Ezekiel as you have never seen him before
How Jesus Christ viewed the Book of Ezekiel, Part 1, Chapters 1 thru 24 (Jun 2000)
Like the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah which (as I have shown earlier) were highly edited post-exile compilations of the writings of at least three different authors, it appears evident that the book of Ezekiel is also a post-exile compilation of the writings of at least two different authors. Although chapters 40 through 48 may have started out as an attempt by Ezekiel to create an encouraging "vision of the future", it appears to have been heavily edited after the exile to serve as kind of a "blueprint" for the building of the second temple, the reestablishment of Levitical sacrificial rituals, and a proposal for how the land that had been made available to the returnees should be divided up among the remnants of the twelve tribes of Israel. Unlike the Books of Isaiah and Jeremiah, the book of Ezekiel is compiled pretty much in chronological order. No doubt, this task that was facilitated by the author's frequent reference to the number of years that had passed since his exile had begun as a prelude to many of his articles. According to scholars, the oldest Aramaic texts of the writings of Ezekiel are in poor condition and contain many linguistic corruptions, so it's uncertain just how well our present English translations reflect what Ezekiel had actually written.
Ezekiel was the son of a Levite priest, possibly from the family lineage of Zadok. He was obviously quite familiar with writings contained in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, and he was evidently quite familiar with the extent to which those laws were being violated by his Judean contemporaries. He was also quite familiar with architecture of King Solomon's Temple. The name "Ezekiel" means "strength of God" or "one strengthened by God." He was a contemporary of Jeremiah and Daniel, and like Daniel he was among the first of the Judeans to be taken into exile by the Babylonians (the ones allegorically described by Jeremiah as being "good figs.") While Jeremiah preached to the Judeans in and around Jerusalem, Ezekiel preached to the exiles in Babylon, and he apparently sent many of his writings to the Judeans in Jerusalem as well. They both shared a great concern over the apostasy, corruption, and misdeeds of their fellow Judeans (including many of their contemporary prophets and religious leaders). According to legend, Jeremiah ended up being killed by his fellow Judeans in Egypt (because he criticized them too much), and Ezekiel ended up being killed by his fellow Judeans in Babylon (because he criticized them too much).
As in my earlier biblical reviews, my own comments will be in [brackets], and I will use "2-hvn" to indicate those comments that are referring to the second-heaven level of interpretation and "3-hvn" to indicate those comments that are referring to the third-heaven (allegorical) level of interpretation.
As before, when I refer to "God's two most fundamental commandments" or "God's guiding principles of truth and love", I am referring to the following (applied without restrictions):
Jesus said to him," 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."
Although I refer to situations in our present world to help illustrate the current relevance of Ezekiel's teachings, the way I am viewing Ezekiel's teachings is essentially the same as the way Jesus viewed those teachings (i.e. from the point of view of God's two most fundamental commandments). More likely than not, this way of viewing Ezekiel will be a new experience for you. Although Ezekiel isn't specifically mentioned in the New Testament, his writings clearly influenced Jesus' own teachings. They both referred to themselves as a "Son of man", and as we shall see, the author of St. John's Book of Revelation borrowed from (or quoted Jesus who borrowed from) quite a few of Ezekiel's allegorical symbolisms. So let's get on with:
Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the River Chebar, that the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. On the fifth day of the month, which was in the fifth year of King Jehoiachin's captivity, the word of the LORD came expressly to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the River Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was upon him there.
[2-hvn. King Jehoiachin (Jechoniah or Coniah) was the son of Jehoiakim and grandson of Josiah. He ruled for only 3 months before surrendering to Nebuchadnezzar's forces. (He was the king who was eventually released from prison by Nebuchadnezzar's son and became a member of the Babylonian court.) Anyhow, Ezekiel was among those "good figs" that were first deported to Babylon along with King Jehoiachin. Although he had been a "captive" for five years, Ezekiel had evidently married and was living in his own house by the River Chebar when he had this vision or religious experience that convinced him to become a prophet.]
Then I looked, and behold, a whirlwind was coming out of the north, a great cloud with raging fire engulfing itself; and brightness was all around it and radiating out of its midst like the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire. Also from within it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had the likeness of a man. Each one had four faces, and each one had four wings. Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the soles of calves' feet. They sparkled like the color of burnished bronze. The hands of a man were under their wings on their four sides; and each of the four had faces and wings. Their wings touched one another. The creatures did not turn when they went, but each one went straightforward. As for the likeness of their faces, each had the face of a man, each of the four had the face of a lion on the right side, each of the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and each of the four had the face of an eagle. Thus were their faces. Their wings were stretched upward; two wings of each one touched one another, and two covered their bodies. And each one went straightforward; they went wherever the spirit wanted to go, and they did not turn when they went. As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of torches. Fire was going back and forth among the living creatures; the fire was bright, and out of the fire went lightning. And the living creatures ran back and forth, in appearance like a flash of lightning.
[3-hvn. In the Old Testament allegorical scheme, the number four is usually used to represent North, South, East, and West or "in all directions" collectively. So these creatures were exceptionally wise for their time in that they could "see in all directions"; not only that, they could see from the point of view of a man, an ox (a slave or servant), a lion (Judah as a political entity), and an eagle (a spirit). The point here is that they were all steadfastly following the Holy Spirit (without turning away) wherever He would lead them.]
Now as I looked at the living creatures, behold, a wheel was on the "earth" (mankind's perceptions of popular truths) beside each living creature with its four faces. The appearance of the wheels and their workings was like the color of beryl, and all four had the same likeness. The appearance of their workings was, as it were, a wheel in the middle of a wheel. When they went, they went toward any one of four directions; they did not turn aside when they went. As for their rims, they were so high they were awesome; and their rims were full of eyes, all around the four of them. When the living creatures went, the wheels went beside them; and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up. Wherever the spirit wanted to go, they went, because there the spirit went; and the wheels were lifted together with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. When those went, these went; when those stood, these stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up together with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.
[3-hvn. Many commentators view this as being like the wheels of a chariot carrying God on a throne, but their problem is that they have been attempting to be too "literal" in their interpretations rather than seeking out the author's intended allegorical interpretation of these symbols--based on God's two most fundamental commandments (i.e. they have been using the WRONG CRITERIA for interpreting the scriptures!). So those wheels allegorically represent recurring "cycles of life" like the four seasons or the phases of the moon. The "wheel within a wheel" is probably referring to the cycle of the moon spinning within the cycle of the seasons. The rims of the wheels where "full of eyes", but for the most part each of them could only "see" or comprehend what was within their own cycle. This is indicated by the comment that "spirit of the living creatures was in (or limited to) the wheels." God was showing Ezekiel how to view the motion of these wheels and living creatures from "outside the box" (as one might say in today's vernacular). The important point to note about this allegorical scheme is that although these two cycles are continuing to spin, they are ALL MOVING TOGETHER IN A GENERALLY FORWARD DIRECTION LED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT! According to Thomas Cahill in his book "The Gifts of the Jews", it was a common characteristic of ancient religions to view life (and the history of life) as being essentially cyclical in nature. Our present way of viewing human history as a being a linear progression of civilization was invented (or discovered) by the authors of the Old Testament. They viewed history as being like a growing tree or vine that sprouts ideological as well as physical branches as time goes on (rather than merely churning in a recurring cycle). This manner of viewing human history enabled them to plan ahead more effectively than most of their human contemporaries. It also led them to have a continuing hope for better times in the future under a Davidic "Messiah" who would return some day to become their leader and free them from oppression.]
The likeness of the firmament above the heads of the living creatures was like the color of an awesome crystal, stretched out over their heads. And under the firmament their wings spread out straight, one toward another. Each one had two which covered one side, and each one had two which covered the other side of the body. When they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of many waters, like the voice of the Almighty, a tumult like the noise of an army; and when they stood still, they let down their wings. A voice came from above the firmament that was over their heads; whenever they stood, they let down their wings.
[3-hvn. The pairs of "wings" represent God's two most fundamental commandments (God's guiding principles of truth and love) which, in order to function properly, must ALWAYS be used TOGETHER! Here the support provided by their wings is partitioned, meaning that their perceptions of God's guidance was somewhat "chopped up" due to the restrictions they were placing on the applicability of God's two most fundamental commandments. Whenever they stood on the allegorical "earth" of their own opinions (rather than God's opinions), they were "letting down their wings" (or no longer "flying with God" or being supported by those wings). The reason they had two pair of wings rather than one pair was apparently due the restrictions they were placing on their definition of "neighbor." They tended to restrict their definition of "neighbor" to fellow Judeans at one level and Samarian Israelites at another level, and to exclude "Gentiles" altogether from their definition of "neighbor."]
And above the firmament over their heads was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like a sapphire stone; on the likeness of the throne was a likeness with the appearance of a man high above it. Also from the appearance of His waist and upward I saw, as it were, the color of amber with the appearance of fire all around within it; and from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw, as it were, the appearance of fire with brightness all around. Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. So when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard a voice of One speaking.
[3-hvn. Here Ezekiel is presenting a glorious portrayal of God when viewed from "outside the box" of man-made restrictions on the applicability of His two most fundamental commandments. As in Genesis, God is portrayed as being "the Light of Day", in this case having the colors of the rainbow as well as intense light. God has a "likeness with the appearance of a man", because according to the authors of Genesis, God "created man in his own image." But here God is also portrayed as a ruler (symbolized by the throne) over life and over the progress of mankind's destiny. Ezekiel became so excited and overwhelmed by this vision that he "fell on his face."]
And He said to me, "Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak to you." Then the Spirit entered me when He spoke to me, and set me on my feet; and I heard Him who spoke to me. And He said to me: "Son of man, I am sending you to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have transgressed against Me to this very day. For they are impudent and stubborn children. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD.' As for them, whether they hear or whether they refuse--for they are a rebellious house--yet they will know that a prophet has been among them. And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you dwell among scorpions; do not be afraid of their words or dismayed by their looks, though they are a rebellious house. You shall speak My words to them, whether they hear or whether they refuse, for they are rebellious. But you, son of man, hear what I say to you. Do not be rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you."
[3-hvn. Here Ezekiel receives his "commission" to become a prophet. His primary mission is to present God's views to the children of Israel--even if they don't want to hear or heed those views. God warns Ezekiel that it won't be easy and that he won't be well received, but it is something that he must do. God promises to continue to give him guidance along the way ("open your mouth and eat what I give you"). The writings of Ezekiel are the first to use the expression "Son of man" as a title. According to Ezekiel, God often addressed him using that title. According to Daniel, God referred to him that way as well (Daniel 8:17). The New Testament gospels show that Jesus frequently used that title when referring to himself. That title implies a love for (and representation of) ALL people (mankind) without placing any restrictions whatsoever on one's definition of "neighbor."]
Now when I looked, there was a hand stretched out to me; and behold, a scroll of a book was in it. Then He spread it before me; and there was writing on the inside and on the outside, and written on it were lamentations and mourning and woe.
[3-hvn. God shows Ezekiel that to a large extent, he was going to be a "bearer of bad news" to his fellow countrymen in Babylon and Judea.]
Moreover He said to me, "Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel." So I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat that scroll. And He said to me, "Son of man, feed your belly, and fill your stomach with this scroll that I give you." So I ate it, and it was in my mouth like honey in sweetness. And He said to me: "Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with My words to them. For you are not sent to a people of unfamiliar speech and of hard language, but to the house of Israel, not to many people of unfamiliar speech and of hard language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely, had I sent you to them, they would have listened to you. But the house of Israel will not listen to you, because they will not listen to Me; for all the house of Israel are impudent and hard-hearted. Behold, I have made your face strong against their faces, and your forehead strong against their foreheads. Like adamant stone, harder than flint, I have made your forehead; do not be afraid of them, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they are a rebellious house." Moreover He said to me: "Son of man, receive into your heart all My words that I speak to you, and hear with your ears. And go, get to the captives, to the children of your people, and speak to them and tell them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD,' whether they hear, or whether they refuse."
