‘Reflections’ on the Writing Prophets 35
E Z E K I E L
Ezekiel 19:1 to 22:31
A ‘lament’ is a verbal expression of grief. God required Ezekiel to pronounce such a deep regret. It is historical. It’s about the past. But as is often the case, the past determines the future. So it was for the southern kingdom of Judah, The ‘mother’ refers to the nation, Judah. The ‘lions’ refer to her recent kings. All of them “bad” kings. Specifically, Jehoahaz, who only reigned for 3 months in 609 BCE, overthrown by Egypt’s Pharaoh Necho. Then Jehoiachin, unjust and cruel, who also only had a 3 month reign before being carried off to Babylon in a cage (2 Kings 24:6-15) in 597 BCE. He was held captive for 37 years. And finally, Zedekiah, bringing about the collapse of the Davidic dynasty in 586 BCE. By his treachery, he was responsible for the burning down of Jerusalem. But as to the future, the Davidic dynasty will be restored when Messiah Yeshua returns to sit on that throne.
In Ezekiel 14 we pondered the question “Should I let Myself be enquired of at all by them?” Which the LORD put to Ezekiel (a question which brought enormous challenge to my life, see “reflection” 33). Now the LORD is quite specific when some of the elders came to enquire of Him. “I will not be inquired of by you”. But He told Ezekiel to “Judge them, and make known to them the abominations of their fathers”. Abominations which evidently were continued by them. Hence the judgment. So it was that again God spoke to Ezekiel about the blessings He had promised to the Israelites. Bringing them out of slavery in Egypt. Giving them their own land which He described as “a land that I had searched out for them, ‘flowing with milk and honey’, the glory of all lands”. Not any land. The best that existed. And as He continued, we find an expression which provides a salutary lesson for each of us. “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”. Remember Malachi 3:6. “I am the LORD, I do not change”. So here is the lesson. There are NOT some rules for one, and different rules for others. For the Israelites, Deuteronomy 28,29 spelled out the blessings (for the obedient) and the ‘curses’ (for others). Those curses are activated by mans own choices. They are stated clearly upfront. No ambiguity. What Ezekiel was being told to say was already known by the Israelites. It was not a mystery. But that did not make any more palatable either. As we said earlier in this ‘reflection’ “the past (or even for us the present) determines our future”. That is an unambiguous fact of Scripture, proclaimed here by the prophet Ezekiel. “I am the LORD your God: Walk in My statutes, keep My judgements, 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”. Selah!
It must have been heartrending for Ezekiel to bring the words of the LORD to the people. He was one of them. He was captive in Babylon at the time. He is told to tell the people that a sword is already prepared, sharpened, polished, waiting to bring destruction to Jerusalem. Dreams turned into nightmares. As Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon prepared to go to battle, it seemed that he had two places to invade. Ezekiel is shown the alternatives. Rabbah of the Ammonites and Judah, where Jerusalem was fortified. At the junction of the two ways, a decision had to be made. Nebuchadnezzar turned to ‘divination’ for direction. But, Ezekiel knew that God Almighty was in control, because He told him so. The Judeans thought it was a false divination. That it would not happen. Speaking of Zedekiah, God said “Now to you, O profane, wicked prince of Israel, whose day has come, whose iniquity shall end, thus says the LORD ‘Remove the turban, and take off the crown; nothing shall remain the same”. God’s judgment cannot be stayed. It is as inevitable as night follows day. The Judeans did not believe it. And my dear friends, many, even those who claim allegiance to our God, do not believe it. (Matthew 7:21) It would be good to read again, from Ezekiel 3 and 33, the role we have as watchmen. It is an onerous duty to be called as a modern day Ezekiel.
As we near the end of this ‘reflection’, God, repetitiously, calls Ezekiel to be a judge. Pointing out over and again the abominations which caused Him to act against the people called by His name. Why? Why now? As I pondered this thought, it came to me that the abominable actions of people called by God’s own name, could not continue because of the damage being done to His NAME. God was effectively being mocked. He had intended the Israelites to be an example for good in the world. As He does US. Instead God’s very name was brought into disrepute. Pray that we are not guilty of the same offence, not by what we say, but by the way we live our lives before men. That was the ultimate sin of the Israelites. They belonged to the LORD, but acted as though they did not. The result for them? “I will scatter you among there 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”.
The people were about to experience the fire of the LORD. “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”. How sad. God looks, in every generation, for those who will ‘stand in the gap’ before Him. In our generation we have been called for that purpose. God grant that we diligently seek His face to understand the role He has allotted us to accomplish in His Name, by living righteously before men. May you find blessing in so doing.