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Ezekiel 5-8 Listen
Then we have a hair object lesson (Ezekiel 5)
1 And thou, son of man, take thee a sharp knife, take thee a barber’s razor, and cause it to pass upon thine head and upon thy beard: then take thee balances to weigh, and divide the hair.
2 Thou shalt burn with fire a third part in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are fulfilled: and thou shalt take a third part, and smite about it with a knife: and a third part thou shalt scatter in the wind; and I will draw out a sword after them.
3 Thou shalt also take thereof a few in number, and bind them in thy skirts.
4 Then take of them again, and cast them into the midst of the fire, and burn them in the fire; for thereof shall a fire come forth into all the house of Israel.
5 Thus saith the Lord GOD; This is Jerusalem: I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries that are round about her.
6 And she hath changed my judgments into wickedness more than the nations, and my statutes more than the countries that are round about her: for they have refused my judgments and my statutes, they have not walked in them.
7 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye multiplied more than the nations that are round about you, and have not walked in my statutes, neither have kept my judgments, neither have done according to the judgments of the nations that are round about you;
8 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, am against thee, and will execute judgments in the midst of thee in the sight of the nations.
9 And I will do in thee that which I have not done, and whereunto I will not do any more the like, because of all thine abominations.
10 Therefore the fathers shall eat the sons in the midst of thee, and the sons shall eat their fathers; and I will execute judgments in thee, and the whole remnant of thee will I scatter into all the winds.
11 Wherefore, as I live, saith the Lord GOD; Surely, because thou hast defiled my sanctuary with all thy detestable things, and with all thine abominations, therefore will I also diminish thee; neither shall mine eye spare, neither will I have any pity.
12 A third part of thee shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee: and a third part shall fall by the sword round about thee; and I will scatter a third part into all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them.
13 Thus shall mine anger be accomplished, and I will cause my fury to rest upon them, and I will be comforted: and they shall know that I the LORD have spoken it in my zeal, when I have accomplished my fury in them.
14 Moreover I will make thee waste, and a reproach among the nations that are round about thee, in the sight of all that pass by.
15 So it shall be a reproach and a taunt, an instruction and an astonishment unto the nations that are round about thee, when I shall execute judgments in thee in anger and in fury and in furious rebukes. I the LORD have spoken it.
16 When I shall send upon them the evil arrows of famine, which shall be for their destruction, and which I will send to destroy you: and I will increase the famine upon you, and will break your staff of bread:
17 So will I send upon you famine and evil beasts, and they shall bereave thee; and pestilence and blood shall pass through thee; and I will bring the sword upon thee. I the LORD have spoken it.
Keep in mind that Ezekiel was prophesying to the exiles over in Babylon; this prophecy takes place prior to the fall of Jerusalem. Here we have more, "Creative Ways to Prophesy" by Ezekiel. This time, Ezekiel uses his hair as an object lesson concerning the fall of Jerusalem. He shaves his head and beard according to God's command. This, by the way, was unheard of among practicing Jews - especially for a priest. Just to make certain that everyone notices, he sets one-third of his hair on fire. Have you ever smelled burning hair? He then prophesied the burning of Jerusalem followed by famine (verses 2 and 12); it happened (II Kings 25:9, see notes). He prophesied slaying by the sword by cutting one-third of his hair with a knife (verses 2 and 12); it happened (II Kings 25:18-21, see notes). He prophesied a scattering (the exile) by casting one-third of his hair up into the wind; it happened (II Kings 25:11-21, see notes). He even prophesied that the people of Jerusalem would resort to cannibalism (YUK! verse 10) before the actual fall of the city. Jeremiah reported that this cannibalism among the inhabitants of Jerusalem when Nebuchadnezzar's army had the city surrounded actually happened in Lamentations 4:10 (see notes). We see the full application of the hair-divided-into-thirds object lesson in verse 12, "A third part of thee shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee: and a third part shall fall by the sword round about thee; and I will scatter a third part into all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them." He was also to take a few hairs of the third part and "bind them in thy skirts." This was to represent a few who would be delivered from Jerusalem.
