." 

"like the sea casting up its waves."  "Since Tyre was mainly a fortified island, the metaphor is especially appropriate here." "NIV Study Bible note."  The "bare rock," once occupied by a mighty city, became useless except for it to be a place to dry "fishnets." 

b. Tyre's conquest by Nebuchadnezzar (26:7-14)
"'For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: From the north I am going to bring against Tyre Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, with horses and chariots, with horsemen and a great army. He will ravage your settlements on the mainland with the sword; he will set up siege works against you, build a ramp up to your walls and raise his shields against you. He will direct the blows of his battering rams against your walls and demolish your towers with his weapons. His horses will be so many that they will cover you with dust. Your walls will tremble at the noise of the war horses, wagons and chariots when he enters your gates as men enter a city whose walls have been broken through. The hoofs of his horses will trample all your streets; he will kill your people with the sword, and your strong pillars will fall to the ground. They will plunder your wealth and loot your merchandise; they will break down your walls and demolish your fine houses and throw your stones, timber and rubble into the sea. I will put an end to your noisy songs, and the music of your harps will be heard no more. I will make you a bare rock, and you will become a place to spread fishnets. You will never be rebuilt, for I the Lord have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord.'"

Thought Question: How should what happened to "Tyre" affect us?  (Hint: how did Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor and 9/11 affect us?)

 

 

"'For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: From the north I am going to bring against Tyre Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, with horses and chariots, with horsemen and a great army. He will ravage your settlements on the mainland with the sword; he will set up siege works against you, build a ramp up to your walls and raise his shields against you. He will direct the blows of his battering rams against your walls and demolish your towers with his weapons. His horses will be so many that they will cover you with dust. Your walls will tremble at the noise of the war horses, wagons and chariots when he enters your gates as men enter a city whose walls have been broken through. The hoofs of his horses will trample all your streets; he will kill your people with the sword, and your strong pillars will fall to the ground.'"  God describes here how Nebuchadnezzar would attack the city.  We learn here that it is God who was behind this attack.

"your strong pillars will fall to the ground."  Feinberg has the following to say about the "pillars":  "The pillars spoken of were actually obalisks, and were probably those mentioned by the historian Herodotus as erected in the temple of Heracles at Tyre.  One was gold and the other of emerald, which shone brightly at night, and were dedicated to Melkarth, god of Tyre (c. I Kings 7:15).  These impressive pillars would be demolished by the invader." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."

c. The other nations will tremble at Tyre's complete collapse. (26:15-18)
"'This is what the Sovereign Lord says to Tyre: Will not the coastlands tremble at the sound of your fall, when the wounded groan and the slaughter takes place in you? Then all the princes of the coast will step down from their thrones and lay aside their robes and take off their embroidered garments. Clothed with terror, they will sit on the ground, trembling every moment, appalled at you. Then they will take up a lament concerning you and say to you: “How you are destroyed, O city of renown, peopled by men of the sea! You were a power on the seas, you and your citizens; you put your terror on all who lived there. Now the coastlands tremble on the day of your fall; the islands in the sea are terrified at your collapse.”'"

Thought Question: What calamity has humbled you and caused you to turn to God?

 

 

When the U.S.S.R. collapsed suddenly, it became clear that any country could fall.  When "Tyre" collapsed suddenly, as predicted by God, it became clear to Tyre's neighbors that they could be next.  "If great "Tyre" could fall, certainly we can also fall.  "'Then they will take up a lament concerning you and say to you: “How you are destroyed, O city of renown, peopled by men of the sea! You were a power on the seas, you and your citizens; you put your terror on all who lived there. Now the coastlands tremble on the day of your fall; the islands in the sea are terrified at your collapse.”'"

d. Tyre's people will end in the pit. (26:19-21)
"'This is what the Sovereign Lord says: When I make you a desolate city, like cities no longer inhabited, and when I bring the ocean depths over you and its vast waters cover you, then I will bring you down with those who go down to the pit, to the people of long ago. I will make you dwell in the earth below, as in ancient ruins, with those who go down to the pit, and you will not return or take your place in the land of the living. I will bring you to a horrible end and you will be no more. You will be sought, but you will never again be found, declares the Sovereign Lord.'"

Thought Question: How do these verses help to convince you that evil will not win?

 

 

Tyre's fate is emphasized by picturing its destruction as being like an "ocean" completely covering this city and the whole city going down into a "pit" from which no one can return.  The "pit" appears to be a picture of the grave and death.  David also uses "pit" as a way of describing the grave."O Lord, you brought me up from the grave; you spared me from going down into the pit." (Psalm 30:3)

"the people of long ago"  Those "people of long ago" who have been dead for a long time. See 143:3; Lam. 3:6

e. Ther previous beauty and prosperity is symbolized by a luxurious ship (27:1-11)
"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, take up a lament concerning Tyre. Say to Tyre, situated at the gateway to the sea, merchant of peoples on many coasts, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “You say, O Tyre, ‘I am perfect in beauty.’ Your domain was on the high seas; your builders brought your beauty to perfection. They made all your timbers of pine trees from Senir; they took a cedar from Lebanon to make a mast for you. Of oaks from Bashan they made your oars; of cypress wood from the coasts of Cyprus they made your deck, inlaid with ivory. Fine embroidered linen from Egypt was your sail and served as your banner; your awnings were of blue and purple from the coasts of Elishah. Men of Sidon and Arvad were your oarsmen; your skilled men, O Tyre, were aboard as your seamen. Veteran craftsmen of Gebal were on board as shipwrights to caulk your seams. All the ships of the sea and their sailors came alongside to trade for your wares. Men of Persia, Lydia and Put served as soldiers in your army. They hung their shields and helmets on your walls, bringing you splendor. Men of Arvad and Helech manned your walls on every side; men of Gammad were in your towers. They hung their shields around your walls; they brought your beauty to perfection.”'"

Thought Question: How was Tyre's affluence like the affluence of our country?

 

 

God describes Tyre's prideful boast due to their "beauty" and wealth as being like a large and elegantly endowed ship.  This symbolization of "Tyre" fits, for she had become wealthy because of her sea trade with other nations.  So, her riches gained from many nations is described as being like a luxurious ship.