[3-hvn. Evidently, Ezekiel liked the idea of becoming a prophet for God to His people ("honey and sweetness"). The author of St. John's Book of Revelation presented essentially the same scenario in Rev. 10:9-11, but there he added that although the mission tasted sweet, it "became bitter in his stomach" as time went on. As we will see, Ezekiel had good reason to feel the same way. God prepares Ezekiel for this by warning him in advance that he would encounter considerable opposition. ]
Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard behind me a great thunderous voice: "Blessed is the glory of the LORD from His place!" I also heard the noise of the wings of the living creatures that touched one another, and the noise of the wheels beside them, and a great thunderous noise. So the Spirit lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the LORD was strong upon me. Then I came to the captives at Tel Abib, who dwelt by the River Chebar; and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days.
[3-hnv. As you can see, Ezekiel also recognized the bitter aspects of his mission. Apparently, this vision left him in such an emotional jumble that it took him seven days to "collect himself" again.]
Now it came to pass at the end of seven days that the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: When I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man that the righteous should not sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; also you will have delivered your soul."
[3-hvn. God warns Ezekiel that if he doesn't present God's views to his fellow countrymen, he will be partly responsible for their deaths, but if he warns them and they ignore God's views and end up dying accordingly, then Ezekiel will at least have saved is own soul. In other words, "If you don't follow God's commandment to love your neighbors as yourself and tell the truth accordingly, then you won't be saved." What we have here is one the origins of the doctrine of forgiveness of sins for those who follow God's two most fundamental commandments (as opposed to the Levite doctrine that animal sacrifices are required for the forgiveness of sins).]
Then the hand of the LORD was upon me there, and He said to me, "Arise, go out into the plain, and there I shall talk with you." So I arose and went out into the plain, and behold, the glory of the LORD stood there, like the glory which I saw by the River Chebar; and I fell on my face. Then the Spirit entered me and set me on my feet, and spoke with me and said to me: "Go, shut yourself inside your house. And you, O son of man, surely they will put ropes on you and bind you with them, so that you cannot go out among them. I will make your tongue cling to the roof of your mouth, so that you shall be mute and not be one to rebuke them, for they are a rebellious house. But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD.' He who hears, let him hear; and he who refuses, let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house."
[2-hvn. So apparently, as warned by God, Ezekiel suffered a period of "muteness" while he mustered up the emotional strength he needed to get on with this mission.]
"You also, son of man, take a clay tablet and lay it before you, and portray on it a city, Jerusalem. Lay siege against it, build a siege wall against it, and heap up a mound against it; set camps against it also, and place battering rams against it all around. Moreover take for yourself an iron plate, and set it as an iron wall between you and the city. Set your face against it, and it shall be besieged, and you shall lay siege against it. This will be a sign to the house of Israel. Lie also on your left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it. According to the number of the days that you lie on it, you shall bear their iniquity. For I have laid on you the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days; so you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. And when you have completed them, lie again on your right side; then you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days. I have laid on you a day for each year. Therefore you shall set your face toward the siege of Jerusalem; your arm shall be uncovered, and you shall prophesy against it. And surely I will restrain you so that you cannot turn from one side to another till you have ended the days of your siege. Also take for yourself wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and spelt; put them into one vessel, and make bread of them for yourself. During the number of days that you lie on your side, three hundred and ninety days, you shall eat it. And your food which you eat shall be by weight, twenty shekels a day; from time to time you shall eat it. You shall also drink water by measure, one-sixth of a hin; from time to time you shall drink. And you shall eat it as barley cakes; and bake it using fuel of human waste in their sight." Then the LORD said, "So shall the children of Israel eat their defiled bread among the Gentiles, where I will drive them."
[3-hvn. Here God instructs Ezekiel to create a graphic demonstration to portray the impending siege of Jerusalem. The demonstration was to last 430 days and was to show that the residents of Jerusalem would become so desperately short of supplies that they would use human wastes to cook their food. Isaiah-1 performed a similar demonstration when he walked around naked for three years (Isaiah 20).]
So I said, "Ah, Lord GOD! Indeed I have never defiled myself from my youth till now; I have never eaten what died of itself or was torn by beasts, nor has abominable flesh ever come into my mouth." Then He said to me, "See, I am giving you cow dung instead of human waste, and you shall prepare your bread over it." Moreover He said to me, "Son of man, surely I will cut off the supply of bread in Jerusalem; they shall eat bread by weight and with anxiety, and shall drink water by measure and with dread, that they may lack bread and water, and be dismayed with one another, and waste away because of their iniquity."
[3-hvn. Ezekiel balked at the suggestion that he eat food cooked using human wastes, so God backed off a little and said he could use cow dung instead. Actually, even today, cow dung is used as a source of fuel in many parts of world. Anyhow, the purpose of this demonstration was to illustrate (in a manner that could not easily be ignored) just how bad it was going to get for the residents of Jerusalem if they continued to ignore God's commandments and put their faith instead in the selfish pride and the armaments of men.]
"And you, son of man, take a sharp sword, take it as a barber's razor, and pass it over your head and your beard; then take balances to weigh and divide the hair. You shall burn with fire one-third in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are finished; then you shall take one-third and strike around it with the sword, and one-third you shall scatter in the wind: I will draw out a sword after them. You shall also take a small number of them and bind them in the edge of your garment. Then take some of them again and throw them into the midst of the fire, and burn them in the fire; for from there a fire will go out into all the house of Israel. Thus says the Lord GOD: 'This is Jerusalem; I have set her in the midst of the nations and the countries all around her. She has rebelled against My judgments by doing wickedness more than the nations, and against My statutes more than the countries that are all around her; for they have refused My judgments, and they have not walked in My statutes.' Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: 'Because you have multiplied disobedience more than the nations that are all around you, have not walked in My statutes nor kept My judgments, nor even done according to the judgments of the nations that are all around you'--therefore thus says the Lord GOD: 'Indeed I, even I, am against you and will execute judgments in your midst in the sight of the nations. And I will do among you what I have never done, and the like of which I will never do again, because of all your abominations. Therefore fathers shall eat their sons in your midst, and sons shall eat their fathers; and I will execute judgments among you, and all of you who remain I will scatter to all the winds.
[3-hvn. Here God is predicting through Ezekiel that conditions in Jerusalem during the siege would become so dire that its residents would begin resorting to cannibalism--all because they ignored or rejected God's guiding principles of truth and love.]
Therefore, as I live,' says the Lord GOD, 'surely, because you have defiled My sanctuary with all your detestable things and with all your abominations, therefore I will also diminish you; My eye will not spare, nor will I have any pity. One-third of you shall die of the pestilence, and be consumed with famine in your midst; and one-third shall fall by the sword all around you; and I will scatter another third to all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them. Thus shall My anger be spent, and I will cause My fury to rest upon them, and I will be avenged; and they shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it in My zeal, when I have spent My fury upon them. Moreover I will make you a waste and a reproach among the nations that are all around you, in the sight of all who pass by. So it shall be a reproach, a taunt, a lesson, and astonishment to the nations that are all around you, when I execute judgments among you in anger and in fury and in furious rebukes. I, the LORD, have spoken. When I send against them the terrible arrows of famine which shall be for destruction, which I will send to destroy you, I will increase the famine upon you and cut off your supply of bread. So I will send against you famine and wild beasts, and they will bereave you. Pestilence and blood shall pass through you, and I will bring the sword against you. I, the LORD, have spoken.'"
[3-hvn. Notice that like Isaiah-1, Isaiah-2, and Jeremiah, Ezekiel still adheres to the Levite view of God as being an executor of evil as well as good. Notice also the allegorical use of Ezekiel's hair to represent proportionately how most of the residents of Jerusalem would die. It was a common practice in those days to shave one's head as a sign of mourning for those who have died. Although new hairs and people would grow to take their place, those particular hairs and people would be "cut off" forever.]
Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying: "Son of man, set your face toward the mountains of Israel, and prophesy against them, and say, 'O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord GOD!' Thus says the Lord GOD to the mountains, to the hills, to the ravines, and to the valleys: "Indeed I, even I, will bring a sword against you, and I will destroy your high places. Then your altars shall be desolate, your incense altars shall be broken, and I will cast down your slain men before your idols. And I will lay the corpses of the children of Israel before their idols, and I will scatter your bones all around your altars. In all your dwelling places the cities shall be laid waste, and the high places shall be desolate, so that your altars may be laid waste and made desolate, your idols may be broken and made to cease, your incense altars may be cut down, and your works may be abolished. The slain shall fall in your midst, and you shall know that I am the LORD.
[1-hvn. This can be interpreted literally as an expression of God's vengeance against the Israelites for their unfaithfulness,]
[3-hvn. But this was also intended to be interpreted allegorically as indicated by the expression "set your face toward the mountains of Israel, and prophesy against them." Why would one be instructed to literally prophesy against some mountains? Well, in the biblical allegorical scheme established by the authors of Genesis, "mountains", "hills", and "ravines" can be viewed as part of the "earth" of mankind's perceptions of popular truths. The alters, idols, and ritual "high places" are merely ornaments to support the worship of such popular but ungodly myths. In a spiritual sense, it was those myths that God would actually destroy and make desolate (which He has done.)]
"Yet I will leave a remnant, so that you may have some who escape the sword among the nations, when you are scattered through the countries. Then those of you who escape will remember Me among the nations where they are carried captive, because I was crushed by their adulterous heart which has departed from Me, and by their eyes which play the harlot after their idols; they will loathe themselves for the evils which they committed in all their abominations. And they shall know that I am the LORD; I have not said in vain that I would bring this calamity upon them. 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Pound your fists and stamp your feet, and say, 'Alas, for all the evil abominations of the house of Israel! For they shall fall by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence. He who is far off shall die by the pestilence, he who is near shall fall by the sword, and he who remains and is besieged shall die by the famine. Thus will I spend My fury upon them. Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when their slain men are among their idols all around their altars, on every high hill, on all the mountaintops, under every green tree, and under every thick oak, wherever they offered sweet incense to all their idols. So I will stretch out My hand against them and make the land desolate, yes, more desolate than the wilderness toward Diblah, in all their habitations. Then they shall know that I am the LORD.'"'"
[3-hvn. Like the three Isaiahs and Jeremiah, Ezekiel foresees through God's guidance that a remnant of the Israelites will survive, and that although they were to become dispersed throughout many countries, a good number of them would eventually return to Jerusalem and "the Promised Land." The "Promised Land" is normally thought to literally refer the area of land in the Middle East known as Israel or Palestine, but in the allegorical scheme devised by the authors of Genesis and enhanced by subsequent authors of the Old and New Testaments, the "Promised Land" represents the spiritual "Kingdom of God on Earth" as taught by Jesus Christ and is therefore not specifically tied to any particular piece of real estate.]
Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "And you, son of man, thus says the Lord GOD to the land of Israel: 'An end! The end has come upon the four corners of the land. Now the end has come upon you, and I will send My anger against you; I will judge you according to your ways, and I will repay you for all your abominations. My eye will not spare you, nor will I have pity; but I will repay your ways, and your abominations will be in your midst; then you shall know that I am the LORD!' Thus says the Lord GOD: 'A disaster, a singular disaster; behold, it has come! An end has come, the end has come; it has dawned for you; behold, it has come! Doom has come to you, you who dwell in the land; the time has come, a day of trouble is near, and not of rejoicing in the mountains. Now upon you I will soon pour out My fury, and spend My anger upon you; I will judge you according to your ways, and I will repay you for all your abominations. My eye will not spare, nor will I have pity; I will repay you according to your ways, and your abominations will be in your midst. Then you shall know that I am the LORD who strikes. Behold, the day! Behold, it has come! Doom has gone out; the rod has blossomed, pride has budded. Violence has risen up into a rod of wickedness; none of them shall remain, none of their multitude, none of them; nor shall there be wailing for them. The time has come, the day draws near. 'Let not the buyer rejoice, nor the seller mourn, for wrath is on their whole multitude. For the seller shall not return to what has been sold, though he may still be alive; for the vision concerns the whole multitude, and it shall not turn back; no one will strengthen himself who lives in iniquity. They have blown the trumpet and made everyone ready, but no one goes to battle; for My wrath is on all their multitude. The sword is outside, and the pestilence and famine within. Whoever is in the field will die by the sword; and whoever is in the city, famine and pestilence will devour him. Those who survive will escape and be on the mountains like doves of the valleys, all of them mourning, each for his iniquity. Every hand will be feeble, and every knee will be as weak as water. They will also be girded with sackcloth; horror will cover them; shame will be on every face, baldness on all their heads. They will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will be like refuse; their silver and their gold will not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the LORD; they will not satisfy their souls, nor fill their stomachs, because it became their stumbling block of iniquity. As for the beauty of his ornaments, he set it in majesty; but they made from it the images of their abominations--their detestable things; therefore I have made it like refuse to them. I will give it as plunder into the hands of strangers, and to the wicked of the earth as spoil; and they shall defile it. I will turn My face from them, and they will defile My secret place; for robbers shall enter it and defile it.'"