Hey! It's not what you would call an upbeat prophecy, wouldn't you agree? You can imagine that the exiled Jews in Babylon to whom Ezekiel was prophesying were hoping against hope that Jerusalem would survive, and that they would be able to return. It was not to happen because of Jerusalem's sin, and Ezekiel was there to spread this unpopular word. You will notice again the clear message that God's hand was responsible for the Babylonian onslaught. That's clear in verses 7-9 and again in verses 13-17.
It's all about false gods and idolatry (Ezekiel 6)
1 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
2 Son of man, set thy face toward the mountains of Israel, and prophesy against them,
3 And say, Ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord GOD; Thus saith the Lord GOD to the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys; Behold, I, even I, will bring a sword upon you, and I will destroy your high places.
4 And your altars shall be desolate, and your images shall be broken: and I will cast down your slain men before your idols.
5 And I will lay the dead carcases of the children of Israel before their idols; and I will scatter your bones round about your altars.
6 In all your dwellingplaces the cities shall be laid waste, and the high places shall be desolate; that your altars may be laid waste and made desolate, and your idols may be broken and cease, and your images may be cut down, and your works may be abolished.
7 And the slain shall fall in the midst of you, and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
8 Yet will I leave a remnant, that ye may have some that shall escape the sword among the nations, when ye shall be scattered through the countries.
9 And they that escape of you shall remember me among the nations whither they shall be carried captives, because I am broken with their whorish heart, which hath departed from me, and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols: and they shall lothe themselves for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations.
10 And they shall know that I am the LORD, and that I have not said in vain that I would do this evil unto them.
11 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Smite with thine hand, and stamp with thy foot, and say, Alas for all the evil abominations of the house of Israel! for they shall fall by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence.
12 He that is far off shall die of the pestilence; and he that is near shall fall by the sword; and he that remaineth and is besieged shall die by the famine: thus will I accomplish my fury upon them.
13 Then shall ye know that I am the LORD, when their slain men shall be among their idols round about their altars, upon every high hill, in all the tops of the mountains, and under every green tree, and under every thick oak, the place where they did offer sweet savour to all their idols.
14 So will I stretch out my hand upon them, and make the land desolate, yea, more desolate than the wilderness toward Diblath, in all their habitations: and they shall know that I am the LORD.
So, why will Jerusalem fall? For the same reason Israel and Judah had already fallen - idolatry and the worshipping of false gods. That's right! All of this would continue in Jerusalem until the complete fall...and all because they turned to other gods. Make no mistake about it; this was the sin that God would not tolerate. Notice the directness here of this message. Idols and high places (pagan altars) get repeated mention in this chapter. Here, as is the case throughout the Old Testament, this pagan worship is characterized as spiritual harlotry and called an "abomination." Ezekiel pulls no punches here regarding the exact sin of the inhabitants of Jerusalem causing their demise.
No one listening to Ezekiel could possibly misunderstand the reason for the wrath of God being poured out upon Jerusalem, and the means by which it would happen are once again put before them with great detail: famine, sword and exile. However, notice the one bright spot in this chapter, the remnant of verse 8. There were three major invasions by the Babylonians of the Palestine area. The first was the one here in which Daniel was taken in 605 B.C. The second was 597 B.C. when King Jehoiachin, the son of Jehoiakim surrendered to the Babylonians and was deported along with all the other influential people in Jerusalem/Judah; Zedekiah became the puppet king (by Babylonian appointment) of Jerusalem/Judah at that time. Under King Zedekiah, Jerusalem fell completely in 587/586 B.C. when the last exiles were removed from the city. Ezekiel prophesies that some of these exiles will repent toward God.