"The wood was fir (probably pine or cypress) from the Mount Hermon region, and the mast was a strong cedar from Lebanon. Likewise her oars were of the best strong oak from Bashan, and her decks of boxwood (or cypress) from Cyprus contained beautifully inlaid ivory. Her linen sail had come from Egypt, which was famous for its linen products (Genesis 41:42; Proverbs 7:16), and it had become Tyre's distinguishing flag or banner. The awning over the deck, or possibly the deck itself, was an attractive combination of violet and purple colors, and it came from Elishah (Italy, Sicily, Carthage, Cyprus, and Syria all being possibilities). In other words, Tyre's development as a city-state came through obtaining the finest materials of her day by trading with the producers of those materials." "Dr. Constable's notes."

This is what the possessions of the very rich are like today.  They have the best from every nation in their luxurious homes and in their other possessions.  Compared to the rest of the world, we in the U.S. have these types of riches.  We also can be focused above all on our "selfish gain."  "Feinberg."

"'“Men of Persia, Lydia and Put served as soldiers in your army. They hung their shields and helmets on your walls, bringing you splendor. Men of Arvad and Helech manned your walls on every side; men of Gammad were in your towers. They hung their shields around your walls; they brought your beauty to perfection.”'"  Tyre's armies were made up of mercenaries from other countries.  They protected Tyre's lucrative sea trade.

f. Tyre's wealthy commerce (27:12-24)
"'“Tarshish did business with you because of your great wealth of goods; they exchanged silver, iron, tin and lead for your merchandise. Greece, Tubal and Meshech traded with you; they exchanged slaves and articles of bronze for your wares. Men of Beth Togarmah exchanged work horses, war horses and mules for your merchandise. The men of Rhodes traded with you, and many coastlands were your customers; they paid you with ivory tusks and ebony. Aram did business with you because of your many products; they exchanged turquoise, purple fabric, embroidered work, fine linen, coral and rubies for your merchandise. Judah and Israel traded with you; they exchanged wheat from Minnith and confections, honey, oil and balm for your wares. Damascus, because of your many products and great wealth of goods, did business with you in wine from Helbon and wool from Zahar. Danites and Greeks from Uzal bought your merchandise; they exchanged wrought iron, cassia and calamus for your wares. Dedan traded in saddle blankets with you. Arabia and all the princes of Kedar were your customers; they did business with you in lambs, rams and goats. The merchants of Sheba and Raamah traded with you; for your merchandise they exchanged the finest of all kinds of spices and precious stones, and gold. Haran, Canneh and Eden and merchants of Sheba, Asshur and Kilmad traded with you. In your marketplace they traded with you beautiful garments, blue fabric, embroidered work and multicolored rugs with cords twisted and tightly knotted.”'"

Thought Question: Once again, how does Tyre's riches compare to our wealth in U.S.?

 

 

Ezekiel lists over twenty places that "Tyre" traded with.  They were richly successfull at gaining wealth through their many trading partners.  And they traded with nearly everyone in the Mediterranean region.

g. Tyre's fall symbolized by a ship sinking into the depth of the sea (27:25-36)

(1) The ship wreck (27:25-29)
"'“The ships of Tarshish serve as carriers for your wares. You are filled with heavy cargo in the heart of the sea. Your oarsmen take you out to the high seas. But the east wind will break you to pieces in the heart of the sea. Your wealth, merchandise and wares, your mariners, seamen and shipwrights, your merchants and all your soldiers, and everyone else on board will sink into the heart of the sea on the day of your shipwreck. The shorelands will quake when your seamen cry out. All who handle the oars will abandon their ships; the mariners and all the seamen will stand on the shore.”'"

Thought Question: Why does the use of a ship effectively dramatize Tyre's end?

 

 

Like the sinking of the mighty Titanic, the wealthy "Tyre" will come to an end— like a ship slipping beneath the waves to be seen no more.

(2) All will lament your sudden sinking and demise. (27:30-36)
"'“They will raise their voice and cry bitterly over you; they will sprinkle dust on their heads and roll in ashes. They will shave their heads because of you and will put on sackcloth. They will weep over you with anguish of soul and with bitter mourning. As they wail and mourn over you, they will take up a lament concerning you: ‘Who was ever silenced like Tyre, surrounded by the sea?’ When your merchandise went out on the seas, you satisfied many nations; with your great wealth and your wares you enriched the kings of the earth. Now you are shattered by the sea in the depths of the waters; your wares and all your company have gone down with you. All who live in the coastlands are appalled at you; their kings shudder with horror and their faces are distorted with fear. The merchants among the nations hiss at you; you have come to a horrible end and will be no more.”'"

Thought Question: How does the world's response to the fall of "Tyre" compare to the world's response to the fall of the Soviet Union?

 

 

Tyre's fall will produce sadness, astonishment, and disgust.  Some will be saddened because they will no longer benefit from Tyre's trade with them.  Some will be astonished because they were amazed at how suddenly "Tyre" fell.  Others will be disgusted at how Tyre's pride was brought low.

h. A prediction of the king of Tyre's fall—which pictures the fall of Satan (28:1-19)

(1) The king of Tyre's pride is described. (28:1-5)
"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, say to the ruler of Tyre, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: In the pride of your heart you say, ‘I am a god; I sit on the throne of a god in the heart of the seas.’ But you are a man and not a god, though you think you are as wise as a god. Are you wiser than Daniel? Is no secret hidden from you? By your wisdom and understanding you have gained wealth for yourself and amassed gold and silver in your treasuries. By your great skill in trading you have increased your wealth, and because of your wealth your heart has grown proud.”'"

Thought Question: How has our own country's wealth and success led to pride rather than to humility and gratitude?

 

 

The king of "Tyre" concluded that Tyre's prosperity was accomplished because of his magnificent abilities.  He saw himself as a "god." 

Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had similar pompous thoughts about himself.  " . . . he said, 'Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?'" (Daniel 4:30) See also Dan. 3; Acts 12:21-23

"Are you wiser than Daniel?"  We see here that "Daniel" was well known for his wisdom—a wisdom that came from God.  The king of "Tyre" felt that he was "wiser than Daniel." See also Ezek. 14:4, 20; Dan. 2:48, 6:3

Here, we have a warning.  God gives us abilities and blessings.  We can be tempted to forget that all our abilities came from God and, instead, we can take full credit for what God has enabled us to do.  "For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?" (I Corinthians 4:7)  "Therefore, as it is written: 'Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.'" (I Corinthians 1:31)

(2) God's judgment against the king of Tyre's pride (28:6-10)
"'“Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because you think you are wise, as wise as a god, I am going to bring foreigners against you, the most ruthless of nations; they will draw their swords against your beauty and wisdom and pierce your shining splendor. They will bring you down to the pit, and you will die a violent death in the heart of the seas. Will you then say, ‘I am a god,’ in the presence of those who kill you? You will be but a man, not a god, in the hands of those who slay you. You will die the death of the uncircumcised at the hands of foreigners. I have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord.”'"