[2-hvn. Evidently, Ezekiel's graphic demonstration of Jerusalem's impending fate failed to convince his fellow Judeans to repent and change their ways. So here Ezekiel portrays God as "turning up the heat."]
"'Make a chain, for the land is filled with crimes of blood, and the city is full of violence. Therefore I will bring the worst of the Gentiles, and they will possess their houses; I will cause the pomp of the strong to cease, and their holy places shall be defiled. Destruction comes; they will seek peace, but there shall be none. Disaster will come upon disaster, and rumor will be upon rumor. Then they will seek a vision from a prophet; but the law will perish from the priest, and counsel from the elders. The king will mourn, the prince will be clothed with desolation, and the hands of the common people will tremble. I will do to them according to their way, and according to what they deserve I will judge them; then they shall know that I am the LORD!'"
[3-hvn. Ezekiel's writings frequently end with the expression, "then they shall know that I am the LORD!" But as recorded later on in his writings, that didn't really happen. Even after Jerusalem and King Solomon's Temple were utterly destroyed, just as Jeremiah and Ezekiel had predicted, many of their Judean contemporaries still refused to believe their claim that God had played a key role in that destruction. Or to put it another way, even though their dire predictions regarding Judea and Jerusalem came true, they were still experiencing credibility problems with their attempts to "sell" the Levite teaching that God is a perpetrator of evil as well as good. Jesus recognized this problem with their teachings (Luke 9:51-56). Allegorically, Satan (or more specifically Satan's teachings) had yet to be thrown out of heaven (mankind's perceptions of God) in Old Testament times.]
And it came to pass in the sixth year, in the sixth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I sat in my house with the elders of Judah sitting before me, that the hand of the Lord GOD fell upon me there. Then I looked, and there was a likeness, like the appearance of fire--from the appearance of His waist and downward, fire; and from His waist and upward, like the appearance of brightness, like the color of amber. He stretched out the form of a hand, and took me by a lock of my hair; and the Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven, and brought me in visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the north gate of the inner court, where the seat of the image of jealousy was, which provokes to jealousy.
[2-hvn. Evidently, Ezekiel's hair had grown back by then. The fact that the "elders of Judah" were sitting before him" indicates that he was beginning to be recognized by his fellow exiles as a legitimate prophet of God.]
[3-hvn. Being lifted up "between heaven and earth" allegorically implies that he was being placed in a position between mankind's perceptions of God ("heaven") and mankind's perceptions of popular truths ("earth").]
And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, like the vision that I saw in the plain. Then He said to me, "Son of man, lift your eyes now toward the north." So I lifted my eyes toward the north, and there, north of the altar gate, was this image of jealousy in the entrance. Furthermore He said to me, "Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations that the house of Israel commits here, to make Me go far away from My sanctuary? Now turn again, you will see greater abominations."
[3-hvn. The north gate was the gate the priests used to approach the brass alter in the "priests' court". But to get there, they had to pass through the "peoples' court" where an idol had been positioned near the entrance. Later in this chapter, this idol is identified as representing "Tammuz", a Babylonian god representing the yearly cycle of the seasons and the crops (i.e. a "wheel"). According to this vision, God was jealous that the Judeans were giving credit to Tammuz rather than Him for the seasonal cycles, and to add insult to injury, they were doing so in King Solomon's Temple, which was supposedly built and dedicated for the sole purpose of worshipping Him.]
So He brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, there was a hole in the wall. Then He said to me, "Son of man, dig into the wall"; and when I dug into the wall, there was a door. And He said to me, "Go in, and see the wicked abominations which they are doing there." So I went in and saw, and there-- every sort of creeping thing, abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed all around on the walls. And there stood before them seventy men of the elders of the house of Israel, and in their midst stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan. Each man had a censer in his hand, and a thick cloud of incense went up. Then He said to me, "Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the room of his idols? For they say, 'The LORD does not see us, the LORD has forsaken the land.'"
[3-hvn. No wonder God was jealous and angry. Jeremiah made similar comments regarding what was going on in the Temple. The Levites who were running the Temple had apparently "sold out" to promoting whatever myths would bring them an income. Hmmmm. Doesn't that sound familiar in today's world? In how many churches have you seen an American flag prominently displayed? As I have shown in earlier articles on this web site, national flags represent the myth or religion of "national sovereignty", the BLOODIEST idol ever created by man! It's one of Satan's most successful tools for diverting people's attention and allegiance AWAY from following God's Holy Spirit of Truth and Love.]
And He said to me, "Turn again, and you will see greater abominations that they are doing." So He brought me to the door of the north gate of the LORD'S house; and to my dismay, women were sitting there weeping for Tammuz. Then He said to me, "Have you seen this, O son of man? Turn again, you will see greater abominations than these." So He brought me into the inner court of the LORD'S house; and there, at the door of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men with their backs toward the temple of the LORD and their faces toward the east, and they were worshiping the sun toward the east. Then He said to me, "Have you seen this, O son of man? Is it a trivial thing to the house of Judah to commit the abominations which they commit here? For they have filled the land with violence; then they have returned to provoke Me to anger. Indeed they put the branch to their nose. Therefore I also will act in fury. My eye will not spare nor will I have pity; and though they cry in My ears with a loud voice, I will not hear them."
[3-hnv. Evidently, the Egyptian sun god "Ra" was still popular among the Judeans, despite the teachings of Moses and the fact that centuries had passed since the Israelites left Egypt.]
Then He called out in my hearing with a loud voice, saying, "Let those who have charge over the city draw near, each with a deadly weapon in his hand." And suddenly six men came from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with his battle-ax in his hand. One man among them was clothed with linen and had a writer's inkhorn at his side. They went in and stood beside the bronze altar. Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub, where it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer's inkhorn at his side; and the LORD said to him, "Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it." To the others He said in my hearing, "Go after him through the city and kill; do not let your eye spare, nor have any pity. Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women; but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary." So they began with the elders who were before the temple. Then He said to them, "Defile the temple, and fill the courts with the slain. Go out!" And they went out and killed in the city.
[3-hvn. Jesus made essentially the same point in his parable about separating the "tares from the wheat" (Matthew 13). This process is also described in various parts of St. John's Book of Revelation. It means that at some point in the future a separation will occur between those who truly have faith in God and those who only CLAIM to have faith in God (or deny God's existence altogether). And this separation will begin in the so-called "church." Those who truly have faith in God will survive (spiritually, at least), and those who don't--won't. Notice that it will be mortal men who will do the actual killing (the number 6 allegorically represents man or man-made things, because man was created on the 6th day in Genesis). To some extent, this actually did happen when the Babylonians sacked Judea. Many Judeans died, but Daniel, Ezekiel, and other "good figs" were spared. Likewise, when the Romans sacked Jerusalem in 70 AD, many Jews died, but Josephus was spared, as were many early Christians. And, of course, it can happen again!]
So it was, that while they were killing them, I was left alone; and I fell on my face and cried out, and said, "Ah, Lord GOD! Will You destroy all the remnant of Israel in pouring out Your fury on Jerusalem?" Then He said to me, "The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great, and the land is full of bloodshed, and the city full of perversity; for they say, 'The LORD has forsaken the land, and the LORD does not see!' And as for Me also, My eye will neither spare, nor will I have pity, but I will recompense their deeds on their own head." Just then, the man clothed with linen, who had the inkhorn at his side, reported back and said, "I have done as You commanded me."
[3-hvn. Here, like Jeremiah, Ezekiel reveals that a righteous remnant of the Judeans will physically and spiritually survive the wrath of God's vengeance on Israel and Judah.]
And I looked, and there in the firmament that was above the head of the cherubim, there appeared something like a sapphire stone, having the appearance of the likeness of a throne. Then He spoke to the man clothed with linen, and said, "Go in among the wheels, under the cherub, fill your hands with coals of fire from among the cherubim, and scatter them over the city." And he went in as I watched. Now the cherubim were standing on the south side of the temple when the man went in, and the cloud filled the inner court. Then the glory of the LORD went up from the cherub, and paused over the threshold of the temple; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the LORD'S glory. And the sound of the wings of the cherubim was heard even in the outer court, like the voice of Almighty God when He speaks. Then it happened, when He commanded the man clothed in linen, saying, "Take fire from among the wheels, from among the cherubim," that he went in and stood beside the wheels. And the cherub stretched out his hand from among the cherubim to the fire that was among the cherubim, and took some of it and put it into the hands of the man clothed with linen, who took it and went out.
[3-hvn. The allegorical interpretation of Ezekiel's vision in chapters 1 through 3 above applies to this chapter as well. The "coals of fire" symbolize the way God's guiding principles of truth and love tend to "burn away" the ungodly criteria and myths dreamed up by men. This will occur first within the so-called "church."]
The cherubim appeared to have the form of a man's hand under their wings. And when I looked, there were four wheels by the cherubim, one wheel by one cherub and another wheel by each other cherub; the wheels appeared to have the color of a beryl stone. As for their appearance, all four looked alike--as it were, a wheel in the middle of a wheel. When they went, they went toward any of their four directions; they did not turn aside when they went, but followed in the direction the head was facing. They did not turn aside when they went. And their whole body, with their back, their hands, their wings, and the wheels that the four had, were full of eyes all around.
[3-hvn. After ungodly criteria and myths have been purged from your heart and mind, you can begin to "see all around" or to "see outside the box" of your previously limited perceptions.]
As for the wheels, they were called in my hearing, "Wheel." Each one had four faces: the first face was the face of a cherub [resembling an ox?], the second face the face of a man, the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle. And the cherubim were lifted up. This was the living creature I saw by the River Chebar. When the cherubim went, the wheels went beside them; and when the cherubim lifted their wings to mount up from the earth, the same wheels also did not turn from beside them. When the cherubim stood still, the wheels stood still, and when one was lifted up, the other lifted itself up, for the spirit of the living creature was in them. Then the glory of the LORD departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim. And the cherubim lifted their wings and mounted up from the earth in my sight. When they went out, the wheels were beside them; and they stood at the door of the east gate of the LORD'S house, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them. This is the living creature I saw under the God of Israel by the River Chebar, and I knew they were cherubim. Each one had four faces and each one four wings, and the likeness of the hands of a man was under their wings. And the likeness of their faces was the same as the faces which I had seen by the River Chebar, their appearance and their persons. They each went straightforward.
[3-hvn. Again, they were following the Holy Spirit in unison, wherever it would lead them.]
Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the east gate of the LORD'S house, which faces eastward; and there at the door of the gate were twenty-five men, among whom I saw Jaazaniah the son of Azzur, and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah, princes of the people. And He said to me: "Son of man, these are the men who devise iniquity and give wicked counsel in this city, who say, 'The time is not near to build houses; this city is the caldron, and we are the meat.' Therefore prophesy against them, prophesy, O son of man!" Then the Spirit of the LORD fell upon me, and said to me, "Speak! 'Thus says the LORD: "Thus you have said, O house of Israel; for I know the things that come into your mind. You have multiplied your slain in this city, and you have filled its streets with the slain. 'Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "Your slain whom you have laid in its midst, they are the meat, and this city is the caldron; but I shall bring you out of the midst of it. You have feared the sword; and I will bring a sword upon you," says the Lord GOD. "And I will bring you out of its midst, and deliver you into the hands of strangers, and execute judgments on you. You shall fall by the sword. I will judge you at the border of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the LORD. This city shall not be your caldron, nor shall you be the meat in its midst. I will judge you at the border of Israel. And you shall know that I am the LORD; for you have not walked in My statutes nor executed My judgments, but have done according to the customs of the Gentiles which are all around you."'"
