did God seem so harsh with Israel and Judah? What did the people do that His
judgment was so severe? In this section of Ezekiel, scripture reveals the
extent of Israelís fall from the time they entered the Promised Land.
The people had
turned from the Living God to idols; they worshipped the gods of the
lands. Their idol worship was not just simple prayers, but also
involved the sacrifice of living boys and girls on the red hot arms
of the Moabite god Chemosh. The nation indulged in sexual
sin with temple prostitutes in the very city of Jerusalem, mocking
the Lord God who had established them in the land.
and prophetesses were among the people countering the message of
repentance from Jeremiah and Ezekiel, assuring the people they would
not be judged. They led the people away from the Glory of the
Lord. Godís solution was radical judgment against the land; God
would fulfill the promises of the covenant established at Mount Ebal
(Deut 27-29). The Babylonians were called to destroy the city of
Jerusalem, the Temple Solomon had built and take the people into
Only twice in
Israelís history has the nation been scattered; the first time
involved the Babylonian period 605 B.C. to 586 B.C (above), the
second time was A.D. 70 when the Romans scattered the nation
throughout the Roman Empire. To this day, the Jewish people are the
descendents of this scattered nation. Ezekielís message was harsh
but God tempered the message with hope. There was a coming day of
restoration when the nation would one day receive the blessings of a
new and greater Covenant.
Ezekiel the focus is on a greater fulfillment, a period when God
will restore the nation and establish an everlasting covenant. This
everlasting covenant was offered at the first coming of Jesus Christ
but Israel rejected it. The Messiah was cut-off, fulfilling what the
prophets foretold (Daniel 9:26, Isaiah 53), and the city was destroyed by the
Romans, similar to the Babylonian destruction. The people were
scattered throughout the nations as they were in Ezekielís day.
about a day of gathering after they were scattered; the nation would
be restored, except its restoration was permanent and eternal,
resulting in the reign of the Glory of the Lord.
The Exile Symbolized
a symbol to the captives, who he lives among. God commands Ezekiel
to bring out his belongings during the day. God then commands him to
dig through the wall of his home and carry out his belongings on his
shoulder, while not looking at the ground. Two meanings are implied
by Ezekielís symbolic actions:
nation (those who remain in Jerusalem) will be sent into exile (586
B.C.) to join those who are already in Babylon, while others will be
scattered into the nations.
prince Zedekiah will go into captivity but will not see the land
because he will be blinded by Nebuchadnezzar.
False Prophets Condemned
One of Israelís
problems was the collection of false prophets and prophetess who
led them down the wrong path with false messages. Here Ezekiel
proclaims judgment against these two groups. He declares:
6 "They have
envisioned futility and false divination, saying, 'Thus says the
Lord!' But the Lord has not sent them; yet they hope that the word
may be confirmed.
7 "Have you not
seen a futile vision, and have you not spoken false divination? You
say, 'The Lord says,' but I have not spoken." Ezekiel 13:6-7
a false peace, when God had declared judgment. They made the people
of the land rest in lies, rejecting the words of Jeremiah and
Ezekiel the prophets who proclaimed judgment against the land.
16 'that is, the
prophets of Israel who prophesy concerning Jerusalem, and who see
visions of peace for her when there is no peace,' " says the Lord
17 "Likewise, son
of man, set your face against the daughters of your people, who
prophesy out of their own heart; prophesy against them,
18 "and say,
'Thus says the Lord God: "Woe to the women who sew magic charms on
their sleeves and make veils for the heads of people of every height
to hunt souls! Will you hunt the souls of My people, and keep
yourselves alive? Ezekiel 13:16-18
Later, the Lord
declares that He would free His people from their captivity to these
false prophets who have ensnared them in lies.
Idolatry in the heart and inescapable judgment
with two aspects of Israelís sin, the personal sin of the people
through idolatry, and the unfaithfulness of the land, both of which
brought on Godís judgment.
came to ask Ezekiel to inquire about the Lord. God replies by
condemning the spiritual condition of those who would inquire of
God, declaring the people have set up idols in their hearts.
3 "Son of man,
these men have set up their idols in their hearts, and put before
them that which causes them to stumble into iniquity. Should I let
Myself be inquired of at all by them?
speak to them, and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God: "Everyone
of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, and puts
before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, and then comes
to the prophet, I the Lord will answer him who comes, according to
the multitude of his idols, Ezekiel
According to the
sin of the individual person, God will answer the sinner; the
personal idols established in the lives of the captives caused them
to sin. The sins of the land were so great that Godís judgment was
fourfold; sword, famine, wild beasts and plagues. From this chapter
we can draw principles on how God judges a nation which turns away
from Him. A nation and a land which sins against the Lord invites
His judgment, just like the land of Judah and Israel. Their
persistent sin without repentance forced God to respond.