Thought Question: Why do you believe that pride is punished so strongly by God?

 

 

God was going to judge Tyre by bringing the Babylonians against them.  As this king died, he learned that he was just a man.  "'“Will you then say, ‘I am a god,’ in the presence of those who kill you? You will be but a man, not a god, in the hands of those who slay you. You will die the death of the uncircumcised at the hands of foreigners. I have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord.”'" 

(3) The king of Tyre's pride and fall picture Satan's fall. (28:11-19)
"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings. By your many sins and dishonest trade you have desecrated your sanctuaries. So I made a fire come out from you, and it consumed you, and I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching. All the nations who knew you are appalled at you; you have come to a horrible end and will be no more.”'"

Thought Question: Do you believe that God is describing both the fall of the "king of Tyre" and Satan's fall or only the fall of the "king of Tyre"?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

We see here that within the heart of the "king of Tyre" was the prideful spirit of Satan.  Satan also desired to be like God.  Isaiah describes Satan filling the heart of the king of Babylon.  "You said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.'" (Isaiah 14:13-14)

Here, in Ezekiel, we learn of Satan's state before his fall.  "“'You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. . . You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created . . . ”'" 

These words cannot be describing the king of Tyre.  Like all humans, he was not perfect.  Rather, he was very imperfect; just like all of us.  But Satan was all that is described here in these verses.  He was created perfect.  He was "full of wisdom and perfect in beauty."  He was "in Eden, the garden of God."  We learn here that he was "adorned" by "precious" stones.  It appears that the "precious" stones that are listed are a way of describing his heavenly glory. See Rev. 21

"You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones."  "Cherub" is a word describing an angel. See Gen. 3:24; Exod. 25:18-20  The "king of Tyre" was not an angel, but Satan was an angel of God until he fell.

"You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you."  Since all men are born sinful, this must be referring to an angel.  Satan began as a sinless being.  Again, Isaiah 14 describes the reason Satan chose sin over God.  "How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit.'" (Isaiah 14:12-15)  "He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil." (I Timothy 3:6)  Conceit was the devil's downfall.

"You were on the holy mount of God;"  Isaiah 14:13 also describes God as ruling from a mountain.  "You said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.'" (Isaiah 14:13)

In verse 28:16, Ezekiel switches back to the "king of Tyre."  "Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. . . ." 

"fiery stones"  Heaven is described in Revelation four as a place of precious stones.  "At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne." (Revelation 4:2-3)  Fire ("fiery") describes God's judgment.  "For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God." (Deuteronomy 4:24)

Both Satan's fall and the "king of Tyre's" fall are described in 28:17-19:  "'“Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings. By your many sins and dishonest trade you have desecrated your sanctuaries. So I made a fire come out from you, and it consumed you, and I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching. All the nations who knew you are appalled at you; you have come to a horrible end and will be no more.”'" 

The fall of Satan and the fall of the "king of Tyre" turned their pride into complete humiliation.  "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." (Proverbs 16:18)  Isaiah 14 shifts back from Satan to the king of Babylon.  "But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit. Those who see you stare at you, they ponder your fate: 'Is this the man who shook the earth and made kingdoms tremble . . . '" (Isaiah 14:15-16)

6. God's judgment on Sidon (28:20-23)
"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, set your face against Sidon; prophesy against her and say: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, O Sidon, and I will gain glory within you. They will know that I am the Lord, when I inflict punishment on her and show myself holy within her. I will send a plague upon her and make blood flow in her streets. The slain will fall within her, with the sword against her on every side. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”'"

Thought Question: What turns God "against" a nation and what leads to God being for a nation?

 

 

"Sidon" was the second of two major cities in Phoenicia, alongside of Tyre.  Her sins are described in various parts of the Bible: idolatry (see Judges 10:6; I Kings 11:33); and oppression of Israel (see Judges 10:11-12)

"I will send a plague upon her and make blood flow in her streets. The slain will fall within her, with the sword against her on every side. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”'" Nations and cities can think that their sins will be ignored by God, but if the nations and the cities do not repent, God's patience will end.  This is true for our nation and other nations and cities as well.

7. God's grace (28:24-26)
"'“No longer will the people of Israel have malicious neighbors who are painful briers and sharp thorns. Then they will know that I am the Sovereign Lord. This is what the Sovereign Lord says: When I gather the people of Israel from the nations where they have been scattered, I will show myself holy among them in the sight of the nations. Then they will live in their own land, which I gave to my servant Jacob. They will live there in safety and will build houses and plant vineyards; they will live in safety when I inflict punishment on all their neighbors who maligned them. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God.”'"

Thought Question: What will one day lead to God restoring Israel? (See Zech. 12:10-13; Jer. 31:8-9)

 

 

In Ezekiel's time, Israel was ruled over by Gentile nations who were, like Israel, in rebellion against God.  But this state of God's judgment on Israel would not continue forever, for the Gentile nations would be judged and the people of Israel will return to the land of Israel "from the nations where they have been scattered."  "They will live there in safety and will build houses and plant vineyards; they will live in safety when I inflict punishment on all their neighbors who maligned them. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God." 

This promise is partly fulfilled as Israel has returned to her land.  But there is a greater fulfillment still in our future when Jesus returns to rule in Jerusalem.  "The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name." (Zechariah 14:9) See also Ezek. 39:26

8. God's judgment on Egypt (29:1-32:21)

a. Egypt's pride will be brought low when Nebuchadnezzar conquers them (29)

(1) Egypt is like a monster (29:1-5)
"In the tenth year, in the tenth month on the twelfth day, the word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, set your face against Pharaoh king of Egypt and prophesy against him and against all Egypt. Speak to him and say: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt, you great monster lying among your streams. You say, ‘The Nile is mine; I made it for myself.’ But I will put hooks in your jaws and make the fish of your streams stick to your scales. I will pull you out from among your streams, with all the fish sticking to your scales. I will leave you in the desert, you and all the fish of your streams. You will fall on the open field and not be gathered or picked up. I will give you as food to the beasts of the earth and the birds of the air.”'"