[2-hvn. The "east gate" area of the temple is where the princes of Judea administered the affairs of government (tried cases, etc.). The expression "this city is the caldron, and we are the meat" is apparently in reference to one of Jeremiah's allegorical prophesies (Jer 1:13) and is used here to express the idea that although they were hurting, they were essentially safe (protected by the walls of the city) from the Babylonian invasion. Here God through Ezekiel accused them of having unjustly executed quite a few of their fellow Judeans (clearly violating God's commandment to love their neighbors as themselves). As it turned out, many of those princes ended up being executed by the Babylonians at Riblah near the border of Israel after they fled from Jerusalem with king Zedekiah.]
Now it happened, while I was prophesying, that Pelatiah the son of Benaiah died. Then I fell on my face and cried with a loud voice, and said, "Ah, Lord GOD! Will You make a complete end of the remnant of Israel?" Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, your brethren, your relatives, your countrymen, and all the house of Israel in its entirety, are those about whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, 'Get far away from the LORD; this land has been given to us as a possession.' Therefore say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Although I have cast them far off among the Gentiles, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet I shall be a little sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone."' Therefore say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel."' And they will go there, and they will take away all its detestable things and all its abominations from there. Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose hearts follow the desire for their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their deeds on their own heads," says the Lord GOD.
[2-hvn. Like Jeremiah, Ezekiel predicted that the dispersed remnants of the Israelites would eventually return to Judea to rebuild Jerusalem, and that those who returned would be more loyal to God than their forefathers had been. He also assured them that God was with them in those foreign lands (i.e. not just in the Temple in Jerusalem).]
Then the cherubim lifted up their wings, with the wheels beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel was high above them. And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain, which is on the east side of the city. Then the Spirit took me up and brought me in a vision by the Spirit of God into Chaldea, to those in captivity. And the vision that I had seen went up from me. So I spoke to those in captivity of all the things the LORD had shown me.
[3-hvn. The mountain on the east side of the Jerusalem is the Mount of Olives where Jesus spent the night before his crucifixion (and where he ascended to heaven). The point of this part of the vision is that the Spirit of God "has left the city." Since the sun rises in the east, the east is often used allegorically in the Bible to represent the direction from which insights or revelations from God come (e.g. They finally "saw the light."). Consider Rev 7:2, "Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea..." Also, consider Rev 16:12, "Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared."]
Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying: "Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, which has eyes to see but does not see, and ears to hear but does not hear; for they are a rebellious house. Therefore, son of man, prepare your belongings for captivity, and go into captivity by day in their sight. You shall go from your place into captivity to another place in their sight. It may be that they will consider, though they are a rebellious house. By day you shall bring out your belongings in their sight, as though going into captivity; and at evening you shall go in their sight, like those who go into captivity. Dig through the wall in their sight, and carry your belongings out through it. In their sight you shall bear them on your shoulders and carry them out at twilight; you shall cover your face, so that you cannot see the ground, for I have made you a sign to the house of Israel."
[3-hvn. "Dig through the wall in their sight." Allegorically, God through Ezekiel are viewing things in terms of the Judean's perceptions (or lack of perception). Jesus encountered the same problem with the Judeans of his day. Here Ezekiel is told to try to "get through to them" by demonstrating what it will be like to go into captivity. Jesus attempted to "get through to them" by sacrificing himself on a cross that symbolized the intersection of God's guiding principles of truth and love. Unfortunately for the Judeans in both cases, the points that these representatives of God were stressing were largely ignored.]
So I did as I was commanded. I brought out my belongings by day, as though going into captivity, and at evening I dug through the wall with my hand. I brought them out at twilight, and I bore them on my shoulder in their sight. And in the morning the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, has not the house of Israel, the rebellious house, said to you, 'What are you doing?' Say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "This burden concerns the prince in Jerusalem and all the house of Israel who are among them."' Say, 'I am a sign to you. As I have done, so shall it be done to them; they shall be carried away into captivity.' And the prince who is among them shall bear his belongings on his shoulder at twilight and go out. They shall dig through the wall to carry them out through it. He shall cover his face, so that he cannot see the ground with his eyes. I will also spread My net over him, and he shall be caught in My snare. I will bring him to Babylon, to the land of the Chaldeans; yet he shall not see it, though he shall die there.
[2-hvn. The "prince" in this case was King Zedekiah who had his eyes taken out in Riblah before he was taken as a captive to Babylon. So even though he ended up in Babylon, he never actually "saw" Babylon. It's possible that this portion of the text may have been added "after the fact."]
"I will scatter to every wind all who are around him to help him, and all his troops; and I will draw out the sword after them. Then they shall know that I am the LORD, when I scatter them among the nations and disperse them throughout the countries. But I will spare a few of their men from the sword, from famine, and from pestilence, that they may declare all their abominations among the Gentiles wherever they go. Then they shall know that I am the LORD."
[2-hvn. And that's essentially what happened.]
Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, eat your bread with quaking, and drink your water with trembling and anxiety. And say to the people of the land, 'Thus says the Lord GOD to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the land of Israel: "They shall eat their bread with anxiety, and drink their water with dread, so that her land may be emptied of all who are in it, because of the violence of all those who dwell in it. Then the cities that are inhabited shall be laid waste, and the land shall become desolate; and you shall know that I am the LORD."'"
[2-hvn. Ezekiel "tried everything" to convince them, but to no avail.]
And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, what is this proverb that you people have about the land of Israel, which says, 'The days are prolonged, and every vision fails'? Tell them therefore, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "I will lay this proverb to rest, and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel." But say to them, "The days are at hand, and the fulfillment of every vision. For no more shall there be any false vision or flattering divination within the house of Israel. For I am the LORD. I speak, and the word which I speak will come to pass; it will no more be postponed; for in your days, O rebellious house, I will say the word and perform it," says the Lord GOD.'" Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, look, the house of Israel is saying, 'The vision that he sees is for many days from now, and he prophesies of times far off.' Therefore say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "None of My words will be postponed any more, but the word which I speak will be done," says the Lord GOD.'"
[2-hvn. Ezekiel was ideologically competing against fellow Judeans who were making a living as "soothsayers"--not unlike some of our religious and ideological leaders today. Actually, under those circumstances, one didn't need to be a genius or a prophet to recognize that Jerusalem was about fall. But the people within Jerusalem's walls apparently "believed their own lies too much." It was that lack of concern for truth and love that led King Zedekiah to rebel against Babylonian rule in the first place, and it was rebellion for the selfish sake of "Judean national sovereignty" that led to the destruction of Jerusalem (twice).]
And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who prophesy, and say to those who prophesy out of their own heart, 'Hear the word of the LORD!'" Thus says the Lord GOD: "Woe to the foolish prophets, who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! O Israel, your prophets are like foxes in the deserts. You have not gone up into the gaps to build a wall for the house of Israel to stand in battle on the day of the LORD. They have envisioned futility and false divination, saying, 'Thus says the LORD!' But the LORD has not sent them; yet they hope that the word may be confirmed. Have you not seen a futile vision, and have you not spoken false divination? You say, 'The LORD says,' but I have not spoken."
[2-hvn. Like Jeremiah, Ezekiel makes it clear that just because a person claims to be a prophet of God and says, "Hear the world of the LORD", that doesn't necessarily mean that they truly represent God. The criteria provided by God for telling the difference are His two most fundamental commandments (Matthew 22:37-40).]
Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "Because you have spoken nonsense and envisioned lies, therefore I am indeed against you," says the Lord GOD. "My hand will be against the prophets who envision futility and who divine lies; they shall not be in the assembly of My people, nor be written in the record of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord GOD. Because, indeed, because they have seduced My people, saying, 'Peace!' when there is no peace--and one builds a wall, and they plaster it with untempered mortar--say to those who plaster it with untempered mortar, that it will fall. There will be flooding rain, and you, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall tear it down. Surely, when the wall has fallen, will it not be said to you, 'Where is the mortar with which you plastered it?' Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "I will cause a stormy wind to break forth in My fury; and there shall be a flooding rain in My anger, and great hailstones in fury to consume it. So I will break down the wall you have plastered with untempered mortar, and bring it down to the ground, so that its foundation will be uncovered; it will fall, and you shall be consumed in the midst of it. Then you shall know that I am the LORD. Thus will I accomplish My wrath on the wall and on those who have plastered it with untempered mortar; and I will say to you, 'The wall is no more, nor those who plastered it, that is, the prophets of Israel who prophesy concerning Jerusalem, and who see visions of peace for her when there is no peace,'" says the Lord GOD.
[3-hvn. Allegorically, the "wall" that Ezekiel is referring to represents the false system of beliefs that those so-called "prophets" had devised to attract financial support from their followers. They were giving them a false spirit of confidence in man-made armaments and creating "visions of peace ...where there is no peace." In our present world, television evangelists who promote the worship of "national sovereignty" while falsely claiming to represent God are committing the same kind of sin. The "untempered mortar" allegorically refers to bold claims and assumptions that have never been tested to see if they could "hold up" when exposed to the rain or light of reality.]
"Likewise, son of man, set your face against the daughters of your people, who prophesy out of their own heart; prophesy against them, and say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Woe to the women who sew magic charms on their sleeves and make veils for the heads of people of every height to hunt souls! Will you hunt the souls of My people, and keep yourselves alive? And will you profane Me among My people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, killing people who should not die, and keeping people alive who should not live, by your lying to My people who listen to lies?" Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I am against your magic charms by which you hunt souls there like birds. I will tear them from your arms, and let the souls go, the souls you hunt like birds. I will also tear off your veils and deliver My people out of your hand, and they shall no longer be as prey in your hand. Then you shall know that I am the LORD."' Because with lies you have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and you have strengthened the hands of the wicked, so that he does not turn from his wicked way to save his life. Therefore you shall no longer envision futility nor practice divination; for I will deliver My people out of your hand, and you shall know that I am the LORD."
[2-hvn. This shows how God views those who falsely claim to represent Him while teaching people to put their faith in "magic" or alleged "supernatural powers" rather than God's two most fundamental commandments. Many of our nation's television evangelists are guilty of doing this as well, especially those who promise their followers that they will "escape the tribulation" by being "taken up in a blink of an eye" in a supernatural "rapture."]
Now some of the elders of Israel came to me and sat before me. And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts, and put before them that which causes them to stumble into iniquity. Should I let Myself be inquired of at all by them? Therefore speak to them, and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Everyone of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, and puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the LORD will answer him who comes, according to the multitude of his idols, that I may seize the house of Israel by their heart, because they are all estranged from Me by their idols. Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Repent, turn away from your idols, and turn your faces away from all your abominations. For anyone of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell in Israel, who separates himself from Me and sets up his idols in his heart and puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, then comes to a prophet to inquire of him concerning Me, I the LORD will answer him by Myself. I will set My face against that man and make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of My people. Then you shall know that I am the LORD.'"
[2-hvn. It's clear that many of the "good figs" who were deported along with Ezekiel brought their idol-worshipping practices with them. Evidently, they didn't agree with Ezekiel's' contention that the reason were living as captives was because God was punishing them for engaging in such ungodly practices. Here God says through Ezekiel that such people would be "cut off from the midst of My people", and in a way they (or their descendants) really were "cut off" when they chose to remain in Babylon rather than return to Judea after the Babylonian Empire fell. Those people kind of "disappeared from history" thereafter.]
"And if the prophet is induced to speak anything, I the LORD have induced that prophet, and I will stretch out My hand against him and destroy him from among My people Israel. And they shall bear their iniquity; the punishment of the prophet shall be the same as the punishment of the one who inquired, that the house of Israel may no longer stray from Me, nor be profaned anymore with all their transgressions, but that they may be My people and I may be their God," says the Lord GOD.'"
[3-hvn. Here God is saying through Ezekiel that He actually plays deceptive tricks on those who refuse to follow his guidance. It's kind of like "giving them enough rope to hang themselves."]