Judah's complete fall (Ezekiel 7)
1 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
2 Also, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD unto the land of Israel; An end, the end is come upon the four corners of the land.
3 Now is the end come upon thee, and I will send mine anger upon thee, and will judge thee according to thy ways, and will recompense upon thee all thine abominations.
4 And mine eye shall not spare thee, neither will I have pity: but I will recompense thy ways upon thee, and thine abominations shall be in the midst of thee: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
5 Thus saith the Lord GOD; An evil, an only evil, behold, is come.
6 An end is come, the end is come: it watcheth for thee; behold, it is come.
7 The morning is come unto thee, O thou that dwellest in the land: the time is come, the day of trouble is near, and not the sounding again of the mountains.
8 Now will I shortly pour out my fury upon thee, and accomplish mine anger upon thee: and I will judge thee according to thy ways, and will recompense thee for all thine abominations.
9 And mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: I will recompense thee according to thy ways and thine abominations that are in the midst of thee; and ye shall know that I am the LORD that smiteth.
10 Behold the day, behold, it is come: the morning is gone forth; the rod hath blossomed, pride hath budded.
11 Violence is risen up into a rod of wickedness: none of them shall remain, nor of their multitude, nor of any of theirs: neither shall there be wailing for them.
12 The time is come, the day draweth near: let not the buyer rejoice, nor the seller mourn: for wrath is upon all the multitude thereof.
13 For the seller shall not return to that which is sold, although they were yet alive: for the vision is touching the whole multitude thereof, which shall not return; neither shall any strengthen himself in the iniquity of his life.
14 They have blown the trumpet, even to make all ready; but none goeth to the battle: for my wrath is upon all the multitude thereof.
15 The sword is without, and the pestilence and the famine within: he that is in the field shall die with the sword; and he that is in the city, famine and pestilence shall devour him.
16 But they that escape of them shall escape, and shall be on the mountains like doves of the valleys, all of them mourning, every one for his iniquity.
17 All hands shall be feeble, and all knees shall be weak as water.
18 They shall also gird themselves with sackcloth, and horror shall cover them; and shame shall be upon all faces, and baldness upon all their heads.
19 They shall cast their silver in the streets, and their gold shall be removed: their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the LORD: they shall not satisfy their souls, neither fill their bowels: because it is the stumblingblock of their iniquity.
20 As for the beauty of his ornament, he set it in majesty: but they made the images of their abominations and of their detestable things therein: therefore have I set it far from them.
21 And I will give it into the hands of the strangers for a prey, and to the wicked of the earth for a spoil; and they shall pollute it.
22 My face will I turn also from them, and they shall pollute my secret place: for the robbers shall enter into it, and defile it.
23 Make a chain: for the land is full of bloody crimes, and the city is full of violence.
24 Wherefore I will bring the worst of the heathen, and they shall possess their houses: I will also make the pomp of the strong to cease; and their holy places shall be defiled.
25 Destruction cometh; and they shall seek peace, and there shall be none.
26 Mischief shall come upon mischief, and rumour shall be upon rumour; then shall they seek a vision of the prophet; but the law shall perish from the priest, and counsel from the ancients.
27 The king shall mourn, and the prince shall be clothed with desolation, and the hands of the people of the land shall be troubled: I will do unto them after their way, and according to their deserts will I judge them; and they shall know that I am the LORD.
God's angry with the inhabitants of Jerusalem; that point is clear in this chapter. Let's keep in mind that Ezekiel is a contemporary of Jeremiah. However, Jeremiah is back in Jerusalem while Ezekiel has been exiled to Babylon; they're talking to two different groups of people, yet all Jews. In this chapter, Ezekiel prophesies the fall of Jerusalem/Judah. As in chapter 5 (see above), Ezekiel again prophesies of the famine that will come to Jerusalem as a result of the city being surrounded by the Babylonians in verse 15, "The sword is without, and the pestilence and the famine within: he that is in the field shall die with the sword; and he that is in the city, famine and pestilence shall devour him." As seen in the cross references for chapter 5, all of these prophecies regarding the means whereby Jerusalem was captured by the Babylonians happened just as prophesied.