Thought Question: What do you believe is symbolized here about the nation of "Egypt"?

 

 

"In the tenth year, in the tenth month on the twelfth day, the word of the Lord came to me:"  "587 B.C.; the sixth date in Ezekiel (see 1:2, 8:1, 20:1, 24:1, 26:1)  All these prophecies are dated except one (30:1)." "NIV Study Bible note."  This prophecy was given one year before Jerusalem fell to Nebuchadnezzar in  586 B.C.

In this section of verses, "Egypt" is portrayed as a "great monster lying among your streams."  The "monster" is probably a crocodile.  The Egyptian "Pharaoh" feels that he is the creator of "the Nile."  But, God will "pull" him "out" from the waters with fish "hooks" and leave him in the "desert" where he will be eaten by "the beasts of the earth and the birds of the air."

"and make the fish of your streams stick to your scales."  The "fish" appear to represent the people of "Egypt" who are ruled by the "Pharaoh."  They "stick to" his "scales" because they follow his ways, share in his beliefs, and will also experience his punishment.

(2) Egypt was an untrustworthy ally of Israel. (29:6-7)
"Then all who live in Egypt will know that I am the Lord. 'You have been a staff of reed for the house of Israel. When they grasped you with their hands, you splintered and you tore open their shoulders; when they leaned on you, you broke and their backs were wrenched.'"

Thought Question: Israel often turned to Egypt when they were attacked by a stronger country.  They should have turned to God.  What can we turn to rather than turning to God?

 

 

"Israel" had often looked to "Egypt" to help them against their enemies, such as seeking Egypt's help when she was attacked by Assyria and Babylon.  God wanted them to turn to Him and not turn to Egypt for help.  "'Woe to the obstinate children,' declares the Lord, 'to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin; who go down to Egypt without consulting me; who look for help to Pharaoh’s protection, to Egypt’s shade for refuge. But Pharaoh’s protection will be to your shame, Egypt’s shade will bring you disgrace. Though they have officials in Zoan and their envoys have arrived in Hanes, everyone will be put to shame because of a people useless to them, who bring neither help nor advantage, but only shame and disgrace.'" (Isaiah 30:1-5) See also Jer. 37:5-10

Trusting in "Egypt" was like leaning on a "reed" that splinters and cuts you when you lean upon it, for it cannot hold up one's weight.  "Look now, you are depending on Egypt, that splintered reed of a staff, which pierces a man’s hand and wounds him if he leans on it! Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who depend on him." (II Kings 18:21)  "Look now, you are depending on Egypt, that splintered reed of a staff, which pierces a man’s hand and wounds him if he leans on it! Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who depend on him." (Isaiah 36:6)

(3) God's judgment on Egypt described (29:8-12)
"'“Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will bring a sword against you and kill your men and their animals. Egypt will become a desolate wasteland. Then they will know that I am the Lord. Because you said, ‘The Nile is mine; I made it,’ therefore I am against you and against your streams, and I will make the land of Egypt a ruin and a desolate waste from Migdol to Aswan, as far as the border of Cush. No foot of man or animal will pass through it; no one will live there for forty years. I will make the land of Egypt desolate among devastated lands, and her cities will lie desolate forty years among ruined cities. And I will disperse the Egyptians among the nations and scatter them through the countries.”'"

Thought Question: What was so wrong for "Egypt" to say, "the Nile is mine" that it led to God's severe judgment on "Egypt" and her ceasing to be an empire?

 

 

God predicts that Egypt will be defeated by a war that will "kill" both  their "men and their animals" and that would lead to "Egypt" becoming "a desolate wasteland."  It was to be "desolate" for "forty years."  After the "forty years," "Egypt" would no longer be the powerful empire that it had been before God's judgment on them.

"'“therefore I am against you and against your streams, and I will make the land of Egypt a ruin and a desolate waste from Migdol to Aswan, as far as the border of Cush.”'"  "The ruin of the land was to be so thorough that it would reach from Migdol, the northernmost town, to Syrene, the southernmost town in Egypt, thus comprising the entire country." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."

"'“I will make the land of Egypt desolate among devastated lands, and her cities will lie desolate forty years among ruined cities. And I will disperse the Egyptians among the nations and scatter them through the countries.”'"  We do not have a historical record of these "forty years," for countries were far more likely to record their times of victories than their times of defeat.  Feinberg suggests that may have been the period of time between Nebuchadnezzar's conquest of Egypt and Cyrus' victory over Babylon which "was about forty years." "Feinberg."

Why was it so wrong for Israel to say, "the Nile is mine," that it led to God's severe judgment on Egypt and her ceasing to be an empire?  Taking credit for what God has done and for what God has given us is the very opposite of humble faith.  It is self-centeredness.  It is choosing to live as if there is no God.  Paul speaks of it in Romans one:  "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened." (Romans 1:21)

God's judgment in the last days will humble man from this arrogance.  "The eyes of the arrogant man will be humbled and the pride of men brought low; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day. The Lord Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled), for all the cedars of Lebanon, tall and lofty, and all the oaks of Bashan, for all the towering mountains and all the high hills, for every lofty tower and every fortified wall, for every trading ship and every stately vessel. The arrogance of man will be brought low and the pride of men humbled; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day," (Isaiah 2:11-17)

(4) The last of Egypt as a superpower (29:13-16)
"'“Yet this is what the Sovereign Lord says: At the end of forty years I will gather the Egyptians from the nations where they were scattered. I will bring them back from captivity and return them to Upper Egypt, the land of their ancestry. There they will be a lowly kingdom. It will be the lowliest of kingdoms and will never again exalt itself above the other nations. I will make it so weak that it will never again rule over the nations. Egypt will no longer be a source of confidence for the people of Israel but will be a reminder of their sin in turning to her for help. Then they will know that I am the Sovereign Lord.”'"

Thought Question: What other countries once were very powerful, but now are also like Egypt is today?

 

 

Egyptians were taken into captivity by the Babylonians, but when the Persians conquered the Babylonians, they allowed captured countries more freedom to live where they chose to live.  Although we have no historical records of the Egyptians going into captivity and returning, the different status that they had under the Persians probably explains the return to Egypt described here.  But, they did not ever return to being the dominant empire that they once were.