13 "Son of man,
when a land sins against Me by persistent unfaithfulness, I will
stretch out My hand against it; I will cut off its supply of bread,
send famine on it, and cut off man and beast from it.
14 "Even if these
three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver
only themselves by their righteousness," says the Lord God.
The judgment was
so severe that if Daniel, Noah and Job were all in the land, their
righteousness would only cause their deliverance, even their
children would not be spared. This is a lesson for any nation,
including the United States. If we as a nation continue in sin, we
invite Godís wrath. Ezekiel would witness Godís judgment through
those who would survive it and would be brought into captivity to
the place where Ezekiel was living.
Jerusalem a useless vine
declares His judgment against the land, comparing Jerusalem to a
useless vine which is only good for burning. Because the nation was
unfaithful, the Lord would cause the land to be desolate. If a
nation turns away from the Lord in unfaithfulness, that nation
invites Godís judgment.
16: Jerusalem the unfaithful wife
traces the spiritual heritage of Jerusalem as a bride for the Lord,
which is the ultimate picture of Jerusalem in the book of Revelation
chapter 21 and 22. This chapter begins by picturing Jerusalem as an
abandoned baby thrown into an open field by its parents, a Hittite
mother and an Amorite father. The Lord found Jerusalem kicking in
its blood. He saved it, nurtured it and covered her nakedness. God
adorned the city by taking it for His wife. Jerusalem, the city of
God, turned away from the Lord by trusting in her own beauty. She
became a prostitute looking to the idols of the nations for
fulfillment. Jerusalem turned to the occult and fertility practices
of the nations which surrounded her, predicating the sexual
prostitution. She took the blessings received from the Lord and
offered them idols.
15 "But you
trusted in your own beauty, played the harlot because of your fame,
and poured out your harlotry on everyone passing by who would have
16 "You took some
of your garments and adorned multicolored high places for yourself,
and played the harlot on them. Such things should not happen, nor
17 "You have also
taken your beautiful jewelry from My gold and My silver, which I had
given you, and made for yourself male images and played the harlot
18 "You took your
embroidered garments and covered them, and you set My oil and My
incense before them.
offered its children, through child sacrifice, to these same idols.
Jeremiah, like Ezekiel, condemns the land for the child sacrifice.
The judgment of the land continues to build as Israel imitates the
practices of the nations. God Himself is behind the destruction of
Jerusalem in 586 B.C., as a result of these sins.
31 "And they have
built the high places of Tophet, which is in the Valley of the Son
of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which
I did not command, nor did it come into My heart.
behold, the days are coming," says the Lord, "when it will o more be
called Tophet, or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of
Slaughter; for they will bury in Tophet until there is no room.
Even with the
judgment, the Lord looks forward to a day of Redemption, when
Jerusalem will be restored as the city of God. This event is
featured in the 2nd half of Ezekiel, specifically
chapters 40-48, when the Glory of the Lord returns to Jerusalem to
dwell with His people.
I will remember My covenant with you in the days of your youth, and
I will establish an everlasting covenant with you.
62 "And I will
establish My covenant with you. Then you shall know that I am the
This day will
come when Israel comes to know Jesus Christ as the Messiah and
savior of Israel.
Two Eagles and the vine
597 B.C., Ezekiel, along with Jehoiachin, was taken captive into
Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar, and Zedekiah, his uncle, was made
rebelled against Babylonian rule by turning to Egypt for help.
Here, the Lord pictures Israel as the top of a cedar tree from
Lebanon plucked up and planted in a distant land by a great colorful
eagle (Nebuchadnezzar). Rather than growing, the top of the cedar
becomes a vine which is pursued by another great eagle (Egypt).
Therefore, the vine was uprooted and destroyed by the first Eagle
(Nebuchadnezzar) in 586 B.C.
Himself plucks the top shoot of the cedar and plants it on the
mountains of Israel causing it to become a great tree with birds of
every kind nesting in it, and all the trees of the field knowing the
Lord planted it. Ezekiel 17 moves past the judgment and toward the
eternal kingdom when the Glory of the Lord will rule over the
nation. At this time, Israel as a nation will be blessed over the
other nations of the earth.