And then we have the deportation of Jews. Not only would most of Jerusalem's influential Jews be exiled to Babylonia, non-Jews would go to Jerusalem and inhabit their vacant homes; we see that in verse 24, "Wherefore I will bring the worst of the heathen, and they shall possess their houses." So that there is no mistake about the cause of the fall, Ezekiel makes it clear in verse 8 - God will cause their fall because of their abominations. That's reinforced in verse 27, "The king shall mourn, and the prince shall be clothed with desolation, and the hands of the people of the land shall be troubled: I will do unto them after their way, and according to their deserts will I judge them; and they shall know that I am the LORD." Let's remember; Babylon was an instrument of God for Jerusalem's destruction.
Ezekiel addresses the exiled leaders of Judah (Ezekiel 8)
1 And it came to pass in the sixth year, in the sixth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I sat in mine house, and the elders of Judah sat before me, that the hand of the Lord GOD fell there upon me.
2 Then I beheld, and lo a likeness as the appearance of fire: from the appearance of his loins even downward, fire; and from his loins even upward, as the appearance of brightness, as the colour of amber.
3 And he put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy.
4 And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, according to the vision that I saw in the plain.
5 Then said he unto me, Son of man, lift up thine eyes now the way toward the north. So I lifted up mine eyes the way toward the north, and behold northward at the gate of the altar this image of jealousy in the entry.
6 He said furthermore unto me, Son of man, seest thou what they do? even the great abominations that the house of Israel committeth here, that I should go far off from my sanctuary? but turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations.
7 And he brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, behold a hole in the wall.
8 Then said he unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall: and when I had digged in the wall, behold a door.
9 And he said unto me, Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here.
10 So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, pourtrayed upon the wall round about.
11 And there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, with every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up.
12 Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, The LORD seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth.
13 He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do.
14 Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the LORD’S house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz.
15 Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these.
16 And he brought me into the inner court of the LORD’S house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the LORD, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east.
17 Then he said unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? for they have filled the land with violence, and have returned to provoke me to anger: and, lo, they put the branch to their nose.
18 Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them.
We get a time stamp in this chapter in verse 1, Aug./Sept. 592 B.C. That's six years into the exile which began for these Jews in 597 B.C. You will recall from Ezekiel 4 (see notes) that for 430 days in a row Ezekiel lay on his side in his yard simulating the siege of Jerusalem with a homemade replica of Jerusalem. It was only a matter of time before somebody in leadership would request an audience with Ezekiel, this priest turned prophet. Well, here he is prophesying to those leaders (presumably the exiled leaders from Judah); he's going over a vision he had of the worship conditions back in Jerusalem. What did he see? He saw the temple turned into an International Center for Diverse Worship (I made that name up, aka ICDW). They were worshipping every god imaginable at the exclusion of the one true God (verses 9-10). Of course Jeremiah was back there in Jerusalem warning them, but they continued with their false worship anyway.
Ezekiel names a culprit in verse 11, "Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan." If this is the same "Shaphan" that served as secretary under King Josiah (II Kings 22, see notes), then he was instrumental under King Josiah of bringing the nation back to God during that era. He actually read the newly-discovered "book of the law" to King Josiah. Since Ezekiel names "Jaazaniah" in this passage to these exiled Jews, it seems likely that he is the son of the godly secretary of Josiah back then. That only accentuates how bad things had gotten in Jerusalem in a few short years.
Now the bad news - I mean the real bad news: God's going to judge them harshly for their worship of false gods. Notice verse 18, "Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them." God is, indeed, longsuffering, but these Jews had no intention of returning to the one true God. Oh...well - some people have to learn their lessons the hard way!
This prophecy continues into Ezekiel 9 (see notes).