Scripture reading – Ezekiel 5; Ezekiel 6

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Our study of Ezekiel’s prophecies continues in today’s Scripture reading (Ezekiel 5-6). Though God’s prophet to the captives in Babylon, Ezekiel’s prophecy concerned Jerusalem’s imminent humiliation and judgment.

Ezekiel 5

 

The Signs of Jerusalem’s Humiliation and Judgment (Ezekiel 5:1-4)

To illustrate the LORD’s judgment of those who remained in Jerusalem, Ezekiel was commanded to shave his head and beard (cultural signs of sorrow and humiliation). He was then instructed to divide his hair into three parts (Ezekiel 5:1) to illustrate Jerusalem’s imminent fall and suffering. Each part of his hair served as a symbolic portrayal of how the inhabitants of Judah’s capital city would perish.

Ezekiel was instructed to burn one-third of his hair, symbolizing how the people would perish by fire and disease (Ezekiel 5:2a, 12a). A second portion of his hair was cut in pieces by a knife, portraying one-third of Jerusalem’s inhabitants would die by the sword (Ezekiel 5:2b,12b). The prophet was to scatter in the wind the last third of his hair and beard (Ezekiel 5:2, 12c). Finally, a few remaining hairs were to be sewn into the hem of his robe, representing a remnant of souls the LORD promised to preserve, though some would be slain of that number (Ezekiel 5:3-4). (These were noted in earlier readings in 2 Kings 25:22-26 and Jeremiah 40:9-12.)

Sins of Jerusalem Demanded the LORD’s Judgment

Sins of Jerusalem Demanded the LORD’s Judgment (Ezekiel 5:5-17)

 

Jerusalem’s inhabitants were guilty of wickedness and provoked the LORD’s anger and judgment. Though they were chosen by the LORD and blessed with His Law and Commandments (Ezekiel 5:5-8), the people broke their covenant with the LORD. Having rejected the LORD, the people worshipped idols, and in the depths of their depravity turned to cannibalism, as “fathers [did] eat the sons in the midst…and the sons [did] eat their fathers” (Ezekiel 5:9-10). Lastly, they defiled the Temple and erected and worshiped idols within the holy sanctuary (Ezekiel 5:11-12).

The Cause of the LORD’s Judgment

Jerusalem’s destruction served as testimony of the LORD’s righteous indignation (Ezekiel 5:13). The city’s ruins became a “reproach and a taunt, an instruction and an astonishment” unto other nations (Ezekiel 5:14-15). Ezekiel foretold to the captives living in Babylon the miserable end of those living in Jerusalem, for they suffered famine (Ezekiel 5:16). Those who did not die by starvation would die of disease, plagues, and the sword (Ezekiel 5:17).

The Prophecy of the Destruction of Idol Places

Ezekiel 6

The LORD came to Ezekiel in chapter 6 and addressed him again as “Son of man,” and commanded him, “Set thy face toward the mountains of Israel, and prophesy against them” (Ezekiel 6:2).

The Prophecy of the Destruction of Idol Places (Ezekiel 6:2-7)

Why prophesy against the mountains? The mountains were one of Israel’s and Judah’s principal places of idolatry. Indeed, from reading verse 3, it appears the whole countryside of the nation was full of places of idol worship. The mountains, hills, rivers, and valleys were all places of idolatry where all manner of evil was committed in the name of worship (Ezekiel 6:3).

What was Ezekiel to prophesy about those places and the people who worshipped there? In a word—judgment! The LORD warned, “Behold, I, even I, will bring a sword upon you, and I will destroy your high places…your altars…and your images shall be broken” (Ezekiel 6:3b-4).  

Not only would the idols be destroyed, but those who worshipped and placed them above the Creator would be slain and their bodies stacked and left among the idols. Adding an even greater humiliation, the bones of the dead would find their resting place scattered among their broken altars (Ezekiel 6:4-5). For those who rejected the LORD, every vestige of their lives would be destroyed. Their homes and cities would be laid waste (6:6b). With none to bury them, the “slain [would] fall in the midst” (Ezekiel 6:7).

 

The Promise of Mercy to a Remnant (Ezekiel 6:8-10)

In His mercy, the LORD spared a few, a remnant, who would be scattered among the nations (Ezekiel 6:8). Those spared would remember how they sinned against the LORD and broke His heart with their idolatry (Ezekiel 6:9). They would loathe their wickedness, and all they suffered. They would remember and confess that the God of Israel is the LORD (Ezekiel 6:10).

 

The Provocation for God’s Judgment (Ezekiel 6:11-14)

To demonstrate God’s disgust with the “evil abominations” of His people, Ezekiel was to, “smite with [his]hand, and stamp with [his] foot” (Ezekiel 6:11). The prophet warned, because they sinned against the LORD, they would die “by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence” (Ezekiel 6:11).

 

Closing thoughts 

What befell Jerusalem served as a reminder that God is just, His Word is true, and His promises will come to pass (Ezekiel 5:16-17). Every generation must remember that the LORD has declared, “Vengeance belongeth unto [the LORD],” and no sin shall go unpunished (Deuteronomy 32:35; Romans 12:19; Hebrews 10:30b). All that befell Jerusalem reminded the people in captivity that the LORD is God (Ezekiel 6:13). Though He is merciful, He is also just and has no tolerance for sin!

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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