The Bible does describe, however, a future return of Egypt to its former glory. See Isa. 19:19-25

(5) Nebuchadnezzar's conquest of Egypt described (29:17-21)
"In the twenty-seventh year, in the first month on the first day, the word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon drove his army in a hard campaign against Tyre; every head was rubbed bare and every shoulder made raw. Yet he and his army got no reward from the campaign he led against Tyre. Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am going to give Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he will carry off its wealth. He will loot and plunder the land as pay for his army. I have given him Egypt as a reward for his efforts because he and his army did it for me, declares the Sovereign Lord. On that day I will make a horn grow for the house of Israel, and I will open your mouth among them. Then they will know that I am the Lord.'"

Thought Question: How do you believe that Nebuchadnezzar "did it for" God, when they undoubtedly "did it" for totally selfish reasons?

 

 

"In the twenty-seventh year, in the first month on the first day, the word of the Lord came to me:"  This is seventeen years after the prophecy in 29:1-16.  This is the latest date given in Ezekiel.

Nebuchadnezzar was unable to conquer the island part of "Tyre," and pillage its wealth.  So, Nebuchadnezzar turned to Egypt to gain wealth to reward his warriors.  "'Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon drove his army in a hard campaign against Tyre; every head was rubbed bare and every shoulder made raw. Yet he and his army got no reward from the campaign he led against Tyre. Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am going to give Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he will carry off its wealth. He will loot and plunder the land as pay for his army. I have given him Egypt as a reward for his efforts because he and his army did it for me, declares the Sovereign Lord.'"

"'On that day I will make a horn grow for the house of Israel, and I will open your mouth among them. Then they will know that I am the Lord.'"  When this attack by "Babylon" against "Egypt" took place, Ezekiel will be able to speak against "Israel."  For "Israel" will powerfully realize that Ezekiel's prophecies are being fulfilled.  He will, then, have their full attention when he is about prophecy. See Ezek 3:26 where Ezekiel was muted by God until this day.

How did "Nebuchadnezzar" do it for God, when the Bible is clear he and the Babylonians did it for evil and selfish reasons?  God used "Babylon" as His "war club" (Jer. 51:20): "'You are my war club, my weapon for battle— with you I shatter nations, with you I destroy kingdoms,'" (Jeremiah 51:20)  Nevertheless, "Babylon" was not pure in their motives, and would also be judged by God.  "'I am against you, O destroying mountain, you who destroy the whole earth,” declares the Lord. I will stretch out my hand against you, roll you off the cliffs, and make you a burned-out mountain. No rock will be taken from you for a cornerstone, nor any stone for a foundation, for you will be desolate forever,' declares the Lord." (Jeremiah 51:25-26)

The sin of Israel and other nations was punished by God using the mighty "Babylon."  But later, "Babylon" would be judged by the Medes and the Persians when they conquered Babylon."  "Sharpen the arrows, take up the shields! The Lord has stirred up the kings of the Medes, because his purpose is to destroy Babylon. The Lord will take vengeance, vengeance for his temple." (Jeremiah 51:11)

b. A lament for Egypt because of God's judgment on them through Nebuchadnezzar. (30)

(1) The day of the Lord is near for Egypt and the nations surrounding her. (30:1-9)
"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, prophesy and say: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Wail and say, ‘Alas for that day!’ For the day is near, the day of the Lord is near— a day of clouds, a time of doom for the nations. A sword will come against Egypt, and anguish will come upon Cush. When the slain fall in Egypt, her wealth will be carried away and her foundations torn down. Cush and Put, Lydia and all Arabia, Libya and the people of the covenant land will fall by the sword along with Egypt. This is what the Lord says: The allies of Egypt will fall and her proud strength will fail. From Migdol to Aswan they will fall by the sword within her, declares the Sovereign Lord. They will be desolate among desolate lands, and their cities will lie among ruined cities. Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I set fire to Egypt and all her helpers are crushed. On that day messengers will go out from me in ships to frighten Cush out of her complacency. Anguish will take hold of them on the day of Egypt’s doom, for it is sure to come.'"

Thought Question: What is the "day of the Lord"?

 

 

"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, prophesy and say: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Wail and say, ‘Alas for that day!’ For the day is near, the day of the Lord is near— a day of clouds, a time of doom for the nations."  It is not unusual for "nations" and people to sin and also believe that there will be no consequences for their disobedience to God.  "The day of the Lord" is the time when the whole world will see God's judgment come down upon the world for man's sin against God.  That "day" is still in our future and is described throughout the Bible. See Isa. 2:6-22, 13:6-13; Joel 1:15, 2:31; Amos 5:18-20; Zeph. 1:7, 14-18; Zech. 14:1-7; I Thess. 5:2; II Thess. 2:2; II Pet. 3:9-13; Rev. 6:16-17, 8:6-19:21

God's judgment on Israel and the "nations" through Nebuchadnezzar was a "day of the Lord."  It pictures what the final "day of the Lord" will be like.

"a day of clouds,"  Dark clouds precede a storm.  So, the "clouds" mentioned here picture the storm of God's judgment that was about to take place—"a time of doom for the nations." 

"Cush and Put, Lydia and all Arabia, Libya and the people of the covenant land will fall by the sword along with Egypt. This is what the Lord says: The allies of Egypt will fall and her proud strength will fail.'"  Not only was "Egypt" going to be judged by God through Nebuchadnezzar, but all the nations that were united with "Egypt" were also going to be judged by God.

(2) Nebuchadnezzar is God's arm of Judgment (30:10-12) See 29:17-20
"'“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will put an end to the hordes of Egypt by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. He and his army—the most ruthless of nations— will be brought in to destroy the land. They will draw their swords against Egypt and fill the land with the slain. I will dry up the streams of the Nile and sell the land to evil men; by the hand of foreigners I will lay waste the land and everything in it. I the Lord have spoken."'"

Thought Question: Why do you believe that God uses "the most ruthless of nations" to judge "Egypt"?

 

 

If the Nile dried up, Egypt would become nothing more than an arid desert. See Isa. 19:4-6  It appears that the attack of "Nebuchadnezzar" affected the flow of the "Nile" and its tributaries.  Dr. Constable offers the following explanation:  "Yahweh would cause the canals of the Nile River to dry up as a result of the warfare. The irrigation canals in Egypt required constant attention and maintenance, but during war the Egyptians would not have time for that. Consequently Egypt would stop producing food. The Babylonians, strangers to Egypt, would take over Egypt and desolate it." "Dr. Constable's notes."

