Scripture reading – Ezekiel 22

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Ezekiel 22 examined Jerusalem’s sins and wickedness, for they provoked the LORD’s wrath. His chosen people had enjoyed His favor like none other, yet they sank to the depths of sin and depravity. As you read Ezekiel 22, I suggest you ponder the sins of Washington or your nation’s capital and ask, are the sins of Jerusalem not being repeated in our day?

An Indictment of Jerusalem and Her Citizens (Ezekiel 22:1-5)

Today’s Scripture begins with the LORD summoning His prophet to serve as His prosecutor, and asking him, Son of man, wilt thou judge [denounce; pass judgment], wilt thou judge the bloody city? (Ezekiel 22:2a). The LORD answered that question, and asserted, “Yea, thou shalt shew her all her [Jerusalem’s] abominations” (Ezekiel 22:2b).

As the prosecutor of Jerusalem, Ezekiel was to charge the people of that city with two crimes worthy of death (Ezekiel 22:3): Violence (i.e., murder, for “the city sheddeth blood”), and Idolatry (for the people rejected the LORD, and made idols). The consequences of Jerusalem’s sins were fivefold. The LORD declared the people were guilty, defiled, worthy of death (“for her sins had “caused [her] days to draw near,” and “a reproach unto the heathen, and a mocking to all countries” (Ezekiel 22:4-5).


National Sins That Sealed Judah’s Fate as a Nation (Ezekiel 22:6-12)

The LORD commanded Ezekiel to declare the egregious nature of Jerusalem’s sins. The leaders abused their power, denied the people justice, and murdered the innocent (Ezekiel 22:6; 2 Kings 21:16; 24:4). The sons and daughters neglected and dishonored their parents (Ezekiel 22:7a).

National Sins That Sealed Judah’s Fate as a Nation

They extorted the stranger (non-Hebrew) living in their midst (Ezekiel 22:7b; Exodus 22:21). They neglected orphans and widows (Ezekiel 22:7b). They despised things the LORD declared holy and sacred, and desecrated the Sabbath (Ezekiel 22:8). They ruined the reputations of men by slanders (Ezekiel 22:9a; Leviticus 19:16) and committed gross immorality (Ezekiel 22:9b).

They committed incest with their fathers (Ezekiel 22:10; Leviticus 18:6-18) and dishonored women that were set apart (Ezekiel 22:10b; Leviticus 12:2). They were adulterers with women that were not their wives (22:11a). They were scandalously incestuous with family members (Ezekiel 22:11; Leviticus 20:10-12).

They were covetousness and bribed men to murder (Ezekiel 22:12a). They abused the poor by charging exorbitant interest and blackmailed others for gain (Ezekiel 22:12b; Ezekiel 18:8; Exodus 22:25-27; Leviticus 25:35-37).


God’s Judgment (Ezekiel 22:12c-22)

Jerusalem’s wickedness was summed up in this: They had forsaken and “forgotten” the LORD (22:12c), and their sins demanded His judgment. The LORD clapped His hands at the people in disgust, for they provoked Him to anger with their “dishonest,” fraudulent gain (Ezekiel 22:13).

Once a mighty and valiant people, Judah had become a weak, cowardly people (Ezekiel 22:14). Therefore, the LORD determined to scatter His people among the nations of the world (Ezekiel 22:15a) and declared He would consume their wickedness in His wrath (22:15b). All this would be done so that the people might confess and acknowledge Him as “the LORD” (Ezekiel 22:16).

The LORD revealed to Ezekiel that He would bring upon Israel the fire of His wrath and purify His people of their sins (Ezekiel 22:18). They were like worthless dross, impure and unholy (Ezekiel 22:18). In His wrath, the LORD declared He would drive His people to seek shelter in Jerusalem (Ezekiel 22:19). However, that city would become a boiling caldron of fiery judgment (Ezekiel 22:20-21; 2 Kings 25:9).

To what end would this great judgment befall Jerusalem? Ezekiel was to declare, “As silver is melted in the midst of the furnace, so shall ye be melted in the midst thereof; and ye shall know that I the Lord have poured out my fury upon you” (Ezekiel 22:22).

Indictment of Jerusalem’s Leaders (Ezekiel 22:23-31)

Because Judah and Jerusalem’s leaders failed the people, the LORD withheld the rains that would lead to thirst and famine (Ezekiel 22:23-24). King Zedekiah and his court became ravenous lions, devoured the people, robbed them by corrupt means, and by violence made “many widows” (Ezekiel 22:25). 

The priests, Jerusalem’s spiritual leaders, violated the Laws and Commandments and desecrated the Temple with idols and sacrifices (Ezekiel 22:26). They failed to sanctify the holy. They neglected the sabbaths (Ezekiel 22:26). The “princes” (political leaders) of Jerusalem and Judah were like ravenous wolves, shedding the blood of the innocent to increase their “dishonest gain” (Ezekiel 22:27).

Indictment of Jerusalem’s Leaders

Amid the people were false prophets who “daubed” their sins with “untempered morter” (i.e., whitewashing their sins). They lied, made empty promises, deceived, and claimed to speak the words of the LORD (Ezekiel 22:28).

Finally, there was an indictment of the people themselves. Like their leaders, they were guilty of extortion, theft, oppressing the poor and needy, and treating unjustly the non-Jewish people in their midst (Ezekiel 22:29).


Closing thoughts –

Was there any hope for Jerusalem? Were there any whom God might use to condemn the nation’s sins and call the people to repent? The answer to those questions was summed up in this declaration:  

“I sought for [searched and attempted to find] a man among them, that should make up the hedge [a wall], and stand in the gap [in the breach] before me for the land, that I should not destroy it [to annihilate; desolate]: but I found none [no one]” (Ezekiel 22:30).

Once again, we are reminded that one righteous individual can change the course and eternal destiny of a family, institution, community, or country (Genesis 18:22-33; Psalm 106:23; Isaiah 59:16; Jeremiah 5:1-6). One man might have made the difference for Jerusalem, but the king, the leaders, and the people rejected and scorned Jeremiah. Tragically, all was lost, and the wrath of God would not be appeased (Ezekiel 22:31).

What about you? Are you willing to forego your sin and restrain your liberty to answer the LORD’s call? Will you be the one to “make up the hedge and stand in the gap?”

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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