The word of the LORD came again to me, saying: "Son of man, when a land sins against Me by persistent unfaithfulness, I will stretch out My hand against it; I will cut off its supply of bread, send famine on it, and cut off man and beast from it. Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness," says the Lord GOD. If I cause wild beasts to pass through the land, and they empty it, and make it so desolate that no man may pass through because of the beasts, even though these three men were in it, as I live," says the Lord GOD, "they would deliver neither sons nor daughters; only they would be delivered, and the land would be desolate. Or if I bring a sword on that land, and say, 'Sword, go through the land,' and I cut off man and beast from it, even though these three men were in it, as I live," says the Lord GOD, "they would deliver neither sons nor daughters, but only they themselves would be delivered. Or if I send a pestilence into that land and pour out My fury on it in blood, and cut off from it man and beast, even though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live," says the Lord GOD, "they would deliver neither son nor daughter; they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness."
[2-hvn. Here God is saying that even if there were a few righteous men among the Judeans, that would not spare the Judeans in general from suffering God's wrath and judgment. The fact that Daniel is mentioned here is interesting, because it shows that Daniel had already established a reputation as an unusually righteous and powerful man even though he was still fairly young.]
For thus says the Lord GOD: "How much more it shall be when I send My four severe judgments on Jerusalem--the sword and famine and wild beasts and pestilence--to cut off man and beast from it? Yet behold, there shall be left in it a remnant that will be brought out, both sons and daughters; surely they will come out to you, and you will see their ways and their doings. Then you will be comforted concerning the disaster that I have brought upon Jerusalem, indeed all that I have brought upon it. And they will comfort you, when you see their ways and their doings; and you shall know that I have done nothing without cause that I have done in it," says the LORD GOD.
[3-hvn. Here God's "four severe judgments" are like the "four horsemen of the Apocalypse" in Revelation 6. The "sword" represents widespread death by war (the red horse). The "famine" represents widespread death by hunger due to extremely short supplies of food for everyone but the wealthy (the black horse). The "wild beasts" represent popular but uncontrollable (and often deadly) spirits like the "spirit of national sovereignty" (the white horse). The "pestilence" represents widespread death by plagues (the pale horse). But again, Ezekiel promises that a remnant will survive.]
Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: "Son of man, how is the wood of the vine better than any other wood, the vine branch which is among the trees of the forest? Is wood taken from it to make any object? Or can men make a peg from it to hang any vessel on? Instead, it is thrown into the fire for fuel; the fire devours both ends of it, and its middle is burned. Is it useful for any work? Indeed, when it was whole, no object could be made from it. How much less will it be useful for any work when the fire has devoured it, and it is burned? Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: 'Like the wood of the vine among the trees of the forest, which I have given to the fire for fuel, so I will give up the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will set My face against them. They will go out from one fire, but another fire shall devour them. Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I set My face against them. Thus I will make the land desolate, because they have persisted in unfaithfulness,' says the Lord GOD."
[3-hvn. The biological "race" of Hebrews (though far from pure) was often referred to allegorically as a "vine" in Old Testament writings. Here God through Ezekiel is saying in effect, that the whole idea of a Hebrew "race" is useless (as well as ungodly) and that he was about to bring an end to it. Unfortunately (for billions of people), Ezra reinstituted the satanically inspired doctrine of Hebrew racism when he returned from Babylon after the exile.]
Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations, and say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD to Jerusalem: "Your birth and your nativity are from the land of Canaan; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. As for your nativity, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed in water to cleanse you; you were not rubbed with salt nor swathed in swaddling cloths. No eye pitied you, to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you; but you were thrown out into the open field, when you yourself were loathed on the day you were born."
[3-hvn. Here God through Ezekiel throws even more jabs at the doctrine of Hebrew racism. The Amorite father may be referring to the fact that were it not for the extraordinary efforts on the (non-Hebrew) Tamar to become pregnant by Judah, there would have been no lineage leading to King David. The Hittite mother was probably referring to Bathsheba whose son Solomon succeeded David and went on to became ancient Israel's wisest and most successful King. As I have shown in earlier articles on this web site, MANY of Old Testament authors threw allegorical jabs at the doctrine of Hebrew racism. Nevertheless, that ungodly doctrine is still widely observed and practiced today.]
"And when I passed by you and saw you struggling in your own blood, I said to you in your blood, 'Live!' Yes, I said to you in your blood, 'Live!' I made you thrive like a plant in the field; and you grew, matured, and became very beautiful. Your breasts were formed, your hair grew, but you were naked and bare. When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine," says the Lord GOD. Then I washed you in water; yes, I thoroughly washed off your blood, and I anointed you with oil. I clothed you in embroidered cloth and gave you sandals of badger skin; I clothed you with fine linen and covered you with silk. I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your wrists, and a chain on your neck. And I put a jewel in your nose, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth. You ate pastry of fine flour, honey, and oil. You were exceedingly beautiful, and succeeded to royalty. Your fame went out among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through My splendor which I had bestowed on you," says the Lord GOD.
[3-hvn. Here God through Ezekiel is claiming credit for Israel's successes (apparently by referring to the reign of King Solomon).]
"But you trusted in your own beauty, played the harlot because of your fame, and poured out your harlotry on everyone passing by who would have it. You took some of your garments and adorned multicolored high places for yourself, and played the harlot on them. Such things should not happen, nor be. You have also taken your beautiful jewelry from My gold and My silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself male images and played the harlot with them. You took your embroidered garments and covered them, and you set My oil and My incense before them. Also My food which I gave you--the pastry of fine flour, oil, and honey which I fed you--you set it before them as sweet incense; and so it was," says the Lord GOD. Moreover you took your sons and your daughters, whom you bore to Me, and these you sacrificed to them to be devoured. Were your acts of harlotry a small matter, that you have slain My children and offered them up to them by causing them to pass through the fire? And in all your abominations and acts of harlotry you did not remember the days of your youth, when you were naked and bare, struggling in your blood. Then it was so, after all your wickedness--' Woe, woe to you!' says the Lord GOD--that you also built for yourself a shrine, and made a high place for yourself in every street. You built your high places at the head of every road, and made your beauty to be abhorred. You offered yourself to everyone who passed by, and multiplied your acts of harlotry. You also committed harlotry with the Egyptians, your very fleshly neighbors, and increased your acts of harlotry to provoke Me to anger."
[2-hvn. Although King Solomon allowed some shrines to be erected to appease some of his foreign-born wives, it was Solomon's successors in Judah and the Northern Kingdom who allowed idol worshipping to become widespread, even in King Solomon's Temple. Sacrificing children was a religious practice of the followers of the Canaanite god Moloch; it shows how morally depraved some religious leaders can get. The practice of fire walking was to demonstrate faith and courage, but it may have also symbolized the purging of evil spirits from a person in much the same way as the Christian practice of baptism symbolizes the purging of evil spirits and values from one's heart and mind.]
"Behold, therefore, I stretched out My hand against you, diminished your allotment, and gave you up to the will of those who hate you, the daughters of the Philistines, who were ashamed of your lewd behavior. You also played the harlot with the Assyrians, because you were insatiable; indeed you played the harlot with them and still were not satisfied. Moreover you multiplied your acts of harlotry as far as the land of the trader, Chaldea; and even then you were not satisfied. How degenerate is your heart!" says the Lord GOD, "seeing you do all these things, the deeds of a brazen harlot. You erected your shrine at the head of every road, and built your high place in every street. Yet you were not like a harlot, because you scorned payment. You are an adulterous wife, who takes strangers instead of her husband. Men make payment to all harlots, but you made your payments to all your lovers, and hired them to come to you from all around for your harlotry. You are the opposite of other women in your harlotry, because no one solicited you to be a harlot. In that you gave payment but no payment was given you, therefore you are the opposite." 'Now then, O harlot, hear the word of the LORD! 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Because your filthiness was poured out and your nakedness uncovered in your harlotry with your lovers, and with all your abominable idols, and because of the blood of your children which you gave to them, surely, therefore, I will gather all your lovers with whom you took pleasure, all those you loved, and all those you hated; I will gather them from all around against you and will uncover your nakedness to them, that they may see all your nakedness. And I will judge you as women who break wedlock or shed blood are judged; I will bring blood upon you in fury and jealousy. I will also give you into their hand, and they shall throw down your shrines and break down your high places. They shall also strip you of your clothes, take your beautiful jewelry, and leave you naked and bare. They shall also bring up an assembly against you, and they shall stone you with stones and thrust you through with their swords. They shall burn your houses with fire, and execute judgments on you in the sight of many women; and I will make you cease playing the harlot, and you shall no longer hire lovers. So I will lay to rest My fury toward you, and My jealousy shall depart from you. I will be quiet, and be angry no more. Because you did not remember the days of your youth, but agitated Me with all these things, surely I will also recompense your deeds on your own head," says the Lord GOD. "And you shall not commit lewdness in addition to all your abominations."
[2-hvn. God through Ezekiel is really "turning up the heat" here to convince the Judeans that their ways had been really sinful and disgusting. By now, allegorical references to Jerusalem as being a "harlot" had become a common feature in Old Testament writings.]
"Indeed everyone who quotes proverbs will use this proverb against you: 'Like mother, like daughter!' You are your mother's daughter, loathing husband and children; and you are the sister of your sisters, who loathed their husbands and children; your mother was a Hittite and your father an Amorite. Your elder sister is Samaria, who dwells with her daughters to the north of you; and your younger sister, who dwells to the south of you, is Sodom and her daughters. You did not walk in their ways nor act according to their abominations; but, as if that were too little, you became more corrupt than they in all your ways. As I live," says the Lord GOD, "neither your sister Sodom nor her daughters have done as you and your daughters have done. Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit. Samaria did not commit half of your sins; but you have multiplied your abominations more than they, and have justified your sisters by all the abominations which you have done. You who judged your sisters, bear your own shame also, because the sins which you committed were more abominable than theirs; they are more righteous than you. Yes, be disgraced also, and bear your own shame, because you justified your sisters."
[2-hvn. No doubt the residents of Jerusalem, if they read these words, would have found them to be quite insulting. In any case, it failed to convince them to follow God's guidance.]
"When I bring back their captives, the captives of Sodom and her daughters, and the captives of Samaria and her daughters, then I will also bring back the captives of your captivity among them, that you may bear your own shame and be disgraced by all that you did when you comforted them. When your sisters, Sodom and her daughters, return to their former state, and Samaria and her daughters return to their former state, then you and your daughters will return to your former state. For your sister Sodom was not a byword in your mouth in the days of your pride, before your wickedness was uncovered. It was like the time of the reproach of the daughters of Syria and all those around her, and of the daughters of the Philistines, who despise you everywhere. You have paid for your lewdness and your abominations," says the LORD. 'For thus says the Lord GOD: "I will deal with you as you have done, who despised the oath by breaking the covenant. Nevertheless I will remember My covenant 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 older and your younger sisters; for I will give them to you for daughters, but not because of My covenant with you. And I will establish My covenant with you. Then you shall know that I am the LORD, that you may remember and be ashamed, and never open your mouth anymore because of your shame, when I provide you an atonement for all you have done," says the Lord GOD.'"
[2-hvn. So in spite of all those harsh observations and dreadful judgments, God through Ezekiel continues to promise the He will allow a remnant of Judeans (and Samarians, and Sodomites) to return to their former lands. The idea that God is love begins to take hold.]
And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, Son of man, pose a riddle, and speak a parable to the house of Israel, and say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "A great eagle with large wings and long pinions, full of feathers of various colors, came to Lebanon and took from the cedar the highest branch. He cropped off its topmost young twig and carried it to a land of trade; he set it in a city of merchants. Then he took some of the seed of the land and planted it in a fertile field; he placed it by abundant waters and set it like a willow tree. And it grew and became a spreading vine of low stature; its branches turned toward him, but its roots were under it. So it became a vine, brought forth branches, and put forth shoots. But there was another great eagle with large wings and many feathers; and behold, this vine bent its roots toward him, and stretched its branches toward him, from the garden terrace where it had been planted, that he might water it. It was planted in good soil by many waters, to bring forth branches, bear fruit, and become a majestic vine." ' Say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Will it thrive? Will he not pull up its roots, cut off its fruit, and leave it to wither? All of its spring leaves will wither, and no great power or many people will be needed to pluck it up by its roots. Behold, it is planted, will it thrive? Will it not utterly wither when the east wind touches it? It will wither in the garden terrace where it grew."'"
