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Ezekiel 5-8 Listen
Then we have a hair object lesson (Ezekiel 5)
1 “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 scales to weigh and divide the hair.
2 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.
3 You shall also take a small number of them and bind them in the edge of your garment.
4 Then take some of them again and throw them into the midst of the fire, and burn them in the fire. From there a fire will go out into all the house of Israel.
5 ¶ “Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘This is Jerusalem; I have set her in the midst of the nations and the countries all around her.
6 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.’
7 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’—
8 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.
9 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.
10 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.
11 ¶ “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.
12 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.
13 ¶ “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.
14 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.
15 ¶ “So it shall be a reproach, a taunt, a lesson, and an 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.
16 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.
17 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.’ ”
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, "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." He was also to take a few hairs of the third part and "bind them in the edge of your garment." 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 Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying:
2 “Son of man, set your face toward the mountains of Israel, and prophesy against them,
3 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.
4 Then your altars shall be desolate, your incense altars shall be broken, and I will cast down your slain men before your idols.
5 And I will lay the corpses of the children of Israel before their idols, and I will scatter your bones all around your altars.
6 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.
7 The slain shall fall in your midst, and you shall know that I am the LORD.
8 ¶ “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.
9 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.
10 And they shall know that I am the LORD; I have not said in vain that I would bring this calamity upon them.”
11 ¶ “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.
12 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.
13 Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when their slain 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.
14 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 dwelling places. Then 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 to me, saying,
2 “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.
3 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.
4 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!’
5 ¶ “Thus says the Lord GOD:
‘A disaster, a singular disaster;
Behold, it has come!
6 An end has come,
The end has come;
It has dawned for you;
Behold, it has come!
7 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.
8 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.
9 “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.
10 “Behold, the day!
Behold, it has come!
Doom has gone out;
The rod has blossomed,
Pride has budded.
11 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.
12 The time has come,
The day draws near.
“Let not the buyer rejoice,
Nor the seller mourn,
For wrath is on their whole multitude.
13 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.
14 “They have blown the trumpet and made everyone ready,
But no one goes to battle;
For My wrath is on all their multitude.
15 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.
16 “Those who survive will escape and be on the mountains
Like doves of the valleys,
All of them mourning,
Each for his iniquity.
17 Every hand will be feeble,
And every knee will be as weak as water.
18 They will also be girded with sackcloth;
Horror will cover them;
Shame will be on every face,
Baldness on all their heads.
19 “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.
20 “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.
21 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.
22 I will turn My face from them,
And they will defile My secret place;
For robbers shall enter it and defile it.
23 “Make a chain,
For the land is filled with crimes of blood,
And the city is full of violence.
24 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.
25 Destruction comes;
They will seek peace, but there shall be none.
26 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.
27 “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!’ ”
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 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." 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, "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." 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 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!" 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, 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.
2 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.
3 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.
4 And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, like the vision that I saw in the plain.
5 ¶ 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.
6 ¶ 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.”
7 So He brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, there was a hole in the wall.
8 Then He said to me, “Son of man, dig into the wall”; and when I dug into the wall, there was a door.
9 ¶ And He said to me, “Go in, and see the wicked abominations which they are doing there.”
10 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.
11 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.
12 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.’ ”
13 ¶ And He said to me, “Turn again, and you will see greater abominations that they are doing.”
14 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.
15 ¶ Then He said to me, “Have you seen this, O son of man? Turn again, you will see greater abominations than these.”
16 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.
17 ¶ And 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.
18 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.”
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 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." 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).