(3) A description of what God's judgment on Egypt would do to them. (30:13-10)
"'“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will destroy the idols and put an end to the images in Memphis. No longer will there be a prince in Egypt, and I will spread fear throughout the land. I will lay waste Upper Egypt, set fire to Zoan and inflict punishment on Thebes. I will pour out my wrath on Pelusium, the stronghold of Egypt, and cut off the hordes of Thebes. I will set fire to Egypt; Pelusium will writhe in agony. Thebes will be taken by storm; Memphis will be in constant distress. The young men of Heliopolis and Bubastis will fall by the sword, and the cities themselves will go into captivity. Dark will be the day at Tahpanhes when I break the yoke of Egypt; there her proud strength will come to an end. She will be covered with clouds, and her villages will go into captivity. So I will inflict punishment on Egypt, and they will know that I am the Lord.”'"

Thought Question: Why do you believe God chose to so thoroughly defeat "Egypt"?

 

 

God describes what will happen in God's judgment on "Egypt" through Nebuchadnezzar: "idols" will be destroyed; she will have no king; she will be "set" on "fire"; Egypt's "young men" will be killed "by the sword"; and the people of "Egypt" "will go into captivity."  Egypt's sin was so great that nothing short of a total cleansing of its idolatry and sin would have accomplished God's goal—a purging of Egypt's sin.

(4) God will strengthen the king of Babylon and weaken the king of Egypt. (30:20-26)
"In the eleventh year, in the first month on the seventh day, the word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, I have broken the arm of Pharaoh king of Egypt. It has not been bound up for healing or put in a splint so as to become strong enough to hold a sword. Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against Pharaoh king of Egypt. I will break both his arms, the good arm as well as the broken one, and make the sword fall from his hand. I will disperse the Egyptians among the nations and scatter them through the countries. I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon and put my sword in his hand, but I will break the arms of Pharaoh, and he will groan before him like a mortally wounded man. I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon, but the arms of Pharaoh will fall limp. Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I put my sword into the hand of the king of Babylon and he brandishes it against Egypt. I will disperse the Egyptians among the nations and scatter them through the countries. Then they will know that I am the Lord.'"

Thought Question: Here, God strengthens "Babylon" and weakens "Egypt."  Give an example of God doing that type of thing in your life or in the history of our country.

 

 

"'I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon and put my sword in his hand, but I will break the arms of Pharaoh, and he will groan before him like a mortally wounded man. I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon, but the arms of Pharaoh will fall limp. Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I put my sword into the hand of the king of Babylon and he brandishes it against Egypt.'"  Babylon's victory over "Egypt" was assured, for God somehow strengthened "Babylon" and weakened "Egypt."

It has been my observation that God strengthens and gives victory in response to prayer.  Daniel was rescued from the lion's den. See Dan. 6  The battle of Midway in the war in the South Pacific in World War II was helped by American planes coming out of the clouds while the enemy's planes were still parked on their aircraft carriers.  Undoubtedly, we will discover on the other side in heaven that much that happened has happened due to God strengthening one side and weakening the other.  Our prayers are a God-chosen means for accomplishing this type of victory.

"'Then they will know that I am the Lord.'"  When God's judgment takes place, men can no longer ignore God.  Today, most ignore God and live as if He does not exist.  God gives men their day.  But, when something like what happened on 9/11 happens, men no longer ignore God.  It is too bad that it takes some type of calamity to get our focus off our selfish and sinful pursuits so that we begin to focus on our need for God.

Romans 2:4-5 tells us why God does not let us experience the full consequences of our sin right now.  "Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed." (Romans 2:4-5)

c. God's past judgment on Assyria is a prediction of Egypt's coming fall—Assyria is pictured as a great cedar tree. (31)

(1) Assyria is compared to the greatest of trees (31:1-9)
"In the eleventh year, in the third month on the first day, the word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, say to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his hordes: Who can be compared with you in majesty? Consider Assyria, once a cedar in Lebanon, with beautiful branches overshadowing the forest; it towered on high, its top above the thick foliage. The waters nourished it, deep springs made it grow tall; their streams flowed all around its base and sent their channels to all the trees of the field. So it towered higher than all the trees of the field; its boughs increased and its branches grew long, spreading because of abundant waters. All the birds of the air nested in its boughs, all the beasts of the field gave birth under its branches; all the great nations lived in its shade. It was majestic in beauty, with its spreading boughs, for its roots went down to abundant waters. The cedars in the garden of God could not rival it, nor could the pine trees equal its boughs, nor could the plane trees compare with its branches— no tree in the garden of God could match its beauty. I made it beautiful with abundant branches, the envy of all the trees of Eden in the garden of God.'"

Thought Question: What can puff us up into thinking too greatly about ourselves?

 

 

"Consider Assyria, once a cedar in Lebanon, with beautiful branches overshadowing the forest; it towered on high, its top above the thick foliage. The waters nourished it, deep springs made it grow tall; their streams flowed all around its base and sent their channels to all the trees of the field. So it towered higher than all the trees of the field; its boughs increased and its branches grew long, spreading because of abundant waters."  The "waters" of the Tigris River helped Assyria to grow taller than the other trees—bigger than the other nations.

"The cedars in the garden of God could not rival it, nor could the pine trees equal its boughs, nor could the plane trees compare with its branches— no tree in the garden of God could match its beauty."  "The Cedars were as much as eighty feet high and beautifully symmetrical." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."  As Cedars towered over and dwarfed other trees, so "Assyria" had once towered over and dwarfed other nations—"Assyria" had once been the greatest country in the world.  It had conquered other nations until it formed for itself, the Assyrian Empire.

(2) Yet, great Assyria fell.  (31:10-14)
"'“Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because it towered on high, lifting its top above the thick foliage, and because it was proud of its height, I handed it over to the ruler of the nations, for him to deal with according to its wickedness. I cast it aside, and the most ruthless of foreign nations cut it down and left it. Its boughs fell on the mountains and in all the valleys; its branches lay broken in all the ravines of the land. All the nations of the earth came out from under its shade and left it. All the birds of the air settled on the fallen tree, and all the beasts of the field were among its branches. Therefore no other trees by the waters are ever to tower proudly on high, lifting their tops above the thick foliage. No other trees so well-watered are ever to reach such a height; they are all destined for death, for the earth below, among mortal men, with those who go down to the pit.”'"

Thought Question: What lesson do we learn from what happened to "Assyria"?