[3-hvn. One of the reasons that many of the Old Testament authors used parables in their teachings and writings was that the graphic nature of parables makes them easier to remember than "straight text", especially for those who are illiterate. As you will see, the first "eagle" represents the Babylonian Empire, and the "highest branch" from the "cedar" represents the three thousand or so selected Judeans ("good figs") who were the first to be deported to Babylon. They and their descendants were becoming a "spreading vine of low stature" (i.e. captives). The "abundant waters" represent the River Chebar in one sense, but in another sense they represent nourishment and protection. The second "great eagle" represents the Egyptian Empire.]
Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Say now to the rebellious house: 'Do you not know what these things mean?' Tell them, 'Indeed the king of Babylon went to Jerusalem and took its king and princes, and led them with him to Babylon. And he took the king's offspring, made a covenant with him, and put him under oath. He also took away the mighty of the land, that the kingdom might be brought low and not lift itself up, but that by keeping his covenant it might stand. But he rebelled against him by sending his ambassadors to Egypt, that they might give him horses and many people. Will he prosper? Will he who does such things escape? Can he break a covenant and still be delivered? 'As I live,' says the Lord GOD, 'surely in the place where the king dwells who made him king, whose oath he despised and whose covenant he broke--with him in the midst of Babylon he shall die. Nor will Pharaoh with his mighty army and great company do anything in the war, when they heap up a siege mound and build a wall to cut off many persons. Since he despised the oath by breaking the covenant, and in fact gave his hand and still did all these things, he shall not escape.'"
[3-hvn. So, like Jeremiah, Ezekiel recognized that King Zedekiah's efforts to ally himself with Egypt and rebel against the Babylonian Empire were a BIG mistake. King Zedekiah had made an oath to support the Babylonian Empire (with tributes, etc.), and now he was breaking that oath. So King Zedekiah was not only proving himself to be not only dumb (perhaps in response to bad advise from his soothsayers), he was also proving himself to be disloyal and untrustworthy.]
Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "As I live, surely My oath which he despised, and My covenant which he broke, I will recompense on his own head. I will spread My net over him, and he shall be taken in My snare. I will bring him to Babylon and try him there for the treason which he committed against Me. All his fugitives with all his troops shall fall by the sword, and those who remain shall be scattered to every wind; and you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken."
[3-hvn. Notice that like Jeremiah, Ezekiel viewed the Babylonian Empire as being an instrument of God (at least at this point in his ministry), so King Zedekiah was not only breaking an oath that he made to the Babylonians, he was in effect breaking an oath to God.]
Thus says the Lord GOD: "I will take also one of the highest branches of the high cedar and set it out. I will crop off from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one, and will plant it on a high and prominent mountain. On the mountain height of Israel I will plant it; and it will bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a majestic cedar. Under it will dwell birds of every sort; in the shadow of its branches they will dwell. And all the trees of the field shall know that I, the LORD, have brought down the high tree and exalted the low tree, dried up the green tree and made the dry tree flourish; I, the LORD, have spoken and have done it."
[3-hvn. God through Ezekiel seems to be referring here to the remnant of the Judeans who will return to Judea some day and rebuild the Lord's Temple. The "old tree" will be gone, but it will be replaced with a low, dry tree that will flourish.]
The word of the LORD came to me again, saying, "What do you mean when you use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying: 'The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge'? "As I live," says the Lord GOD, "you shall no longer use this proverb in Israel. Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine; the soul who sins shall die. But if a man is just and does what is lawful and right; If he has not eaten on the mountains, nor lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, nor defiled his neighbor's wife, nor approached a woman during her impurity; If he has not oppressed anyone, but has restored to the debtor his pledge; has robbed no one by violence, but has given his bread to the hungry and covered the naked with clothing; If he has not exacted usury nor taken any increase, but has withdrawn his hand from iniquity and executed true judgment between man and man; If he has walked in My statutes and kept My judgments faithfully--he is just; he shall surely live!" Says the Lord GOD.
[3-hvn. Jeremiah referred to this proverb as well and made the same point that God would replace it (Jer 31:29-30). But Ezekiel emphasizes this point in greater detail. That proverb was probably a Levite teaching based on Exodus 20:5, "You shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me." The point of that proverb is that sons will pay for the sins of their fathers, and in some ways they often do. If a father "eats sour grapes" (i.e. believes and puts his faith in ungodly doctrines), the chances are that his sons will too, so they will suffer the same unfortunate consequences of such ungodly beliefs and practices as did their fathers. But Ezekiel makes it clear that it doesn't necessarily have to be that way. If a son seeks the guidance of God's two most fundamental commandments and acts accordingly, the sins (and ungodly beliefs) of his father will have no influence on him. God views all men equally in that regard.]
"If he begets a son who is a robber or a shedder of blood, who does any of these things And does none of those duties, but has eaten on the mountains or defiled his neighbor's wife; If he has oppressed the poor and needy, robbed by violence, not restored the pledge, lifted his eyes to the idols, or committed abomination; If he has exacted usury or taken increase--shall he then live? He shall not live! If he has done any of these abominations, he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him. If, however, he begets a son who sees all the sins which his father has done, and considers but does not do likewise; Who has not eaten on the mountains, nor lifted his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, nor defiled his neighbor's wife; Has not oppressed anyone, nor withheld a pledge, nor robbed by violence, but has given his bread to the hungry and covered the naked with clothing; Who has withdrawn his hand from the poor and not received usury or increase, but has executed My judgments and walked in My statutes--he shall not die for the iniquity of his father; he shall surely live! As for his father, because he cruelly oppressed, robbed his brother by violence, and did what is not good among his people, behold, he shall die for his iniquity. Yet you say, 'Why should the son not bear the guilt of the father?' Because the son has done what is lawful and right, and has kept all My statutes and done them, he shall surely live. The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live. Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?" says the Lord GOD, "and not that he should turn from his ways and live?"
[3-hvn. This was a SIGNIFICANT departure from the traditional teachings of the Levites. In fact, there was considerable debate among ancient Jewish scholars as to whether or not the book of Ezekiel should be "canonized", because this teaching appeared to conflict with Exodus 20:5. Jesus Christ wholeheartedly supported Ezekiel's point in all of his teachings. Jesus taught that even the greatest sinners can be saved in the eyes of God if they repent and commit themselves to following God's two most fundamental commandments (without restrictions).]
"But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die. Yet you say, 'The way of the Lord is not fair.' Hear now, O house of Israel, is it not My way which is fair, and your ways which are not fair? When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies in it, it is because of the iniquity which he has done that he dies. Again, when a wicked man turns away from the wickedness which he committed, and does what is lawful and right, he preserves himself alive. Because he considers and turns away from all the transgressions which he committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. Yet the house of Israel says, 'The way of the Lord is not fair.' O house of Israel, is it not My ways which are fair, and your ways which are not fair? Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways," says the Lord GOD. "Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies," says the Lord GOD. "Therefore turn and live!"
[2-hnv. This sounds like it could have been written by St. Paul! Doesn't it? Notice that simply "making the commitment" to follow the "new spirit" of God's two most fundamental commandments is not enough, God expects you to stick to that commitment as well as you reasonably can thereafter.]
"Moreover take up a lamentation for the princes of Israel, and say: 'What is your mother? A lioness [Judea]: she lay down among the lions [prostituted her principles with neighboring kings]; among the young lions she nourished her cubs. She brought up one of her cubs [Jehoahaz, son of Josiah], and he became a young lion; he learned to catch prey, and he devoured men [he was an evil king]. The nations also heard of him; he was trapped in their pit, and they brought him with chains to the land of Egypt [he decided to "play war" like his neighboring kingdoms and was caught and taken as prisoner to Egypt]. 'When she saw that she waited, that her hope was lost, she took another of her cubs and made him a young lion [Jehoahaz's brother Jehoiachim]. He roved among the lions, and became a young lion; he learned to catch prey; he devoured men [he was also an evil king]. He knew their desolate places, and laid waste their cities; the land with its fullness was desolated by the noise of his roaring. Then the nations set against him from the provinces on every side, and spread their net over him; he was trapped in their pit. They put him in a cage with chains, and brought him to the king of Babylon [the first exile, along with the "good figs"]; they brought him in nets, that his voice should no longer be heard on the mountains of Israel. 'Your mother was like a vine in your bloodline, planted by the waters, fruitful and full of branches because of many waters. She had strong branches for scepters of rulers. She towered in stature above the thick branches, and was seen in her height amid the dense foliage [Solomon's reign or possibly Josiah's reign]. But she was plucked up in fury, she was cast down to the ground, and the east wind dried her fruit. Her strong branches were broken and withered; the fire consumed them. And now she is planted in the wilderness, in a dry and thirsty land. Fire has come out from a rod of her branches and devoured her fruit, so that she has no strong branch--a scepter for ruling.' " This is a lamentation, and has become a lamentation.
[3-hvn. Evidently, Ezekiel didn't think very highly of King Jehoiachim (whom they accompanied on the first deportation to Babylon). Perhaps the reason he used allegory here was to soften the impact of his criticism of Jehoiachim. Most of Ezekiel's fellow Judeans in exile where probably still loyal to Jehoiachim.]
It came to pass in the seventh year, in the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month, that certain of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the LORD, and sat before me. Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, speak to the elders of Israel, and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Have you come to inquire of Me? As I live," says the Lord GOD, "I will not be inquired of by you."' Will you judge them, son of man, will you judge them? Then make known to them the abominations of their fathers. Say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "On the day when I chose Israel and raised My hand in an oath to the descendants of the house of Jacob, and made Myself known to them in the land of Egypt, I raised My hand in an oath to them, saying, 'I am the LORD your God.' On that day I raised My hand in an oath to them, to bring them out of the land of Egypt into a land that I had searched out for them, 'flowing with milk and honey,' the glory of all lands. Then I said to them, 'Each of you, throw away the abominations which are before his eyes, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.' But they rebelled against Me and would not obey Me. They did not all cast away the abominations which were before their eyes, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt. Then I said, 'I will pour out My fury on them and fulfill My anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt.' But I acted for My name's sake, that it should not be profaned before the Gentiles among whom they were, in whose sight I had made Myself known to them, to bring them out of the land of Egypt. Therefore I made them go out of the land of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness.
[2-hvn. This is a slight revision of the story told in Exodus. According to this version, God was already angry with the children of Israel for engaging in Egyptian practices of idolatry BEFORE He helped Moses bring them out of Egypt. The story in Exodus makes it appear that the children of Israel devoutly separated themselves from the Egyptians and their idolatrous religious practices. But judging from the children of Israel's demonstrated readiness (eagerness) to create and worship a golden calf in the wilderness, it appears that this account in Ezekiel may in fact be more accurate than the account in Exodus.]
And I gave them My statutes and showed them My judgments, 'which, if a man does, he shall live by them.' Moreover I also gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between them and Me, that they might know that I am the LORD who sanctifies them. Yet the house of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness; they did not walk in My statutes; they despised My judgments, which, if a man does, he shall live by them; and they greatly defiled My Sabbaths. Then I said I would pour out My fury on them in the wilderness, to consume them. But I acted for My name's sake, that it should not be profaned before the Gentiles, in whose sight I had brought them out. So I also raised My hand in an oath to them in the wilderness, that I would not bring them into the land which I had given them, 'flowing with milk and honey,' the glory of all lands, because they despised My judgments and did not walk in My statutes, but profaned My Sabbaths; for their heart went after their idols. Nevertheless My eye spared them from destruction. I did not make an end of them in the wilderness. But I said to their children in the wilderness, 'Do not walk in the statutes of your fathers, nor observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols. 'I am the LORD your God: Walk in My statutes, keep My judgments, and do them; hallow My Sabbaths, and they will be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am the LORD your God.'"
[2-hvn. It's like "de je vu all over again." It seems to be a human trait to glorify the past and regard one's forefathers as being legendary heroes. But God didn't want the Judeans in exile to be like their forefathers. He wanted them instead to start following His guidance and His principles of truth and love.]
"Notwithstanding, the children rebelled against Me; they did not walk in My statutes, and were not careful to observe My judgments, 'which, if a man does, he shall live by them'; but they profaned My Sabbaths. Then I said I would pour out My fury on them and fulfill My anger against them in the wilderness. Nevertheless I withdrew My hand and acted for My name's sake, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the Gentiles, in whose sight I had brought them out. Also I raised My hand in an oath to those in the wilderness, that I would scatter them among the Gentiles and disperse them throughout the countries, because they had not executed My judgments, but had despised My statutes, profaned My Sabbaths, and their eyes were fixed on their fathers' idols. Therefore I also gave them up to statutes that were not good, and judgments by which they could not live; and I pronounced them unclean because of their ritual gifts, in that they caused all their firstborn to pass through the fire, that I might make them desolate and that they might know that I am the LORD."'
