After Ezekiel had spoken to his people several times without them realizing they had drifted away from God and needed to repent, they came to Ezekiel to inquire of the Lord (Ek 20:1). Ezekiel replied, likely a little sarcastically, as to why God should reveal anything to them. He then gave them a detailed history lesson of all the ways the Israelites had rebelled against God. Because of all their rebellion, both past and present, God stated he would “pass them under the rod” (Ek 20:37), meaning he would purge them from their sin. This is similar to what Jeremiah termed “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jr 30:7). Ezekiel stated the elders in Judah would be consumed like a forest fire (Ek 20:46-47). Yet, these leaders told Ezekiel he was speaking in parables. The words of Ezekiel went unheeded. Isn’t that just like people? Deflect until you can believe it. People haven’t changed over the centuries.
It is likely these leaders’ response broke his heart. Yet, God wasn’t giving up on his lessons to them. Ezekiel was told to tell the people to morn because their fellow countrymen and relatives back in Jerusalem would be slaughtered (Ek 21:7). As a sign and prophecy to these facts, God told Ezekiel to set up a signpost at the fork in the road which Nebuchadnezzar would take when he would invade Judah. The road to the right led to Judah and Jerusalem while the road to the left led to Ammon. Nebuchadnezzar would use divination techniques to decide which road to take. Yet, God stated he would ensure Nebuchadnezzar chose the road to the right. Ammon would gloat because of Jerusalem’s destruction, but Ezekiel warned them to be careful of doing so because the same destruction would come to them. Ezekiel then calls king Zedekiah “a wicked prince of Israel” (Ek 21:25). He stated Zedekiah would lose his crown and Jerusalem would become ruin. Ezekiel then looked way into the future as he tells his fellow citizens, “the crown would not be restored until he to whom it rightfully belongs shall come; to him I will give it” (Ek 21:27). Ezekiel was referring to Christ when he will reign during his Millennial Kingdom. While this prophecy may sound like it has a positive ending, it meant that no king would reign on the throne in Jerusalem until Christ would do so – quite a long period of time.
To be sure the people understood the reason for the coming destruction on Jerusalem, he points out their sins (Ek 22): they violated all the laws God had given them through Moses, they had shed blood to worship their idols, they didn’t care for the fatherless and widows, they carried out indecent sexual acts, they extorted their neighbors for financial gain, the priests didn’t distinguish between the holy and the profane for the people, the princes put financial gain above the welfare of the people, and the prophets, more like false prophets, often would spread only lies to placate the princes. God stated he was looking for someone to “stand in the gap” (Ek 22:30) so he would not have to destroy Jerusalem, but he could find no one to do so.
God then gives them an analogy. God called Samaria (representing the Northern King of Israel) Oholah, meaning “her own tabernacle.” He called Jerusalem (representing the Southern Kingdom of Judah), Oholibah, meaning “my tabernacle is in her.” This is referring to how Jeroboam lead ten of the twelve tribes to break from the reign of Rehoboam, son of Solomon, and had the people worship golden calves in Bethel and Dan (1Ki 12:28-29). Yet, even though Judah had the tabernacle within her borders, she was just as bad as Israel in not worshipping God. He stated that spiritually, both acted like harlots (Ek 23). The people of both Judah and Israel followed the gods of the surrounding nations and sought protection from these false gods rather than from God. Israel relied upon Assyria, and Judah Assyria and Babylon. These same nations whom they relied upon were the ones who would cause their destruction. Who says God does not have a sense of irony? Yet, this irony was to show the folly of them trusting in these fickle nations rather than upon him, their Rock who could always stand firm for them.
I’m sure Ezekiel was upset he wasn’t getting through to his fellow countrymen. After all, they were supposed to be God’s chosen people, but they had rejected God even though God was giving them every opportunity to turn back to him. Yet, are we any different today? We often turn our back on all the attempts God uses to get our attention to no avail. Let’s learn from Ezekiel’s story. Let’s give God a chance in our lives. After all, what do we have to lose. We may actually gain something.
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