22 Thus says the
Lord God: "I will take also one of the highest branches of the high
cedar and set it out. I will crop off from the topmost of its young
twigs a tender one, and will plant it on a high and prominent
23 "On the
mountain height of Israel I will plant it; and it will bring forth
boughs, and bear fruit, and be a majestic cedar. Under it will dwell
birds of every sort; in the shadow of its branches they will dwell.
24 "And all the
trees of the field shall know that I, the Lord, have brought down
the high tree and exalted the low tree, dried up the green tree and
made the dry tree flourish; I, the Lord, have spoken and have done
it." Ezekiel 17:22-24
18: The Soul who sins will die
The people of
the land were blaming their problems on their fatherís sins; the
Lord rebukes this thinking, proclaiming everybody is responsible for
their own sins.
2 "What do you
mean when you use this proverb concerning the land of Israel,
saying: 'The fathers have eaten sour grapes, And the children's
teeth are set on edge'? Ezekiel 18:2
The Lord was
seeking the restoration of souls to righteousness, judgment was
coming against the land, and the Babylonians were about to destroy
Jerusalem and the Temple though some would be saved. This group
included those in whom righteousness was found (Ezekiel 9:4) and who
would be rescued from the wrath to come. God can preserve His
people even while He is judging the land. This chapter is not
speaking of a works based salvation, but a temporal salvation from
Godís judgment and wrath about to be unleashed on Jerusalem. This
same principle applies to our world today.
If God chooses,
He can deliver His people from the wrath coming against the world.
Sons are not judged for their fatherís sin; the wicked man can turn
from his sin and receive a reprieve from Godís judgment because God
is gracious to the sinner.
20 "The soul who
sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor
the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the
righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked
shall be upon himself. ...
27 "Again, when a
wicked man turns away from the wickedness which he committed, and
does what is lawful and right, he preserves himself alive. Ezekiel
God wants Israel
to turn from theirs ways so that He does not have to judge them,
knowing that in the end Israel will turn from their ways and receive
the blessings of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31) promised
in scripture and fulfilled in the Millennium. This is the focus of
Ezekiel, this new relationship that God will one day have with His
31 "Cast away
from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get
yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O
house of Israel?
32 "For I have no
pleasure in the death of one who dies," says the Lord God.
"Therefore turn and live!" Ezekiel
A Lament for Israelís Kings
The kings of
Israel are pictured as caged lions, one of whom is pictured being
taken to Babylon. This either refers to Jehoiachin who was taken
captive in 597 B.C. or Zedekiah who would be taken captive in 586
B.C. after Jerusalem was destroyed. The king of Israel is then
pictured as an uprooted vine planted in the desert.
Rebellious Israel & Restored Israel
Here in the 20th
chapter, the Book of Ezekiel reveals the destiny of Israel. First,
they are chosen by God but choose to be disobedient. Second, God
promises to fulfill His word and bless the nation one day with
On the one hand
they are chosen by God out of all the nations of the earth to be a
peculiar people, a nation of priests and kings (Deut. 7:7).
However, the nation, even though chosen by God, was in a continuous
state of rebellion. In the desert, the nation made a covenant
agreement; if they obeyed they would be blessed above all nations
(Deut. 28:1), if they disobeyed they would be scattered amongst the
nations. Since God was about to judge them via the nation of
Babylon, they are reminded here in Ezekiel of the promises made in
23 "Also I raised
My hand in an oath to those in the wilderness, that I would scatter
them among the Gentiles and disperse them throughout the countries,
24 "because they
had not executed My judgments, but had despised My statutes,
profaned My Sabbaths, and their eyes were fixed on their fathers'
idols. Ezekiel 20:23-24
Even though God
promises judgment through the words of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, He also
promises restoration of the nation. This restoration is revealed in
greater detail in Chapters 36 through 48; here God tempers His
judgment with the promise of restoration. Israelís problem is that
they wanted to be like the nations, rather than to be Godís nation.
31 "For when you
offer your gifts and make your sons pass through the fire, you
defile yourselves with all your idols, even to this day. So shall I
be inquired of by you, O house of Israel? As I live," says the Lord
God, "I will not be inquired of by you.
32 "What you have
in your mind shall never be, when you say, 'We will be like the
Gentiles, like the families in other countries, serving wood and
stone.' Ezekiel 20;31-32
obstinate heart, and their scattering amongst the nations, they will
one day be gathered and blessed as promised.