[2-hvn. That's true. Such scatterings were predicted in Deuteronomy 4:27-29, "And the LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the LORD will drive you. And there you will serve gods, the work of men's hands, wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell. But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul."]
"Therefore, son of man, speak to the house of Israel, and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "In this too your fathers have blasphemed Me, by being unfaithful to Me. When I brought them into the land concerning which I had raised My hand in an oath to give them, and they saw all the high hills and all the thick trees, there they offered their sacrifices and provoked Me with their offerings. There they also sent up their sweet aroma and poured out their drink offerings. Then I said to them, 'What is this high place to which you go?' So its name is called Bamah to this day."' Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Are you defiling yourselves in the manner of your fathers, and committing harlotry according to their abominations? For when you offer your gifts and make your sons pass through the fire, you defile yourselves with all your idols, even to this day. So shall I be inquired of by you, O house of Israel? As I live," says the Lord GOD, "I will not be inquired of by you. What you have in your mind shall never be, when you say, 'We will be like the Gentiles, like the families in other countries, serving wood and stone.'"
[2-hvn. Those certain elders of Israel who came to Ezekiel to "inquire of the Lord" were really getting an earful this time, even though God was saying through Ezekiel, "I will not be inquired of by you."]
"As I live," says the Lord GOD, "surely with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out, I will rule over you. I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out. And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will plead My case with you face to face. Just as I pleaded My case with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will plead My case with you," says the Lord GOD. I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; I will purge the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the country where they dwell, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD."
"As for you, O house of Israel," thus says the Lord GOD: "Go, serve every one of you his idols--and hereafter--if you will not obey me; but profane My holy name no more with your gifts and your idols. For on My holy mountain, on the mountain height of Israel," says the Lord GOD, "there all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, shall serve Me; there I will accept them, and there I will require your offerings and the firstfruits of your sacrifices, together with all your holy things. I will accept you as a sweet aroma when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered; and I will be hallowed in you before the Gentiles. Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I bring you into the land of Israel, into the country for which I lifted My hand in an oath to give to your fathers. And there you shall remember your ways and all your doings with which you were defiled; and you shall loathe yourselves in your own sight because of all the evils that you have committed. Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have dealt with you for My name's sake, not according to your wicked ways nor according to your corrupt doings, O house of Israel," says the Lord GOD.'"
[2-hvn. So there's a legitimate reason to hope, provided they repent and start following God.]
Furthermore the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, set your face toward the south; preach against the south and prophesy against the forest land, the South, and say to the forest of the South, 'Hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I will kindle a fire in you, and it shall devour every green tree and every dry tree in you; the blazing flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be scorched by it. All flesh shall see that I, the LORD, have kindled it; it shall not be quenched."
[3-hvn. We have already seen that allegorically, the "East" represents "light" or insight inspired by God (by following his two most fundamental commandments.) The "South" represents worldly teachings which will eventually be purged or burned away by God's Light from the "East." The "North" represents political power or military might which can be an instrument of either good or evil. The "West" represents approaching evil (the coming of darkness). This portion of Ezekiel probably contributed to Rev 8:7, "The first angel sounded: And hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth. And a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up."]
Then I said, "Ah, Lord GOD! They say of me, 'Does he not speak parables?'"
[2-hvn. Evidently, Ezekiel still wasn't "getting through to them." They dismissed his points by rationalizing to themselves, "Oh, he's just speaking in parables." Today, many so-called "Christian fundamentalist" preachers share essentially the same attitude with regards to the allegorical nature of Jesus Christ's teachings. To them, it is "unthinkable" that the scathing criticisms which Jesus made regarding the Pharisees or the criticisms which Ezekiel made regarding his fellow Judeans could possibly apply to them as well. But as I have shown in this article and in earlier articles on this web site, many of those criticisms really DO apply to them as well. ]
And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, set your face toward Jerusalem, preach against the holy places, and prophesy against the land of Israel; and say to the land of Israel, 'Thus says the LORD: "Behold, I am against you, and I will draw My sword out of its sheath and cut off both righteous and wicked from you. Because I will cut off both righteous and wicked from you, therefore My sword shall go out of its sheath against all flesh from south to north, that all flesh may know that I, the LORD, have drawn My sword out of its sheath; it shall not return anymore."' Sigh therefore, son of man, with a breaking heart, and sigh with bitterness before their eyes. And it shall be when they say to you, 'Why are you sighing?' that you shall answer, 'Because of the news; when it comes, every heart will melt, all hands will be feeble, every spirit will faint, and all knees will be weak as water. Behold, it is coming and shall be brought to pass,' says the Lord GOD."
[1-hvn. The "sword" referred to here represents the Babylonian Empire.]
[3-hvn. The "sword" referred to here can also be viewed as being Christ's "double-edged sword of truth and love" or "God's two most fundamental commandments." Here Ezekiel is predicting the event that is commonly referred to these days as "The Second Coming of Christ." It's the event that will once and for all bring the people of the world to recognize that God's guiding principles of truth and love are more "holy" than any thing or any concept that mankind has ever created or ever will create. It's an event that will forever destroy the credibility of false prophets who CLAIM to represent God but who teach people to violate God's two most fundamental commandments!]
Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, prophesy and say, 'Thus says the LORD! "Say: 'A sword, a sword is sharpened and also polished! Sharpened to make a dreadful slaughter, Polished to flash like lightning! Should we then make mirth? It despises the scepter of My Son, as it does all wood. And He has given it to be polished, that it may be handled; this sword is sharpened, and it is polished to be given into the hand of the slayer.' Cry and wail, son of man; for it will be against My people, against all the princes of Israel. Terrors including the sword will be against My people; therefore strike your thigh. Because it is a testing, and what if the sword despises even the scepter? The scepter shall be no more," says the Lord GOD. You therefore, son of man, prophesy, and strike your hands together. The third time let the sword do double damage. It is the sword that slays, the sword that slays the great men, that enters their private chambers. I have set the point of the sword against all their gates, that the heart may melt and many may stumble. Ah! It is made bright; it is grasped for slaughter: Swords at the ready! Thrust right! Set your blade! Thrust left--wherever your edge is ordered! I also will beat My fists together, and I will cause My fury to rest; I, the LORD, have spoken."
[3-hvn. It will be ungodly concepts, not people, which will be slaughtered by that spiritual sword.]
The word of the LORD came to me again, saying: "And son of man, appoint for yourself two ways for the sword of the king of Babylon to go; both of them shall go from the same land. Make a sign; put it at the head of the road to the city. Appoint a road for the sword to go to Rabbah of the Ammonites, and to Judah, into fortified Jerusalem. For the king of Babylon stands at the parting of the road, at the fork of the two roads, to use divination: he shakes the arrows, he consults the images, he looks at the liver. In his right hand is the divination for Jerusalem: to set up battering rams, to call for a slaughter, to lift the voice with shouting, to set battering rams against the gates, to heap up a siege mound, and to build a wall. And it will be to them like a false divination in the eyes of those who have sworn oaths with them; but he will bring their iniquity to remembrance, that they may be taken."
[2-hvn. At that point in time, the Ammonites and Moabites were allied with King Zedekiah's rebellion against the Babylonian Empire. Surprisingly, God tells Ezekiel to help guide the Babylonian Army towards Judea, because the Babylonians own ungodly methods of divination left much to be desired.]
"Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: 'Because you have made your iniquity to be remembered, in that your transgressions are uncovered, so that in all your doings your sins appear--because you have come to remembrance, you shall be taken in hand. 'Now to you, O profane, wicked prince of Israel, whose day has come, whose iniquity shall end, "thus says the Lord GOD: 'Remove the turban, and take off the crown; nothing shall remain the same. Exalt the humble, and humble the exalted. Overthrown, overthrown, I will make it overthrown! It shall be no longer, until He comes whose right it is, and I will give it to Him.' And you, son of man, prophesy and say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD concerning the Ammonites and concerning their reproach,' and say: 'A sword, a sword is drawn, Polished for slaughter, for consuming, for flashing--While they see false visions for you, while they divine a lie to you, to bring you on the necks of the wicked, the slain whose day has come, whose iniquity shall end. Return it to its sheath. I will judge you in the place where you were created, in the land of your nativity. I will pour out My indignation on you; I will blow against you with the fire of My wrath, and deliver you into the hands of brutal men who are skillful to destroy. You shall be fuel for the fire; your blood shall be in the midst of the land. You shall not be remembered, for I the LORD have spoken.' "
[2-hvn. Here Ezekiel is predicting that the Ammonites were about to suffer the same horrible fate as the Judeans. ]
Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Now, son of man, will you judge, will you judge the bloody city? Yes, show her all her abominations! Then say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "The city sheds blood in her own midst, that her time may come; and she makes idols within herself to defile herself. You have become guilty by the blood which you have shed, and have defiled yourself with the idols which you have made. You have caused your days to draw near, and have come to the end of your years; therefore I have made you a reproach to the nations, and a mockery to all countries. Those near and those far from you will mock you as infamous and full of tumult. Look, the princes of Israel: each one has used his power to shed blood in you. In you they have made light of father and mother; in your midst they have oppressed the stranger; in you they have mistreated the fatherless and the widow. You have despised My holy things and profaned My Sabbaths. In you are men who slander to cause bloodshed; in you are those who eat on the mountains; in your midst they commit lewdness. In you men uncover their fathers' nakedness; in you they violate women who are set apart during their impurity. One commits abomination with his neighbor's wife; another lewdly defiles his daughter-in-law; and another in you violates his sister, his father's daughter. In you they take bribes to shed blood; you take usury and increase; you have made profit from your neighbors by extortion, and have forgotten Me," says the Lord GOD.
[2-hvn. Evidently, the princes of Judea (descendants of King David) were a bloodthirsty, lewd, and unruly lot in those days. Jeremiah recorded similar observations about them, though he tended to focus more on the kings themselves.]
"Behold, therefore, I beat My fists at the dishonest profit which you have made, and at the bloodshed which has been in your midst. Can your heart endure, or can your hands remain strong, in the days when I shall deal with you? I, the LORD, have spoken, and will do it. I will scatter you among the nations, disperse you throughout the countries, and remove your filthiness completely from you. You shall defile yourself in the sight of the nations; then you shall know that I am the LORD."'"
[2-hvn. Many of those princes were slain by the Babylonians in Riblah where they were caught after they had fled with King Zedekiah.]
The word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, the house of Israel has become dross to Me; they are all bronze, tin, iron, and lead, in the midst of a furnace; they have become dross from silver. Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: 'Because you have all become dross, therefore behold, I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. As men gather silver, bronze, iron, lead, and tin into the midst of a furnace, to blow fire on it, to melt it; so I will gather you in My anger and in My fury, and I will leave you there and melt you. Yes, I will gather you and blow on you with the fire of My wrath, and you shall be melted in its midst. As silver is melted in the midst of a furnace, so shall you be melted in its midst; then you shall know that I, the LORD, have poured out My fury on you.'"
[3-hvn. When you think about it, it really took a lot of courage to describe the "house of Israel" in such a disparaging manner, especially since he was preaching this message to Judeans. Evidently, by then most of his audience had become accustomed to hearing such charges coming from Ezekiel and were therefore not terribly upset by such dire allegations, portrayals, and predictions.]
And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, say to her: 'You are a land that is not cleansed or rained on in the day of indignation.' The conspiracy of her prophets in her midst is like a roaring lion tearing the prey; they have devoured people; they have taken treasure and precious things; they have made many widows in her midst. Her priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished between the holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, to shed blood, to destroy people, and to get dishonest gain. Her prophets plastered them with untempered mortar, seeing false visions, and divining lies for them, saying, 'Thus says the Lord GOD,' when the LORD had not spoken. The people of the land have used oppressions, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger. So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; and I have recompensed their deeds on their own heads," says the Lord GOD.