 

 

Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon, was "the most ruthless of foreign nations" and he cut "Assyria" down.  "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!" (1 Corinthians 10:12)  See Isa. 10:12-19

(3) So, mighty Egypt was to fall. (31:15-18)
"'“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: On the day it was brought down to the grave I covered the deep springs with mourning for it; I held back its streams, and its abundant waters were restrained. Because of it I clothed Lebanon with gloom, and all the trees of the field withered away. I made the nations tremble at the sound of its fall when I brought it down to the grave with those who go down to the pit. Then all the trees of Eden, the choicest and best of Lebanon, all the trees that were well-watered, were consoled in the earth below. Those who lived in its shade, its allies among the nations, had also gone down to the grave with it, joining those killed by the sword. Which of the trees of Eden can be compared with you in splendor and majesty? Yet you, too, will be brought down with the trees of Eden to the earth below; you will lie among the uncircumcised, with those killed by the sword. This is Pharaoh and all his hordes, declares the Sovereign Lord.”'"

Thought Question: In what ways can we in the U.S. or those in other countries be like "Egypt" in being confident that we can never fall as a nation?

 

 

"You will lie among the uncircumcised . . . "  Egypt, like Israel, practiced circumcision.  They saw those who did not practice circumcision as being uncircumcised.  "The Phoenicians, like the Egyptians, practiced cirmcumcision see 31:18, 32:19)." "NIV  Study Bible note on Ezekiel 28:10."  Egypt that had prided themselves as being superior to other nations, was going to become just like them.

d. A lament for Egypt's Pharaoh. (32)

(1) The Pharaoh's fall pictured as a sea monster being dragged in by a net on to the land to be eaten by birds and beasts (32:1-6) See 29:3-5
"In the twelfth year, in the twelfth month on the first day, the word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, take up a lament concerning Pharaoh king of Egypt and say to him: “You are like a lion among the nations; you are like a monster in the seas thrashing about in your streams, churning the water with your feet and muddying the streams. This is what the Sovereign Lord says: With a great throng of people I will cast my net over you, and they will haul you up in my net. I will throw you on the land and hurl you on the open field. I will let all the birds of the air settle on you and all the beasts of the earth gorge themselves on you. I will spread your flesh on the mountains and fill the valleys with your remains. I will drench the land with your flowing blood all the way to the mountains, and the ravines will be filled with your flesh.”'"

Thought Question: How should what happened to "Egypt" be a warning to us personally and us as a nation?

 

 

"In the twelfth year, in the twelfth month on the first day, the word of the Lord came to me:"  This prophecy was given about 1 ½ years after the previous prophecy.  It was given about two months before a fugitive from Jerusalem told Ezekiel of the fall of Jerusalem. See 33:21

"'Son of man, take up a lament concerning Pharaoh king of Egypt and say to him: “You are like a lion among the nations; you are like a monster in the seas thrashing about in your streams, churning the water with your feet and muddying the streams.”'"  "The "Pharaoh" is pictured as a "lion," the king of the land animals, and he is also pictured as being like some type of "monster" that is to be feared in the "seas." 

"'“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: With a great throng of people I will cast my net over you, and they will haul you up in my net.”'"  As a net renders a "lion" and a crocodile powerless, so "Egypt" will become powerless before the armies of Babylon.  They will be as helpless as a crocodile becomes when it is far from the water.  "'“I will throw you on the land and hurl you on the open field. I will let all the birds of the air settle on you and all the beasts of the earth gorge themselves on you.”'" See Matt. 24:28; Rev. 19:17-18

"'“I will spread your flesh on the mountains and fill the valleys with your remains. I will drench the land with your flowing blood all the way to the mountains, and the ravines will be filled with your flesh.”'"  These verses describe the bloody battle field after Babylon conquered "Egypt." 

(2) Darkness will come over Egypt. (32:7-8)
"'“When I snuff you out, I will cover the heavens and darken their stars; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon will not give its light. All the shining lights in the heavens I will darken over you; I will bring darkness over your land, declares the Sovereign Lord.”'"

Thought Question: What are some other times in the Bible where "darkness" is used to describe God's judgment?

 

 

Darkness is often used to describe God's judgment. See Exod. 10:21-23 for the plague of darkness on Egypt during Moses' time. See also Isa. 13:10, 34:4;      Joel 2:1-2, 10, 31, 3:15; Amos 5:18, 15, Lk. 23:44; Matt. 24:29; Rev. 6:12-13, 8:12  The darkness in men's hearts in "Egypt" appropriately results in God judging them with physical darkness. See Jn. 3:19; Rom. 1:21; Eph. 4:17-19

(3) Other nations will be appalled at what happens to Egypt. (32:9-10)
"'“I will trouble the hearts of many peoples when I bring about your destruction among the nations, among lands you have not known. I will cause many peoples to be appalled at you, and their kings will shudder with horror because of you when I brandish my sword before them. On the day of your downfall each of them will tremble every moment for his life.”'"

Thought Question: What is an example of when someone's downfall or a nation's downfall has been a warning to you?

 

 

Many were surprised and shocked at the sudden fall of the Soviet Union.  So, were other nations to be shocked at the sudden fall of "Egypt." See also 27:35-36

(4) Babylon will shatter Egypt's pride (32:11-15)
"'“For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: The sword of the king of Babylon will come against you. I will cause your hordes to fall by the swords of mighty men— the most ruthless of all nations. They will shatter the pride of Egypt, and all her hordes will be overthrown. I will destroy all her cattle from beside abundant waters no longer to be stirred by the foot of man or muddied by the hoofs of cattle. Then I will let her waters settle and make her streams flow like oil, declares the Sovereign Lord. When I make Egypt desolate and strip the land of everything in it, when I strike down all who live there, then they will know that I am the Lord.”'"

Thought Question: God needs to humble people and He needs to humble us in order for us to see the need to seek Him.  Give an example of when you believe God humbled you.

 

 

Here, we are told specifically that God's judgment on "Egypt" would come from "Babylon."  Egypt's Pharaoh would learn quickly that his arrogant view of himself as ruler of the world was incorrect.  God, not he, was the Ruler of the world.  Through the years, many have learned that they are not even ruler over their own lives.  Many of us have been humbled by a set of circumstances that were in control of us rather than we being in control of them.  The proper response is to humble ourselves and seek God's grace.