40 "For on My
holy mountain, on the mountain height of Israel," says the Lord God,
"there all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, shall serve
Me; there I will accept them, and there I will require your
offerings and the firstfruits of your sacrifices, together with all
your holy things.
41 "I will accept
you as a sweet aroma when I bring you out from the peoples and
gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered; and I
will be hallowed in you before the Gentiles.
42 "Then you
shall know that I am the Lord, when I bring you into the land of
Israel, into the country for which I raised My hand in an oath to
give to your fathers.
43 "And there you
shall remember your ways and all your doings with which you were
defiled; and you shall loathe yourselves in your own sight because
of all the evils that you have committed.
44 "Then you
shall know that I am the Lord, when I have dealt with you for My
name's sake, not according to your wicked ways nor according to your
corrupt doings, O house of Israel," says the Lord God.' "
Babylon Godís Sword of Judgment
coming for judgment against the land. Ezekiel is told to sigh in
the presence of the people. When asked why he is sighing, he is to
tell them that the news of what is coming will make every heart
melt. The kingship of Israel will be over until the Messiah, the
Glory of the Lord, returns.
26 'thus says the
Lord God: "Remove the turban, and take off the crown; Nothing shall
remain the same. Exalt the humble, and humble the exalted.
overthrown, I will make it overthrown! It shall be no longer, Until
He comes whose right it is, And I will give it to Him." Ezekiel 21:26-27
the sins of the land showing why God is going to bring judgment.
Notice the rulers invite judgment by their leadership.
6 "Look, the
princes of Israel: each one has used his power to shed blood in you.
7 "In you they
have made light of father and mother; in your midst they have
oppressed the stranger; in you they have mistreated the fatherless
and the widow.
8 "You have
despised My holy things and profaned My Sabbaths.
9 "In you are men
who slander to cause bloodshed; in you are those who eat on the
mountains; in your midst they commit lewdness.
10 "In you men
uncover their fathers' nakedness; in you they violate women who are
set apart during their impurity.
11 "One commits
abomination with his neighbor's wife; another lewdly defiles his
daughter-in-law; and another in you violates his sister, his
12 "In you they
take bribes to shed blood; you take usury and increase; you have
made profit from your neighbors by extortion, and have forgotten
Me," says the Lord God. Ezekiel 22:6-12
time, God sought people to intervene, to stand in the gap; today God
is looking for people to do the same. He is looking for
intercessors, people who will make a difference.
30 "So 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.
31 "Therefore I
have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with
the fire of My wrath; and I have recompensed their deeds on their
own heads," says the Lord God. Ezekiel
23: The two adulterous sisters
the capital of Judah, and Samaria, the capital of Israel, are
pictured as two prostitutes named Oholah (Samaria) and Oholibah
(Jerusalem) who look to the nations for help. They seek the help of
Assyria, Babylon and Egypt rather than turning to the Lord.
Therefore, God will turn them over to their lovers.
thus says the Lord God: 'Because you have forgotten Me and cast Me
behind your back, Therefore you shall bear the penalty Of your
lewdness and your harlotry.' "
36 The Lord also
said to me: "Son of man, will you judge Oholah and Oholibah? Then
declare to them their abominations.
37 "For they have
committed adultery, and blood is on their hands. They have committed
adultery with their idols, and even sacrificed their sons whom they
bore to Me, passing them through the fire, to devour them.
and Judah are judged like adulterous women when they are slain as
judgment for their adultery which consisted of worshipping idols and
allowing child sacrifice.
The cooking pot
begins with the Babylonians laying siege to Jerusalem on January 15th
588 B.C. Jerusalem is pictured as a cooking pot about to be emptied
of its contents. The pot is melted because it is worthless. At the
time Jerusalem is besieged, tragedy strikes Ezekiel. His wife dies
but he is told by the Lord not to mourn or cry because Ezekielís
wife is a picture of The Temple in Jerusalem, the ďdesire of the
eyesĒ. Like Ezekiel, the people will not mourn when they hear about
the destruction of Jerusalem. Ezekiel is a sign to the people; when
survivors arrive from Jerusalemís destruction, God opens the mouth
25 'And you, son
of man-will it not be in the day when I take from them their
stronghold, their joy and their glory, the desire of their eyes, and
that on which they set their minds, their sons and their daughters:
26 'on that day
one who escapes will come to you to let you hear it with your ears;
27 'on that day
your mouth will be opened to him who has escaped; you shall speak
and no longer be mute. Thus you will be a sign to them, and they
shall know that I am the Lord.' " Ezekiel 24: 25-27