[2-hvn. Notice that ALL of the specific accusations made by God through Ezekiel are examples of gross violations of either or both of God's two most fundamental commandments. If the Judean's political and religious leaders conducted themselves in such an ungodly manner, it's little wonder that the rest of the Judeans tended to conduct themselves that way as well.]
[2-hvn. Notice also the comments regarding the priests. As we will see in Part 2 of this article, the authors of Chapters 40 through 48 of Ezekiel (who were more likely Ezra or Nehemiah than Ezekiel) created an ungodly distinction between the Levites who were descendants of Zadok on one hand and all "other" Levites on the other hand. In those chapters, the descendants of Zadok are portrayed as being the only ones qualified to be awarded the higher positions of responsibility in the Temple, allegedly because (unlike those "other" Levites) the descendants of Zadok remained faithful to God throughout all this. However, throughout the first 39 chapters of the book, Ezekiel provides no indication whatsoever that the descendants of Zadok were any less wayward or corrupt than the rest of the priests who ran the Temple in Jerusalem. In fact, more likely than not (due to Zadok's demonstrated loyalty to King David and Solomon in the face of Adonijah's attempt to usurp the throne), the priests who ran King Solomon's Temple from the time it was built to the time it was destroyed were probably ALL relatives or descendants of Zadok.]
The word of the LORD came again to me, saying: "Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother. They committed harlotry in Egypt, they committed harlotry in their youth; their breasts were there embraced, their virgin bosom was there pressed. Their names: Oholah ["the tent"] the elder and Oholibah ["my tent is in her"] her sister; they were Mine, and they bore sons and daughters. As for their names, Samaria is Oholah, and Jerusalem is Oholibah. Oholah played the harlot even though she was Mine; and she lusted for her lovers, the neighboring Assyrians, Who were clothed in purple, captains and rulers, all of them desirable young men, horsemen riding on horses. Thus she committed her harlotry with them, all of them choice men of Assyria; and with all for whom she lusted, with all their idols, she defiled herself. She has never given up her harlotry brought from Egypt, for in her youth they had lain with her, pressed her virgin bosom, and poured out their immorality upon her. Therefore I have delivered her into the hand of her lovers, into the hand of the Assyrians, for whom she lusted. They uncovered her nakedness, took away her sons and daughters, and slew her with the sword; she became a byword among women, for they had executed judgment on her."
[3-hvn. The Assyrians invaded and conquered Samaria and deported many of its people, but to say that the Samarians in general "lusted for the Assyrians" seems to be a bit of a stretch. It would probably be more accurate to say that they were acting like a "harlot" by worshipping some of the same idols and gods that the Assyrians were worshipping. Eventually, they were "done in" by others who had been worshipping the very same idols and gods. Bloody consequences like this are a frequent occurrence throughout the world these days among those who worship "national sovereignty" as their god.]
"Now although her sister Oholibah saw this, she became more corrupt in her lust than she, and in her harlotry more corrupt than her sister's harlotry. She lusted for the neighboring Assyrians, captains and rulers, clothed most gorgeously, horsemen riding on horses, all of them desirable young men. Then I saw that she was defiled; both took the same way. But she increased her harlotry; she looked at men portrayed on the wall, images of Chaldeans portrayed in vermilion, Girded with belts around their waists, flowing turbans on their heads, all of them looking like captains, in the manner of the Babylonians of Chaldea, the land of their nativity. As soon as her eyes saw them, she lusted for them and sent messengers to them in Chaldea. Then the Babylonians came to her, into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their immorality; so she was defiled by them, and alienated herself from them. She revealed her harlotry and uncovered her nakedness. Then I alienated Myself from her, as I had alienated Myself from her sister. Yet she multiplied her harlotry in calling to remembrance the days of her youth, when she had played the harlot in the land of Egypt. For she lusted for her paramours, whose flesh is like the flesh of donkeys, and whose issue is like the issue of horses. Thus you called to remembrance the lewdness of your youth, when the Egyptians pressed your bosom because of your youthful breasts."
[3-hvn. Here we see a similar allegorical indictment of Judea.]
"Therefore, Oholibah, thus says the Lord GOD: 'Behold, I will stir up your lovers against you, from whom you have alienated yourself, and I will bring them against you from every side: The Babylonians, all the Chaldeans, Pekod, Shoa, Koa, all the Assyrians with them, all of them desirable young men, Governors and rulers, captains and men of renown, all of them riding on horses. And they shall come against you with chariots, wagons, and war-horses, with a horde of people. They shall array against you Buckler, shield, and helmet all around. 'I will delegate judgment to them, and they shall judge you according to their judgments. I will set My jealousy against you, and they shall deal furiously with you; they shall remove your nose and your ears, and your remnant shall fall by the sword; they shall take your sons and your daughters, and your remnant shall be devoured by fire. They shall also strip you of your clothes and take away your beautiful jewelry. Thus I will make you cease your lewdness and your harlotry brought from the land of Egypt, so that you will not lift your eyes to them, nor remember Egypt anymore.'"
[3-hvn. As colorful as they were, Ezekiel's numerous condemnations of the Judeans and predictions of their doom apparently had little impact on Judean attitudes and practices.]
"For thus says the Lord GOD: 'Surely I will deliver you into the hand of those whom you hate, into the hand of those from whom you alienated yourself. They will deal hatefully with you, take away all you have worked for, and leave you naked and bare. The nakedness of your harlotry shall be uncovered, both your lewdness and your harlotry. I will do these things to you because you have gone as a harlot after the Gentiles, because you have become defiled by their idols. You have walked in the way of your sister; therefore I will put her cup in your hand.' Thus says the Lord GOD: 'You shall drink of your sister's cup, the deep and wide one; you shall be laughed to scorn and held in derision; it contains much. You will be filled with drunkenness and sorrow, the cup of horror and desolation, the cup of your sister Samaria. You shall drink and drain it, you shall break its shards, and tear at your own breasts; for I have spoken,' says the Lord GOD. Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: 'Because you have forgotten Me and cast Me behind your back, therefore you shall bear the penalty of your lewdness and your harlotry.' "
[3-hvn. Notice how similar this imagery is to the "Scarlet Harlot" imagery on Revelation 17. In Revelation, the Scarlet Harlot represents Satan's extremely bloody but still popular world-wide religion of "national sovereignty" (the worshipping and pledging of allegiance to national flags).]
The LORD also said to me: "Son of man, will you judge Oholah and Oholibah? Then declare to them their abominations. For they have committed adultery, and blood is on their hands. They have committed adultery with their idols, and even sacrificed their sons whom they bore to Me, passing them through the fire, to devour them. Moreover they have done this to Me: They have defiled My sanctuary on the same day and profaned My Sabbaths. For after they had slain their children for their idols, on the same day they came into My sanctuary to profane it; and indeed thus they have done in the midst of My house. Furthermore you sent for men to come from afar, to whom a messenger was sent; and there they came. And you washed yourself for them, painted your eyes, and adorned yourself with ornaments. You sat on a stately couch, with a table prepared before it, on which you had set My incense and My oil. The sound of a carefree multitude was with her, and Sabeans were brought from the wilderness with men of the common sort, who put bracelets on their wrists and beautiful crowns on their heads. Then I said concerning her who had grown old in adulteries, 'Will they commit harlotry with her now, and she with them?' Yet they went in to her, as men go in to a woman who plays the harlot; thus they went in to Oholah and Oholibah, the lewd women. But righteous men will judge them after the manner of adulteresses, and after the manner of women who shed blood, because they are adulteresses, and blood is on their hands. For thus says the Lord GOD: 'Bring up an assembly against them, give them up to trouble and plunder. The assembly shall stone them with stones and execute them with their swords; they shall slay their sons and their daughters, and burn their houses with fire. Thus I will cause lewdness to cease from the land, that all women may be taught not to practice your lewdness. They shall repay you for your lewdness, and you shall pay for your idolatrous sins. Then you shall know that I am the Lord GOD.'"
[3-hvn. This provides an indication of how God must feel when He sees so-called "Christians" worshipping national flags inside "churches" that are supposedly dedicated to Him.]
Again, in the ninth year, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, write down the name of the day, this very day--the king of Babylon started his siege against Jerusalem this very day. And utter a parable to the rebellious house, and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Put on a pot, set it on, and also pour water into it. Gather pieces of meat in it, every good piece, the thigh and the shoulder. Fill it with choice cuts; Take the choice of the flock. Also pile fuel bones under it, make it boil well, and let the cuts simmer in it." Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "Woe to the bloody city, to the pot whose scum is in it, and whose scum is not gone from it! Bring it out piece-by-piece, on which no lot has fallen. For her blood is in her midst; she set it on top of a rock; she did not pour it on the ground, to cover it with dust. That it may raise up fury and take vengeance, I have set her blood on top of a rock, that it may not be covered." Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "Woe to the bloody city! I too will make the pyre great. Heap on the wood, kindle the fire; Cook the meat well, mix in the spices, and let the cuts be burned up. Then set the pot empty on the coals, that it may become hot and its bronze may burn, that its filthiness may be melted in it, that its scum may be consumed. She has grown weary with lies, and her great scum has not gone from her. Let her scum be in the fire! In your filthiness is lewdness. Because I have cleansed you, and you were not cleansed, you will not be cleansed of your filthiness anymore, till I have caused My fury to rest upon you. I, the LORD, have spoken it; it shall come to pass, and I will do it; I will not hold back, nor will I spare, nor will I relent; according to your ways and according to your deeds they will judge you," says the Lord GOD.' "
[3-hvn. So Ezekiel had no doubts that this Babylonian siege, which had just begun, would end with the utter destruction of Jerusalem. The boiling pot, of course, represents Jerusalem under siege. The "meat" represents Jerusalem's inhabitants, the "bones" represent Judean soldiers, the poisonous "scum" represents their ungodly ideologies, and the "rock" represents God's guiding principles of truth and love which will forever expose the sinfulness of Jerusalem's "blood" (her ungodly motivations and desires). The expression "on which no lot has fallen" expresses the idea that unlike the first Babylonian deportation in which some were selected to go and others left behind, this time they would ALL "go" one way or another. ]
Also the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, behold, I take away from you the desire of your eyes with one stroke; yet you shall neither mourn nor weep, nor shall your tears run down. Sigh in silence, make no mourning for the dead; bind your turban on your head, and put your sandals on your feet; do not cover your lips, and do not eat man's bread of sorrow." So I spoke to the people in the morning, and at evening my wife died; and the next morning I did as I was commanded.
[3-hvn. So God instructed Ezekiel not to mourn for the Judeans in Jerusalem. Ezekiel's wife may have become so upset by this turn of events that she died of a heart attack; or perhaps Ezekiel was allegorically referring to Jerusalem as his "wife" in this case.]
And the people said to me, "Will you not tell us what these things signify to us, that you behave so?" Then I answered them, "The word of the LORD came to me, saying, 'Speak to the house of Israel, "Thus says the Lord GOD: 'Behold, I will profane My sanctuary, your arrogant boast, the desire of your eyes, the delight of your soul; and your sons and daughters whom you left behind shall fall by the sword. And you shall do as I have done; you shall not cover your lips nor eat man's bread of sorrow. Your turbans shall be on your heads and your sandals on your feet; you shall neither mourn nor weep, but you shall pine away in your iniquities and mourn with one another. Thus Ezekiel is a sign to you; according to all that he has done you shall do; and when this comes, you shall know that I am the Lord GOD.'" And you, son of man--will it not be in the day when I take from them their stronghold, their joy and their glory, the desire of their eyes, and that on which they set their minds, their sons and their daughters: on that day one who escapes will come to you to let you hear it with your ears; on that day your mouth will be opened to him who has escaped; you shall speak and no longer be mute. Thus you will be a sign to them, and they will know that I am the LORD.'"
[3-hvn. Since Ezekiel had said just about all he could think of saying concerning the situation in Jerusalem, he apparently decided (or was instructed) to be "mute" about Jerusalem for a while and instead to address similar issues regarding the neighboring countries around Judea (in the next eight chapters). He would wait until he heard first-hand news regarding the sacking of Jerusalem before returning the subject. I plan to publish Part 2 of this article by the end of July, unless a more urgent issue presents itself between now and then.]
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Last modified on Friday, May 03, 2002