(5) Ezekiel is to wail for Egypt (32:16-21)
"'This is the lament they will chant for her. The daughters of the nations will chant it; for Egypt and all her hordes they will chant it, declares the Sovereign Lord.' In the twelfth year, on the fifteenth day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, wail for the hordes of Egypt and consign to the earth below both her and the daughters of mighty nations, with those who go down to the pit. Say to them, “Are you more favored than others? Go down and be laid among the uncircumcised.” They will fall among those killed by the sword. The sword is drawn; let her be dragged off with all her hordes. From within the grave the mighty leaders will say of Egypt and her allies, “They have come down and they lie with the uncircumcised, with those killed by the sword.”'"

Thought Question: Egypt felt that they were "more favored than others."  What happens when we or our country believes this to be true?

 

 

"In the twelfth year, on the fifteenth day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me:"  Two weeks after the last prophecy. See 32:1

"'This is the lament they will chant for her. The daughters of the nations will chant it; for Egypt and all her hordes they will chant it, declares the Sovereign Lord.' . . . “Son of man, wail for the hordes of Egypt and consign to the earth below both her and the daughters of mighty nations, with those who go down to the pit.”'"  Though "Egypt" was still in power when Ezekiel wrote these words, God predicts her death, and he predicts that the "nations" will mourn her demise.  God commands Ezekiel to mourn her death before it happens.

"'Say to them, “Are you more favored than others? Go down and be laid among the uncircumcised.” They will fall among those killed by the sword. The sword is drawn; let her be dragged off with all her hordes. From within the grave the mighty leaders will say of Egypt and her allies, “They have come down and they lie with the uncircumcised, with those killed by the sword.”'"  "Egypt" will learn that she does not have a "favored" status with God.  They are arrogant before God, so they will face His judgment just like the other "nations."

"uncircumcised"  They, like Israel, practiced circumcision and saw themselves as superior to other "nations" because of it. See 28:10

(6) Other nations will join Egypt in God's judgment (32:22-32)
"'Assyria is there with her whole army; she is surrounded by the graves of all her slain, all who have fallen by the sword. Their graves are in the depths of the pit and her army lies around her grave. All who had spread terror in the land of the living are slain, fallen by the sword. Elam is there, with all her hordes around her grave. All of them are slain, fallen by the sword. All who had spread terror in the land of the living went down uncircumcised to the earth below. They bear their shame with those who go down to the pit. A bed is made for her among the slain, with all her hordes around her grave. All of them are uncircumcised, killed by the sword. Because their terror had spread in the land of the living, they bear their shame with those who go down to the pit; they are laid among the slain. Meshech and Tubal are there, with all their hordes around their graves. All of them are uncircumcised, killed by the sword because they spread their terror in the land of the living. Do they not lie with the other uncircumcised warriors who have fallen, who went down to the grave with their weapons of war, whose swords were placed under their heads? The punishment for their sins rested on their bones, though the terror of these warriors had stalked through the land of the living. You too, O Pharaoh, will be broken and will lie among the uncircumcised, with those killed by the sword. Edom is there, her kings and all her princes; despite their power, they are laid with those killed by the sword. They lie with the uncircumcised, with those who go down to the pit. All the princes of the north and all the Sidonians are there; they went down with the slain in disgrace despite the terror caused by their power. They lie uncircumcised with those killed by the sword and bear their shame with those who go down to the pit. Pharaoh—he and all his army—will see them and he will be consoled for all his hordes that were killed by the sword, declares the Sovereign Lord. Although I had him spread terror in the land of the living, Pharaoh and all his hordes will be laid among the uncircumcised, with those killed by the sword, declares the Sovereign Lord.'"

Thought Question: What do you believe is the one message of these verses?

 

 

"Assyria" met God's judgment (32:22-24)  Assyria's judgment by God was described in chapter 31.  Here, in 32:22-23, Assyria is pictured as already being in the graveyard of the "nations."  "'Assyria is there with her whole army; she is surrounded by the graves of all her slain, all who have fallen by the sword. Their graves are in the depths of the pit and her army lies around her grave. All who had spread terror in the land of the living are slain, fallen by the sword.'"

Next, "Elam" is seen as also being in the graveyard.  Elam's fall was predicted by Jeremiah in Jeremiah 49:34-38. See Gen. 10:22  "'Elam is there, with all her hordes around her grave. All of them are slain, fallen by the sword. All who had spread terror in the land of the living went down uncircumcised to the earth below. They bear their shame with those who go down to the pit. A bed is made for her among the slain, with all her hordes around her grave. All of them are uncircumcised, killed by the sword. Because their terror had spread in the land of the living, they bear their shame with those who go down to the pit; they are laid among the slain.'"

Then, "Meshech and Tubal" are pointed to as also being in the graveyard.  "'Meshech and Tubal are there, with all their hordes around their graves. All of them are uncircumcised, killed by the sword because they spread their terror in the land of the living. Do they not lie with the other uncircumcised warriors who have fallen, who went down to the grave with their weapons of war, whose swords were placed under their heads? The punishment for their sins rested on their bones, though the terror of these warriors had stalked through the land of the living.'"  

Bible scholars are not sure about who these people—"Meshech and Tubal"— were. See 27:13 and Gen. 10:2  It is most likely that they were located in Asia Minor.  God treated them as He treated the other "nations"; for they are in the same graveyard with the other "nations." 

The "Pharaoh" of Egypt and his soldiers would die and be buried with the soldiers and peoples of other "nations." "'You too, O Pharaoh, will be broken and will lie among the uncircumcised, with those killed by the sword.'"

Edom's soldiers are also in the same graveyard.  The Edomites were descendents of Esau. See Gen. 25:23-34, 36:1-19; Ezek. 25:12-14, 35:1-15

The "Sidonians" are also there in this graveyard.  "'All the princes of the north and all the Sidonians are there; they went down with the slain in disgrace despite the terror caused by their power. They lie uncircumcised with those killed by the sword and bear their shame with those who go down to the pit.'"

And, finally, "Egypt" will be there with all these nations that once arrogantly ruled, but then faced God's judgment.  "'Pharaoh—he and all his army—will see them and he will be consoled for all his hordes that were killed by the sword, declares the Sovereign Lord. Although I had him spread terror in the land of the living, Pharaoh and all his hordes will be laid among the uncircumcised, with those killed by the sword, declares the Sovereign Lord.'"

What is the one message of this paragraph?  It is that God is a just judge who treats all people impartially.  "For God does not show favoritism." (Romans 2:11)

 

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. ®,   NIV ®   Copyright ©  1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission.  All Rights reserved.

Studies in Ezekiel